Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A Short Letter to Lucinda

I sent this letter via email to my local TD Lucinda Creighton on 26th April. No reply as yet:

Lucinda Creighton

Department of Taoiseach,

Merrion Street,

Dublin 2.

Dear Ms Creighton,

While I do think your recent blog was ill-judged, I accept your claim you're not a fundamentalist or a religious extremist. I just ask a few questions on which I'll be basing my next vote:

1. Do you believe a zygote, a fertilised egg, has the absolute equivalent right to life of a fully developed woman? That, in all respects, if there was a 50/50 chance of one or the other surviving, that you think either would be acceptable?

2. Do you believe that, even in the case of violent incestuous rape, that not only should abortion be illegal but even the use of an abortifacient pill to prevent a fertilized egg being implanted both immoral & must be illegal?

I just note that in the latest US opinion polls, itself a religious country, all but around 10% would consider abortion illegal in all circumstances including rape, incest or the life of the mother:



Facebook & Violence: Censoring Jane Ruffino

To put it mildly, Facebook has a completely disfunctional censorship policy.

Alex Thomson of C4 news has written about how Facebook has defended the upload of a video showing a baby being beaten up:

Facebook’s position and argument has oscillated across the day, along with its actions. This afternoon it changed course and said the video would be going back up.
Facebook told us they had only taken it down because their were doubts about the identity of the original poster and it needed to be checked out. That done, the video was good to go.
They say it highlights serious abuse like a news report might do, of a child. They say the thousands of likes are in fact expressions of disgust, because the original poster asks people to express disgust at the video. Although Facebook terms and conditions prevent people putting up “gratuitous violence and graphic violence” this is not in fact gratuitous or graphic.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, Facebook twice removed a post on domestic violence written by Jane Ruffino. Presumably they consider, in the course of a long article, Jane including the name of the man convicted of assaulting her is "attacking an individual":

The good news is that as always, the Internet interprets censorship as damage and works around it: Jane's post has been uploaded multiple times to both Facebook and to various blogs such as Colin McGovern's. Possibly not what the persons unknown who complained to Facebook might have wished for.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Breda O'Brien & Gay Marriage

The following attempt at a fisking of Breda O'Brien's latest in the Irish Times (20 April) is my attempt to try and relaunch the blog. After years of posting only in 140 characters my prose is probably clunky, so bear with me!


"It may seem odd to describe Fintan O’Toole’s article on gay marriage ( Opinion , Tuesday April 16th) as a classic exposition of liberal values, given that the only reason he can conceive of for opposing gay marriage is bigotry motivated by revulsion for gay people."

I'll deal with Breda's confused opinion (I'm being kind) of "liberal values" down below.

"Admittedly, it does seem distant from “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

I'm not sure why Breda shoehorns the classic Voltaire quote in here. Dismissing someone's argument as idiotic, religious-based, etc, is not the same as calling for them to be censored. Given the Iona Institute's (a bunch of seven people) unfettered access to the various media, I don't see any censorship of them any time soon. I'm reminded of the line about San Francisco: "Where the love that dare not speak its name never shuts up". Frankly I like having the Iona bunch around to remind us "they haven't gone away, you know".

"But it remains a brilliant exposition of liberal values. Take this: “A marriage freely entered into is a personal relationship. It stands or falls, endures or collapses, is a heaven or a hell, solely because of the way the people in that relationship treat each other.” "In short, there is no such thing as society, only families and individuals."

It takes a fair amount of chutzpah of a patron of the right-wing Iona Institute to link a social democrat like Fintan O'Toole to the classic Thatcher quote, I admit.

"Take marriage. Fintan believes it is a personal relationship, to be maintained as long as romantic love endures. But if marriage is simply a personal relationship, why does the State have any interest in it?" "I believe marriage is a solemn covenant, in which society has a major stake because it provides the most stable environment for bringing up children, a physical and spiritual expression of the couple’s love."

Breda doesn't seem to comprehend that it's possible to believe the above and believe this is precisely why gay couples, one or both of whom may have existing biological children to raise, should be allowed to marry. To quote a conservative, David Cameron:

"Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us. Society is stronger when we make vows to each other and we support each other. I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a conservative."

More from Breda:

"A child needs both a mother and a father."

Unsubstantiated assertion. And yes, unsubstantiated, despite Iona Institute's using research from the US non-partisan think-tank ChildTrends in their submission to the Constitutional Convention, a submission which then prompted Carol Emig and Kristin A. Moore of ChildTrends to write to the convention to state:

"This Child Trends brief summarizes research conducted prior to 2002, when neither same-sex parents nor adopted parents were identified in large national surveys. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn from this research about the well-being of children raised by same-sex partners or adoptive parents."

"It is not too long ago that the expression “a motherless child” was shorthand for devastating loss."

Resorting to cliche as argument. Oh, and the origin of this expression appears to be from the slave spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child". The song is of course metaphorical, referring to slaves being ripped from both their parents and from their African homeland. Somehow I don't think the author had having gay parents in mind.

"It is an entirely different thing to legislate to declare that having both a mother and father has no intrinsic value."

Any legislation for equal marriage is no such declaration. It's simply an acceptance of a reality that religious conservatives would prefer to ignore. It is entirely possible to believe that having both a mother and father has value and allows for situations where there are gay parents for them to marry, in the same way that society allows single-parent families. Very few people would think that the value of having both a mother and father would supersede a single parent's right.

In the same way, most of society except for religious conservatives now believe that having both a mother and father does not supersede a gay person's right to marriage (a right which, even people like David Quinn admit has nothing to do with the right of gay people to adopt).

"Fintan believes there are sufficient differences between men and women to justify lobbying for more women in politics and on boards. However, believing gender differences matter in parenting is vile."

Believing in gender difference in parenting is not vile. However, I've still yet to hear a conservative tell me precisely which qualities I will bring to raising my forthcoming sprog/sproglette. The nearest I've gotten are tortured circular definitions about "men" being "manly". If they think I'll be training my sprog in the manly arts of boxing & fencing, they will be sorely disappointed.

"According to Haidt, liberals prize values like personal freedom and choice, equality, fairness and sharing above all others. Conservatives value them too, but they also respect loyalty, a sense of the sacred, tradition and authority. The last three tend to bring liberals out in hives, being perceived as either irrational, or as curtailing individual freedom."

Oh god, this is just mind-boggling terrible stuff. According to Breda, liberals believe a bunch of stuff, and conservatives believe that same bunch of stuff plus a whole other bunch of stuff. I suggest she go look at the Political Compass. Everyone is on a two-axis spectrum of values, from complete freedom socially or economically to complete authoritarianism.

To those who believe that equal marriage is a right, it simply means that they believe that the right of two gay people to enjoy a social contract that is available to straight people supersedes tradition, etc. It doesn't mean they don't value traditional at all. Again, see David Cameron or many other conservatives, etc, who accept the right to equal marriage. Breda's dismissive "Conservatives value them too but...", makes it quite clear she believes values like authority trump personal freedom. What do you call a doctrine which holds authority entirely above personal freedom?

"According to Haidt, himself a liberal, conservatives understand liberals better than liberals understand conservatives, because they share values like equality, choice and fairness." See above. "But liberals don’t comprehend conservative values. They do not understand appeals to a greater good, if it involves curtailing an adult’s right to equality and personal choice – even, in this case, a child-centred good."

This is frankly a bizarre assertion in an article on Fintan O'Toole, who by any standards is at least a social democrat. Social democrats don't believe in a greater good? They don't believe in curtailing certain rights? That's libertarianism you want, Breda.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Grey Power, Irish Style

Irish pensioners don't take too kindly to have their medical cards taken away:

I didn't know that booing was allowed in churches. I was wondering why the meeting was held in a church in the first place; it turns out that the original meeting room in the nearby Alexander Hotel was far too small for the crowd that turned up (over 1,000), so the local priests kindly obliged. I'm presuming they thought it would be a staid affair, though, and not the almost-lynching that actually happened.

The cynical part of me wonders how many of the crowd will blithely vote Fianna Fáil yet again at the next election.

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Palin: Complete Nobody

Sarah Palin, college heavyweight:

It's the funniest damn thing," Fisher [Palin's journalism instructor at the University of Idaho] said. "No one can recall her."
"I don't remember her," said Roy Atwood, Palin's academic advisor at the university. [...] Indeed, interviews with a dozen professors yielded not a single snippet of a memory.

Not that she treated college lightly:

Palin and Ketchum picked the University of Hawaii at Hilo from a brochure. Only after arriving in Hawaii did they realize that Hilo had rainfall approaching 100 inches a year. "The rain," Ketchum said, "was disturbing." They attended orientation but never even enrolled.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Hmm, about time I started this thing up again. More soon.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Come, Friendly Blogger Bombs, and Fall on Egypt

Yes, I haven't been very active lately - blame a family trip and two weddings to organise plus work-induced scriptophobia - but I thought this story about Egyptian blogger Alaa Ahmed Seif al-Islam, being jailed was worth stirring from my slumber (via Harry's):

In addition bloggers are using another technique to bring Egypt and the Egyptian Government and the Egyptian Government’s human rights record to public attention.

Close examination will show that each occurrence of the word “Egypt” above is linked to freealaa.blogspot.com. This is a well-known technique - if enough people make the same link to the word “Egypt” then eventually a search on the word will give the site as one of the top results.


It’s the continued struggle for independence of the Egyptian judiciary which has led to Alaa’s detention. Early in April the authorities took action to prosecute judges who complained about election violations. A few weeks later a group of 50 judges held a sit-in protest to oppose the government’s prosecution of their colleagues. Demonstrators came to support the judges’ action but the authorities then broke up this protest violently and beat a senior judge who came out to intervene.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

"It’s tough to be loved by idiots..."

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo's take on recent events.

More at the Beeb:

[...] across the country most of the run of 160,000 copies was snapped up by mid-morning. The magazine promised to print thousands more.

Charlie Hebdo combines anarchic comic-strip cartoons with serious comment. The latest edition has a double-page spread of drawings satirising political correctness.

All religions are depicted in caricature as the captions ask: how can you live normally if you have to worry about offending everyone from Sikhs to Scientologists, Jews to Jehovah's Witnesses?
Scans of all the pages can be found here.

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Yahoo Sells Out Another Journalist

Via Slashdot, a BBC report:

The internet giant Yahoo has been accused of providing China with information that led to the jailing of a second internet writer.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders claims that Yahoo released data which led to the arrest of Li Zhi.

The online writer was jailed for eight years in 2003, after posting comments that criticised official corruption.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006


That's the sound of a million satirists locking their typewriters away, realising their efforts no longer match reality. Via Drink Soaked..., a story from Neandernews:

Do these two photos look similiar?

They should because they are the same! No, not a satire of Mohammed nor any other sacred Islamic figure but a photo of Jacques Barrot, a pig squealing contestant at the French Pig-Squealing Championships in Trie-sur-Baise’s annual festival. NeanderNews discovered this photo, taken by Bob Edme of AP, posted on an August 15, 2005 AP story seen here on MSNBC’s website.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Mighty Boosh

Yeah, has been a slow blogging week (or two). But in the meantime, just a recommendation: I caught "The Mighty Boosh" tonight on BBC2 (being repeated from BBC3) for the first time, and it's one of the funniest series I've seen in a long time. It's coming out on DVD next week, I'm tempted to buy it straight away.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


(Via Norm) Polly Toynbee on the idiotic Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill that looks set to be passed in the UK:

It would not protect Rowan Atkinson's sketch showing men bowed down praying in a mosque with the voiceover intoning: "And the search goes on for the Ayatollah Khomeini's contact lens." Many were insulted. It would not protect Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, let alone Christ in nappies on the cross in Jerry Springer - the Opera. Nor would it stop Behzti being closed down by angry Sikh mobs. Police who failed to protect free theatre will feel the benefit of the doubt tip towards religious sensitivities. Of course these writers were reckless about causing offence: that is what artists recklessly do.
You can also hear Rowan Atkinson himself vs. Paul Goggins on Radio 4 (requires RealPlayer).

EDIT: Bill defeated.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Dancing Chicken Woman

Coming back along Liffey Street last night, I passed a woman, wearing a cowboy-type outfit, with a chicken mask, dancing while filming herself with a camcorder. Honest:

After a few minutes, she packed up and left. I presuming it was just a student art project or something, but it would be great if it was actually due to some rare form of insanity.

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Ireland's Answer to Jackie Harvey

Item! Watch out Jackie, you have a rival:


I thought fawning gossip columns had gone out of fashion since the arrival of the likes of PopBitch and Holy Moly, but maybe it's postmodern or something.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Politics Test

You are a

Social Liberal

(75% permissive)

and an...

Economic Moderate
(50% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

I did another one of these quizzes a while back and my answer then was similar with this. Of course, possibly that just means that they're all biased in the exact same way, but the answer seems relatively consistent with my own beliefs, though I'm surprised I'm not considered more socially liberal.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Always Backs a Winner

Quote from Galloway on Celebrity Big Brother:
"I want Michael [Barrymore] to win and come back to this country and entertain the nation".
George, your mate Saddam has more of a chance of a comeback.

(And I'm including either coming back as President of Iraq or getting his own quiz show on ITV.)

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Quote of the Day

From tommytwotimes in the PopBitch forum:

"You haven't lived until you've seen the Daily Express TV ad where typical readers talk about what they believe in. It's like the BBC Perfect Day ad redirected by Oswald Moseley[sic]."
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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Moore & Moorcock

Not one hairy fantasy genius, but two:

Marcus at Blackwells wrote to let me know that I thought I'd let you know that Alan Moore has agreed to host the Moorcock event we have on the 18th January. Blackwell Charing Cross Road present an evening with Michael Moorcock, in conversation with Alan Moore. Wednesday 18 January at 7pm.

Tickets £6, concessions £4, from the shop during opening hours (9.30 - 8.00 Mon-Sat, 12.00 - 6.00 Sun) or 0845 456 9876 (Mon-Fri, 9.30 -6.00)
A Ryanair return flight to Stansted for the day is €47; I'm sorely tempted, what with Dancers at the End of Time being arguably my favourite book, and having several of Moore's in my top 50 (Watchmen is possibly a Top Tenner). An absolute must for any fantasy/comic fans in London; I imagine it will sell out very quickly.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

The Revolution will be Televised (in excruciating detail)

Who would have thought that George Galloway entering the Celebrity Big Brother house would lead to a reappraisal of that lowbrow cultural pastime, television? Not since the broadcast of Kenneth Clarke's Civilisation have so many bien-pensants been rushing to reverse their opinion of this previously ridiculed cloaca of hyper-capitalism and objectification. The audacity of Galloway attempting to reach the lower orders through this hyper-modern medium of SOUND and VISION is seen as a stunning coup by his followers:

"This is a gamble for Respect and George Galloway, but the potential benefits in terms of getting Respect's politics out to millions of people who are still not sure about us should not be underestimated..."
Over at Medialens (a sort of SWP TV watchdog - a kind of Citizen Smith meets Mary Whitehouse(*):

...excitement is fever-pitch. Toast has been made, a nice pot of tea is brewing, and people are seated in front of E4, notepads in hand. One masochist writes:

"I'm watching/recording full Big Brother coverage of George Galloway for personal research purposes. I've trawled thru 16 hours of coverage of every single Galloway interaction covered by C4, E4 live, More4 news, and BB's Big Mouth."
16 hours! Sweet Jeebus with a remote control! Surely comrades, this is above and beyond the call of duty. I think he deserves a medal - therefore, as a tribute to George, who of course regarded the disappearance of the Soviet Union as "the biggest catastrophe of [his] life", I have struck the Hero of TV Monitoring Endurance Medal:

Wear it with pride!

(*) For an example of the "bias" they complain out, check out this page at normblog, where they condemn an episode of Newsnight as "pro-government propoganda" even when the editor replies that with an "audience contain[ing] a majority who were strongly against the war" was "balanced".

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sunday Roundup

Whatever happened to the Jetfoil?

The Cu na Mara was eventually bought by a shipping broker who sold it on to the Sado Steam Ship Company Ltd. In 1986, it was re-named the Ginga (Milky Way) and still sails the calmer waters between Niigata and the Sado Islands of Japan to this day.
Nick Cohen on Cameron's recycling policies:

Nor should it be a surprise that a son of the corporate aristocracy is the editor of the Ecologist. The children of what we once called the ruling class have always dominated the green movement. Lord Melchett used to run Greenpeace and Sir Jonathon Porritt Bt., ran Friends of the Earth. The father of George Monbiot, Britain's leading anti-globalisation campaigner, is Sir Raymond Monbiot CBE, the deputy chairman of the Conservative party and an executive who made the family's fortune working for Campbell's global canned-soup empire.

You'll already know about Prince Charles's mother.
Ireland, 2016:

And he had to reverse the party's position and back construction of the first Irish nuclear plant. Of course, the ESB built it on the French coast near Brest and sent the electricity back over an interconnector, which suited everyone. That managed to provide Ireland with a measure of energy security when the rest of the developed world was in dire straits, keeping it attractive to multinationals as a stable, secure place to do business . . . and made the Greens an electoral powerhouse.


There on the platform in front of the GPO, the delegates had assembled for the highlight of the day's events. The signing. Not of a treaty for Irish unity, as some had predicted and paid a heavy political price for being wrong about.

Instead, the promise of the only thing that everyone could agree on. The need for a bigger stadium to replace Croke Park.
The sad passing of former UK Sports minister (and fellow West Hammer) "Lord Stratford" aka Tony Banks:

Banks stood down from parliament at the last election after representing the east London constituency of Newham North West, latterly renamed West Ham, since 1983. His wit, candour and accomplished sniping made him one of the most colourful MPs in the house. He baited Nicholas Soames, the Conservative MP, as “a one-man food mountain”, called William Hague, the former Tory leader, a “foetus” and Terry Dicks, former Tory MP, a “pig’s bladder on a stick ”.

Asked to comment on football hooliganism abroad after allegations of police brutality, he once said: “Personally I wish the police had truncheoned the English fans to death, but I can’t really say that on the record.” He retired in typical style, describing constituents’ problems as “tedious in the extreme”.
Hunter S. Thompson's widow founds magazine:

"We have some good writers already," Anita Thompson told the Aspen Times for its Tuesday editions. Satirist and political commentator P.J. O'Rourke plans a profile of her husband based on interviews in 1987 and 1997, she said.

Anita Thompson continues to work on a book she calls "Hunter's Wisdom," a collection of witticisms, aphorisms and other expressions from Hunter S. Thompson's bibliography of 14 books, along with her personal notes.
Rod Liddle on Galloway...

We must assume George has concluded that, much as many on the left had long suspected, there is no parliamentary road to socialism. His voting record since taking up his seat last May puts him 634th out of the 645 MPs. He has managed to table all of four written questions and spoken in a grand total of four debates. Only in one area of parliamentary procedure has he displayed much in the way of intense, consuming, political energy — that of collecting his incidental expenses provision, for which he was our 13th most enthusiastic MP in 2003-4.
...and the Lib Dems:

As coups against a leader go, this was some way short of von Stauffenberg’s bomb beneath the table. It began a couple of weeks ago with a bunch of unnamed senior Lib Dems deciding to write a chastening letter to Kennedy and then — on careful reflection, in true Lib Dem fashion — deciding not to send it. But they let the press know that they might have sent it.

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Saturday, January 07, 2006


Charles Kennedy has broken into the Celebrity Big Brother house to hide from his front bench, and has climbed onto the roof with a large bottle of Glenfiddich. Sir Menzies "Rhymes with Fish Fingers" Campbell is outside with Davina, pleading with Charlie to come back down for the sake of the party.

Speaking of Big Brother:

George Galloway's agent sought to quell ongoing rumours this morning concerning the controversial MP's possible addiction to publicity stunts.

"George Galloway indulges moderately and infrequently in publicity exercises, as is typical of any radical MP," the agent told reporters. The denial comes after Mr Galloway's entry alongside numerous celebrity [sic] misfits in the 'Celebrity Big Brother' house spurred on the long-standing rumours of a problem.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Milosevic Groupie Fails Inverse Turing Test

I've blogged about Neil Clark before and his efforts at unintentional humour, but he's managed to outdo even himself. On his own comments page, he got into a conversation with a spam bot.

Nadim said...
Thanks for letting us post comments - very cool of you. I work online with my own used college books website. (Last words link to college book site -PM) Check it out if you get the chance. Thanks again!
"Nadim" follows up straight away with:

Nadim said...
Thanks for letting us post comments - very cool of you. I work online with my own muslim matrimonial website. Check it out if you get the chance. Thanks again!
(Note the double posting, the second one minute after the first, only differing by a new link to another spammy-looking website -PM)

Neil Clark said...
Nice to hear from you Nadim. Isn't it revealing that so many neo-conservative, pro-war blogs do NOT allow the posting of comments. (are you reading this Mr Kamm/Mr Pollard?) They make such a play of their passion for 'democracy' and 'free speech'- and of the need of 'Shock and Awe' to impose them- but when it comes to their own blogs- they are as intolerant of other people's opinions as the most fanatical Fascist.

Peter Nolan said...
Neil, you appear to have started a conversation with a comment spam robot.
All indicative of one of the problems associated with the Turing Test - the possible obtuseness of the human judge. Now all we need to do is hook Neil up with jabberwocky.com and he'll never bother us with his excruciating writing again.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Flipper? I'll do more than that, guv'...

Proving that there is such a thing as too much money, via Norm:
An unusual wedding ceremony was held in the southern resort town of Eilat on Wednesday, as Sharon Tendler, a 41-years-old Jewish millionaire from London married a 35-years-old dolphin...
Are you sure no-one misheard her, and she simply wanted to spend the rest of her life with Charles V of France?

After a years-long romance, Tendler decided to embark on the highly unusual path of tying the knot with her beloved dolphin. Last week, she approached Cindy's trainer Maya Zilber with the extraordinary request.
Hmmm, are arranged marriages common among dolphin-kind?

Zilber accepted the challenge and "talked the idea over with the fellow," who apparently consented.
I wonder what dolphin sign-language for "There's a rich mad one 'round back wants to shag you" is?

"I made a dream come true, and I am not a pervert," she stressed.
... a sentence that was coincidentally also uttered this year by Gary Glitter.

I wonder if Sharon's reason for opting for a lesbian toygirl partner was the fact she read up on zoophile.net Dolphin FAQ about the mechanics of sex with the male of the species:

A male dolphin's member is roughly S-shaped, tapered at the end. Ifyou are in the water with them, it is best to support the dolphin on hisside, just under the water, with one hand, and handle him with the other.Male dolphins, I find, tend to prefer the base of the penis to be gentlymassaged and squeezed, as well as gently rubbed along it's length. It feelsvery much like the rest of the dolphin (ie. smooth and rubbery to the touch,but firmer). It doesn't take long for the male to ejaculate, around 40seconds to a minute, and this is usually accompanied by either shudderingjust prior to ejaculating, and thrusting and tail-arching during ejaculation.
...followed by a backwards jump through a hoop while his partner is left as so much shark-bait.

Obviously there should be an update to question 6 - just contact the Dolphin Reef Eilat (info@dolphinreef.co.il) and tell them you're GAGGING for it.

"Hey is for horses, young lady. No ifs, ands or buts about it - you're spending the night with Fred Garvin, Male Aquatic Prostitute.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Xmas Roundup

Lots of things I meant to blog about but didn't, what with Xmas deadlines and all:

Not rocking in the not-free world:
Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has banned Western music from Iran's radio and TV stations, reviving one of the harshest cultural decrees from the early days of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Earlier he had revealed himself as a Zionist:

If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe -- like in Germany, Austria or other countries -- to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe and we will support it."
...all of which is actually a pretty liberal opinion about Israel these days. He would probably get thrown out of an SWP meeting for this kind of Jew talk.

A while back I pleaded with you to buy the PC game Darwinia. Well, now it's even cheaper ($20) and available online to buy through Valve's Steam. Go and buy it for a little cousin or something.

Scott from The Daily Ablution notes that on the day of the Iraqi elections, the UK Independent newspaper took time off from denouncing the Bliar-Bushhitler pact for more important matters:

Oliver Kamm vs. Chomsky - round 3.

Harry from Chase Me Ladies gives the Israeli embassy some good news:

Dear Sir,
I represent the Student Union of the University of Sheffield. We recently took the decision to recongise the State of Israel, following an acrimonious debate. Please inform the Ambassador of our decision.

What is the next step? When would be a good time to meet His Excellency for photographs?

A thousand shaloms.

Yours faithfully,

Harry Hutton
Happy Xmas/Hari Raya/Merry Kwanza/whatever you're having yourself, all.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Insular Americans

"I mean, the level of religious fundamentalism in the United States is beyond any country I know."

- quote from Noam Chomsky from interview in the One Arab World blog.

"And yet calling Lee's film a "gay cowboy movie", as I've heard it described, would not exactly be a way into the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of, arguably, the most homophobic nation on earth."

- quote from American writer Rick Moody from article on "Brokeback Mountain" in the Guardian.

Perhaps the kindest thing to say about the aforementioned is that maybe they are among the 64% of Americans who don't have passports?

Footnote: Same-sex intercourse carries the death penalty in seven officially Muslim nations: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, Somalia, Somaliland and Yemen. It formerly carried the death penalty in Afghanistan under the Taliban, and in Iraq under a 2001 decree by Saddam Hussein.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ming the Merciless

Yellow Peril writes about UK Liberal leader Charles Kennedy's woes, and who might be responsible. Quoting Iain Dale:

A few days ago [UK journalist/presenter] Andrew Neil announced to the nation that he had it on very good authority that Charles Kennedy would resign in March next year. Strange that this happened the night after Menzies Campbell was reportedly the only LibDem present at Andrew Neil's Christmas Party. Very strange. And no doubt purely coincidental.
Previously on the blog, Yellow Peril had discussed a press release from the improbably-nicknamed Ming:

For the record the poll showed that half those sampled wanted coalition troops to leave when either the Iraqi forces are able to handle security or when security is restored (or even longer for about 1 in 20). Of course none of these is the Lib Dem position - which used to be we should be out by early 2006 and is probably now we should be out as soon as we can.

But Ming hasn't got the guts to state this - or comment on the figures in his press release. Can anyone imagine Paddy Ashdown - who was so dogged in his pursuit of the west's abandonment of the democratic and peace-loving Bosniaks behaving in this way?

"Sooner or later the Iraqi people will have to bear responsibility for themselves and their own future."

So, basically, the Lib Dem position is that we should abandon the people of Iraq - the majority of whom clearly want to live in a peaceful and democratic society. What the security logic for that is is neer explained (because there isn't any). It does make perfect sense if you are trying to use Iraq as a wedge issue in inner city London and Birmingham in advance of the local elections.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

And He Got the Trains to Run On Time Too (Part 2)

Hitchens on Ramsey Clark:

He has now twice said in public that, given the war with the Shiite republic of Iran, Hussein was entitled to take stern measures. "He had this huge war going on, and you have to act firmly when you have an assassination attempt," he told the BBC.

To this he calmly added that he himself had more than once been shoved aside by Secret Service agents eager to defend the president of the United States (and of course one remembers the mass arrests, beatings and executions that followed the assassination attempts on presidents Ford and Reagan). It is as if Hussein had not started, by his illegal, blood-soaked invasion of Iran, the "huge war" that Clark cites as the excuse for Hussein then turning his guns on Iraqis.


Now, one of the best-known spokesmen for the antiwar cause(*) appears across the world's TV screens, openly saying that the Hussein system was justified all along in its aggression abroad and its fascism at home.

(*) Clark is the founder of ANSWER, the leading US anti-war grouping. More at Wikipedia, including the long list of defendants he's worked for.

EDIT: Via Marc Cooper's article "The Trouble with Ramsey", a quote from Jon "Daily Show" Stewart:

He needs a new business card. "Ramsey Clark - Defending Sick Fucks Since 1980."

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Prime Real Estate

Via Aileen - a quality piece of property's being sold on eBay. No, not the Hollywood sign:

Constructed in the 13th century as a solution to the theological conundrum of what happened to babies who died before they were christened, Limbo has been home from home to millions of top quality souls. Liberation of Limbo by one P. Benedict (IVI) has brought this top quality theological space to the open market.

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The AU$400 a Day Blog

That's how much it cost to run. The strange tale of Webdiary, a blog set up by Australian journalist Margo Kingston. It was originally hosted by her ex-newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald. Then from last August, it went independent for no apparent reason.

Yesterday she announced that the blog was closing down, after having spent AU$44,000 (€28,000). How do you spend that amount, roughly AU$400 a day, on what appears to be a standard political blog? Well, via Tim Blair (admittedly a political opposite of her, but his facts don't seem to be disputed), it turns out she was paying people to edit comments:

I was paying out two thirds of my contract payments to cope with the comments load. [...]
Most of the comments editors’ time is spent correcting the formatting of posts. It takes two mouse clicks to delete an abusive post, yet at least eight keystrokes to add the tags to bold the name of the person the poster is addressing.
Yup, AU$32,000 to pay for people to bold other people's names within comments. Just in case her readers, you know, couldn't figure out for themselves it was a name. Or something. My flabber is truly ghasted.

One "staffer", Kerry, says:

It is with pleasure and honour that I sit at this keyboard and moderate comments that come through Webdiary. Between Margo, myself, Hamish, Roger, Craig, Polly, Russell, Caroline and guest others we read and edit every post that ricochets its way from you through the internet to the Webdiary comments list. And between you and me, there's no other media mob in Australia I'd rather work at this crucial place in time.
More than 8 people to format comments.

On a blog with no advertising and no income except donations.

EDIT: With this quality of journalism, one wonders how Webdiary could have possibly failed:

Webdiarist Malcolm Street has a unique theory on why Britain and Australia are backing Bush on Iraq. Welcome to the anti-gravity arms race.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Closing the Barn Door...

Via Singabloodypore:

Singapore has ordered a theater director to remove all references to the death penalty in a play to be staged on Saturday, a day after the city-state executed an Australian drug smuggler, a Singapore newspaper said.

The government's Media Development Authority (MDA) demanded that "Human Lefts," a play about the hanging of Singaporean drug courier Shanmugam Murugesu in May, make no mention of the death penalty and no reference to any political leader, the play's director was quoted as saying.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What Kind of Humanist Are You?

Of course, this quiz assumes you are a humanist.... click on the graphic or link to take it yourself, and add your result to my comments! (Hat tip: Norm)


You are one of life’s enjoyers, determined to get the most you can out of your brief spell on Earth. Probably what first attracted you to atheism was the prospect of liberation from the Ten Commandments, few of which are compatible with a life of pleasure. You play hard and work quite hard, have a strong sense of loyalty and a relaxed but consistent approach to your philosophy.

You can’t see the point of abstract principles and probably wouldn’t lay down your life for a concept though you might for a friend. Something of a champagne humanist, you admire George Bernard Shaw for his cheerful agnosticism and pursuit of sensual rewards and your Hollywood hero is Marlon Brando, who was beautiful, irascible and aimed for goodness in his own tortured way.

Sometimes you might be tempted to allow your own pleasures to take precedence over your ethics. But everyone is striving for that elusive balance between the good and the happy life. You’d probably open another bottle and say there’s no contest.

What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.

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Monday, November 28, 2005