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Civilisation

Cannibals!

There has been an outbreak of cannibalism in Pakistan. I really have nothing much more to say. Except this seems an act of depravity almost beyond the comprehension of Burke and Hare. Or it could just be nonsense because I trust “Pakistani Authorities” as far as I could spit a pig. Oh, and any wannabe cannibals out there – get a fridge because then you can keep your head full of headly goodness and not cause a Dame Judi that gets the neighbours upset. Jus’ sayin’.

My Dad (who worked there) has a front page of the “Times of Zambia” covering an outbreak of cannibalism. Headline is “Gobblers strike again!” The UK has no laws against human-munching. We have never seen the need. That’s called being civilized. Mind when I watch “Geordie Shore” I have doubts.

Barque to the Future…

This is USS Zumwalt…

Just launched at a cost of umpty billions. Now I know aeroplanes and bugger all about ships but does that not look rather similar to a US Civil War ironclad to you? Like this…

The Zumwalt class is designed to have the radar sig of a fishing smack. I guess you might get much the same from the CSS Albermarle not, obviously, that it was an issue at the time. It is possible (and the USN has been ickling on about railguns for some time and a planning sea trials in 2016 which is when the Zumwalt is due to enter service. So clearly looks may deceive and it might look the same but be bigger on the inside so to speak.)

So… It’s kinda odd but for completely different reasons the naval architects have gone back to the future. Either that or the Confederacy had some unknown naval genius beavering away and designing a low radar-return ship almost a century before radar.

But, and this is a biggy for me. Now it might sound nit-picking but how the heck is that a destroyer? It displaces 15,000 tons, it is 610ft long. That is a cruiser at least. Surely. Is this some bizarre ruse to get the funding past Congress? Because the Zumwalt class is essentially designed as a 1-1 replacement for the Iowa class battleships.

That is a broadside from an Iowa class (Actually BB61 USS Iowa). Those are 16″ guns. Who needs railguns when you can hurl a shell the mass of a VW for a couple of dozen miles. I’d be much more impressed by railguns on the Zumwalt if it was nuclear powered and therefore had practically unlimited electricity. Hell’s teeth I’d be going for a fully nuclear navy! No need for oilers and fill ‘er up every 25 years! You’d buy a car that did that. Especially if it had a railgun. It has to be noted though that we won the Cold War partly (thank you Ronnie!) with recommissioned Iowa class battleships and the off-key caterwauling of skanty-clad songstresses. I dunno which scared the Kremlin most. But they are very big guns indeed and Cher is wearing very little indeed. That was the ’80s and that is how we won. Hard and soft pressure. Ronnie and MTV – an unstoppable alliance.

I mean can you imagine how dull communism must have been?

Yeah, and inevitably here’s the video…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G4O5AMSevc

Yeah, I liked the ’80s. We seemed to be going somewhere and that dear reader is a guilty pleasure from the era. But that’s one hell of a ship whatever you think of Cher.

And if we had another Ronnie then Vlad would be hiding under a table in the Kremlin with stained trews. And if we could take out Comrade Kim and the Ayatollahs and dear old Bob and… I can dream. But that video speaks to me of serious belief in our moral, social, military and economic might. We believed it then. That is why I liked the ’80s.

PS. The Iowa class were designed to be Panamax. They had 18″ wiggle room so never again complain about parking in TESCO.

PPS. This has been edited by moi. This fecking Toshiba is at the very end of the tether.

The Miller’s Tail…

So Maria Miller, Sec State for Culture has fallen on her sword (for I am slain iDave!) due to her diddling expenses.

What the flying fuck do we have such a position for, apart from some croney of iDave diddling expenses, obviously?

Have you been to the National Gallery (it’s free by the way – and my favourite art gallery in the World*). Did Turner need a Department of Culture to paint his piccies? Did Francis Bacon? I recently saw some of his in Amsterdam recently**. Did Tolkien need one to write Britain’s favourite books? Did Elgar? Did the Beatles? The Stones? Does Adele? Do you or me? God help us Shakespeare managed to make it without the state!

Culture is simply what we do. In a sense it is what we are. We just do it. From posting video of a cat doing something amusing on Youtube to the Elgar violin concerto we just do it. In this case “we” is Kyung-wha Chung. She is my fave fiddler ever -do listen to the rest – it’s great***. And I have a weakness for the violin concerto. And that is her with the LSO conducted by Solti. Neither are Brits but Elgar was. And in a real sense that kind of sums up “culture” for me in the sense that here we have a piece of music played by a Korean/American with the orchestra conducted by a Hungarian/mainly American with an honorary British knighthood. What I mean is Elgar has “stretch”. All true culture has. Elgar is quintessentially English and not from a rich background (at one point he was employed to conduct an orchestra in the local lunatic asylum) but that his music can reach from Seoul to Budapest to Chicago and touch people enough to play it that well says something.

I have been to a folk festival (for my sins). It was curious. Apart from getting Brahms und Liszt (it was a stag do) it struck me how parochial (and in extreme cases nationalistic – not in a good way****). True culture is in a sense beyond borders. God help me I am English but I can’t stand the Tory club Little-Englander with his G&T any more than I can stick the “shop local, think global” lot with faux tribal tattoos. I was going to get one if I’d completed my PhD – my equation. Alas for me and an inker this did not come to pass. Folk is shite anyway. But what I was really trying to say is… I once came across in Georgia (USA – not entering the Putindoom) a fellow who expressed surprise at my mere existence. He declared a desire (and he was well adult) not only to never leave the USA (for there be dragons elsewhere ) but to never leave the state of Georgia. I’d just done a 2,500 mile road trip round the SE USA. I guess I just like globalization and that Huge Furnished Shitting-Stall can get his locally-sourced onions off behind his organic arras.

Anyway, that is getting seriously off the point (if there ever was one*****). This I like. (Aside – there is a shop in central Amsterdam that sells Brit stuff called “Arkwrights”).

Yes there was. Culture. It is universal and natural. It should be allowed to just happen but it is intrinsically global (and that scares people). Now don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against “local colour” but our culture is increasingly self generating and global. That does not mean it is less diverse. Gods no! You can get decent sushi in Manchester******. If that means the Eccles cake is heading the way of the sauropods then so be it. Mind, in Porthmadog you can get excellent fish and chips (but fuck all else). And they all speak Welsh! But that is not my point. You expect good fish of whatever sort in a fishing port. And good chips anywhere (apart from Amsterdam).

Culture happens. It can be global. It can be local. It can be both. Concentrating on the local is absurd in the age of jet planes and youtube in my eyes. The more it goes global the better I think. I have God knows how many channels off my Sky dish. I can watch a Nigerian soap opera if I want – I don’t because they are piss-poor but… Why do we need a culture secretary at all? Why when we have Easyjet? Why when we have the internet? Why when within walking distance I have have Chinese, Italian,Spanish and Indian take-aways/restaurants? Why have a culture secretary?

*I’ve been to quite a few of the greats.
**See, I’m not uncultured. I could have gone to the ‘Dam and spent my time bombed out of my box sucking dope from bongs shaped like penises. I went to the maritime museum, the Jewish history museum and… Mind the food over there ain’t great. I did eat kangaroo mind (a first for me) but it was bloody awful. Having said that it might be just due to the Dutch tendency to serve Flintsonian portions and bugger the quality. And chips with everything.
***But not as great.
****Not that that was anything like that.
*****There wasn’t really.
******My brother would disagree because he’s lived for several years in Japan.

Libertarianism and Conservativism – foes or friends?

F.A. Hayek at the end of his “Constitution of Liberty” (1960) wrote “Why I am not a Conservative” – which is odd as Hayek had (perhaps without knowing it) a good grasp of what actually is a positive conception of conservatism, and a poor grasp of libertarianism.

Hayek rejected the word “libertarian” as “artificial” which is just as well as he was not a libertarian – philosophically or politically.

Philosophically Hayek was a determinist (like so many 19th century and early 20th century thinkers, he assumed that “science” mandated determinism). Hayek took David Hume literally (whether Hume should really be taken literally is a hotly contested issue), the “I” (the human person) is an illusion, as is human choice – a thought does NOT mean a thinker (a reasoning “I”) and as there is no agent (no human being – no reasoning “I”) there is no agency (no free will), actions are predetermined by a series of causes and effects that go back to the start of the universe – and humans (who are not beings) can do no other than we do (we could not have done otherwise – as choice is an illusion).

Politically Hayek claimed to an “Old Whig”, but is hard to see how his philosophical views are compatible with the Whig point of view – which was based on the MORAL value of human free will (it is not an accident that David Hume was not a Whig) . The determinist (such as the Thomas Hobbes) holds that “freedom” is just an absence of external restraint – for example when a dam fails the water is “free” to rush out and destroy towns and so on. “Freedom” (in the determinist view) is not a matter of moral choice (remember choice is an “illusion”) so “freedom” is like taking one’s hand off a clockwork mouse and letting this clockwork mouse go around on the floor. It is hard to see how this “freedom” can be of any moral importance at all – if any view of politics can be based upon it would be a politics of tyranny (exactly the politics that Hobbes did base upon it), after all walls of water from broken dams (and so on) does not sound very nice.

Still does Hayek say anything else about his politics? Yes he does – again in the “Constitution of Liberty” we are told that he supports the “limited state” not the “minimal state”, because (according to Hayek) the minimal state can not be defined and the limited state can be defined.

Hayek is just wrong – the minimal state is easy to define (although very hard to achieve or maintain – an anarchist would argue impossible to maintain or achieve). The definition of a minimal state is one that just uses force only against the violation of the non aggression principle (attacks on the bodies or goods of people or groups of people). It is actually the “limited state” that is hard to define. Limited to what?

Hayek does make some vague efforts to define the “limited state” – for example he says that such a state applies “general rules” that apply to everyone.

O.K. then – everyone is to have their head cut off. Is that a good example of a “limited state”?

Hayek also says that a limited state does not seek to have a monopoly of any service.

O.K. then – everyone but the children of Mr Smith of 25 Silver Street to go to a state school?

Unfair example? O.K. – how about the state hands education and healthcare “free” (at the expense of the taxpayers), but you are free to pay twice (i.e. pay again on top of taxation) to go private? Is this the limited state?

How about you can go to any doctor you like and send your children to any school you like, but the state pays the bill (no matter how big it is), is that the limited state?

Such a state (one that seeks to provide or pay for education, healthcare, old age provision and on and on) will end up spending half the entire economy (and still fail). That does not sound very limited or sustainable – and Hayek (in his attack on the Welfare State) shows he understands this. However, his “limited state” is not defined in a way that prevents it.

Oh dear this post seems to have turned into “why Hayek is crap” which is unfair as anyone (even the best of us) looks terrible if one just concentrates on errors and weaknesses. I will leave the above out if I ever give a talk on this subject (because it sounds terribly negative) – but it needed to be put on record.

So why is Hayek (perhaps without knowing it) insightful about Conservatism?

Hayek’s own definition of Conservatism (given in “Why I am Not a Conservative”) is not good. He just defines it as being opposed to change – so (for example) a North Korean conservative now would be a socialist (or that is the system they have) and a British conservative I (say) 1870 would be a free market person – as this was the system of the time.

Whatever Hayek may have believed that is not a serious definition of Conservatism. But Hayek (again perhaps without knowing it) does give a description of Conservatism – in “Constitution of Liberty”, “Law. Legislation and Liberty” (and other works).

Cosmos not Taxis – spontaneous order (evolved over time) not top down planning. What Hayek called the results of “human action not human design” (it would be have been better to say the results of voluntary action not forced action – but Hayek had philosophical problems with even voluntary design).

Or (in the language of the conservative writer M.J. Oakeshott) a Civil Association not Enterprise Association, a Societas not a Universitas.

Institutions and customs that evolve over time often without people knowing the reasons they are useful – till they are broken.

As Tolkien’s (Tolkien being a Catholic Conservative) character “Gandalf” puts it in the “Lord of the Rings” – “he who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom”.

This is what Conservatism is about – a preference for evolved custom and ways of doing things (ways of living) over imposed “rational” planning by the state.

The state (in the Conservative view) is like the Thrain of the Shire (Tolkien’s) and the Mayor.

The Thrain does nothing in peacetime (in war it is different) – he just farms his estate. And the Mayor is the leading figure at formal dinners (like those of the old Closed Corporations that were the only “urban local government” before the Act of 1835 in England and Wales), he does not order folk about. Families govern their own affairs and do not attack each other (police forces were not compulsory on the counties of England and Wales till 1856). There is plenty of (moral – traditional) authority, but little naked “power”.

I think it is obvious show this view of Conservatism is close to libertarianism (hence “Tory Anarchist”) – a friend not a foe. But is it tied to Hayek and his philosophical opinions?

No it is not – which is why I mentioned Oakeshott and Tolkien (two Conservatives with very different philosophical opinions to Hayek). Both Oakeshott and Tolkien believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise).

Even in the 18th century Conservatives did not follow the philosophical opinions of David Hume (again IF they were his opinions – I repeat this is hotly contested). Neither the Tory Conservative Dr Johnson or the Old Whig Conservative Edmund Burke (a real Old Whig – unlike Hayek) accepted determinism and the denial of human personhood (moral choice – the ability to choose to do otherwise). Edmund Burke and Dr Johnson (the Whig and the Tory) both believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise) and were moral universalists (not just Dr Johnson – but Edmund Burke also, for the T. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson view of his is totally wrong, to Burke it did not matter if something happened in the Middle Ages or right now, in India or America – right was right and wrong was wrong).

Is this the only view of Conservatism?

Of course not – there are other views of Conservatism. For example the statism of Disraeli (with his life long commitment to “social reform” – yuk).

However, that is hardly “doing nothing” (against those who do not themselves aggress against others). The Tauist Old King Log sitting in the shade – rather than Young King Stork “helping” his subjects by eating them.

Quids…

The Daily Fail just has to say this. OK, it’s bimetallic but that is it. It doesn’t really look like the Euro. More to the point if we are introducing a new coin design does that not imply a commitment to Sterling? I don’t want the Euro. Guess why? Euro notes are OK. Euro Coins are very difficult to distinguish and God alone knows what they make ‘em from but after a couple of years they look tatty as Hell. Look, I can get myself around say US coinage, or Czech or Polish or British but Euros don’t float my boat. OK, so like the Euro coin it’s bimetallic but so is the GBP2 coin which I rather like. “Standing on the shoulders of giants” and all that caper. But dear me! The Euro cents I handled in Amsterdam recently just looked rough – like they came from one of those toy tills. They looked like they had been through a Belgian. Or an Alsation. Something of that kidney. They all look the bloody same yet different. Having different national images is a pain because whereas we have instantly identifiable symbols whereas having a variety of national symbols on the reverse you don’t bloody know – I mean you know if it is German* or French but it isn’t obvious if it is 10c or 20c. It identifies where the coin came from but not what it is worth. Having them all the same colour is a hyper-pain too. The notes work. The coinage doesn’t. And it looks shonky. It doesn’t look like the Euro my dear Fail. It looks nothing like it. I think it looks quite nice. Although by 2017 I bet it won’t buy a Coke but that is another matter. And there is also too many. I like the US system (I know they have other coins) but largely it’s 1,5,10,25 and that is your small onion. Works. OK, the fact that the nickel is bigger than the dime always annoyed me but nothing to the Euro. I also liked the dollar bill. I, being a Brit, am just not used to holding a wad of foldable. I felt like a movie star though in truth I had about enough to go to Wendy’s for a burger. The smallest paper you get here is a fiver which is worth roughly USD8.30**.

But, let’s get back to the score. The pound coin is not being scrapped. The Fail is mongering the scares. It is being replaced. Fair enough. It still has her Britannic Majesty’s head on it. It looks fuck all like a Euro. I quite like it.

*The German one has Norman Foster’s “Friendly Eagle” on it. You know the one that doesn’t invade Poland. And let us all be grateful for that. Because the last time that happened…

**So I say to my wife. “That’s good – can we go to the USA”. Problemo. Myt wife is a translator and is often paid in USD so that isn’t good. Swings and bloody roundabouts. You simply can’t win. You can run but if you do so you’ll only die tired.

Aidgentina

I did not know we gave foreign aid to Argentina. Or Brazil. Seeing as they are not exactly potless God knows why especially we give money as if this is some cockamamie attempt to curry favour we haven’t exactly got very far. Let’s look at the evidence shall we? Brazil has a space program, Brazil is hosting not just this year’s football World Cup but the next Olympics. It’s like crying poverty because you can’t afford to fill the Bentley. As to Argentina. Well, they fucking hate us. They shouldn’t of course because oddly enough we historically have strong links of blood and culture with Argentina but they have a perennial knicker-twist over the Falklands. Oh, and the Argentinian government has just gone on a spree of arms buying. Although God alone knows (and the Pope is an Argentine recall) what the be-buggery they will manage to do with a squadron of knackered Spanish Mirages.

Look, don’t get me wrong… I am not 100% contra international aid (there is a reason I was conceived in Zambia). Zambia had a space program as well. My parents were paid by the FCO to teach out there and I guess fair enough. Up to a point and all that but most of my adult life has seen me living in English inner-city areas: Nottingham, London, Leeds, Manchester and they all have loads of places you can wire money back to the old country from. This genuine charity is larger than the official stuff in scale and is vastly better targeted. That is the future of aid – the little things like getting your uncle a cellphone so he knows where to land the fish he caught etc. Of course that means making life easier for non-EEA citizens to work here and we can imagine the howls over that – UKip et. al. are already doing their ends over Poles and such. I don’t have a problem myself but people seem obsessed with the idea of employment as a zero-sum game. It seems connected to the idea that “creating jobs” is a “good thing” in and of itself. No it isn’t. Imagine trying to explain what you do to a pig-poker from 1725? They’d probs burn you at the stake – “He be consorting with the demons of the HTML”. Destroying jobs is the “good thing”. It of course creates jobs our ancestors would never believe. And who wouldn’t rather design computer games than wallow in shit with the piggies? A woman I spoke to on a train once doing a BSc in games design thought otherwise. Blimey, I envied her! That is like so cool.

She was also very good looking but then life is a series of events.

Ukip MEP Paul Nuttall said the Chancellor should find savings by stopping aid that goes to countries who “don’t need it”.

Mr Nuttall was speaking during a debate on the BBC show [Question Time] about Mr Osborne’s recently announced plans to cut the welfare bill by £12 billion in the two years after the 2015 election.

Mr Nuttall said: “The welfare budget under Labour spiralled out of control, it could not go on and something had to be done.

“However there is another budget which is ringfenced which comes to around £12bn, it is called the foreign aid budget.

“I am not against giving money to countries who are in dire need, people who need to be fed. But what I am against is giving money to countries like Argentina and Brazil.

“I believe the way you should pay for these cuts is by going to the foreign aid budget and taking money off countries who don’t need it because quite frankly that’s your tax and it should be spent on our own people.”

Whilst I appreciate the principle of Nuttall there is a problem. How can I explain this? Here is a start…

It was reported over the weekend that Argentina have [sic] received £2m in aid from Britain since 2012.

Now two million quid sounds a lot to you and me but in the grand scheme it is fuck all. That is money Osborne can lose down the back of the sofa. Yes, the principle of not giving Argentina money (it annoys me) is sound but if anyone believes that is going to impact the deficit then they really need to think a bit deeper. Ukip are either being thick or dishonest.

I dunno. I do know we should not give government aid to Argentina but I also know the quantities involved are not a scratch upon the buttock of the body politrick’s pissing money up a rope. I do though believe in being much more open door (which UKip isn’t) rather than saying ‘eff off but we’ll give you monies.

In 1993 I bought a PC (my first but not my last). It was a second-user Elonex 386-SX16 and was truly abysmal (cheap, mind). I am fine with Bill and Melinda Gates giving a stunning sum to the potless and starving. I did and do through them. Fine.

I believe in charity and though I am not a rich man I do not starve I believe in charity in the sense of money, goods, whatever freely given. Not, absolutely not, cash taken from me by force. Jesus Christ! In the 1980s there was a famine in Ethiopia and I (despite being a primary school kid) organised a “Santa’s Grotto” which meant wearing me ma’s tights because I wound-up dressed-up as “head elf”. We raised a few hundred notes. I did that off my own bat and my mates came in. That is charity.

That is what it should be about.

T. Friedman, B. Bernanke, the IPCC, and … Rand Paul:

What do they have in common?

Go here to find out.

Upfront and in your face…

No excuse not to know what they are up to now, and have been all these years, since Jean Monnet, a Communist who was never elected to anything, and much preferred it that way, came up with the idea of a United States of Europe.

Viviane Reding, Vice President of the European Commission and the longest serving Brussels Commissioner, (also never elected) has openly called for a United States of Europe, and bugger what we the mere citizens of our respective Nation States think about it. Read a speech she made back in 2012.

"We need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers – the European Parliament and a "Senate" of Member States," she said.

Mrs Reding’s vision, which is shared by many in the European institutions, would transform the EU into superstate relegating national governments and parliaments to a minor political role equivalent to that played by local councils in Britain.

Under her plan, the commission would have supremacy over governments and MEPs in the European Parliament would supersede the sovereignty of MPs in the House of Commons.

National leaders, meeting as the European Council, would be reduced to consultative, second chamber role similar to the House of Lords.

So there you have it, bold a brass, no more softly softly catchy monkey, no more Democracy either. The Great and the Good will watch over us forever more my fellow European Brothers and Sisters, and we will be grateful, oh so ever humbly grateful!

I will be voting in the European Elections in May, and you know who I will not be voting for don’t you? Yes the usual suspects… Lib/Lab/Con.

The Overhead.

The Internet c.1800s...

That was the semaphore system built by Claude Chappe in France around the time of the French Revolution. If the idea of big semaphore machines connecting a nation (indeed internationally) reminds you of the “Clacks” on Discworld then you are in the right ball-park – almost. There is a key difference which we shall come to though and it is a biggy.

Anyway, this is the size of the network…

... and its reach.

Now here is the big difference. What is the modern, electronic, internet as we know it used for? It is a chaos of chatter and (in)sanity, logic and weirdness, bank transactions, Christmas greetings, pornography, blogging, tweeting, facebook, gaming, terrorist plots and how to build a bomb or how to cook a risotto. It can be anything from an interview with One Direction or a seminar on quantum entanglement. It is humanity in toto.

The French clacks wasn’t (that is the “biggy” I mentioned) and neither could it technically be nor was intended to be. The inventor had this rather disingenuous thing to say,

“Chappe once claimed that a signal could go from Toulon to Paris – 120 stations across 475 miles – in just ten or twelve minutes. But he could not make that claim for a full message, even a relatively short one. Three signals per minute was the most that could be expected of even the fastest telegraph operator.”

In modern terms that is 1/20 bit per second (roughly – the Chappe code had a signal space of 98 symbols (2 beam positions and 7 positions each for the “arms” = 2x7x7=98) which is near enough the size of the standard 7 bit ASCII code – 128 symbols – to compare with allowing a bit of wiggle on human factors). Difference is the first common(ish) home modems worked at like 2000 bps or 40,000 times that speed. Sending a signal as simple as, “Advance at noon, reinforcements will meet on your left flank by 1pm.” would be nightmarish. And that is assuming absolute accuracy in transcription at all stations along the way. It need not be said that 2000bps is dismal. A slow ADSL line is over a thousand times faster and if BT Reach-Around has deemed fit to bother with laying fibre even ADSL on Cu is laughable. Sky (my broadband, TV and landline provider keep on trying to get BT to get us into the C21st – to no avail so far). There are always BT vans prowling and doing nowt. I’m not surprised. I used to work for BT and trying to get them to do anything to the porpoise is like assaulting Broadmoor with soft fruit. They might technically be private but they still behave like a state monopoly. Utterly complacent Bertram Blunts plus ultra.

Anyhoo, back to those old French folk. Not only was the system technically very limited (in that it was fast but with abysmal bandwidth) and therefore unsuitable for general communication but it was never intended for such use. Chappe again,

“…took it for granted that the telegraph network of which he dreamed would be a department of the state, government owned and operated. He saw it not as an instrument of knowledge or of riches, but as an instrument of power. ‘The day will come,” he wrote, ‘when the Government will be able to achieve the grandest idea we can possibly have of power, by using the telegraph system in order to spread directly, every day, every hour, and simultaneously, its influence over the whole republic.”

Chilling but not a million miles away from how our Lords and Masters see the internet. Fortunately they don’t really understand TCP/IP and all that jazz and I don’t think they understand the importance of a technology they simply don’t understand (they don’t understand much tech stuff). But they try, hence such things as the unbelievably poorly thought out violent and extreme pornography bill or assorted attempts around the globe to make pornography an “opt-in” service (for the sake of the children, naturally). And will it stop at porn? Does it ever stop? No, of course not!

Now obviously, there is a difference here – almost an inversion. The old French mechanical “clacks” was a way to govern and the modern internet is a way to keep tabs on the governed. This morning for the first time ever I used my bank card contactless (I’ve forgotten my PIN!!!). Some bugger at the NSA or GCHQ now knows what toilet paper I buy, the brand of ciggies I smoke and that I drink semi-skimmed milk. And yeah, I know they could harvest that from the chip anyway but… as a true believing physicist I find action at a distance, “spooky” ;-) That’s a quote from Einstein by the way though Newton himself was not 100% happy with gravity working like that. General Relativity is at least a locally realistic theory. It may be (usually) more mathematically complicated but Relativity makes far fewer metaphysical assumptions than did Newton. Newton has a fair few mad old dears stashed in the attic clad in their wedding dresses. But I digress…

The simple truth is that by hook or by crook any advance in comms will be seen by our Lords and Masters as a potential means of control. Whether it is owning the entire shooting match or just spying on it is a mere matter of tech to the L&M. Tech they will, thankfully, cock-up profoundly but they do try, bless ‘em.

All quotes from “The Information” by James Glieck.

Knocks Warble Gloaming into a cocked hat doesn’t it?

Yesterday the Fail would have us believe that we are only a dream imagining ourselves, or perhaps someone or thing imagining us for us.

Today they are at it again. It makes the possibility of the Yellowstone Park super volcano blowing look positively mundane doesn’t it? And a couple of degrees increase in Celsius fade into comparative obscurity.

So what do you scientific types think? There is someone round here who has a bit of Physics under his belt but I can’t for they life of me remember who now, he is very reluctant to mention it you see. Winking smile 

Well bugger it, I’m going to live, and live and live again, until I die with a smile on my face. And we’re off out to have a drink with my old friend Jerry Dammers, who’s doing a little DJ-ing in town tonight. Merry Christmas all!

The Taliban: (Not Just) America’s Enemy

I subscribe to the newsletter from Brigitte Gabriel’s “ACT! for America” foundation*. Miss Gabriel is Lebanese by birth, but now is an American citizen I believe. She’s a Maronite Christian and strongly pro-Israel as well as pro-America (and the other relatively free countries).

The source for this piece is the newsletter, which I received yesterday as a private e-mail.  Therefore I quote it in full (although it’s addressed to Americans and therefore specifies the problems and atrocities here),  and I haven’t covered over the article’s URL’s.  The boldfaced type is my punching up of the obvious.  :>)

 

The Taliban: America’s Enemy
By Brigitte Gabriel

The Taliban have recently published the autumn edition of their magazine, Azan.

This is the fourth issue of the magazine and is significant in that it calls for Muslims in the West to launch attacks at home or fight in foreign battlefields, urging recruits to even leave behind their children or elderly parents (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/10503925/Taliban-magazine-urges-jihad-and-profiles-the-Honda-125.html)

Surely such calls to Jihad are nothing new, so why is this particular publication important?

Because it has been released just a few days after the Obama administration was quoted saying that “the Taliban are not our enemies and we don’t want to fight them.” (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/11/27/Karzai-Will-Sign-Agreement-with-U-S-Says-Obama-Administration-Claimed-Taliban-Not-Our-Enemy)

Such statements about the Taliban are nothing new from the Obama administration. Vice President Joe Biden told Newsweek magazine the same thing almost exactly two years ago (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/vp-biden-says-that-the-taliban-per-se-is-not-our-enemy/).

Not only are these statements from the administration disheartening because our brave troops have been fighting Taliban Jihadis for a decade, they also demonstrate a profound ignorance about Jihadist doctrine.

Jihadist doctrine does not regard nationalities or international borders as significant. Under their doctrine, Jihad is to be waged to make Allah’s law and religion supreme around the entire world. With their latest magazine, the Taliban clearly demonstrate adherence to that doctrine with their call for Muslims in the West to launch attacks at home.

What’s more this is not something new from the Taliban. When they seized power in Afghanistan in 1996, they announced that Afghanistan was to be a launching pad for global Jihad and invited Jihadi fighters to come to their country. Jihadis from all over the Islamic world and even parts of the West and the Pacific Rim heeded that call and gravitated to the new Shariah-ruled outpost established by the Taliban regime.

Among those who relocated to Afghanistan was Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. We know the rest: Al Qaeda launched its attack on America from Afghanistan and the Taliban harbored Al Qaeda from the US when America sought to bring justice down on them.

How anyone can look at these facts and conclude that the Taliban are not our enemy is mind-boggling. The idea that the Taliban want to strictly limit their evil designs to Afghanistan is absurd.

Moreover, the Taliban have in fact been involved in terrorist plots and activity on US soil:

• In May of 2011, six people, including two Imams at a Florida mosque, were indicted for providing material support to none other than the Taliban (http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/May/11-nsd-621.html).

• Faisal Shahzad, the Jihadist who attempted to detonate a Vehicle-Born Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) in New York’s Time Square in May 2010, was trained at a Taliban camp and, according to Attorney General Eric Holder himself, “the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack…We know they helped facilitate it. We know they probably helped finance it and that he was working at their direction.” (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LE12Df01.html)

• Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American who pled guilty in a plot to bomb the New York City subway in 2009, traveled to Afghanistan to join the Taliban when he was recruited by Al Qaeda to go back to America to attack targets in the US homeland. This shows the continued, close cooperation and collaboration between the Taliban and Al Qaeda (http://www.investigativeproject.org/case/345).

Conclusion

The Taliban are committed Jihadists. As such, they are undoubtedly an enemy of America. They have killed and wounded thousands of US GIs in combat over the past decade and they have, from the time they originally seized power in Afghanistan to today, involved themselves with other Jihadist organizations from around the world. Jihadis do not limit their scope based on political borders; their stated goals are global. To say that the Taliban are not the enemy of the United States is to demonstrate a profound ignorance of the doctrinal basis for the threat from Jihad. When that ignorance comes from the executive branch of the US government, it can only be described as frightening.  [This statement applies just as much to the other Western governments ... and their people.  --J.]

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ACT for America
P.O. Box 12765
Pensacola, FL 32591
www.actforamerica.org

*”ACT” stands for “American Congress for Truth,” which was the original name of Miss Gabriel’s foundation.

ACT’s page about Miss Gabriel describes some of her activities and accomplishments.

There is also a Wikipedia article about Miss Gabriel, who was born Nour Saman.

Liberty Hall

A Bertram Chandler, the aussie science fiction writer, has a reputation as a supporter of liberty second only to RAH.

A lot of this is based on his character Captain John Grimes, who welcomes people into his home with:

Come In. This is Liberty Hall; you can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard!

Now, while this is laid back and relaxed, is it really a statement of liberty? Is spitting on someone’s mat a statement of freedom, or of contempt?

Why be rude about their cat?

Isn’t this an invitation to licence, rather than liberty?

Optimism – short term and long term.

I am sometimes (and quite rightly) accused of being gloomy – “reading a post from Paul is often like reading a suicide note”. So I have decided to write a very brief optimistic post.

Short term optimism….

Next year will see less of an obsession in music with Wagner, Verdi and Benjamin Britton – yes they all have great merit, but then have been done to death this year (anniversaries). So I am very much looking forward to 2014 (and less of them).

Also, in the United States, the midterm 2014 elections will go very well indeed and so will the 2016 elections – errr I will not go into the reasons why (this is supposed to be a non gloomy post).

The long term…….

The latter part of the 21st century will (I believe) be very good indeed.

The Welfare States will have gone bankrupt – which YES will lead to terrible suffering, but that suffering will be long over by the later part of the 21st century (it will just be a terrible memory – and for the young not even that). The same is true of the credit bubble financial system – yes it will have gone bankrupt, but in 50 years that will also be just a memory (and for the young – again not even that).

Technology will have come into its own in the latter part of the 21st century (it really will) the problems with such things as solar cells and nuclear FUSION (beyond fission) will have been solved and cheap electrical power will be available.

Also the technology of making things (including some materials) from common materials will be worked out by the late 21st century (yes nanotechnology – but not just that) – so people will no longer be so dependent on scarce raw materials. Also transport will have advanced to the stage where to travel anywhere in the world will only take a few hours – and power will be available to travel to the Moon or even the planet Mars.

Yes the supply of things will NOT be unlimited – but things will be a lot cheaper than they are now.

For those of you still alive in 50 years life will be good – very good. The coming collapse will NOT be like the fall of the Roman Empire – because the Romans did not produce a revolution in technology, our civilisation (in spite of its flaws) has done, and the technology WILL REMAIN and it WILL CONTINUE TO DEVELOPED by free people in various parts of the world (oh yes the plans for “World Governance”,  world slavery, will fail – “international cooperation” between the elites of statists will, in fact, break down). Indeed the development in technology in the late 21st century will be astonishing – it truly will.

Now do your best to get there. To get to the late 21st century.

This is what happens…

… when you invade Afghanistan (for the umpteenth time) and lose about 3,400 coalition dead and God knows how many maimed or traumatised beyond my comprehension or probably yours too. War has a cost and that cost requires a pay-off or it is worse than meaningless. It is obscene. And I’m not even including the Afghans killed in this bizarre attempt to impose the Great God of Democracy within an Islamic Republic (which is how Afghanistan styles it self under the Khazi of Kabul). Leaving aside the bitter irony that the secular US led invasion following Islamist attacks led to to the formation of an Islamic Republic. (I’m saying nothing about Iraq here which is also now styled as an Islamic Republic.)

Anyway, this is what happens…

Afghan government officials have proposed reintroducing public stoning as a punishment for adultery, Human Rights Watch said, even though the practice has been denounced both inside and outside the country as one of the most repugnant symbols of the Taliban regime.
The sentence for married adulterers, along with flogging for unmarried offenders, appears in a draft revision of the country’s penal code being managed by the ministry of justice.
There are several references to stoning in a translated section of the draft seen by the Guardian, including detailed notes on judicial requirements for handing down the sentence. “Men and women who commit adultery shall be punished based on the circumstances to one of the following punishments: lashing, stoning [to death],” article 21 states. The draft goes on to specify that the stoning should be public, in article 23.

Anyone surprised? I’m not. It probably won’t make it into law but the fact this ancient evil is even being discussed seriously is dreadful.

What a terrible waste of blood and treasure. And how foreseeable.

How many Afghan wars has Britain been in now?

Day of the Doctor.

It is today. It is a fixed point in time and space and I shall be there – or at least in Stockport (the Manchester tickets had gone) – to see the 50th anniversary show live in 3D in the cinema. Cool. I shall not be alone. This is being shown live in 94 countries in 1500 cinemas live. This has never been done before. My wife recently bought the 50th anniversary edition of Dr Who Magazine. It has a copy of the 1964 first anniversary edition of the mag which includes a letter from a reader saying that the Who was the best programme (don’t we call ‘em “shows” now) on either channel. How times change!

I should have bought a fez for the night. Fez’s are cool. There is nothing more but this…

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