Saturday, 27 September 2008

US Presidential debate

As part of my coverage of the US Presidential race (where as usual I called the Clinton / Obama race wrong ..... but I did get McCain right!) I watched the US Presidential debate yesterday.

Nothing particularly struck me, except that if that was in the UK they would both be booed off the stage for boring us to death ..... we prefer real confrontation (see Prime Ministers Question Time .... or better the Aussie PM QT LOL), and obviously the politics was that of the softer right (Democrats) v hard right (Republicans), which in 'socialist' ridden Europe seems lopsided, but nothing odd, except that the fear of a mistake was greater than the chance to knock out the opponent.

Then I went to the BBC "Have Your Say" page to see what US contributors thought ... but I was struck by once again seeing "anti-american" comments dressed in sheer ignorance .... one of the themes was on the "dumbing down of the debate" .... I don't particularly care about the anti-americanism (although its usually misinformed comment) because the US is occasionally very singular in its interests e.g. "We saved your asses in 1945" .... kinda deserves some ridicule, however its just plain stupid to treat the US as a kinda 'Big UK', it isn't.

The US spans a continent and that is a fact that too many non US citizens forget. The consequence of this is that politicians have to "dumb it for the masses", so that the message is heard the same all over.

Think of a 'President' of the EU trying to pass a message in a TV debate to both Poland and Spain, or the UK and Greece ..... virtually impossible except in 'sound bites'.

The States in the US are very different in out look e.g Alabama and California, only the language is the same. Given that, the debate was about on par for what an EU wide equivalent would be like.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Greedy Bankers learn no lessons

The news was broken today that the Japanese Investment bank Nomura has bought 2,500 of the Lehman Bros jobs in London, Europe, and Asia (only the investment bankers of course ....).

Then came the staggering revelation that the 2,500 staff are in negotiations to get their "Bonuses", promised by Lehman Bros before they went bust!! Not grateful for keeping their overpaid jobs, despite running one of the biggest financial institutions into the ground, they want Million pound bonuses to 'keep' their jobs.

Now I feel we should tax every penny of every bonus paid to these idiots, because this is just the Capitalist world gone utterly mad ... these people have cost the US and UK Govt's billions, and Billions, of pounds and dollars, to clean up the mess and they want bonuses!

The BBC reporter who broke this news, also said that he had heard that one individual wanted the £11 million bonus ($22 million) he had been guaranteed by Lehmans (regardless of whether he made and profits for them or not!), and another wanted a mere £1 million bonus, for unravelling his massive trade deals for the liquidators, or new owners.

Such naked greed, and rampant idiocy, is why the whole thing collapsed, and yet apparently the gravy train at the tax payers expense, just carries on with no shame shown .....

The West is eating itself from the inside, like a cancer.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Economic Meltdowns and their affects

I haven't commented on the financial meltdown of the last few weeks, mainly because there are thousands of blogger's who will do so, from the professional, to the amateur economists and political commentators, and each will have their own take on events.
  • Those on the Left are pointing to Marxian economic theory and saying the collapse of western capitalism is historically inherent in the model.
  • Those on the right are more subdued, but say the model is robust enough to recover (although admittedly not without great pain and subsidy).
But all are agreed that the 'deregulation's' of the Banking and Investment sectors of the 1980's and 1990's were wrong, (Particularly the repeal of the *Glass-Steagall Act in the 1980's & 90's) and allowed the lenders (for mortgages mainly), to over expose their risks, until someone panicked and called in some of the debt risk, thus causing the whole sector to collapse.

Good old fashoned Greed took over as it has in the past.

This was made worse by the practise of Short Selling - another clever money making mechanism, which essentially makes money by selling stocks, in the expectation that they will continue to drop in value, and you buy them back at the lower price, thus making a profit. This practise helped push many basically sound banks, to the edge as it caused panic selling by some institutions and private investors (triggered by one or more investor groups selling the stocks 'short').

Shorting on many financial products has been suspended in the major exchanges during the current crisis, but this means huge numbers of investors who took this position, are now standing to make considerable losses, which in itself could cause another crisis .... Ce la vie!

Anyway, enough on this, I don't want to talk about the crisis as such, except to note that in fact "Wall Street" i.e. the Banks and Investment houses, have actually collapsed a number of times in the past ..... its not a new phenomena. Surprisingly the Capitalist model has had to be rescued by the US Government on many occasions.

Here are the other occasions when the US Treasury has had to step in and stop a collapse:

In 1913, the Federal Reserve System was set up in direct response to a series of Panics or Depressions from 1873, and then in 1893 and finally the Panic of 1907 (where the collapse of the Knickerbocker Trust Company, New York's third largest trust company spread throughout the financial sector). This last crisis had many banks fail because of a lack of liquidity (money being lent) and lender of last resort facilities hence the US Govt intervention in creating the Federal Reserve System.

In the 1930's, Pres. Herbert Hoover created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) to give $2 billion in aid to state and local governments as well as making loans to banks, railroads, farm mortgage associations, and other businesses. This was the vehicle that Pres. Rooseveldt used to make further payments to bail out banks again as a part of the "New Deal". Between 1932 and 1945 it made loans of $33 bn ($1.2 trillion in today's values).

In 1989, the US had to take on the debts of many South American countries who had issued "US Dollar Bonds" then defaulted on them - these were mainly held by US banks who now had no assets, and this threatened US dollar stability, so the US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady created new US Govt backed bonds to replace those worthless South American ones that the Banks held. These 'Brady Bonds'meant the US govt took all the risk on the bad South American debts - any cost not known.

During the 1980's the deregulation of the US "S&L's" (Mutual Savings & Loans Societies - akin in the UK to 'Building Societies') led to multiple frauds across the sector, and they all went 'bust' in one spectacular period. The US Government had to form the "Resolution Trust Corporation" in 1989 to effectively restructure the debts of 747 S&L's - Cost to US taxpayer $125 bn.

Now the Credit Crunch of 2006, and its deepening impact via the Subprime Mortgage Crisis of 2008, have led to massive US Federal interventions to bail out some Banks, Insurance Companies and take over bad debts whilst letting others go to the wall.

But as I have illustrated, this happens quite frequently in the US - Western Capitalism often means in practise that all the benefit and Bonuses go to shareholders and employees during the good times, and the Taxpayer has to foot the bill during the bad times ..... I should have got into Investment Banking!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Democracy or Conspiracy at work in South Africa?

In a strange turn of events in South Africa, the President Thabo Mbeki who has outwardly been a model of propriety and democratic (ish ... this is Africa!) behaviour, has been ousted in a bloodless coup by his greatest rival Jacob Zuma.

I touched on the background to this event a few weeks ago, but with reference to the threats by his supporters, to use unconstitutional means to overturn any court decision that they didn't support, I little suspected that this was the beginning of the end for Mbeki, who only a few days ago was negotiating the "Zimbabwe settlement".

Zuma, who has been bedevilled by allegations of corruption, sexual misbehaviour, and other undemocratic behaviour, has somehow survived all of this, with most cases being tied down from ever getting to court by his lawyer, whilst he publicly asks for 'his day in court'. A tactic that works with his constituency of barely literate poor blacks who are politically naive at best, and often followers of the 'land grab politics' of Mugabe at their worst. These supporters are the same people who recently took to ethnic cleansing to remove foreigners from many areas.

Thabo Mbeki on the other hand only recently got linked to a corrupt arms deal (not terribly convincingly), and then suddenly a judge suggests that he had 'interfered with a case against Zuma' (Although not all agreed with the judge), and he is forced to resign by his own (Zuma controlled) ANC party.

It is a forgone conclusion that Zuma will win the party elections as he already is party president (which is effectively the same thing), and thus when he takes over as President Zuma of South Africa, he will have completed one of the strangest power transfers in African history.

What this all means for South Africa is hard to judge, on the one hand Thabo Mbeki has accepted his demotion without apparent rancour and peacefully, whilst on the other, this does appear to be a coup (although not with the guns that usually follow an African coup).

Mr Zuma is a strange mixture of deviousness and populism, and its this mixture that makes it hard to predict how this will play out. He recently apparently pledged to help white Boers who were now living in poverty in their own White Townships (the ANC has always accepted Boers as "Afrikaner Africans" but considered the English speakers as "Colonials").

However his anthem "Umshini wami" (Bring Me My Machine-Gun)" tends to suggest that his power base is similar in nature to that of Robert Mugabe's "War Veterans" i.e. young, unemployed males prone to violent behaviour....... and they recently threatened violence if court decisions went against them, which is not a good sign.

I expect there to be a honey moon period, but should he be baulked in anyway by the courts or constitution, then there may a temptation for him to just override them .... I may be wrong, but there are hints that he has that kind of 'African politicians' personality.

"Debate is almost non-existent and no one is apparently accountable to anybody apart from their political party bosses. It is bad news for democracy in this country". Helen Suzman

Friday, 19 September 2008

Oddest Book Titles

There is a competition held annually since 1978 by The Bookseller magazine to identify the oddest book title that made it into print for the year ..... many an oddity has been identified, and for your delectation and wonderment I print the list of winners to date.

The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year

1978: Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice (University of Tokyo Press)
1979: The Madam as Entrepreneur: Career Management in House Prostitution (Transaction Press)
1980: The Joy of Chickens (Prentice Hall)
1981: Last Chance at Love: Terminal Romances
1982: Population and Other Problems (China National Publications)
1983: The Theory of Lengthwise Rolling (MIR)
1984: The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History and Its Role in the World Today (Constable)
1985: Natural Bust Enlargement with Total Power: How to Increase the Other 90% of Your Mind to Increase the Size of Your Breasts (Westwood Publishing Co)
1986: Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality (Brunner/Mazel)
1987: No Award
1988: Versailles: The View From Sweden University of Chicago Press)
1989: How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art (Ten Speed Press)
1990: Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual (Lace Publications)
1991: No Award
1992: How to Avoid Huge Ships (Cornwell Maritime Press)
1993: American Bottom Archaeology (University of Illinois Press)
1994: Highlights in the History of Concrete (British Cement Association)
1995: Reusing Old Graves (Shaw & Son)
1996: Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers (Hellenic Philatelic Society)
1997: The Joy of Sex: Pocket Edition (Mitchell Beazley)
1998: Development in Dairy Cow Breeding and Management: and New Opportunities to Widen the Uses of Straw (Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust)
1999: Weeds in a Changing World (British Crop Protection Council)
2000: High Performance Stiffened Structures (Professional Engineering Publishing)
2001: Butterworths Corporate Manslaughter Service (Butterworths)
2002: Living With Crazy Buttocks (Kaz Cooke - Penguin)
2003: The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories (Kensington Publishing)
2004: Bombproof Your Horse (J A Allen)
2005: People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It (Gary Leon Hill - Red Wheel/Weiser Books)
2006: The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification (Harry N Abrams)
2007: If You Want Closure In Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs (Simon & Schuster US)

Just a note that 1987 and 1991 must have been particularly sensible (or boring) years .....

The Art of the Political Cartoon

The UK has a very long heritage of satire via the 'cartoon', with works by William Hogarth in the mid 18th century perhaps being the best known. His subjects ranged across the spectrum from social commentary to political observations (His name has links to all his works) e.g.

This is an observation of the radical politician John Wilkes, which portrays him as slightly deranged with his eyes crossed.

An explanation, John Wilkes and the North Briton newspaper, won a legal case against the Government in 1763, against the use of 'general warrants' to arrest writers, printers and publishers of 'anonymous works', hence the cap of liberty, and the copy of the North Briton .

This political tradition has been carried on via the newspapers for centuries, and although there are several well known current practitioners such as Steve Bell, the acknowledged 'Master' is Gerald Scarfe.

In this cartoon for example he has Bush and Blair being shown their legacies .....

But, he ranges across the political spectrum, and he attacks either the political left or right with equal savagery, and he discusses some of his *work in this very interesting BBC flash clip (from which this still is extracted).

*For any non UK readers of this blog the people featured in the clip (in order of first appearance) are Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson, Edward (Ted) Heath, Robert Mugabe, John Major, Richard Nixon, Gordon Brown , Putin/Medvedev, George Bush, Tony Blair, Barak Obama, David Cameron

Thursday, 18 September 2008

UK runs out of energy (Again)

As I discussed in an earlier blog comment, the UK faces a potential energy crisis of epic proportions, and yet the Labour Government of Gordon Brown is sticking its head in the sand on this issue.

Well once again the subject has been raised, and once again its being down played by this government of pygmies. We sleep walk from one disaster to another, with the Labour Party apparently incapable of running the country, or making the hard but obviously required decisions.

We need nuclear power now, and we need strategic planning permission granted now .... not ten years of tree hugger's and eco fascists, blocking progress while the UK freezes, or pays blackmail rate power rates from the continent.

I am seriously concerned that we are no longer able to make strategic national decisions these days.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Alcohol Drinking Types

The UK Government has identified nine drinking types ..... ostensibly to help tackle drinking problems in the population.

However I, like a lot of people I suspect, was interested in what type I was :-)
I provide the list for those with a similarly curious nature.

I won't say what type I think I am .... because it shows what a social saddo I am :-(
Anyway, I prefer to be philosophical about my drinking .....

The Philosopher's Song (Monty Python)

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out-consume
Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya'
'Bout the raising of the wrist.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away;
Half a crate of whiskey every day.
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
Hobbes was fond of his dram,
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart: "I drink, therefore I am"
Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

England being swamped by immigration

It's just been officially announced that after over a decade of unrestricted immigration, England is now the most overcrowded major country in Europe.... this is not news, as all the political parties have connived in New Labours lack of control on third world immigration.

It simply illustrates the sheer level of the criminal negligence implicit in the failure of politicians to defend our borders. In the past this would have been classed as betrayal akin to a treason, but in our PC times, there will be those white haters on the left who will be happy with the news.

We are heading for a time when racial problems will spill into violence .... I say that because flooding one country with foreign and alien peoples will surely cause violence. I cite Fiji, Uganda, Libya, Niger and Malaya as examples of where the native population have reacted violently to perceived mass immigration.

I expect that this news will be ignored by the Government, which after all is the Architect of this mass immigration.

Monday, 15 September 2008

New UK Creationists

I tentatively touched upon this subject sometime ago as part of another blog on human evolution, but as I think its slightly 'loony tunes' I didn't ever follow it up. It seemed a particularly American kinda obsession, or at least so I thought until I read this BBC article, which shows that belief in "creationism" aka "intelligent design" is on the rise in the UK.

Now a couple of points come to mind:
  • The number of Christians is still in decline in the UK, so the fact that more, of less of them (so to speak), believe in Creationism or Intelligent Design is irrelevant.
  • The rise of Islam will push up the general level of belief in Creationism (they obviously don't believe in any Intelligent Design except by Allah).

I am frankly amazed that the subject still continues to bob about, but maybe the sea of ignorance in which it does, is wider and deeper than I suspected.

The fact that a vice presidential candidate in the US is a creationist shows how the US still leads the non islamic world in this subject, where its estimated that 47% of Americans reject outright Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

In fact it's been rumored that Sarah Palin wants to teach creationism in schools. While she vowed not to add it to Alaska's curriculum, she has spoken in favor of classroom discussion of both creationism and evolution. "I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. it doesn't have to be part of the curriculum," Palin told the Anchorage Daily News in a 2006 interview.

Even in the UK, the continuing sop to islam, allows for the idea that creationism should be discussed in science lessons, according to professor Reiss who is in charge of education at the Royal Society. He says that with more (muslim) children coming into class who do not accept the scientific version of the history of the universe, creationism should not be treated as taboo.

Update: Professor Reiss (a Church of England minister) resigned a couple of days later: As a supporter of 'free speech' I am not a supporter of people losing their roles just through speaking honestly.

The teachers unions are for once not joining in this clamour for teaching fable as fact and have objected to the rise of creationist beliefs, but as they are often kowtowing to ignorance such as the teaching of Afrocentric 'history' even when it is a modern invention, they are a voice that gets little attention on this subject.

Now when I last touched upon creationism, I had a comment from a blogger Hannah J who whilst a creationist, wants to be a biology teacher .... hmmm, they just don't do irony do they? Anyway, she has a religious blog (all it appears to consist of is selected Psalms). She did however stop long enough to leave this comment defending creationist beliefs.

"One thing: there is nothing new under the sun. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, for example, don't suddenly possess the resistance gene/enzyme out of thin air. It's already present in them; the 'resistant' ones just produce more of it.

And no, not all creationists believe in Usher's exact chronology (For the length of time since the earth was created NoPC). We believe in unbiased scientific studies, such as one involving both ICR and evolutionary geologists demonstrating that the earth is 8000 or fewer years old."

I assume that she accurately reflects creationist (although not necessarily ID) beliefs, and that this also reflects the thoughts of the UK creationists, so my (slightly edited) reply to her will probably address all the arguments they could raise.

"Firstly – They are just plain scientifically wrong about resistance to treatments. I could prove this a number of ways but I will give a couple of examples.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some small way that reduces, or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive, and continue to multiply causing more harm. If they had some natural resistance from the start, then some would survive any initial drug treatment, because they naturally have more resistance than others, and people would never be fully cured by initial treatments.

Obviously drugs like Penicillin worked for decades, so the bacteria didn't have any initial resistance, and its taken nearly 50 yrs for the odd chance mutation to develop amongst bacteria, that allowed these new forms to resist treatments.

The problem is, that as creationists don’t believe in evolution, the mutations that naturally occur in cell replacement, and that give some bacteria a ‘resistance’, can’t occur in their immutable world, where everything is as God (or the great intelligent designer) designed it, and therefore perfect as it is.

Oddly God allegedly made man in his own image, but didn't make us perfect, so ….. ?

If I gave anyone a full dose of a terrible plague, they would die. If I gave them a tiny (minuscule) amount of the plague they would be very ill but likely survive, and if I did this often enough, and was increasing the dosage by tiny amounts each time, they would eventually develop a full resistance to the plague, and would eventually be able to take a full dosage. They didn't have any natural resistance to start with, but your body would have developed some anti bodies that could attack the full plague. See the history of vaccines (cow pox and small pox).

Secondly: I find it stretching my credulity to consider the earth only 8,000 yrs old i.e. 6,000 BC

Obviously human records (history) are only certain (i.e. written records, cities in Mesopotamia etc) back until 5,500 BC (ish), but the archaeological and fossil record (which obviously you don't accept), goes back firmly into a Neolithic period that stretches way back past 6,000 BC. In fact there is evidence for Humans being around for well over 100,000 yrs, which is a bit of a problem. Homo Sapians as thinking men, have been around for at least 35,000 yrs according to scientists and I find the evidence for this compelling.

The claim that “We believe in unbiased scientific studies” is a somewhat loaded term .... it means that they only like studies that back their beliefs, not mine. Unfortunately I feel that theirs involves the concept of a divine being, or a guiding intelligence in order to explain the inconsistencies.

Obviously there is also an issue with Dinosaurs and Humans, who were obviously walking the earth at the same time. Of course the dinosaurs would have to have become extinct inside a thousand years, maybe the Flood of Noah’s day around 4,500 years ago, or they would bumping into Abraham and the elders of Zion etc in the bible.

But that still leaves ‘Behemoth’ in the Bible (post flood .. Job 40:15-24) … there must have been two of them as well as the ‘*dragons’ (Job 30:29 ‘I am a brother to dragons,’) in the Ark. What happened to them?

Or maybe the dinosaur bones were just planted by God, or the ID, so that the scientists of the last and current century, would make up silly theories, and deny god, and go to hell …. a prankster god like the Norse Loki?

Even if all that could be answered to my satisfaction, I would still be asking “But where were they before the creation?” …. I mean if an “intelligent designer” (whatever that is … if not God?) was already here, then the universe already existed …. If it was a God/Divine being then where did he/she come from? … Who created them? Or are we saying that … oh what the hell, the sophistry of the intelligent design / God argument just depresses me, as its entirely circular and relies on faith at some point.

Just remember this, Intelligent Design is not (as many creationists or ID’ers describe it) a ‘Scientific Theory’, because it postulates a divine or intelligent super being creating the universe. It is at best a philosophical argument, and at worst just mumbo jumbo superstition. Why not have a creator as Zeus, or Odin or Krishna or any other God who has been worshipped?

For a creationist God created the universe in order to enable humans to appear, who can then be given free will, in order for ‘god’ to judge them for their sins …

The problem for ID’ers is that there is no obvious reason for their intelligent designer to bother to create a universe just for humans, and if they did it solely “in order to enable humans to appear, who can then be given free will, in order for ‘god’ to judge them for their sins” … then their cover is blown….. they are just creationists in disguise.

Just out of badness I will throw in cosmology as well.

In order for the laws of physics to still apply, creationists have to discount the universe, as stars being only just ‘lamps painted in the sky’ … Because if the speed of light is true (or is that wrong as well?), but the stars are not really billions of light years away (e.g one galaxy is 12.8 billion light years away), then the most they can be now is 8,0000 light yrs away, and of course on creation week they would have had to be only light hours away at most.

If they had been 8,000 light years away at creation, then we would only just be getting the light now, and no stars would have been visible in the past!

In fact its hard to see why the ID or God made a whole universe just for earth and humans to exist in .... why not just a galaxy or even a few solar systems or even just the earth and the sun? Why go to all that effort when we will never see it, or visit it, or need it?

The Vatican appears to believe that non human intelligent life exists in the vastness of the Universe, so maybe there are other souls out there on the newly discovered planets ... or maybe there is just intelligent life with no god in sight?

The Vatican is even organising a conference next year to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the author of the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin, the architect of evolution.

So is creationism or ID, just a non mainstream Protestant evangelical belief?

*Mainstream theology has always said that ‘dragons could often be read as Satan.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Faces of history

I was sat in a restaurant on the shores of Lake Garda, Italy (just place name dropping!), when a bunch of Germans walked in. Nothing strange about this as Germans are everywhere, and its not far from the the Austrian (Germans who can't make up their minds) border.

After a bit, it became apparent that they were all 'Berliners', and as I was idly looking at them, I was struck by the appearance one of the girls, who had an 'oriental' cast to her face. I don't mean she was a first generation daughter of a Chinese and European couple, I mean from a certain angle you could see that she was not wholly 'German' in descent.

This caused me to think about how the history of a location is often written in the DNA and appearance of its local population. In the case of Berlin, Stalin infamously allowed his "Mongolian" divisions three days to mass rape the population of Berlin as a punishment for Nazi atrocities in Russia. This was part of a systematic system of rape, murder and looting across all of Eastern Germany, and has left its mark in the DNA and appearance of the population of that region. A bit of a Slavic or Mongolian slant to East Germans and Berliners is maybe therefore not surprising, even if for obvious reasons it is not a subject that is openly discussed.

However as an illustration that most places can exhibit this - I give you Constantinople (modern Istanbul) and the population of western Turkey. The original Turkic invaders were a small dark haired and dark complexioned people (and remain so across the globe), and yet a 'surprising' number of 'Istanbul Turks' are tall, blond and blue eyed ..... well surprising that is, until you realise that up until the Turkish Ottoman conquest in 1453, the city and surrounding provinces had been host for centuries to thousands of tall, blond / red headed and blue eyed Gauls, Vikings, Saxons and others from Northern Europe (or the old Roman world) who fought in Roman or Byzantine armies, and the descendants of these men are still the inhabitants of the city, despite becoming 'Turks' by conversion afterwards.

This still causes some Turkish nationalist hackles to be raised when you mention it in Istanbul (I know of what I speak LOL), but its true. The Turks are taught surprisingly little about pre-Islamic Asia minor, and I suspect would rather pretend the land was not Greek before becoming theirs by conquest. Still in the East of Turkey its true to say that the population is largely 'Turkic' looking, but this area was depopulated in the centuries of fighting between the Byzantines and Arabs, and then Byzantines and Turks, but in the 'European west' its different.

Its patently obvious that, a total of about 40,000 or so invading Turks couldn't kill and replace several million Byzantines, and like the supposed "Anglo-Saxon" or "Norman" invasions of England, it was mostly a replacement at the top rather than an invasion and population replacement.

History is full of these visual reflections of the movements of peoples if only we have the local knowledge to notice them, and travelling along the crossroads of invasions and conflict often shows us these faces from the long forgotten past.

An Istanbul crowds showing its diversity

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Sexual Harrassment in Islam

You know how all those Mullahs and their supporters always say that women aren't oppressed under Islam, but rather are respected by hiding under a tent structure??

Well as usual its a complete load of garbage, along with the rest of that cult ........ but usually they are tighter than a ducks arse over admitting to the world that there are any issues in an Islamic culture, apart from mass illiteracy, violence, ignorance and hypocrisy by the bucket load, but occasionally there are rents in the facade.

Its long been reported anecdotally that rape in the Islamic world is far higher than in the West, but its never been admitted, apart from the occasional attempt at mass public rape by youths.

However in a rare open moment, a recent study has found that in Egypt most women face a daily physical assault on their bodies when walking the streets, and that four out of five women have been sexually harassed, while nearly two-thirds of men admitted assaulting women and see nothing wrong with it.

Its makes no difference if the women are dressed in the full muslim kit or just normally (very conservatively) .... they all run the gauntlet.

So much for the respect of Islam ..... mind you what do you expect in a land where males turn to homosexuality (lots of poor boys walking the streets), but deny it ever happens. There are streets full of ignorant boys who never see a woman, and who will never be married .... assault and rape are the outcome, but that's hardly a surprise when you totally distort society in the name of a religion.

Yemen runs dry

I am away in Italy for a while so these are a couple of quick comments .... firstly water wars. I have blogged before about the collapse of the Ecosystem and our closeness to "water wars". This idea has been met with some resistance or scepticism in the past, BUT every year we get just a little closer to the first war over water.

The Yemen is literally about to run out of water, and is trying a desperate campaign to teach its largely illiterate Muslim population, about restraint and conservation ..... its not going to work, and the Yemen's water supplies will collapse sometime within the next 25 yrs.

What do 22.4 million people do when they have no water?

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Just an unremarked genocide

Just a comment on the news that, as usual, around the world, Christians are being persecuted, and Christian politicians say nothing ...... as usual.

First came the news that over 10,000 Christians have been driven into camps or the forests in India (The country we have given £825 million pounds in aid to). Christian Aid runs an appeal on behalf of Hindu flood victims in Bihar, but nothing for the relief of homeless Indian Christians, which about sums up their "PC" infection, when they favour Hindus over Christians. Only the Pope speaks out.

Second the tiny band of Christian Somali's living in Kenya report being persecuted, again, who cares? certainly not the West, who only seem to care about Islam or other violent religions 'rights'.

As I have reported before the persecution of Christians by Muslims or others is now a worldwide trend, but you would hardly know it in the West.

Anglo Saxon Sluts?

The revelation (if you will pardon the fundamentalist metaphor), that the Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol is a teenage pregnancy statistic, would be vaguely interesting outside the US, but not much more than that, however the side statistic that the US has the worst teen pregnancy rates in the Western world makes it very interesting.

For the land of the Fundamentalist Christian to also be the land of the teen pregnancy is quite ironic (if the US does irony), and in fact a look round the "Anglo Saxon" world shows that in second slot is, yep the United Kingdom :-) In fact outside of Sub Saharan Africa (where teen marriage is the norm), it appears that its us and the US that lead the way across the Anglos Saxon world.

  • The US has 44 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19.
  • The UK has 27 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19.
The Canadian rates are 16 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19.

This UN report lists all the figures in this age group for 2002, and shows the following:

Edited List for the year 2002

1 Niger 233
26 Afghanistan 111
34 Zimbabwe 92
42 Jamaica 79
49 South Africa 66
51 Haiti 64
58 United States 53
66 Turkey 43
68 Bulgaria 41
69 Iraq 38
69 Saudi Arabia 38
69 Ukraine 38
70 Romania 37
72 Armenia 34
73 Georgia 33
76 Russia 30
77 Belarus 27
77 New Zealand 27
78 Estonia 26
78 Lithuania 26
80 Latvia 24
83 Hungary 21
84 United Kingdom 20
85 Croatia 19
88 Australia 16
88 Canada 16
88 Poland 16
89 Ireland 15
90 Austria 12
90 Malta 12
91 Germany 11
91 Norway 11
92 Cyprus 10
92 Greece 10
93 Belgium 9
93 France 9
93 Luxembourg 9
94 Finland 8
94 Slovenia 8
95 Denmark 7
95 Sweden 7
96 Italy 6
96 Singapore 6
96 Spain 6
97 China 5
97 Netherlands 5
97 Switzerland 5
98 Japan 4
99 South Korea 3

The full list is on the link above

Things have evidently got worse in the last 6 years!!

It should be noted that many of the non western countries have large numbers of early marriages e.g. Turkey.

In my opinion, its the casual acceptance in the West, that the state has too pay for, and support, any teenage girls who get pregnant, for life, that lead to these high rates.

Stop welfare and you stop teen pregnancies.


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