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Indexes
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To find an archived article, simply click on Index and scroll the subject titles, or do a Ctrl-F search

TALLRITE BLOG 
ARCHIVE

This archive, organized into months, and indexed by
time and alphabet,
contains all issues since inception, including the current week.

You can write to me at blog2-at-tallrite-dot-com
(Clumsy form of my address to thwart spamming software that scans for e-mail addresses)

Ill-informed and Objectionable Comment by an anonymous reader

January 2010

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ISSUE #201 - 24th January 2010


Time & Date in Westernmost Europe

ISSUE #201 - 24th January 2010 [337+802=1137]

Just for fun, the latest Rasmussen poll on President Barack Obama’s popularity will
from now on be published at the head of the Tallrite Blog. The date is on the charts.
(Click on them to get the latest version.)

Rasmussen Daily Poll - 22 Jan 2010Rasmussen Daily Poll - 22 Jan 2010

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More Climate Faeces

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No Need to Take to the Streets When Logic Is On Your Side

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Lara Marlowe Enrages Me

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Uncircumcised Royal Hypocrite and Charlatan

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David Beckham and Il Suo Pacco

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Canada Solves Air-Terrorist Problem

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Issue 201’s Comments to Cyberspace

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Quotes for Issue 201

My nephew, Kevin McLaughlin, won his first cap on 6th February, when he played rugby for Ireland against Italy in the opening game of the 2010 Six Nations Championship

Ireland won 29-11.

More Climate Faeces

The west Himalayan range includes 15,000 glaciers

In an article entitled World misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown”, the Sunday Times reports on another stunning piece of fraud or incompetence or wishful thinking on the part of the UN's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  In Volume 2 of its fourth (and most recent) report in 2007, it warns that

Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding ... [so fast that], if the present Gangotri Glacier Melting 1780-2001. Click to enlargerate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high ... Total area will likely shrink [80%] by the year 2035 ... The receding and thinning of Himalayan glaciers can be attributed primarily to the global warming due to increase in anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases

Pretty scary, huh?  Click on the thumbnail graphic to expand it: it apparently shows how India's Gangotri Glacier, source of the mighty Ganges, has melted over the centuries from 1780 to 2001.  And it's all the fault of us anthropogenic humans. 

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The IPCC lifted the first sentence in the above italicised quote from p38 of a 2005 report, An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China by the (Panda loving) World Wild Life Fund in Nepal,

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which said - untruthfully, it turns out - that it in turn had lifted it from an unnamed (and unpublished) 1999 report by the Working Group on Himalayan Glaciology of the International Commission for Snow and Ice, a body chaired by glaciologist Professor Syed Iqbal Hasnain of New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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The now notorious sentence came to international attention via a news story in the New Scientist back in 1999,

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which in its turn was based not on a document or piece of reputable research but on a ... telephone call with Professor Hasnain,

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who had written an article in an Indian magazine called Down to Earth”, which reports on environmental threats facing India and the world,

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but which is neither a scientific journal in the accepted sense,

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nor had the article been peer-reviewed,

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and the professor now admits his sentence was purely speculative on his part. 

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The latest Economist (subscription only) reports that there is even doubt whether the 2035 date was some kind of typo and 2350 was intended!

 

In other words, a monumental conclusion about anthropogenic global warming” propounded by the mighty IPCC, the world organisation universally regarded as the font of “settled science”, is based on nothing but one man's pure conjecture underwritten by no science, no research, no peer-review, no evidence whatsoever and this aspect was not noticed by the army of eminent scientists that produced the report. 

Dr Philip Lloyd is Managing Director of South Africa's Industrial and Petrochemical Consultants and a co-ordinating lead author for the IPCC, but even an insider like him has a breaking point and becomes a dissenting apostate.  He tells us that:

The process [of preparing, reviewing and publicising IPCC reports] is so flawed that the result is tantamount to fraud. As an authority, the IPCC should be consigned to the scrapheap without delay.

Andrew Bolt of Australia's Herald Sun, who attended December's climate change jamboree wrote that nothing [was] real in Copenhagen - not the temperature record, not the predictions, not the agenda, not the solution.

Incidentally, Lord Christopher Monckton asserts, in the video at the foot of this post, that the melting of Gangotri Glacier from 1780-2001 that you can see in the thumbnail above is due to local geological instability - nothing at all to do with global warming.

The issue about the climate changeology cult is not that everything that comes out of it is necessarily wrong.  It is that what it preaches is so riddled with incompetence, fraud, trickery and doubts (hockey stick temperature profile, hacked e-mails, Himalayan glaciers, dissenting IPCC authors to mention a few), that there is no way of knowing what to believe and what to reject. 

Mark Steyn once remarked that

it’s a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice-cream and a quart of dog faeces and mix ’em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That’s the problem with the UN.”

As with the UN, so with the UN's much beloved protégé the IPCC and the rest of the global warm-mongers. 

 

With the excess of climate faeces permeating the IPCC's work, the only rational response is to reject everything until universally credible evidence of catastrophic man-made climate change emerges (as if!). 

 

The current state of the settled science is no basis for investing $100 billion per year of other people's money for up to a hundred years** as Hillary Clinton pledged at the December Nopenhagen conference that, ironically, launched Europe's and North America's coldest winter weather for thirty years after more than a decade of falling - not rising - global temperatures. 

**Hillary's $100 bn figure has form. 

Way back in 1999, John Weyant and Jennifer Hill in an article entitled Introduction and Overview published in The Energy Journal, Kyoto Special Issue: xxxiii-xxxiv, BEA 2001b-c, told us that meeting Kyoto's modest emissions targets would cost $100 billion per year, or 2% of then world GDP, until 2094.  Other experts told us that Kyoto if implemented would merely defer by a paltry six years a 1.9°C rise in global temperatures

This didn't sound then like a great return for $100 bn/yr x 95 years = a cool $9½ trillion, and neither does Hillary's pledge today. 

I've written a fair bit of stuff over the years about the Climate Changeology Cult”.  But nothing I've said comes close in thoroughness, eloquence and impact to the lecture that the almost comically patrician Lord Christopher Monckton gave last October to the Minnesota Free Market Institute in St Paul. 

I love this slide of his in particular. It reminds me of that other slogan about Greens: they're like tomatoes - they start out green but always end up red.

Lord Monckton's view

Set aside 1½ hours and view it in full; you will not be disappointed. His captivating (and, incidentally, untelepromptered) delivery alone could serve as a masterclass for a certain American president renowned for his own oratory.

 

Late Note (10 Feb 10)

Just came across the Science and Policy Public Institute”, founded I understand by Lord Monckton.  It declares it is “dedicated to sound public policy based on sound science”, which translated seems to mean exposing climate change fraud.  Lots of juicy material there for deniers like me (and perhaps you?). 

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No Need to Take to the Streets When Logic Is On Your Side

Passionate Left vs Logical RightI had an article published in the Irish Times last week under this headline. Somewhat to my satisfaction, it elicited a minor avalanche of furious comments from readers, some published in the paper, some not, some by e-mail direct to me. 

The piece (which grew out of a couple of posts back in March and September of 2005) basically says that because logic is overwhelmingly on the side of right-wing policy arguments, right wingers merely need to explain them to make their point.  But when people advocate left-wing positions what they say, by contrast, makes no sense and they know it.  So therefore they have a greater need to get emotional, to shout and roar and sometimes to engage in violence.  Obviously I am generalising, but you get the point. 

On the other hand, righties are hopeless when it comes to the arts, in particular modern music.  Who can visualise right-wing ideologues (Dick Cheney, for instance) coming up with songs like Where have all the flowers gone, Imagine, We shall overcome etc.  And at least a singing leftie is not throwing chairs through a McDonald's window. 

You can view the whole sordid saga - article plus reaction - here

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Lara Marlowe Enrages Me

Lara Marlowe is a particularly irritating (to me) foreign correspondent with the Irish Times, once married to the equally irritating Arabist Robert Fisk.  Indeed, they are so similar in many ways that I am surprised the marriage didn't last. 

Earlier this month she wrote a piece entitled US just doesn't get it about motivation for suicide attacks, which predictably places all the blame on America's incompetence (how quickly the Obama gloss is tarnishing) and Israel's perfidy towards Palestinians who want to kill them. 

In the aftermath of the jihadist killing spree in Fort Hood and failed attempt by the Christmas Day knicker-bomber, she excoriates the American media being blind to Israel as the root cause.  And America is apparently remiss for its dangerous failure to provide Muslims appalled by US policies with an alternative to suicide bombing” (a squadron of F16s and Predator drones put at their disposal perhaps?)

My blood boiled, so I wrote to her as follows. 

Dear Ms Marlow,

Yours is an incredible piece in which you are guilty of the deliberate blindness of which you accuse the Obama administration.

You accuse the Americans of not mentioning Israel, but you don't mention the Koran once.

Yet these suicide bombers find their inspiration in the Koran which tells Muslims, unequivocally, that infidels are to be killed, enslaved or converted, in the quest for a global caliphate (see verses 2:187, 8:12, 8:39, 8:57, 8:60, 8:71, 9:5, 9:29, 9:41, 9:123, 47:4, to name just a few).

The vile Mohammed started the process with the incredibly successful Muslim conquests (of largely Christian cultures) in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries.

All the other stuff is just excuses - Israel one day, American hedonism another, Andalucía in 1492 another, the Crusades another. The basic motivator is the strictures of the Koran, which few non-Muslims seem to want either to read or to believe.

And as for the lack of a Palestinian state, why don't you first point out that the Palestinian leadership has steadfastly refused one whenever it has been offered, successively, in 1937, 1948, 1967, 2000.

And then clarify that the moment the Palestinians stop attacking Israel will be the moment that Israel stops retaliating, and that this would immediately open the way to meaningful negotiations. (George W Bush was once widely mocked for essentially saying this in an aside to Tony Blair when he thought the microphone was switched off.)

A Palestinian state is there for them any time they show the slightest (serious) interest in obtaining one. Israel's departure from Gaza presented a unique opportunity to implement such a desire on a sample basis.  But Hamas, whom the Palestinians had elected, deemed the destruction of Israel and Jews to be more important than competently running a state. Of course when pre-1967 Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan the West Bank, the Palestinians weren't interested in a state either, and nor was any other Arab or Muslim nation.  

Oh, and while we're on Gaza and its supposed siege, why don't you point out that this is more of an Egyptian blockade as last week's violent events merely emphasised. Israel lets in far more trucks of supplies into Gaza, 70-80 per day, than Egypt. If Egypt simply opened its Rafah crossing, there would be no blockade at all (and no need for those incredibly dangerous tunnels either).

Yours truly,

Needless to say I received no acknowledgement from Ms Marlowe, much less a reply, which was no surprise really.  It must be very hard for her to be coherent when she knows that what she writes makes no sense.  Maybe she should throw a chair through a McDonald's window or sing a dreamy song, stuff that, as noted above, lefties are so good at.

I see Mark Humphrys and Tom McGuirk
are similarly enraged. 

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Uncircumcised Royal Hypocrite and Charlatan

Superfreakonomics, which I've just finished reading (see panel at right), is a collection of amusing anecdotes reflecting surprising aspects of human (and sometimes animal) behaviour.  It makes the point that sometimes there are very simple solutions to very serious problems, such as doctors washing their hands to prevent spreading infection from one patient to another (a practice few to this day apparently apply assiduously). 

At the end of Chapter 5, the two authors' low-cost answer to reducing the spread of HIV is to circumcise males, which is said to reduce infection rates by some 60%

King Goodwill Zwelithini of the ZulusIn South Africa, King Goodwill Zwelithini of the Zulus in KwaZulu-Natal Province has been gaining a lot of kudos recently for advocating exactly this course of action.  It used to be a Zulu right of passage for all young men (still is for the Xhosas), but was abandoned two centuries ago because it took too long for young would-be warriors to heal and return to battle, and also many of them died of wounds that went septic. 

In business, there is a simple management maxim that is perhaps the most important of all: Visible Management Commitment.  It means that if a leader wishes his followers to adopt a certain course of action, he must himself be utterly committed to it but also be seen by everyone around him and his followership to be committed to it. 

It is a point I continuously hammer home when I lecture on industrial safety management - you cannot expect the workforce to adopt safe work practices if its own chief executive is not seen to be absolutely and personally committed to such practices.  If he doesn't bother with a hard-hat, why should anyone else?

Thus it seems to me that if King Zwelithini is serious about young men getting circumcised he needs to show personal leadership and commitment.  That means putting himself first in the queue to get circumcised and making sure everyone knows it.  And if he is already circumcised it also means making sure everyone knows it and is convinced it is true.  Embarrassing as it might be, a clear and public photograph of the circumcised weapon attached to its owner is needed, just as in 2003 only a photograph of their corpses convinced Iraqis and the world that Saddam Hussein's brutish two sons truly were dead.

I have done search after search using Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves and other engines with all kinds of combination of Zwelithini and circumcision.  But nowhere can I find any reference to the King's own actual or imminent circumcision.  If he wanted to set an example, he would make sure it was known, otherwise what would be the point? 

Therefore take it from me - he is not circumcised and has no intention of becoming so.  He has six wives and 27 children and evidently feels no compunction to tamper with any of the equipment that generated them.  That is an indignity to be suffered only by his lowly subjects.

The man is an uncircumcised hypocrite and a charlatan and Zulu men should call him out. 

If I am wrong, please tell me and I shall not hesitate to withdraw and delete any incorrect or demeaning sentences and to apologise to the King. 

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David Beckham and Il Suo Pacco

I try to keep this blog fairly mannerly and child-friendly and avoid gratuitous prurience, but sometimes I just can't help myself.  From King Zwelithini's weapon to ... David Beckham and il suo pacco

Amongst his many commercial endorsements is Armani - its panties in particular, as embodied in this rather cringeworthy in-your-face ad.

Beckham showcases his amply stuffed Emporio Armani panties

You know how in Italy at the marketplace they like to handle the sausages and tomatoes, squeezing them, caressing them, sniffing them and holding them up to the light, checking for plumpness, freshness, authenticity etc before they haggle over the price? 

Well, Elena di Cioccio is a good-looking thirty-something TV journalist and she was not convinced about the authenticity of this Armani photo, so she intrepidly set out to find the truth for herself about what the Italians delicately call il suo pacco.  Going bravely where several women (Victoria, Rebecca Loos, to name but two) have gone before, she first donned a pair of lurid and impregnable yellow rubber gloves for her self-protection.   Then, with camera crew in tow she sought out Mr Beckham in a Milan street where, curiously and without an interpreter, he was being questioned in Italian while answering in English.  Slowly and carefully, like a tigress stalking a hapless antelope, she inched her way closer.  Then -

Camera! Lights! Action!

She suddenly made her move, a yellow mitt lunging southward grabbing at its prey.  Mr Beckham's eyes popped.  Security men flurried.  There was running.  There were shouts. There was fear. There were cars.  But Ms di Cioccio survived the pursuit and in the midst of the mayhem was able to report her disappointing news: that things were humbler than expected or portrayed. 

È piccolo Beckham!

It's small, Beckham”, she wailed at him disconsolately. “Wait, let me check again. You've taken us for a ride, David. How could you have done this? What did you fill it with?  Cotton? I have to ask you something to your face - did you get it enlarged?

Some (well, Victoria anyway) think the lady's actions constitute an unacceptable assault on the blessed integrity of Mr Beckham and his future progeny.  But as Mark Simpson, author and self-confessed Father of the Metrosexual, the Retrosexual & Spawner of Sporno (whatever all that means), pithily puts it,

If you are paid very large wedges of cash to put your lunchbox on the side of buses to sell overpriced underwear to the masses then perhaps the only shocking thing is that more punters don’t cop a feel of the goods.

Couldn't have put it better myself.  Grazie a lei, Signorina Elena, for brightening up our day. 

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Canada Solves Air-Terrorist Problem

The Canadian government has ordered Air Canada to keep  the nutters all together where they can be watched. 

President Obama, in this age of nut-case shoe-bombers and knicker-bombers, please take careful note.  That old fraud Bush never thought of this clever ruse. 

But as SmallDeadAnimals asks, if it's a nut-free zone, how are we going to hold down the bolts?

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Issue 201’s Comments to Cyberspace

Just a handful of comments during my over-long absence. 

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Security test exposed people to great danger
Comment in the Irish Times on 7 January 2010
A very fine article. I had no idea from the extensive media coverage elsewhere that this "non-bomb" had such potential to become an actual active bomb with the devastating consequences Mr Clonan describes.

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Basic human decency lacking in TV3 exposé
Comment in the Irish Times on 2 January 2010
This article, along with all the other outrage from various media (especially RTE), frankly smacks of pure jealousy that an amateur, bumbling much derided and despised station like TV3 should have stolen the march on all of them. The vitriol being spat at TV3 is quite astonishing.  In the current economic circumstances where ...

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My sister the warlady
Letter to the Sunday Times on 30 December 2009
It's as well that of the Thomas sisters Nikki is flying Tornados with Janine doing the writing and not the other way round. With Janine's euphemisms about "saving lives", "reconnaissance work", "warning off" the Taliban by buzzing them, she makes her sister look like a combination of ambulance driver and social worker.  Nikki the weapons instructor is obviously made of sterner stuff as she takes the fight to the enemy ...

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Quotes for Issue 201

- - - - - H A Ï T I - - - - -

Quote (minute 2:00): God forbid the day we get one that hits Port-au-Prince head on because it's going to be really disastrous.”

Anne Hastings, director of Fonkoze,
a Haïtian financial institution which styles itself
an
alternative bank for the poor
in an eight-minute TV film about Haiti produced in 2009. 

She was talking about hurricanes,
but there is no doubting her perspicacity.

Quote: Israel sent a team of 220 aid workers. Israel has a population of six million. The population of Britain is 60 million. I’d say that was a disproportionate Israeli response, wouldn’t you?

Jewish journalist Melanie Philips, commenting wryly on
Israel's instant and effective humanitarian response
to the Haïti earthquake catastrophe, in stark contrast with
Britain, the UN (especially) and even America.

- - - - - J I H A D - - - - -

Quote: In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.

Republican Scott Brown in his victory speech
after winning the
impregnable Massachusetts federal Senate seat
occupied by the Kennedy Brothers for 58 years. 

Worries over security as well as health care and profligate stimulus spending
were the reason Independents deserted President Obama's candidate in droves.

Quote: The money [£25,000 pa in state benefits] belongs to Allah and if it is given you can take it.

Ahmed Choudry, renowned preacher of hate
against infidels and founder of the now-banned Islam4UK group,
justifies his scrounging from the beleaguered British taxpayer.

More fool the taxpayer.

Question: If it belongs to Allah,
how come Mr Choudry gets  to spend it?

Quote: If Britain does not stop talking nonsense it will get a slap in the mouth.”

Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran's Foreign Minister,
uses impeccable diplomatic language
to tell Simon Gass, the British Ambassador in Teheran, 
that he doesn't like Britain urging the Iranian dictatorship
to respect the human rights of protesting Iranians. 

They'd killed eight of them by the end of 2009.

Quote: The system worked.”

Janet Napolitano, President Obama's Head of Homeland Security
absurdly claims credit for her department for the
failed detonator and the heroics of Dutch passengerJasper Shuringer
that thwarted the knicker-bomber of Northwest Flight 253. 

It was of course her department which was responsible
for allowing the Jihadist bomber
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
- a known security risk not even admitted into Britain -
to board a flight to Detroit with bomb material strapped to his crotch.

She later backtracked: Our system did not work in this instance 

Quote: Boy, now he's in real trouble.

Witty headline in the Los Angeles Times,
reporting that it took the US authorities twelve long days
to revoke the visa of
the said Mr Abdulmutallab

- - - - - U S A - - - - -

Quote: The country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama - a light-skinned African-American with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.

The dour Harry Reid, Democrat Majority Leader in the Senate
and chief architect with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
of President Obama's healthcare legislation,
uses unacceptable racial language in 2008
to describe the then presidential aspirant.

In 2010 he grovelled,
I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words.
I sincerely apologise for offending any and all Americans,
especially African-Americans, for my improper comments.
 

Quote: I think the man is evil.

Talk show host Bill Press referring to Joe Lieberman,
the independent (though until recently Democratic)
senator from Connecticut.
He also calls him
Traitor Joe”. 

What's Joe's sin?  He opposes Obamacare.

Quote: I have a sister who lives overseas, and she's been in England and now lives in the Middle East.

Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts Attorney General
expands upon her extensive foreign policy credentials.

This was one of many reasons she was resoundingly defeated
by Republican Scott Brown
in the race to seize the Senatorial seat
occupied by John and Edward Kennedy for nearly sixty years

She must have been inspired by the Sarah Palin 
You-can-actually-see-Russia-from-land-here-in-Alaska
school of foreign policy.

- - - - - I R E L A N D - - - - -

Quote: It's a growth I intend to defeat or it will defeat me.”

Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan,
the only half-way competent member of the cabinet
and in these economic doldrums and
the one with the most demanding and most important portfolio,
comments on his Christmas diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Were he unable to continue,
it would be a major setback on Ireland's own road to recovery 
and the international markets' confidence in this.

Quote: They are running a big campaign. The money [stolen by the IRA] from the Northern Bank must be stretching fairly far. Quote me on that. While occasionally we [Fianna Fáil] send out letters to planning applicants on the wrong paper, we have never been involved with anyone who shot anybody, or robbed banks, or kidnapped people. I suppose I'm going a bit too far when I say this but I'd like to ask Mr Quinlivan is the brothel still closed?

Irish defence minister Willie O'Dea had to
apologise and pay damages to Sinn Fein candidate Maurice Quinlivan
for this remark. 

The brothel observation refers to a recent case
where three Brazilian women were run out of Limerick
for running a brothel in an apartment owned by
Mr Quinlivan's older brother Nessan, an escapee from Brixton Prison.

- - - - - F R A N C E - - - - -

Quote: I can't stand it any more! I can't stand it any more. I think something’s going to blow before I get to the end of this term in office ... I'm forced to stay here messing around.

Rachida Dati, French MEP and one-time cabinet minister of justice,
whinges about the burden of being an MEP. 

Like others, she is paid a mere

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€84,000 annual salary (pensionable of course)

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plus €287 per day when attending parliament

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plus travel expenses approximately €15,000 above cost

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plus €190,000 for staff

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plus €48,000 to run an office. 

- - - - - U K - - - - -

Quote: When I lean across and say I love you, Darling, I really mean it.

Happily married David Cameron taunts Prime Minister Gordon Brown
about his Chancellor, Alistair Darling

Not to be outdone, the feisty Mr Brown retorts,
For you to talk about love and marriage today,
when you are the person who cannot give a straight answer
on the married couple's allowance -
whether you can say
‘I do’ or ‘I don't’ on it.

- - - - - S P O R T - - - - -

Quote: “This is the worst act of contact with the eyes that I have had to deal with: it is a case of deliberate eye gouging.

Vicious gouge that could have blinded

Judge Jeff Blackett, the European Rugby Cup's independent judicial officer,
rightly hands down a career-destroying 70-week playing ban
to David Attoub, a prop-forward
with one of France's top rugby clubs, Stade Français

During a ruck in a game against Ulster last month in Belfast,
kneeling team-mate Julien Dupuy (22-week ban)
held down Ulster's Stephen Ferris
while Mr Attoub stuck his finger right into -
and perhaps behind the eyeball of - the right eye,
as this shocking photograph clearly shows.

Such a gang attack suggests it was pre-planned, and
certainly not explainable as a heat-of-the-moment aberration. 

Few will complain about the severity of the punishments,
but the French predictably do. 
They are claiming - preposterously -
that this incriminating photograph is doctored.

With them [presumably the ERC's judge who is English],
it's still the Hundred Years War

moaned
Jacques Delmas, the Stade Français coach.

Quote: Tiger did express a keen interest in my all-women shortlists ... it took 76 seconds for boxer Amir Khan to get his opponent Dmitriy Salita on his back ... Tiger achieved a similar result with his various partners.

David Cameron, revealing his jolly side

- - - - - O B A M A C A R E - - - - -

Quote (from clip below): We will pass [healthcare] reform and we will do it this year [2009].

President Obama repeats his (thankfully unfulfilled) promise ad nauseum,
even beyond his 2009 self-imposed deadline.

Hat tip: Thanks, Tom O'Gorman

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 What I've recently
been reading

The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tol, 2006
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy Tol (2006),
is a delightful novel-style history of modern Israel and Palestine told through the eyes of a thoughtful protagonist from either side, with a household lemon tree as their unifying theme.

But it's not entirely honest in its subtle pro-Palestinian bias, and therefore needs to be read in conjunction with an antidote, such as
The Case for Israel, Alan Dershowitz, 2004

See detailed review

+++++

Drowning in Oil - Macondo Blowout
This
examines events which led to BP's 2010 Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. 

BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded it through adventurous acquisitions, aggressive offshore exploration, and relentless cost-reduction that trumped everything else, even safety and long-term technical sustainability.  

Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in Russia.  

The Macondo blowout was but an inevitable outcome of a BP culture that had become poisonous and incompetent. 

However the book is gravely compromised by a litany of over 40 technical and stupid errors that display the author's ignorance and carelessness. 

It would be better to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying. 

As for BP, only a wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.

Note: I wrote my own reports on Macondo
in
May, June, and July 2010

+++++

Published in April 2010; banned in Singapore

A horrific account of:

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how the death penalty is administered and, er, executed in Singapore,

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the corruption of Singapore's legal system, and

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Singapore's enthusiastic embrace of Burma's drug-fuelled military dictatorship

More details on my blog here.

+++++

Product Details
This is nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’s incredible story of survival in the Far East during World War II.

After recounting a childhood of convention and simple pleasures in working-class Aberdeen, Mr Urquhart is conscripted within days of Chamberlain declaring war on Germany in 1939.

From then until the Japanese are deservedly nuked into surrendering six years later, Mr Urquhart’s tale is one of first discomfort but then following the fall of Singapore of ever-increasing, unmitigated horror. 

After a wretched journey Eastward, he finds himself part of Singapore’s big but useless garrison.

Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in 1941, he is, successively,

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part of a death march to Thailand,

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a slave labourer on the Siam/Burma railway (one man died for every sleeper laid),

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regularly beaten and tortured,

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racked by starvation, gaping ulcers and disease including cholera,

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a slave labourer stevedoring at Singapore’s docks,

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shipped to Japan in a stinking, closed, airless hold with 900 other sick and dying men,

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torpedoed by the Americans and left drifting alone for five days before being picked up,

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a slave-labourer in Nagasaki until blessed liberation thanks to the Americans’ “Fat Boy” atomic bomb.

Chronically ill, distraught and traumatised on return to Aberdeen yet disdained by the British Army, he slowly reconstructs a life.  Only in his late 80s is he able finally to recount his dreadful experiences in this unputdownable book.

There are very few first-person eye-witness accounts of the the horrors of Japanese brutality during WW2. As such this book is an invaluable historical document.

+++++

Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies
Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies

This is a rattling good tale of the web of corruption within which the American president and his cronies operate. It's written by blogger Michele Malkin who, because she's both a woman and half-Asian, is curiously immune to the charges of racism and sexism this book would provoke if written by a typical Republican WASP.

With 75 page of notes to back up - in best blogger tradition - every shocking and in most cases money-grubbing allegation, she excoriates one Obama crony after another, starting with the incumbent himself and his equally tricky wife. 

Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarett, Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Steven Rattner, both Clintons, Chris Dodd: they all star as crooks in this venomous but credible book. 

ACORN, Mr Obama's favourite community organising outfit, is also exposed for the crooked vote-rigging machine it is.

+++++

Superfreakonomics
This much trumpeted sequel to Freakonomics is a bit of disappointment. 

It is really just a collation of amusing little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour and situations.  For example:

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Drunk walking kills more people per kilometer than drunk driving.

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People aren't really altruistic - they always expect a return of some sort for good deeds.

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Child seats are a waste of money as they are no safer for children than adult seatbelts.

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Though doctors have known for centuries they must wash their hands to avoid spreading infection, they still often fail to do so. 

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Monkeys can be taught to use washers as cash to buy tit-bits - and even sex.

The book has no real message other than don't be surprised how humans sometimes behave and try to look for simple rather than complex solutions.

And with a final anecdote (monkeys, cash and sex), the book suddenly just stops dead in its tracks.  Weird.

++++++

False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World
A remarkable, coherent attempt by Financial Times economist Alan Beattie to understand and explain world history through the prism of economics. 

It's chapters are organised around provocative questions such as

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Why does asparagus come from Peru?

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Why are pandas so useless?

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Why are oil and diamonds more trouble than they are worth?

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Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine?

It's central thesis is that economic development continues to be impeded in different countries for different historical reasons, even when the original rationale for those impediments no longer obtains.  For instance:

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Argentina protects its now largely foreign landowners (eg George Soros)

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Russia its military-owned businesses, such as counterfeit DVDs

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The US its cotton industry comprising only 1% of GDP and 2% of its workforce

The author writes in a very chatty, light-hearted matter which makes the book easy to digest. 

However it would benefit from a few charts to illustrate some of the many quantitative points put forward, as well as sub-chaptering every few pages to provide natural break-points for the reader. 

+++++

Burmese Outpost, by Anthony Irwin
This is a thrilling book of derring-do behind enemy lines in the jungles of north-east Burma in 1942-44 during the Japanese occupation.

The author was a member of Britain's V Force, a forerunner of the SAS. Its remit was to harass Japanese lines of command, patrol their occupied territory, carryout sabotage and provide intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping the enemy out of India.   

Irwin is admirably yet brutally frank, in his descriptions of deathly battles with the Japs, his execution of a prisoner, dodging falling bags of rice dropped by the RAF, or collapsing in floods of tears through accumulated stress, fear and loneliness. 

He also provides some fascinating insights into the mentality of Japanese soldiery and why it failed against the flexibility and devolved authority of the British. 

The book amounts to a  very human and exhilarating tale.

Oh, and Irwin describes the death in 1943 of his colleague my uncle, Major PF Brennan.

+++++

Other books here

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After 48 crackling, compelling, captivating games, the new World Champions are, deservedly,
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England get the Silver,
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