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July 2011


ISSUE #214 - July 2011

Myspace Clocks, Video Clocks, Flash Clocks, Fun Clocks at

ISSUE #214 - July 2011 [328+982=1310]

Daily poll on President Obama’s popularity; date is on the charts. (Click to get the latest version.)
Worrying improvement continues!

Rasmussen Daily Poll -  7 July 2011

49% Total Approval as at 7 July 2011

Change of modus operandi. 
As of June 2011, I am posting blogs as and when I write them
(ie like every other blogger does) instead of storing them up for one big bang. 
They will however continue to be grouped together per month for archiving purposes. 

Flotilla Nbr 2 - Some Thoughts - 8th July 2011


Arctic Warming - 8th July 2011


Wee Rory McIlroy and his Mum's Washing Machine - 9th July 2011


Issue 214’s Comments to Cyberspace


Quotes for Issue 214

Flotilla Nbr 2 - Some Thoughts - 8th July 2011

The Gaza Flotilla is a pointless exercise designed solely
to give satisfaction to Jew-haters happy

The Flotilla stories of 2010 and 2011 begin with Hamas which runs Gaza.  Without Hamas there would be no blockade of Gaza and hence no excuse for Western liberal posturing with Mediterranean boat cruises. 

The name Hamas is the acronym of an Arabic expression meaning Islamic Resistance Movement. An offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is a terrorist organization, sponsored by Iran, which is sworn in its charter to the destruction of Israel – “Israel will exist only until Islam will obliterate it”.

Every action of Hamas since winning power in Gaza in 2005 has been directed at this objective, the thousands of rockets fired indiscriminately into Israel being only the most visible. Israel therefore has no option but to resist this by every means. This includes imposing an air-land-and-sea arms embargo, which means all imports must be intercepted to ensure no armaments are included. It's not watertight since plenty of such matériel is smuggled in anyway, whether hidden amongst permitted cargos or smuggled in via the tunnels under the Rafah crossing with Egypt. 

In any case there is no siege in Gaza. Since last year, 250 trucks a day have been bringing in supplies of food and medicines and building materials from Israel. The border with Egypt is moreover now open (jeopardising the livelihood of many tunnel smugglers). The markets and bazaars are flourishing with fresh produce. Of course some people live in poverty just as they do everywhere else in the Middle East but this is mainly due to the statist economic policies of Hamas. Meanwhile there are also several luxury restaurants, two huge marble-clad shopping malls, a brand new five-star hotel just opened. Gaza is the world’s only concentration camp where refugees drive around in Mercedes cars. Its life expectancy at 73.4 years is higher than that in Turkey, Egypt, Iran or Pakistan. 

But if people do want to send aid to Gaza, they can send it to Israel or to Egypt where it can be checked for weapons and then trucked in. Because this is much cheaper than a flotilla, they can send more aid for the same money.

But the Gazans say they don’t need aid anyway; there is no humanitarian crisis; Gaza is a much more agreeable place for its inhabitants than, for example, North Korea. What they want is to be able to reach wider markets than Gaza alone by exporting their produce – fruit, vegetables, textiles etc. Perhaps the flotilla should offer to export this for them. [That was a joke - Ed]

Meantime, of course, Israel has learnt from its public-relations disaster of last year when they shot nine activists who were using iron bars to attack commandos as they abseiled down from helicopters on to Mavi Mamara. 

So Israel has been engaged in a remarkably successful campaign of non-violent “lawfare, which has been having a real chilling effect on the Flotilla.

An Israeli law firm has been:


threatening maritime insurance companies, who could be accused of providing support to a terrorist organization (Hamas). Without insurance you can’t sail,


issuing similar warnings to Inmarsat not to provide satellite communication services, which are essential for the ships,


issuing lawsuits to seize boats,


raising doubts about registration documents,


bringing private prosecutions against 14 individual activists for criminal assault including one Irishman (but I haven’t been able to find out his name).

Late note (11th July):
A reader suggests that the Irishman may be a gent by the name of Shane Dillon,
who was a focal spokesman on the 2010 flotilla,
and captain of the Irish ship Saoirse this year. 
Soairse had to withdraw when its propeller shaft was evidently sabotaged.  

US boat "Audacity of Hope" in the port of Perama, GreeceThe American-flagged boat, the sycophantically-named “Audacity of Hope” (illustrated), pulled out when it was reminded that no US vessel may enter a military exclusion zone without Executive approval. The Greek Navy prevented it from sailing from Parama and arrested the captain, and then did the same to the Canadian boat, the whimsical “Tahir”, named after that Cairo square. At least eight boats have had to pull out so far, leaving perhaps seven .

The flotillistas should be praising the Israelis for adopting such non-violent methods of resistance to the flotilla. But I doubt they will see it that way. 

The whole exercise has been shambolic and pointless – unless the point is to provoke another violent confrontation in order to titillate the world’s media and terrorist-lovers.

Happily it has now collapsed in ignominy.

Update (20th July):
In the end, the
did indeed sail for Gaza.  But it compromised but a single ship, the French registered Dignité al Karama with just sixteen people aboard, rather than the original plan of ten ships with a thousand activists.  It made it to the the waters nearing Gaza, where the Israeli Navy diverted it to Ashdod port and the protestors were deported. The ship contained no humanitarian aid

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Arctic Warming - 8th July 2011

Yes, the Arctic is warming up - time to panic

This report in the Washington Post illustrates that the Arctic is indeed in terminal decline thanks to global warming.  Those damn oil companies and the carbon dioxide their customers emit have a lot to answer for. 

The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulafft, at Bergen, Norway.

Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared.

Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds. 

horizontal rule

Wait a minute, I have to apologize.  I neglected to mention that the report was actually issued on 2nd November 1922. As reported by the AP and published in The Washington Post - 89 years ago.  Today, it is verified by snopes.  

Global warming in 1922

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Wee Rory McIlroy and his Mum's Washing Machine - 9th July 2011
Alternative permalink:

This boy has always been champion material.

Rory McIlroy, just 22, record-smashing winner of the 2011 US Open Golf Competition, the world's premier such event, has been working towards this pinnacle of achievement since a very early age ...

As the interviewer Gerry Kelly concludes way back in 1998, “the Americans have Tiger Woods; we [in Northern Ireland] have young Rory and believe you me this boy can hit a ball”. Prescient or what?

Hattip: Slugger O'Toole

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Issue 214’s Comments to Cyberspace


Mission aims to loosen illegal grip on world's largest open-air prison
Online comments to two opposing Irish Times contributions by Mick Wallace (for the Gaza flotilla) and Richard Humphreys (against it).
the argument may be moot. Israel seems to be having enormous success with a campaign of
Lawfare against the latest flotilla, orchestrated by the legal firm Shurat haDin. Already, the number of boats has been whittled down from 15 to 10, and activists from 1500 to 350 ...


Golfer drives home the message of social justice
Online comment to an Irish Times article by Vincent Brown, in which he hijacks Rory McIlroy's phenomenal success in winning the US Open to drive home a raw socialist message.

Great to see Vin the Red back to his fighting best. Up the Revolution!

Alternative permalink:

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Quotes for Issue 214

- - - - - O B A M A - - - - -

Quote: “I’m always worried about using the word ‘victory’, because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.

President Obama, the one-time Harvard law professor”,
once again demonstrates his customary grasp on non-history.

Hint: It was signed on behalf of Japan by
its foreign minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and
General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff.

Quote: “What the f-ck was that? ... Never again [sic]!  Do you understand me? Never again [sic]!

President Obama is enraged at being publicly lectured to and corrected 
by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu
over Middle East politics and history.

And is clearly not altogether au-fait with the historical resonance
of the phrase Never Again when talking about Jews. 

Quote: “President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis.  He has not defended the science against the ongoing withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community ... to bring the reality of the science before the public.

As the interviewer Gerry Kelly concludes, “the Americans have Tiger Woods; we [in Northern Ireland] have young Rory and believe you me this boy can hit a ball”. Prescient or what? Hattip: Slugger O'Toole

Ex-VP Al Gore and the world's first global warming billionaire
castigates Obama for the same sins of climate omission
that he himself perpetrated

Gore -


while in office never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis,


has not defended the science against the ongoing withering and dishonest attacks (he is petrified of any open debate, knowing he would lose).


Nor did he ever provide a presidential venue for the scientific community to bring the reality of the science before the public

Oh, and “Gore declined an Associated Press request for an interview.” 
Quel surprise!

I find it odd to be vaguely on the same side as Obama!

Quote: To get our nation back on track, Barack Obama must be a one-term president.

Republican presidential aspirant Michelle Bachman
rattles the current president

- - - - - U S A - - - - -

Quote: Children raised by a single mother comprise about 70% of juvenile murderers, delinquents, teenaged mothers, drug abusers, dropouts, suicides and runaways. Imagine an America with 70% of these social disorders and you will see what liberals' destruction of marriage has wrought ... 85% of mothers who kill their children through neglect are single mothers.

Anne Coulter, glamorous US polemical columnist,
who drives traditional feminists crazy with such talk. 

Quote: “It wasn´t Arnie´s fault

Arnold Schwarzenegger's former housekeeper Mildred Baena
explains to his (soon to be) former wife Maria Shriver
some interesting facts of life about the conception of her son Joseph,
fathered by Mr Schwarzenegger

Quote: Government should not tell you what to do unless there’s a compelling public purpose.

New York's billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg explains his view that
America (or at least New York) is an entity that belongs to the Government
which munificently bestows rights and obligations on the lowly citizens,
not the other way round. 

Quote: “The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress, and in the American body politic writ large, to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”

Robert Gates, America's Defense Secretary,
thinks it's about time Europe started paying for its own defence. 

After 66 years, the US is getting a bit fed up
with footing all the bills to keep Europe safe.

I agree.

- - - - - - N E W   Z E A L A N D - - - - -

Quote: Why do they take the most sick leave? Women do, in general. Why? Because once a month, they have sick problems - not all of them, but some do ... They have children that they have to take leave of therefore their productivity ... [it is] not their fault. It may be that they have not got it sorted with their partners where the partners take more responsibility for what happens outside work.

Alasdair Thompson, CEO of New Zealand's Employers and Manufacturers Association,
is fired after providing this perfectly rational and indeed sympathetic explanation
of why women tend to get paid less than men. 
He was taking part in a radio debate about
what New Zealanders call
ginder and equality”.

The blunt truth is unacceptable and must never be uttered.

- - - - I S L A M - - - - -

Quote: Now the good news is that it's also legal to be critical about Islam, to speak publicly in a critical way about Islam and this is something that we need because the Islamisation of our societies is a major problem and a threat to our freedom and I'm allowed to say so.

Geert Wilders upon his acquittal from charges of hatred (or something)
for calling Islam fascism and likening the Koran to Mein Kampf

Quote: When I want a sex-slave, I go to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her.

Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini, a popular Muslim preacher,
explains that the way for a a good Muslim man
to remain pure and faithful to the teachings of the Koran
is to satisfy his extra-marital urges with an infidel slave girl

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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

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