Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam's Execution.

I'm ashamed to confess feeling a little bit sorry for Saddam Hussein whilst I listened to the reports of his imminent execution that were coming in yesterday evening and the early hours of today. Thank goodness the Iraqi courts and government did not share my queasiness though, because it was a brave and correct decision. The benefits of Saddams death seem pretty clear to me:

  • 1) It removes the (surprisingly widely held) fear amoung Shias and Kurds that Saddam might come back. One of the reason for the emergence of Shia militias ethnically cleansing Sunnis is to make sure that they will never again be in the helpless position they were under Saddam, making sure the Sunnis will never rise again as one observer describes it.
  • 2) It makes it clear to Sunni death squads that he is not coming back. If they have less to fight for then they may fight less.
  • 3) The Prime Minister might finally be willing to allow the coalition forces to seriously confront the Sadr death squads in Baghdad. Up until now Maliki has been preventing this but with his prestige enhanced amoung the Shias he might be more willing to risk incurring Moqtada Al Sadr's wrath-
  • 4) Maliki's hatred of the Baath party, whilst justified, has hindered efforts at reconciling the low level Baathists to the new regime. Having humiliated Baathism by executing the former dictator he might well be willing to allow reconciliation to happen.
  • 5) His crimes simply merit death regardless of the utilitarian arguments for and against.
The idea that there will be a fresh wave of violence seems unlikely because anyone who could be inspired to violence by the death of Saddam is likely to already be part of a terrorist insurgent group.

Down With Me!

It was pretty absurd when Tony Blair signed a petition to himself last year, but with Labour ministers such as Hazel Blears protesting against their own decisions it goes from comical to offensive. Labour has never really lost the opportunistic qualities of opposition so it is of little surprise that they want to exercise power but hide from responsibility. John Redwood on his blog (must update blogroll soon) explains how ministers ought to conduct themselves:
Has no-one told Labour Ministers they are all responsible for every policy and action of their government? If they don’t like something, and they cannot persuade their colleagues in private to change things, they have to resign.

We now see Labour Ministers rushing to distance themselves from the NHS cuts that are becoming visible. As the next couple of years unfold there should be many more pressure points on public spending. The blow out years are past, and even this Chancellor and this government are going to have to cut the rate of increase in public spending considerably. Given the poor way they manage the public sector, that will doubtless mean cuts in those services which Labour MPs cherish. We will become used to Minister after Minister lobbying against their own government, even at times lobbying against their own department!
Labour are so incompetent that ministers don't even dare to associate themselves with their own decisions.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Quote of the Week.

Who are these minority of the world's population who own a majority of the world's wealth?

They are the population of the United States, Western Europe, Japan and a few other affluent countries. How did these particular people come to possess so much more wealth than other people?

They did it the old-fashioned way. They produced the wealth that they own. You might as well ask why bees have so much more honey than other creatures.
-Thomas Sowell.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

How Convenient

The Guardian's article on Gerald Ford notes that:
Mr Ford was the last surviving member of the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President John Kennedy in 1963 and concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin.
This cpuld explain the untimely death of the 93 year old ex president.

Gerald Ford.

Former US President Gerald Ford has died. Which reminds me of something I discovered a couple of years ago, that there is a Gerald Ford stadium in Dallas, Texas which was named after some generous billionaire also called Gerald Ford. It must be pretty dispiriting for the latter Gerald Ford to realise that rather than the stadium acting as a monument to himself his philanthropy will be credited by future generations to his more famous namesake. Texas also has a Mike Myers stadium which suffers from the same problem.

Friday, December 22, 2006


The Tehran Times must have been thrilled when Holocaustapalooza was greeted with this message of Solidarity from a group of Danes.

(via the Sandmonkey)

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is here and the puppies I'm giving away are all wrapped up, so all that remains for me to do is write a festive post for my blog. Will this do?:
A DIY store has been playing foul-mouthed Christmas songs to their customers.

Staff at B&Q in Stockport, Greater Manchester, mistakenly put on a South Park CD entitled Mr Hankey The Christmas Poo, reports The Sun.

Dad Grant Sullivan, who was shopping with his four-year-old daughter Deonne, said: "The song was playing in the Christmas grotto - I couldn't believe my ears.

"We were buying a tree and Deonne was looking for the star for the top of it. I was speechless."

One of the songs contains the lyrics: "Mr Hankey the Christmas Poo, small and brown he comes from you."

Obnoxious, Moi?

I've heard of 'Jerusalem Syndrome' where visitors to the city become convinced that they are the messiah, but Paris Syndrome in a new one to me, although the story is not recent:
An encounter with a rude taxi driver, or a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French, might be laughed off by those from other Western cultures.

But for the Japanese - used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger - the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much.

This year alone, the Japanese embassy in Paris has had to repatriate four people with a doctor or nurse on board the plane to help them get over the shock.

An encounter with a rude Parisian can be a shocking experience
They were suffering from "Paris syndrome".
The Japanese need to learn more foreign languages if the want to be made to feel welcomed in Paris, German is especially useful. Paris syndrome does thankfully have a remedy.
the only permanent cure is to go back to Japan - never to return to Paris.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

So Farewell Then.... Turkmenbashi.

Saparmurat Nyazov, president of Turkmenistan also known as Turkmenbashi- The Father of all Turkmens, has died. So the world loses it's finest comedy dictator since the late Idi Amin, Nuazov's 'achievements included:
  • Renaming Turkmen cities after himself and his family.
  • Placing a gold-plated statue of himself on top of Ashgabat's largest building, the Neutrality Arch, that rotates so it will always face into the sun and shine light onto the capital city. Though as he himself said- "I'm personally against seeing my pictures and statues in the streets - but it's what the people want,"
  • Naming months of the year after himself and his mother.
  • Replacing the Hippocratic Oath with the Turkmenbashi Oath.
  • Winning the Turkmen 'Hero of the year' award five times.
  • Ordering the construction of an Ice Palace in the Turkmenistan desert.
Obviously for all his absurdity he wasn't much fun to live under. The grim comedy of Turkmenbashi was probably not unintentional as with Amin, but rather it was a way of reinforcing his power by saying to the Turkmen's by emphasising that they were so fearful they couldn't even laugh at things which they knew were preposterous.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wannabe Hack Meets Wannabe Head Hacker.

Are newspaper columnists gullible morons? Consider the evidence from this article by the Independent's most challenged writer, Johann Hari (sorry Yaz you've lost your crown):
“I want to kill and kill and kill again. I want to be a killing machine until, inshallah [God willing], I become a martyr,” he said, staring at me intensely. He is 27 – my age – and murderous. He has just described how he slashed the throats of four female Israeli soldiers in an illegal settlement in 2002, and he chuckled as he described how they cried for their mothers. “All the Jews have to be killed,”
He certainly talks the talk but wouldn't an event like that make the news somewhere? Google-ing 'israeli' 'female' 'soldiers' throats' brings up no incident that fits this description. Wikipedia's list of 2002 deaths in the Israel-Palestine conflict also fails to yield any event that resembles what Walter Bin Mitty claims to have committed. Hari's whole article is based on the premise that if Israel and the West do not prostrate themselves before Hamas then they will face something even worse, yet the exemplar of this supposedly scary Palestinian radicalism is some pathetic fantasist who's as much of a jihadi as Colonel Mustard is a military hero.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sunday Tabloids.

According to Iain Dale the Mail on Sunday's big Sunday splash is that Lembit Opik has ditched his fiancee, weathergirl Sian Lloyd for one of the Cheeky Girls. Will being associated with a Lib Dem make the Cheeky Girls just seem lightweight?

Also on the Mail on Sunday's Website is this story:
Detectives have warned Heather Mills they fear she may be attacked by criminals from the Liverpool underworld who are angry about her split from Sir Paul McCartney.
Yeah right, as if gangsters are renowned for taking revenge attacks on pop stars' wives, anyway what are they going to do, kneecap her?
Note to Macca, there is a Cheeky Girl currently footloose and fancy free, so if your on the rebound who knows what might develop.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ipswich Serial Killer. (Updated)

I don't wish to make light of the horrific events happening in East Anglia at the moment, but I just want to put on record a prediction- Before the end of the week at least one column will appear in each of Britain's two left wing 'quality' papers, the Guardian and the Independent, to put forward the idea that these killings are symptomatic of society's misogeny and lack of resources available to 'sex workers'.

Update: The Guardian publishes this piece-
The cost of our callousness

'Serial killer in Suffolk' makes sensational headlines, but the real story is why we make it so easy for men to kill prostitutes.
It even ends with an echo of Dr Heinz Kiosk's refrain "We Are All Guilty!":

Prostitutes get murdered because their lives are held cheap and they are easy to kill. Usually, no one takes much notice. Only when there's talk of a serial killer do people get excited. But the truth is that we're all responsible.
Meanwhile at the Indy Thomas Sutcliffe* adds his thoughts:
The woman whose body was discovered on Sunday just outside the Suffolk town of Nacton didn't remain a woman for very long. By Monday morning that neutral description, the only one available before a proper identification of the body, had been displaced by the term "prostitute" and a subtle demotion in her victimhood had taken place.
Given that the profession of the victims is one of the threads connecting them to each other it cannot be improper to mention it surely.
With any other profession, you might be mildly taken aback by this sense of priority. A murder report that first identified the victim as a traffic warden or a chartered account, and only subsequently got round to telling you whether it was a man or a woman would surely seem mildly perverse in its approach.
If there was a killer who was targeting chartered accountants then it would be bizarre not to report that as a key fact about the victim .

*no relation to Peter Sutcliffe, although the Guardian might get him to pen an article given their history of publishing op eds by Osama Bin Laden and Gerry Adams.

Quote Of The Day.

It’s important to agree with people if you want them to think you are a genius. For most people, the definition of smart is “Thinks exactly like me but even more so.” If you think that disagreeing and offering excellent reasons for your thinking will change anyone’s mind, you might be new on this planet.
Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame).

He's right isn't he? An example of the way people define intelligence as agreeing with them is the tendancy for politicians who repeat the cliches of the media class to be hailed as intellectual demi gods by the media. Two prominent iq hoaxes in the US bear out this point, first was where an entirely fictious institution published a list of estimated Presidential IQs which gave a ludicrously low figure of 91 for Bush and a ludicrously high figure of 182 for Bill Clinton. The other hoax was the IQ by states hoax supposedly proving that the states that voted for Bush in 2004 were inhabited by morons wheras Kerry voting states were inhabited by philosopher kings. The fact that the left wing blogosphere and newspapers fell for these so easily bears out Adam's claim. It is ironic then that when someone did an actual estimate of the relative IQ's of Bush and Kerry, using test scores, the Senator was behind the President.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


So which crazed right wing hatemonger sys this:

on July 7 2005 Al Qaida finally came home to roost. The group had been building its base in the UK for 15 years: in the 1990s London was one of its main gloabal hubs, evidenced by the fact that between 1996 and 1998 nearly one fifth of the calls from Osama Bin Laden's mobile phone were to hardwired and mobile phones in the UK.
Melanie Phillips? Michael Gove? LGF? Actually it is from the Demos report I referred to below. Britain's policy from the 1990s until the World Trade Center attacks in 2001 of allowing hardcore islamist radicals to go about their business unmolested is the nation's gravest policy blunder since the Munich Agreement. Forget inquiries into Iraq, this is what should be investigated even if it suits both political parties to hush it up.

Slow Going.

My pledge to follow up my previous post 'Alienation, Identification, Ideology' with two additional posts later in the week has proved to be a tangled web of lies and deceipt. Hopefuly I'll do the this week. My mother has been admitted to hospital and visits are time consuming hence low blogging frequency.

In the mean time a report on the same theme, why people become islamists, by the left wing think tank Demos has been attracting both praise and derision but much of their analysis of the problem would find little disagreement on the other side of the political spectrum. I hope to offer a more detailed examination of the report at some point but that might be as fanciful as my previous promises.