Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wiser counsels

But wait, there's more:
There was a clash of opinion at the highest level. The lives of thousands, as well as this country's relationship with its greatest ally, would depend on the outcome.

Where there is such a clash the matter is not resolved simply by taking the advice of the most senior counsel – particularly in a case like this, which was concerned with the highly specialised area of international law. It is probable that Foreign Office lawyers had greater experience of international law than Lord Goldsmith, whose main experience lay in commercial law. The obvious course to take was to obtain a second opinion from a Queen's Counsel who was a specialist in international law. There are several such experts.
Bar watchers love Anthony Scrivener for his great name and his cogent commentary. But to many, this looks like bollocks. After all, it was not that long ago, and we all remember knowing then that the proposed invasion was justified by false evidence, was illegal and - most important of all - was wrong. There may be many Silks who will take much money to give an Opinion, but we knew then what we know now: it was all a lie.

If you want justifications, you can find them elsewhere in the Independent, in a pease pudding of excuses. Here's a spoonful:
Blair put some of the dilemmas to me in an interview for The Independent in 2005. I quote it at length partly to show that leadership is more demanding and interesting than screaming that someone is a war criminal. It is also the only example I can find where Blair is reflective rather than unapologetically crusading, an unattractive evangelical façade that is partly a defence mechanism
Leadership; demanding, interesting leadership, reflected upon by someone who usually defends himself with an unattractive evangelical façade (a bit like Holy Trinity Brompton). This man clearly is far too interesting to be a war criminal. However, if you get the opportunity, here are some tips on how to arrest Blair.

Meanwhile, Matthew Norman provides a more gratifying opinion:
Recalling that he had to be woken soon after midnight to be told that the invasion of Iraq had begun, you may detect a vicious little irony here. That he could sleep peacefully as his troops went into harm's way then, but dare not sleep when poised to explain why now, is an indecently cute vignette of a warped morality.

He stoops to conquer

In his evidence Goldsmith, the most senior legal adviser to Tony Blair's government, said he:

• Agreed that the wording of the crucial UN resolution 1441 used to trigger an invasion was unclear and ambiguous.

• Told Tony Blair in January 2003, two months before the invasion, that its lawfulness was questionable.

• Said he knew, however, that the United States would never agree to a fresh UN resolution.

• Subsequently told ministers and defence chiefs that his "better view" was that war would be clearly legal after all.
More Goldsmith; in this episode the former AG demonstrates his extraordinary acuity of mind. Notice how his thinking develops over the first two stages and then, with infinite subtlety, reverses. While at first he believes that the lawfulness of invation is questionable, he then develops a "better view," one informed by the brute intransigence of the United States. This, gentle readership, is New Jurisprudence: a theory of laws the like of which we had never seen before.

Of course, it is not just a theory. Armed with the "better view," Blair happily joined the invasion, committing countless lives to premature ends and many more to permanent disabilities. Of course there were many jurists who maintained that war would be illegal; but they did not have a "better view," so they were ignored.

Here is a video by the Monochrome set, one which makes more sense than a "better view" and is considerably less harmful:

The curse of Scotland

The former attorney general Lord Goldsmith has received legal advice from public funds to help him prepare his evidence tomorrow to the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, the Guardian has learned.

His request for help emerged today after the inquiry heard damning evidence about how under strong pressure from ministers, notably the then foreign secretary Jack Straw, Goldsmith changed his mind about the legality of the war at the last minute, saying it was lawful after all.

David Brummell, Goldsmith's most senior adviser, told the inquiry that Straw was "duly grateful" when he heard that the attorney general had changed his position.

A spokesperson for the attorney general, Lady Scotland, said today that Goldsmith had help preparing for his testimony from a barrister contracted to work for him by the Treasury solicitors. In a statement, her office said that like other witnesses he had been provided with "basic legal support" as the inquiry originally proposed.
I was going to ask, why would a former Attorney General need legal advice? I mean, like, the Attorney General would need to know a lot of law, and it's not the kind of thing you forget when you resign, innit? Then I remembered we are talking about Lord Goldsmith; yes, that Lord Goldsmith.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The imitation of Christ

"In his closet, among his vestments, there was hung on a clothes hanger a particular kind of belt which he used as a whip," Oder writes.

When he was a bishop, he often slept on the bare floor so he could practise self-denial and asceticism, Oder writes.

Many saints of the Church, including St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena and St Ignatius of Loyola, practised flagellation and asceticism as part of their spiritual life.

"It is clear the aspect of penitence was present in the life of John Paul II," Oder told a news conference today. "It should be seen as part of his profound relationship with the Lord."
So it's not kinky, then. I am glad we cleared that up. An old single man who surrounds himself with younger single men, who wears dresses and who whips himself: nothing peculiar about that.

Of course, if you really want to practise self-denial and asceticism, why bother with a bare floor? Fly Air New Zealand: you can be uncomfortable and pay $1400 extra for the privilege. It's called the Skycouch.

Monday, January 25, 2010

We don't need that Fascist gym thang

An Auckland gym franchise owner has apologised for a newsletter to members which included a link to an article entitled "Soy is making kids gay".

Club Physical member John Kingi said he planned to cancel his gym membership after the article, by conservative American writer Jim Rutz, which said "homosexuality is always deviant", was included in the gym's newsletter.

In the article, Rutz claimed soy was "feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality".

Rutz wrote that not many homosexuals could "truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them".

The article was part of a weekly series by Rutz, who also wrote on "the little foibles of liberals, homosexuals, Muslims, radical feminists, Nazi retreads, atheists, FDA bureauquacks, lawyers, Marxists, AP reporters, FEMA officials, Democrats, New Agers, politically correct trendoids and most recently, Hindus".
Wut? You own a gym chain and you distribute homophobia to your membership; you really are not in touch with your demographic, Mr Richards, are you?

So who is this Jim Rutz? Not surprisingly, he lives in Colorado Springs and he broadcasts bollocks like this:
1. Jesus is winning! Within our lifetime, the entire world may become Christian.
2. Over-the-top miracles are happening by the millions–mostly through ordinary people.
3. Our evangelism is becoming far more sophisticated and efficient (also less annoying)!
4. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Post-Modernism are headed for collapse.
5. Traditional churches are rapidly being replaced by something a lot better.
Right Wing Watch documents the remarkable properties of soy, as Rutz has described them. The Club Physical website documents the remarkable life of Mr Paul Richards:
Paul founded the gym in 1981 when he personally renovated the dilapidated Waitemata Athletic club in Ratanui Street, opposite the court house. Things were challenging working several years of 16 hour days without wages, seven days a week with no financial backing, which lead Paul to cut living costs by building a small bedroom in a vacant area beside the men’s locker room and toilets
Here is a picture of the Nile:

Here is the story on Gay News.
Here is a Facebook group you can join.
Here are the B-52s; you can play Spot The Straight - it's fun for all the family.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Do lawyers dream of electric suits?

While carrying out research for a fight on PAS, I came across this curiosity: the estate of Philip K Dick is planning to sue Google for using the word nexus as the name for its prudish new phone. You see, Dick had used the name for a brand of robot, in that book they made into that film, you know the one with the Dutch guy who used to be in the Guinness advertisements; yes, him.

I am not in the Intellectual Property business myself, but for the life of me I cannot think how the use of the word by Google would affect the Dick estate's rights. It is not as if anyone will get confused: I wanted a sixth-generation cyborg and all I got is this lousy phone. It is not as if Dick invented the word. It is probably about suing Google because they have a lot of money. In short, the Dicks are being dicks.

This case raises some interesting questions. Don't these people have enough money already? Are they not damaging the brand - is not Dick supposed to be a radical, not a corporation? What woman who would call herself Isa Dick? How long before I am accused of hating on Sci-Fi for taking the name of Dick in vain?

The answers to these and other questions will be revealed in the next episode of I Married a Metaphor from Outer Space. In the meantime, here's the Revillos, who came from Planet Retro.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Your own private Idaho

Cherl Petso, an editor of an online magazine who lives in Seattle, says trips to visit her parents in Idaho can be “tense at times,” in part because she and her mother interpret each other’s choices as judgmental.

If Ms. Petso prepares a vegan meal for the family, her parents prepare hot dogs to go alongside. Her parents serve on throwaway Styrofoam plates; she grabs a plate that can be cleaned and reused. Her mother, who says she prefers the way food tastes when it is served on Styrofoam, notes that washing dishes has its own environmental costs.
Green disputes, from the NYT.

Tyla Gang:

Monday, January 18, 2010


An online survey of the Herald Readers' Panel was conducted by the Nielsen Company between December 10 and December 17, as world leaders prepared to meet at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen.

Thirty-eight per cent said global warming was a serious problem that needed action now, 13 per cent said it was the world's biggest challenge, and 2 per cent did not know.

Nineteen per cent - including almost 30 per cent of men aged 45 or older - thought it was a giant con and a waste of money.

The findings are at odds with a telephone survey of 500 people a few weeks earlier paid for by the Greenhouse Policy Coalition and carried out by UMR research the week after damaging emails from an international group of climate scientists were taken from the University of East Anglia's climate research unit and leaked on to the internet
What does this survey tell us? It tells that members of the Herald Reader Panel, a self-selecting group, have different views to those of the general public, as revealed by the UMR poll. What it does not tell us is that "almost half of New Zealanders are not convinced global warming is real."

Our next guests will be introduced by Mr Peter Cook:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Donkey smuggling for pleasure and profit

He says he's an authentic Maori, with a moko scrawled on his face in black marker pen. And for $5 - and using your own camera - you too can have your photograph taken with John Kairau.

Authorities say he's an opportunist but Kairau says his scheme - in which tourists pay to have their photograph taken with a "Maori in traditional dress" - is for cultural rather than financial reasons.
Somehow, John Kairu reminds me of los cebra-burros famosos de Tijuana, which of course are painted. These in turn remind me of the painted donkeys of Gaza City, victims of the Israeli embargo: "A genuine zebra would have been too expensive to bring into the Gaza Strip via smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt, said owner Mohammed Bargouthi." Verily, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a zebra to go through a tunnel.

Here's the best little band ever, the Small Faces, with PP Arnold:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The end of Atheism

Sorry to bring you bad news, chaps and chapesses, but it seems that the game's up. We were all wrong; there is a god, and that god is the Christian God. I realise this must come as a shock to you all, but I read it in the Herald, so it must be true. What's more, the proof has come from a Scientist:
True, there is just the faintest possibility that we are here by chance, although the odds are stacked hugely against it. Yet here we are. The conclusion is clear - if our world is unlikely to be the product of chance there is quite probably a creator.
So that's it then. Dr Jeff Tallon, a physicist specialising in the fields of superconductivity and nanotechnology, knows his Redeemer liveth, so he is right and we are all wrong. The likes of Uroskin might try to put up a valiant defence, but you can't argue with Science. We might as well all go home.

It might be worth noting, before we turn out the lights, that Dr Tallon is hiding his light under a bushel. For he has so much more to say about science, such as this:
The explanation of the stages of creation put forward in Victor Relf’s web page ( are largely independent of the Wiseman hypothesis and should probably be discussed separately. I remain open to this kind of interpretation in general terms but there are details that I wouldn’t agree with. Henry Morris developed the idea that antediluvian Earth possessed a stable canopy of water vapour in the upper atmosphere that was precipitated in the flood and only then was the rainbow seen, so I don’t agree that these details have been overlooked. I do agree that the idea of overlapping epochs seems to be unavoidable.
You see, that is where the water for the Flood came from; it was up there in the upper atmosphere, until God brought it down. Otherwise, there would not be enough water to flood the Earth. But Science has explained it all.

Funny chap, God: all this time He has been using Garth George as his Elect Vessel in the pages of the Herald, but now he brings us Dr Tallon, who can prove God's existence (and benevolence) with Science. I, for one, am looking forward to hearing what Dr Tallon has to say about dinosaurs.

I know you will all need cheering up, so here's Clare Grogan singing about casual sex:

Update: God caused the Haiti earthquake because the slaves made a pact with Satan.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

You don't need a weatherman

Am I sceptical of global warming? A little. Not because I think it's a "conspiracy" but purely because the debate has gone from discussing everyday solutions to only the extreme sides of the argument.

It's like Y2K...which went from saying "some computers will crash" to "planes will fall from the sky at midnight". Work had to be done to resolve Y2K issues and I believe work needs to be done to resolve some of the issues that we, or poorer nations, may face later this century.

However we're now debating countries being wiped out, figures being fudged, nations arguing over what is too little and what is too much. The sensible middle ground seems to be forgotten - it's either "the world is doomed" or "global warming is a conspiracy". Both of those extreme arguments I simply can not subscribe to.
Is Philip Duncan a moron? A little. You see, Philip Duncan is a Weather Analyst, but he is not a meteorologist. He is extraordinarily lucky, to be able to run a business doing something for which he has no qualifications; it is tribute to New Zealand's can-do, she'll-be-right amateurism, and our distrust of experts, that both the Herald and something called The Radio Network pay Mr Duncan for his forecasts. But that does not make him a climatologist, or particularly bright. Further evidence of absence of scientific knowledge and luminosity can be found in Duncan's use of the argument from Y2K (protip: the geeks fixed the computers, so the planes did not fall out of the skies) and his claim to be plotting a middle course between two extremes - the keep it simple, common sense approach (known as Occam's Shaving Foam) which has yet so solve a scientific controversy. That many of his readers know more about the climate than he, and that he is obviously rather piqued by the imbalance of knowledge, are both obvious. His solution is set up a poll, which has proven scientifically that most of his readers are as unconcerned about climate change as he. It just goes to show, doesn't it? The man is a fool, as are most of his readers.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Mac it was that died

It was all going so well, but then it all went horribly wrong. The Fundy Post summer blogging spree was brought to a sudden end when the office iBook dropped dead. It was the hard drive, which apparently had invalid B-Tree nodes, what done it. However, thanks to Mr Dentith I now have a new drive, snugly fitted and purring with unused gigabytes. Battle can recommence.

Unfortunately, I lost some well-honed pieces of prose, as well as my priceless collection of funny pictures found on Internet. So here instead is a picture of Jonathan Ross from 1987.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Alternative Ulster

Keeping child abuse private has all but destroyed Irish Catholicism, which also uses the language of victimhood and persecution complexes to deflect legitimate questions. But in the case of Irish republicanism, worries about paedophiles feel comically misplaced. Journalists are criticising Adams for failing to protect children when he was at the top of a movement that killed children. They can do so with a straight face because the Good Friday Agreement was meant to have made Sinn Fein and the front organisations for unionist death squads "normal" parties. Politicians and pundits insist we must thank them for not trying to kill us anymore. I would be more grateful if one price of the peace process had not been the propagation of dangerous myths.

The language of "process" suggests that today's settlement flowed from the thousands of murders of the dirty war of 1969 to 1997; that sectarianism produced a reward of sorts. Sinn Fein has a propaganda interest in covering up the blunt fact that the police and army wore down the IRA by riddling it with double agents, but that is no reason for others to go along with the fantasy that the war had a point. Even if it had been a better fighting force, the IRA could never have won because the idea of bombing Ulster into a united Ireland was absurd as well as immoral. For all its constitutional claims to the north and sincere concerns for Catholics, the Republic never wanted to integrate a million Ulster Protestants.
Nick Cohen tells it how it is. Compare and contrast, if you will, the opinion of our own dear Bomber, on the occasion of the British Army's departure from Ulster:
After the butchery the Sunday Bloody Sunday the British swine had no moral authority and only colonial arrogance kept them in the country, one hopes for the mothers and fathers of British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq that our dear British friends have learned not to stay where they are not wanted.
No, dear boy: what kept the Army in Ulster was the certain knowledge that, if they were to go, civil war would have followed. Gerry Adams and his merry band of sociopaths would have taken on the equally attractive Unionist mentalists. Eventually the Unionists would have won. The Republic, far from rushing to the aid of its Catholic kinsfolk, would have looked the other way: what Bomber and other lefties who splutter about British Colonialism fail to understand is that PIRA are as much the enemies of Eire as of the British. It would have been like Beirut, without the sunshine.

Girls allowed

Mothers Manager Dick Barber complains that groupies are in such ready supply that it is "pretty hard" to get rock bands to morning practices or recording sessions, "and sometimes hard to get them on the bandstand at night." Josephine Mori, public relations girl for a rock record company called Elektra, calls groupies "piranhas" and says: "They have no appreciation of the person they go to bed with." Marty Pichinson, a drummer with a rock band known as the Revelles, disputes that description—but he sometimes does find groupies too much of a good thing. "Going to bed with a girl is nice," he says. "But sometimes you just want to have a pillow fight with the guys."
From the Time archives, one of the gems of the Web: decades of content, all of it free.

Elsewhere, a more positive picture of female participation in the music business can be found at Women in Punk

What happens in Vegas

For Laughykate. Other photos that folk might want to forget can be found at Sorry I missed your party.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Don't let's be beastly to the Christians

Ideology now needs to be handled with tongs at a safe distance through the tools of parody, ridicule, satire or direct criticism. Hipster culture endlessly permeates into similarly detached derivations, each with the same nihilistic bent.

We don’t believe in anything too strongly these days. It isn’t immorality, more an emerging non-morality. But if you don’t believe in anything, is it a contradiction to definitively believe that there is no God?
Um, no. In Werewolf James Robinson asks why us hipsters don't want to hang out with him and his Christian friends. Short answer: it is because you are so whiney. And you only want us for our immortal souls. And you always want to talk about worldviews.

I could go on, but I won't. Instead, I wish you all, gentle readers, a happy New Year. Thank you for stopping by.