Archive for the 'bad things' Category

Joe Zawinul

September 12, 2007

Oh man, Zawinul died. I first encountered Weather Report about 20 years ago and have been listening to Joe’s (and his associates) extraordinary music ever since. Of course, the music remains, but even his most exuberant songs will now, for me, me have a melancholy edge.


Ah, come on Libya, what the hell’s wrong with you?

December 19, 2006

BBC NEWS | World | Africa | Libya sentences medics to death

A Libyan court has sentenced five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor to death for knowingly infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV.

For a court to blatantly ignore compelling evidence is unforgivable. And for a country to be so deeply in denial about public health is really quite disturbing. And, you know, scapegoating foreigners is just so 20th century.

Note to small minded fools everywhere: you can’t change reality by refusing to believe in it.

However, the reality in this case is that Libya is determined to kill these people.

Libya has asked for 10m euros (£6.7m) compensation to be paid to each of the families of victims, suggesting the medics’ death sentences could be commuted in return.

But Bulgaria has rejected the proposal, saying any payment would be seen as an admission of guilt.

Maybe, Bulgaria, in this case you should just pay up to get your people home safe, however unfair it might be?

Ian Mackenzie 1931-2006

November 5, 2006

Broadcaster, writer, musican, minister, magician.

My father, my father, my father.

Died of the quick decline at the Glebe, Southwick, on the Solway Coast, on 31 October 2006, as I was sitting in a cafe in the İstanbul Otogar, drinking tea before embarking on a long journey.

At night, if I can’t sleep, I sometimes go to the window and, if it is clear, look beyond the streetlights to the space beyond. It becomes more and more difficult to get there, because earth’s light pollution is blotting out the cosmos. But from the Glebe fields by the Solway one can see the fields of stars. There they are, the revolving galaxies. Inside the cottage behind me is my little family which one of these days I will have to leave. But for now they’re here to cherish. My heart beats for them, but my heart also reaches out to the family who left me, father, mother, Alan, Catherine, Etta. My heart reaches out so far it thins to invisibility. They, and my friends who have gone, have been travelling beyond death for years. They must have gone very far by now. I don’t find words, but I yearn that somewhere in the mystery of universes, wherever they are, in whatever form they are, they could be touched by the unconditional love I feel for them.

The intensity passes. Is it real? Do they exist anywhere? How at one moment can one be surrounded by faith and see everything fit together, and at another moment feel so utterly lost in aloneness and unknowingness?

The uncertainty is how it has always been, and always must be, no doubt.

I Was Invited: the autobiography of Ian Mackenzie (2003)

How to achieve world peace

October 8, 2006

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Iran rejects six nations’ demands
The five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany held talks in the UK on Friday to discuss Iran’s repeated refusal to halt nuclear activities.

You are a developed, democratic country. You can achieve world peace really easily by inconsistently obeying international law, and inconsistently applying it to other, possibly less developed, less democratic countries.

It probably helps to interfere in the international law creation process too. After all, the less self-consistent and coherent international law is, the easier world peace is to achieve! A variation on this process is to participate fully in the development of the international law, often insisting on bizarre amendments that only suit your own national interests, and then at the end of the process refuse to sign up anyway. That method really helps world peace along!

If, on the other hand, you are a less developed, less democratic country, you should really do everything the more developed, democratic countries tell you to do, right away! After all, they are much more developed and democratic than you, so they must be right! And even if the things you are told to do are completely against your national interests, and could compromise your national security, well, you should do them anyway.

Even if the international treaties you’ve signed say you can do the things the developed, democratic countries are telling you not to do. They don’t count. I’ll let you into a secret. The international laws and treaties are really just for show!

We don’t need them. The developed, democratic countries are so kind, fair and wise and would never act in a self-interested way. They’re working so hard for world peace! So you should help them by doing exactly what they say, and then you can be working for world peace too!

there is a word for people like this, and that word is “idiot”

October 6, 2006

Houston Community Newspapers Online – Parent criticizes book ‘Fahrenheit 451’
Alton Verm, of Conroe, objects to the language and content in the book. His 15-year-old daughter Diana, a CCHS sophomore, came to him Sept. 21 with her reservations about reading the book because of its language.
“The book had a bunch of very bad language in it,” Diana Verm said. “It shouldn’t be in there because it’s offending people. … If they can’t find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn’t have a book at all.”
Alton Verm filed a “Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials” Thursday with the district regarding “Fahrenheit 451,” written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. He wants the district to remove the book from the curriculum.
“It’s just all kinds of filth,” said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read “Fahrenheit 451.” “The words don’t need to be brought out in class. I want to get the book taken out of the class.”

Seen via anarchia tumbelog.

a matter of emphasis

September 26, 2006

BBC NEWS | England | North Yorkshire | Car driver dies in rail collision
A driver has died in Yorkshire when his car crashed through a fence on to a rail track and was hit by a train travelling at about 100mph.

This bugs me. Whenever there’s one of these “car going onto a railway” accidents, the subsequent press stories are always written as if it was somehow the train’s fault…

The UN question

September 22, 2006

Guardian Unlimited
| Special reports | Defiant Bush appeals to people of Middle East

Mr Ahmadinejad[‘]s speech only once directly referred to the United States, but was infused throughout with criticism of the “exclusionist policies” of what he called the “hegemonic power” and its grip over the UN through its membership of the security council.

“The question needs to be asked: if the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom who are permanent members of the security council, commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which of the organs of the UN can take them to account?” he said.

Without having heard the rest of the speech, I think I can answer this one question.

None of them. The UN has been compromised by the “great powers” since the moment of it’s inception. It’s reliant on cooperation from its members (A “System 7” style of international goverment, if you like, Mac geeks).

Of course it would be possible to do something about it, but oddly enough, everyone chooses not to. Which is a bit of a problem, because we need a strong, fair forum where everyone can get together and work together on the rather pressing problems facing humanity at the moment.

[edited 25-9-2006 to zap an errant apostrophe]

Double Bubble Trouble

September 7, 2006

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Methane bubbles climate trouble

Thawing Siberian bogs are releasing more of the greenhouse gas methane than previously believed, according to new scientific research.

Some days I’m quite sanguine, even optimistic about our chances. Then I see something like this, and decide that, maybe, perhaps, we don’t have any.

Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas, than there’s enormous quantities of it sitting around, ready to surface and cause a mass extinction. Well, probably.

And it’s too late to do anything about the thermal pulse we’re sending down into the permafrost that will release it all. Well, probably.

Schneier roundhouse-kicks some mendacious terrorism bullshit

August 27, 2006

Schneier on Security: What the Terrorists Want

I’d like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute.

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorised because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And were doing exactly what the terrorists want.

This is a very good piece, go read it.

I’d just like to add that (by coincidence) today I was reading the British Foreign Office travel advice for Turkey (where I’m hopefully going soon), and made the following observations:–

  • The obsession with terrorism is getting out of hand. Well, we knew that, but this is silly. You see, for instance, the Bugarian page starts with the paragraph:–

    Bulgaria shares with the rest of Europe a threat from international terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets.

    Except, well, in real life it doesn’t, except in the most abstract, “it’s-not-impossible-that-terrorism-could-happen-here” sense. After all, during the whole Northern Irish troubles, there were never bombs in Scotland. The UK government’s obsession with international terrorism is distorting the advice given to it’s people travelling: advice that should be strictly impartial.

  • The other observation is that, on reading the Turkish travel advice, there’s a lot of terrorist activity in that country (compared to say, Norway), but most of it is probably domestic in nature, most likely the dreadful, continuing civil war with the Kurds. It doesn’t actually say who’s doing it.

    The notion of some kind of big, giant, co-ordinated, international, global terrorist conspiracy is a silly fantasy. And a dangerous one.

    But Schneier still implies that the terrorists, are somehow out to “get” America. What sort of culture is he living in? Does he feel pressure to couch his argument in these terms? What does that say about his culture? I don’t know, I’m just asking.

    I suspect they just want American troops out of the Saudi Peninsula. Or their own state, which everyone else seems to be allowed to have. Or for Allah to triumph. Or for Russia to leave. Or whatever. What they want doesn’t neccessarily make sense. And that applies to many single issue activists, even law-abiding ones.

    But there’s more to this than than the peace of mind of us, parochial western citizens. It’s a big world, and there’s plenty going on, right and wrong that we don’t pay attention to. But we should.

What’s the world coming to?

August 25, 2006

Walking the dog after work. It’s dark. A person on a bicycle weaves down the road towards me. He gets closer…

…losh. It’s a Boy Scout. Uniform, woggle and all. A bloody Boy Scout riding a bike after dark without lights. What’s the world coming to?