Thursday, October 30, 2008

BBC denies 'homophobia'

The BBC denied it had been "homophobic" after a complaint was made to police about Have I Got News For You.

After discussing Iran's failure to make the world's biggest ostrich sandwich, guest host Alexander Armstrong said: "On the plus side they do still hold the record for hanging homosexuals."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "The presenter never intended for this comment to be homophobic - quite the opposite."

Another aggrieved minority so determined to be offended that they can't tell the difference between an attack on them and one on their, and our, enemies. Very worrying.

Monday, October 27, 2008

First Impressions

You really had to get to know Mr Hillman in order to dislike him.

Straw Dogs

I've been looking again at John Gray's book.

Essentially the message is:

Humans are not central. Progress is a myth; freedom is a fantasy; the individual self a delusion; morality a kind of sickness; justice a matter of custom; illusion our natural condition; technology beyond our control; humans helpless; political tyrannies inevitable.

Or as someone has said, 'Not the best motivation for getting out of bed in the morning.'

It seems fair also to say, with another critic, that Gray mixes vital truths with half-truths, plain falsehoods, lurid hyperbole, dyspeptic middle-aged grousing, and recklessly one-sided rhetoric.

There are also glaring inconsistencies in the case that Gray makes.

He claims that morality is a fiction yet goes about morally denouncing everything from Socrates to science. And I've yet to meet a giraffe that gets anywhere near so worked up about genocide as Gray does.

But though he does manage to blur important differences between humans and other animals in this way, I'm not altogether dismissive of the case he makes in saying that humans are neither central to nor special in the scheme of things. The notion that human beings are superior to other life forms seems often to me to be circular in that humans are superior precisely at being human, and doing the things that humans do and value doing. We're good at what we're good at, and when compared with bacteria, we humans are better at writing poetry but not as good at surviving for millions of years in conditions of extreme heat or cold.

More later.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The impossible takes a little longer

I've asked before and I'll ask again. Why do people insist on doing things they can't do? It's the whole paralympics thing. Can't understand it. To me it's simple. If you're blind, you can't play cricket. Blind people are properly ruled out by cricket team selectors in the same way, and for a similar reason, that hydrophobics are not likely to make it as swimmers, or agrophobics to excel in the event of cross-country running, or legless people in any event or sport that involves any kind of running at all.

To accommodate these games to the individual needs and disabilities of all who should like to take part entails the same kind of flight from reality as that of a vegetarian who insists on eating only wafer-thin slices of ham.

This guy was sacked from Relate because he wasn't content to go on being a first class relationship counsellor but wanted instead to tell people with sexual difficulties how and with whom they they should and shouldn't have sex. He is of course taking his case to an employment tribunal, alleging unfair dismissal on the grounds of religious discrimination. But all they said in effect was, 'If you want to do that kind of thing, get yourself a soapbox or pulpit. If you want to stay with Relate, accept the limitations of your office.'

The After-Pill Morning

Since I stopped taking my anti-depressant medication,
my words have turned to tears.
Should I translate them into words again?
Should I even try?
Tears can be more honest
and thinking doesn't come into it.
To parody Wittgenstein, the greatest living philosopher now dead,
Don't think: Choke.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What they never told us at theological college.

From now on I will be haunted by this image of The Second Coming.

I've just heard Jonathan Ross's account of why we eat turkey at Christmas.

It's because Jesus came into Jerusalem, riding on a turkey.

As he said, for God's sake READ YOUR BIBLE!

Softening the blow

I couldn't resist sharing a joke with my GP as he lurked needle-brandishingly by my left shoulder.

Man goes to the doctor with a cough.

Doctor diagnoses Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. Tells patient it's commonly called High Chest Cold.

Ah! says patient. "As in, High Chest Cold To Say I Love You?"

Moving on

My prick is now behind me.

Correspondence closed.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Being 65

My wife says that she doesn't mind me having a little prick.

So on Saturday I'm off for my first flu jab.

Monday, October 20, 2008

RC Bishops in Philippines oppose family-planning Bill.

Archbishop Oscar Cruz likened the 'contraceptive mentality' to excessive feasting in ancient Rome, when people would vomit after they were full, and then continue feasting: "Artificial contraception is like that: couples have sex, put it in, spit it out, have sex again," he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

What the Archbishop lacks in connubial experience he more than makes up for in unflagging imagination.

Scouts to be prepared about sex

It's 1955. I'm twelve years. In the local library. Wanting to know if masturbation is going to do me any harm, or whether I'd found the prototype of 'safe sex'. I'm a boy, at a boy's school, formerly a Cub Scout, trusting that a book published by the Scouting Association would offer the best advice.

I can still remember the repeated references to 'self-abuse' and the inevitable hideous consequences that would follow, each one a nail in the coffin of an innocent and carefree exploration of my sexuality.

The Scouting Association really does have a lot to answer for.

UK economy 'already in recession'

Has there ever been a time when so many of today's news headlines consist mainly of what certain people think will probably happen tomorrow?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Deal or No Deal

I'm still puzzling about what to do with this blog, and where, short of oblivion, to go with it. To be honest I haven't got much of a readership, numerically, to please. But I have this notion, which may turn out to be a delusion, that some worthwhile purpose may be served by it.

One of my fondest attachments is to the belief that evidence persuades people. What I mean by this is that I myself have always liked a good argument, have always tried to listen to different sides, and have been known in conclusion to change my mind and opinion about this and that.

One of the things that people like me are up against is the mentality of those who have no intention of ever having a change of mind or opinion about anything at all important. Such people are to be found presently in the BBC and the Iranian parliament. At the BBC the Director General has claimed that his programme-makers tackle Islam differently from Christianity, not because of fear of provoking radical elements, but because Islam in this country is a minority religion and we must therefore be particularly sensitive to the feelings of its followers.

Comedian Ben Elton is having none of it:

'There's no doubt about it, the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass. They might pretend that it's, you know, something to do with their moral sensibilities, but it isn't. It's because they're scared. I know these people.'

Meanwhile, back in Iran, Christian Solidarity Worldwide is urging parliament to drop a draft Bill that would codify the death penalty for apostasy. It is estimated that more than 40 Christian converts are in prison for whom rather more than their moral sensibilities are at stake. To change your mind about Islam in Iran can land you in jail and, if the law is changed in accordance with a recent parliamentary vote of 196 to 7, to the gallows, or other equally unpleasant means of execution supported by holy scripture.

Down the road in Iraq the Christian minority are receiving similarly sensitive treatment at the hands of their Muslim majority hosts. In the northern city of Mosul over the past two weeks at least 14 Christians have been killed, and more than 1300 families have fled, many of whose homes have been blown up.

Now in the interest of balance I think a little joined-up thinking is called for. I don't think the deal the BBC has struck is good enough. 'Please stop killing our folks and we won't tell jokes about yours', doesn't quite do justice to the seriousness of the hour.

Because it is serious, of that I feel sure.

It could be worse.

There's one born again every minute!

The Islamic Republic of Iran is hosting a conference in Tehran, entitled “Religion in the Modern World“.

The conference is being attended by the great and the good:

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, former Norwegian prime minister Bondevick, former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, former French prime minister Lionel Jospin, former Swiss president Joseph Deiss, former Portuguese president Jorge Sampaio, former Irish president Mary Robinson, former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga and former UNESCO director general Federico Mayor as well as several other scholars are ALSO attending the two-day conference.

The host of the conference is the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami

Azarmehr says:

Khatami has managed to gather major useful idiots, ex-world leaders and religious figures included, to attend a conference on ‘Religion in the Modern World’. During the conference Khatami has called for ‘religious leaders of the world to try ways to create a peaceful co-existence and invite the world to establish peace and security’.

Where are these fancy phrases said? In the capital of a state where dissident Shiite Ayatollahs like Ayatollah Boroujerdi are tortured and imprisoned, the likes of Ayatollah Montazeri are under house arrest, many Shiite clerics were ‘disrobed’ during Khatami’s term in the office purely because of political dissent, Sunni Muslims can not even have their own mosque in Tehran, Christian converts from Islam like Ramtin Soudmand are facing imminent execution right now and fact after fact which slaps the sheer hypocrisy of this spin conference and the useful idiots attending it, in the face.

Imagine if in South Africa during the apartheid years, a former apartheid president set up a conference calling for ‘ways to create a peaceful co-existence between races of different colours’, and speakers of international standing spoke about racial harmony in front of celebrated pictures of D.F. Malan, would you not have a belly ache from uncontrolled laughter?

I wonder if any of them pleaded for the life of Rashin Soodmand?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert

Noblesse oblige

As Brownie says:

On a great day for the traditions of democracy and liberty in Britain, an upper-chamber of the privileged few subverted the will of the democratically elected parliament.

According to Liberty:

Common sense and common decency prevailed as the Government dropped plans to detain terror suspects for 42 days without charge.

Of all the adjectives one could use to describe the grandees filling the padded benches of the Lords and a vote which, according to almost all polling, ignores the will of British public, “common” must surely be the most inapposite.