Saturday, January 28, 2006

Murder pt1

Late one night a few days I caught a movie called Londinium on the tele. It has the smell of one the many films made four or five years ago when a generous government tax break meant that wealthy private investors could make a tidy return on putting money into films even if they weren’t very good, or even released. The films just had to be completed. A mini bonanza took place. Dozens and dozens of really awful movies were made with all the craftsmanship and care of a hastily prepared ham sandwich.

Many of them copied the successful Richard Curtis Four Weddings and a Notting Hill format. Take one foppish upper middle class leading man, add one American actress, leave to bake in a fantasy London where struggling young cellists with no visible means of financial support, live in a huge flats in Notting Hill or Highgate and are searching for bittersweet love with the support of various quirky posh friends who work in media and the arts.

All of these films are shit.

On every conceivable level

Londinium was no exception. At one point, the foppish, Hampshire born, leading man Colin Firth says something like

People never see the ugly side of London. I was born here and have spent my entire life here and I cannot understand why people who come to this city only see a romanticised view of the place

Whilst delivering this heartfelt dialogue Firth was sitting on a blanket, having a picnic in Hampstead Heath on a sunny day with a glass of wine in his hands. Hampstead Heath was probably the most gritty location used in the entire film.

I mention this because whilst I was watching this old toss I couldn’t help thinking about the murder of city lawyer Tom ap Rhys Price a couple of weeks ago. The papers were full of it. My girlfriend works in the same firm as he did and they held a minute’s silence for him. He was, by all accounts, a decent guy. But I confess to having been baffled at the time at the amount of coverage the murder was given. It wasn’t particularly different to dozens of other recent London murders I could name.

And, at the back of my head, the cynic in me was thinking ‘there’s a guy who probably watched Notting Hill once too often’. Much of London, including Kensal Green / Willesden where he lived, is nasty, and shit happens. Quite a lot of shit actually.

London can be a wonderful city particularly if, maybe only if, you are loaded or willing to spend money you don't have. London also eats people. As it has done for centuries.

And some of its residents take a fairly scornful approach to wide-eyed innocents new in town who labour under the bizarre misapprehension that everything is just peachy.

I remember a couple of years ago listening to a talk radio programme and an American student called in. She was very excited about moving into East London and was asking for an ‘insider’ tips on getting the most out of such a fabulous city. The first person to respond and call in suggested Don’t go jogging in Victoria Park.


It seems that I wasn’t the only person surprised by the amount of coverage given to the Kensal Green stabbing. The Head of the Met, Ian Blair hit the papers yesterday, again, after commenting that

I believe that the media are guilty of institutional racism in the way they report deaths

This was in the context of making a serious point that the police do not concentrate resources on a case just because the newspapers elevate it above equally deserving cases but, come again? institutional racism?

I have no love for the news media but they are between a rock and a hard place on this one and the problem boils down to the treatment of race.

One of the golden rules of murder reporting in the UK is that, by implication, only White people are capable of race crimes. Which is itself a pretty racist suggestion

Accounts suggest that the guy killed in Kensal Green was stabbed to death after he had given his possessions up. So, what was that all about? Off the top of my head, and without having to resort to Google, I can think of many, very many, recent murders in London and the UK where White people were murdered by non Whites and where robbery was not the motive

No doubt, other people could come up with a list of personal favourites

None of these cases have received anything like the coverage given to the racist murders of Stephen Lawrence and Anthony Walker, who both happened to be Black. Extremists like the British National Party are making much capital about the asymmetry of the coverage.

Even the never ending Damilola Taylor case may involve an element of racism. But, because it involved West Indian kids killing a Nigerian kid that element has been either played done or, fuck me, even excused

But whoever murdered Damilola Taylor presumably did it by mistake - the murderers are probably horrified and terrified by what they have done. They slashed him and ran off, leaving him to hobble a few steps for help, in the sudden fountain of his own blood. If they hadn't happened to have hit a major artery, it might have been one brief paragraph in the local newspaper; or not even that.

I wonder if anyone would have had the cheek to write something like that about Stephen Lawrence’s murderers.

And no I’m not suggesting that there are hordes of non Whites marching around the place looking to commit racist murders, any more than I believe that there are hordes of Whites at it either. What I am suggesting is that the media is leery of stories that don’t correspond to a certain agenda. In that respect, ‘Institutional Racism’ can cut both ways.

So, does the national press and television over-represent Whites in their coverage of murders? Yes, sometimes. But does the media also take liberties at the expense of Whites in its coverage? That would be a yes, sometimes also

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Peter Wingarde to stand against Ming Campbell

Further to my earlier post on the subject of the Liberal Democrat leadership election, it comes as shocking news that Simon Hughes, 54 year old bachelor Member of Parliament who comes across on television like a camp vicar, is gay.

Well, only a bit gay apparently.

Hughes has admitted to having had both hetero as well as homosexual relationships.

That’s a typical Liberal Democrat for you isn’t it.

Unlike his colleague Mark Oaten, at least unmarried Hughes cannot be accused of cheating on his wife. Though, apparently, he has "often" thought about getting married but had not been "as successful as I would have liked".

But then we’re told that Hughes didn’t come clean voluntarily but was outed by The Sun newspaper which had incontrovertible proof that Hughes had used a gay chatline called Man Talk

It’s just like a bloody nightmare isn’t it. It just gets worse and worse. Hughes is such a sad human being that no-one wants to go out him plus he sits at home whiling away the hours engaged in gay sex talk at a couple of quid a minute.

The technical term for Hughes current situation is, I believe, fucked.

The media is currently making great play of the bitter 1983 Bermondsey by-election when Hughes defeated Labour candidate Peter Tatchell. The campaign got quite nasty and Tatchell’s homosexuality was implicitly referred to in some of Hughes campaign literature. Without going over the history of that by-election is painful detail suffice to say I was around at the time and Tatchell lost because the majority of local people thought he was a tosser. The gay thing was incidental and was only played up then, and since, to mask some disgraceful behaviour on the part of the local Labour party. The fact that the leader of the national Labour Party, uber leftie Michael Foot, declared that he also thought that Tatchell was a tosser has been quietly forgotten. Tatchell’s subsequent career only confirms to the sound common sense of the South London electorate. Hughes has held onto what was historically a safe Labour seat for the last 23 years. He is seen as a good local MP. However, the charge of hypocrisy at the time of his first election does stick.

So, here we are with a Government busily assembling the framework of a police state and committing us to foreign wars that are patently against the interests of the majority of the British public. And what is happening to the only political party that has taken a stand against these issues?

Total implosion.

In the space of a couple of weeks the Liberal Democrats leadership has been exposed as a collection of sad alcoholics, so lacking in charisma that they have to pay for sex or masturbate whilst on the telephone. That kind of behaviour may be OK for the rest us but for the leadership of a political party?

*Bangs head against keyboard*

And it’s not just the Liberals is it? Labour MPs who have taken a stand against the War or erosion of civil liberties have the life expectancy of mayflies…

Mo Mowlem – dead

Robin Cook – dead

Tony Banks – dead

Claire Short – fucked

George Galloway – where, oh where, do you start?

Someone (The Sun newspaper) has dug out another embarrassing video clip of Galloway shaking hands with a mass murderer this week. Expect to see the footage repeated until the end of time and considerably more frequently than, oh I don’t know, Donald Rumsfeld shaking Saddam’s hand or Jack Straw cosying up to Robert Mugabe (‘it was dark).

It comes as no surprise that today’s Simon Hughes story was printed by a Murdoch owned newspaper. A Murdoch owned newspaper whose editor is friends with the Blairs. That’s the British Press in 2006 for you. Totally crap at objective, critical comment on current events, rather good at taking public figures out of the picture, as and when the owners feel like it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

London Sushi fest - latest news

thanks for that Rahid

*sits back and waits for the BBC to get in touch*

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Reasons to be cheerful pt3

I was chatting with a couple of customers in my brother’s cafe yesterday. The shutters were half down and my brother was winding up for the day. The radio was on and somebody on a news show was talking about the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons programme. I chipped in with something like ‘you know what this is all about don’t you?’

My brother replied with something along the lines of

‘It’s because the Iranians are starting to sell their oil in Euros instead of dollars’

I was pretty surprised. My brother works hard in a shop all day and certainly does not have time to browse through alternative new sources. I asked him…

‘Where did you get that from? Not from the newspapers surely?’

‘No, some old bloke phoned in and talked about it on a chat show on the radio a few days ago’

I laughed.

He had me going for a moment. For a second, I almost thought that the newspapers had been doing their job.


Our media has been working hard on moulding public opinion on Iran for some time now. Last October we were being told about how those naughty Iranians had been supplying special bombs to Iraqi insurgents. Special bombs that were being used to kill and maim British troops in Basra.

Tony Blair and Jack straw made public speeches on the subject and explicitly accused elements of the Iranian government of being involved.

A few news sources even reported that British Intelligence was putting a dossier together. A dossier! Goody, we like those.

Per the Scotsman

A TEAM of military specialists has been dispatched to Iraq to compile a comprehensive dossier of evidence that "Iranian elements" have been arming insurgents engaged in a brutal struggle with British forces around Basra.

The Foreign Office last night confirmed that experts were engaged in an intensive operation to back up growing concerns that Iran is "interfering" to deadly effect in efforts to pacify Iraq and restore democracy to the war-torn country.

The insistence that Britain is determined to prove Iran is providing sophisticated equipment to perpetrators of attacks that have claimed the lives of at least eight British soldiers in the past five months is a significant development in the escalating war of words between London and Tehran.

Now it turns out, per the Independent, that…

MPs and soldiers' families have demanded an explanation from the Government after a U-turn over claims that Iran was complicit in the killing of British soldiers in southern Iraq. Britain has dropped the charge of Iranian involvement after senior officials had repeatedly accused the Tehran regime of supplying sophisticated explosive devices to insurgents. Government officials now acknowledge that there is no evidence, or even reliable intelligence, connecting the Iranian government to the infra-red triggered bombs which have killed 10 British soldiers in the past eight months.

Naturally, the retraction of the accusation has been given a lot less coverage than the original accusation and there are countless saps out there still thinking that Iran was responsible for blowing up British squaddies.

The funniest part is that the special bombs in question were actually designed by the British security forces.

Hmmmm, intriguing

The special bomb story is just part of a wider pattern of misinformation and deceit. The public musings of the Iranian president have been given a tremendous amount of coverage and have been widely misreported. Every few days a story crops up somewhere that the Iranians are buying, building or fantasizing about nuclear missiles.

The sources are never clearly identified and no evidence presented.

And we are constantly being deceived about the motivations behind, significance of and progress of Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.

The papers keep printing this crap though.

And let’s not forget the recent upsurge in stories warning us that a new major terrorist attack is certain and possibly imminent. There has been a subtle but noticeable increase in output over the last few weeks. Fuck me, even Osama has come out of semi-retirement with a new webcast.

Well, we’re told it’s Osama, we’re told it’s new. The CIA says so and the CIA always tells the truth.


The one hot Iranian story our media seems reluctant to talk about is that the Iranians are planning to sell their oil in Euros rather than dollars.

Given that the American government is eight trillion dollars in debt and printing money like there’s no tomorrow that could be a small problem for them.

Ensuring that people need to hold your currency to buy oil is a major prop to a currency and avoids actually having to produce anything yourself that people might want to buy.

The news that gold prices have hit a 25 year high as informed investors pile out of the dollar and dollar assets is, I’m sure, entirely coincidental

Of course, the last big oil exporter to switch oil trading from dollars to Euros was, erm, Iraq just before we blew the crap out of it.

There’s a subtle point here that has been deliberately withheld from most people. Oil itself is not necessarily the motivation for manufactured wars and foreign interventions. The currency used to buy that oil is arguably of much greater significance,

The Internet has been buzzing with the Iranian Oil Bourse story and the relevance it may or may not have to a potential attack on Iran. However, I’m mindful of the Iran-Contra affair when the Reagan administration was knowingly selling arms to Iran at a time when it was supposedly a mortal enemy. Who’s to say what is really going on right now?

But the point is our media is not even touching the bourse story and uncritically parroting any old crap our governments and unattributed sources feed them and right now everything is pointing towards an attack on Iran and possibly a justification for that attack in the form of a major terrorist incident.

So, what’s going on here? Are the people in charge and their mouthpieces stupid or wicked? Or maybe they’re wickedly stupid? As things stand we poor Muppets out there lose either way. Either we get involved in another war – and don’t forget the Russians and Chinese have interests in Iran, or we leave the Iranians alone, they fuck the dollar and our debt-ridden economies in the UK and US tip over like dominoes.

It’s looking like a no win situation from here.

2006 is definitely shaping up to be a red letter year

The Iranians start trading oil in Euros on the 20th March.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Ooooh I love you, oh, you pay my rent

And the prize for Wally of the Week just has to go to ex Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten.

Of course, on hearing the news that Oaten, married with two children, had been spending time with a male prostitute, the obvious first question that all concerned citizens must ask themselves is ‘was Oaten the pitcher or the catcher?’. Well, that’s what I always ask myself.

Now I’d be the last person to criticise Oaten, or anybody else, for their lifestyle choices. I’m currently reading Matthew Parris’ biography where he eloquently writes about the problems of being a gay and seeking and holding political office. It doesn’t sound like fun. What makes Oaten such a colossal bell-end is that he chose to enter the Liberal Democratic leadership contest without first dealing with such an obvious skeleton in his, erm, closet…

Hummmm, let me see …I’ve been paying for sex with a man whore for the last six months and now I’m going to stand for election as leader of Britain’s third political party. Nope, no potential problems on the horizon there. Only the two of us know about it and he’s definitely not going to sell the story to the newspapers. No, I’m his special bitch…

Aside from the Oaten’s sheer stupidity, another aspect of the story that gets me is the obvious relish even such supposedly responsible organisations as the BBC have displayed in using the expression ‘rent boy’.

The boy in question is 23.

How old do you have to be before you get promoted to male prostitute?

I know, I know, rent boy is such an excellent term. Half of it rhymes with ‘bent’ and the other half adds a suggestion of paedophilia to the payload.

Rent boy

It just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?

What the fuck is it with our MPs anyway? Oaten’s resignation statement included the line ‘I would like to apologise for errors of judgement in my personal behaviour’. Former secretary of state for Wales and legendary cottager Ron 'moment of madness' Davies’ used the same language after being mugged whilst cruising on Clapham Common. What exactly is the error of judgement in question? I’m guessing that you don’t ‘judge’ that you’re into sex with strangers in public places so presumably the error is that he got caught doing it.

Actually my personal favourite Ron Davies line was his claim, after being photographed visiting a well-known cruising spot near a motorway lay by, that he was looking for badgers.

He fucks badgers?

You name it and there’ll be a Member of Parliament into it; from kiddy porn through to dressing up in lingerie and hanging yourself with an orange in your mouth.

So, what are the three surviving candidates for the Liberal party, the party of Jeremy Thorpe, leadership into? I must confess to having a soft spot for Simon Hughes. He was my local MP for twenty years until I moved into Lambeth from Southwark and he is revered by a large number of his constituents. Unlike many London MPs he is seen out and about his constituency and is always approachable. The last time I saw him he was drinking a can of lager in the crowd at a free Chas and Dave concert in Southwark Park a few months ago. However, political pundits consider him to be too fluffy and question his credentials to be a serious leadership contender.


My question is ‘what’s his bag?

And what about the favourite candidate, Sir Menzies Campbell? What toots his flute?

autoerotic asphyxiation?

The really serious issue behind all of this is the power of the British newspapers and the handful of unelected people who own them. Our newspapers gave up serious investigative public interest journalism years ago but they remain the first port of call for any sleazy fucker with some dirt to sell. This means that the likes of Rupert Murdoch are the modern day equivalent of J Edgar Hoover; sitting there with files of information on an array of public figures. And they get to decide when to make the contents of those files public. Some stories remain unpublished for years until they’ve properly matured. Some don’t get reported at all. Just as well that major media moguls are such nice, honourable people isn’t it?

Beware the Eight Passion Proteins

Whilst browsing through Flickr the other day I came across a photo of the cover of Stanley ‘The Protein Man’ Green’s Eight Passion Proteins booklet.

Anyone over 30 who grew up in London will remember Stan as that 'special person' who was always walking up and down Oxford Street with a huge placard muttering about the dangers of eggs and flogging his homemade guide to dietary well-being for 12p a pop. The booklet was a classic printed, as it was, on a homemade press and with a font style vaguely remiscent of a hybrid cross between a ransom and a suicide note.

The full text of Stanley’s pamphlet is recorded for posterity here. As someone else said ‘reading it made Tolkein look like Doctor Seuss’. Stanley sold his last earthly booklet back in 1993, so remembering him is one of those things that separates ‘old’ Londoners, as in people who actually grew up here, from new Londoners who’ve been here for about five minutes, give or take.

I only mention this because coming across the picture made me all nostalgic about the London that once was. I won’t fart on like an old man about that now. I just wanted to blog the cover picture. It makes me smile.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Six months on...

From Bridget Dunne...

We remember Jean Charles de Menezes
7th January 1978 - 22 July 2005

Justice for Jean
Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign

Six months o­n, we still remember
No More Cover up
We demand Justice

Commemoration of the 6 month anniversary
of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes
Sunday 22nd January, 1pm
Stockwell Tube Station

Thursday, January 19, 2006

RIP Fathers 4 Justice

So, Fathers 4 Justice is no more

I thought they were pretty much done for a few months ago when a couple of us strolled over to Green Park to photograph their latest protest march. It was a poorly attended and sombre affair, with the actual protestors comfortably outnumbered by police and photographers,

It’s unlikely that their three year campaign did anything to advance the cause of British fathers in the divorce courts. However, what they did achieve, astonishingly well, was to demonstrate the fallacy behind the increased security measures being imposed in this country, particularly in London.

Yup the sight of beer-bellied middle-aged men dressed as Zorro climbing up, and prancing around, some of the supposedly most secure buildings in the country was always guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye.

They made the people who run the police look like complete dickheads.

My personal favourite was that video clip of bloke dressed as Batman walking up the Buckingham Palace with a huge step ladder, propping it up against the railings in broad daylight then climbing up onto one of the front balconies

The cunning swine.

Given that they were doing such a good job of making police chiefs look like idiots it comes as no surprise to hear that the group was infiltrated by undercover anti-terrorist officers. There is also a vague whiff of suggestion of a suspicion that it may even have been one of those undercover officers who started the talk about kidnapping Tony Blair’s son. That would go some way to explaining why the police were so pissed off that the kidnap story broke earlier this week.

We wouldn’t want people to start thinking that our security forces employ agent provocateurs to stir up trouble in activist groups would we?

Even if the police weren’t behind the dastardly ‘kidnap plot’ it seems rather unlikely than anyone was being serious. At the very least our police seem to have trouble distinguishing between a genuine terrorist threat and the drunken ramblings of a few embittered fathers in the pub after a hard day in the divorce courts. Or is anyone suggesting that the threat was real? As the press release on the Father’s 4 Justice site says …

The group say that ex members have reportedly been in contact with the Anti-Terrorist Unit SO13 from Scotland Yard who said that activists would be shot on sight if engaged in any protests in Westminster.

You can just picture the headlines can’t you

Batman executed in abortive kidnap attempt!

Zorro killed in police shoot out! He was wearing a heavy cape… kind of suspicious for this of time year!

Superman not so super after all!

That would make for an interesting IPCC investigation wouldn’t it?

Let him have it, Chris

So, the IPCC report on the shooting in Stockwell station last year is almost complete.

And the leaking and spinning has got going again.

My favourite chunk of hot steamy spin so far was this line from an article in the Scotsman

A Sunday newspaper, citing unidentified sources, said surveillance officers following de Menezes sent a message to armed colleagues at the subway station that "this is the man". They meant he was the man they were following, but firearms officers understood it to mean he was a suicide bomber, the paper said

Nice one. Being a bit of history buff I think the parallels with the infamous Derek ‘let him have it’ Bentley Case are a nice touch.

It would, of course, be useful to hear a recording of the communications between the police prior to the shooting but, lordy lordy, the kit wasn't working at the time. Now there's a surprise.

This is looking pretty bad isn’t it? The media is already basically reporting that the shooting was the result of a series of unfortunate errors. It is also regurgitating all sorts of irrelevant information and confusing detail about what happened that day without actually addressing the outstanding questions (cf. Chewbacca Defense). Questions like:

  • Why was the soldier observing de Menezes flat on his own?
  • Why did the soldier go off and take a leak without leaving his camera running?
  • If no one observed de Menezes leaving his flat how did the execution team pick up his trail?
  • Why did the execution team allow a suspected suicide bomber to enter the tube system?
  • Why execute a man carrying no baggage and wearing a thin jacket on the supposed basis that he might be a suicide bomber?
  • What’s the deal with the widely reported eye witness accounts that bore absolutely no resemblance to what actually happened?
  • Why did the head of the Metropolitan Police state that de Menezes was a terrorist hours after the killing?
  • What happened to the CCTV footage from Stockwell Station? London Underground staff were on the record saying that the CCTV was working fine

There is no evidence that police really did tail the guy from his flat and absolutely fuck all reason to believe they thought, mistakenly or otherwise, that they were executing a potential bomber. Weaving alternate scenarios, as others have done, is a mug’s game but as things stand the story being shoved down our throats by a compliant press stinks.

And once again Joe Public is faced with the question ‘are our leaders wicked or are they stupid?’ and, once again, people will settle for stupid.

My biggest regret is that I didn’t find some way to brand or trademark the expression ‘A tragic failure of intelligence’ ages ago. Maybe there’s still time

Tasteful Link Round Up

Continuing the tradition of the mix of ineffective social commentary and references to furry animal porn that has made this blog, and my mind, what they are today I offer up a smattering of links that have amused or bemused me recently

That’s enough for today methinks

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Best Blonde Joke Ever?

The Geek Press blog has unearthed what it believes to be the funniest blonde joke ever.

I’m not so sure.

The Root of all Evil pt2

Most of real people I know, as opposed to Internet people, are moderately amused by the fact that I keep a blog. Whenever I bump into someone I haven’t seen for a while at some point they’ll say

‘I read your blog every now and again’

Then comes that little smile.

The same kind of smile you’d expect to see after someone says

‘I saw you wanking the other day’

‘… in public’

They have a point.

And the reason why I do it in public is because the possibility that someone might actually read a post obliges me to attempt to organise my efforts in a semi-accessible way

I think I’ll park the self-abuse analogy at this point.

However, the thought that anyone else might really read a post, particularly the longer ones, rarely enters my mind. But, and bless you, a couple of people do actually read the bloody things.

I mention all of this because a couple of posts back I raised the subject of the legitimacy of a certain country in the Middle East at the end of the post.

This is, as they say, a hot button subject and somebody dropped me an email reminding me of that.


I only mentioned Israel because it the one of those hot button issues presented in the media as being religious in origin and I don't believe that for one minute. No more than I believe the Troubles in Northern Ireland have been about theological differences between Protestantism and Catholicism.

Prior to all the War on Terror nonsense, the Northern Ireland conflict was the classic example used to support the ‘religion is cause of all wars’ argument; the religious origins of WW1 and WW2 being a little harder to advocate.

Given that the Troubles were a lot more to do with the legacy of 400 years of British Colonialism and biff all to do with debates over the Eucharist, citing the Northern Ireland as an example of religious conflict always got me banging my head against the nearest wall. And that was even when I believed, as I once did, that religion was the cause of most wars.

There is something quite sad about someone arguing about religious ignorance from a position of political and historical ignorance…

But when it comes to arguing for secular fundamentalism, facts and objectivity often go out of the window as readily as when religious fundamentalists are plying their wares. In last week’s programme ‘The Root of All Evil’, which started this train of posts, Richard Dawkins even played the now well-worn ‘The Pope is responsible for the spread of AIDS because he prohibits the use of condoms’ card.

Now there may be some grain of truth there, maybe, but as a scientifically minded person I’d like to see the data that demonstrates a correlation between strict Catholicism with AIDS. Generally speaking, devout Catholics are not the most promiscuous of types and my money would be on the correlation being a negative one, even with the occasional erstwhile partner playing away from home.

All of the above is not to say I’d argue in favour in support of religious lunatics. The kind of sickos who will say such and such a disaster was ‘God’s judgement’ every time a few thousand innocents get washed out to sea. Nope, they are nutters, no doubt and they get plenty of airtime. But what about the other side of story? How about a follow-up show to Dawkins’ series?

Why science is the root of all evil

...advocating the premise that progressive religion belief is the only thing that stands between humanity and a New Age of Fear, Exploitation and Perpetual War.

How so?

Easy so.

Belief in the Theory of Evolution is a cornerstone of contemporary atheistic thinking...

and evolution is supposedly driven by natural selection of better-adapted individuals within a species. In some species individuals gather into groups to undertake activities they could not complete as individuals. Natural selection then takes place at a group as well as an individual level, particularly when resources are scarce. The better-adapted groups will out-compete the less-adapted groups to the ultimate benefit of the species as a whole.

It is therefore natural, logical and beneficial for some individuals and groups to triumph over others.

It would be nice to think that I made this line of reasoning up just now. I didn’t. Nazis, eugenicists, capitalists and all sorts of secular, rational people have applied just that line of thinking to justify all sorts of nastiness from pretty much the moment the Theory of Evolution was conceived.

It’s all about lebensraum baby

Racism and a belief in human inequality are the Evolution's dirty little secret. Nietzsche, hardly the greatest fan of organised religion, pointed out that nobody would have ever come up with the irrational notion that all men are born equal without the influence of religion.

He had a point.

And that’s why the likes of Richard Dawkins skirt round issues such as race and equality whenever they can or mumble some old toss about how human evolution is now somehow based on the natural selection of individual ideas rather than individuals.

Yes of course Richard, nudge nudge, wink wink

You old Nazi.

So, what’s it going to be then? A world run by people who believe in God-given concepts of Good and Evil and strive to be Good, however imperfectly, or one run by the white coated, spiritual descendants of the men who ran the death camps in Germany and Russia. The kind of guys who create Hydrogen bombs and nerve gas and drop acid into lab rabbits’ eyes for a giggle?

A tad harsh? A tad one-sided?

Of course it is.

Science is not the root of all evil, any more than religion is. Arseholes are.


While typing this post a hypothetical question came to mind...

Four close friends are standing on the deck of a sinking ship in the middle of a terrible storm. There is one lifeboat. Being expert sailors they know that they have two escape options:

  1. If just three of them get into the lifeboat they will have a 100% chance of escape. The person left behind will drown. i.e. 75% of the group would survive.
  2. If all four get into the lifeboat there is only a 70% chance they will escape. There is a 30% chance all four will drown

People with religious faith or religiously derived morality would presumably go for option B.

But what would a group of Dawkins-esque, scientific rationalists decide to do? And why?

(Star Trek fans will notice some similarities with themes touched on in the Wrath of Khan, including Spock's act of self sacrifice and Kirk's solution to the Kobayashi Maru scenario. I say, verily, there is much wisdom to be found in Trek)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A frank of admission of ignorance

Every now and again I come across a word that everyone else out there seems to know about but, for some reason, I don’t.

I recall gubernatorial causing me some vexation in the not too distant past.

My latest problem word is ‘segway’. For months now I’ve kept hearing that frickin word; usually from the mouths of American TV presenters and radio hosts when announcing a link between two articles...

segway segway segway

In my ignorance, and taking the context into account, I just assumed that it was some sarcastic reference to riding around, slowly, on a Segway bicycle thingie, possibly even to George Bush falling off one some time ago.

To cut a long story short, the penny dropped the other day and I discovered that the word that has been bugging me is actually ‘segue’, as in…

segue [pronounced "segway"] is a direction to a performer. It means continue (the next section) without a pause. It comes from the Italian "it follows"

Der, I got it completely the wrong way round. The Segway name was a playful pun on the word ‘segue’ all along that went totally over my head.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t bought one yet


Another word I’ve been playing around with recently is ‘Qaeda’, as in Al Qaeda. A comment on a previous post mentioned that one translation of Al Qaeda is ‘The Teacher’ which rang a few bells in the back of my head and I did some checking to confirm my, different, understanding of the translation. The segue incident had bruised my self confidence beyond measure.

Most sources agree that Al Qaida actually means ‘The Base’. Two explanations have been advanced for the origin of the expression.

The first explanation comes from Bin Laden himself. Well someone claiming to be Bin Laden anyway. The shape of his face and his overall build change from video to video so many times that I lose track of which one is supposed to be the real one…

The name 'al Qaeda' was established a long time ago by mere chance. The late Abu Ebeida El-Banashiri established the training camps for our mujahedeen against Russia's terrorism. We used to call the training camp al Qaeda [meaning 'the base' in English]. And the name stayed

The second explanation is a little more intriguing and originated from a former French security officer, Major Pierre-Henri Bunel. Robin Cook, the former UK Foreign Secretary seemed to buy into Bunel’s explanation and quoted it in a newspaper article he wrote before his death…

Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally "the database", was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians

I remember that my first thought on reading this second suggested explanation was how lucky it was for Al Qaeda that its membership details weren’t recorded on a spreadsheet or, worse still, a paper-based contact management system

Al Filofax

Doesn’t have quite the same ring does it?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

What a lovely idea

I am merely passing on this link for education and information purposes only. I shall from refrain from comment ..

Beanies for Baghdad

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Root of all Evil pt1

A while ago I blogged a post about one of my very favourite public figures, the very balanced and profoundly humane (I know because he says so) Professor Richard Dawkins.

He was on telly again this week, explaining why religion is the cause of, well, pretty much everything that is bad in the world. He’ll be on again next week comparing religion to a deadly virus.

That is the same Richard Dawkins who refuses to participate in debates with creationists because doing so would give them the "oxygen of respectability" that they want with the public.

However, because I’m not like Richard Dawkins I actually sat through his programme and listened to what he had to say, even though I don’t agree with him.

There wasn’t anything particularly new on offer – just the usual blend of whoppers, semi-whoppers, non-sequiters and unscientific leaps into Social Darwinism. At one point, and the smug grin on his face showed he thought he was being really clever, he tried to wind-up a Christian fundamentalist by comparing his services to a Nuremberg Rally. The fundamentalist was clearly familiar with Godwin’s Law, let the crack pass and suggested that Dawkins, just possibly, was suffering from intellectual arrogance. No amount of post editing could disguise the fact that Dawkins was losing that one.

Even though this was familiar ground one thing really bugged me, as it always does. Dawkins steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the political basis of supposed fanatical terrorism. Forget the fact that research has shown that the majority of suicide bombings around the world are secular; forget the fact that a lot of Muslims are fucked off because we are occupying their lands. Nope, according to Dawkins, it’s all down to religion.

Which suggests to me that Dawkins is a unpleasant man who has no compulsion with misrepresenting the deaths of literally millions to support his pet thesis.

And, as such, he is a leading spokesman for the machine that is busily fucking over our world and the people in it.

Dawkins current TV show is a small part of a complete media package designed to distract as many people as possible from the reality of who’s doing what to who in the world right now and, most importantly, why.

Right now, the trial of Islamic cleric Abu Hamza is receiving lavish amounts of airtime. Apparently he has said lots of naughty things about the West. I can’t be 100% sure if that’s true because the media has taken to reporting two or three word Hamza sound bites, givem out of context, rather than quoting him in full. Hamza certainly looks like a nutcase but I am mindful of the treatment recently given to the Iranian president’s comment that Israel should be ‘wiped from the map’. Taken in context it was clear that he was referring to Israel as a political entity. The media however gleefully misrepresented his comment as a call to erase everyone living in Israel.

Not the same the thing.

Actually, I can even think of a few orthodox Jewish groups that, rightly or wrongly, agree with him.

Monday, January 09, 2006

I read it in a newspaper it must be true

I’ve just read an absolutely superb article from yesterday’s Sunday Mirror

Terror chiefs are also targeting fanatics who suffer other lethal blood diseases such as hepatitis and dengue fever in order to increase their "kill rate" from an explosion. The chilling new threat is revealed in papers distributed to British military camps in Iraq and across Europe.

Under the heading "HIV/Hepatitis" the document states: "There is evidence that terrorists might be deliberately recruiting volunteers with diseases that are spread by blood transference."

Experts have found that bones and other blood-spattered fragments from a suicide bomber could penetrate the skin of a victim 50 metres away and infect them.

Someone, somewhere is making all this nonsense up and feeding it to the media. Which begs a simple question, Why?

Stay tuned for next week’s gripping installment of ‘Joe Public will swallow any old crap’ when a major national newspaper discovers that Al Qaeda operatives are planning to shove fireworks up the arses of chickens infected with the H5N1 virus.

(category: political stuff)

Best Geek Joke I've heard this year

Everyone knows there are only 10 types of people in this world... those who understand binary and those who don't...

(category: daft stuff)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Peeing in the wind does have its purposes

Originally uploaded by wintoid.

... of course just because the media and the governing class may be ranged against you that's no reason give up on a cause

and fair play to those who find the strength and energy to do so

Friday, January 06, 2006

Peeing in the wind

Dum de dum de dum …

de dum …


Still no news about the investigation into the shooting of that bloke in Stockwell tube station last July then

Your heart really has to go out to the people at the IPCC. Finding the optimum way to present their, ummm, conclusions has got to be a real bastard. In particular, finding someone who will carry the can without spilling their guts is going to be really challenging.

No real worries though. The media will play along. It’s good at that sort of thing.

Mind you, at least there is some form of enquiry into that killing. Which is more than you can say about the bombings on 7th July. Tony Blair announced just before Christmas that an enquiry into 7/7 would be prohibitively expensive. Instead, government ministers will instead publish a ‘definitive account of what happened in a written narrative’.

Given our government’s illustrious track record for truth telling quite a few people, including some 7/7 victims, are not exactly enthralled by the prospect. Presumably the definitive account will begin with the line ‘Once upon a time’ or something similar.

Hats off to Rachel from North London for taking umbrage with the announcement and starting a petition calling for an enquiry though a nagging voice in my head tells me that it’s a waste of time.

Kudos too to John Tulloch for speaking out against Blair capitalising on people’s deaths. Some of his thought on the subject have been reported in the press today and, in my humble opinion, he’s pretty much spot on when it comes to the culture of fear and the douche bags behind it.

Respect is also due to Bridget Dunne who has grabbed hold of the fact that the train the supposed 7/7 bombers took to London that day didn’t actually run. She, and others, have tried to get this information into the mainstream media with a conspicuous lack of success. Amongst many other things, she actually took time to complain about a particularly nauseating slab of propaganda broadcast by the BBC under the banner of a science documentary after the bombings last year.

Of course none of this will come to anything in the present climate. If the mainstream media steadfastly refuses to pick up and run with the stories about outstanding questions about the events of 7/7 or the government’s reasons for not holding an enquiry, anyone speaking out is just peeing in the wind. Bless them for trying though.

And it’s not just media resistance or the failure of political opposition at work here, it’s Joe Public himself. Time and again he’s presented with two implied scenarios to explain the behaviour of our government…

It’s either wicked or stupid

And, time and again, Joe Public chooses stupid. It’s more comforting.

The line ‘a tragic failure of intelligence’ is starting to wear a little thin with a few of us out here in Pleb Land.

Obviously, not everyone chooses to believe they live in a world where every unfortunate or loathsome act by government is simply the result of a blunder by essentially well meaning people but enough people buy into that. Just enough

And if the balance ever starts to tip away from government, well, there’s always the prospect of another suicide attack, the 21st century equivalent of the now desperately unfashionable Lone Gunman, just around the corner isn’t there?

(category: political stuff)

antifascist noticeable

Is it just me or is spam becoming ever more surreal in its attempt to gain our attention?

Sure, I still receive my daily dose of traditional, ‘classic’ spam. From the direct …

How Would You Like a Much Bigger P E N I S?
GAIN UPTO 2-3 I N C H E S !!
FACT: 76% of woman are not satisfied with their lovers size.

to the even more direct …

From: Sandie
Subject: Just do her!

but lately I’ve been receiving some really quite weird unsolicited material.

Allow me to demonstrate…

Exhibit 1

Subject: Giancarlo says hello

Hi there,

I just got off the phone with Giancarlo and he was telling me about his new book about getting what (and who) you want with the power of Witchcraft.
Yes, I said Witchcraft.
But not the bad kind…a helpful, spiritual sort of thing.
Anyway, he told me about the amount of copies he was selling on a daily basis and (after my jaw absolutely dropped) I was convinced we are in the middle of a 'magic revolution'
He doesn’t know how long he can offer this book, so I wanted to make sure you had your chance to read it before it’s gone I am SURE you will love it :-)

Check it out.

Exhibit 2

From: Ilar Imperato []
Sent: 13 December 2005 15:24
To: Jimmy Barroso
Subject: Re: antifascist noticeable

<link removed>

Then I must demand more money. Whoevers paying you can afford it. Not a dollar! Then Im leaving. Stop! ... Five hundred more, thats it. Five thousand or I go. Ridiculous! See you in another twenty years- All right. ... All right, five thousand. Oh, Randy, youre so obvious. Its why youre not really one of the brightest, just someone who can use language to make yourself appear bright, and I think weve seen and heard enough of that these days. ... Ten thousand, Dr. Gates, or I go to the raucous bar of my choice. You cant do this.

He’s right. I can’t…

(category: daft stuff)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Devil has all the best tunes

This blog is a little over year old.

I can dimly remember my reasons for starting it and they were not primarily political. If they were I would have chosen a different format, eased off on the swearing a little, focused on specific issues and included fewer links to Japanese porn star sites.

Yet now, a year on, my thoughts, and therefore my blog, are increasingly preoccupied with political issues and not that distractive bullshit presented to people along party political lines. Party politics has become almost totally meaningless. Voters are presented with false choices, or no choices at all. The notion of Left and Right wing politics has become a joke. Made doubly funnier by the fact that so many people have not noticed yet.

but I digress

I have always been one of those people who believed themselves to be hyper rational and hyper realistic when it came to politics. Popular protest never changes anything, the world has always been run by crooks and politicians are all the same. You can either go with the flow, accept that reality and carve out a life for yourself or become a fucking tree hugger and waste your time chasing moonbeams.

And events seem to supported that point of view. I have seen a succession of idealists and idealistic causes either crash and burn or, worse still, rot from within and become what they set out to oppose. The grass roots protests and strikes of the 1980s and early 1990s, the Labour movement, even ecological activism have all been neutered and subverted in one way or another.

As a general principle, when you find yourself agreeing with oil companies that the days of ‘cheap’ energy are over or sharing a stage with the richest man in the world as part of a global anti poverty campaign you’re probably doing something wrong.

The Devil has all the best tunes and I can understand why people serve him. The pay is good and the thought that you are playing for the team that is pulling all the strings must be delicious.


So, there I was standing on the margins of the carol service outside the Houses of Parliament a couple of weeks ago. A carol service intended to taunt our government’s latest security legislation. I was there because I fancied a walk, because I wanted to photograph something and because there was an outside chance that there might be some trouble. As it turned out, there was no trouble and the police kept well clear of the event, except for a couple of plain-clothes officers (credit where credit is due, plain-clothes police are a lot more convincing than they used to be but many coppers still look like coppers even when they slip into a pair of chinos).

Anyway, I came away from the carol service unsettled by my own attitude to whole business. The cause was just, the people present were decent and well-intentioned, yet my underlying sense that they were a bunch of ineffective lettuce crunchers was a strong as it has always been at similar events I have observed, rather than participated in, throughout my adult life.

I have to work on that. I really do.


I spent part of yesterday in the Imperial War Museum with some friends on a day trip to London. The IWM now houses a rather large Holocaust exhibit. I have mixed thoughts about that exhibit but I came out of the other end brooding on one old quote in particualr

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.

Now, the thing is I would be the first to admit that arresting someone for undertaking an unauthorised protest in Westminster is hardly comparable with a Nazi police state.

However, I cannot shrug off the feeling that even the Nazis had to start somewhere. And the question I am turning over in my mind is how far does a government have to go before it is reasonable for citizens to start to start bandying words like Fascism or Police State around?

And so on, and so on.

I could go on all night couldn’t I?

(category: political stuff)