Friday, February 29, 2008
Predicting obvious criticisms from Republicans Stiglitz observed:
"They had two reactions," Stiglitz says wearily. "One was Bush saying, 'We don't go to war on the calculations of green eye-shaded accountants or economists.' And our response was, 'No, you don't decide to fight a response to Pearl Harbour on the basis of that, but when there's a war of choice, you at least use it to make sure your timing is right, that you've done the preparation. And you really ought to do the calculations to see if there are alternative ways that are more effective at getting your objectives. The second criticism - which we admit - was that we only look at the costs, not the benefits. Now, we couldn't see any [economic] benefits. From our point of view we weren't sure what those were."
(Emphasis is my own).
Pieces of information in this article are just so damning of Bush's rule. They are nothing short of incredible:
"By way of context, Stiglitz and Bilmes list what even one of these trillions could have paid for: 8 million housing units, or 15 million public school teachers, or healthcare for 530 million children for a year, or scholarships to university for 43 million students. Three trillion could have fixed America's social security problem for half a century. America, says Stiglitz, is currently spending $5bn a year in Africa, and worrying about being outflanked by China there: "Five billion is roughly 10 days' fighting, so you get a new metric of thinking about everything."
I ask what discoveries Stiglitz found the most disturbing. He laughs, somewhat mirthlessly. "There were actually so many things - some of it we suspected, but there were a few things I couldn't believe." The fact that a contractor working as a security guard gets about $400,000 a year, for example, as opposed to a soldier, who might get about $40,000. That there is a discrepancy we might have guessed - but not its sheer scale, or the fact that, because it is so hard to get insurance for working in Iraq, the government pays the premiums; or the fact that, if these contractors are injured or killed, the government pays both death and injury benefits on top. Understandably, this has forced a rise in sign-up bonuses (as has the fact that the army is so desperate for recruits that it is signing up convicted felons). "So we create a competition for ourselves. Nobody in their right mind would have done that. The Bush administration did that ... that I couldn't believe."
Thursday, February 28, 2008
There is more about it from The Guardian here.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
"[Plane Stupid] are cynically politicising scientific theories, turning them into instruments of emotional blackmail to be wielded against the supposedly selfish flying masses.
Their 10-years claim has its origins in the IPCC's speculative claim that if global temperatures rise by more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, then there may be agricultural losses, adverse health effects in poorer parts of the world and a greatly increased risk of water shortages - and the IPCC thinks atmospheric carbon dioxide levels that would trigger this rise "could possibly be reached in about 10 years or so"."
This cockweasel-king fails to address any of the actual issues associated with airport expansion, cheap flights, climate change or anything, really! Why has his rant been published? What credibility does he have to waste my time by penning such dross? Is it some sinister plot to make ruin my eyesight by making me stare balnkly at a computer screen?
I am engaged in a war of words with TheOldOligarch in the comments who accuses me of "hysterical , unreasonable overemotional theatrics". Well, my only defense is that he started it by suggesting that, by calling people "climate change deniers", I presented climate change as if it were:
"a dogma that must be accepted without dissent or questioning".
He went on to add:
"Climate change is not on a par with the theory of gravity, is it? I thought it was a loose scientific consensus with widely varying parameters, projections and forecasts depending on which study you read. Which I guess means it should be open to healthy debate, it is not a religious commandment."
Now, I have not denied this anywhere. I happen to think that climate change science is exactly on a par with the theory of gravity a both are backed by an incontrovertible weight of evidence. However this moron didn't give me a chance to elaborate on my terminology and just waded in with fists swinging. I consider such characters to be bigots and waded back an attempt at a reasoned argument. This apparently had no effect upon the moron as he continued to assail my terminology. This just pissed me off so I struck back with some hard facts and not a little scorn for, what I felt was, his clearly deliberate obfustication.
The struggle continues . . .
I think I won that debate.
Wow! I feel a tingle up and down my spine . . . as if I've achieved something corporeal, visceral . . . some sort of meaningful change. This feels GREAT!
Ronniejotten caught Brendan with his lying pants on too.
"In illustration of the dark side of absolutism, I mentioned the Christians in merica who blow up abortion clinics, and the Taliban of
Or, switching to Christianity, I could have cited those American 'rapture' Christians whose powerful influence on American Middle Eastern policy is governed by their biblical belief that Israel has a God-given right to all the lands of Palestine.133 Some rapture Christians go further and actually yearn for nuclear war because they interpret it as the 'Armageddon' which, according to their bizarre but disturbingly popular interpretation of the book of Revelation, will hasten the Second Coming. I cannot improve on Sam Harris's chilling comment, in his Letter to a Christian Nation:
It is, therefore, not an exaggeration to say that if the city of New York were suddenly replaced by a ball of fire, some significant percentage of the American population would see a silver-lining in the subsequent mushroom cloud, as it would suggest to them that the best thing that is ever going to happen was about to happen: the return of Christ. It should be blindingly obvious that beliefs of this sort will do little to help us create a durable future for ourselves - socially, economically, environmentally, or geopolitically. Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the
There are, then, people whose religious faith takes them right outside the enlightened consensus of my 'moral Zeitgeist'. They represent what I have called the dark side of religious absolutism, and they are often called extremists. But my point in this section is that even mild and moderate religion helps to provide the climate of faith in which extremism naturally flourishes.
In July 2005,
Why did these cricket-loving young men do it? Unlike their Palestinian counterparts, or their kamikaze counterparts in
The answer to this question is obvious - if only because it has been patiently articulated ad nauseam by bin Laden himself. The answer is that men like bin Laden actually believe what they say they believe. They believe in the literal truth of the Koran. Why did nineteen well-educated middle-class men trade their lives in this world for the privilege of killing thousands of our neighbors? Because they believed that they would go straight to paradise for doing so. It is rare to find the behavior of humans so fully and satisfactorily explained. Why have we been so reluctant to accept this explanation?134
The respected journalist Muriel Gray, writing in the (Glasgow) Herald on 24 July 2005, made a similar point, in this case with reference to the London bombings.
Everyone is being blamed, from the obvious villainous duo of George W Bush and Tony Blair, to the inaction of Muslim 'communities'. But it has never been clearer that there is only one place to lay the blame and it has ever been thus. The cause of all this misery, mayhem, violence, terror and ignorance is of course religion itself, and if it seems ludicrous to have to state such an obvious reality, the fact is that the government and the media are doing a pretty good job of pretending that it isn't so.
Our Western politicians avoid mentioning the R word (religion), and instead characterize their battle as a war against 'terror', as though terror were a kind of spirit or force, with a will and a mind of its own. Or they characterize terrorists as motivated by pure 'evil'. But they are not motivated by evil. However misguided we may think them, they are motivated, like the Christian murderers of abortion doctors, by what they perceive to be righteousness, faithfully pursuing what their religion tells them. They are not psychotic; they are religious idealists who, by their own lights, are rational. They perceive their acts to be good, not because of some warped personal idiosyncrasy, and not because they have been possessed by Satan, but because they have been brought up, from the cradle, to have total and unquestioning faith. Sam Harris quotes a failed Palestinian suicide bomber who said that what drove him to kill Israelis was 'the love of martyrdom . . . I didn't want revenge for anything. I just wanted to be a martyr.' On 19 November 2001 The New Yorker carried an interview by Nasra Hassan of another failed suicide bomber, a polite young Palestinian aged twenty-seven known as 'S'. It is so poetically eloquent of the lure of paradise, as preached by moderate religious leaders and teachers, that I think it is worth giving at some length:
'What is the attraction of martyrdom?' I asked. 'The power of the spirit pulls us upward, while the power of material things pulls us downward,' he said. 'Someone bent on martyrdom becomes immune to the material pull. Our planner asked, "What if the operation fails?" We told him, "In any case, we get to meet the Prophet and his companions, inshallah." 'We were floating, swimming, in the feeling that we were about to enter eternity. We had no doubts. We made an oath on the Koran, in the presence of Allah - a pledge not to waver. This jihad pledge is called bayt al-ridwan, after the garden in
If I had been 'S', I'd have been tempted to say to the planner, 'Well, in that case, why don't you put your neck where your mouth is? Why don't you do the suicide mission and take the fast track to
As long as we accept the principle that religious faith must be respected simply because it is religious faith, it is hard to withhold respect from the faith of Osama bin Laden and the suicide bombers. The alternative, one so transparent that it should need no urging, is to abandon the principle of automatic respect for religious faith. This is one reason why I do everything in my power to warn people against faith itself, not just against so-called 'extremist' faith. The teachings of 'moderate' religion, though not extremist in themselves, are an open invitation to extremism.
It might be said that there is nothing special about religious faith here. Patriotic love of country or ethnic group can also make the world safe for its own version of extremism, can't it? Yes it can, as with the kamikazes in
Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches children that unquestioned faith is a virtue. You don't have to make the case for what you believe. If somebody announces that it is part of his faith, the rest of society, whether of the same faith, or another, or of none, is obliged, by ingrained custom, to 'respect' it without question; respect it until the day it manifests itself in a horrible massacre like the destruction of the World Trade Center, or the London or Madrid bombings. Then there is a great chorus of disownings, as clerics and 'community leaders' (who elected them, by the way?) line up to explain that this extremism is a perversion of the 'true' faith. But how can there be a perversion of faith, if faith, lacking objective justification, doesn't have any demonstrable standard to pervert?
Ten years ago, Ibn Warraq, in his excellent book Why I Am Not a Muslim, made a similar point from the standpoint of a deeply knowledgeable scholar of Islam. Indeed, a good alternative title for Warraq's book might have been The Myth of Moderate Islam, which is the actual title of a more recent article in the (London) Spectator (30 July 2005) by another scholar, Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity. 'By far the majority of Muslims today live their lives without recourse to violence, for the Koran is like a pick-and-mix selection. If you want peace, you can find peaceable verses. If you want war, you can find bellicose verses.'
Sookhdeo goes on to explain how Islamic scholars, in order to cope with the many contradictions that they found in the Qur'an, developed the principle of abrogation, whereby later texts trump earlier ones. Unfortunately, the peaceable passages in the Qur'an are mostly early, dating from Muhammad's time in
the mantra 'Islam is peace' is almost 1,400 years out of date. It was only for about 13 years that Islam was peace and nothing but peace . . . For today's radical Muslims - just as for the mediaeval jurists who developed classical Islam - it would be truer to say 'Islam is war'. One of the most radical Islamic groups in
Could it be that the young men who committed suicide were neither on the fringes of Muslim society in
More generally (and this applies to Christianity no less than to Islam), what is really pernicious is the practice of teaching children that faith itself is a virtue. Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. Teaching children that unquestioned faith is a virtue primes them – given certain other ingredients that are not hard to come by - to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads or crusades. Immunized against fear by the promise of a martyr's paradise, the authentic faith-head deserves a high place in the history of armaments, alongside the longbow, the warhorse, the tank and the cluster bomb. If children were taught to question and think through their beliefs, instead of being taught the superior virtue of faith without question, it is a good bet that there would be no suicide bombers. Suicide bombers do what they do because they really believe what they were taught in their religious schools: that duty to God exceeds all other priorities, and that martyrdom in his service will be rewarded in the gardens of
If you have a reasoned response to this Lycidas, feel free to post it- with appropriate evidential references- in the comments. If not . . . . well, you know where you can go.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
My grateful thanks to Radix who shared this link with me in the comments. Its pretty cool if you want to big up the whole renewable thing to your friends or anyone who needs persuading that renewable generation is the future and not just some pipedream.
Monday, February 25, 2008
He got one thing wrong though:
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
- John Kenneth Galbraith
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Hoist from the petard of his own government's ineptitude and inability to recognise a looming crisis.
I'm not 'for' locking people up but there's people, criminally or just generally insane, who need to be incarcerated for their own good and ours. If you can't do this then these people remain poorly contained to the detriment of society and particularly to those who have to handle such dangerous characters without adequate facilities. I feel for the prison staff.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Addition - 8th Jan, 2008:
Keeping the peace? The El Al flight and the Israeli army officer
Heathrow airport, September 2005. An Israeli general accused of war crimes flies in. Waiting for him is a team of Met police officers. Would they dare to arrest him and risk provoking an international incident?
By Andy McSmith
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
We now know that the story could have turned out very differently. Inside the plane was a senior Israeli army officer, Doron Almog, veteran of some of the most celebrated military operations in the troubled history of the Middle East. There were also armed Israeli sharpshooters.
Outside were officers of the Metropolitan Police, acting reluctantly on an arrest warrant served by a judge at the request of lawyers who wanted to launch a private prosecution against the general.
The question that can never be answered is what would have happened if the police had marched on to the plane to seize the general and haul him before the courts. Possibly, he would have come quietly, and a lot of lawyers would have been kept very busy as the courts weighed what to do next.
A much more sinister possibility is that the Israeli agents on board would have refused to let the general be arrested without putting up resistance. At best, that would have meant an ugly stand off followed by a major diplomatic row. At worst, it could have led to dead bodies aboard the plane.
But now, the police and the Government face some awkward questions, of which the most interesting is who warned the Israelis that there was trouble brewing at Heathrow?
Maj-Gen Almog had planned to visit the UK in September 2005 to pay various social and charitable calls on Jewish communities in Solihull, the West Midlands, and Manchester. As his plane touched down at Heathrow, a call from the Israeli embassy in London warned him that police were waiting to arrest him. The general and his wife refused to leave the plane. Two tense hours elapsed, while Det-Supt John MacBrayne, a senior counter-terrorism officer in charge of the operation, agonised over what to do.
One of his problems, according to documents that have come to light, which were passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, was that he was unsure of the legal position. He contacted Scotland Yard for advice on whether he had the authority to order his men aboard the El Al aircraft, when it was clear the airline was not going to give consent. According to the official log: "He was informed that police did indeed board aircraft routinely but it was not clear if this could be done without the consent of the carrier. It was confirmed that El Al were refusing voluntary access to the plane and Det-Supt MacBrayne could not get confirmation that he had a legal right to do so."
But the log also shows that Supt MacBrayne had a problem. As an experienced anti-terrorist officer he knew that El Al aircraft are the most heavily guarded vehicles in the world. The seats on its aircraft are never filled only by ordinary fare-paying passengers. There are always at least a couple of men who are highly trained, heavily armed "air marshals". With a famous major-general on board, there might have been four or five air marshals. These are not people that any police officer would want to mess with.
"DSU MacBrayne took the considered opinion that, as access to the plane would not be consensual, there existed a real threat of an armed confrontation," the log recorded.
Having consulted Commander John McDowall, deputy national co-ordinator of terrorist investigations, the Superintendent decided to allow the plane to go on its way with his quarry still aboard.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has vindicated the police who conducted the operation. But that leaves two big questions unanswered – who tipped off the Israelis, and why did the Met seem to think they did not have the power to board an aircraft on British soil?
The legal position, which seemed to have the Met stumped, was actually straightforward, according to several legal experts who were asked their opinion yesterday. A foreign aircraft is not sovereign territory, and while it is on British soil it is subject to British laws. Even the threat of a shoot-out should not have prevented the police from enforcing the law, Kate Maynard, of the solicitors' firm, Hickman Rose insisted. "Who knows what might have happened?" she said. "It need not have been an armed stand off. They could have stopped the plane from taking off, and brought in negotiators from the Foreign Office. Can you allow people from other countries to put the police in a situation where they can't enforce British law?"
The Anti-Terrorist Branch had been reluctant all along to take any action against the general. They acted only under pressure from Hickman Rose, who represents Palestinian clients, including the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. The lawyers themselves are not Palestinian. Several are Jews, and of those, Daniel Machover is an Israeli citizen – facts that have played big in the Israeli media. Mr Machover has been accused by Israel's most popular newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, of committing "a travesty masquerading as righteousness, exonerating terror-masters from blame but painting those who fight mass murderers as villains".
One of the firm's clients is Abdul Matar, the former inhabitant of one of 59 homes in a Palestinian camp that were bulldozed by the Israelis in 2002 in retaliation for attacks on Israeli soldiers. Another is Ra-ed Mattar, whose wife and daughter were killed when the Israelis dropped a powerful bomb in a crowded part of Gaza in July 2002, killing Sheikh Saleh Shehadeh, a leading Palestinian militant. The bomb killed 14 others including nine children.
Under pressure from the lawyers, the Anti-Terrorist Squad agreed that they would detain the general if he set foot on British soil, and would consider serving him with a warrant, but it would be up to the solicitors to bring a private prosecution. They intended to rely on a 50-year-old act of Parliament, the Geneva Conventions Act, which enshrined the Geneva Convention in British law. No one has ever been prosecuted under that Act.
The Anti-Terrorist Squad was also feeling discreet pressure from the Government to leave the general alone. Supt MacBrayne had had a note from a minister at the Foreign Office – whose name is not revealed in the log – who claimed that there was "little or no evidence" on which to launch a prosecution. Mr MacBrayne felt obliged to contact the Foreign Office and point out this was not true. Hickman Rose had in fact produced evidence that satisfied a magistrate that there was a case for the general to answer at least in relation to the bulldozing of those 59 homes. It also believed it could substantiate three other criminal charges against him.
He is not the only senior Israeli in its sights. Just over a year ago, the Israeli army's former chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon, was arrested in New Zealand, after Hickman Rose took out a private case against him over the assassination of Sheikh Shehadeh. The case was ruled out by New Zealand's attorney general.
When Tony Blair met Israel's Internal Security Minister, Avi Dichter, last August, in his new role as Middle East peace envoy, he was dumbfounded to learn that Mr Dichter dare not visit the UK, where he too would risk being arrested over the Shehadeh killing. Two others, the Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and a former commander of the Gaza division, Aviv Kochavi, are also keeping away from the UK, for the same reason.
Doron Almog has been a well-known public figure in Israel since 1993, when he was appointed commander of the occupation forces in the Gaza Strip. By then, he had already had a colourful military career. When he was 22, he led a paratrooper unit into action in the Yom Kippur War.
Three years later, in July 1976, he was one of the Israeli commandos who descended suddenly on Entebbe airport, in Uganda, where over 100 crew and passengers of an airbus were being held hostage by Palestinian hijackers. When the shooting stopped, all six hijackers, one commando, three hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers were dead.
In December 1993, Mr Almog stunned Israel by sensationally announcing that he had met members of Hamas, the militant organisation that is now the elected government of Gaza. Even now, most governments in the world, including the UK, refuse to recognise the Hamas administration, because Hamas will not recognise the state of Israel.
Mr Almog made two seemingly contradictory claims: first that he knew Hamas was preparing to send suicide bombers against Israel, secondly that there was a moderate faction within Hamas with whom Israel could do business. He claimed its hostility to the PLO exceeded its hostility to Israel. Hamas claimed the meeting had never taken place.
Mr Almog has attracted international attention for his role as head of Israel's Southern Command from 2000 to mid 2003, when he was in charge of operations in Gaza, and presided over the demolition of an estimated 1,100 Palestinian homes.
Before his planned UK visit, in September 2005, the police had also been warned that arresting a prominent Israeli might trigger a reaction among British Jews. Their original plan had been to detain General Almog in Solihull, where he was scheduled to speak in the synagogue, but they were warned that that would be inflammatory.
To lessen the tension, they decided a uniformed officer would be the one to make the arrest at Heathrow. Even so, the advice from the Met's National Community Tensions Team was that "this matter was of national significance to the Jewish community... any police action could significantly impact on community confidence in the police."
After the botched arrest, Mr MacBrayne checked with the West Midlands police and the Jewish community and reported that "there had been no local Jewish community issues."
But the Israeli government was enraged that one of its military heroes should be made so unwelcome in the UK, though it was mollified by an apology from the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw. That apology has attracted derision from lawyers.
"He apologised for a judicial process," Mr Maynard said. "This case was not a stunt; it was an effort to bring Almog to justice in a place where he would have a fair trial, because he has complete immunity in Israel. To have it thwarted, and then to have an apology, is incredible."
That being the British Government's attitude, perhaps it is not surprising that somebody, somewhere, took it upon themselves to warn the Israelis that it would save both countries a serious embarrassment if Maj-Gen Almog did not alight from that plane.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
"This article is revisionist crap. Evolution needs no rehashing to make it acceptable to rednecks. Rednecks need educating to help them understand the profound implications of evolution. This is an educational and sociological problem, not a scientific one."
I chose to follow this up with a succession of appropriate quotes from my collection.
The man is a war criminal and should be jailed for life, not given more power. Try and imagine what his appointment would imply about the values of the people of Europe; a continent so desolated by war twice in the last century. People guilty of Blair's crimes were executed at the Nuremberg trials. I do not believe in capital punishment but if I did and had to apply it to a single individual it would be Blair.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
This corroborates my own experiences corresponding with my local MP, Alison Seabeck (lab). I fired off an angry letter after reading an awesome piece in the New Statesman:
And the response . . . ?
Thank you for your letter. I do understand where you are coming from on the issues you raise.
The Government cannot win. When we cut the road building program we were heavily criticised and when we opted to expand after a long and detailed consultation with the regions concerned we again have clearly upset a number of people. We do need roads, out [sic] economy needs a good infrastructure. Where we need to do work is ensuring that the traffic that commutes on the roads is a lot less polluting, that the number of road journeys is [sic] being minimalised and that the road building and widening schemes are only carried out where a strong case has been made.
A great deal of work has been undertaken by the government and private sector to produce cleaner vehicles and fuel and this work must continue. This government invested heavily in public transport and the increase of use in rail and bus services has been significant. This government have also made it possible for local authorities to introduce a range of measures designed to cut traffic (including congestion charges) which had a signfiicant impact in London.
I note you talk about leaving the UK. I am not convinced necessarily that this is the answer because the UK are world leaders in tackling climate change issues.
Alison Seabeck MP
She is a cockweasel. A filthy, lying cockweasel, no less.
I don't remember many people criticising Labour for halting the road builiding program in 1997. In fact, I'm sure they were broadly praised for it.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
". . . workers' incomes and/or job securities had been reduced over recent years by neo-liberal "reforms" identified as necessary for European "unity." So they worked more and took on debt. Their mounting stress strained family life and reduced civic participation. Such painful adjustments, as always, bred social tensions."
Is anyone else perpetually fascinated (disturbed?) by the apparent inhumanity of many of the decisions taken in global politics? The Bush administration's, and indeed many recent US administrations', brand of exceptionalism; Tony Blair's religious certainties and his absolute conviction that he did nothing wrong in forcing GB to cooperate in invading Iraq; the ugly daily slog in Afghanistan, Pakistan and a dozen other nations in the frontline of the oxymoronic "war on terror"; the appalling world bank, IMF and WTO with their hell-bent policies of globalisation and impoverishment of developing nation's as a weapon through which to impose neoclassical economic version of imperial exploitation; I could continue the list but I think I've set the scene.
All of these disgusting examples of barbarism are characterised by a dehumanising process. A belief that other people are of less worth than and of lowlier stock than the judging individual(s). Egality has never been so far away and any argument for it is drowned beneath a deluge of ideological froth about "liberation", "freedom" and "development". I am convinced that the value system which allows the perpetrators of this brutality to sleep at night is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of humanity. The conviction that people are, at their core, self-interested and malicious in their pursuit of it. The fallacy of this has been made clear time and again in anthropological, sociological and psychological research (three dirty words for a true experimental scientist such as myself but the best we can do short of doing a Truman Show job). However, US-style international diplomacy is still conducted via the "us and them" mentality of an exceptionalism that dehumanises the adversary through a sincere belief that the "darkies" or the "nig-nogs" or those "funny little Asian guys" or those strange Europeans with their socialist politics and long holidays are somehow inferior. Its a casual racism that has developed beyond mere skin colour and evolved into the conviction of a glorious manifest destiny awaiting its acolytes.
A fascinating aside to this is the fact that, at more local levels, such inhumanity becomes more subtle because the electorate becomes less and less vulnerable to such prejudices because you can't accuse your neighbour of being a darky or a Mexican or a bloody Eastern European so instead the language changes to a more evidential and factual basis.
Anyway, the instigator of this particular rant was an article in New Scientist which I will link to here. Unfortunately its subscription only so you'll have to pick up a copy to get the full story.
Friday, February 15, 2008
After further reading its definitely the tongue-in-cheek thing.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Thursday, February 07, 2008
The abstract of the original article can be found here. NewScientist covered it here.
"Renewable Energy Nihilist". Nice.
RENs, I'll call 'em.
Rossinisbird is more measured in his criticism of the idiot.
"Under Islamic law polygamy is condoned, allowing a man up to four wives and giving him the primary right to call for divorce. This means he can leave his first wife, refuse her a divorce and remarry, yet still consider himself living in accordance with his faith."
From here. I think this is an excellent example of why Sharia law sucks ass. I'm not opposed to polygamy, per se. If some idiot thinks they can have a stable and happy life as part of a loving collective then that's their hard lesson to learn. I am, however, fundamentally opposed to inequality of rights, as exemplified by Islam's treatment of women as second class citizen. I'm not going to moderate my comments by referring to some sort of "moderate" Islam as having rejected these values as I am generalising and cases of the latter are in the great minority, in my humble opinion.
There's interesting material in this article by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, one of the few sky-pixie fans I actually have respect for.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Anyway; introduce state funding of political parties, compulsory voting and the single transferable vote.
The comments are awesome and well worth a read if you fancy a chuckle. I haven't read such a fundamentally damning expose of the irrelevance of religion to day to day life (if not to politics) in a long time. Not since I read this.
My comment was deleted by the moderator. It went something along the lines of:
"Theo, you forgot to mention giving up critical thinking and independence of thought, but I suppose they don't count because you gave them up the day you were beaten- or terrified- into Believing."
There was more vitriol but I was busy this afternoon and I've forgotten what I wrote.
Educated people see through the bullshit, question what their government tells them, seek information from objective sources and generally don't vote for morons like Blair and Bush. Its that simple.
By this standard the number of intelligent people in the UK and US are pathetically low. Oh dear.
Back on the subject of weapons, I feel depressed that the US administration seems to be forcing its way into a new cold war against Russia and even Europe too, which the yanks seem to view with utter contempt for our (relatively) liberal, socialist politics and habitat of pointedly criticising the bullshit that gets churned out by the Whitehouse. The combination of fear of foreigners and a massive defence budget bode ill. Particularly as that nation still has no national policy in place for combatting climate change. Indeed, attempts to push through legislation at the local and state level are being thwarted by the central administration.
- Maybe if the US had devoted its entire military effort to Afghanistan instead of exploiting the moral vacuum to set off on a war of aggression against a nation wholly unconnected to the events of 11th September 2001 then maybe the Taleban wouldn't have been able to conduct its resurgence in the absence of sufficient military force to police the freshly occupied Nation.
- The US has started so many war of agression, covertly or otherwise, and committed so many attrocities that prove fertile grounds for driving popular uprisdings against their forces that its unsurprising that their troops have plenty of experience in this field.
- On that note they are actually one of the worst forces on the planet for engaging in attrocities; needless applications of blunt firepower with huge associated civilian casualties; widespread dehumanisation of civilians and other local populations ("gook syndrome"); frequent attempts to divide and conquer competing insurgencies with arms and support, including hard cash, drugs, weapons- pretty everything is up for grabs for those who want to temporarily switch side for profit or pleasure, thereby engendering massive contempt for the the occupier.
- Who the fuck does Robert Gates think NATO's fighting? Weren't the Taleban trained and armed by the CIA? He's got some fucking cheek pulling this out of the bag whilst our body count continues to rise inexorably.
- Gates' record:
- Number of wars in which the US military has been beaten into little pieces of shit and had to call upon foreign support during Gates' time in service: 4 (Vietnam, Nicaragua,Iran, Iraq II).
- Number of wars in which the US has been moderately successful: 2 (Grenada [wow- an island of 110,000 people- tough target!], Iraq I).
- So his record sucks even more floppy horse cock than he does, which is a lot. Hardly a position from which to criticise others.
More on NATO in Afghanistan from CiF.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
I like this quote from M. Sarkozy and would like to point it at nu-labour: