Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

August, 2009:

Strangeness

Possibly NSFW. I don’t absolutely know. Can anyone tell me what this is about?

Thanks to Daphne for it.

Defining Moments in History

Like everyone else in my generation, I have no idea where I was when I heard the news that Edward Kennedy had died. I can’t even remember what town I was in.

Harry Hutton

Quixotic

All of this fuss about Dan Hannan and Enoch Powell; it really is a load of tripe.

Shall I let you into my own dirty little secret? There were two people I would always listen to. If either one ever appeared on television discussing constitutional issues I would stop whatever I was doing and listen closely. On economic or social matters I really didn’t give one hoot what they had to say, let alone two, but on the constitution, sovereignty and the nature of democracy? I listened, hard, because they were two men who were fast in their principles, and whose opinions on those topics I respected enormously.

Who were they? I have no doubt you have guessed one of them, Beelzebub’s right hand man himself, Enoch Powell of course. And the other? Well, I guess you would have to call him Beelzebub’s left hand man – Tony Benn.

So, all you lot whining about Hannan, go figure.

Australian television

Just been reminded just why I never watch news analysis on Australian TV. Tonight I had the misfortune of watching this, biased to the point of dishonesty every time I’ve seen it.

Two items tonight, one on the BNP in the UK, the other on Zimbabwe.

The BNP? Well the message was pretty much a cudgel around the earhole. RACIST, FAR RIGHT WING, and, horrors of horrors, 20% of the UK electorate were in favour of ‘some’ BNP policies – all repeated over, and over, and over. There was pretty much no other message offered.

Well yeah. 20% of Britons support ‘some’ policies, all without naming a single BNP policy they support, apart from beating us over the head with the overt racism. Of course they support some, cut out the racism and it is all pretty much boilerplate stuff any leftie could be comfortable with, but it really wouldn’t have suited the narrative to show the reality.

Zimbabwe, on the other hand, well, we all know Mugabe is a child of the left, so even for this lot it would have strained credulity to start throwing around FAR RIGHT WING. So? What do they do? Bit of straight talk about the effects of the far left Mugabe regime?

Nah, that would be too honest. Instead – nothing. Nothing at all. Oh, sure, we got the message about what a dreadful place it was, but when it came to the ideology which set the scene?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Is it any wonder I despise these people?

Pearls of Wisdom

But don’t you realise that profit is sordid and dishonest and selfish? Not al all like drawing a salary-cum-expense-account from the government.

H. Beam Piper (Oomphel in the Sky)

It took me a long time to understand how much this man had influenced me. Heinlein, yes. Everyone acknowledges Heinlein, mentioning him is a sign of membership to the club, like a badge, or a not terribly secret handshake. Piper though? If you haven’t read him since you were fifteen go back and read him again. I suspect you will find much you never realised was there.

Consider Lone Star Planet, which posits a legal system that considers the killing of a practicing politician to be justifiable homicide.

One can dream I suppose.

I have just read Omnilingual, one of my all time favourite short stories by any writer, hadn’t read it for years and had forgotten just how good it was.

And another, the story of Benjamin Bathurst, an envoy of His Britannic Majesty; if you have never heard of him He Walked Around the Horses in 1809, never to be seen again. For those unfamiliar with British history, pay close attention to the name of the author of the final dispatch.

Opposition, as it should be

Australia? The United Kingdom? We subscribe to Freedom of the Press don’t we? Freedom of Conscience and Free Expression?

Do we?

Nothing like this is broadcast in either country. Ever.

Agree or disagree, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was broadcast, that it can be broadcast.

This is what a free, open and dynamic press looks like, not this.

Watch and weep, weep for what we could have been.

H/T Weasel Zippers

State Planning, And Creationism

James Murdoch of News Corporation has delivered an an excellent and timely speech attacking the BBC and the massive level of state intervention in the British media. One point he makes is one I’ve made in arguments with statists and which I think needs to be emphasised more-

The consensus appears to be that creationism — the belief in a managed process with an omniscient authority — is the only way to achieve successful outcomes. There is general agreement that the natural operation of the market is inadequate, and that a better outcome can be achieved through the wisdom and activity of governments and regulators. This creationist approach is similiar to the industrial planning which went out of fashion in other sectors in the 1970s. It failed then. It’s failing now.

It has often struck me as ironic that technocratic “liberals” are generally hysterical defenders of the theory of evolution and derisive of creationists, and yet they entirely fail to grasp that their scepticism of markets and market forces is precisely the same reasoning as evolution scepticism; it is a disbelief that order can arise without planning. Using the theory of natural selection, we can understand how humanity, elephants, dung beetles and entire rain forests came into being without anybody, or any God, needing to sit down and write a specification and decide in advance that they would exist. Natural selection produced all these things, without any plan, starting with a few proto-bacteria. It’s amazing and astonishing, and counter-intuitive; but the evolution market did it all by itself.

But when one starts discussing economies, and markets, the same people who are maniacal promoters of natural selection suddenly turn into creationists; not only will they insist that state planning was behind every development and invention since the wheel, they will insist that the economy can neither work nor develop without the control of a benevolent god- or, a gaggle of philosopher kings- and snort derisively down their noses at the idea that mere market forces can result in order and advancement. Belief in the necessity of state planning is the same belief system as Intelligent Design. It amazes and depresses me how few educated intelligent people can understand this.

So well done for saying so James Murdoch. It’s something we need to hear more often.

Hat tip: Letters From A Tory

Men Breastfeeding

Apparently it can be done. I heard a truly bizarre soundbite on Radio 4 this afternoon and had to look into this peculiar thing. The soundbite was from Fiona Giles who can be seen here advocating the procedure whilst being interviewed naked in the bath (actually probs SFW) for some reason beyond normal human comprehension…

That’s from here.

I mean, I’m fairly metrosexual and all but that is just barking…

More Temperance: Scotland Leads The Way

Scotland’s presbyterian moral compass has caused it to lurch further down the temperance road towards the Californian model of forcing bar staff onto courses run by corporate state temperance organisations which teach them to actively try to destroy the businesses that employ them with requirements that, if one had predicted them a few years ago, would have been met with utter disbelief; such as a requirement to offer customers a glass of water instead of another beer(!).

As usual Dick Puddlecote discusses the whole sorry mess far more succinctly than I would have done- please pop across to Dick’s excellent blog and read all about it there. Feel free to weep a little.

Dinosaurs Sounded Like Scousers

They did.

I don’t like Liverpool. It’s the evil twin-city to Manchester. Oh, the Albert Dock is impressive and they have some nice architecture round there but Scousers are terrible. Shambling shell-suited amoral hooligans. And most of the city centre looks like Stockport built on a larger scale. In other words a right royal mess of post-war redevelopment.

And the airport is in the middle of nowhere and named for John Lennon who notably pissed off out of Scousland at his earliest opportunity. Guess what it’s tag-line is? “Above us only sky” from Imagine.

I knew a couple of lads who studied there. One said his girlfriend was mugged in the street for her bag of chips. Didn’t want her phone or her purse. Just a 70p bag of chips. Then the other guy… Well it was a Saturday and his housemates went out but he was late with an essay so he stayed in and they got burgled by a gang of scallies. They stripped him naked to steal his clothes and tied him to the bed. They made-off with the usual and tins of food from the kitchen. Stealing a student’s underpants and food from a student house is lower than an abysmal trench.

H/T (approximately) to Salty

Sixteen Treads

The summer I turned eight was the first time I ran away from home. Dragging along three pillows, a faded wool blanket, some red licorice, my little brother and the best friend I’ve ever known, Bobby Fowler, I headed out into the world with the utmost confidence that life would be better far away from my mother. The big park was the goal, a hidden clearing in a glen near the creek, surrounded by thickets where we would be safe and happy.

Five miles is a long haul when you’re small. Most of the walk was on 61st Street, a major Milwaukee thoroughfare with minor traffic crossings every few blocks. We laid down and rested by the crosswalks when we got tired, ate a bit of licorice, discussed our new life. Not a single adult ever stopped to question what three small children were doing stretched out on the sidewalk in broad daylight with their blanket and pillows. Surreal.

By the time we turned into the neighborhood that surrounded the park it was well past midday, thirst drove us to a well known house three short blocks from the park. This was the old section of town, genteel wealth living in gracious older homes on wide, tree lined avenues. A clear world away from our barely respectable, fourplex apartment units laid out in a square grid surrounding the scrubby piece of lawn we were escaping.

A tiny, silver haired widow lived in a immaculate three story red bricked Tudor surrounded by carefully sculpted hedges and large pots of red geraniums on one of these fine streets. The house was a shrine to her late husband, nothing changed since his death twenty years earlier, except her son’s locked room, which she never entered. I remember well polished wainscoting, high shadowed ceilings and green curtained rooms filled with old furniture and porcelain figures that you couldn’t touch. There was an attic reached by climbing a narrow, hidden curved staircase. Dusty, deadly quiet and safe. The kitchen was the only bright spot in the whole house, filled with a wall of windows and white painted cabinets. She grew violets on the windowsills.

My brother and I had spent many nights in this house the previous three months, sleeping on a featherbed laid out on the floor in the front parlor, while Mrs. Schraeder’s son dated my mother. The widow was our babysitter. She was never kind, but she took good care of us and seemed trustworthy on a basic level. I thought this would be a good place to get a drink, maybe snag a raison cookie or two before heading into the park.

The simplicity of children is amazing. It never occurred to me that the old lady would question our trip to the park, call my mother or that there might be a manhunt of massive proportions going on for three missing children who’d vanished several hours earlier. She sat us down on the good couch in the living room, took her time bringing us refreshments and then chatted up a storm. Stupid girl, I should have ran. Mrs. Schraeder never chatted and we certainly weren’t allowed to ever eat on the good couch, much less sit on that holy piece of furniture.

Steve, her son, my mother’s boyfriend, showed up with Bobby’s dad pretty quickly. We heard them heading up the back stairway after the door slammed in the kitchen. My four year old brother wet his pants on the widow’s good couch. So did Bobby. The old lady quietly backed into a far corner of the room. She later told me that I stood up, placed myself between the boys and the men, bared my teeth and growled. I don’t remember that. I do recall hitting the wall, hauling myself up and biting Steve right before he threw my baby brother down the back stairs. I remember the hard push that sent me down those first eight treads, falling in a pile on top of Douglas at the landing and the kicks that sent us down the last eight steps to the back entry. I still see Bobby, wild eyed with fear, his big brown eyes leaking tears, his daddy hurting him. I’ll never forget that. The ride home in the back seat of the big white convertible Pontiac with the red leather seats smeared with child piss, shit and tears.

Bobby and I didn’t leave our houses for the next week. We couldn’t, the punishment didn’t stop in that old woman’s house, there was a whole world of hurt waiting for us when we got behind our own closed doors and it would have embarrassed our mothers for the neighbors to see us so black, blue and swollen. It wasn’t anything new for Bobby or me. Hell, at least I didn’t get locked in a closet or burned like Bobby.

My mother married that asshole Steve eight weeks later. Bobby got lucky, his daddy died the following month.

Laura Dekker

The world record-breaking journey, which had her parents’ approval, would have taken Laura Dekker out of the classroom next week and through some of the world’s most dangerous waters for the next two years.

But judges in Utrecht ordered the state child care authorities to take responsibility for the teenager over the next two months while an independent child psychologist assesses her capacity to undertake the risky voyage.

Is a child psychologist the right person for that job? I would have suggested an experienced yachtsman.

Social workers argued that Miss Dekker was too young to be aware of the dangers of a solo journey and psychologists suggested that two years of isolation on the high seas would damage the young girl’s development.

And being taken into care isn’t damaging? Oh and how old was Nelson when he joined as a midshipman?

It emerged during the legal proceedings that the teenage girl had been placed in foster care by British police after she sailed single-handed from Holland to Britain in May.

Police in Lowestoft and social workers decided that the return journey was too dangerous and placed Miss Dekker in a home until her father came to collect her.

Well she made the outbound trip fine. And the return…

Dick Dekker, Laura’s father, collected her from the home and defied the authorities by letting her make the sea crossing alone.

I despair. I really do. She clearly knows what she is up to at sea. Let her have her great adventure! She’ll probably weep less than Ellen MacArthur on it.

Read the whole thing. It’s dismal and I need to have lunch.

Creationists vs Control Freaks

I am a scientist by training and inclination. I almost did a biology degree. I tend to think creationists are loons. Why? Well… I’m typing this with pentadactyl limbs.

But the British Humanist Association has lost the plot here.

The BHA has written to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), North Somerset Council, Visit Britain and South West England in a bid to ”stop promoting the zoo”.

BHA director of education and public affairs Andrew Copson said: ”We believe Noah’s Ark Farm Zoo misleads the public by not being open about its Creationist agenda in its promotional activities and by advancing misunderstandings of the natural world.

‘We have therefore asked the South West England and Visit Britain tourist boards to stop promoting the zoo.

”As they are public bodies we believe it is inappropriate that they should support establishments that seek to urge religious or ideological beliefs upon people in these ways.

”As Noah’s Ark Farm Zoo threatens the public understanding of the natural world we have asked the local authority, who issues the zoo with its licence, to ensure that the zoo’s education practices are in line with relevant Government and other guidelines.”

The thing is… It is a zoo so obviously BIAZA will promote it the same way they promote London Zoo or Chester Zoo. It’s what they do. I doubt the Real Ale Society would call for a ban on Belgian Trappist ales because they disagree with the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception or homosexuality. That would be mad.

Thing is. I believe evolution through natural selection to be a mighty good theory. I do not believe it is a sacred cow or a dogma that needs to be defended except through education, reason and evidence. The BHA are being at least as dogmatic here as the most raving mad televangelist in a bad wig and a $3000 suit ranting and raving on TBN*. And they don’t see it because, just like the preacher, they are absolutely convinced they have found the one true path for all humanity. They are also being absolutely patronising. Who died and made them guardians of public knowledge? If Darwinian evolution is an accurate description of nature then we can find that one out for ourselves. We have no need to “protected” from false philosophies. Turning evolution into a protected dogma is the sort of thing which would have Charlie D developing high angular momentum in his grave.

And that final paragraph… So they are seriously arguing for one authority to be replaced by another one. I suspect a God didn’t create the remarkable variety of wildlife we see. I know for sure the government didn’t. No parliamentary sub-committee would ever be able to design a tiger. They’d struggle to get a warthog right. Then they’d argue for years over how many warts the hog must have. The world in short would have been delivered very late and stupendously over-budget and still would not work.

Out of 120,000 visitors we get approximately 10 complaints a year regarding this topic.

And the BHA have nothing better to do than raise Cain over that? That’s one in 12,000 visitors complaining. If the NHS could boast that figure it truly would be the envy of the world.

British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums director Miranda Stevenson said: ”I find it extraordinary that an organisation that I thought promotes free thinking appears to want censorship.”

Well, quite Ms Stevenson. Exactly.

Because the kind of secularism I believe in is not dogmatic and it is not defined by the great and the good (or the BHA). Do they not see that they are being just as prescriptive as the Vatican back in the days it was banning “evil” books? No they don’t do they? I have no religion. They clearly do. It’s the same old shit. Don’t allow the proles access to information or debate unless the philosopher-kings and moral guardians have filtered it and set the agenda first.

They would throw a hissy fit if their censorship was compared to what the Inquistion did to Galileo but what they are advocating is from the exact same playbook.

Ideas, like guns, beautiful women and fast cars are dangerous and that is why they are all fun. Don’t believe me? Fair enough, ask Commader Bond.

*If you have never seen TBN it’s a hoot. They run telethons to raise money for things like a “Devil-busting satellite over Africa”. They also sit on gold thrones and seem to have taken enough botox to kill an army and I don’t mean Luxembourg either. More like China.

Chappaquiddick Blues

I found an excellent funeral dirge for old Teddy, hopefully they’ll bury his ass soon and we can finally be done with this disgusting Kennedy fetish.

By the way, can anybody name this band?



Moral relativism

We have recently been having a bit of a discussion on a couple of threads with a bloke calling himself Locke. Now this gentleman comes across as a moral relativist, he doesn’t seen willing to take a stance on anything other than sticking to “Well mustn’t criticise, it’s their kulcha, innit?”

To me, an unwillingness to take a stand is tantamount to condoning. Refusal to condemn a contemptible practice is to allow it to flourish.

An example of his line, and no, I’m not taking it out of context. It means what it says:

we can’t in all honesty claim that our ideas are inherently superior to any other means of organising society.

To which my response is: I most certainly can, and I do.

I found this today, a little news item from Saudi, and I see similar time and again. As must anyone who actually takes note of the world around them:

A 10-year-old bride was returned last Sunday to her 80-year-old husband by her father who discovered her at the home of her aunt with whom she has been hiding for around 10 days.

(…)

My marriage is not against Shariah. It included the elements of acceptance and response by the father of the bride,” he said.

Well, yes. I am well aware that elderly men fucking ten year old girls is not against shariah, which is one of the many many reasons shariah is repugnant. Jesus, it isn’t even that it is isn’t against it. If you live your life by the Sunnah it is almost a sacrament, emulating the murderous old kiddie fucker himself.

Ah the hell with it, this isn’t just repugnant, it’s evil, and I really don’t give a toss whether you, or Locke, or the sodding Archwhatsit of Canterbury agree or disagree. If you can’t find it in your heart to call this, and the culture which spawns it, repulsive, then the hell with you too.

Moral relativism really is an evil philosophy. The racism of low expectations.

%d bloggers like this: