Comment Originally Posted on 13 April 2006
THE RULE OF LAW
On January 6, 2006, the antiwar.com web site carried an article by John Pilger entitled "Blair Criminalizes His Critics". It describes how the police in modern-day Britain harass, intimidate, and persecute opposition to its government's involvement in the illegal, immoral, and unprovoked invasion of Iraq. A part of it reports:
Maya Evans, a vegan chef aged 25, was convicted of breaching the new Serious Organized Crime and Police Act by reading aloud at the Cenotaph the names of 97 British soldiers killed in Iraq. So serious was her crime that it required 14 policemen in two vans to arrest her. She was fined and given a criminal record for the rest of her life.
Not long ago, Jeff Rense's news site at www.rense.com carried a piece from the UK's Daily Mail, April 2, 2006, headed: "Incredible -- UK Cops Told To Let Burglars Go Free." It begins:
Burglars will be allowed to escape without punishment under new instructions sent to all police forces. Police have been told they can let them off the threat of a court appearance and instead allow them to go with a caution. The same leniency will be shown to criminals responsible for more than 60 other different offences, ranging from arson through vandalism to sex with underage girls. New rules sent to police chiefs by the Home Office set out how seriously various crimes should be regarded, and when offenders who admit to them should be sent home with a caution.
And it's not just the UK, is it? I''m seeing the same kind of insanity reported across Europe, and from the U.S. and Canada. Our illustrious leaders clearly have no concern for the rights and well-being of citizens. So who does give them their orders? It's either one of the biggest betrayals in history by governments of the people who elected and trusted them; or the whole system is being run by imbeciles from the top down.
Comment Originally Posted on 26 March 2006
Profits announced by the five largest oil corporations, 2002: $34 billion
Profits announced by the five largest oil corporations, 2005: $113 billion
Comment Originally Posted on 15 March 2006
THE GREAT INTERNATIONAL EQUALIZER
The notion of chivalry--one of the many things learned from the Arabs and brought back to Europe by the Crusaders, a rather smelly and barbaric lot--was a great step forward in the effort to civilize humanity. Differences should be settled by procedures premised on restraint and respect for the rights of others, not by the fists and clubs of the biggest bullies on the block, or by males resorting to their greater strength and size. As with many good ideas it worked better in some times and places than in others, and appealing to rights in the earlier days of the American West could be an uncertain business until the Colt .45 appeared and became known as The Great Equalizer.
It seems to me that we could do with a bit more chivalry on the international scene these days. Not that things seem to have changed very much. As the Athenian historian Thucydides put it in the 5th century B.C.: "The strong do as they will. The weak suffer what they must." And the number of people I hear from or talk to who see nothing wrong with such a state of things, applaud it as natural, and assert it as necessary for "progress" gives little reason to hope that much is likely to change anytime soon. Needless to say, they're all on the side of the super-armed big guys.
The nuclear-tipped ICBM was perhaps the most successful weapons system ever conceived by man. It achieved exactly what it was designed to do: Deterrence. Had it ever been used, it would have failed. For 40 years, every speaker's rostrum, pulpit, podium, and microphone was just 20 minutes away from the other guy's launch site. Everybody was in the trenches. That's what I call real democracy. And in all that time, not one of the illustrious war-hawks who liked to talk tough dared actually do anything beyond bombing and invading places not big enough to hit back. Now that the risk has abated, they've come out of their funk holes and are back in business, sending other people's kids off and telling them how glorious it all is.
So maybe it would a great move toward advancing international chivalry if, instead of getting hysterical about other nations exercising their sovereign right to defend themselves by acquiring nuclear weapons, the world were to encourage them to do so. After all, Iraq didn't have any, and look what happened to them. Maybe poorer countries in possession of great natural resources that make irresistible targets, who can't afford their own Bomb, should be supplied a few free by the UN. Agreed, it would be nicer if human nature gave reason for hope that something less drastic might work. But once everyone in the West was packing a gun, it didn't take very long for better manners to prevail.
Comment Originally Posted 22 February 2006
This week sees the disgraceful sentencing in Austria of the British Historian David Irving for disagreeing with what those in authority require that we believe. Others are imprisoned elsewhere in Europe under similar charges, by nations that crow about their upholding of free speech by publishing tasteless and insulting cartoons. Mark Weber, Director of the Institute For Historical Review in California, describes the circumstances and lists some of the victims at www.rense.com/general69/orvv.htm. What is it, exactly, that the Revisionists are saying and not saying? Professor Arthur Butz of Northwestern University--also currently the subject of considerable controversy and misunderstanding--sums it up cogently on his web site at pubweb.northwestern.edu/~abutz/abhdhr.html.
The ritualized arrogance of the parrots that I read in the mainstream media makes me doubt if they have tried to learn anything about the subject before playing back their culturally indoctrinated opinions. Have any of them actually read any of the Revisionists' works, studied their sources, or compared objectively and critically the Revisionists' arguments with the officially dispensed story they've been told? If not, how do they presume to form any judgment that can be called informed before lecturing the world at large?
I have. In fact it was Arthur Butz's book (see Home Page from the link above) that first aroused my interest in the subject many years ago now. I got to know Mark Weber quite well during the time that I lived in California, as a result of my following up various further researches. And I find their case more scholarly, scientific, and convincing than what the history written by the victors says. So I suppose that expressing such skepticism makes me a guilty party too.
In June this year I'm scheduled to visit Germany as the Guest of Honor at a science-fiction convention in Lubeck, and I have no intention of withdrawing on this kind of account. So are S.F. writers now to risk being arrested when they step off a plane, simply for looking at two bodies of evidence and reaching a conclusion other than the one demanded? Well, we'll see, won't we?
Comment Originally Posted on 21 January 2006
The Easy Life
Most people don't want truth; they want certainty. They look for answers that justify their preconceptions. Few things arouse emotions more than a comforting prejudice being threatened. Part of the reason why is captured well by Hendrik Tennekes, retired Director of Research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute:
"The advantages of accepting a dogma or paradigm are only too clear. One no longer has to query the foundations of one's convictions, one enjoys the many advantages of belonging to a group that enjoys political power, one can participate in the benefits that the group provides, and one can delegate questions of responsibility and accountability to the leadership. In brief, the moment one accepts a dogma, one stops being an independent scientist."
Quoted from an article expressing his skepticism of climate models. Full text at www.sepp.org/NewSEPP/Climate%20models Tennekes.htm
Comment Originally Posted on 10 January 2006
Fitting the Crime
Two items posted on the web happened to come to my attention on the same day. The first was a piece at antiwar.com by journalist John Pilger, whose work I admire, entitled Blair Criminalizes His Critics. At one point it talks about the plight of the American surgeon Dr. Rafil Dhafir, who founded a charity called Help the Needy to aid children in Iraq stricken by the barbaric 11-year economic blockade imposed by America and Britain, which according to UNICEF had caused the deaths of half a million children under the age of five. By the twisted logic of our times, breaking this medieval siege qualified Dr. Dhafir as a "terrorist," which was sufficient to earn him a 22 year prison sentence.
The other piece was from Burlington, Vermont's, Channel Three News and described the case of a 34-year old man who raped a girl repeatedly over a four-year period, commencing when she was seven. The sentence handed down by the court was 60 days. The judge explained that he doesn't believe in punishment. Maybe the world would be a slightly saner place if he were relocated to preside over some of John Ashcroft's Homeland Security trials.
Comment Originally Posted on 3 January 2006
Lying appears to have become such a universal a part of our culture--from news media; from public figures; from institutions that we were raised to respect and trust--that it's coming to be accepted as the norm. People who consider themselves "realists" and "pragmatists" see nothing wrong with it if it's "what you have to do to get the results." Some even seem to admire it as panache and a measure of one's ability to stay the course in the face of adversity.
And then there are others who offer the confident, sage assurance that in time, "Truth will out." Well, that's as may be. But the consolation can run a little cold when recalling the words of the Victorian poet Coventry Patmore (1823-1896):
When all its work is done, the lie shall rot;
The truth is great, and shall prevail,
When none cares whether it prevail or not.
The Unknown Eros, Book 1, Canto 12, Magna est Veritas
Comment Originally Posted on 26 December 2005
Before the holiday, I posted a Comment here expressing amazement at some of the stories I was hearing from over the water about people now being told that they're not allowed to call Christmas what it is. I received some sternly worded admonishments informing me that I don't understand the seriousness of the issue over there, and its underlying ramifications. Well, I've been way from the melting pot for long enough now that I suppose that could be true--although I always thought it was supposed to be the great social experiment in which people from all backgrounds could learn to assimilate, and live and let live. But if it's about things like indoctrinating children with adult irrationalities and stopping truck drivers from wearing Santa hats, I don't think I want to understand it anyway.
A big contrast to Christmas Eve here. I decided to treat myself to a breakfast out, and while driving back from Sligo town to the wilds of Leitrim along the shore of Loch Gill, where Yeats's immortal "Isle of Inishfree" is located, I was listening to the Irish "Lyric Radio" channel from Limerick that plays classical music all day. The announcer dedicated one of the pieces to "the lads down in Cork who took the trouble to put lights up on the construction cranes," which, she said, "brightened up the whole city and delighted everybody down there." That's more the kind of way it should be, I can't help thinking.
But, having been duly cautioned, I'll merely wish a happy whatever-you-celebrate to all for the immediate future.
Comment Originally Posted on 18 December 2005
I've been reading that one of the latest infringements of liberty to be inflicted upon the Land Of The Free is an increasing proscription on calling Christmas what it is. Schoolchildren are being instructed to refer to the holiday as "winter break." Company staffs are forbidden to use the C-word in dealing with customers. A delivery service has banned its drivers from wearing Santa hats and decorating their trucks. For a season that supposedly celebrates such virtues as peace, tolerance, and goodwill to all, could anything be more absurd?
Apparently, one of the leading enforcers is the ACLU, which ironically features the word "Liberties" in its title. It seems to have played a prominent role in leading many Americans to believe, erroneously, that the words "separation of church and state" figure somewhere in the US Constitution. What the document does say, in Amendment 1, is that "Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion." That was to protect the newfound nation against the kind of practice common among European monarchies of forcibly imposing observance of their official state religions under penalty of criminal punishment or death--a far cry from feeling threatened by third-graders' party celebrations and wearing Santa hats, one would think. The other thing the Constitution says Congress shall make no law about with regard to religion is "prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That seems pretty simple and straightforward, in terms that not even a lawyer could complicate and confuse. So why shouldn't Christians be free to express themselves on what was originally their holiday, after all?
However, for those who enjoy their turkey, a bottle of Irish, and the rest of it, but at the same time feel that Western scientific civilization has been dominated for too long by traditions rooted in ancient Palestinian mysticism, I would draw attention to the fact that December 25 is the birthday, too, of Isaac Newton (in 1642). And who better to celebrate as the intellectual founder of mathematical, analytical method? So henceforth, those who, for whatever reason, have a problem with the traditional term can commemorate the formulation of his famous universal law by calling the season "Gravitational Mass," or, more simply, "Gravmas." In fact, I proposed just this some years ago, and I'm told that quite a vigorous practice of offering greetings and composing seasonal songs accordingly has sprung up as a result. Two thousand years from now, it could be the basis for the philosophy and world view of a whole new global culture, which by then might revolve around a race of supertech, spacegoing Chinese. To read the original, click here.
Comment Originally Posted on 2 December 2005
I heard today that the head of a defense contractor that makes body armor for the military spent ten million dollars on his daughter's bat mitzvah coming of age ceremony. If that's what's in it for some, it becomes easier to see why not everyone might be in too much of a hurry to end the obscenity of other people's kids being sent to attack countries that were never a threat to the United States.
I have a suggestion for putting that right. With effect immediately, if the powers and eminencies that are entrusted with running our affairs should come to the conclusion that protection of the nation's interests leaves no alternative but to go to war, then to show their solidarity with the people and accept a proportionate share of the sacrifices they are calling for all to make, everyone--from the President down through all the layers of Congress and the apparatus of state, Pentagon generals, CEOs and management of defense contractors, through to chickenhawk pundits who sit at word processors and in armchairs telling others what their duty is--will be put on the same pay as an infantry private, with no perks or expenses, for the duration. All income in excess of that basic will be taxed as a patriotic contribution to the war effort.
I predict that the current mess would be over in a week, and thereafter it will be amazing how many differences and "threats" manage to resolve themselves without the need for sending anyone off to be killed, maimed, burned, or have other reasons for requiring body armor at all.
Comment Originally Posted on 25 November 2005
I'm told that the new web site is virtually completed, and all we're waiting for now is testing of the reworked version of the Bookstore. In the meantime, this is the Home Page of the original site, restyled to give a preview of the kind of thing to expect. The main difference is that it now contains links to new items throughout the site, brought to the front to avoid the tedium of having to check inside.
Tim and Declan have also made the new Site Index compatible with this current version of the site and linked it in; you can explore can explore it by clicking on the Site Index button of the menu bar. I think they've done a terrific job with this. One of the reasons I've been a bit light on the Bulletin Board this year was the feeling that it would become unwieldy if it grew much larger without an adequate Index. That's now solved, so you can expect some activity in that department in the weeks ahead.
The other significant change is that the entire site is now driven from a database. That's more of an engine-room refit that won't make a lot of difference to what you, the visitor, sees, but it will facilitate maintenance and updating enormously.