Saturday, 18 November 2006

We know where you are!

Don't suppose it will be long before we start getting these in our letter-boxes. El Presidente wants ID cards.

Friday, 17 November 2006

Most ethical way to commit suicide

Will surely be only a few years before we see this sort of answer in the Dear Abby columns.

Alternative opinion

Someone passed me a different opinion on the BNP trial that I tried to cover a while back. Don't know where he got it and, as he /she sent it by email rather than as a posted comment, I'm assuming they also wish to stay below the parapet. Anyway - here it is.


Much has been made of the wisdom of the Crown Prosecution Service
in its attempts to nail Nick Griffin and chums for inciting race
hatred. The prosecution was criticised on the grounds that it was
doomed to fail on legal technicalities, and that attempting to
police people's views on religion is A Bad Idea, even if it's
scuzz like Griffin. Nonetheless, when Griffin was acquitted,
Gordon Brown immediately called for legislation that *would*
prevent attacks on people via their faith.
That Griffin should have been acquitted isn't altogether
surprising. One of the problems for the CPS was the word
'racial'. Griffin's actual comments were things like calling
Islam 'a wicked, vicious faith', and of course Muslims aren't a
race. (The other problem for the CPS seems to be that the
comments were made in a private meeting, not a public one,
although we can't be arsed to look up the details.)
In many ways the CPS was right to attempt to prosecute. Griffin
has been keen to explain that his comments had to be taken 'in
context', and much of the speech was apparently uncontroversial.
However, the context is exactly what makes the comments
inflammatory since he was talking to an audience of BNP members
and sympathisers.
The BNP is currently treading a slightly confused line. On the
one hand it has tried to modernise itself, moving away from
actual 'send-'em-back' racism and anti-Semitism. Instead it
emphasises 'defending White culture' and suchlike. However, as an
organisation, the BNP quite obviously has its roots in
straightforward racism. It's got a neo-Nazi following, although
opinion in other far right 'organisations' such as Combat 18 is
divided on the BNP, with many regarding Griffin as a sell-out.
The street-level thuggery that is associated with the BNP is also
hinted at by the fact that even the small number of elected BNP
councillors have, between them, a fairly impressive list of
convictions to their name. What BNP voters actually think about
race and associated issues like repatriation isn't completely
clear, but it's a reasonable assumption that most are 'against'
ethnic minorities, whether they just think Asians get
preferential treatment from the local council, whether they want
mass repatriations or whether they're full-on 'the muds and ZOG
want to destroy the White race!' nutters.
As for Griffin's actual comments, the fact that much of his
speech was uncontroversial is nether here nor there. Although
Muslims aren't a race, saying that a *group* in society subscribe
to 'a wicked, vicious faith' quite clearly suggests that these
are wicked and vicious people. The comments made by Griffin's co-
defendant are even less cryptic. He referred to asylum seekers as
'cockroaches', and calling a group of people 'cockroaches' isn't
political debate, it's hatred. And what tends to happen to
cockroaches? They get exterminated.
Critics of the CPS have said that the prosecution is an attempt
to control what people think, and limit what they're allowed to
express. But this really is a non-issue. It's not illegal to
believe in repatriation, that a particular faith is wicked, that
the Jews control the weather or whatever the hell you want. It's
not particularly illegal to express these thoughts either. You
can sit and talk about repatriation until the banana boats come
home and you're not going to be locked up for it. However, what
you *can't* do is incite racial hatred. It's a perfectly
reasonable state of affairs. If you wanted to go around spouting
the old chestnut 'black people are genetically inclined toward
committing crime' you'd be censured, and rightly so. That's not
to say that you can't express views about race and crime. It's
widely discussed anyway, although serious academic debate is
about the correlation between race and crime and the *causes* of
that correlation, not the assumption that there's a genetic link
between race and crime, which is basically the racist view. As
such, it may be no bad thing to have legislation that outlaws
inciting hatred on the basis of religion, particularly where
someone's religion can be used as a cipher for their race, as in
the case (largely) of Muslims.
However, the Griffin case demonstrates a crucial difference
between protecting groups of people on the basis of something
tangible like their skin colour, and protecting people on the
grounds of their beliefs. Even if you have a law banning comments
that are basically hatred directed at members of a religion,
broad statements like 'Islam is a wicked [in the pejorative
sense] faith' are still highly problematic for the simple reason
that anyone who makes such comments is going to turn around and
say 'And I can prove it in court!' Are courts going to be
expected to address unproveable statements like 'Islam is
wicked'? Would there be court cases in which people quote
passages from the Koran which *do* condone beating your wife but
which aren't subscribed to by most Muslims (something that
Griffin did?) Or cite reports about the treatment of women in
Saudi Arabia? We're not Islam-bashing here - you could argue that
Christianity is 'wicked and vicious' too. Or what if you claimed
that 'Christians are insane'? They're clearly not in the sense
that the vast majority don't have a serious psychiatric disorder
but you could make a case that they do hold deeply irrational
In short, legislating for religious hate throws up a host of
rather strange problems. Still, we're sure that Gordon Brown has
given the issue plenty of thought and isn't just capitalising on
a populist issue that's received massive press coverage. That
would be *so* unlike New Labour

Petition the man

I don't know how many of my readers in UK declared themselves as Jedi during the last census but it was enough to make Jedi the fourth offficial religion. That all started from a single e-mail. Who knows what games we will be able to play in the next Gubment exercise at poking their noses in?

In the meantime, there is just one opening for us to get into their systems. B. Liar introduced an instant petition website where anyone can initiate a subject, write the terms and then solicit support by email. Part of the E-Government idea. Just now, there is one running which suggests that POTUK go right now. Of course, as it is a Government project, it has to have failures. I suspect that the failure here is that disloyal thoughts may be expressed by the hoi poloi.

So, good people, I'm offering a year's free reading of this blog to those who sign the petition now. Go Go Go

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Every one a hero

I have just finished reading The Blog Of War by US Army Major (retired) Matthew Burden. This is a anthology of blogs created by US Servicemen and their dependants during the Iraq War.
Burden ran his own blog and that was one I kept up with. There are a number of others that I read and are included in his new collection. It was only when I read these in a volume which gathers them together that I realised a major difference between those of US origin and blogs maintained by British forces. I suppose I would describe this by saying that the American ones were very much more sober or serious in tone than ours.
There are considerable references to God and to duty. The authors are more open in telling us their innermost thoughts. We get the full text of messages to wives and loved ones. Where action takes place, it is described fully. Thoughts after action get considerable detailing.
I read a fair number of British war blogs. In the main, these reflected that sort of black humour that our soldiers have always shown. Religion does not play a large part in any account. Emotions do not 'all hang out'.
The American accounts give greater detail of the carnage that results when highly developed weapon systems engage human flesh and bone. In the main, they are uncritical of their superiors. Another difference between our two nations.
There may be some explanation in what the security controls were. Our guys work was closely scrutinised right from the start but it is only recently I felt that controls were being put on the US work that I read.
Whether you, dear reader, have any feeling for matters military or not, I would urge you to get hold of a copy of this book. Amazon USA have it; my link to Amazon UK is above. The fortitude and courage displayed is just amazing. My initial feeling as I read the past paragraph was how sad that all that devotion to duty, disruption of lives and death has been for little good result and the manner in which the respective individuals – can one call them leaders when they are so disconnected and far away? - have brought matters to a close.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Back up services

Browsing about in a bookshop the other day I came across that bit where they display the inspirational books. 'Make $million selling widgets', 'Success in Marketing My way', 'The 5 minute manager' sort of thing. These sorts of books have always made me wonder just why they were written; were I making a million selling widgets I'd redouble my efforts and not sit in front of some useless Microsoft word processing software. Unless the guy is doing well selling books on marketing, one can see little to recommend him outside his speciality.
It was then I remembered something I'd seen in a mining museum in America. Seems that the people selling picks and shovels did better than the majority of those who marked out a stake. Brothel madams and saloon keepers got rich without ever swilling a pan. Even today we see the same sort of thing where England, which used to be the manufacturing king of the world, now makes such money as it does by providing services.
I was intrigued by this but then got caught up in a web site that goes into some detail on the Gold Rush. I figure that you would not be here if you did not have some time to waste so I commend that resource to you. No Charlie Chaplin but entertaining.

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

DIY Psychology

Here is a chance to see how your mind runs.

Yesterday, a bird very rarely seen in Northen climes, and even less often in England, was reported as having been blown into a coastal resort. All of the bird watching people spread the news amongst themselves and The Royal Society fo Birds gave it publiicty. Large crowds gather in the area where the creature was last seen. Adminitions as to silence and no unnecessary movement are spread around.

After only a short wait the exotic visitor comes into view, does a small flying display and then settles down on a fence post.

Whereupon a sparrow-hawk swoops, catches bird and proceeds to devour it in front of gathered masses.

Now - here is the test.

Did that make you laugh or not?

Psst! Want a good training book?

I was wandering around the Internet looking to see if all nations had the same sort of problem we seem to have with our young people. I came across an article where the very early training of children was debated. The author used terms such as “Come to Mama. This simple, cheerful, command was conditioning my tiny baby to come to me in response to my voice” and “When she was still an infant, unable to sit up, I would say, 'Stand Up Gracie' when I lifted her to a standing position”
As I was reading this in the privacy of my own study, I was able to laugh at just how twee and condescending the article was. Then a memory from the past struck me.
When our first children were born, neither of us had any experience of what to do with them. I was an only child. My wife would have been expected to look after her siblings but not whilst they were tiny bundles of sick and excreta. We could not talk to them nor they to us. They had no idea as to how to conduct themselves and needed us to protect them from a hostile environment. So far as children were concerned – I knew nothing.
I did, however, know how to train dogs. Right from the puppy stage through to when they were excessively grown and needed control to prevent them attacking all and sundry. Socialising puppies. Getting them to come and to stay. Speak on command. House training.
So, no problem. The children were trained in the same way as little puppies. Just the same way really as the woman was describing. Seems to have worked. They come when called. They do not attack people. Perhaps I should patent my 'Raising kids to the whistle' method. Make some money because as sure as hell there are a lot of children out there that need a good firm foundation in life.

Monday, 13 November 2006

End of the road for Democracy

Iraq is again hogging the headlines. The daily toll of executions by one or another religious group and suicide bombings of Iraqi nationals and against coalition forces dominate the front pages. For me though, the interesting stuff is hidden away inside the printed bundle. There is much talk of deadlines for withdrawal which has replaced plans even as recent as last week to introduce some form of democracy in the region. The idea that with sufficient outside support, civil society organizations could democratise authoritarian regimes "from below" was an article of faith among many policy makers and democracy promoters. Accordingly, programs to strengthen such groups were key elements of the United States' plans for the Middle East. However, the United States and other donor countries possibly overestimated civil society's democratising role in the region. The United States brought its own problems to its relationship with civil society in the Middle East. These included the narrow range of organizations with which it typically engages, popular antipathy to Washington's policies in the region, and the broader challenge of designing effective civil society assistance programs.
There is a review in progress ordered by the President following the power changes in US government. A commission of experts appointed by President George W Bush is forecast to advise him to abandon his dream of cementing a new democratic system in Iraq and instead tackle the security crisis so that the withdrawal of American troops can begin.
The advice from the Iraq Study Group, a high-level bipartisan panel headed by James Baker, the former Republican secretary of state, will sideline the so-called Bush doctrine of spreading democracy in the Middle East. Mr Bush will meet the panel tomorrow and Tony Blair is expected to offer his views (Woof woof is forecast) via a video-conference call on Tuesday.
I find the talk of democracy in the context of the Middle East interesting. I am a long way from being an expert but did spend much time there in more peaceful times when dialogue with the locals was possible. I was honoured to have been friendly with Sheikh Isa back in the mid-60s when he was the Ruler in Bahrain and had the opportunity to see how he ran his country. What they had was in many ways better than my ideas and experience of democracy as it ran in Britain. Isa was the head of the ruling tribe, the al Khalifas. His father before him. His son since the death of Isa. He acted in a way that one might describe as fatherly. He decided what was to be done. There was a system for being in touch with his subjects. This, a majlis, is best described as an open house where all might come and petition the Ruler. He generally gave his ruling there and then or deferred the matter whilst he studied all the ins and outs – of which there may be many in Muslim daily life. There are other forms of majlis but they still result in te position where the ‘Ruler’ is in charge and can negate any legislative power they might be given by him.
Isa also decided what needed to be done to improve the lot of his people. Many still lived in what was regarded as very basic accommodations – a buristi. Whilst extremely basic, many people were happy living in these. Isa planned and had built new towns which followed Western design and living standards. He gave these to the buristi dwellers. Those who were tardy in relocating found themselves moved and the old accommodation torched. Is that despotic or paternal? It was certainly for the good and benefit of his people. Medical care was totally free and available to all. If overseas treatment was required, it was provided. Measures were taken to introduce modern sanitation. Childbirth improvements. All freely and without any of the to and fro that we see in our democracy.
So, to me, what they had was better than democracy. Saddam Hussein had perverted the Ruler idea but once he had gone, the citizens hoped they might find it again. I’m glad to see that my reservations about democracy are reflected in the opinions of those who are experts.
My other reservation about the drive to put democracy into Iraq is that I am unsure just what part this played in the decision to go to war. I seem to recall that we were told that Iraq was part of bin Laden’s circle and was thus targeted as a venue for the plans to fight terrorism off American soil. Then came weapons of mass destruction. This was intended to amplify the danger of a bin Laden associate running free. So we came to regime change. As evidence to back the Al Queda association dropped away we were reminded that WMD had been used to kill Saddam Hussein opponents. My suspicion is that democracy was put up as just another excuse. Certainly, well intentioned but optimism over-ruled those who knew just what weak chance that had.
So, now we see possibly the most honest stage of all. How can the coalition get out with the least damage? That is really the $64,000 question.

Here's a funny thing

Changed the wired phone today. I have one wired phone in case there is an emergency and the wireless ones go dead. I have long used what are described as telephones with 'Large Keys' as it makes them easier to use on the outer reaches of my desk when there is just lighting over the keyboard. Reason for changing was to get a handsfree facility to cope with the Mumbai Morons on call centres who take for ever just to pick up a incoming call.

So, got home. Unpacked the Large Key phone. Blimey! The old one had keys that were about three quarters of an inch across. The new one has keys of inch and a half diameter. No problems seeing them.

Obviously there are degrees of getting old. I had the 'Just retired' model. What I have now must be the 'Damned Near Dead' version. The changes even apply to the volume choices. The last one needed to be towards the high end to be heard outside of the study. Replacement sounds like the Queen Mary reversing.

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Our disgrace

This is a just released photograph of the jury following their "verdict" in the trial I discuss below.

I am quite depressed by a recent court case we had here. My guest blog covers the event well and I'll give him his head. What I will do is insert here a piece from our Times newspaper that gives just a little additional background on the two people involved. Their sort of effluent is something that must be kept out of the gene pool at all costs. My normal attitude is that everyone is entitled to an opinion. Things like this make me think that I may have to limit that attitude where rubbish such as these two hide behind freedom of speech to contaminate others. Unfortunately, they have followers. Those followers will take comfort from the victory handed over on a plate. That it comes at a time when we remember the millions who have died in defence of, amongst other ideals, free speech makes it worse. All I can ever imagine of this pair of cancerous cells in a fighting context is as assailants in a homosexual rape of a young juvenile.

Meme as ordered.

Look away if you don't like these sort of things. I am only doing it because Gemmak bullied me. She is the Mother of this blog's layout and tecchy bits. She knows my log-in and password so it is easier to do the things she says. She is also second reserve for question 16 below.

1.Grab the book nearest to you, turn on page 18 and find line 4.

“He stepped into a squad car; it raced across the city and at each police divisional boundary a further black car was waiting to take him onward”
From 'Guns, Drugs & Deserters – the story of the Army Special Investigation Branch'

2.Stretch your left arm out as far as you can.

I've just punched the wall. Ouch!

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?

Service from the Cenotaph.

4.Without looking, guess what time it is?


5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?


6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?

My dog moaning because I am not talking with her

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?

About a hour ago. Taking the dog for a short walk.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?

My email

9. What are you wearing?

Polartex fleece trousers, thermal vest, thermal T-shirt. Normal gear for short walks with dog this time of the year in this part of Scotland.

10. Did you dream last night?

Is there any night that I do not?.

11. When did you last laugh?

I think I have Altzheimers

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?

Warrants from the Queen – mine and my Grandfathers, my MBE certificate, pictures. Scotland the Brave print by Lady Butler showing the Scots Greys charging. (It is MY study after all)

13. Seen anything weird lately?

Walls of my study?

14. What do you think of this quiz?

Slightly better than buggery I suppose?

15. What is the last film you saw?

Film – in a theatre. That was back when Singing in the Rain was new. On the TV – Some narcoleptic rubbish last night. On my p.c. The Hill.

16. If you became a multimillionaire overnight, what would you buy?

Sophia Loren. If she was beyond my whole fortune as I suspect, then Kate Moss (but only if she were wearing that Agent Provacateur underwear)

17. Tell me something about you that I dunno.

6'3”. 20 stone. Wish to intrude further into my private life?

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?

Eradicate all forms of socialism

19. Do you like to dance?

Never really tried it. I can do, when slightly drunk and quite naked, a tango taught me by a very sexy Spanish lady. I do an excellent imitation of Mick Jagger in his Can't get no satisfaction alter ego.

20. George Bush

Which one. Both got a lot to answer for. One did not go far enough, the other went too far.

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?

Been done. Imagination not required

22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?

See #21

23. Would you ever consider living abroad?

Yes. Depends if I get choice of what is 'abroad'

24.What do you want GOD to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?

You took your bloody time getting here!

Small hornet's nest disturbed - not many stung

The creator of today's guest blog here has a reputation of saying exactly what is in his mind without necessarily passing it through any disappointing p.c. filter on the way out. His use of child abuse to make a political point is a fair example. However, focus on what he says rather than how he says it.

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