Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Since the Beginning of Time Man Has Longed to Destroy the Earth
This truth is self evident. But has any practical work been undertaken? Sam Hughes' website makes a brave start, whilst recognising that "It takes decades of hard work". (via Annals of Improbable Research).
Marvel fans - note appearance of Galactus, "the ruler by which all other cosmic villains are measured" (absolutely!).
Site also links to technical discussion of the Death Star's 'Laser Beam', which is very handy for all of us.
To help you in your task, Eviloverlord.com has some important reminders of potential stumbling blocks, eg:
"I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless -- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks."
"I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to examine my castle and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that I might not know about."
"I will not turn into a snake. It never helps."
"My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice."
"No matter how many shorts we have in the system, my guards will be instructed to treat every surveillance camera malfunction as a full-scale emergency."
"My vats of hazardous chemicals will be covered when not in use. Also, I will not construct walkways above them."
"If my weakest troops fail to eliminate a hero, I will send out my best troops instead of wasting time with progressively stronger ones as he gets closer and closer to my fortress."
"If my advisors ask "Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?", I will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them."
"Before spending available funds on giant gargoyles, gothic arches, or other cosmetically intimidating pieces of architecture, I will see if there are any valid military expenditures that could use the extra budget."
"My force-field generators will be located inside the shield they generate."
"All giant serpents acting as guardians in underground lakes will be fitted with sports goggles to prevent eye injuries."
"Before using any device which transfers energy directly into my body, I will install a surge suppressor."
There's about 300 of these.. go read.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
The Schiavo Case - No, I don't know anything about it.
Ignoring the case itself (John Cole has given really excellent coverage if you want to know), I'd like to record some of the thoughts of our Conservative & Republican friends.
Interestingly, a large proportion of their thoughts are not concerned with medico-philosophical questions about brain-death & legal guardianship but, rather, with a political philosophy called "liberalism" which is adhered to by creatures called 'Democrats'. It turns out that this is not a very nice political philosophy at all.
Here's our old friend, twice-divorced drug-addict Rush Limbaugh:
"Liberalism has turned morality wholly on its head. A friend of mine who is a Catholic wrote a note this morning. "This is what we mean by the culture of death, old boy. Everything turns inside out and upside down". So we've peered into the heart and center of liberalism this week. It has been deeply revealing; it has been stomach-turning at the same time. But make no mistake, folks, I understand how tough it's going to be to change minds on something like this. You know why the culture of death is fairly entrenched? Because the culture of death resides now in every family's desire for convenience and pleasure, not to be burdened by some sick family member."
And professional moron Michael Savage (ne Wiener):
"The radical Democratic left is an army of the living dead. They live in a world of death and try to impose it on we the living. Witness who led the charge: a radical homosexual Barney Frank. A radical abortion Mafiosa, Barbara Boxer. What is difficult for we the living to comprehend is the reason they can engage in such anti-life abominations is because they have no souls. They have said that the tears of Terri Schiavo are mechanical. They have said that her smile is reflexive. They can rip an emerging child from the womb, murder it, and call this a compassionate act. Like Mengele – the doctor of death from the Nazi concentration camps - the radical, soulless Democrats keep referring to “the doctors,” as if a medical degree guaranteed humanity. Therefore, choose life. God bless George W. Bush."
Tom DeLay, Republican Majority Leader in the House of Representatives & 3-time House Ethics Committee Rebukee is fighting this very same evil on the steps of Capitol Hill itself!
"The few, objecting House Democrats have so far cost Mrs. Schiavo two meals already today.."
Tom is too busy fighting the Culture of Soul-Death even to defend himself against all the stupid accusations that are being levelled against him personally! Such sacrifice. What a great guy.
That's because he hates Nazis & Creatures Without Souls. Like he really hates it when people bet on Jai Alai on the internet.
I mean, that's the kind of thing that has to be stamped out whether or not you've received 2 cheques of $25K each via an intermediary from the gambling lobby to vote against a Bill which regulates internet gambling. And even if the legislation that you subsequently vote does not prohibit it.
"BUT!.." (I hear you cry) "..How can it have happened that so many of the judiciary have been infected by this disease (and yet still imagine that they are interpreting the law?) "
Obviously, former president Bill Clinton is to blame. August J Pollak explains. (Check it out. Very funny.)
But Pollack is then captured by the soul-dead liberal nazis and therefore refers to the entirely irrelevant fact that the parents of Terri Schiavo are working with a terrorist.
My only advice to these brave warriors is to go for the neck and try to sever the spinal cord. I think I saw that in a movie.
FOR MORE ON SCHIAVO: Perhaps the most significant aspect of the case is the staggering hypocrisy of the Republican pandering for religious votes. Bush signed legislation in Texas authorising hospitals to do almost exactly the same thing as Schiavo's legal guardian wants to do. Note that the GOP are also proposing Tort Deform legislation that would prevent victims of malpractice suing for the kind of money that may be necessary to keep them alive in such cases. Mark Kleiman has covered all this.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Your People Less Plagued By Demons
Regular readers of this blog might have detected a certain emphasis on the more worrying aspects of religion in public life. You may even have turned your nose up at our apparently parochial concerns.
I am therefore delighted to take this opportunity to redress the balance by reporting on the first positive campaign message of the year. The big church in Peckham next to Netto has mastered the subtleties of modern PR, while eschewing the smear tactics of the mainstream parties, with its new slogan, "Lifting all curses". Beat that Saatchi.
"Noto Swing" Beat
Friday, March 18, 2005
Theocracy on the March Pt. 4
As I believe I may have mentioned before, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill was before the Lords on Tuesday. It includes the outlawing of incitement of "hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds".
In previous posts in this series, I have been critical of some of what their Lordships had to say.
There was in fact one very positive aspect of the debate: There was agreement from all sides that the common law offence of blasphemy should be abolished (as originally suggested by the Government).
Here's a bishop, supporting the bill; and a secular opposer agreeing:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: "..Repealing the laws of blasphemy and blasphemous libel at the same time as we pass this measure, suitably amended - (I made my position on this clear in a helpful conversation with the Home Secretary) - would send a clear signal that incitement to religious hatred is not about shielding religion from criticism, vilification or mockery, but defending people from real harm done in the name of religion. That is why I regard this part of the Bill as meriting our attention and scrutiny, rather than being dismissed out of hand."
Lord Lester of Herne Hill: "..I also very much agree with the thrust of the remarks of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth, especially in relation to the pressing need to repeal the common law offences of blasphemy."
Wouldn't it be a lovely result if the Jerry Springer nutters had to put that in their pipe and smoke it?
Theocracy on the March Pt. 3
As I believe I mentioned before, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill was before the Lords on Tuesday. It includes the outlawing of incitement of "hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds". In part 1 of this series, I described the ambiguity about who such 'persons' might be and how, therefore, an attack against them might be distinguished from an attack on their religion.
The Ape is not one of the nation's finest legal minds. Perhaps his fears are unfounded. Maybe he's 'scaremongering'; or just plain crazy. Construal of statute is beyond him. But we can be sure that the Government, under the scrutiny of Parliament, will ensure the subteties of legal clarity lies behind the veil of his stupidity.
Or maybe they'll just wing it.
Here's Baroness Ramsay introducing the Bill in general:
"Speaking from experience of some nine years in this House, and especially from recent debates on Iraq and on the Prevention of Terrorism Act still painfully fresh in all our memories, I should like to submit, with respect, that lawyers are not the only people in our society who care deeply about justice and liberty and civil rights. They have chosen a profession that means that they know the detail of the law and the rules and practice of its procedures, but it does not give them a monopoly of wisdom about what is justice and what are human rights. The world does not begin and end at the door of a courtroom. It would well become lawyers if just occasionally they acknowledged that. Just as war is too important to leave to generals, I believe that in a democracy, justice is too important to leave to lawyers and judges."
Yes, democracy isn't just about laws. But she said this whilst proposing a new one.
So the Government's reaction to experts pointing out that a proposed law is severely flawed through ambiguity is:
1) Claim they misunderstand the intention of the Bill. (EH?)
2) Put their hands over their ears and repeat "not listening to lawyers not listening to lawyers".
Baroness Ramsay would do well to take account of the unfortunate fact that "the detail of the law and the rules and practice of its procedures" is what will decide the effect of her Bill on people, even those "who care deeply about justice and liberty and civil rights"; a small proportion of whom might not be members of religious communities.
Theocracy on the March Pt. 2
As mentioned before, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill was before the Lords on Tuesday. It includes the outlawing of incitement of "hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds".
Speaking in defence of the this provision, Lord Alli did little more than make a fool of himself:
"This debate can be characterised by a conflict of freedom: the freedom to say what you like in a fair and democratic society, and the freedom to live your life without the violence that flows from what a person says about the colour of your skin, your religious beliefs or your sexual orientation."
Erm.. isn't violence illegal without this provision? If this is a new kind of violence, how does it 'flow' from speech? Is there demonstrable evidence of this violence and the harm it causes to distinguish genuine victims from false accusers?
He then underlines his 'right on' credentials by proposing as follows:
"Having dealt with the points of principle in these provisions, I feel rather like Oliver Twist. I want more. I hear the noble Beadle on the Front Bench from the workhouse saying, "More! You want more?". Yes, I want more. I would like the Government to go further. I have written to the Minister asking her to give consideration to the extension of the provisions to cover gay men and lesbians through a new offence of incitement to homophobic hatred."
He goes on to quote some horrid sentiments that would be covered by his law (finding all his examples in Afro-Carribbean culture, for some reason):
"Perhaps I may give some practical examples of what I mean in three extracts of homophobic lyrics in popular, contemporary rap music. I have no idea who Beenie Man is, but he sings,
"Hang lesbians with a long piece of rope".
In another song he sings,
"I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays".
Another current popular rap song states,
"Step up to the front line, burn the men who have sex with men from behind. Shoot queers". "
Apparently, Lord Alli wants to outlaw Islam. Which actually-existing strand of Islam is not homophobic? I have written before on what Islamic jurists have to say on the matter. (No, it's not nice. Yes, it is fucking bonkers).
To add to that, here is someone in the UK (ie, under the jurisdiction of the new law) saying very much the same thing on a serious-minded website dedicated to propagating Islamic beliefs:
[I quote the whole segment because I want it to be clear that when the writer says "most Muslim scholars have ruled that the punishment for this act should be the same as for zina (i.e., one hundred whiplashes for the man who has never married and death by stoning for the married man)" that such rulings are authentically derived from the Koran as well as Hadeeth]:
"DEVIATIONS ARE WRONG
"Regardless of the consensus of the larger society, homesexuality is not a sexual norm, or alternative. Islam considers homosexuality as a sexual deviation leading to a perverted act which goes against the natural order Allah intended for mankind. It is a corruption of the man's sexuality and a crime against the opposite sex. Therefore, the Islamic Shari'ah strictly prohibits the practice of this perverted act, which is mentioned in many places in the Holy Qur'an.
"The story of Prophet Lot's people, who were addicted to this practice, is the best example. Prophet Lot, alayhes salam, said to his people, "Verily, you do sodomy with men, and rob the wayfarer! And practice all wickedness in your meetings." [29:29]And he said to them, "Of all the creatures of the world, will you approach males, and leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your wives? Nay, you are a trespassing people!" [26:165-166]
"But their answer to Prophet Lot, alayhessalam, was, "Bring us the Wrath of Allah if you are telling us the Truth." [29:29]And so Allah gave them the punishment they deserved, "And We rained on them a rain of torment. And how evil was the rain of those who had been warned." [26:173]
"Because of the danger, and the atrocity of this crime, Allah has punished the people who committed it by four kinds of punishments. No people have been punished by all four combined before: He blinded their eyes, He turned the town of Sodom upside down, He rained on them stones of baked clay piled up, and He sent against them a sayhah [a torment and an awful cry].
"Just as a person who has a sexual urge should not satisfy it by committing zina, a person who has this perverted thought should not act upon it. In order to maintain the purity of the Muslim society, most Muslim scholars have ruled that the punishment for this act should be the same as for zina (i.e., one hundred whiplashes for the man who has never married and death by stoning for the married man).
"Some have even ruled that the punishment of both partners in sodomy is execution by the sword, if they committed the act by their own choice and agreement. For Ibn Abbas narrated that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "Whomever you found committing the crime of Lot's people [i.e., sodomy], then kill both partners." (Ahmad) The unprecedented plagues and the many dangerous diseases that have appeared in our time such as the fatal AIDS disease, and which are the result of this immoral crime, show the wisdom of inflicting such strong punishment for this sin."
Sound judicial reasoning, and very pleasant too!
By his absurd proposal, which he knows noone will take seriously, Lord Alli is trying to imply that the hatred provision is all about multicultural toleration. It isn't. It's about special deference in law for religion.
(BTW - if his law was enacted, who do you think would be arrested the most: Imams, or Afro-Caribbeans? Perhaps the latter. Don't we have enough laws like that?)
(Yet) more on the Bill to follow.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Theocracy on the March Pt. 1
The Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill was before the Lords on Tuesday. It includes the outlawing of incitement of "hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds".
It's worth pointing out that this is a massive improvement on the original incomprehensible abstration of of "racial or religious hatred". Now it supposedly refers to some harm done to a person.
However, as well as there still being no need for the accused to have intended that an individual be hated, note that noone that supports the Bill really believes its about people. Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale, introducing the Bill, refers to GROUPS and COMMUNITIES (my emphasis):
Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, this Bill is an attempt to give everyone in the community the right to live in a safe and secure environment free from the fear of crime. I can deal in the time allowed with only a few points, but as a general comment, I should like to say that in a democratic society everyone has the right to voice their opinion and to demonstrate, but human rights and freedom of speech and assembly must be balanced by citizens' responsibilities to others. No one has the right to incite hatred against religious groups, to intimidate or harass others going about their lawful business, or indeed to disrupt the working of Parliament. All faith communities and those working in the bioscience industry deserve the full protection of the criminal law when their human rights are threatened.
Lord Mackay spots this: "... Practices are carried out by people and if you are criticising, and are entitled to criticise, religious practices, that would involve the people who practised them. The attempt to distinguish between practice and people is a thin distinction indeed."
Lord Lester of Herne Hill makes the point too: "..Although the Government say that the proposed offences are designed to protect people, the definition links people with their religious belief or lack of religious belief. "Religious belief" plainly includes belief in the teachings or practices of a religion or its followers. "Religious" means 'concerned with religion'.."
Baroness Ramsay tries to refute this concern: "I know from mail received that many Christians are concerned that in some way the provision on incitement to religious hatred will adversely affect them. I am sorry that they are so concerned, but I believe that when they look at this provision closely, as it has emerged from another place, they might be reassured that their fears are unfounded. This provision is about protecting people, not about protecting the religion itself."
However, the line between raising hatred against 'religion' and against 'people' is going to be very hard to draw: 'Groups' who are defined by, or define themselves by, their religion will expect it to protect 'them'. What criteria will be used to determine whether the person's identity as a member of a group is strong enough? Are more religious people more likely to be harmed?
This all amounts to a genuine, basic problem with the proposed law: There will be a lack of clarity about how it will be enforced in practice and what the intention of Parliament was when it enacted it. The supporters of the Bill cannot claim that the problem lies elsewhere, with those, like the Christians she mentions, and many other critics, who supposedly misunderstand. (Incidentally, are Christian proselytysers a group that we should be particularly concerned about? If the tragic Rushdie, Bezhti and Taslima Nasreen cases are anything to go by, it is critics from within 'communities' who need to watch out).
The Baroness restates the basic theocratic argument for the law:
"It removes a loophole where mono-ethnic faith groups, such as Sikhs and the Jewish community, are protected under the incitement to racial hatred provision; whereas multi-ethnic groups, such as Muslims and Christians among others, are not protected, as the right reverend Prelate has just explained. "
The bill does not, however, address the loophole whereby multi-ethnic groups like film makers and writers are not protected.
Or whereby I am not protected. The conclusion of the Baroness' line of argument is so obvious that it hardly need stating: If 'inciting hatred' is such an awful act then why don't they make that illegal? Why are people free to do so against me, an individual, who is part of no group?
Dissecting Anti-smoker's Brains
It's a very welcome look at exactly what drives anti-smoking fanatics to such dishonesty & wild extremes.
A sure-fire hit, it is a follow-up to his classics, "Particulate asbestos and why those fucking morons don't think it belongs in their lungs."
"Human excrement as a fashion accessory: Why your parents lied"
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Honesty in Advertising/ Dishonesty in Advertising
"Destiny fulfilled … and lovin' it" tour (yes, really).
How many Bigs Macs do you reckon Beyonce Knowles eats, lets say, in an average week?
In separate news, I learn from Bitter Shack of Resentment that McDonalds has also been promoting its products in the good, old-fashioned, Victor Kayam manner: top executives demonstrating a genuine belief in the product. Charlie Bell, CEO, ate at Macs everyday. And died age 44, of colorectal cancer. Related to his 'low-residue' diet? No idea.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
News Makes You Cynical
Mainstream coverage of the scarcely calculable catastrophe of the Asian tsunami has by now long been firmly consigned to "human interest" stories. Scroll right down the page to find out one way in which responsible journalists responded to the ill-bred malcontents who wondered aloud what the disaster meant politically.
Thank Sheldon, then, for the military press, to which it's again fallen to report what might be important news. Under the headline "US turns tsunami into military strategy" Jane's "Foreign Report" from mid-February reports:
"In the flurry of rushing international aid to the devastated region, Washington quietly furthered its national security strategy of increasing its military bases in the Indian Ocean region. Its aim - dominating the international stage and, more importantly, containing its potential rival China."
At the risk of violating the intellectual property rights of a journal I like and respect very much, I shall quote loads more. I do so on the understanding that Jane's and all its mates are free to quote me or the ape any time they like. Just don't get military on us.
"the US revived the Utapao military base in Thailand, which it had used during the Vietnam War. Task Force 536 is to be moved there to establish a "forward positioning" site for the US Air Force and cargo.
During subsequent tsunami relief operations, the US re-activated its military co-operation agreements with Thailand and the Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines. Alongside this, in keeping with previous treaties, US Navy vessels used facilities in Singapore.
The US Marines and the US Navy also arrived to bolster relief measures in Sri Lanka, despite the tsunami-hit island's initial reluctance to permit them entry. Washington has long wanted a naval presence in Trincomalee, eastern Sri Lanka, or, alternatively, in Galle, further south, to shorten the supply chain from its major regional military base in distant Diego Garcia, the British Indian Ocean Territory leased to the US in 1966 for 50 years.
Alongside this, the US was continuing its survey of the Strait of Malacca, through which nearly 90 per cent of Japan's oil supplies passes and over which China exercises considerable influence."
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
[Prefatory Note: This post was originally intended as a comment on Liberal Democrat taxation policy. I thought it proper to commence by explaining why I thought that it was worth anyone taking the Lib Dems seriously. But the intro got out of hand. I’ll get on to tax in the next post. In summary, I have been driven to consider the Lib Dems because they are now the only non-theocratic party in England. But their tax policy is the work of Satan.]
Theocracy in Britain
The Labour Party is rededicating its commitment to sectarian schools run by creationists and Islamists, has changed its mind on getting rid of the sinister Christian blasphemy law, and is introducing a new mega-blasphemy law with its new offence of ‘incitement to religious hatred’.
These actions have given renewed vigour to theocratic thugs of all stripes, as has been shown by the outrages over the play Bezhti in Birmingham and the screening of ‘Jerry Springer – the Opera’ by the BBC. These have included both actual violence and threats of violence. (A threat of violence is, of course, a violent crime. Shortly after the Bezhti death threats, the Northern Bank robbery occurred. I noted with approval the comments of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which emphasized very firmly that this was not to any degree a ‘victimless crime’ just because noone had been hurt. The threats against the staff of the bank helped elevate the crime to the highest level of seriousness. West Midlands Police, however, appears to derogate from these principles, as no arrests have been made over the Bezhti death threats and no police operation on the same scale as the that in Northern Ireland, or anything like it, has resulted).
Like the famous conspiracy to incite murder connected with the novel ‘The Satanic Verses’, the more recent threats and mob violence were, of course, not instigated in response to any actual law. (Unlike many other cases of mob violence, such as those against sex criminals). Rather, these people had a subjective perception that they, not the people they threatened and attacked, were victims of a ‘crime’.
The Seikhist terrorists behind the Bezhti violence, and their supporters in the local Catholic Church, explicitly referred to the Islamist actions against Rushdie with admiration, taking the view that their sects should seek to emulate the Islamists’ more aggressive public profile. Nobody, they claimed, would dare offend Muslims in the same way. The recent murder of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands presumably added fuel to their jealousy.
The result is that there are de facto ‘laws’, duly enforced by sanctions: The publication of the paperback version of ‘The Satanic Verses’ was delayed, ‘Bezhti’ was cancelled and not subsequently shown at a second theatre which wished to show it, and noone dare screen ‘Submission’. (At least there have been arrests associated with the ‘Submission’ incident.)
Over here, the British Government has not responded with anything approaching a sufficient degree of condemnation or action against this gangster authority. On the contrary, its response has to been to encourage the notion that, when violence claims a religious motivation, the victim should be blamed. This is the practical effect of the religious hatred law and the blasphemy law. The Government have been quite clear that the new law is largely for the benefit of Muslims. (See Ken Livingstone clarifying as much in the Guardian).
As I have explained, actual legislation is not necessary for a de facto ‘law’ to exist. ‘Bezhti’ really was cancelled, it remains cancelled, and you still cannot see it or perform it.
That didn't happen in a dream.
Between the time of the cancellation of the performance and that of the next unmolested performances, this de facto law remains in operation in Britain. The importance of the new religious hatred law will be in its actual effects. The nation’s theocrats are gearing themselves up to ensure that this is far more extensive than the words of the legislation imply. For example, the Muslim Council of Britain, representing the beneficiaries of the new law, are interpreting it to mean that use of the phrase “Islamic terrorist” will be a criminal offence. (The rationale for this is that no terrorists are Islamic, therefore the phrase is just an attempt to incite hatred against people on religious grounds. Link not available.. will obtain.. here it is). The fact that this interpretation may not be the intention of the new legislation does not mean that this is not what will be enforced by private thuggery.
The Government are pressing ahead regardless. Why? What is there to be gained? The stated principle is that ‘Jews’ and ‘Seikhs’ are protected as members of racial groups under legislation against racial hatred. There is thus a lacuna under which racists can promote hatred against Muslims without risk. The British National Party has actually taken advantage of this. However, why must religious people have protection that I do not deserve? If ‘promoting hatred’ needs to be a criminal offence, why not make the new offence just exactly that? Can the BNP really be carrying out actions so dreadful that they require legislation, yet which would be OK if they were directed against me?
The real reason for the new offence is that it will be perceived by Muslims as giving them what they want.
However, this is no mere vote-grabbing measure. The quality of the new law is, I believe, not a relevant consideration in the Government’s wish to enact it. Yesterday, some much more important legislation was passed with a slender majority .
The ‘House Arrest’ provision in the new Prevention of Terror Bill is basically equivalent to internment in Northern Ireland.
Internment failed because it was such an effective recruitment tool for the Republican terrorists that it was plainly counter-productive. The Government wants to be fair or ‘more than fair’ to the group from which the next set of internees will be drawn to ensure the effectiveness of the anti terror legislation: The religious hatred legislation is not even supposed to be good law. So no surprise that it isn't.