Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Once again, a political scandal has appeared from out of the blue.
The 'Mail on Sunday' has published a particularly nasty hatchet-job on the actress Emily Lloyd. The root of Miss Lloyd's health difficulties is made quite clear - she suffers from the Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome.
The reporter's ignorance of GTS is staggering; they write, "(s)he has, at various times, been diagnosed with mild schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and Tourettes syndrome" without knowing that ADD, OCD and GTS all belong to the same family of conditions, designed the 'neuropsychiatric disorders'; that many diagnoses of ADD and OCD are often misdiagnoses of GTS; and that obsessiveness is a very common symptom of GTS. What the reporter's ignorance reveals is that Miss Lloyd has probably been diagnosed with the same illness at least three times. Doctors, please note that some Tourettists' suspicion of you is not without cause.
Chronic insomnia might be another symptom. Miss Lloyd complains of it - and there is a very good reason why I write long essays before I go to work. One hopes that Miss Lloyd's confidence has not been too badly knocked by yet another stupid article purporting to deal with the effects of a grossly misunderstood medical condition; one whose nature has been used to murder the people who suffer from it.
Far ahead of the pack in the ideological nonsense stakes is Tim Congdon, with his suggestion that the Bank of England should be privatised. This is complete rot, a suggestion which, in this writer's opinion, is unfit for publication in any newspaper. If anything, the complete reverse of what he suggests is true; the Bank of England's independence should be revoked, and interest rates raised to 10 per cent immediately.
The Bank's unmandated policy of keeping interest rates artificially low for over a decade rendered the act of keeping money in the bank pointless. One of the principal drivers of the house price boom was the necessity of finding ways of accruing wealth that didn't involve having to trust your bank to make money for you. Unsophisticated savers who would otherwise have been happy just to earn interest on a pot of money in a savings account were driven to trying to become property speculators because of a claque of unelected coneheads' machinations and coneheading. The Bank of England should never have been freed from political control. OK, the politicians had messed up the interest rates many times before - but at least they can be thrown out by the people. The coneheads, dug in behind barricades of calculus, chanting formulae to each other like the priestly incantations they really are, can't. They're unassailable. This is not a satisfactory state of affairs.
It's time the coneheads were reined in. The economists have been the single most destructive group of experts in human history; yet being a secular priesthood, their comments are treated with a respect they frankly don't deserve. Since the days of Karl Marx, every single bad thing that has been done to human beings in the name of public policy has received intellectual validation from an economist. In a world without God, the followers of The Pie in the Sky Fairy are kings.
Yet for sheer nastiness, absolutely nobody trumps a person called Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.
This individual, whoever they are, writes,
Nothing makes one wish to puke harder and faster than a double-barrel patronising those of their fellow citizens who enjoy the same rights and privileges under law as they do, but who have received less expensive educations or enjoy more limited media access. It is only in the United Kingdom that one citizen is permitted to trash others so casually, and get away with it. To my mind, it's not a symptom of how free but how sick British culture has become.
Yet he also says,
"There again, was it wise for the Czech premier and titular EU president to rubbish Barack Obama's fiscal blitz as the "road to hell"? That too comes ill from a leader who has just lost a no-confidence vote over his handling of the Czech economy. But the hapless Bohemian speaks for Europe, where Hooverism is written into EU Treaty law."
To this reader's eyes, the term 'hapless Bohemian' borders on racism. Hopefully it draws a public rebuke from the Czech Ambassador.
Yet in the midst all of this ugliness, there is always hope.
It's quite clear that history has taken a bazooka to the hubris of those of our bankers for whose benefit the world seems to have been run since the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Their apologists deserve to be sent to sit in the corner, wearing dunces' caps made from the spreadsheets which chart their dying newspapers' declining circulations. Whether or not banking as it has been practiced can actually survive for much longer is a question that's not really receiving the attention it should - if the coneheads can make jokes about displaced tradesmen pining for the days of the buggy-whip makers, there seems to be absolutely no reason why the displaced cannot question why the coneheads' paymasters have been permitted to behave as they did in the days when buggy-whips were commonplace. After all, what was the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act other than an attempt to roll back history to the days of the robber barons? Oh dear. They hadn't thought of that one.
As for the newspaper, well, that's going the way of the adze and the gladius; in its day it helped change the world, but it's outlived its usefulness, and has been overtaken by newer, better models. Newspaper proprietors should remember that organisms whose circulation is in decline tend to turn blue, and eventually require amputation.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Old Communist Discovers That Civil Libertarians Will Only Defend The Liberties That Interest Them
Monday, March 23, 2009
'Obama As Peron'
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The video attached to this link should provoke anger - righteous anger.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The cartoon in the picture appears in a newspaper owned by a company whose chairman is a Knight Commander of The Order of St. Gregory the Great.
Notice the depiction of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's expression. It is malevolent, the image of a tortured, conflicted individual. That the Holy Father generally projects an expression of togetherness and calm which could put a Californian hippy to shame seems to have escaped the cartoonist.
Instead, they have chosen to depict Benedict XVI as something akin to Roland Rat. What's next? Cormac Murphy-O' Connor as Kevin the Gerbil? Basil Hume as Errol the Hamster?
The really intriguing thing about the cartoon is the cartoonist's ignorance of Papal history. The condom upon Benedict's XVI's head is intended to be a travesty of the Papal tiara. Pope Paul VI renounced his tiara, and all his successors have declined coronation. The cartoonist is therefore associating Pope Benedict XVI with an item of headgear he has never worn, about as absurd as depicting Barack Obama in a 'See You, Jimmy!' wig.
There is a moral for our cartoonists and satirists in this. When depicting popes wearing condoms on their heads, do not act like johnny-come-latelys.
The reason for this cartoon is that the Holy Father has once again mentioned the unmentionable, and spoken the truth that condoms are not the solution to the AIDS epidemic. All those committed internationalists who would be out of work if HIV and AIDS were ever to be brought under control in sub-Saharan Africa must have sighed and thought to themselves, 'Oh crap, the crazy old Bavarian fart's gone off on one again'; yet the fact remains that he's not wrong.
In 2004, I wrote a commentary on this very subject entitled 'The BBC's War On The Pope', concerning the very biased treatment that the state broadcaster gave it in a 'Panorama' programme entitled 'Sex and the Holy City'. If you want the science that condoms are not universally effective in reducing the rate of HIV infection, here it is, under a rather misleading title -
"This review indicates that consistent use of condoms results in 80% reduction in HIV incidence".
So, even with a consistent use of condoms, HIV infection is reduced by 80 per cent. Notice the presence of the word 'consistent'. Presumably no data exists on those victims of HIV whose partners were inconsistent. Even amongst those whose partners' concept of fidelity include insulation, as if the act of lovemaking were akin to lagging a pipe, their chances of contracting HIV still stand at one in five. Those are not good odds.
The published conclusion also presumably assumes that the condom manufacturing process adheres to the highest possible levels of quality control; a conclusion which, given the nature of the manufactured article's purpose and its intended durability, requires an enormous leap of faith. Sorry, but isn't it only crazy old Bavarian farts who do faith?
The expression 'the sex industry' is often defined all too narrowly as solely meaning the labours of 'sex workers'. However, it is surely appropriate to include the manufacture, distribution, advertising, promotion and sale of all types of contraceptives under the 'sex industry' banner. There is absolutely no reason why the grinders of pills and the hawkers of rubbers should be exempted from the contumely which still attaches to pornography and pimping. Without sex, the pornographer and the pimp goes out of business. Without sex, the grinders of pills don't get professorships, and the hawkers of rubbers don't get to run train companies.
It is difficult to formulate a riposte to this type of cartoon. That it's ineffably ugly anti-Papal, and by extension anti-Catholic, propaganda straight out of the Tudor era should be taken as read. Or seen. One can safely say that the cartoonist should be considered a propagandist.
Putting a pinpricked condom on the Pope's head also indicates to this writer that the cartoonist should be considered a pin.
The cartoonist should not feel offended; the slightly less civil ex facie competent alternative also certainly seems applicable.