Click to access RSS




























































































































To find an archived article, simply click on Index and scroll the subject titles, or do a Ctrl-F search


This archive, organized into months, and indexed by
time and alphabet, contains all issues since inception, including the current week.

You can write to me at blog2-at-tallrite-dot-com
(Clumsy form of my address to thwart spamming software that scans for e-mail addresses)

For some reason, this site displays better in Internet Explorer than in Mozilla Firefox
September 2006

ISSUE #134 - 3rd September 2006


ISSUE #135 - 24th September 2006


Ryder Cup

 Time in the K-Club, Ireland 


Ryder Cup

ISSUE #135 - 24th September 2006 [256+183=439]


Pope's Inflammatory Words


Serial Regime-Change for Sudan


Peer Reviews Reviewed


Week 135's Letters to the Press


Quotes of Week 135

Quote: Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

Pope Benedict XVI, 12th September 2006

When I was a schoolboy, we had this dreadful putdown for a boy who joined a conversation late, and by some remark revealed he had missed the point of what was being discussed.  Redolent of penniless tramps picking up discarded cigarette butts to suck out a last few puffs of spitty nicotine, we used to shout “fag-ends derisively at him, and he would slink away in shame cursing his loose tongue. 

Likewise, I was travelling last week, out of easy reach of the media, so failed to grasp the essence of the Papal furore.  Apparently he had said something inflammatory, about Islam being evil and spread by the sword.  There's a brave fellow, I thought, prepared to pass comment on recent events at the expense of being rude about Islam.  How unlike his predecessor, a wonderful (and successful) adversary of Communism, but someone who disgracefully opposed the war on IslamoNazi terror. 

Obviously Benedict XVI was making the connection between


the Koran's injunction for Muslims to slay infidels wherever ye shall find them, and


the way certain Muslims have over the past decade or so obeyed this command in places such as New York, Yemen, Dahran, Bali, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Mumbai, to name a few. 

In mentioning the sword, he was also obviously alluding to the two (now ex) Christian journalists, Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig.  They were kidnapped last month in Gaza and then forced at gunpoint to convert to Islam, to the delight of many Muslims who viewed the video.  The journalists have not yet dared to publicly renounce their sham conversion, as such apostasy warrants death

Naturally, I could understand why Muslims would be upset that the Pope in his speech should have drawn attention to these events, for they are deeply embarrassing for the the majority of a more moderate persuasion who are doing their best to get on with their lives whilst honouring Allah. 

Thus, to pour into the streets in wild demonstrations, setting fire to Papal effigies, vandalising churches, shooting elderly nuns, in effect to show the world once again the truth of Benedict's words, was bizarre indeed.  These events only underlined how the Pope had hit the nail on the head. 

And yet he hadn't, because I was only picking up fag-ends; I hadn't been tuned in for the full story. 

For it seems these weren't his original words at all.  He was just quoting some old Byzantine despot called Manuel II Palaeologus who said this back in 1391 to provoke a Persian Muslim with whom he was in dialogue.  This was at the tail-end of the dozen or so Crusades, in which Christendom was trying (pretty unsuccessfully) to wrest back lands that Muslims had seized from Christians, culminating just sixty years later in the loss to the Ottomans of the Byzantine capital itself, Constantinople.  So Islam was certainly a hot topic among Christians. 

In this context, what Manuel would have been referring to is, no doubt, the jihad that Mohammed and his followers had engaged in, almost continuously, since Islam's founding in the 7th century.  Slaughter, looting, rape, enslavement and, yes, forced conversions, all as mandated in the Koran, were the means by which Islam had spread from a small corner of today's Saudi Arabia, southward and westward across northern Africa and into Spain, and in due course north and westward into today's Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Europe (as well as eastward into the Indian subcontinent).  The victims of all this unwelcome attention - brilliant in strictly military terms - were largely Christians who had adopted their faith mainly through persuasion rather than weaponry.  (Jews and pagans were, of course, also major casualties).   

So, naturally, Manuel, a Byzantine (Christian) emperor was bound to deride Islam as something evil and spread by the sword. 

Indeed, those early centuries of jihad were the reason that Pope Urban II had eventually decided that enough was enough, raised an army and in 1095 launched the first of the Crusades, which were aimed at regaining Jerusalem for Christendom and protecting the remaining Christians in North Africa as well as modern-day Turkey.  Whatever the excesses committed by the Crusaders (a moot point in the contemporaneous milieu where massacring the men, women and children of your enemy was par for the course), without the unprovoked Islamic jihad against Christians over hundreds of years, there would have been no Crusades at all. 

So, getting back to Benedict, it seems (to this infidel) that his words about evil, inhumanity and spreading the faith by sword were doubly, even trebly truthful ...


He faithfully repeated the words of Manuel II; no-one seems to dispute the historic verisimilitude.


The words would have represented the (Christian) view and experience of Islam at the time they were uttered in the 14th century. 


Recent events show that they can be as true today as they were then. 

But is it not extraordinary that no Muslim leaders seem prepared or able to debate and refute the central allegations? 

If the doctrine and practice of Islam are not evil and inhuman, these authorities should be explaining how the evil and inhuman acts that some Muslims have perpetrated are in utter conflict with the peaceful teachings of Islam and the writings in the Koran.  They should be clarifying that forced conversions - and by extension death-sentences on apostates -  are abuses of Islam not embraces of it. 

Silence, mere denial, or riots on our TV screens, only serve to authenticate the accusations of Manuel and Benedict. 

Would someone please demonstrate that these two men are wrong!

Some verbal ripostes to the Pope's remark here

Back to List of Contents

Serial Regime-Change for Sudan

The three-year genocide continues unabated in Darfur: Amnesty tell us there are 85,000 killed so far, with a further 200,000 dead of war-related deprivation, plus two million displaced.  Only the Americans have dared call this genocide, certainly not the UN because that expression would demand the firmest of preventive action to forestall another Rwanda.  No-one else has used the G-word ,either for much the same reason. 

The mandate for the ineffectual peace-keeping force of the African Union was due to run out at the end of September, and so the UN planned to replace it with a more robust force of 17,000 troops to try and prevent/limit the killing in Darfur.  Except that Omar al-Bashir and the other thugs that illegitimately run Sudan - and have fostered much if not most of the genocide - unsurprisingly said no, they didn't want a bunch of tough soldiers getting in their way. 

At the last minute, a temporary solution was found whereby the AU will stay another three months, but the problem has not gone away.  The genocide continues. 

The West is the world's only source of robust soldiery able to achieve honourable outcomes, yet its reluctance to get involved in Sudan without an invitation is wholly understandable.  For it would mean yet another unpopular war to remove an Islamic tyranny, to be followed by a lengthy, expensive and no doubt bloody period of nation-building, with Afghanistan and Iraq serving as the depressing blueprints. 

There seems to be only one way to make nation-building relative smooth, and that is to first inflict such utter death and destruction that the native peoples are left exhausted, demoralised and without hope, so that you start with, effectively, a clean sheet - and no insurgents.  This is why the post-WW2 reconstructions of Germany and Japan were such successes, but you would not wish their level of devastation on anyone again. 

By contrast, Afghanistan and Iraq showed how quickly a modern Western army can effect regime-change, with casualties and loss of civilian life and of infrastructure kept to a level unprecedentedly low by historic standards. 

It's the aftermath that provides the pain. 

But does the West actually have to be involved in the aftermath?  Is there another way a nation can be re-established while avoiding a descent into Iraq-style anarchy and killing? 

Actually, I believe there is, at least in the case of Sudan, and for two main reasons. 


Firstly, anarchy and killing are effectively what the Sudanese people have already got, and in abundance.  That's what the genocide in Darfur is all about.  You couldn't make it worse. 


Secondly, the current rulers - those who are in fact egging on the genocide - are wholly illegitimate; they are criminals who have absolutely no mandate from the Sudanese people.  I have as much right (ie zero) to be president of Sudan as Omar al-Bashir. 

So, how about a rapid regime-change, capturing or killing the current incumbents, followed by pullout to let the Sudanese try to sort things out by themselves?  Any captured leaders would be put on trial, following the fine example set by Saddam and Slobodan.  All this should be done by a coalition of the willing, led by a Western nation, with or without the UN's imprimatur. 

Dancing in the streets would erupt as soon as al-Bashir were gone, no doubt followed by looting and chaos in the neighbourhoods of Khartoum, as we all saw in Baghdad in 2003.  The Janjaweed, those camel-borne militias who are doing most of the actual killing in Darfur, would probably slack off a bit, waiting to see have they still got the backing of headquarters. 

So would the post-regime-change situation and killing be any worse?  Hardly. 

Without doubt another strongman would before long emerge, whom the West may or may not like. 


Yet if he behaves himself reasonably, the West will leave him in place and in peace, and could even invite him to the White House.  There are plenty of illegitimate thugocrats whom the West leaves alone, if not embraces.  Pakistan's Musharraf, Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev, Egypt's Mubarak, even Libya's Qaddaffi, and no doubt Thailand's new boss General Boonyaratkalin are just some of them. 


But if the new man misbehaves, and perhaps continues where al-Bashir left off, the West should mount another high-speed, low-cost, in-and-out regime-change, with court-appearances or death for the incumbent and his team.    More of the same chaos will of course ensue, and then another big man will wrestle himself onto the throne.  But this one will be more careful - and if not, then his successor will. 

The new president of Sudan will quickly understand that it will be very bad for his health if he ventures beyond certain limits in his misbehaviour; he will know the meaning of accountability.  And allowing or encouraging further genocide of Darfuris will be the ultimate in misbehaviour. 

This is a rough and dirty scheme, intrinsically flawed - and no doubt illegal”.  And it will certainly not usher in the holy grail of democracy, at least not in the short term.  But, at minimum political, human and financial cost, it will introduce the concept of accountability, international oversight and limits to bad behaviour - a vast improvement on the present. 

Indeed, in al-Bashir's Sudan, you can hardly do anything that will make the situation any less ghastly.  In fact the only thing that will make it worse is more of the last three years of feeble gesture politics and doing nothing.

Change the regime - and keep changing it - until the leaders themselves stop the genocide, as they surely will for the sake of their own survival. 

Call it serial regime-change. 

Late Note (October 2006): Mark Humphrys proposes a dedicated Genocide Prevention Corps,
made up of the world's leading democracies,
which would effect something similar on an institutionalised basis. 

Back to List of Contents

Peer Reviews Reviewed

Last week I attended an entertaining public interview of Dr Richard Smith, who for thirteen years was the editor of the British Medical Journal, before quitting to write a book about ... medical journals. 

The purpose of his book, The Trouble with Medical Journals, is to expose much of the rubbish that ends up getting published and the harm this can do. 

Dr Smith cited as a particularly egregious example the 1998 Lancet study by the now defrocked Dr Andrew Wakefield who falsely claimed he had evidence that the multiple MMR vaccination caused autism in some children: his evidence amounted to purposely seeking out only children who were both vaccinated and autistic.  Subsequently, many kids contracted measles, mumps or rubella because their well-meaning parents were too frightened by Dr Wakefield's paper to have the MMR administered.

Though I am a mere engineer, I felt from my own experience that much of what Dr Smith said about medical journals could be equally applied to engineering journals, or indeed journals that pander to any particular profession.   

For me, the most striking chord was struck when Dr Smith talked about the frequent corruption of the peer-review process.  This is the practice whereby a paper is sent for examination to a number of experts in the field (peers”), and if they approve of its contents it gets published - as happened with the MMR study.  This seal of approval is intended to give readers an assurance of the quality of the material appearing in the journal, and thus of the actual journal as well. 

But Dr Smith reveals that when the peer review process itself was recently audited for the first time, the results were alarming.  It was shown to be slow, expensive, ineffective, something of a lottery, prone to bias and abuse, and hopeless at spotting errors and fraud, yet with very hard-to-discern benefits.  As one of the auditors commented, if it was a drug it would never get onto the market

For example, one of the tests conducted was to select a worthy yet concise 600-word study, deliberately insert eight serious errors, and send it for review to no fewer than 400 peers”.  Very few of them picked up any of the errors at all, and no-one detected all eight. 


This reminded me of the three MIT students I wrote about last year who, with a concern about standards at academic conferences but also for fun, devised a computer programme that automatically generates learned research papers full of clichés, buzz-words, jargon, graphs, references and gibberish.  They then submitted some of these papers and to their delight got one of them accepted for presentation at a serious conference. (You can generate your own scholarly paper right now just by typing in a few author names.  Try it.)

Of course peer-reviewers don't get paid, are anonymous and get no recognition, so they don't have a great incentive to do quality work, especially when under time pressure.  To compound this, many doctors depend for their career advancement on producing (unpaid) papers that (regardless of quality) get published, even though this has little or no bearing on their clinical excellence.  So they, too, don't have much incentive - or time - to ensure that their academic scribblings are of a high standard. 


When he's about to slice you open, what do you care about?. 

How many papers he's had published, or


whether he knows what he's doing and his hand is steady?

Engineers in industry are under less pressure than doctors and academics to publish material as a condition of promotion, yet there is no reason to suppose the quality of their own revered peer-review process is any better than that of the medics.  It's more a case of not finding something if you don't look for it.

Dr Smith's radical proposal is to junk peer reviewing altogether, and just publish the stuff, as is, on the web.  As we see all the time here in the blogosphere, critical readers will soon spot bad work and if necessary tear it to shreds (remember all that Beirut fauxtography, not to mention 2004's Rathergate?).  The doctors and bioscientists will do the same, which should be a far more effective check on quality than secretive peer-reviews. 

He cites as an example the incomparable Wikipedia, whose material is contributed by ordinary people, and whose quality is assured by the corrections of other ordinary people.  And where agreement is not reached (eg on Middle East questions) this is flagged, so that browsers can make up their own minds. 

Some of the other provocative points about medical journals covered in Dr Smith's book are outlined here.  They touch on other sensitive issues such as


poor science,


conflicts of interest,


the influence of pharmaceutical companies,


research fraud,


editor probity. 

It's a warning for all professional journals - as well as their readers. 

Back to List of Contents

Week 135's Letters to the Press

Three letters to newspapers since my last issue, of which just the one was published (which excoriates one of Ireland's pre-eminent Leftists). 


Resigning a Commission
That's a nice letter from Major Philip Sturtivant explaining that he left the army when the Iraq war was imminent because he thought it was ill-conceived”.  I am sure his colleagues who did not quit and bravely went to fight ...


Academics Call for Ban on Israel
No fewer than sixty eminent academics have used your Letters page to call for a moratorium on joint collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, which they evidently hope will encourage Israel to make peace with its neighbours. There is another way to create peace, instantly ...


Power and Equality  P!
[Columnist] Vincent Browne attempts to place himself on the high moral ground by complaining that the lack of "equality" in Irish society is evidence of "corruption", and advocating that "State power" be exercised to redress this ...

Back to List of Contents

Quotes of Week 135

- - - - - - - - - - V A T I C A N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

Pope Benedict XVI, himself quoting
Christian Byzantine
Emperor Manuel II Paleologus back in 1391.

This enraged many Muslims, who
instead of showing how the remark is mistaken,
resorted to their now-familiar routine of
rioting, effigy-burning, church-vandalising and nun-killing. 
As well as verbal objections - though not arguments.

Some Responses (verbal not violent):

The Pope [has] reinforced ingrained prejudice in the West towards Islam ... the Crusades showed that Christianity also had problems with violence ... The Pope’s aggressive, insolent statement appears to reflect both the hatred within him towards Islam and a Crusader mentality. I hope he apologises, and realises how he has destroyed peace.”

Ali Bardakoglu, Director-General for Religious Affairs in Ankara,
which controls Turkey’s imams

One would expect a religious leader such as the Pope to act and speak with responsibility and repudiate the Byzantine emperor’s views in the interests of truth and harmonious relations between the followers of Islam and Catholicism

Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council,
which represents 400 groups in Britain

[The] quotations used by the Pope represent ... a character assassination of the Prophet Muhammad ... and a smear campaign ... [We] hope this campaign is not the prelude of a new Vatican policy towards Islam.

The 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference,
the world's largest Muslim body

The TimesAfter the blood-stained conversions in South America, the Crusades in the Muslim world, the coercion of the church by Hitler’s regime, and even the coining of the phrase ‘holy war’ by Pope Urban II, I do not think the church should point a finger at extremist activities in other religions.

Aiman Mazyek, president of Germany's
Central Council of Muslims

Guardian: “I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.  These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought.

The Pope regrettably caves in after only five days.
He should have more guts.

The final word goes to Winston Churchill: The religion of Islam above all others was founded upon the sword … Moreover it provides incentives to slaughter, and in three continents has produced fighting breeds of men – filled with a wild and merciless fanaticism.” 

My own comments here

- - - - - - - - - - A T   T H E   U N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: My country desires peace. Extremists in your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam. This propaganda is false, and its purpose is to confuse you and justify acts of terror. We respect Islam, but we will protect our people from those who pervert Islam to sow death and destruction. Our goal is to help you build a more tolerant and hopeful society that honors people of all faiths and promote the peace.


We will not abandon you [Iraqis] in your struggle to build a free nation ...


We will help you [Afghanis] defeat these enemies and build a free Afghanistan ...


Lebanon will be again a model of democracy, pluralism, and openness ...


You [Iranians] deserve an opportunity to determine your country's future ... We look to the day when [you] can live in freedom ...


Syria's rulers are turning your country into a tool of Iran ...


You [Darfuris] have suffered unspeakable violence and the UN must act ...

In an address to the UN General Assembly,
President George W Bush speaks directly
to the ordinary citizens of beleaguered countries

Quote: Yesterday the devil came here and this place still smells of sulphur.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, denounces President Bush
at the UN.  Oh, and Mr Bush is also a
a liar and a tyrant.

Quote: We love everyone around the world: Jews, Christians, Muslims, non-Muslims, non-Jews, non-Christians.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
in New York after the UN meeting 

- - - - - - - - - - H U N G A R Y - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: We [obscenity] lied throughout the last year-and-a-half, two years ... we [obscenity] lied in the morning, we [obscenity] lied in the evening.

Hungarian prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány tells the truth [sic],
in a leaked speech to his ruling Socialist party.
He was explaining how it won last April's general election,
by falsely describing to the electorate the healthy state of the economy
and what the party wouldn't need to do about it.

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

Quote: Waiting for Gordo

Latest witticism of British Labour party, referring to the
expected coronation of Gordon Brown as Tony Blair's successor

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

Quote: I'm not answering what I got for my holy communion money, my confirmation money, what I got for my birthday, what I got for anything else.”

Ireland's Taoiseach Bertie Ahern defends himself
against accusations he received over €50,000 in gifts from businessmen when he was finance minister in 1993

Colin Carroll, the little lean mean sumo machine, proudly displays his Irish nappyQuote: I wear my nappy with pride.  My nappy is Ireland's nappy ... Japan will soon know all about the little mean green sumo machine.

Colin Carroll (35 yrs and 70 kg),
Cork solicitor and
Ireland's sole representative in the 14th Sumo World Championships
to be held next month in
Sakai city, Osaka

Quote (heard on BBC 2 TV): If we could have won those games instead of losing them, there would have been a different result.

American golfer David Toms, who had just lost to Colin Montgomerie,
makes an erudite comment
on the USA's Ryder Cup defeat by Europe

Back to List of Contents

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

Back to Top of Page

ISSUE #134 - 3rd September 2006 [250+267=517]


Two Wars: Propaganda and Military


Forthright Australian Leaders


Virtual Vacation to Solve Your Problems


Missing Bill Clinton


Week 134's Letters to the Press


Quotes of Week 134

Two Wars: Propaganda and Military

In July and August, the Israelis fought two wars against Hezbollah, with two decisive outcomes: a propaganda war which they lost and a military war they won. 

Propaganda War

That Hezbollah should have lied and dissembled in trying to portray themselves in as positive a light as possible should surprise no-one; indeed it made abundant sense.  The same goes for Hamas.  But what was a surprise for many of us was not only the way such a cutthroat Islamonazi organization, sworn to annihiliate Israel, funded and armed by Iran and Syria, was cheered on by much of the West's mainstream media, but also that the media were similarly eager to lie and dissemble. 

In a particularly bitter piece, Melanie Phillips, a British Jewess, despairs about the institutionalised anti-Semitism in today's mainstream Western media when it comes to Middle East conflicts, a bias that leads them to publish any fake or staged rubbish provided it denigrates Israelis.  But she has noticed that it is

only the blogosphere which is now performing the most elementary disciplines of journalism: to aspire to objectivity, to separate facts from prejudices, to apply basic checks to claims being made by partisans to a conflict, and to be particularly wary of those with a proven track record of lying.

This has been evidenced in just the past few weeks of conflict in the

  1. concocted stories of an Israeli strike against an ambulance in Lebanon and

  2. another against a TV crew in Gaza;

  3. staged photographs of Israeli atrocities in Qana;

  4. doctored photographs of damage in Beirut. 

In all cases the fakery was unmasked by bloggers using basic analysis of published material, work that the publishers themselves should have routinely undertaken.  And you have to wonder therefore how much other faked stuff remains unexposed. 

Fadel Shana “wounded” - but his spotless undershirt beneath the bloodied overshirt gives the game away! - (click for better detail)To take just item 2 as an example. 

Reuter's correspondent Fadel Shana was said to have been wounded in Gaza when an Israeli missile struck the clearly marked press vehicle in which he was travelling.  In the Reuters photo on the left, he is seen apparently being taken away to hospital.  But look at the spotless undershirt which you can see above his waist where his bloodied outer shirt has ridden up.  Spotless!  How careless can you be?

Not convinced?  Then how about this shot from Yahoo. 

How amateurish is this faked scene?  Yet the media, starting with Reuters, swallowed it whole and spread it round the world. 

So since you clearly can't believe the photographs, why should you believe that a bona fides press vehicle was even struck by Israeli fire? 

Is this just an old rustbucket or has it been struck by a missile? - Click to enlarge

Has this interior really been blasted by a missile?  You decide.  Click to enlarge.

Why not simply believe the evidence of your own eyes that the vehicle was nothing but an old rustbucket hauled from the scrap yard to sate the paparazzi's bias? 

Or you could choose to believe the IDF's version that

there was an aerial attack on a suspicious vehicle that drove in a suspicious manner right by the forces and in between the Palestinian militant posts ... in an area of combat and [it] had not been identified as belonging to the media

Unlike Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel is not noted for putting out lies, and it gains no military advantage and no kudos from targeting genuine press vehicles. 

I came across a further example of successful Hezbollah propaganda, or if you prefer, anti-Semitic bias in the West, and not only in the media. 

This time the culprit is the Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), whose website tells us it is

an  independent ... non-profit ... research and media group of writers, scholars and activists ... in Montreal.  [It] publishes news articles, commentary, background research and analysis on a broad range of issues, focussing on social, economic, strategic, geopolitical and environmental processes.” 

Independent, eh?

Towards the end of the Israel/Hezbollah war, CRG published an array of particularly gruesome photographs of victims of Israeli attacks in Lebanon, from mainstream sources such as Reuters, AP and Agence France Press.  Depicting people who have been burnt, dismembered and disembowelled, the images are almost pornographic in their immediacy. 

In so doing the independent CRG revealed, perhaps inadvertently, its pro-Hezbollah agenda. 

Actually, since the photographs appear on a webpage headed Israeli crimes against humanity: Gruesome images of charred and mutilated bodies following Israeli air strikes”, it's not inadvertent at all.   The page amounts to blatant propaganda in support of Hezbollah. 

We are asked to believe that charrings and mutilations are of themselves evidence of Israeli sponsored atrocities”.  This is nonsense.  For if it were true, then the corollary would be that a humane killing method, such as a bullet to the head, would remove the criminal nature of the act; it would not longer be an “atrocity”.   

Some (though not I) may make a sincere argument that Israel over-reacted, that its retaliatory attacks should have been less ferocious, and thus the suffering of people in Lebanon reduced.  Some may even think that no-one in Lebanon should have died, that in effect Israel should have turned the other cheek to Katyushas raining down on their northern cities. 

But if you are going to engage in warfare at all, horrible methods of dying are inevitable, whether it is by today's bomb from the sky or yesterday's slash with a sabre. 

For it is not the method that makes war terrible, it is the killing itself. 

By displaying dozens of images of bloodied bodies of Lebanese, whilst of course not showing any in Israel, the  independent CRG is merely doing what it can to help Hezbollah to annihilate Jews. 

Yet considering it has all those  writers, scholars and activists at its disposal, it is surprisingly sloppy. 

Here is my breakdown of the victims of Israeli strikes as depicted in its 42 photos. 




 Men of fighting age



 Old men












Repeat Images (of same victims)



Implied (incorrect) total



A number of bodies are shown more than once, thirteen actually, which gives the - undoubtedly intended - impression that more people (ie 42) have been killed by the Israelis than actually have (29). 

Moreover, at least one set of images has clearly been manipulated for effect. 

 Quote A member of the Lebanese Red Cross walks past a badly burnt body in Beirut's port, which was targeted by Israeli warplanes, July 17 - Reuters Unquote

This shot is captioned A
member of the Lebanese Red
Cross walks past a badly burnt
body in Beirut's port, which
was targeted by Israeli
warplanes, July 17 - Reuters

(Note also the green cover in
the background into which a
body was depicted being
wrapped in an earlier photo).

The later shot below left, which carries the same caption as the one above, shows the same body now accompanied at his feet by a second corpse, possibly removed from the green cover.  

The shot below right confirms that it is indeed a second body with its caption, Lebanese firefighters try to extinguish the fire while the dismembered and burnt corpses of two Lebanese civilians killed in an Israeli air raid lie on the ground at the port in Beirut

Quote A member of the Lebanese Red Cross walks past a badly burnt body in Beirut's port, which was targeted by Israeli warplanes-2 Unquote 

 Quote Lebanese firefighters try to extinguish the fire while the dismembered and burnt corpses of two Lebanese civilians killed in an Israeli air raid lie on the ground at the port in Beirut Unquote

So apart from the nonchalant manner of the Red Cross towards fallen comrades, someone deliberately placed the second body at the feet of the first, presumably to increase the photographic effect. 

If the CRG blatantly cheated with these obviously staged images, how many more of its images can you trust? 

Note that CRG identifies most of the bodies as a civilian”; not a single one as a fighter or member of Hezbollah. 

Yet of all the bodies shown, over 70% are grown men seemingly of fighting age; none appear to be old.  The remainder are women and children whom it is reasonable to classify as civilians. 

Are those young males really civilians?

CRG tells us in its opening paragraphs that Laser guided missiles and smart bombs are very precise.  They rarely miss their target ... Israel's IDF [carry] out [their strikes] with meticulous accuracy.

Few, surely, can doubt that Israel's objective was to extinguish Hezbollah militants and bagmen, as many as possible, and that there is no military advantage -  much less public opinion advantage - in wantonly killing civilians.  That's why Israel went to such lengths to warn civilians of impending attacks, giving them time to escape. 

So if the IDF's weapons rarely miss their target, why would anyone suppose that those dead, fighting-age males are anything other than Hezbollah operators?  There is absolutely no evidence that they are, as repeatedly claimed by CRG, civilians”.  The only convincing way to demonstrate that Israel's victims are civilians is to show women, children and old men, yet they are few in number.  If more slaughtered women and children were available, you can be sure that CRG would have flaunted them for the cameras. 

Military War

So Hezbullah, together with its supporters in the mainstream media and independent think-tanks such as CRG, ensconced in the safety of the West,  have been superb in their propaganda, far superior to Israel, and not constrained by honest reporting.  In propaganda terms they inflicted a humiliating and devastating defeat on Israel. 

Why, Hezbollah have even managed to convince world opinion that they won the recent conflict militarily as well.  This is despite the fact that even Hassan Nasrallah, their now-revered leader and someone who surely knows he has been marked out by Israel for assassination, clearly believes the precise opposite by saying on Lebanese TV -

We did not think, even one percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude.  You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it?  I say no, absolutely not.

And the men of Israel's armed forces likewise believe they won the military contest decisively, and with good reason For by the time the cease-fire arrived,


Hezbollah's system of fortresses and strongholds, its network of command and control bunkers along Israel's Northern border, painstakingly constructed over six long years, had all been destroyed, abandoned or were under the control of the IDF. 


In Beirut, its command & control centre and its infrastructure were in ruins. 


Hundreds of its fighters lay dead (including many so-called Lebanese civilian males in their 20s and 30s).


Its mini terrorist state within a state south of the Litani river had been dismantled. 

And all for the loss of just 117 Israeli soldiers, a tiny number compared to previous conflicts when they were measured in thousands. 


If only Israel could propagandise as well as it fights, its victories would be much more convincing and a greater deterrent to re-matches. 

This should be one of the great lessons the country must ponder in the aftermath.  It must in future win both wars - the propaganda war as well as the military war. 

Back to List of Contents

Forthright Australian Leaders

Prompted, perhaps, by columnist Mark Steyn's recent tour in Australia, an e-mail has been doing the rounds lauding various sayings by prime minister John Howard and fellow politicians who are publicly opposing Islamic extremism in Australia. 

Here are some samples. 


Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Mr Howard, has been the most candid, and makes clear that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they don't accept that Australia is a secular state whose laws are made by parliament.  “If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you”, he said on national television. 

He went on, “I’d be saying to clerics who are teaching that ‘there are two laws governing people in Australia: one the Australian law and another the Islamic law’, that is false ... If you can’t agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country which practices it, perhaps, then, that’s a better option”. 

Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, he said those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked “to exercise their other citizenship”. 


The prime minister angered some Australian Muslims by saying he supports spy agencies monitoring the nation’s mosques: “We have a right to know whether there is, within any section of the Islamic community, a preaching of the virtues of terrorism, whether any comfort or harbour is given to terrorism within that community”.  


Opposition Labour Party Leader Kim Beazley opines that “Labour believes funding for schools should ... be conditional upon ensuring students are not exposed to extremist material or teachings”.


In Ozzie diplomatic language redolent of Sir Les Patterson, Education Minister Brendan Nelson told reporters that Muslims who basically did not want “to support and accept and adopt and teach Australian values then, they should clear off.”

Would that European, or indeed North American, politicians would screw up the courage to be similarly forthright in articulating what most of their indigenous people feel. 

Back to List of Contents

Virtual Vacation to Solve Your Problems

This, from a recent issue of Private Eye, solves the problems of not only aerial terrorism, but also such hazards as crowded airports, tacky resorts, overpriced restaurants, cheap beer, sullen natives:

My boss is passionate about extreme vacations,” Irina Lapenkova recently told reporters in Moscow, “and goes on expensive holidays to exotic destinations in South America, Africa, even Iraq.  I wanted to impress him, but didn’t have the money to visit Argentina, until I heard about Perseus-Tours and their ‘virtual vacations’.  Now I can tell colleagues all about the stylish night clubs and restaurants I visited in Buenos Aires, and the subtleties of Argentinean life, and turn them green with envy, even though I never left Moscow.  I can even dance the tango, and the boss now involves me in much more interesting projects.  Believe me, it’s the best holiday I’ve never had.”

The president of Perseus-Tours, Dmitry Popov, later explained the rationale behind his rapidly-expanding company, which specialises in fictitious vacations.

I started organising these fake voyages last year, initially for about 30 clients a month, but turnover has already doubled this year.  Lots of young Russian professionals want to boost their social status by boasting about exciting foreign holidays.  But they don’t earn enough to spend $3,000 on a luxury holiday in Argentina, or a piranha hunt in the Amazon, so they sign up for my imitation trips instead. 

For $400, we’ll provide them with a sun bed, airline ticket stubs, a receipt for a four-star hotel in Rio, some Brazilian souvenirs, and fake photographs of themselves in the rain forest But we don’t just give them documentation. 

We also give them an intensive two-week course, teaching them about everything they would have experienced if they’d actually gone, so they’ll be able to convince work colleagues that they really went. 

We’ll even give you a snake bite wound in the arm, if you want added realism.  Bookings this year are so good that I’m having to send someone to South America for real next week, to replenish my stock of authentic souvenirs.

More thrilling details in South Africa's Mail and Guardian

But $400 is a bit steep. 

Back to List of Contents

Missing Bill Clinton

Don't you agree that a certain gaiety left the White House at the turn of the century?  (Thank you Dave from Fuengirola.)


On a Canadian TV show, there was a black comedian who said he misses Bill Clinton.

Yep, that's right - I miss Bill Clinton! He was the closest thing we ever got to having a black man as President.


Number 1 - He played the sax.


Number 2 - He smoked weed.


Number 3 - He had his way with ugly white women.

Even now? Look at him ... his wife works, and he don't! And, he gets a check from the government every month.


This week, manufacturers announced that they will be stocking America's shelves with Clinton Soup”,  in honour of one of the nations' most distinguished men. It consists primarily of a weenie in hot water.


Chrysler Corporation is adding a new car to its line in honor of Bill Clinton.

The Dodge Drafter will be built in Canada.


When asked what he thought about foreign affairs, Clinton replied, I don't know, I never had one”.  



The Clinton revised judicial oath: I solemnly swear to tell the truth as I know it, the whole truth as I believe it to be, and nothing but what I think you need to know.”  


Clinton will be recorded in history as the only President to do Hanky Panky between Bushes”. 

Of course, there are some who would eventually
become nostalgic about Clinton's successor ...

A billboard somewhere in America, just a couple of years after 2008

Back to List of Contents

Week 134's Letters to the Press

Just one letter to the newspapers this week, but at least it was published.  Maybe that's because for the first time in a long time I've moved away from red-meat geopolitics into the cosier world of academia.

In addition, Mark Steyn published a letter from me based on a post I wrote last year.  The choice of Goebbels for the heading is his not mine.  Some months back, I starred in his Letter of the Week spot with a letter on IRA killings for which Mr Steyn kindly sent me a signed copy of his The Face of the Tiger.  This time I am relegated to third place, so no gift. 


A Load of Old Goebbels  P!
You must be delighted with Phillip Adams' spirited demolition of you in The Australian of August 22nd 2006 ("Boom, boom").  After all the adulation, I imagine it was the highlight of your antipodean tour to be called mad and likened to Goebbels ...


'Poaching' of Academic Staff  P!
In deriding the desire of UCD's president, Dr Hugh Brady, to maintain a competitive market for the expertise of academics, Dr Peadar Kirby of DCU tells us that most academics, in my experience, do not view their expertise as a commodity to be possessed for private profit but as knowledge to be shared with colleagues and students.  To test this, let Dr Kirby answer one question: provided he could continue to share his knowledge with colleagues and students, would he be willing to have his remuneration halved? Only if the answer is yes ...

Dr Brady's remark which attracted the derision is here

Back to List of Contents

Quotes of Week 134

- - - - - - - - - - L E B A N O N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: We did not think, even one percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude.  You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it?  I say no, absolutely not.

Hasan Nasrallah, Hizbullah leader,
effectively acknowledges military defeat

Quote: What's shocking and I would say, to me, completely immoral is that 90 percent of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution

Jan Egeland's characterisation of Israel's cluster bombs,
coupled with his curious non-sequitur that
a cease-fire should somehow begin three days before a cease-fire

Quote: We are stuck between the Israeli rock and the Syrian hard place ... Syrian President Bashar Assad [is] deceitful and manipulative ... all Syrian influence must be removed from Lebanon.

Lebanese opposition MP Walid Jumblatt and leader of the Druze,
accuses Syria of playing a major role in the violence in the region. 

Little wonder that Damascus has issued a warrant for his arrest

- - - - - - - - - - G A Z A - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: They forced us to convert to Islam at gunpoint.”

Fox News correspondent Steve Centanni,
who together with his cameraman Olaf Wiig,
after being released as hostages of the Holy Jihad Brigades in Gaza.

This reminds us that Islam's mission in relation to infidels is
to kill them, convert them or enslave them (
Koran - 9:5 and other verses)
Most Muslims are descended from forced conversions
(unlike Christians and Jews).

I will not blame the two journalists if they do not dare
to publicly renounce their
Islamism” for the sham that it is.
For this would make them apostates and thus
candidates for death

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

Quote: “They have to accept the reality of a powerful, peace-loving and developed Iran.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
gives two fingers to the West,
de-facto confirming he will continue
to develop his nuclear bomb so as to wipe Israel from the map

Quote: “There must be consequences for Iran's defiance and we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

US president George W. Bush
de-facto confirming that Iran's nuclear facilities
will be bombed (before his term end in 2008)
- unless the mullahs are toppled first

- - - - - - - - - - C H R I S T I A N I T Y- - - - - - - - - -

Quote: Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of western civilisation.” 

German philosopher Jürgen Habermas,
though he is an avowed atheist

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

Quote: Now I know it's not fashionable to refer to colonialism in anything other than negative terms. And certainly, no part of the world is unscarred by the excesses of empires. But in the Canadian context, the actions of the British Empire were largely benign and occasionally brilliant.

Stephen Harper, Canada's new prime minister, in a rare burst of
politically incorrect praise of (British) colonialism/imperialism


Quote: The thinking woman's thug.

Labour MP Ian Davidson describing
Home Secretary John Reid, on BBC TV on 31st August

Interestingly, the same term was used last May by a party colleague
to describe Northern Ireland's PUP leader
David Ervine. 
His Progressive Unionist Party is the political representative
of an organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force, which
refuses to decomission, is up to its neck in criminality,
and continues to shoot, beat and target
nationalists and ethnic minorities,

- - - - - - - - - - U N I V E R S I T I E S- - - - - - - - - -

Quote: The draft agreement would inappropriately limit career advancement opportunities for Irish academics and restrict the choice of educational opportunities available to Irish students. It could lead to the development of an anti-competitive cosy cartel and jeopardise Ireland's national strategic goal of establishing a world-class highly competitive Research & Development sector.

Hugh Brady, president of University College Dublin (my alma mater) defends his practice of poaching staff from rival Irish establishments. Minister for Education Mary Hanafin calls this “unfair” and wants the country's seven universities to sign a protocol forbidding it.

UCD is trying to join Europe's top 30 universities
(it is currently ranked above 200th).

My comment here.

Quote: Graduating from an Ivy League university doesn't necessarily mean you're smart.

Lakehead University advertises itself
on a special website,, accompanied by a picture
of an Ivy League graduate. 

Sadly, the university crumbled
under pressure and
has now replaced the photo and caption
with the boring, and incorrectly scripted phrase, be Smart

Back to List of Contents

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

Back to Top of Page

Return to Tallrite Blog


Now, for a little [Light Relief]

Hit Counter

2013 RWC7s Logo

Gift Idea
Cuddly Teddy Bears
looking for a home

Click for details  “”

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,

Support Denmark and its caroonists!

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11



Adam Smith  

Alt Tag  

Andrew Sullivan

Atlantic Blog (defunct)

Back Seat Drivers

Belfast Gonzo

Black Line  

Blog-Irish (defunct)

Broom of Anger 

Charles Krauthammer

Cox and Forkum

Defiant  Irishwoman  

Disillusioned Lefty

Douglas Murray

Freedom Institute  

Gavin's Blog 

Guido Fawkes


Internet Commentator

Irish Blogs

Irish Eagle

Irish Elk

Jawa Report

Kevin Myers

Mark Humphrys 

Mark Steyn

Melanie Phillips

Not a Fish

Parnell's Ireland

Rolfe's Random Review


Sarah Carey / GUBU

Sicilian Notes  

Slugger O'Toole

Thinking Man's Guide

Turbulence Ahead

Victor Davis Hanson

Watching Israel

Wulfbeorn, Watching



Awareness Project



Iona Institute
Skeptical Bible  

Skeptical Quran  



Razzamatazz Blog  

Sawyer the Lawyer

Tales from Warri

Twenty Major

Graham's  Sporting Wk


Blog Directory


Discover the World


My Columns in the


Irish Times


Sunday Times


 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

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

 Rugby World Cup 2007
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the Rugby World Cup
scores, points and rankings.


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  
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the final World Cup
scores, points, rankings and goal-statistics

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by