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Ill-informed and Objectionable
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April 2007 (no blogging in March 2007)

ISSUE #147 - 8th April 2007


ISSUE #148 - 15th April 2007


ISSUE #149 - 29th April 2007



ISSUE #149 - 29th April 2007 [484]


Climate Changeology Cult


Problems - When Huge - Become Democratically Insoluble


Japanese Poodlamb


Week 149's Letters to the Press


Quotes of Week 149

Climate Changeology Cult

Not often do I beat the drum about religion, but here I am at it again, two issues in a row.  Last time it was the non-religion of atheism; this week it is the new-age religion of environmentalism. 

I am a mild environmentalist myself: I believe I ought to minimise my negative impact on the earth (short of committing suicide).  I should, for example,


cut down my fuel consumption and the waste I generate,


use renewable and low energy sources where I can,


recycle stuff wherever possible,


eschew eating or harming endangered species,


not light fires needlessly,


clean up after myself,


dispose of my rubbish responsibly,


follow similar advice from professional global warming advocates,


encourage and help others to conduct themselves likewise. 

To be honest, I am not sure whether such behaviour (even if practiced by the whole world) will have any appreciable influence on the overall global environment, but you never know.  More to the point, these are things I should be doing anyway in order to minimise my expenses and to live in agreeable non-slummy surroundings. 

That's why environmentalism is so like religion, or at least Judeao-Christian religions. 

Such belief systems demand that we not kill, injure, deceive, rob or defraud others (an entire moral philosophy in one short sentence).  But these are intrinsically ethical things we should be doing anyway, God or no God, if we are to live at peace with our neighbours and - especially - with ourselves.  As an added bonus, Pascal's wager kicks in - that if God/Environmentalism does exist I get a bonus, if not there's nothing lost. 

But just as all religions seem to have extremists in their midst, who distort the intrinsic good of their religious teachings to justify wicked actions in pursuit of evil ambitions, so too there are environmental extremists.  The difference is, however, that environmental extremism is in danger of becoming mainstream, at least that particular cult I would describe as climate changeology. 

We all know the basic tenets of the cult. 


Humans are burning fossil fuels at an increasing rate


These give off carbon dioxide


CO2 contributes (or causes) climate change (warming and/or cooling)


Man's ongoing destruction of forests is reducing the earth's ability to absorb harmful CO2


Climate change is leading to catastrophic consequences from


unseasonable flooding to


drought to


melted icecaps to


submerged coastlines to


mass deaths to


mass migration away from disaster-struck areas.


Therefore man must drastically cut his CO2 emissions, or carbon footprint to use the latest fashionable phrase. 

Too bad the science teaches something different. 

First and foremost, does CO2 cause climate change or is it the other way round? 

Though everyone agrees that temperatures have varied up and down wildly throughout the geological history of the world, the evidence the climate changeologists always cite in respect of recent changes is threefold.

  1. Since the industrial revolution, man has been pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at unprecedented levels. 

  2. Available data recorded by mankind over the last few centuries show that as CO2 goes up, temperature goes up.

  3. Data going back millennia (up to 650,000 years), as recorded in ice cores from Vostok in the Arctic show a similar correlation, whether up or down. 

But what they fail to point out is that the temperature always precedes the CO2, so CO2 cannot be a cause of temperature changes, but seems to be a result

Moreover, temperature rises in the last century most certainly did not correlate with industrial activity, at least not until the past decade or two.

Temperature rises have not correlated with industrial activity

So if humans aren't causing CO2 levels to rise, what is?  Well this leads to another inconvenient truth that changeologists like Al Gore will not bother to tell you in their Oscar acceptance speeches. 

First of all, human CO2 emissions - 6½ Gigatonnes per annum - are miniscule in comparison with nature's own efforts:


volcanoes alone produce more than this (though this is disputed), 


the backsides of animals plus bacteria produce a massive 150 GT pa,


decaying vegetation generates even more,


and the oceans greatly outweigh all the above. 

Secondly, CO2 is only half a percent of the atmosphere anyway, of which the contribution of our puny few billion people is less than ten percent. 

And humans cause climate change?  Come on!

The driving reason that CO2 increases when temperatures rise is those oceans.  They constitute a gigantic terrestrial heat sink: when they warm up, they release more CO2 out of solution - and vice versa.  But they are so huge that hundreds of years can elapse between the cause (temperature) and effect (CO2).

 CO2 closely tracks temperature changes, but with an 800 year lag

But if it's not CO2, what does raise and lower the world's temperatures?  Well, the same thing that provides our warmth and keeps us alive.  The sun, that massive violent nuclear star, a mere 333,000 times heavier than the earth.  It also produces sun spots; no-one knows why.  But they are visible, and observations show that temperatures track sun spot activity very closely. 

 Temperature closely tracks sun spot activity

There is similar correlation between global temperatures and cosmic ray activity (which influences climate by promoting cloud formation). 

Again, to imagine that we humans can somehow compete with the sun and outer universe in influencing  the world's temperatures is, when you think about it, ludicrous. 

And that's the true - and simple - story about climate change. 


Temperature rises and falls have always happened. 


They are driven primarily by sunspot activity. 


Temperature changes cause CO2 changes, not the other way round.


CO2 changes occur mainly because the oceans absorb and emit CO2 according to the temperature of the water as heated by the sun. 


Human activity accounts for only half a percent of the world's CO2 emissions and is irrelevant to climate change.

So why is there such a fuss?

Over the past decade or so, the cult of climate changeology has become a bandwagon which is not so much rolling as careering at high speed and out of control.  Governments believe in it, or are too afraid not to, and so they fund research.  The US government alone looks like spending $4bn/yr to combat global warming.  The availability of huge amounts of such money has spawned an entire industry, part of which is a massive lobbying effort to garner even more lucre.  Major companies have felt obliged to follow suit and to fund their own multi-million-dollar climate change activities. 

As a result of all this largesse, the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people now depend on the continuing belief of climate change. 

Meanwhile, no-one is putting up a penny to challenge the conventional wisdom, and few if any politicians dare put forth a contrary view or even acknowledge that one exists. 

This was hilariously illustrated on BBC radio last month, shortly after the screening of a programme called The Great Global Warming Swindle” (on which much of this post is based - DVD coming).  David Miliband is Britain's Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, and a potential pretender to Gordon Brown's prime ministerial throne.  He is the force behind a draconian new Climate Change Bill, the first of its kind in any country, which mandates a whopping 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.  But when asked about one of the very few serious challenges to the pious green orthodoxy, screened just five days before his bill was published, he lamely said I haven’t seen it. I’ve only got a D in physics”.  He clearly doesn't want to hear any alternative standpoint, particularly if credible, particularly if based on science. 

But at least, unlike his Liberal Democrat counterpart Chris Huhne, he did not try to get the programme shut down, without even having seen it. 

Al Gore's movie uses a quote from the socialist writer Sinclair Upton (1878-1968) as part of its advertising blurb:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Ironically, this is precisely the reason that climate changeology goes unchallenged. 

So far so intellectual or so religious.  It's only wasting the money of rich taxpayers in the West who can well afford it. 

Unfortunately, however, the damage caused by following the precepts of the climate changeology cult goes well beyond that.  Because CO2 emissions will not be reduced without raising the cost of energy which in turn will impede industrial development, trade and world GDP growth. 


There are plenty of non-rich Westerners who will suffer from the concomitant unemployment and loss of buying power.


But people in the developing world will suffer most of all, because in order to develop out of their penury they rely on a massive increase in energy availability at competitive prices, as well as open markets to trade their produce. 

Note that last phrase: climate changeology is essentially protectionist and anti-trade. 

In my first ever blog, I mentioned that experts put the total global cost of reducing CO2 to meet Kyoto commitments at $100 bn/yr for a century. 

The largest proportion of this, in terms of lost development opportunity, will fall on the huge developing world, in which case all that Drop the Debt and Make Poverty History stuff is but a derisory palliative.  By comparison, the UN and World Bank have told us that $200 bn is sufficient to provide all humanity with clean drinking water and sanitation and thereby avoid two million deaths per year in the developing world. 

So if your concern is the welfare of people, surely efforts and expenditure should be directed in favour of the poor majority rather than a mythical climate changeology cult. 

A final point about the cult.  A recent BBC TV programme had a reporter, Justin Rowlatt, and his family spending a year cutting their carbon footprint by getting rid of the car, using low-energy light-bulbs, going vegetarian etc.  A very creditable 20% reduction was achieved.  However the experience must have been quite erotic, because at the end of the programme the coup de grace was delivered: the whole exercise had been rendered useless at the last minute.  Why?  Because during the year the couple had produced another baby whose own footprint would use up that 20%, and for the next seventy years. 

The depraved message of the cultists was unmistakable.  The world will not be saved from climate change without committing demographic suicide.  No more babies, please.  And please, try to die young. 

So there you have the nihilistic essence of climate changeology.


Keep the poor people poor


Eliminate the human race


Leave non-humans to enjoy an unfettered world

It's enough to make me an atheist.  (Almost.)

Late Note (7th May 2007):
You probably thought my remark
Eliminate the human race
was some kind of sick joke.  I wish.

According to the Sunday Times, a think-tank called the Optimum Population Trust,
headed by an emeritus professor of family planning at University College London,
is about to issue a report saying that
having large families
is an eco-crime
And this from a country whose self-propagation rate, at just 1.7 babies per woman,
is already strongly negative.

“The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do
to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child”,
says the professor. 
In other words let's get that figure down to 0.7 babies per woman.

What's that song from the 1970s TV series M*A*S*H satirising the Vietnam War? 
Oh yes,
Suicide is Painless.  As in demographic suicide, it seems.

In May, the Sunday Times kindly printed an extract of
a letter I wrote making this point. 

Later Note ( 23rd October 2007):
An excellent debunking of Al Gore's
global warm-mongering theories can be found at
Global Warming's Inconvenient Truths -- an Interview with Fred Singer,
By Bill Steigerwald,
associate editor and columnist
for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
October 2007

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Problems - When Huge - Become Democratically Insoluble

In Ireland, as in other countries, before you get a driving licence you obtain a provisional licence that entitles you to drive provided a licenced driver is sitting beside you.  This allows you to to get lessons and practice on the open road, until you are ready to take your test. 

The only thing is that, since driving licences were introduced in 1966, the conditions for the provisional licence have never been enforced.  In other words, there are people who have been merrily driving around on a provisional licence, with no chaperone beside them, renewing their piece of paper every few years as required.  They amount to no fewer than 380,000 of them, out of an adult population of only 3m, not all of whom are drivers.  Many provisional licence holders have taken tests and failed (repeatedly); many have not even bothered.  Anyway, due to insufficient testers, there has long been a massive backlog of testing which means you often can't get a test even if you want one. 

But life goes on. 


Provisional licences are issued on request,


insurances are renewed,


(unionised) testers go ballistic if additional temporary testers are contracted in to ease the backlog, 


untrained drivers continue to crash and kill. 

And no-one cares.  And politicians do nothing about this scandalous state of affairs. 

Meanwhile, in UK, the National Health Service continues to disappoint most of those who use it.  Ever larger gobs of money are thrown into it, to be swallowed up by juicy pay rises for staff and hiring additional bureaucrats.  With over a million employees, not to mention further millions working for contractors and suppliers, it is the largest employer in Europe, also the biggest monopoly.  As such it gives its customers (patients) little or no choice and is spared the grim threat of competition.  Imagine the selection you have in a supermarket for all the trivial items you might want, from toothpaste to baked beans to paper cups.  Yet when it comes to life-and-death issues of health care, it's the NHS that makes the choice for you.  Any suggestion of real reform of this cosy set-up meets with uproar from staff, so it has never happened. 

And no-one cares.  And politicians do nothing about this scandalous state of affairs. 

What do these two situations have in common? What is the shared thread that makes them permanently intractable in a democratic society?

It's the people, dammit. 

When over ten percent of the voting population have something that they like, such as a no-strings-attached provisional driving licence, no politician - under pain of ejection at the next election - is going to dare take it away from them. 

Likewise, when your radical reformations to improve a service (health, for example) are going to entail, for several million voters, uncertainty, scrutiny, changes of employment conditions, and in some cases the sack, you will not remain an elected politician for very long. 

Thus, if a problem is allowed to fester and grow for long enough, it can become completely insuperable by democrats. 

In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher wanted to close down uneconomic coal mines, which resulted in a nationwide miners strike.  The strikers were supported by nearly all other union members as well as millions of voters, yet she took them on with gusto and eventually, after nearly a year, defeated them, and at the same time enfeebled the union movement as a whole. 

You might think that drubbing such a large demographic disproves the rule, but there was a crucial element of difference.  She was a Conservative, and her union opponents and their supporters were committed, traditional Labourites, who didn't vote for her anyway.  So she and her party had nothing much to lose.  Her democratic mandate would not have been so safe had she assaulted the City of London, say, in similar fashion. 

Thus, if you don't solve problems when they first manifest themselves, you eventually lay your successors open to an impossible situation.  And you will get away with it because by then you will be long out of office.  Who now blames Clement Attlee, creator of the NHS in 1948, for the inevitable problems he institutionalised into it?

It seems to me, therefore, that the only solution is a coup d'état to install a benign but stern dictator with vision and drive, who would unilaterally fix all these problems with no mandate from anyone but the generals, and who would then, his/her job done, graciously hand back power (as if) to democrats and a grateful, forelock-hugging populace. 

Where can I find an application form?

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Japanese Poodlamb

You can always rely on going to Japan when you're stuck for a bizarre story.  They rarely disappoint, and what's truth got to do with anything? 

It seems young Japanese girls have two unusual attributes.  They yearn for the latest must-have pet, a little poodle, and they've never been on a farmyard or seen “foreign” farm animals. 

Japan has a couple of other characteristics: poodles are expensive (up to $2500) and Japanese don't eat sheep meat so never see the woolly critters. 

A Japanese internet entrepreneur in Sapporo joined up the dots and arrived at an interesting business plan.  He set up an online company, “Poodles as Pets”, and began marketing, er, pedigree poodle pups. 

He sold 2,000 of them at a mere $1250 each, until complaints started coming in and he had to shut down and run for cover.  Disgruntled customers came up with moans like


My poodle won't bark


He won't eat dogfood


It's hard to clip his claws because they look like hooves

Ah well, anyone can make a mistake, even Japanese girls. 

Who wouldn't mistake this cuddly fellow for a darling little poodle?

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Week 149's Letters to the Press

Two letters this week, both very different, both again rejected.  I'm going to have to change my target. 

bullet Public and Private Healthcare
John O'Sullivan is outraged because the (private) Blackrock Clinic was able to give him an immediate hip X-ray whereas the (public) St Michael's in Dun Laoghaire required him to wait three months. The clear message to draw from this is that if the State wishes to provide free services it should simply buy them from private facilities. That way, everyone will be able to get immediate appointments and treatment. To facilitate this for all citizens across the country ...
bullet Boris Yeltsin's Funeral
How disappointing that Ireland will be represented at Boris Yeltsin's funeral only by its ambassador to Russia, worthy as Justin Harman undoubtedly is.  Surely, for old times sake, former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds ...

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Quotes of Week 149

Quote: If we are on defense [with a Democratic president], we will have more losses and it will go on longer.  I listen a little to the Democrats and if one of them gets elected, we are going on defense.  We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense ... The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us ... America will be safer with a Republican president.

US Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani,
the 9/11 mayor of New York, gets typically blunt,
causing predictable outrage and offence among Democrats

Quote: Nappy-headed hos.”

American talk-show host Don Imus sensitively describes
the (black) women's basketball team of Rutgers University.

As a result he gets suspended by CBS and MSNBC
and goes round the radio and TV stations apologising and grovelling. 

Translation of this common, black gangsta-rap term
that is, however, forbidden to whiteys:
Ladies of easy virtue with Afro hair styles

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See the Archive and Blogroll at top left and right, for your convenience

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ISSUE #148 - 15th April 2007 594+553=1147


The Dawkins Delusion


Tyrants Don't Lie; Democrats Do


Lee Evans and Bohemian Rhapsody


Week 148's Letters to the Press


Quotes of Week 148

The Dawkins Delusion

Like many, I had, over the years, vaguely heard of the controversial Richard Dawkins, atheist or scientist - I was never sure which - but only as some kind of occasional background hum.   But I suddenly snapped to attention when I happened to hear a few months ago the tail end of a radio discussion in which he was eviscerated by Irish journalist David Quinn, a slightly militant Catholic.  I studied some of Prof Dawkins' more recent pronouncements and his website, and last November wrote a post centred on the interview.  Professional atheist Richard Dawkins attempts to explain why God is but a human delusion.

And I bought his latest book, The God Delusion, which I slowly read (my slowness having nothing to do with its quality or content). 

It is an elegantly constructed piece of work, clear, concise, comprehensive and sometimes witty.  Indeed, it is written in much the same mellifluous, articulate, convincing tones in which Prof Dawkins speaks.  He is meticulous in providing credible references complete with URLs - the antithesis of fellow-atheist Noam Chomsky, a charlatan who tries to obscure his sources for fear readers might find him out. 

There is much logic in what the Professor propounds, indeed he repeatedly stresses that science - especially Darwin's theory of evolution - is the basis for his atheism.  If I were to have read the book as an agnostic from Mars, with no particular pro-God or anti-god axe to grind, I would certainly find his atheism persuasive. 

His attacks on God are focused primarily on the Roman Catholic religion.  This is both personally safe for the author, and logical in the sense that among the Christian churches the Catholic doctrine is the most clearly promulgated.  But it does not explain why other religions get such cursory treatment.  In particular, Islam which is the world's most dogmatic and politicised faith, and the biggest after Christianity, gets very little attention, thaough this is understandable if you don't want your head sawn off under a fatwa. 

Adherents to the world's major religions

Dogma, Strawmen, Mockery, Axioms

He uses a number of cheap tricks to disparage and disprove religion, including invented dogmas, strawmen, mockery and even his own axioms.  Several of these appear on a single page, 34.


If man cannot understand something (such as the doctrine of the Trinity) it must be false. 


An Oxford science professor of all people should never draw such a conclusion: science is all about trying to understand that which you do not. 


Mary is a goddess in all but name”, in fact several goddesses - of Fatima, Lourdes, of Medjugorje etc


A strawman: she has never been claimed to be any such thing. 


And what is so odd about her patronising more than one place? 


The number of saints who help with particular human ailments is very large; same with the angels, who have different hierarchies (seraphim, cherubim etc).


Citing the numbers in this way is just mockery: saints and angels either exist or they don't, irrespective of how many there are.  

A further interesting axiom he puts forth (p253) is that Adam never existed at all and therefore anything religious related to him (such as original sin) is a nonsense.  OK, maybe he wasn't called Adam, but what he is actually saying is that there was never a first man”, which contradicts both intuition and his own beloved Darwinism.  For how would he describe the first ape which mutated into a human?  There must have been one. 

On p61, he writes about an interesting prayer experiment, when groups of people prayed for certain sick patients to get better but not for others.  The result was inclusive either way, which he takes to mean that prayer does not work because God does not exist. 


But that's the conclusion of a pre-ordained non-believer. 


A believer would say of course God isn't going to play along with a tacky little lab test which tries to trick him with prayers that carry an ulterior motive.  Dumb he ain't. 

Other strawman proofs of God's existence that he sets up in order to exuberantly knock them down, even though no serious theologian subscribes to them, include:


Some people think the existence of fine art proves God's existence (p86)


Some people interpret mysterious night noises as God or Satan (p87)


Some say they have heard the voice of God - Prof Dawkins maliciously spreads the false rumour that George Bush invaded Iraq because of this (p88). 


Some believers claim to have had holy visions (think Lourdes).  But whether they were true or hallucinatory (p89-92) has no bearing on God's existence or indeed on people's theistic beliefs.  That too is a Dawkins strawman. 

Another of the sneering reasons for rejecting God's existence is the very notion that he observes all the actions and thoughts of every individual and keeps some kind of tally for the day of reckoning.  But a scientist, especially, should recognise that it's not that hard to keep track of one individual (private investigators earn their livings this way), and modern technology already allows some thoughts to be read by a computer (which, for example, then operates prosthetic limbs).  So if man can already do some of what an all-powerful God does, albeit to a small degree, why would it be problem for an all-powerful God?  After that, it's only a matter of scale.  There are six billion people alive today, so that makes for a pretty big Excel spreadsheet.  Some reckon the total for the whole of history is 110 billion, but it's still only a spreadsheet. 

Old & New Testament

There are areas where I do agree with the professor.  In particular, he deplores at some length the depravities to be found in the Old Testament, which match much of what is prescribed in the Koran (stoning women for adultery etc).  I am left speechless by stories such as


the deliberate mass deaths that accompanied the Great Flood (Genesis 7:23),


Lot offering his two virgin daughters for gang-rape to avoid homosexual buggery (Genesis 19:8) 


the indiscriminate death inflicted on the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24),


the attempted murder (sacrifice”) of Isaac by his own father Abraham (Genesis 22:10),


The destruction, under Moses' orders, of all that breathed among the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (Joshua 10:40)

But the whole point of Jesus was to put all that bad stuff in the past and begin anew with a message of loving your neighbour.  My only hang-up over Jesus, and indeed the Christian churches of today, is that he did not repudiate the Old Testament.  Rather, the good bits are preserved (eg the ten commandments) and re-read, while (most of) the bad bits are quietly ignored. 

The professor has fun denouncing the Old Testament, where - as in the examples above - there is plenty of scope.  But he really struggles when he tries to do the same with the New.  So to manufacture the conclusion that the New Testament is as bad as the Old, he simply


invents stuff, such as Jesus was brusque with his own mother

No he wasn't; he displayed only respect towards her


gets worked up over the word “hate” when it is clearly just a matter of translation of perhaps hyperbole: “If any man hate not his own [family] he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26)

Meaning put me - ie God - first, ahead of your family


distorts theology, saying Christ was crucified “in atonement for the hereditary sin of Adam

no he wasn't, that's the role of baptism


it was to atone for all the sins of mankind past and future, a concept that Prof Dawkins for some reason later finds “repellent


disgracefully twists Jesus' central message, love thy neighbour” (Matthew 22:39), by asserting that this means Jewish neighbours only (p253).

This is nonsense.  Jesus makes clear all the time that neighbours include non-Jews such as

Samaritans (Luke 10:33-37),


Greeks (Romans 10:12),


Gentiles, foreigners, savages and slaves (Colossians 3:11).


even your enemies (Matthew 5:4, Luke 6:27),


and that his apostles should make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). 

Atheist Mass-Murderers

He addresses, rightly, the belligerent history of believers promoting their beliefs, though neatly sidesteps the issue of whether the respective beliefs actually demand such belligerence.  Some do, but Christianity certainly doesn't.  Those who have waged war to force conversion to Christianity (as distinct from, for example, protecting other Christians, which was the Crusades' original casus belli) will find no case for doing so in the words of Jesus.  He contrasts this with atheism, asserting that, notwithstanding the atheism of Stalin (not to mention Mao, Pol Pot and others), no wars have been fought in the name of atheism.  But here is a point he ignores.

 Atheists Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tse Tung were the most brutal murderers in all of history and made extermination of religion a priority

These atheists perpetrated mass-murder, to an extent unequalled in all of history, as well as untold destruction of religious infrastructure, largely to suppress the practice of religion.  It seems a little churlish, therefore, to infer that such bellicose anti-religionism is somehow not a form of robust pro-atheism.  In other words, atheism does kill, and - as you can see from the above chart - even more lethally than religionism.  That is not to say that most atheists seek the violent overthrow of religion, just that some do.  Similarly, most theists have peaceful intentions. 

It is noteworthy that the atheistic Soviet communism that caused or spawned all those mega-murders was defeated primarily by American Protestants aided by a Catholic pope. 

As an aside, Prof Dawkins makes a powerful case that Hitler remained a Catholic all his life.  If so, it makes the Church's failure to excommunicate him shameful.  Being religious does not make you immune to wrongdoing. 

Free Will

The other area where atheists run into serious problems is explaining free will - which Prof Dawkins says he is not interested in”, and for good reason. 

Science explains that we act in certain ways solely because neurons zipping around in our brains tell us to, and some mechanistic process causes the neurons to fire, the product of our DNA and learning.  But theists (or, at least, Christians) say we have personal control over our actions - in effect neurons firing for no physical reason as atheist Mark Humphrys describes it.  Theists would say there is a spiritual reason. 

This is a hugely important issue, because depending on it is the whole concept of human responsibility for behaviour, whether good or evil.  This is what separates us from animals, who have no concept of morality. 

If Christians' explanation of free will is deemed to be unsatisfactory, then that of atheists must be even more so because it releases humans of all personal accountability for their actions.  No wonder the professor wants to skirt the issue. 

Before Big Bang

Meanwhile, there is an elephant in the room, which Prof Dawkins refuses to recognize. 

Science explains an awful lot of what we know about life and the world, and theists and atheists alike can share this common knowledge and understanding. 


Quantum physics explains the behaviour

of the tiniest particles


to the movement of the stars and galaxies


to the Big Bang 13.7 gigayears ago that started it all.   


Darwinian evolution is a brilliant, thoroughly credible theory of how simple organisms evolved over megayears to become, via the extraordinary mechanism of survival of the fittest, the complex animals and plants we know today. 


As a side issue, no-one can explain why and how man somehow evolved a brain capable of grasping complex concepts such as Einstein's theory of relativity when such brainpower is utterly useless for hunting and gathering food, evading predators and chasing women. 

However where the believers and disbelievers dramatically diverge is in explaining what caused and came before the Big Bang. 


Prof Dawkins airily dismisses this with the words science is working on it”. 


Theists bridge the gap by saying that God created it, along with all those laws of quantum physics and universal constants without which nothing - including Darwinian evolution - can happen. 

Prof Dawkins' belief in the eventual emergence of a scientific explanation is exactly that - a belief with circumstantial evidence but no concrete proof.  Just as belief in a God is. 

Finally, suppose God does exist.  Then surely it is the duty of every believer who loves his fellow man and wishes him well in both this life and the next, to make God known to as many others as possible, and to start the process at childbirth. Prof Dawkins asserts that the latter amounts to child abuse, because he assumes his own beliefs are as infallibly right as the Pope's. But if he's wrong in his atheism, the abuse is to deny the child a religious upbringing. 

It is ironic that the professor spreads his Dawkins delusion of the non-existence of God with what amounts to a religious fervour, his followers regard him as the high priest of atheism, and books such as The God Delusion seemed to viewed as a catechism. 

Personally, however, I find his proselytising tome well worth reading, but in the end unconvincing.  I will not be adopting the theology of atheism. 

Late Note: Seems I didn't coin the title of this post. 
Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath have written
a book of the same name and
Dr T Tommyrot has been
interviewed  about a similar tome. 

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From the Sunday TimesTyrants Don't Lie; Democrats Do

Iran, fresh from its stunning military, diplomatic, propaganda and theatrical defeat of the British armed forces, found it appropriate to pull another rabbit out of the hat last week.  It happened when most (well, some) of us were still reeling as one shocking revelation followed another -


marines captured,


they don't fight back,


their mother ship doesn't care,


nobody cares,


Britain grovels,


the defence secretary hides (so does Gordon Brown),


the prisoners cavort for the Iranian TV cameras,


they kowtow to the Iranian president,


he decorates their captors,


he frees them (unharmed, untortured),


an Iranian bomb kills four British soldiers in Iraq,


the freed captives moan about tough conditions in Iran (when not cavorting),


they're allowed to sell their stories for obscene sums,


Britain's bumbling generals change their minds,


no-one is court-martialed,


the responsible ministers feign ignorance and innocence. 

Kevin Myers sums it up in two astute columns. 

And then President Ahmadinejad announces to everyone's surprise that he now has no fewer 3,000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges up and running, which can make enough weapons-grade material for two or three nuclear bombs per year.  With great honour, he says, I declare that as of today our dear country has joined the nuclear club of nations and can produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale

The British débâcle has assured him he can do what he likes, including


increasing by a factor of ten the number of centrifuges he had previously admitted to,


promising 50,000 more centrifuges on the way,


ignoring denuclearisation promises negotiated by the ever-trusting EU3 (Britain, France, Germany),


ignoring two sets of unanimous UN sanctions now in place. 

The world's reaction matches his expectation.  Too frightened to even contemplate what 3,000 - or 50,000 - centrifuges might actually mean (hint: destruction of Israel, followed by plenty of threats of more to come), the first reaction of Western nations is to move smartly into denial mode. 


Russia, France and Australia lost no time in declaring that Iran could not possibly be as advanced as it claims. 


Even the US was quick to follow suit;


So did the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency.

This illustrates how we in the West seem stuck in a paradigm wrapped in a paradox. 

We think all politicians lie all of the time.  And with good reason, because a great many of them do.  But - and here's the rub - only in the democratic West.  Democratic politicians lie because they want to hide their mistakes, or they're doing something dodgy or they think the people won't stomach the measures they want to impose.  In all cases, their objective is simply to keep their jobs.  To take just three prime ministerial examples from the past year,


Britain's Tony Blair is lying when he says he was ignorant of the decision to allow those marines to sell their stories to the media;


Bertie Ahern was lying when he denied businessmen gave him illegal payments when he was Ireland's Finance Minister; 


Ferenc Gyurcsany was lying when he assured the electorate that Hungary's finances were fine and he had no austerity plans up his sleeve.

But, paradoxically, when you look at tyrannies, truth is often their most powerful currency.  Lenin, Stalin and Mao, with the help of Marx and Das Kapital, were all crystal clear in what they wanted to do, and then they did their best to deliver.  Same with Hitler, who meticulously wrote down his megalomaniac xenophobic plans in Mein Kampf.  Same with Ayatollah Khomenei and Osama bin Laden. 

Western leaders talk the talk; these guys walk the talk. 

That is why we should treat their pronouncements with the utmost seriousness.  Not only do they generally avoid lying if the issue is big enough, but not believing their words ends up costing a great many innocent lives. 

So when Mr Ahmadinejad tells us he has 3,000 centrifuges up and running, is planning for 50,000 of them, wants to wipe Israel off the map and believes that the Shi'ites' revered 12th Imam will arrive shortly thereafter, we are stark raving mad not to take him at his word.  Wishing it were not true or denying it will merely give heart to the Iranian leadership, which will only make their depraved objectives more likely to come true. 

As usual, we rely on America and/or Israel to do the dirty work for us.

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Lee Evans and Bohemian Rhapsody

During 2002, the music industry ranked for the first time the UK all-time most popular single based on total sales not votes.  Elton John’s tear-jerking Candle in the Wind sung at Princess Diana’s funeral was way ahead with 4 million, but second with over 2 million was Queen’s seminal number, Bohemian Rhapsody recorded way back in 1975.  It is indeed a fabulous piece of music, but the lyrics are rather weird.  Landslides? Guns? Scaramouche? Gallileo? What's that all about?

Definitely not something you can act out.

Unless, of course, it's 2007 and you're comedian Lee Evans in this, my video of the week. 

Suddenly I understand the song.

Or do I?  See for yourself. 

Week 148's Letters to the Press

Two letters this week, both rejected.  I thought the anti-Brit one would strike a chord, though probably not the pro-Catholic one, at least not in post-Catholic Ireland.


Having It Both Ways with the Church
John T Kavanagh is appalled at Fr Gregory O'Brien's suggestion that only practicing Catholics should get a Catholic funeral. No doubt he also thinks non or ex-members of the local golf club or members who won't pay their subs should be entitled to play a round whenever they want.  I am reminded of the late Robin Cook, Tony Blair's first Foreign Secretary. An avowed atheist, he was nevertheless accorded full Christian obsequies at ...


Celebritification of Kidnapped British Sailors and Marines
Not content with their instant capitulation during captivity, the 15 British servicemen and servicewoman kidnapped by Iran have now been permitted to sell their stories (World, April 9th). The most disgraceful aspect of this final act of undignified celebritification is ...

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Quotes of Week 148

- - - - - - - - - - D A R F U R - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: It serves as an unequivocal indictment of the Janjaweed, and of the Sudanese government whose implicit support it has enjoyed.  This is the kind of evidence that puts paid to the claims still coming out of Khartoum that the ethnic cleansing is not widespread.”

Google Earth launches an impressive new service
that allows viewers to zoom in on the destruction in Darfur,
which has killed some 300,000 people and displaced more than 2 million.

It is a joint effort by Google and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, aimed at stirring worldwide interest and understanding of the conflict,
labelled genocide by only a few countries, including the US.

- - - - - - - - - - I R A N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: With great honour, I declare that as of today our dear country has joined the nuclear club of nations and can produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale

Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
announces that it now has 3,000 uranium enriching centrifuges
up and running (with plenty more on the way)

- - - - - - - - - - U N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: We want a butterfly; we don’t intend to put lipstick on a caterpillar and call it a success.”

The colourful, ever-combative John Bolton,
commenting (last year) as US Ambassador to the UN
on the replacement of the
much d
iscredited UN Human Rights Commission
with a new Human Rights Council. 

Disgracefully, the new HR Council has turned out to be
just what Mr Bolton feared - the old HR Commission plus make-up.

- - - - - - - - - - S R E B R E N I C A - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: The defendants are guilty ... of killing six prisoners of Muslim origin.

Serbian judge Gordana Bozilovic-Petrovic, sentences four members
of the Serbian crack commando unit, the Scorpions,
to between 20 and 5 years for their part in the
1995 Srebrenica massacre, based on video evidence. 

When did you ever hear of
a Muslim judge sentencing Muslims
for murdering Christians because they were Christians?

- - - - - - - - - - C L I M A T E - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: I haven’t seen it. I’ve only got a D in physics.”

David Miliband, Britain's Secretary of State for
Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, and
potential pretender to Gordon Brown's prime ministerial throne,
refers to Channel 4’s recent TV programme
The Great Global Warming Swindle
, which in recent times
is the only serious challenge to the pious green orthodoxy. 

Mr Miliband is the force behind the draconian Climate Change Bill,
and clearly doesn't want to hear any contrarian viewpoint,
particularly if credible. 

- - - - - - - - - - I R O N Y - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: Nothing is as innately funny as spelling phonetically with a PH.

A A Gill, restaurant and TV critic

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ISSUE #147 - 8th April 2007 [567]


Unserious Dealings with Iranian Leadership


Spreading Jihad Awareness


Shamrock, Spikes and an Elevator


Week 147's Letters to the Press


Quotes of Week 147

Unserious Dealings with Iranian Leadership

I could scarcely believe my eyes and ears as the drama over the fifteen hostages kidnapped by Iran unfolded. 

As part of its UN mandate, the British armed forces routinely intercept vessels approaching Iraq up the Shatt al-Arab waterway, to check for explosives and smuggling, and to protect Iraq's offshore oil installations.  For its exports and imports, Iraq has only one port, Basra, located up the Shatt al-Arab Waterway that divides it from Iran.  Thus if an attack by a suicide boat-bomb, for example, were to close down port operations, or take out the oil export facilities, it would have extremely serious economic consequences.  That is the reason the UN has mandated the military protection that Britain provides. 

On 23rd  March, fifteen sailors and marines in two rubber boats boarded a dhow suspected of carrying smuggled cars. Their mother ship, a robust frigate called HMS Cornwall, stood off a couple of miles away, armed to the teeth with anti-surface, anti-submarine and anti-aircraft weapons systems, which included a Lynx helicopter. 

Incredibly, the frigate just looked on as at least eight Iranian gunboats crossed into Iraqi waters where they rammed and surrounded the two British boats, arrested the fifteen Britons and then stole the boats. 

Kidnapping British sailors and marines in the Northern Gulf

Later, there was a dispute over exactly where the rubber boats had been, though with ubiquitous hand-held GPS devices, there is little room these days for navigational error.  The Brits claimed the boats were within Iraqi waters (the little white square above).  But when the Iranians denied this and provided alternative co-ordinates, these turned out to be within Iraqi waters as well (1st Iranian position).  When this was pointed out to them, they said oh, that's a mistake, and rushed off to produce a different set of numbers (Revised Iranian position). 

So, after this little farce, whom are you going to believe?  The lying Brits who are acutely aware of boundary issues and the rules of war, or the innocent Iranians who blithely change their data to suit the situation?  I'm with the Brits on this one. 

Of course, you cannot blame the sailors and marines, with their little handguns and rubber boats, for surrendering in the face of overwhelming Iranian naval firepower.  But what on earth is the point of having HMS Cornwall on the scene if it is not going to provide protection when its own servicemen are attacked on the high seas?  Is it just some kind of flotel providing bed and food?  In which case, why not simply use a flotel, which would be much cheaper. 

I am often critical of the Irish Army because it hasn't fought anyone in forty years, is incapable of defending Ireland from foreign incursion should this ever be needed, stages nice parades in downtown Dublin, but amounts to little more than a branch of international social services albeit doing honourable work. 

But the pathetic performance of HMS Cornwall, which at least should know better, is in a different league.  Some would like to blame over-restrictive Rules of Engagement for its reticence.  But, faced with an overt act of war, nothing, frankly, excuses Commander Jeremy Woods for abandoning his own men and women to their fate. 


Where is Nelson with his blind eye when you need him?

So much for supine captains of the Royal Navy. 

Perhaps they gave lead to the world's self-important politicians. 

Because it was clear that, other than some peremptory harrumphs from a few European leaders and EU officials, the European Union, whose citizens had been kidnapped, didn't care and just didn't want to know.  Mustn't upset those Iranians, y'know, even though they depend on us for fully 40% of their foreign trade


Where is the much touted EU solidarity when you need it?  What page of that moribund Constitution can I find it on?

The UN, whose mandate the service personnel were carrying out before they were kidnapped, and who are the custodians of those conventions on the treatment of prisoners that the Iranians were so cavalier about flouting (TV confessions, no consular access etc), were no better.  The best the Security Council could muster was - wait for it - “grave concern”.  Nikita Khrushchev rants at the UN in 1960


Where is an enraged Khrushchev
prepared to bang his UN desk
with his shoe when you need


But at least those hostages' own, British, government would take the situation seriously.  Wouldn't it? 

As Bill Clinton didn't say, that depends on what your definition of the word seriously” is. 

Prime and Foreign Ministers Tony Blair and Margaret Beckett took SERIOUSLY the desire to get the hostages released unharmed, with the emphasis on unharmed”.  So they engaged in a curious dance, where they were apparently something called firm but calm, not negotiating but not confronting either.  And to make sure there would be no hint of confronting, they kept Des Browne, the Secretary of Defence whose primary business this military matter surely was, hidden away blindfolded and gagged in a dark room somewhere. 

In return, Iranian officials and media and (some of the) Iranian public


berated Britain for its illegal war in Iraq,


had the hostages make TV confessions of guilt,


called for them to be put on trial and executed,


demanded an apology,

while the two ministers absorbed all the insults and smiled - well, apologetically. 

Eventually, the Iranian regime, fronted by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seemed to tire of this charade and (fortunately) decided to release the prisoners in a show of magnanimity and propaganda, with fawning thanks from the British. 

But in terms of curbing the aggression and destructive pretensions of a state leadership which


openly supports the Islamic terrorism of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine and Shi'ite insurgents in Iraq, and


is hell-bent on building a nuclear bomb to destroy Israel and  trigger the global chaos that will precipitate the return to earth of the 12th Imam,

Mr Blair and Mrs Beckett were decidedly UNSERIOUS.  Their feckless, insouciant behaviour has undoubtedly given further heart to the mullahs who run Iran and seek to deliver on the late unlamented Ayatollah Khomeini's promise of world Islamic domination. 

Back in June 2004, the Iranians similarly kidnapped eight British servicemen in the Shatt al-Arab waterway, paraded them blindfolded on TV, conducted mock executions, and then released them three days later.  The Iranians suffered no penalty for this war crime. 

They've just repeated the act, only this time it was more grave, yet again with absolutely no consequences other than a rise in prestige and admiration among their own citizens and throughout the Middle East.  These motherly words uttered by Mrs Beckett at the height of the crisis should go down in infamy:

Mr Blair is not talking, or intending to imply, anything about military action ... We are not seeking confrontation. We are seeking to pursue this through diplomatic channels.” 

For she will have thereby reassured Iran's mullahs that they are welcome to kidnap as many more British servicemen as they may wish, when and where they desire; in fact do whatever they like.  

So who can blame them if they have now concluded they will always get away scot-free, no matter what they do. 

To this extent, in the cause of a stress-free life and instant popularity at home, Britain's two senior ministers have undermined the anti-terrorism blood and treasure already spent and still being expended by their own soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and invited further casualties in the future. 

It is a sad fact of human nature, which the ancient Greeks and many since have discovered over and over again through history, that displaying weakness in the face of aggression begets more belligerence not less. 


Do the British really have to re-learn this lesson from as recently as the 1930s? 


Did not even Mrs Thatcher's robust reaction to Argentine aggression in the Falklands just 25 years ago not carry its lesson?

An unprovoked naval attack, such as that perpetrated in Iraqi waters by the invading Iranians, deserved a ruthless, disproportionate military response, or at least the credible threat of one, or at least a response that causes the leadership real pain and humiliation.

It was Newt Gingrich who quickly pointed out that Iran has only one, inadequate refinery and thus for its fuels has to depend heavily on imports.  With a minimum of force, those incoming tankers can be intercepted and/or the refinery taken out, showing the world the Iranian leadership's impotence and making it look very foolish indeed, as its citizens get used to no cars and no electricity.  No doubt there are other similar pressure points where additional misery could be readily inflicted on Iran's tyrannical mullahs. 

But no such thing happened.  British ministers adopted the expedient solution of grovelling and appeasing and accepting abuse.  There will be a terrible price - paid by others - for such abject, cowardly, shameful, unserious behaviour. 

No wonder Iran sees no reason for curtailing its nuclear bomb programme, with Israel firmly in its sights.  This, of course, increases the likelihood of a major air strike against Iran, with untold consequences, before George Bush leaves office, as I argued in my last blog

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Spreading Jihad Awareness

It is worrying to learn that the left wing, Democratic bias among American academics in universities is so widespread and embedded that efforts to promote an alternative worldview are actively discouraged or even repressed.

But the worry becomes existential when this bias extends to suppressing information about the Islamic jihad being waged by radical Muslims against the West.  As a result, surveys have shown a wide degree of ignorance amongst American students about the reasons behind the 9/11 attacks and the wars being conducted in Afghanistan and Iraq.   

Recognising that the students of today are tomorrow's movers, shakers and opinion-formers, conservative activist David Horowitz recently launched the Terrorism Awareness Project (TAP).  Its associated website is intended to be a source of free information, principally articles, books, pamphlets, fliers, Youtube clips and high-quality videos, which chronicle for students the history and objectives of jihad.  Its target audience is academic campuses across America. 

A sign that it is beginning to get noticed, and thus that it exerts some influence, is the negative comment it is beginning to attract from august publications such as the New York Times, which recently criticised the showing on US campuses of a new, hour-long documentary Obsession, produced by TAP, which has also made available a very good ten minute video summary

Amongst much else, the summary illustrates the paradox of how ultra-theistic radical Islam draws inspiration from ultra-atheistic Nazism, Jew-hatred being the common denominator.  It contains a sobering comparison by Alfons Heck, a self-admitted one-time enthusiastic Nazi (the first time in my life I have ever heard of any German admitting to having been a Nazi):

I was a very intense believer in the Nazi ideology and I know what a supreme dedication to an ideology can do ... If you can't learn from the events of Nazi Germany, you will not be able to grasp the true extent of the danger of the radical Muslim world today; you are simply  hiding. 

The TAP website is very useful source in terms of educating yourself about the facts of radical Islam and jihad, regardless of whether you oppose or support these dogmas.  It is for that reason I have bookmarked it and recommend it. 

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Shamrock, Spikes and an Elevator

Every St Patrick's Day (17th March), all of Ireland's ministers desert the country at taxpayers' expense, bound for foreign jaunts in the four corners of the globe - bar the most junior or most unpopular or most unfortunate or most superfluous such official, who must remain to hold the fort in loco ministri primoris.  Away from the confines and prying eyes of their home turf,Bertie gives George his annual bowl of shamrock the lucky ones then prance around in the unseasonal sunshine, glass in hand, at the local St Patrick's Day festivities from Argentina to Zambia, from Sydney to Singapore.  There, in a week of unrestrained partying, they distribute shamrock, while happily accepting accolades, hospitality and gifts.  Taoiseach Bertie Ahern presenting a bowl of shamrock to President George Bush is about the only event of a slightly formal nature.

My, how the ministers love St Patrick. 

The main achievement of this expensive display of diasporism is that, for the week of all these absences, the country proceeds swimmingly under the light yet incompetent touch on the tiller of whoever's been left behind; it is said that GDP spikes upward during that brief, mesmerising, governance-free moment, which more than pays for the ministerial excesses. 


Indeed, it was a similar hands-off approach on the part of Sir John Cowperthwaite, Hong Kong's much revered Financial Secretary from 1961-71, that is blamed for the colony's astonishing economic success. 


In the long run, he said, the aggregate of decisions of individual businessmen, exercising individual judgment in a free economy, even if often mistaken, is less likely to do harm than the centralised decisions of a government, and certainly the harm is likely to be counteracted faster.

Last year it was Willie O'Dea, hapless minister of defence, the most meaningless job in cabinet, who was left in charge of Ireland.  This year I was away myself so never found out who was the week's Taoiseach.  

However there must have been another, unscheduled upward GDP spike last week, when, for a magical if all too brief period, six of Bertie's finest - to quote the enchanting press report - found themselves in unwelcome, intimate coalition, and almost incommunicado. 

As their respective departments of state proceeded gloriously about their business, unimpeded by direction or advice from on high, Ireland's combined ministers of agriculture, communications, education, finance, foreign affairs and health - three men and three women - were held prisoner in a tiny elevator in the parliamentary buildings, stuck between two floors.  There, in their tiny cell, how they dreamed of the spacious, airy, well-fed accommodation in Guantanamo Bay.  Yet, other than sweat and nervous chatter, we the long-suffering taxpayers have been kept disgracefully ignorant about what transpired among them, or what role halitosis, flatulence, athletes foot, personal hygiene, unsavoury habits or even romance might have played.

But we do know that for forty long minutes, in their communal embrace, they made desperate phone calls seeking help from ever-higher levels up the chain of command from janitor to Secretary General to - at last - none other than the same Willie O'Dea, that one-time week-long Taoiseach, and still boss of the armed forces.  The intrepid Willie soon got a successful rescue organised. 

I retract my earlier disparaging remarks about the Irish army.  If ever you find yourself stuck in the lift, there is no finer body of men, under the able command of Willie himself, to extricate you and your fellow ministers plus whatever odours you have collectively managed to exude during your entrapment.  They are not just for parades it seems. 

But sadly, no sooner was deliverance achieved on that White Wednesday” as some of us now call it, than the upward, Hong Kong-style GDP spike came to an abrupt end. 

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Week 147's Letters to the Press

Just because my blog has been on hiatus for six weeks was no reason not to continue to harass newspaper editors.  I wrote ten letters, on variegated subjects from rugby to the Middle East to global warming to drink.  But I remain unpopular, because only two were published.  I console myself by blaming left-wing media bias, which allows me to deceive myself that each unpublished letter is another blow in favour of capitalism and democracy. 


Britain Grovels to Iranian Kidnappers
There seems no limit to the depths of grovelling and appeasement to which the British Government seems prepared to sink over their 15 military hostages held by Iran. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett's motherly comfort to the Iranian mullahs will go down in history, “Mr Blair is not talking, or intending to imply, anything about military action ... We are not seeking confrontation. We are seeking to pursue this through diplomatic channels” ...


Advertising and Drink Problems
If, as Dónall O'Keeffe of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland states, there was no causal link between the level of overall alcohol consumption and advertising, you have to wonder why the drinks industry is squandering its shareholders' valuable money on advertising at all.  And, remarkably, it must be the only industry that is apparently not seeking to increase consumption of its products. 


Enhancing or Degrading Irish Society
Kathleen Forde lectures us that "we have seen much evidence of the benefits to an insular society of having a greater mix of nationalities in our midst".  It would be helpful if she would provide even a shred of such evidence to support her statement.  If injecting other nationalities and cultures does in fact enhance Irish society, it implies that ...


Carbon Emissions and Climate
Pat Finnegan, the Co-ordinator of Grian and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaks of a
much-discredited documentary aired last week on British television. Presumably Channel 4's The Great Global Warming Scandal is the programme he fears to name. His claim that it was able to become much discredited in the space of just seven days ... is a remarkable achievement, as is the invisibility of the discrediting ....


Morality and Multinationals
Seán and Róisin Whelan of Nenagh moan that two Procter & Gamble holding companies, evidently attracted by Ireland's low corporation tax rate of 12.5%, had the temerity to record massive profits of €1.15 billion in 2005, and think as a quid pro quo that P&G should employ more people in Nenagh.   I would have thought that the Exchequer's receipt of €187.5 million a more than adequate quid pro quo.  Moreover ...


Giving Girls a Fair Chance (2)
Alan Barwise offers up a weird defense for the discrimination of women as mandated in the Koran, which for instance says that a woman is worth half a man.  Quoting Prof Bernard Lewis, Mr Barwise in effect tells us that women were even worse off fourteen centuries ago before Islam was founded.  Perhaps true, but ...


Giving Girls a Fair Chance P!
For maximum impact, Trócaire's Lenten campaign against gender inequality should highlight where by far the most egregious inequalities against females are perpetrated, namely throughout the billion-strong Islamic world ... and in the selective abortion of ...


Syria and Iran
You tell us in your Editorial of March 2nd that
Syria and Iran ... have strong interests in preventing the disintegration of Iraq.  No they don't.  These totalitarian states are supporting and egging on, respectively, the Sunni and Shi'ite insurgents.  A disintegrated Iraq would create a ...  


Likelihood of Attack on Iran P!
I know of nobody in Washington that is planning military action on Iran. . . There is, as far as I know, no planning going on to make an attack on Iran.So says Tony Blair.  He must be playing with words, wilfully ignorant or else blatantly lying. For it is inconceivable that the Pentagon and/or the CIA ...


Geordan Murphy Punished
The extraordinary omission of the multi-talented Geordan Murphy from Ireland's 22-man rugby team against England (his adopted home) can mean only one thing.  He is finally being punished for his ...

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Quotes of Week 147

- - - - - - - - - - J I H A D - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: We stopped the fighting [in 1991] based on an agreement that Iraq would take steps to assure the world that it would not engage in further aggression and that it would destroy its weapons of mass destruction. It has refused to take those steps. That refusal constitutes a breach of the armistice which renders it void and justifies resumption of the armed conflict.

A reminder of how leading Democratic Senator Harry Reid
made the case for war against Iraq in 2002 - irrespective of WMDs.

He's since decided he's not in favour of the war after all,
not because the arguments were wrong
but because it's just too difficult.

Quote: The only sensible way [is] to pursue political solutions, but [I cannot] absolutely predict every set of circumstances ... I know of nobody in Washington that is planning military action on Iran. Iran is not Iraq. There is, as far as I know, no planning going on to make an attack on Iran and people are pursuing a diplomatic and political solution.

Tony Blair is either wilfully ignorant or blatantly lying. 

It is inconceivable that the Pentagon
is not even making contingency plans for an attack on Iran.
It would be a dereliction of duty.

Quote: We thank you God, to bless us among your creations. We thank you, God, to make us as a great nation. We thank you, God to send us your messages through our father Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Mohammed.  Through you, God, we unite.  So guide us to the right path, the path of the people you blessed not path of the people you doomed.  Help us God to liberate and fill this earth with justice and peace and love and equality, and help us to stop the war and violence, and oppression and occupation.  Ameen.” [My emphasis]

American citizen Husham Al-Husainy,
a Shi'ite imam in Dearborn, Michigan, originally from Iraq,
prays publicly at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee
on 2nd February.

In a  TV interview, and particularly a later radio interview,
he descended into total raving hysteria
when asked whether America in Iraq
was the oppressor and occupier to whom he was referring. 
Hilarious were it not so ominous. 

- - - - - - - - - - P O L A N D - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: You will not live and I will live.”

Polish president Lech Kaczynski (one of those indistinguishable twins,
the other being the Polish prime minister)
explains during a visit to Ireland
that these words of an imaginary murderer
are why he supports the reintroduction of the death penalty. 

A murderer should not be allowed to have faith in such words, he believes. 

- - - - - - - - - - I R E L A N D - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: If, as we all hope, the Rev Dr Paisley next week becomes first minister along with deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, this would be such a powerful Christian witness ... to the ongoing problems in the Balkans and the Middle East, both of which have got religious components. Here were Christians giving very, very good witness as to what was possible in terms of reconciliation after long, long years of mutual distrust.

Pope Benedict XVI, in a private audience
with Ireland's president Mary McAleese

I wonder what Mr Paisley makes
of being commended by the hated anti-Christ himself

- - - - - - - - - - B R I T A I N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: Mr Blair is not talking, or intending to imply, anything about military action ... We are not seeking confrontation. We are seeking to pursue this through diplomatic channels.

In full, grovelling, appeasement mode,
Britain's foreign secretary Margaret Beckett
reassures Iran's mullocracy they can do whatever they like
with the 15 British military hostages,
and are welcome to kidnap as many more as they may wish.

Quote: The Far-right is still with us, still poisonous.

Ruth Kelly, Britain's Community Secretary, warns Muslims about
the rising popularity of the extreme Right-wing British National Party
and the possible emergence of a British version of
Jean-Marie Le Pen or Austria's Jörg Haider

Why does no-one ever warn of the rise of extreme Left-wing groups and their frequent embrace of radical Islamists?
The last century demonstrated that when it comes to murderousness, 
the Left (Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Sinn Féin) is far more dangerous
than the right (Hitler, Franco, Mosley, Pinochet)

In any case, the economic policies of the BNP and Mr Le Pen
are decidedly (and foolishly) Left-wing

Quote: Hey wassup! This is Liz. Sorry I'm away from the throne. For a hotline to Philip, press one. For Charles, press two. And for the corgis, press three.

Message installed on the answerphone of Queen Elizabeth II
by her playful grandsons Wills and Harry
(Hattip: Graham in Perth)

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won by New Zealand

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Neda Agha Soltan, 1982-2009
Neda Agha Soltan;
shot dead in Teheran
by Basij militia

Good to report that as at
14th September 2009
he is at least alive.

ON 18th OCTOBER 2011,

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Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11



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 What I've recently
been reading

The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tol, 2006
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy Tol (2006),
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
The Case for Israel, Alan Dershowitz, 2004

See detailed review


Drowning in Oil - Macondo Blowout
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 technical sustainability.  

Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in Russia.  

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 carelessness. 

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.

Note: I wrote my own reports on Macondo
May, June, and July 2010


Published in April 2010; banned in Singapore

A horrific account of:


how the death penalty is administered and, er, executed in Singapore,


the corruption of Singapore's legal system, and


Singapore's enthusiastic embrace of Burma's drug-fuelled military dictatorship

More details on my blog here.


Product Details
This is nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’s incredible 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 garrison.

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 Singapore’s docks,


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 bomb.

Chronically ill, 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 unputdownable book.

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 document.


Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies
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 it is.


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.


False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World
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 digest. 

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. 


Burmese Outpost, by Anthony Irwin
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 India.   

Irwin 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 Brennan.


Other books here

Won by New Zealand

Won by New Zealand

Rugby World Cup 7s, Dubai 2009
Click for an account of this momentous, high-speed event
of March 2009
Won by Wales

 Rugby World Cup 2007
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After 48 crackling, compelling, captivating games, the new World Champions are, deservedly,

England get the Silver,
Argentina the Bronze.  Fourth is host nation France.

No-one can argue with
the justice of the outcomes

Over the competition,
the average
points per game =
tries per game =
minutes per try = 13

Click here to see all the latest scores, points and rankings  
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the final World Cup
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