Wednesday, 30 November 2005

Greenpeace

Greenpeace doesn't protest, it engages in "antics" to get it cheap publicity. The message is ostensibly one of environmental concern, yet the subtext is distinctly anti-capitalist. This week they scaled the interior of a building where the Prime minister was due to give a speech outlining the Governments plans to build a new generation of Nuclear Power Stations.

Greenpeace love renewables: Wind, solar, Current, wave and tidal generators. These are great but each one has its problems, not least their weather dependance, and the limited locations they can be sited. Another favoured fuel of the Eco lobby is "Biomass" (wood, straw, dung) This is good when burned in special CHP generators, but most of the third world burns biomass in open fires, a direct cause of deforestation and source of huge amounts of respiratory disease. Fermentation-based liquid fuel systems have all the ecological problems of intensive agriculture. Basically the long-term solution to the renewable conundrum is the fuel cell, but here there is a problem in that the favoured catalyst, platinum, is too scarce to be used everywhere it is needed. The technology doesn't yet exist for the "hydrogen economy", but it's coming.

Greenpeace can't have it both ways. Either global Warming is a problem that we need to solve, in which case Nuclear Power is a vital part of a carbon neutral energy supply chain; or Global warming can be ignored and we'll continue to develop the bulk of our power via fossil fuels, for the time being. Nuclear power isn't dangerous, and any accidents there have been are as the result of shoddy work in the soviet block like Chernobyl or like Three Mile Island, a total non-event. Compare this with the deaths from lung disorders from dirty coal stations' smoke stacks or amongst miners.

I suspect the real reason for the Greenpeace, and other environmental lobbyists's insistence on a system based on reduction in energy use is that they want to return to a mythical pastoral idyll, preferably via the destruction of capitalism (which is actually very good at generating capital for environmental research: follow some of the links). This is why any mention of "technological solutions" brings them out in hives.

George Bush has rightly dismissed Koyoto as a total nonsence. It is a hair shirt, which will achieve nothing because no countries which weren't going to cut CO2 emissions anyway, will do so as a result of this worthless bit of paper. Canada, the UK, Germany etc are all de-industrialising and our emissions are falling. Great. China and India are industrialising and will more than replace our emisssions. Instead the US line is that technology will come to the rescue. In the mean time, global warming isn't the impending disaster it is painted to be.

The US is spending more on renewable energy research than any other nation, and has a well developed ethanol fuel programme. These do not come out of some budget marked "environment", because in a decentralised economy, things happen without the government's direct intervention, and a lot of research is chanelled through other budgets: Military, National Parks etc.

It is easy to paint Bush as a Toxic Texan. He has taken the view, rightly I think, that courting eco-twats' votes is pointless and there's nothing to be gained. Winding them up helps paint him as a defender of American interests by rejecting Koyoto, which plays well in the Red States. This doesn't stop the US government doing quite a lot to further the environmentalist's aims. It's just it's presented it as "energy security" not as saving the world.

So where does this leave Mr. Blair and Greenpeace ? Unfortunately, he can't have them killed, like the French did, and people who like Greenpeace are labour voters by inclination, so his rhetoric must be consiliatory. But the right thing to do is to develop new Nuclear generators, secure our fossil fuel supply in the mean time and wait for renewable technology to provide the answers. This is similar to Mr. Bush's policy. Tony's swung into line and you won't find any arguments from this correspondent.



Monday, 28 November 2005

Modern Life


I heard a comedy sketch recently which pointed out the absurdity of an advertising executive complaining about his stressful life to his Grandfather, who at the same age was dodging Nazi bullets in North Africa. My Grandmother talks of Hearing the bombers flying overhead towards Coventry and watching the refugees on what is now the A45 trudging towards Northampton the next morning. My Grandfather was torpedoed whilst serving on the North Atlantic Convoys.

So is our modern life really more stressful?

Well yes. People mistake danger and discomfort for stress. For many veterans who survived, and those on the home front, the war years were a time when everyone felt part of something. The Nation pulled together to beat Hitler, and it is this sence of community and purpose we have lost. For my part I was happiest when suffering sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion on an almost daily basis when I served in the military. I was happy because I was part of something to which I owed everything and on which I could rely for support. I'd take a fox-hole in Libya in 1942 over today's crap any day.

Modern life is fragmented. We do not know our neighbours, our families are far away. Our friends are people of similar interests, not nessesarily those who live near us, so organising time with them is difficult (our difficulty in organising "the scene*" is a case in point).

The financial pressures of life are worse than any time since the 30's: everyone under the age of 40 is in debt, everyone over the age of 40 is worried about their pensions. Our Jobs are insecure, and we are resigned to years of wage slavery to ever more powerful corporations, who no longer pay a decent pension and offer you no loyalty, yet demand ever greater efforts in time and commitment for your meagre wage slip, no wonder we feel no affection for our employers.

Large firms have become adept at what is called process management. This is systems by which each employee's function becomes ever more controlled and specific. This has 2 effects: the productivity of the employee goes up; the employee has much less control over his job. Because the employee is increasingly reiterating what a computer tells him, he can be replaced easily, because anyone can do it. The computer programmers who put the software together are likewise process managed, but are highly skilled and have to be paid more. Mangement have some control over others, but they are in thrall to the "swinging dicks" above them, and at the mercy of "events, dear boy" below. Everyone is feeling the stress of disempowerment. I say large companies go out of their way to crush the Human Spirit of their employees.

At home, wage slaves live in almost unbelievable remoteness from anything resembling a community. No-one knows their neighbours, no-one ventures into the local pub, if you do, you don't speak to anyone you don't already know. So instead you collapse in front of the TV, to have the latest leftist, statist propaganda that passes for news and drama shoved down your throat and all the time you don't realise your soul's being destroyed.

The CCTV cameras that protect us actually represent an abrogation of responsibility to the state for law and order that goes far further than in any society that has hitherto existed. Society normally polices itself, and states have only needed law enforcers to crush opposition or in times of emergency. This time we are told the police protect us. Oh yeah, from whom? Certainly not from burglars or robbers. We feel we need them because we have been told to fear our neighbours. This renders us powerlessness to defend ourselves and take responsibility for our homes and neighbourhoods and forces us into the state's tender mercies. The police's failure to keep their side of the bargain (robbery is effectively legal in the UK) renders this powerlessness more acute.

Although we live in an ostensibly free country, our state intrudes into ever increasing areas of our lives. Speed cameras, CCTV, ID cards, data bases, biometric passports, smoking bans, Hunting bans, public drinking bans, Licencing hours, officious, petty bureaucrats demanding ever increasing ammounts of intrusive information to fill Whitehall's latest box ticking excersise every time you try to do anything. Daily we fill up the coffers of government: laws demand this and that of you: road tax, TV license, Compulsory Insurance, Stamp duty, Income tax, VAT, National Insurance the list is endless. When you are owed something, or want something done by the state, you deal with ignorant, process managed incompetent shit-sacks who demand months of effort from you to get you what you deserve.

So we are disempowered at work, isolated in our homes, and harried and failed by the state. What effect does this have on people?

As a biologist, I look for evidence for stress or otherwise. For Animals in zoos, breeding is a good indicator of stress levels. Happy animals breed, unhappy ones don't even if all their physical needs are met. We in the affluent west have more or less stopped breeding, indicating a high level of stress. Within this, look at birth rates by postcode areas and you'll notice an almost inverse relationship to wealth. Perhaps this is the first scientific evidence that "money cannot buy you happiness", or perhaps babies really are little shitting, puking bundles of joy. As I do not have a sprog yet (that I know of) the jury's out.

Above all, on the National level the west is enduring a sort of crushing ennui. This is exemplified by Germany and France, where the reforms nessesary to kick start economies are rejected because of a lack of self-confidence despite polling evidence that the electorate knows what is needed . Britons are constantly being told to reject the symbols of the Nation which hold us together in favour of some form of multi-culti blandness, usually because they're racist or offensive.

How can immigrants to our countries learn to love their new home if we aboriginals are always talking the country down? Indians, Somalis and Pakistanis do not have to give up being overtly and proudly sub-continental or African to be British as well, so perhaps where we've gone wrong is in our own self-confidence. Whereas an immigrant to the United States may well feel proud of his adopted country, it is difficult to feel proud of something that does not love itself. Polling evidence supports this difference in Immigrants' attitudes on the 2 sided of the pond: new-commers to America identify more strongly with their adopted country than in the UK of France. Many commentators have blamed a polarizing, divisive multiculturaism. I disagree. Multiculturalism, when it is pride in a dual identity can be extremently healthy. Unfortunately most of the strident avocates of multiculturalism are on the left and have at heart the Leftist induced self-loathing and hatred of everything Britain stands for, and this may be equally to blame for poor assimilation in UK.

I have nothing to suggest in the way of policy except for Government to stop smothering us. Leave us alone. Fuck off.

We can however individually take control of our lives, and this will make us happier, better people.

  • If you don't like your job, change it and to hell with the consequences. If you don't like what you do for 8 hours a day, you're not going to die a satisfied man, are you?
  • If people realised that big corporations didn't value then and made them unhappy, there'd be no-one to work for them and the corporations would be forced change their ways. Work for the smallest outfit you can. Better still, work for yourself.
  • Form a community, If you don't already live in one
  • Make time for your friends
  • A little of what you fancy does you good. Health Nazis die young.
  • Take regular excercise. The endorphins use the same pleasure receptors as heroin and you'll be more alert.
  • Smile at people on the street (unless you look as sinister as Cradams)
  • Drink less.
  • Eat food that you've cooked yourself. Don't eat alone if you can help it.
  • Keep a journal (or Blog!)
  • Never abrogate responsibility. Everything that happens to you and around you is your doing. Start influencing the outcome. Never fall back on the state.**
  • There are no rules, only guidelines. Do what you think is right, even if it's agaist the law.

The State, The Corporation, they are not protectors, not saftey nets nor providers of a wage. They are smothering blankets, suffocating our human spirit. Throw it off.

*"The Scene" is shorthand for a weekend-long, extremely boozy get together between 4 friends (Me, Cradams, The Vague, Confused fellow, and Flash), where boardgames (Klaus Teuber's "Settlers of Catan", Britania, Carcassone and the hated Perudo) are played to the point of exhaustion for 3 days straight, excessively complicated scoring systems (a spreadsheet is used) are used to determine an overall winner and the world's smallest trophy bearing the Legend "Loser" is presented to the winner. This weekend I came a Miserable last and Flash scored a maiden victory in over 3 years of "scenes", ending Cradam's 4 scene run. Well done, dude.

**I did once and I am ashamed of myself



Thursday, 24 November 2005

Civil Partnerships


It seems The Government has it seems managed to please nobody with the civil partnerships for Gay people, if you listen to the media. Traditionalists lament them as a nail in the coffin of marriage. Some Gay advocacy groups say that they entrench discrimination because they aren't "marriage". They are both right.

This governement in particular has done more to remove the support for marriage in the tax and benefit system, especially amongst the lower orders, than any other. And Gay people still cannot marry.

So here's my compromise, for what its worth. Marriage is a "civil Partnership" between a man and a woman, and represents a contract with the state in return for certain (now very limited) tax benefits. The same benefits are now available to Gay people, but they are called a Civil partnership. That's good. Church blessings for gay couples should be up to what ever sect whose mumbo jumbo you wish to kneel in front of. The Church of England says "no", so find another. If Gays and Lesbians want to call it marriage and can find some liberal sect to bless them, great. It's no skin off my nose.

In the mean time the Governemnt should increase the benefits available to couples, Gay and Straight over inheritance, tax and benefits to encourage people to get together and stay together. They should make this available more widely, to any groups of people who have a commitment to each other. The oft quoted example of elderly spinsters living together springs to mind: you souldn't need to be bringing the person you live with to erotic climax on a regular basis to qualify. People who disaprove of Gays should continue to disaprove, in private. Gay advocacy groups should stop winding them up. The Media should ignore the non-controversy, then it'll go away.

However on the issue of Civil Partnerships, I think the government's got it broadly right. On the issue of support for married couples though, they are almost totally wrong.



Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Cephalopods

I was given to thinking about these things when I wrote my refutation of Creation Science. Who needs religeon when some sort of respect for Gia will fill your spiritual needs without demanding you reject empiracle evidence. Squid, Cuttlefish, Octopus and Nautilus are brilliant.

Architeuthis dux, known as the Giant squid. Big ones are the size of a bus. Surely the source of the Legend of the Kraken. There is a story, probably apocrophal that a large chunk of the budget for the BBC's lavish documentary series, "the blue planet" was spent trying to get film of these in the wild, alive. They failed, but recently a Japanese crew managed to catch a glimpse...

As always, when you name a species "Giant", something bigger comes along. Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni (collosal squid) has hooks on its suckers, but the one I really want scientists to find is the Collosal Octopus. Up to 30 metres across, and as yet undescribed.

Given that more people have been to the surface of the moon than down to the deep ocean trenches, there's a chance that something vast, mysterious and scary lurks down in the deep places of the world...



Tuesday, 22 November 2005

White Phosphorus and the Western Media

There is currently controversy about the US Army's use of White Phosphorus in combat. "Chemical weapon" bleat the anti-war whingers for whom a pointy stick is too aggressive for our servicemen to wave at their enemies. White phosphorus is used to create smoke screens and is very useful in flushing insurgents out of holes so they can be shot at. White Phosphorus is not a war crime, it's a weapon. A nasty one, but a legitimate one. There is no prohibition agaist military use of incendiaries that either the US or the UK have signed up to. Landmines, rarely a problem when used by western forces (we keep records of where mines are) have been banned. The ban won't stop them blowing children up in the third world because third world armies don't care about international law of armed conflict, but it may cost the life of a British Soldier somewhere, because he's inadequately defended. Clusterbombs are likewise controversial, probably because they go "bang" and hurt people.

These people who campaign against these weapons won't be happy until Western soldiers are so constrained by law and regulation that some pathetic, rag-bag army beats us, and thousands of the good people who defend with their lives the campaigners' right to whinge get killed. Maybe thats what these "campaigners" want.

The attitude that leads to this kind of excessive reporting of non-atrocities also leads to allegations of war crimes and torture. More often than not, allegations of war-crimes and torture made by western commentators turn out to be utterly untrue. The problem is that Al Jazeera reports the "torture" or the "war crime" as fact and fails to mention the fact that key prosecution witnesses made up allegations in order to secure payment. This is filtered by the Arab Street into the Idea that the occupying forces are as bad as Saddam Husein, fuels the insurgency and encourages Muslims worldwide to hate the US.

When not utterly untrue, there is a great deal of exaggeration. Blaming the US for casualties inflicted by insurgents is a cheap trick. What went on in Abu Ghraib was not torture as I or Saddam Hussein understand it. It was a gross example of humiliating mistreatment of prisoners and should be condemned, but "torture" is a bit strong. Torture is when you smash someone's teeth with a hammer and use a pin to poke the nerves. When you strap someone to a bench and beat the soles of their feet with electrical flex whilst electrocuting them. These were Uday Hussein's rewards for a lost football match*. Mock executions, beatings and starvation are torture, which was the fate of captured Alllied soldiers in the first gulf war. Being stripped naked and having Lindsay England laugh at your willy is not very nice, but let's face it, he'll live, and she's still ugly.

We can draw parallels with Vietnam here. The My Lai massacre was widely reported and the officer in charge was court martialled and rightly so. It was American servicemen, not jounalists who brought the story to light, despite there being journalists all over the country, itching to find something with which to discredit the US. Once brought to light, My Lai was widely reported, commented on and led to the collapse in support for the war that led to the US's eventual defeat. My Lai was presented as representative of the war, when it was not. Some Corageous American servicemen interposed themselves between the perpetrators and the surviving villagers, and pointed their guns at their fellow Americans as they did so. Honest American servicemen reported the incident and the officer in charge was court martialled (though I accept Lt. Calley got off more or less scott-free). It was a terrible, exceptional event that cannot, unfortunately, be avoided in war. All countries have their dark moments of shame.

Hue was the site of another, far worse massacre. This was well known to journalists at the time but was systematically ignored by the media. In history class I was only ever taught abou My Lai.

Why?

Hue was perpetrated by the enemy and that story did not and does not fit the anti US, anti western bias of the left liberal commetariat and the pinkos who run education.

Likewise, the Iraqi insurgency does not have the support of the people of Iraq, but you wouldn't think so if you read the BBC. Where are the demonstrations demanding withdrawl of British and American forces? Compare the demonstrations in Aman this week (against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) to the pathetic turnouts for anti US demonstrations in Baghdad. But a demonstration of 100,000 people in Aman isn't reported if it doesn't fit the international anti-war lobby's desired story. The insurgency in Iraq will not win on the streets of downtown Alamara, but in the opinion pages of the New York Times and the Guardian and in the campus newsletters and Junior Common Room meetings of American Universities. This is where America lost Vietnam and the self-loathing, nihilistic anti-war crowd know that they have the wherewithall to beat the superpower and its allies. All we have to do is blink.

They'll condemn Iraq to torment for decades if they suceed, which is why Britain and America and the Dozen or so other countries who have offered symbolic support must hold their nerve until the Job is done, until Iraq can look after its own security.

*Which rather puts Sir Alex Ferguson's reputation as a fearsome manager into perspective



Monday, 21 November 2005

Spear Tackles and Professional Fouls


The All-Blacks are a great team no doubt, but they are cynical bastards. Yesterday they got shown up as the cheating shits they are, by a ref who finally came close to enforcing the law on the men in Black. They could have been down to eleven men, if the blocking of players off the ball was penalised at all. As it was 3 sin-binnings did some justice. Just as Australia were finally shown that scrummaging is not just a way to restart last week, the all-blacks were shown that cynical play will be penalised.

All the great methods of professional fouling were first seen in the black jersey with with silver fern. Years ago, I remember tacklers rolling away, only to mysteriously pop up between scrum-half and stand-off with their arms in the air and a "I'm innocent guv'" look on their faces. This is clear and deliberate obstruction. Refs took three seasons to crack down on this scam.

That's before we mention Andy Hayden's notorious dive out of the line at the Arms park in 1978 which is remembered by welshmen the world over, and has less place on the rugby field than a good, honest punch in the face.

Crossing runners. Of course you're going to create first phase holes in defences if you are allowed to have decoy runners taking out the tackler. Problem is it's illegal. It took referees a long time to work it out. Now they just throw the ball forwards.

The All-Blacks are masters at the breakdown, and expert at slowing ball down, and just as careless of the letter of the law as every other team when clearing out, but they complain more if the other team has the termerity to compete with them at the tackle, as England did yesterday. The all blacks, unwilling to allow turnover held on too long in the tacke and were penalised. There should have been a sin-binning for this persistent infringement.

They will cheerfully give away a penalty rather than conceed a try, as was demonstrated by clearly and deliberately collapsing mauls. This was penalised strongly, the first time an all-black side has been refereed fairly in this regard.

Citing panels and the IRB have been similarly lenient up till now. South African and English players and teams get a much rougher ride. Jamie Joseph deliberately stamped on Kyran Bracken's ankle after the latter's try on his debut in 1993. Tana Umaga's notorious spear tackle on Brian O'Driscoll in the 2005 Lions tour effectively ended the contest 5 minutes into the first test. Neither was punished. I could go on...

Yesterday, the all-blacks were guilty of late challenges, blocking of runners off the ball, pulling mauls down, unnessesary administration of the shoe to players clearly trying to roll away from the tackle, not to mention persistent offside and the two forward ("all-black lateral") passes which led to tries. England were pussy-cats in comparison. There were all-blacks on the floor, almost begging to be stamped on yet England, knowing that a white shirt attracts penalties easier than a Black one, resisted.

England yesterday competed at the breakdown, dominated up front and could have won the game, but wouldn't it be nice if the All-Blacks actually turned up to play rugby? Thank goodness they bottle it in world cups.



Thursday, 17 November 2005

While we're on the subject

Religion...

Before I start, I must point out that I'm an atheist and I don't beleive the Bible (or any other text) has anything other than allegorical meaning. I certainly wouldn't use it to form a basis of my thinking on something as complicated as Human Sexuality.

I don't know where the church of England gets its ideas from. The bible is utterly clear on the issue of Homosexuality. It doesn't allow sexual conduct for purposes other than procreation within wedlock. It's down on masturbation (mutual or otherwise), sodomy, troilistic romping and pretty much everything else involving willies, fannies and bums.

If you're a God-botherer, you can't be a practicisng Homosexual (or wanker or polyamourist for that matter). Instead the bible insists you live your life in unfulfilled misery and temptation. Sorry.

I reccomend rejecting all medaeval black-magic mumbo-jumbo. It's better to face it now that revealed texts are the heavily edited ramblings of two-thousand year old paranoid schitzophrenics. Lets take Abraham, father of the three great monotheisms. Imagine you're found, about to plunge the knife into your son and you offer the excuse "God told me to do it"*. You'd avoid prison, but only by spending the rest of your life "at her Majesty's pleasure" in a secure hospital for the criminally insane. Jesus would probably have had the ATF fire-bomb the last supper and Mohammed, well he was a temporal and spiritual leader at the same time, and would probably therefore have ended his days on the wrong end of a cruise missile.

It's lucky then that Mao's "little red book", Gaddafhi's "little green book", whatever the "Great Leader", Kim Il Sung drooled and gibbered onto the page in his "Juche Thought", and all the other bonkers ramblings of demagogues around the world are treated with the contempt they deserve these days. Even the atheist faith of communism is uttering its death rattle.

The Torah, Bible and Koran and even 'Das Kapital' probably made good sense in their day, but as St. Thomas Aquinas remarked, "beware the man of one book".

*I know GW Bush offered that as an excuse for invading Iraq, but he did have other geopolitical reasons too, which you may or may not agree with.



Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Victim Politics

I try not to use the term "Left" and "Right" to describe my political ideology, though I find myself sucked into the meaningless shorthand. My view is of British politics containing three points of a triangle

  • Socialism,

  • Conservatism

  • Liberalism
This seems to point to the three political parties, when in fact the Tories are Liberal / Conservative, the Labour Party is Socialist / Liberal with a dash of conservatism and the Liberal Democrats are whatever they feel like on the day.

This maybe a more accurate description, but everyone knows what they mean by "Left" and "Right" but it's difficult to define. Many of New Labour's policies are classically "Right Wing" the war, the authoritarianism; but are approached from a Left wing Viewpoint. David Davis is much more liberal than Tony Blair, but is seen as a hard-line Right winger. Yet this is still a Left-wing government.

Left-Right is not defined by policy, but by self-identification. For an explanation of what I mean, let's start with the extremes, Fascism and Communism.

  • Fascism is a totalitarian dictatorship allied to the ownership of capital.

  • Communism is a totalitarian dictatorship allied to the owners of the means of production.
They are the same for most practical purposes except that Fascism is better dressed. The Ideological difference is that communism identifies itself with the oppressed masses, (hence “left”) yet employs crushing oppression. Fascists make no bones about their alliance with the rich and powerful (hence “right”), and employ crushing oppression.

Moving into the reasonable area of political debate, this self-identification defines your rhetoric therefore your Left-Right status, but has little direct bearing on your policy (except on taxation and private enterprise), but more a drift of thinking. The left tends to identify with, and often uses group identity politics. The right tends to be more individualistic, rejects group identity politics and does not instinctively assume oppression or discrimination. Though it is rarely said, often the right often feels that the worst off in society have, at least in part, themselves to blame.

Thatcher succeeded in getting the lower middle class to think aspirationally, that is to identify themselves with the rich and powerful. Even if you’re a plumber, you have the makings of a business magnate in your white van. The Left however encourages people to think in terms of things done to them: who’s passed you over for promotion or a pay rise, why didn’t you get that job? If you self-identify with a gender, racial group or class which is traditionally oppressed (women, homosexuals, blacks, Asians, Muslims, the working class etc…) then you’re told that any low status in society is not your fault, but as a direct result of oppression or discrimination.

So the language of the victim culture is born, and its users no longer seek to better themselves, instead they beg for Government intervention.

In any conflict the left will side with the perceived victim. Catholics in Northern Ireland, Palestinians in the Middle-East and so on. If you listen to the Left, The IRA was justified in blowing up the City of London because of years of oppression by the Orangemen. The Palestinians are justified in sending Suicide Bombers into Israel because of Israeli force. Any war engaged in by a western power for
legitimate geopolitical interests will be opposed by the Left, because as far as they are concerned, we are always to blame.

In broader society, lawlessness is perceived by the left as a function of economics. The Labour party can’t be tough on crime because it believes that the thief is not personally to blame, society is.

I suspect this self-identification as a victim is a form of self-loathing. Even if you are a successful Labour politician, you believe that your chosen victim identity group cannot succeed without government help, because you lack confidence in your own abilities (probably correctly, if you’re a new Labour Minister). More importantly, you must handicap those nasty, successful groups to give everyone a fair chance, hence Gordon Browns
spiteful taxation policies.

When the Labour Party assumed power in 1997, they assumed the civil service to be Tory poodles following 18 years of Conservative government, and dismantled the great tradition of Whitehall's political independence. This is possibly the most damaging thing the present Government has done, but it is visible only to us policy wonks. The police have been actively lobbying politicians to remove
Habeas Corpus, a clear abuse of Chief constables' positions. They have been pressured to do so by a Government which is about to halve the number of Chief Constables. It is clear that the Intelligence services succumbed to political pressure in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. This has all been justified because of the belief that everyone in "the establishment" is against the labour party has led them to dismantle the checks and balances in the system.

The Problem is that the victim politics leads to a total lack of personal responsibility. Fall over in the street, it’s the council’s fault. Get fired, the boss is a racist. Can’t get a job, society should pay for your dozen children. Can’t get a law through, crush the Legislature.

The Language of “rights” is used to legitimise this. All a “right” consists of, is a responsibility for someone else. Your human rights are not defended by a bit of paper called the ECHR, but by the Armed forces, 100’s of thousands of men and women who are prepared to take ultimate personal responsibility for your freedom. Your Right to a family life is not provided by a government, but should exist naturally as you choose. Your right to unemployment benefit, is provided by everyone who has a job in the private sector working till ‘June every year to pay the Tax to pay for the welfare state, as is your right to healthcare. Your right to a fair trial is provided by centuries of tradition.

Most people discharge their responsibilities willingly. We pay tax, we serve in the forces, we give blood, we undertake jury service. We do so because we might need these services ourselves. As soon as people take responsibility for their own lives, and look to themselves and their families for help before they look to the state, people will be genuinely free, however society is dividing into the givers, and the takers. The more burdens are put upon the responsible, the more we’ll resent it. One day we might just kick off the burden and let the supplicants fend for themselves.

The more the state interferes in peoples’ lives the more intolerant of diversity it will become, hence the government's numerous projects to snoop into ever increasing aresa of hitherto private life. We are creeping towards totalitarianism by a slow creeping suffocation by the state.
Let’s not go the way of France. Let’s look to the individual, not the group Identity. Let’s allow people their privacy and freedom to enjoy the fruits of their labours, without giving half of it to Gordon Brown.

Let’s recreate the bonds of society after decades of the Left’s divide and rule.



Thursday, 10 November 2005

The Kansas Board of Education

I need to make some declarations before I start talking about this.

  • I'm an Atheist, with scientific training.
  • I've never met a creationist, even amongst ordained ministers of the Church of England or alpha course God-Botherers.
  • I find it hard to believe any sane, educated human being could accept a proposition as ludicrous as "Genesis represents the literal truth"

I'm tempted to Ignore the Creationist argumet as so obviously stupid as to not warrant a responce. However, Given that a staggering 51% Americans think that God created man in his present form, and America controls over half the world's military power, this needs addressing.

  • All religions are, to some extent, Myth. To take a literal reading means that you lose the allegorical meaning of the text.
  • If you take the view that all is explained in Genesis, then you won't listen to reasoned, empirical argument; you are being, by definition, unreasonable.
  • Because a view is popular, that does not make it right.
  • Science should be taught in Science class, Religeon in Church. Surely, unresolved conflict is for the individual to work out as a free agent. After all, isn't that the point of temptation?

All of the arguments put forward by creationists can be dismissed in detail by anyone with a basic understanding of Evolution, if you can be bothered. Try going to answers in Genesis and knock over their philosophy. It's easy, but so's taking the piss out of French people. That doesn't make it any less fun.

Intelligent design is harder to knock over because they use reasoned argument not blind faith. But simply:

  • Why does an omnipotent, omnicient designer create a creature that snores? Snoring is a design flaw caused by quadrupedic evolution into our bipedal frame and is cited in more murders than any other reason*
  • The vertibrate eye has the rods and cones upsideown, with the result that the optic nerve runs over the retina and out through a "blind spot". This is consistent with a gradual evolution of light sensory epithelial cells developing into the Eye-ball, and certainly not evidence of an intelligent designer. Interestingly the Cephalopod eye does not have this flaw, indicating a convergent evolution of eyes, at least twice. If God saw the flaw and corrected it then Squid would have to have been created after man. Perhaps the bible should have been revealed to Cuttlefish. Maybe God is an Octopus.
  • Man's Hip, Knee, back, and shoulder joints are very badly designed, indicating an early stage in the Evolution of Bipedalism.
  • Women Die in labour more than any animal (except hyenas... more below) because of a compromise between the demands of bipedalism and the need to get a Huge head through a small hole. This is a design flaw which also means our infants are helpless for longer than any other animal. An intelligent designer would not force the baby's head through the Pelvis.
  • Hyenas need agression to survive the competition at a carcass, therefore females have high levels of Testosterone (as a result of adaptive evolution). If Pregnant, this turns female embryos male and emasculates male embyos. As adults, the big Hyenas with the swinging cocks are female, and the small ones with internal genitalia are male. The birth canal heads out to where a properly designed animals vagina would be, then does a 180 degree turn and the young Hyena is squeezed down a cock, resulting in huge numbers of deaths in first time breeding females.
  • This facet of recent hyena evolution demonstrates the hypothesis that evolution acts on the individual and not the species. This is a common misconception put forward by ignorant advocates of "intelligent design".
  • Finally, Why would an intelligent designer create the French and give them nuclear weapons?

I could go on, but I can't be bothered. Creationists can be dismissed as cranks (all 175m of them) and Intelligent designers are people who know their first choice philosophy is wrong and are trying to justify themselves. They will lose to reasoned, detailed argument.

*I made this statistic up



Ring the Bells, Rejoice!


I turned the Radio on to a news broadcast as I left the office last night. The Government has failed to get its 90-day detention through the commons and over 50 back-bench Labour MPs rebelled, giving the Government a humiliating bloody nose.

I am happy that an arrogant, nannying, authoritarian executive has been brought to heel by Parliament. I am enjoying Mr Blair's discomfort. But above all these unedifying partisan concerns, I woke up this morning in a country where the pigs have to tell me the reason for my arrest, or let me go. This morning, I woke up in a country where the filth don't make the rules.

This morning I woke up in a democracy.



Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Habeas Corpus.

There are horrors in Iraq, Zimbabwe, Darfur and many other trouble spots for the world's leaders to turn a Blind eye to, but Uzbekistan is really nasty. I've mentioned the regime before, but it's difficult to see this as anything other than a properly repressive, stalinist, totalitarian state.

The Massacre of 500 or so at Andijan on 13 May was a straightforward bit of political repression. The Regime clamed that it was in responce to activities by Islamic terrorists, and the US and UK, shamefully have let it slip at that.

British Equipment was involved, but that's not the problem. Landrovers are nessesary to get humanitarian aid (or anything else) to remote areas. Any fool can weld on a bit of armour and a machine-gun. What is nessesary is not petty arms embargoes to salve the concience, but tough sanctions against the regime, diplomatic pressure; assets need to be frozen. The threat of military force from Russia or it's new friend, the US, should be made unless the regime mends its ways and start democratising, and stops boiling political opponents alive.

Unfortunately, the War on Terror is providing governments accross the world with excuses to be more repressive than nessesary. We are lucky to live in a country where a Government is likely to be defeated in its attempt introduce 90-day detention without charge, (another good example of government by tabloid headline), but the Uzbeks are not.

If politicians argue that liberty is as important as safety, then they're branded "weak on Terror". The Sun is shamefully wheeling out families of the victims of 7/7 to make the point that "terrorists should be locked up". No Shit! But only terrorists, and giving the police carte-blanche to bang anyone up for three months on a hunch while they fabricate evidence (it will happen, mark my words) is a recipie for resentment in the communities who are likely to be victims of these miscarriages of justice. Anyone remember the Guilford four?

The US detention Centre in Guantanamo bay is a spectacular own goal. ID cards are contrary to centuries of British tradition. Much American homeland security legislation is unessesarily repressive. The security aparatus in airports is as much about forcing you to shop than stopping you get a bomb on a plane.

Meanwhile rhetoric in the west hardens as politicains fall over themselves to be tough on terror and as a result, countries who could make a difference to the behaviour of regimes in the world's non-toilet using nations, turn a blind eye to real, horrific injustice done in the name of security. Have a look at Craig Murray's Blog (colourful polyamourist, formerly our man in Tashkent) and ask yourself whether your government has a commitment to Liberty and Justice as well as Security?



Tuesday, 8 November 2005

The French Disease


What is happening in France is demonstration that capitalism as practiced in the USA and the UK, the so-called "Anglo-Saxon Model" does a better job at providing opportunity to all than the suffocating welfare state of the continent.

If two weeks of violence and destruction isn't warning that the staist, cloying misery of the European Economic experiment in mass welfare dependancy has been a disaster, then nothing will.

I'm not optimistic. Voices on the left are calling for more state intervention in these peoples' lives, more welfare, more state-run anti poverty schemes. This, whilst condoning the destruction. What the French should do is dismantle the exessive welfare systems that prevent these people getting jobs. The left however, has become the establishment on the continent, and there is no consensus in the populations of Europe that economic liberalism is the way to go. Indeed, the architects of the very policies that lead to the economic deprivation seen in the banlieus are the ones blaming "Ultraliberalism" or "Mondialisation" for the riots and suggesting more protection for workers.

A job remains the only way out of poverty. The welfare system should see that people don't suffer undue hardship, but with an eye on the "Moral Hazard". If one can survive on benefits in the long term, some people will. Without the habit of work, people become unemployable. They become a burden, and they become unhappy. It's the dispair of joblessness that has led to the gleeful destruction of the riots.

The flipside of a tougher benefits system is that jobs must be available, and growth in the economy is the route to that end. France's labour laws prevent firing of workers, and therefore also prevent hiring. (If you can't see why, you're stupid). To stimulate growth, France must cut taxes, scale back the state, free employers from onerous legislation on worker's rights and allow business to breathe.

Unfortunately France has become a welfare dependant on a national scale, payed for by Britain and Germany's contributions to the EU. The French state employs 60% of a popualtion which has lost the habit of entrepreneurship. French businesses buy foreign companies to generate profits, and only state subsidy prevents big French companies operating anything inside France. France may be too far gone to save (6th republic anyone?), but action now could save the rest of the continent.

If Britain is not to go the way of France, we need action now to stop the rot of Gordon "tax and waste" Brown's economy. Unfortunately a modern economy is like an Oil Tanker. It takes a decade to turn. It's taken Labour 8 years to ruin Britains competitiveness, and we're now sliding fast. Your Job is on the line, and in 20 years, if we keep going the way we're going, look forward to hopeless youths setting fire to your car. Vote Conservative, before its too late.



Saturday, 5 November 2005

Hunting

Today tens of thousands will test an unjust law to its limits. (I'm playing rugby, but will be there in spirit). When the Government makes an unjustifiable assault on the freedoms of the most law-abiding section of society, you can expect some resistance.

If this law banning hunting was about animal welfare, we could debate rationally the benfits of controlling foxes by shooting, and go into details of countyside management. The government would eventually be forced to conclude that some form of hunting is the least cruel method of managing (not controlling or reducing or keeping down) the fox population and let us manage the land the way we've done for centuries. I don't want to get into this debate here because it's emotive and anyone with an opinion has heard all the arguments and already made up their mind.

If animal welfare was the issue, activists would find common cause with many in the hunting community over live export, factory farming and neglect of domestic animals.

This law is not about animal welfare, it's class-war. It was a bone thrown to the Labour back-benches so they could spitefully get one over the toffs, in return for support for the Government in the Iraq war. It's badly drafted (probably deliberately) so that proving an offence has been committed is nigh-on impossible. The police therefore are unwilling to commit the manpower to enforce it. (they would need warrants for dozens of farms over a hundred square miles to police just one hunt).

This legislation brings the law into disrepute, and has no place on the statute books.

*With thanks to the horse & hound magazine for the picture



The French "Social model"?


It didn't take a hurricane to make Saint Denis burn



Thursday, 3 November 2005

A Cultural aside

Filmmakers use a shorthand to explain certain facts to the audience. Remember in the shawshank redemption...

Norton: ".... Got any favourite quotes?"

Andy: "Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh."

Norton: "Luke. Chapter 13, verse 35. I've always liked that one." (strolls the cell) But I prefer: "I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

ANDY: "John. Chapter 8, verse 12. "

A chapter and verse knowledge of the Bible is used to tell the audience that both men are Educated.

In British Movies, a Quote from Ovid or Catullus usually does the same trick.

I wonder what that says about our respective countries?



Tuesday, 1 November 2005

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert M. Pirsig wrote a facinating Book.

He has attempted to tie in several strands of thought and link them to an overarching philosophy. The book is described as and enqiry into values and describes two simultaneous journeys. One physical, across the USA on motorbikes and one intellectual, following roadsigns left by Pirsig's alter-ego, Phaedrus. He does so in elegant, yet sparse prose.

He describes the Technophobic "romantic" view of the world and the scientific, rational "classical" world view in a way that would be familiar to readers of "Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus". The Narrator's Friends, a couple on a BMW motorbike provide the "Romantic" foil to his "Classical" viewpoint. He offers the opinion that this Split personality in the western zeitgeist is irreconsilable. He explains the modern world's vulnerability to snake-oil salesmen of the Occult and Mysicism is more than filling the void left by deference and religion, more a function of science's increasing specialisation and remoteness from everyday experience.

The satisfying intellectual trip is concluded by the time the party reaches the home of a friend from Pirsig's past, and the last exploration of this bit of the mind-map concludes in comfort.

As this intellectual journey ends and the Couple leave, Pirsig breaks out onto the "High Plateau of thought" as he hikes up into the mountains with his son, Chris. He tries to find a link between the Romantic and the Classical. As they climb, he tries to define "quality" as , to borrow a phrase from cosmology, "the unifying theory of everything." During this process he offers the reader a summary of Hume and Kant's "Critique of pure reason". The difference between the subjective and the objective measures of "Quality" (is "quality" inherent in an object or thought, or is it a function of the observer?) leads to an impasse. It is this inability to define "Quality" that causes failure in this intellectual summit attempt. This is reflected in by Pirsig's paranoid reluctance to get to the top of the hill he and Chris are climbing.

As this intellectual and physical journey continues, we find out more about Phaedrus and his descent into madness. Scraps left behind give clues to the man Pirsig was before his Electro Convulsive Therapy.

As with many philosophical works, addressing the reader almost as one chosen to recieve wisdom flatters the reader into thinking wonderful things of the author. Nietzsche doe this explicitly with "we free thinkers", and I find myself agreeing with what is being written in this book, but unable to explain why afterwards. I'm not convinced the "Romantic" and "Classical" need reconciling, and I feel that Phaedrus felt the same before his descent into madness. Indeed the attempt to define "Quality" as the link drove him mad. I find much of this part of the book a pointless excersise in Philosophical semantics, which is never likely to acheive a satisfactory conclusion.

Nevertheless, I find myself caring about Pirsig and his son, while I enjoy the prose and the many Ideas this book throws at you. As for what happens to the father and son? You'll have to read the book. This is certainly one I'd recommend to a friend.



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