Sunday, 28 February 2010

Sensible Sunday

The Chairman’s Sunday cooking tip: If you’ve run out of bacon, put a thin smear of Marmite on a piece of toast and top off with a fried egg. Next best thing to bacon and eggs.

The UK Conservative Party has unveiled its new election slogan: “Vote For Change.”

I seem to remember that one being used in England in 1653, China in 1911, Germany in 1934 and Cambodia in 1976. Change for the sake of change is not generally considered a good thing.

Now if the Conservatives were to actually articulate some policies, rather than simply engaging in name-calling, I could be persuaded to vote for them, but a platform of change without actually telling you what that change would be is like standing in front of a blind-folded firing squad.

Perhaps he could shock us by telling us he will ensure MPs will no longer steal from us? No, that’s too revolutionary and he’d have a strike on his hands.

I don’t know why, but Gordon just comes across as – well – Gordon. You get what you see with dour Gordon, whereas Cameroon just oozes insincerity and gloss. I’ve had enough of smarmy politicians telling me what’s good for me while rifling through the till.

I’m non-partizan – you get that way as you get older as you come to realise that no single party has a monopoly on truth or solutions. I used to be a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative voter for no good reason other than my father was. He never questioned his political views, as most people fail to do. He didn’t think about what he personally believed in; he merely assimilated the many-coloured coat of the party he thought represented his class. Since the middle classes took over the Labour Party it hasn’t been that simple.

There’s a campaign under way to pressurise the National Health Service into only buying Fairtrade and ethically made surgical instruments. The cause célèbre is child workers in Northern Pakistan.

The question these smug middle class campaigners need to ask themselves is what happens to children who are forced out of child labour? A UNICEF study found that after the Child Labour Deterrence Act was introduced in the US, an estimated 50,000 children were dismissed from their garment industry jobs in Bangladesh, leaving many to resort to jobs such as "stone-crushing, street hustling, and prostitution", jobs that are more hazardous and exploitative than garment production.

Unless the countries targeted have a free education system, then boycotting products from such countries will do more harm than good. Rather than boycotting, perhaps these campaigners should lobby for a higher VAT levy on the products to fund free schools in the countries of origin.

Saturday, 27 February 2010


Portsmouth Football Club has gone bust. I’m not a great fan of football – in fact I’d rather play tag with venomous snakes in a cesspit than watch the game – but I can see the days of overpaid footballers coming to a timely end. Clubs simply can’t keep on piling on the debt in the manner they have been doing. Bankers would seem to be the epitome of restraint and probity compared to chief executives of football clubs.

In a surprise turn of affairs the secret service, MI5, has been accused of, well, keeping secrets and using torture. I thought that's what they're meant to do. I mean, we’ve all seen Quantum of Solace where a baddie is told that if he doesn’t talk they’ll make it painful for him. Why can’t we have a return to the days when foreign governments ran our secret service and we all knew where we stood, as did our enemies? As M said: “They have people everywhere, just like florists.” I’ll never again look at my local florist in the same way.

A 51 year old has shocked the nation by trying to claim she’s 36.

Thieving MEPs have once more voted themselves a gratuitous handout because no-one has any power to control them. I wouldn’t mind if the buggers actually did something useful, but they have the intrinsic value of a turd in a tin – although that’s possibly being a bit harsh on turds in tins.

Here’s an e-mail disclaimer a friend sent me yesterday. Mildly amusing.

IMPORTANT: This e-mail is intended for the use of the individual addressee(s) named above and may contain information that is confidential privileged or unsuitable for overly sensitive persons with low self-esteem, no sense of humour or irrational religious beliefs. If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of this email is not authorised (either explicitly or implicitly) and constitutes an irritating social faux pas. Unless the word 'absquatulation' has been used in its correct context somewhere other than in this warning, it does not have any legal or grammatical use and may be ignored. No animals were harmed in the transmission of this email, although the dog next door is living on borrowed time, let me tell you. Those of you with an overwhelming fear of the unknown will be gratified to learn that there is no hidden message revealed by reading this warning backwards, so just ignore that Alert Notice from Microsoft. However, by pouring a complete circle of salt around yourself and your computer you can ensure that no harm befalls you and your pets. If you have received this email in error, please add some nutmeg and egg whites and place it in a warm oven for 40 minutes. Whisk briefly and let it stand for 2 hours before icing.

Friday, 26 February 2010

A Sunflower Bonus for Homeopaths

It’s Mothers’ Day soon. Yesterday Hay organised some flowers for her mother, which kicked me into motion by having a look at the Next website (they deliver flowers). One of their offerings is a bunch of sunflowers. Now while sunflowers can look quite nice in the right setting, a bouquet of the buggers is a bit reminiscent of a bunch of marrows. There’s something rough and earthy about them and I’m not overly enamoured of sending mum a veg basket for Mothers’ Day.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) yesterday announced losses for 2009 of £3.6bn ($5.5bn), after struggling with billions of pounds of bad loans. Despite the losses, the bank is set to announce it will pay bonuses totalling £1.3bn to its staff. The bank's head, Stephen Hester, said the bank still had to pay out bonuses to retain top talent. I suppose that’s the same top talent that got them into a pickle in the first place. If I were a competing bank on the lookout for top talent, RBS is the last place I’d scour. Having the words RBS on your cv must make you as marketable as gonorrhoea in the banking world.

Having said that, there must obviously be a handful of employees who did perform extremely well and it’s only fair that they are recompensed and it’s sensible to retain them. In the feeding frenzy of anger there is great risk of tarring everyone with the same brush. Lose the few high performers and there will be no chance of the tax payer getting a return at all and it would be tantamount to cutting off one’s cheque book to spite one’s wallet.

Have you noticed how the news programmes are always trotting out ‘experts’ who seem no more knowledgeable than the bloke down the pub? I think I’ll become one. Not sure what expertise I should specialise in, but it doesn’t look to be a particularly onerous task.

Homeopaths are really scraping the barrel now. Here’s some woman who claims her cancer was cured by homeopathy. Note how she gets extremely flustered and evasive when asked about evidence.

It’s strange how this evidence is never there when the scientists are looking. A bit like God really. The claim that ‘lots of people use it’ is hardly evidence of efficacy. I’d have loved to see Jeremy Paxman interview her. She claims that homeopathy is thousands of years old, but this scam was first dreamt up in the late 18th century, prior to which blood letting was the favoured manner of killing someone slowly.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Anyone But Anthropomorphic Rolltop Concrete

A company selling "Anyone but England" T-shirts for this year's World Cup has rejected suggestions it is racist after police with a humour bypass in Aberdeen visited its store. A spokesman for Grampian Police (Anti Chuckle Division) said the force's visit to the Slanj store was not in response to any public complaint about the shirt slogan and was prompted by an officer acting on his own initiative. His own initiative? His own bloody idiocy more like! I’ve rarely heard anything more preposterous. I’d love this one to get to court and would gladly contribute to the defence costs. Mindless PC (in both senses) morons!

Apparently Gordon ‘Bully’ Brown has been sending kids to far flung places around the globe. Despicable behaviour! At least I presume he’s the one who sent them, else why would he apologise personally for the action. Having said that I’m a bit confused as to how he or his government actually achieved this feat, as most of the kids are in their 50s and Bully Brown is himself 59. I guess the government has some quantum time votex at its disposal, sent these people back in time and rejuvenated them for good measure.

How would you feel if you’d been damaged by some bugger when a kid and then 40 years later some 3rd party who was totally unconnected to the perpetrators apologised to you on their behalf? I’d be a bit I guess it’s to do with the warped Chrsitian concept of original sin and a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation, only in this case parliament is the father and politicians of every hue the sons down to the fourth generation.

Bristol councillors turned down a planning application for a power station that burns palm oil. The reason given was palm oil being environmentally unfriendly, but I think the real reason is the failure of this year’s Bristol palm oil crop. You should see the vast acres of palm trees lining the river Avon – beautiful. As Hay said, “If palm oil is environmentally unfriendly, then why did the council grant us planning permission for our foundations, as concrete is just about the most environmentally unfriendly substance in the known universe - after Katie Price’s foundation of course.”

A well-known block of concrete.

Only in England…. Yesterday a bomb sniffer dog called Treo was awarded a medal for – well, for doing what he’s trained to do and thinks is a fun game. Treo is totally oblivious to the fact that he’s the first animate object to get blown up if he accidentally treads on a bomb while thinking it’s something to play with. I somehow suspect he’d be more satisfied with a pat on the head, a kilo of raw steak and a shag than an anthropomorphic medal. The English (especially) have a strange relationship with their animals that the rest of the world finds hard to comprehend. One wonders when we’ll see Treo starring in pantomime up and down the country.

Last night we were watching a wonderfully sentimental documentary about a killer whale called Luna who lived for three years in a Canadian fijord before finally being ‘accidentally’ turned into sashimi by a tug boat’s propeller. Luna was a local attraction and ‘befriended’ his visitors. There were moves by the Canadian government to have him shipped off to Seaworld 'for his own protection'. I awoke this morning to read about a keeper at Seaworld having been ‘accidentally’ killed by a performing killer whale. We take one of theirs and they take one of ours.

Why do possessive pronouns, such as theirs and ours, not have possessive apostrophes? English can be such an illogical language.

Apparently scientists have confirmed global warming is anthropomorphic, but not from CO2 emissions. It would seem that the root cause is the ageing demographic of the world’s population and the vast increase in farts from pensioners.

I’ll leave you with a little video of a new concept in laptops – the rolltop. Can’t see it taking off as it would be damned difficult stowing it in a briefcase (no-one carries just a laptop).

I do like the music though.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Kneecapping Afghan Sex Education

Overheard in an e-mail conversation:

Chairman: “Ugh – the crisp bread you put in with the normal lunch bread drew the moisture from the bread, resulting in the bread being dry and the crisp bread soggy.”

Hay: “Of course, you could always sort your own lunch out then this obviously wouldn’t happen!”

Chairman: “It was, however, delicious.”

Hay: “Hhhmmmmmmmmmmm…………………”

The Afghan President, Hamid Karzia, has announced that he’s appointing all five members of Afghanistan's Electoral Complaints Commission. To give him his due he did say that this was approved by both himself and his cabinet – in other words it’s been approved by the President and the President. Mmmm, so that’s OK then. Perhaps he should go back to his home planet – Skaro.

Sir Ben Kingsley (left) and Hamid Karzai (right).

I sniff a bio-pic in the air.

In the UK the Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, has stated that a government amendment to allow faith schools more freedom to tailor sex education to their own beliefs does not give them a right to opt out of requirements to teach it in a balanced way that prevents them from spouting homophobic clap-trap and anti-contraceptive nonsense.

It’s a sad state of affairs when sex education has to be devolved to schools; it should be the right of each parent to decide when their child is ready for sex education (for some it will be earlier than others) and to provide that education themselves in the manner they see fit, or leave it where it rightly belongs - in the school playground. However, if it is going to be taught in schools then it must be taught in exactly the same manner to all pupils and not be subject to spin by well-meaning, but nonetheless deluded, believers in superstition and the wisdom and philosophies of barbaric tribal societies that lived thousands of years ago. Such instruction belongs in religious studies.

Klik to enlarge - as they say.

I wonder of there’s any truth to the rumour that Gordon Brown has asked Gerry Adams if he can arrange to have Christine Pratt and Andrew Rawnsley kneecapped over the allegations of his bullying.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Those Nice People From BT

I hear Tony Blair is claiming that Gordon Brown bullied him into starting the Iraq War.

A police dog handler has been found guilty of animal cruelty for leaving his dogs in his van on the hottest day of last year. I think I could have got him off the rap – I’d have challenged the prosecution to produce evidence for any hot days at all during 2009.

I heard on the local news last night that a team of homeless people have been taking part in an archaeological dig at Stokes Croft in Bristol. The site, Turbo Island, is a spot of derelict land measuring about 10 x 10 and is a haunt for local street drinkers (now there’s a career move from sales). So far they’ve managed to unearth half a dozen 17th century Tenants Extra ring-pulls and a 19th century bong.

Got our telegraph pole delivered yesterday by the kind people from BT.

It's meant for the caravan, but we'll probably use it for the house too. "A telegraph pole for a caravan?" I hear you say. Hay needs a landline for her work and so her boss sanctioned a new line - and that means a telegraph pole. Simples!

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Psychic Abilities of Cats

Overheard in the caravan:

Hay: “How…….errr………errr. What was I going to say?”

Chairman: “How would I know? You might find this news an incredible shock, but unlike the vast majority of women we men are not actually psychic.”

Hay: “Mmmm - I already knew that.”

Later still.

Hay: “OW!”

Chairman: “What’s the matter?”

Hay: “I just hit my funny bone.”

Chairman: “Why aren’t you laughing then?”

Talking of psychic abilities, I’m convinced cats possess this faculty. I was watching Kitty as she was lying on our bed. She was staring at me and slowly waving her tail from side to side. A thought went through my head: “Your tail is giving you away.” She then averted her eyes and looked at her tail, stilled it, and then resumed trying to stare me out. Spooky!

Did you hear the story about the broadcaster Ray Gosling last week? He apparently smothered his terminally ill lover who was dying of AIDS in a hospital bed. Gosling said he saw the expression of pain on his lover’s face and felt compelled to act. I just hope the expression on his lover’s face wasn’t actually one of discomfort and a plea for Ray to fluff his pillows. No-one will ever know.

I’m not sure I should have invested in those 20,000 Ashley Cole chastity rings. I should have learned my lesson after having bought 1,000 Tiger Woods purity rings last year.

I was mucking about with my TomTom satnav yesterday and managed to install the voices of Darth Vader and Yoda. Can’t see me using Yoda’s voice much – it’s bloody confusing – “At the next junction turn left you must, then right turn you must.”

I think I’m being stalked by a bunch of Mossad agents.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Votes For Sale

The Conservatives have come up with a hair-brained idea to garner votes in the forthcoming election – selling government shares in the baled out banks at a discount to those least able to afford them.

Those are partly my shares they’re talking of selling off at a loss; I’d much rather they offload the shares at their full market value so that the debt arising from buying them is discharged in full – or even possibly a profit.

Seems they're counting on the greed of the electorate to get them into power.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Oh Dear...

Puerile, I know - but I couldn't resist. It was sent to me by a pal whose boss is in Thailand, or somewhere similar, and took the photo.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Friday Mish-Mash

My ‘puter caught a virus yesterday. The combined might of our IT department and McAfee couldn’t smite it. I noted the effect (a predilection to redirecting you from Google search links to spurious sites), looked it up and discovered it to be the aptly names Google Redirection Virus. A quick download of HitMan Pro 3.5 when I got home soon dislodged it. I’m not such a technophobe at all really – well, I shouldn’t be; I was a systems analyst and IT project manager for a number of years after coming ashore and prior to going into sales and marketing.

I was listening to a rather intriguing argument the other day. Someone posited that it is more eco-friendly to drive an old banger, despite it having a higher fuel consumption and greater CO emissions, purely on the basis that the vast majority of a car’s carbon footprint arises from its manufacture and not its operation. Buy a new eco-car and you’re actually doing more harm than good.

That means I’m extremely eco-friendly by driving a car that’s 14 years old and has 200k miles on the clock (Volvo, of course). I have no intention of replacing it for at least another 50k miles, and even when I do it will be for another reliable old Volvo. Replacing your primary means of transport every 3 years in order to keep up with the Ponsonby-Smythes or to massage your ego is not in the least eco-friendly, even if you go for a so-called eco-car.

On another matter, it’s a sad fact of life that whenever the sales start to drop in a recession the useless leader will insist on micro-managing and insisting that you and your team fill in even more damned fool forms, rather than eliminating senseless bureaucracy to allow you more time to go seek new customers. Didn’t do a stroke of productive work yesterday but shuffled lots of paper. ‘Nuff said.

Talking of smoke and mirrors, 60 economists have signed a letter supporting the UK Chancellor’s decision to delay government cutbacks till 2011. On Sunday 20 economists signed a letter saying the opposite (and supporting the Conservative Party stance). Just goes to show how economics is not a science but more akin to astrology - or indeed religion. The opinions of ‘independent experts’ are only independent when you agree with them; if you don’t agree with them then they are obviously biased.

Here’s something I learned today: Alexandre Dumas’ paternal grandparents were Marquis Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a French nobleman, and Général commissaire in the Artillery in the colony of Saint-Domingue — now Haiti — and Marie-Cesette Dumas, an Afro-Caribbean Creole of mixed French/African ancestry. Apparently there’s a race row going on about the white actor Gerard Depardieu playing him in a bio-pic.

Gerard Depardieu

Alexandre Dumas

Thursday, 18 February 2010


Saw a black and white film last night where they had what looked like a mechanical laptop. The screen was made of paper and you had to press the keys rather hard in order to write on it. Once you’ve written your document you simply remove the paper screen and post it. I wonder if it will ever become popular? I suppose it could be of use in places with no electricity to run an electronic laptop. The main problem with it is that it’s damnably difficult to correct errors and data storage is rudimentary to say the least.

Caravan asked me to come over and sort out his new TV and video recorder last night; he’s beyond technology. I must admit I was a bit flummoxed myself and am rapidly reaching the conclusion that I too am getting old and unable to operate new-fangled devices. I put it down more to the fact that the instruction manuals are written by people with the intellectual capacity of a spoon.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Dogs and Moolah

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been captured in Pakistan, US officials say. What I want to know is when they’re going to get the most dangerous one of them all - Mullah Rice.

They’ve started to give guide dogs free bus passes in Bristol. I guess they had to do that as dogs are notoriously bad at handling money; give one a purse or a wallet and it’s pure mayhem. I’ve seen the irate queues of pensioners forming behind dogs fumbling for their money. I’m not sure of the wisdom of this move though as they’ll start going into town to buy bottles of strong cider and gathering in drunken packs in town centres.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Improvised Explosive Device

Hay swears she heard someone on the TV say they used an IED as a contraceptive.

I suppose that's one way of getting a bigger bang from your buck.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Conversations With Craravan

Caravan, as many of my readers will know, is Hay's father. He gained this soubiquet due to having lived in a caravan for 7 years while rebuilding the Folly. His wife is also known as Caravan, which can be quite confusing to those not within the family.

We took both the Caravans away for the weekend as it was Caravan's 74th birthday and we wanted to give them a treat. Here's a selection of conversations with him.

Chairman: “Caravan – I left a note on your door while we are away to tell the delivery man to take the package I’m expecting next door.”

Caravan: “But isn’t that advertising to everyone who calls that we’re not at home?”

Chairman: “So is the fact you won't be answering the door when they knock.”

Caravan: “Oh yes.”

Later, after we’ve all given Caravan his birthday presents.

Caravan: “Thanks for the cufflinks. The next time I get dressed up sufficiently to warrant using them will be at my funeral. They’ll come in very handy.”

Later still.

Chairman: "How does it feel to be 74?”

Caravan: “Well, it’s much better than the alternative.”

The next morning after The Chairman and Hay had suffered a night of hearing Caravan snoring in the next room.

Hay: “Caravan – you’d better call the RSPCA to come and collect that walrus that’s obviously trapped in your bedroom.”

Caravan: “A while ago I stayed up all night to see if I snored, and I discovered that I don’t.”

Caravan re-living the Blitz.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Store

A store that sells new husbands has opened in Manchester , where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the value of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The shopper may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband. On the first floor the sign on the door reads:

Floor 1 - These men Have Jobs

She is intrigued, but continues to the second floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 2 - These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.

'That's nice,' she thinks, 'but I want more.'

So she continues upward. The third floor sign reads:

Floor 3 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, and are Extremely Good Looking.

'Wow,' she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the fourth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 4 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help With Housework.

'Oh, mercy me!' she exclaims, 'I can hardly stand it!'

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 5 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, Help with Housework, and Have a Strong Romantic Streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 6 - You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor.
This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.


To avoid gender bias charges, the store's owner opened a New Wives store just across the street.

The first floor has wives that love sex.

The second floor has wives that love sex and have money and like beer

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors have never been visited!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Dealing Death

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, says that calls for assisted suicide and euthanasia reflect a society that does not know how to deal with death.

Hang on – I would suggest that positing a mythical afterlife, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, most certainly reflects a group of people who do not know how to deal with the empirical reality and finality of death.

Friday, 12 February 2010


Sorry for the hiatus, but I’ve been rather busy and one of my staff has resigned. Good for him that he’s moving on, but with a headcount freeze it means a lot more work for those remaining to man the barricades. I now have to achieve 10% more with 25% fewer resources. Simple sums says it ain’t going to happen.

Talking of apologising, John Healey, the UK Housing Minister, is being castigated by the Conservatives and the media for having the temerity to tell a self-evident truth during a radio interview.

He was talking about home repossessions and said: “Sometimes it is impossible for people to maintain the mortgage commitments they've got ... house repossession may be the best thing in those circumstances.”

He’s 200% spot on. Would you rather cut your losses and pass the debt to the bank, or struggle to service a debt that will only take you further into perdition and penury? Lose your albatross and at least you can rent somewhere for much less.

The Conservative shadow minister turned on the crocodile tears and suggested he apologise to those having their houses repossessed. Would a Conservative government help prop up unsustainable debt? I think not. Gross hypocrisy if you ask me. It’s kind of helped me make up my mind as to where my vote is going.

“Minister – are you going to apologise?”


“Then will you apologise for not apologising?”


“Will you resign for not apologising for not apologising?”


“The will you apologise for not resigning?”


Bloody arseholes! Harrumph.

Got a customer visit in Cornwall today, so we're going to stay there for the weekend with the Caravans – it’s Caravan’s birthday on the 14th, as well as Valentine’s Day. Yet another excuse for card manufacturers to scam us with their hideously priced wares.

It's 3am and I've been up for an hour and a half - Railtrack (or whatever it's called now) has decided that the early hours are ideal for doing some work on the tracks and using jack hammers.

Here's a question for you to ponder; when you lose an object in a dream, why on waking are you convinced you've also lost it in reality, even though you know you were dereaming?

Monday, 8 February 2010

Kittens, Logs and Kittens

We’re wondering whether to put a cat flap in for the kitten or to just give her a set of keys so she can let herself in.

Hay and I were discussing the virtues of men and women. She remarked how women were more like cats, hissing and spitting whenever another woman appeared on the scene, whereas men were more like dogs, they sniff each other’s bums, wag their tails and then play together.

Had more logs delivered over the weekend and discovered that a ‘shed load’ is a load and a half. Some were quite short lengths and I got Caravan to drill a few holes in them so we could drop tea lights into them. I think we’ll go into production and sell them on eBay.

I’m going to be hideously mercenary now and generate a lot of comments.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Fine Old Italian Names

Don't you agree that it's getting a bit silly when the Italian Six Nations rugby team contains players whose names are Craig Gower, Luke MacLean, Paul Derbyshire and Kaine Robertson?

The team you play for should be decided by your passport and not that of a gandfather 6 times removed.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Friday, 5 February 2010

Political Discrimination - And Piss

This is a natural extension to yesterday’s post.

Religious people demand that they should not be discriminated against because of their beliefs (despite the fact they are the worst discriminators themselves). Belief is belief – i.e. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof. A religious belief is thus identical to a political belief (as otherwise we wouldn't have numerous political parties each holding different views) and if religious people have legal dispensation against criticism of their beliefs, then political beliefs should similarly and logically be legally immune from criticism.

I don’t think so!

Belief in a specific religion, like a political belief, is not something one is born with (although it could be argued that if born into a Muslim or Christian fundamentalist family there’s little choice involved, but that’s more to do with enforced indoctrination). One has conscious control over the choice of one’s religion, as evidenced by the fact that people can easily lose their religion, trade it in for another or even come to religion late in life. Given that taking to religion is a conscious decision based on choice (although not necessarily a rational one), it cannot be logically argued that religion should be included in any list of attributes that should be immune from discrimination or criticism; in fact the more ridiculous and untestable the belief the more rigorous the criticism should be. Simples, as they say in a well known advert in the UK.

My recipe for attempting to cure someone of religion is to get them to read their espoused scripture from cover to cover, note the inconsistencies, hypocrisy, logical fallacies and physical impossibilities and analyse the result using their rational faculties. The problem is they are invariably unwilling to do so, as it would destroy their belief and thus their carefully constructed view of themselves, creating an uncomfortable feeling of cognitive dissonance in the process. No-one, except the emotionally robust, likes to be told they are wrong about a belief in which they have invested much emotional effort, even when they themselves are doing the telling.

Before questioning anyone about their belief in God, you should ask them which God - there are so many to choose from.

The new kitty was racing around the caravan last night doing the wall of death, followed by a touch of ghost wrestling.

An extract from Wiki that may educate you – it did me:

The word "urine" was first used in the 14th century. Before that, the concept was described by the now vulgar word "piss". Onomatopoetic in origins, "piss" was the primary means of describing urination, as "urinate" was at first used mostly in medical contexts. Likely, "piss" became vulgar through its use by lower class characters such as the reeve and the Wife of Bath in Geoffrey Chaucer's 14th century work The Canterbury Tales. "Piss" and its association with vulgarity has led to its current classification as obscene, as well as its use in such colloquial expressions as "to piss off", "piss poor", and others.

I'm thinking of auditioning for the position of Old Sodbury Village Idiot. Do you think I stand a chance?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Logic & Rationality

There’s a growing campaign to get Pope Ratzo barred from the UK as an undesirable due to his opinions on homosexuals. I’d go so far as to have this nasty cult proscribed as a banned organisation under the Human Rights Act. The pope needs telling that his omniscient God is plain wrong on a whole host of issues - and has been found to be so on a number of occasions since the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment.

Let’s analyse the situation. The law of the land denies anyone the right to discriminate on the basis any attribute over which an individual has no control, such as their colour, race, age, disability or gender. This seems to me to be morally incontrovertible and a universal truth in this enlightened age of ours. Given that one’s sexuality is not a choice but a given, it follows logically that discrimination on the basis of sexuality should be included in the list of forbidden discriminations. There’s no other way of looking at it other than to say discrimination on the basis of sexuality is ipso facto as irrational and morally repugnant as discrimination on the basis of colour.

Now the church believes that that homosexuality is a sin. It therefore follows a priori that the church must be morally wrong in this belief. Given we have free speech the church is nonetheless free to believe what it wills, however, it should not be allowed to act on this belief when it comes to a selection process, else it will breach both the law and rationality, and surely God is the supreme example of rationality.

Similarly it is also irrational and morally reprehensible to discriminate against women priests. If these orders to discriminate on the basis of gender or sexuality are a direct commandment from God, then this God must be guilty of irrationality. Now God is defined (by the church) as being perfect in every respect, which must include the attribute of being supremely, indeed perfectly rational. The church must therefore recognise that this divinely inspired order to discriminate is not in fact a divine order at all but the product of a misinterpretation or deliberate misrepresentation of God’s divine and perfectly rational will. To do otherwise makes God imperfect and destroys in an instant the concept of God as defined by the church itself.

The only defence against the above is to say that homosexuality is indeed a choice. If it is a choice and homosexual people can easily choose heterosexuality, then it follows that heterosexual people should find it relatively easy to choose homosexuality – a choice I can guarantee that none of my heterosexual readers would find even conceivable. Did you choose your sexuality?

To quote the Royal College of Psychiatrists: “Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation. It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice.

In conclusion, if the church is to set itself up as the upholder of morality, it is then acting hypocritically and with all the rationality of an arch bigot when it comes to sexuality and gender. The only possible way it can justify its actions is to declare, against all reason, experience and scientific evidence (but since when did reason have anything to do with religion), that homosexuality is a choice and that it can be ‘cured’. This is like shouting at the top of your voice that the earth is flat, or the universe was created 6,000 years ago. Hang on – didn’t the church at one time proclaim these incontrovertible facts?

The church will resort to reying on pure emotion rather than reasoned argument, which unfortunately is a tactic that usually wins the day due to the hoi pollio not taking at all well to thinking. This is borne out by the Amercian attitude to healthcare, people's belief in the efficacy of atioxidants and the MMR fisaco.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Anchors Aweigh!

Momentous news! My blogging started in 2007 as an e-Bay advert for my Dutch barge. Yesterday I accepted an offer on it from an unknown investor, possibly based in Saudi Arabia and potentially related to the Saudi Royal Family – although this is pure speculation. He could also feasibly be Russian with a keen interest in Chelsea Football Club. There’s a higher possibility of him being a recently divorced father of two who needs a cheap place to live.

Negotiations were protracted, took all of 30 minutes and Peter Madelson – the UK Trade & Industry Secretary – was not required to intervene.

At least I’ll no longer be paying several grand a year in mooring fees and the house build can progress apace. The proceeds of the sale should allow us to get the walls up and a roof on the house by the end of this year.

The amount agreed on was nowhere near the amount I was looking for, but one has to learn to cut one’s losses in the current economic climate. The thing was starting to become an albatross around my neck and a financial drain – as all boats are unless lived on 365 days a year.

The question now is whether the mission being accomplished should herald the end of by blogging days?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Equality for Euthanasia in Grand Fenwick

Pope Ratstinger MCLXXXXXIV has come out of the closet and wants the Catholic church to be free to promote its particular brand of bigotry and hatred. He has told his capos to oppose the British government’s equality bill citing that religious communities should be free to act in accordance with their beliefs. If religious communities should be free to act according to their conscience, then why not secular communities? Why not the Klu-Klux-Klan? Why not the BNP? Why not the Nazis? What justifies religious communities being treated as a special case, other than the fact their supreme leader is invisible and hasn’t uttered a word in 2,000 years?

To quote Bertrand Russell: “You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress of humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the coloured races, or even mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.”

The author of the marvellous Discworld books, Terry Pratchett, has ignited the right to die debate. In deciding whether someone should be allowed the right to die the question to be asked is Cui Bono – or who benefits? A tribunal should be empowered to decide whether anyone had been unduly influenced by those who would benefit. One method of ensuring someone who wishes to die cannot be influenced by children who stand to inherit is for the state to sequester the assets of anyone who is assisted to die, such sequestering to be put into effect when the other partner (if there is one) kicks the bucket. That would sort the leeches from the carers.

China is a tad miffed that the US is selling arms to Taiwan. I’d like to know what the Chinese are afraid of – a threatened invasion of China by Taiwan?

  • Taiwan; population 2m,
  • China; population 1.3bn

That’s like the Isle of Man sending an invasion force to mainland Britain; shades of The Mouse That Roared.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Fluffy Things

I thought I’d attract a flurry of oohs and aahs by writing about fluffy things.

Over the weekend my younger daughter gave us the above kitten to look after for a while. This kitten is not a kitten as you or I would imagine a kitten; it’s a mutant 5 fingered life-form with opposable thumbs – it’s an evolved kitten, a Superkitten. Its paws are designed for using tool such as screwdrivers, torque wrenches, fish filleting knives and can openers.

If you don’t believe me then look at the photos below. I swear they are not doctored.

It’s something called polydactylism and here’s an entire website of photos of polydactyl cats. The benefit is that we can go away for a weekend and leave the cat with tins of food and a tin opener, although we’ll have to hide the laptops or else she’ll be e-mailing all her friends.

Protesters in Liverpool have been staging a demonstration against Boots the chemist chain selling homeopathic remedies. Their plan is to simultaneously take a massive and potentially fatal overdose (if homeopathy is to be given any credence) of homeopathic remedies.

When you think about it, an ordinary glass of water has, during its existence as H2O, been in contact with literally thousands of other chemicals. Therefore, homeopathically speaking, it must be a miracle cure for every disease known to man. If you understand the faulty premise on which homeopathy is based, then you’ll appreciate the irony.

Remember Dr Andrew Wakefield, the guy who started the MMR scare? One of the medical delegates at the seminar Hay was at last week commented that he and the media did the medical world a great favour by scaring people off the measles vaccine. They proved that not taking the measles vaccine to the extent that herd immunity was lost (less than 83%-94% being vaccinated) would result in measles epidemics – and it did. If researchers had wanted to conduct a trial to test the hypothesis the ethics committee simply would not have allowed it. Wakefield and the press managed it though and it was the best ever controlled trial.

I’m preparing for the annual Old Sodbury Hideous Haemorrhoid Competition, which is to be held in the village hall next weekend. The competition is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year.