Sunday, September 25, 2005

Zombies, politics and christianity

I went to the cinema, today, to see the marvellous George Romero's new film, "Land Of The Dead". I can highly recommend it to everyone - what modern horror films should be about, with paranoia, politics and bloodthirsty zombies ripping people's faces off and eating them. I may get around to writing a full-length review at some point soon. Although I may not.
Nonetheless, before the film started, there was an advert. A montage of images of people struggling to climb mountains, play football, and walk along catwalks, before reaching a sucessful conclusion, and asking the camera, "Is this all there is?"
Well, obviously it's not all there is. The footballers could take up mountaineering, the climbers could become models, the models could sign for Hearts. Or they could all read a book, masturbate over internet pornography or mainline heroin. There are a myriad of things to do, most of them better than my suggestions above.
The point being that the advert was for "The Alpha Course", a slightly sinister organisation who run what is basically a fundamentalist Christian brainwashing group. So why aren't they obliged to say that on their advertising literature? They pretend to be offering a course in philosophy, when that is the last thing they want - heaven forfend that any Alpha Course attendees should actually think. And there's no point in arguing with these people, as logic, evidence and rationality don't come into the equation - "It says so in the bible, so it must be true".
The sort of "thought process" which leads people to plant bombs on buses...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

It's getting worse... Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller (wonder which comprehensive school she attended...), erstwhile head of MI5, announces that "Some erosion of what we all value may be necessary". More attacks on civil liberties. I ask again - why is this erosion necessary? Manningham-Buller claims to be concerned that partial evidence held by the security services may not be enough to secure convictions. Oh - and? Why not gain more evidence, then? Surely that's the point of the "intelligence" services? Keep the suspects under surveillance? Is that unreasonable? Employ more than one person to watch them, so that you don't end up missing someone leaving the house, and shoot the wrong person. For example.
Democracy has always been hated by the ruling classes. Ever since the days of the Chartists, and even before, each gain has had to be won through bitter struggle, and now, more than ever, these gains are under threat, not from some nebulous "terrorist network" from overseas - that facile stock response of many liberals that "we can't do this or the terrorists have won" is obviously wrong, the terrorists haven't won until their ridiculous objectives have been implemented. The people who have won are the people who own and rule the country, the people who want to continue making their money, and holding onto their power, at the expense of the rest of us.
And, whilst talking of Dame Manningham-Buller, she was "disappointed" that her security service didn't stop the attacks on London in July. Well, I'm glad you're disappointed (indeed, since I'm guessing you don't use public transport much, it's very magnanimous of you to feel that way!) however, shouldn't such a serious failure be a resigning matter? Oh, I forgot, people in power don't resign anymore. They're too important.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

In the meantime....

I suggest you read this:,12980,1564369,00.html
And think, and learn. Particularly today, when the Daily Mail had a headline reading something like "Unborn babies at risk from certain chemical death, and it's all your fault for being alive in the 21st Century". I paraphrase, slightly. Scaremongering, if ever there was. But the need for critical thought, in all walks of life is becoming ever more important, particularly as our government wants to scare us with the fact that we're all at risk from Maniac Bombers, and the only way to stop them is to have the number 666 tattooed across our heads. Or something like that. But I digress.
Anyway, Ben Goldacre should be in charge of all newspapers. Ever. Or at least made chairman of the Press Complaints comission, or something. Interesting complaints would abound.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Whilst I still can....

Before the new laws come in, preventing anyone from criticising religion whatsoever, I'd like to take a moment to attack mad mullahs, bonkers bishops, raving rabbis, and indeed any theistic moron who happens to cross my path. You're all stupid. It is important to remember that. I was in a pub last night, recalling a time when, many years ago, I lived in Leeds, and used to argue with a bunch of bible-bashers of one flavour or another, who gave away tea outside a pub, after closing time. Obviously, after a few pints on a Friday night, they seemed like fair game, and the tea was always welcome. However, as my friend pointed out, argument is just giving these idiots publicity, and, indeed, the sheen of respectability. As soon as they accept the theistic doctrine, they're immediately arguing from a position of irrationality, and the best you can do is laugh at them contemptously, and walk away, as they are incapable of responding to reason.
However, one thing still grates. If people are stupid and want to believe in idiocy, they have that right. But why should they be given positions of responsibility in governement, purely on that basis? Why should bishops have seats in the House Of Lords? Just because they're less bright than normal people? Isn't that just perverse? And, possibly even more pertinently, why should they be allowed to sit on committees, discussing scientific ethics? When most of them hold opinions that are in direct contradiction to modern scientific knowledge, sometimes, in extreme cases, even trying to contradict the most basic of evident facts, such as evolution. This, in itself, should, for any rational person, be enough to exclude them from any debate on how, for example, genetic engineering should proceed. Sadly, it seems, it's more likely to get them included in the debate.

What John Humphreys Should Have Said....

It seems John Humphreys has been "disciplined" by the BBC, for making a few mildly unflattering remarks about various government ministers. I could take some time here to ponder upon a broadcasting organisation that expects someone to make a show based around current affairs, and then, seemingly, not have any opinion on the matter - and the obvious perceived slight on us as listeners, who are apparently so stupid and sheeplike that we can't make up our own minds on these matters. But they've been done to death - and if not now, then when the former Today Programme producer, Rod Liddle, was sacked, for writing in his Guardian column that Tories are fairly offensive. So, instead, lets contemplate what Humphreys could have said, indeed, should have said, which really could have brought the ire of the authorities down on him. How about, instead of the relatively innocuous "some politicians don't seem to care whether or not they tell the truth", the much more hard-hitting, "Charles Clarke is a fat, lying shit".
Unreasonable? I wouldn't say so. Not when Mr Clarke has said, according to a Reuters report, that the EU must accept some erosion of civil rights to fight terrorism. This website (well, you know, me, but let's try to make it sound important...) has conclusively shown, in recent weeks, that the whole rights/security debate is a false dichotomy, and Mr Clarke is simply restating basic falsehoods, in an attempt to win support from the right-wing media. Quite what civil rights must we give up, eh, Charlie? The right to be chauffeur driven to meetings, at which I get told what to think by Blair/Bush? The right to leave government and walk straight into a highly paid consultancy job with a large multinational which has a vested interest in the area of the government I used to work in? The right to sell out every last principle you ever once proclaimed, and crap on the working class from a great height? No, those rights will remain untouched. The only rights we'll see abolished are those of the poor, the desperate, the bottom end of society, from going about their business unchallenged. And of course, if people think that those in power are after them, they're more likely to harbour grudges. And maybe become terrorists. Hmmm. Interesting, that, isn't it?
If we need to put the lie to Clarke's comments any further, how about: "It seems to me we have to give the same rights to those humans who want to travel without being blown up on an underground train", which he apparently said, again according to Reuters (see if you're interested - always need to cite my sources...). Well, excuse me, Mr Clarke, but don't we already have laws which protect people who wish to do just that, without recourse to pissing on us further? I was under the impression that murder was illegal. I may be wrong. After all, Mr Tony's government seem to be getting away with There you go, John Humphreys - get me to write your after dinner speeches in future. My rates are very reasonable...