Saturday, September 25, 2004

Monday, September 20, 2004

Bonkers Watch

Well, I can beat most of these into a cocked hat. High for schizoid and narcissistic and moderate for most of the rest. Can't touch the Solomania guy, though. Must read more of him.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Fox Hunting and Related Trivia - Part the First

They voted, then, and the hounds are to be consigned to the dustbin of history. And the foxes, well, consigned to poison, snare and marksmen who can't tell the difference between them and thirteen year old boys.

So, let's look at the various arguments pushed by the different sides, look at the hypocrisy involved, the half truths, the inconsistencies, the, in short, general bollocks that passed for argument over the past, what, seven years.

The first absurdity was peddled by both sides, and that is the idea that foxes should be considered vermin and need to be controlled. Precious few on the anti side bothered to look into this, indeed, swallowed - to take a phrase from another bloodthirsty sport - hook, line and sinker the idea that but for controlling measures the countryside would be swarming with vulpines threatening the very existence of agriculture, taking lambs at will and fiendishly slaughtering chickens at every available opportunity for no other reason than the sheer joy of killing.

Had the antis bothered to look into this myth, they would have discovered that foxes account for somewhere between 0% and 5% of all lamb deaths, and since that 5% also includes deaths from dogs, crows, magpies and other misadventure, it would appear to be a minor concern, especially when you consider that 30% of lamb deaths occur through exposure and starvation.(Hansard) Just think on that for a second. 30% of lambs die through exposure and starvation and the farmers are trying to tell us that foxes have an economic impact on their activities with their less than 5% kills.

And then there's that old chestnut, the marauding cold hearted chicken killer. "Have you ever seen," a tearful country dweller will demand, "the terrible carnage a fox will leave behind in a chicken coop? They will kill twenty chickens for the sheer fun of it. They are sadistic killers."

This was probably the most dishonest, shameless argument of the lot. A case of having it both ways. On the one hand, the pro hunt lobby were busy telling us that squeamish townies anthropomorphosizing like mad about poor foxies were allowing false sentiment to get in the way of sensible arguments about pest control. On the other hand, they give us the murderous fox who deserves to be torn limb from limb because it revels in killing chickens. Well, guys, the logical extension of that particular argument lies in medieval France, where, if I recall my history correctly, a pig could be tried for murder. And anyway, these days, the punishment for wanton cruelty to poultry is not particularly onerous - just ask Bernard Matthews.

Hunter guys - foxes are not cruel. They kill to eat. They have evolved over a period of time where food is scarce. Let them get amongst a load of chickens and they will kill them and take the corpses home if they can. Or they might get into a feeding frenzy like a shark does, I don't really know - or care - it's no reason to kill them with extreme cruelty. There may well be good reasons,in fact I happen to think there are, but that is not one of them. What it is a good reason to do is build decent fucking hen coops. It's not hard.

Part the Second to follow, if, as ever, I can be arsed.

Friday, September 17, 2004

I'm a Proper Blogger Now

Because I have finally got the mandatory Google query post nailed. I got a hit for Harry's Place troll. How good is that?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I see MPs will be voting on fox hunting today, and chances are they will overwhelmingly vote to ban it. For what it's worth, my view is that the law of untintended consequences will come into play and the countryside fox will be wiped out as country folk take up their guns and snares and poison with renewed vigour once the hounds are off the scene.

My interest, though, is in the arguments on all sides and how they have been presented and to what ends. It's a fascinating microcosm of the dismal level of political debate in this country and, if I can be arsed, I will turn my razor sharp mind to consider it in detail soon.

Monday, September 13, 2004

There have been many words written and spoken about the hideous mass murder in Beslan, and, as is the way of these things, most of them have generated considerably more heat than light. From the "yes, but what about..." morons to the tub thumping armchair warriors who seem to think they have a monopoly on outrage, and then on to the politicians like Jack Straw who mouth their platitudes while desperately thinking of ways to avoid explaining their hypocritical positions, few have come out with any credit.

I said below I couldn't begin to blog about it, and I have thought about leaving it at that. I would have done, too, if the various reactions had been less strange. And some of them have been bloody strange, to say the least. Why is it, for example, that whenever a terrorist outrage occurs, the response from some quarters is so dully predictable? A mealy mouthed reference to the horror, followed by, "But what about the atrocities perpetuated by..." I don't subscribe for a moment to the armchair warmongers' view that such people are demented apologists for terror, little better than the terrorists themselves, but there is a definite shortage of common decency in those reactions which invite such descriptions. And nothing whatsoever is gained by expressing those views at those times. Do they believe that, for instance, the thousands upon thousands of Chechens affected by Putin's vile policies who do not murder little children, indeed, who feel as sickened by Beslan as everybody else, welcome these comments? Do they want their own suffering portrayed as mere contextualisation for different horrors, or worse still, as cheap debating points? I think not.

If this over contextualisation baffles, then Harry's invocation of a former time stands as equally wierd. Just what is he suggesting here? That we make common cause with Putin, a man whose record suggests almost as callous a disregard for innocent life as the terrorists themselves? What are we to make of this:

There are some who suggest we can turn away from the world and simply hope that nothing will ever happen to us. Perhaps it could be possible. Perhaps, despite all the lessons of history to the contrary, we could hope that our enemy will leave us alone if we leave them free to act. But even if we ignored that history and took that step it would involve turning our backs on millions and leaving them to face the very real threat of being forced to live with oppression, terror and death.

In the context of Beslan, does this mean we should support Putin's policies in Chechnya? Does the slaughter of innocents in Beslan mean we should support the slaughterer of innocents elsewhere? In certain circles, I believe this is exactly what is required of us. The Times editorial, I think it was, said as much on the day after the event. "We must support President Putin." Why? Why is it seemingly impossible to condemn both sets of murderous bastards? Are not the Chechens who live with oppression, terror and death, not worthy of our concern, too? Or are they exempt on the grounds that evil people do atrocious things ostensibly in their name?

It all comes down, in the end, to our old friend, Realpolitik. When Jack Straw says it would be almost tasteless and it is disrespectful to the dead and the dying and their relatives to discuss the future of Chechnya at this time, what he is really saying is don't look too closely at our record on this because it doesn't stand up to close scrutiny, morally speaking.

In that former time invoked by Harry, we had to cosy up to Stalin in order to defeat Hitler, now, it seems, we must choke back our bile and cosy up to Putin, because his enemy is ours. And Bush's, and the whole free world's as well.

It's a view, and one not totally without merit. But there's no moral high ground that comes with it, no matter how much the armchair warriors would like to convince us, and themselves, that there is.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

I can't even begin to blog about the unspeakable horrors in Russia yesterday, but here's a couple of opinions from people who know a bit more than most about the background:

and this

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

According to the Belief O Matic quiz, I am:

A complete dickhead, actually. I've done the quiz three times now and on each occasion have failed to copy and paste the results.

But the different results tell their own story. I am simultaneously a Unitarian Universalist, a Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant and Liberal Quaker at one and the same time. And here's me thinking all along that I'm a common or garden atheist. For fuck's sake, Secular Humanist only came in the top three once. All those years at Sunday School must have taken their toll, or else the arguments of Mrs D, a recovering Jehovah's Witness, have had more of an effect than I care to admit. After all, the JWs came in at 45% on one of the tests.

I'm sticking with the Unitarian Universalists, though. They seem to be gentle souls. If anyone deviates from the true path of their belief, they just shrug their shoulders and say, "Yeah, okay, whatever. That's cool with us."

If only all the religions were like that, the world would be a different place. Confusing, maybe. Nicer, certainly.

Hat tip to The Prof.