poisonous, bigoted, ignorant, verbose little wa*ker”
(except I'm not little - 1.97m).
Muses, commentary and links, on various subjects,
international, political, economic, quirky, other (with sometime leanings towards Ireland),
by me, Tony, here in Dublin, Ireland. Pet Hate: Unlawful killing and
harming of humans.
I've decided to return to blogging, but on as-and-when
basis and in chronological order of writing, rather than trying to publish batches of pieces in a kind of
magazine format as I did for over a decade since starting in 2002.
The main reason I have been off the blogosphere for over a
year is Facebook. Facebook is also why I am now returning.
On the one hand, FB is wonderfully easy for accessing interesting news
stories, expressing your thoughts, getting feedback, engaging in
discussion. You can spend hours every day, and indeed I often
have, to the detriment or exclusion of other more worthwhile activity.
So, yes, I have been sucked in by FB, like a junkie after a few heroin
jabs. And to a lesser extent by
On the other hand, FB is not an appropriate medium for expressing any
kind of deep or detailed analysis, thoughts or ideas. So while I have been
chattering away on FB mindlessly, other mentations have been nibbling
away at my brain saying come on, grow up, get a bit more depth to your witterings, develop your arguments properly.
So I am back. The itch must be scratched once
more, with a mixture of depth, shallowness, prejudice, snarkiness and sometimes even
But first, let us stand for the Argentine Anthem ...
There are four categories of casualty in Gaza. It is not
clear, due largely to Hamas obfuscation, how many fall into each, but
only two of the groups deserve sympathy.
1 First, there are the Hamas fighters who have
fallen, whom Hamas make every effort to hide or else miraculously
turn into post-mortem civilians. At the same time they threaten local and foreign journalists alike
who might otherwise reveal the truth about such casualties. Such
worthy only of contempt.
2 Then there are the children and babies. Without doubt
everyone of those is an innocent victim, whose loss is unequivocally a
terrible human tragedy, whatever the circumstances.
• The other two categories are the non-fighting adults.
A free-ish election in 2006 brought Hamas to power with a plurality of
votes - 440,409 (45%). A year later, Hamas consolidated its grip through
extreme violence against Fatah who had come second with 41%.
• The Gazan population in 2006 was 1.4m of which some 45%
were/are under 16. Thus it is reasonable to assume that half, ie 700,000,
were 18 or over and thus eligible to vote in 2006. This, incidentally,
compares with the 991,000 who actually
many Gazans subscribed to the Sinn Fein mantra -
“Vote early vote
3 Anyway, as noted some 440,000 Gazans voted for Hamas
(including Hamas fighters of course). In other words these men and women
took positive action to bring the current catastrophe upon their own
heads. They are thus unworthy of much sympathy as victims and constitute
the third category.
4 That leaves in the fourth category: those non-fighting
adults who did not vote for Hamas and so as casualties must be
considered as genuinely innocent civilian victims. Depending on what
electoral or population numbers you want to believe, they number
anything from zero to half a million.
• There is also a kind of fifth category: those
non-existent victims that are included in the casualty numbers Hamas
that release. Bloggers have done some analyses which show the same names
popping up on the same Al Jazeera lists. There are probably a lot of
invented names there as well.
Think of all this when the media slavishly broadcast
Hamas's propaganda casualty figures.
Jihadists - It's all just a scam; you're being conned
We in the West should declare loud and often that there
are no 72 virgins for shahids or anyone else, it's all a scam.
They won't believe this, of course, at least not at
first. But the idea is simply to sew little seeds of doubt in the minds
of the sex-crazed Jihadists hot for martyrdom and an eternity of carnal
debauchery unavailable at home. Even a tiny such seed could be enough to
deter them at the last minute.
And when one of them hesitates, so surely will another
... then another ... and another ...
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy
is a delightful novel-style history of modern Israel and Palestine told
through the eyes of a thoughtful protagonist from either side, with a
household lemon tree as their unifying theme.
But it's not
entirely honest in its subtle pro-Palestinian bias, and therefore needs
to be read in conjunction with an antidote, such as
This examines events which led to BP's 2010 Macondo blowout in
the Gulf of Mexico.
BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded it through adventurous
acquisitions, aggressive offshore exploration, and relentless
cost-reduction that trumped everything else, even safety and long-term
Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in
refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in
The Macondo blowout was but an inevitable outcome of a BP culture that
had become poisonous and incompetent.
However the book is gravely compromised by a
litany of over 40 technical and stupid
errors that display the author's ignorance and
It would be better
to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying.
As for BP, only a
wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will
prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once
mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.
nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’sincredible story of survival in the Far
East during World War II.
After recounting a
childhood of convention and simple pleasures in working-class Aberdeen,
Mr Urquhart is conscripted within days of Chamberlain declaring war on
Germany in 1939.
From then until the
Japanese are deservedly nuked into surrendering six years later, Mr
Urquhart’s tale is one of first discomfort but then following the fall
of Singapore of ever-increasing, unmitigated horror.
After a wretched
journey Eastward, he finds himself part of Singapore’s big but useless
Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in
1941, he is, successively,
part of a death march to Thailand,
a slave labourer on the Siam/Burma
railway (one man died for every sleeper laid),
regularly beaten and tortured,
racked by starvation, gaping ulcers
and disease including cholera,
a slave labourer stevedoring at
shipped to Japan in a stinking,
closed, airless hold with 900 other sick and dying men,
torpedoed by the Americans and left
drifting alone for five days before being picked up,
a slave-labourer in Nagasaki until
blessed liberation thanks to the Americans’ “Fat Boy” atomic
distraught and traumatised on return to Aberdeen yet disdained by the
British Army, he slowly reconstructs a life. Only in his late 80s
is he able finally to recount his dreadful experiences in this
There are very few
first-person eye-witness accounts of the the horrors of Japanese
brutality during WW2. As such this book is an invaluable historical
“Culture of Corruption:
Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies”
This is a rattling good tale of the web
of corruption within which the American president and his cronies
operate. It's written by blogger Michele Malkin who, because she's both
a woman and half-Asian, is curiously immune to the charges of racism and
sexism this book would provoke if written by a typical Republican WASP.
With 75 page of notes to back up - in
best blogger tradition - every shocking and in most cases money-grubbing
allegation, she excoriates one Obama crony after another, starting with
the incumbent himself and his equally tricky wife.
Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarett,
Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Steven Rattner, both Clintons, Chris
Dodd: they all star as crooks in this venomous but credible book.
ACORN, Mr Obama's favourite community
organising outfit, is also exposed for the crooked vote-rigging machine
This much trumpeted sequel to
Freakonomics is a bit of disappointment.
It is really just
a collation of amusing
little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour
and situations. For example:
Drunk walking kills more people per
kilometer than drunk driving.
People aren't really altruistic -
they always expect a return of some sort for good deeds.
Child seats are a waste of money as
they are no safer for children than adult seatbelts.
Though doctors have known for
centuries they must wash their hands to avoid spreading infection,
they still often fail to do so.
Monkeys can be taught to use washers
as cash to buy tit-bits - and even sex.
The book has no real
message other than don't be surprised how humans sometimes behave and
try to look for simple rather than complex solutions.
And with a final
anecdote (monkeys, cash and sex), the book suddenly just stops dead in
its tracks. Weird.
A remarkable, coherent attempt by Financial Times economist Alan Beattie
to understand and explain world history through the prism of economics.
It's chapters are
organised around provocative questions such as
Why does asparagus come from Peru?
Why are pandas so useless?
Why are oil and diamonds more trouble
than they are worth?
Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine?
It's central thesis
is that economic development continues to be impeded in different
countries for different historical reasons, even when the original
rationale for those impediments no longer obtains. For instance:
Argentina protects its now largely
foreign landowners (eg George Soros)
Russia its military-owned
businesses, such as counterfeit DVDs
The US its cotton industry
comprising only 1% of GDP and 2% of its workforce
The author writes
in a very chatty, light-hearted matter which makes the book easy to
However it would
benefit from a few charts to illustrate some of the many quantitative
points put forward, as well as sub-chaptering every few pages to provide
natural break-points for the reader.
This is a thrilling book of derring-do behind enemy lines in the jungles
of north-east Burma in 1942-44 during the Japanese occupation.
The author was
a member of Britain's V Force, a forerunner of the SAS. Its remit was to
harass Japanese lines of
command, patrol their occupied territory, carryout sabotage and provide
intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping the enemy out of
is admirably yet brutally frank, in his
descriptions of deathly battles with the Japs, his execution of a
prisoner, dodging falling bags of rice dropped by the RAF, or collapsing
in floods of tears through accumulated stress, fear and loneliness.
He also provides some fascinating insights into the mentality of
Japanese soldiery and why it failed against the flexibility and devolved
authority of the British.
The book amounts to
a very human and exhilarating tale.
Oh, and Irwin
describes the death in 1943 of his colleague my uncle, Major PF