31 December 2006

Happy New Year


Happy new year to all. We can all have hopes and wishes, resolutions and changes we intend to make with the beginning of a new year. Make your goals realistic ones and you will achieve them.

All the best for 2007.

30 December 2006

Thought for the day

It is not 'Peace on earth and goodwill to all men.' It is 'Peace on earth to all men of good will.'

23 December 2006

Jesus is for life, not just for Christmas

Yeah, nothing original in the title. But I'm not feeling very creative today.

I have just been reading this article over at the Guardian website. It's a pretty poor representation of religion in what is supposed to be a Christian country. Christians are out numbered almost 2-1 by non-believers. And 82% of those questioned believe that religion does more harm than good.

It's a very sad statistic. Religion itself does not do harm, it is the followers of religion who do wrong in the name of their faith that causes harm. Surely that's obvious enough?

One statistic that surprised me is only 13% of people who claim to be Christian go to church at least once a week. But 54% are going to attend church over Christmas? Why? If you can't be bothered to worship week on week, why bother worshipping at Christmas? I find it hard to believe that people can't find one hour a week for God. But, just because it's Christmas, they think they should make the effort. I pray they find it in themselves to come back to church more often.

14 December 2006

Mozart's music library

There is nothing better than good music. And Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a genius at creating fine music.

For the first time, the whole Mozart music library is available to download from the net, for free. There is more information over at the International Mozart Foundation

28 November 2006

A fool and his money

In the UK we have lots of channels on satellite that basically show crap programs. Apparently it's cheaper to run a satellite channel than pay for advertising, hence we even have a channel that just promotes Audi cars.

Anyway, most of these channels run stupid quiz shows during the day and night. They will have a question on screen that tempts you to phone in and answer an initial question. You then have the option to go on and answer further questions with the promise of further prizes to be won. All the time your phone bill is going up at astronomical rates, as the charges for calling these premium rate lines can be up to £1.50 a minute!

I was listening to the radio on the way home, there was a guy on being interviewed. In one month he had run up a phone bill of £10,000 calling these silly programs! £10,000! Incredible.

There's no such thing as easy money and it never fails to amaze me the number of people who have yet to learn this.

25 November 2006

Money talks in BA row

BA have announced that they are going to review their dress code following the row over a worker refusing to cover up her cross. BA said jewelery should not be visible when an employee was on duty.

However, money talks, and BA have decided to review their policy. The decision to suspend the worker for wearing a cross put BA squarely at the centre of a public debate, with many members of the public taking the decision to boycott the airline until BA backed down. Face with loss of income from boycotts, BA announced their policy review.

Takes money to induce a bit of common sense, it seems.

17 November 2006

Casino Royale

I don't go to the cinema often. Although the film experience is usually good, with large screen, loud sound, comfy chair, etc, you always need to be wary of the fools who would rather play around with their mobile phones than watch the film they've paid to see. But when the new James Bond films come around, I usually take the risk. I went to see Casino Royale last night and it was worth the trip. This is easily one of the best Bond films, ever. And thankfully the audience paid attention to the film and not their phones.

A lot of die hard Bond fans were annoyed when Daniel Craig got the role. I think mainly because he has blond hair! How stupid. Whatever their reservations were, Craig carries the role of masterfully. The whole film from beginning to end kept my attention. Great stunts, good script, well crafted Bond quips, not the Roger Moore style iffy puns.

I'd recommend any Bond fan to see the film, don't be put off by the early anti Craig hype. I'd recommend any action film fan to go see, I'd recommend anyone looking for a good night at the cinema. It was so good I'll probably go again.

14 November 2006

Sometimes browsing the internet you find stuff of real quality. Not often. The debate is surrounding Global warming, here.

The quality, is here:

I evade my personal responsibility for the things I choose to do. I blame the government, the oil companies, George Bush, the economy, the wealthy and anybody else I can think of for the destruction that my lifestyle causes.

I put my comfort, my convenience and my conformity ahead of the lives and livelihoods of thousands of future generations, and I try not to think too much about my daily contribution to the destruction of the world that was left to me by thousands of past generations. I put myself far, far ahead of my ancestors and descendants and take from them for the most trivial of reasons.

I ignore the real human pain, suffering and death that my behavior causes. I turn the page, switch the channel, and change the topic of conversation. I pretend that the science isn't definitive yet, or that there's no point in changing before others do, and I convince myself that 'scientists' will come up with a technological solution that will make my lifestyle and me OK.

I avoid, I deny, I justify and rationalise, I pretend, I project, I squirm and squeeze and do whatever I can to maintain my concept of myself as a good person while still doing what I do. I evade my moral responsibility a day at a time in the hope that reality will somehow be different tomorrow morning.

I steal from those who live far away from me, and who I do not know because I see their pain as cartoon pain, and not fully real. I casually destroy what future generations will depend upon to live because they have yet to be born and it is only me, and my time and my normalcy that is important.

I am like those who, sixty years ago, did their jobs and lived their normal lives and didn't ask questions about where their jewish neighbours had gone. I am like those who participated in slavery and other atrocities, except that the effects of my crimes will outlast all those others.

And it is OK, because today I am normal, and busy, and have other things on my mind and, if what I do is really so bad so many people wouldn't be doing the same, would they?

But when, in the hours before I die, I think back upon my life and what it has meant, I must do one thing. I must hope and hope and pray and pray that there is nothing beyond life and beyond time and beyond myself, that there is no balance, no karma, no morality and no justice.

Because if there is, and I do what I do, knowing what I know....

Well, lets not think about that.

09 November 2006

Hunger & Malnutrition 'unacceptable' in our modern age

In an address given to The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States stated:
“hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world that has levels of production, of resources and of know-how capable of putting an end to this scourge and its dramatic consequences."

And he's not wrong. It's a disgrace that in a world where we like to think we live in a civilised manner we allow people to die of hunger. It's a disgrace that we should be ashamed of, but no one seems to care about. Enough food is wasted in western culture that could easily feed people in the so called 'Third world'.

It's unfair, it's unjust. Hunger & poverty are not misfortune. They are injustice.

08 November 2006

Save the planet, save money

What other incentive does a capitalist world need to do their bit to save the planet? Maybe the problem is the short term outlook people have means they can't see the long term benefits of spending money now to save money in the future.

But you needn't spend thousands, not even hundreds, to be doing 'your bit'. If every household in the UK replaced just three standard lightbulbs with energy saving bulbs, the energy saved in a year would supply ALL street lighting in the UK. Energy saving bulbs are a few pounds each. Everybody should be using energy saving bulbs, and there should be a social unacceptance from the majority for those who do not. It is unacceptable that people continue to use standard light bulbs. I would support a measure that increased substantially the cost of standard light bulbs to make them a less attractive buying option. And don't forget, low energy light bulbs means lower energy costs. Even ensuring when you boil the kettle for a cup of tea that you only use the amount of water required rather than filling the kettle each time is going to show a difference, and more significantly if everyone done this it WOULD make a difference.

Other ways to reduce your energy consumption, save money on your fuel bill and at the same time help reduce climate change are:

Double Glazing
Loft Insulation
Cavity Wall Insulation
Draught Proofing
Get a new boiler
Fit thermostatic radiator valves
Use energy saving appliances - New washing machines and dishwashers are much more economical on fuel and water usage, sometimes by up to 40%
Solar panel heating - It's suggested solar panel heating can supply all heating needs in the summer and 50% of those required in the winter. A government grant can subsidise the cost of solar panel installation by up to 50%

So some of these measures require an initial outlay. But the savings are there, for your pocket and for the planet. So what's stopping you?

06 November 2006

Murder a child because they are disabled

Medical experts are claiming a debate is needed on active euthanasia for babies who are born severely disabled.

I find the whole argument sick. How can anyone who even considers themselves a civilised person even think about murdering a baby because that child happens to be disabled? Every life is sacred, and no one has the right to end the life of another just because it does not conform to what we expect.

I don't go in for all the fancy medical jargon, euthanasia, assisted suicide, call it whatever you will. The taking of another life with full knowledge of what you are doing is murder. And it is wrong. There's no grey areas on this subject.

05 November 2006

Saddam to die

So, the Iraqi court has found Saddam guilty. Hard to see how they could have come to another decision, really. The sentence, is death. By hanging. How gruesome. I really have a problem with capital punishment. I used to think differently, but not anymore.

If anyone cares to, please explain to me how murdering Saddam atones for his crimes? Since when did punishing murder by committing murder ever achieve anything? Saddam may have been an evil, cruel, sadistic dictator, but how can we justify his murder?

03 November 2006

Blog tagging

I never even knew blog tagging existed. How cool. I was tagged by Ellasdevil. Here goes:

Do you like the look and contents of your blog?
I'm happy enough not to want to make changes. The look is light on the eye, and I don't see many other blogs with this template. I like my links and history down the left. I'm using the new blogger beta service, it's so easy to add extras to the blog. As for content, I'm not sure. I didn't want to write a 'today I went to work.' 'This evening I went....' 'Here's a picture of the kids...' etc. So I just pick up on things I see in the news and give my opinion. The biggest topic at the moment is the climate change the earth is going through. Seriously we really need to wake up and do something before it's too late.

Does your family know about your blog?
Unlikely. None of my family have an interest in blogging. And I've never told them about it.

Can you tell your friends about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?
I could. I don't though. The username is the same I use all over, so if someone who knows me finds the blog then it'll be obvious it's me. But it's not a topic of conversation.

Do you read the blogs of those who comment on your blog? Or do you try and discover new blogs?
I do. I don't always make comment but I do read the blogs, regularly. Above all the blogs I have linked in my favourites. I also scan technorati for blogs about subjects that interest me.

Did your blog positively affect your mind? Give an example...
Did it? Does it? I don't think of my blog in that way. It's just a place where I can give my opinion, and share it with anyone who cares to read.

What does the number of visitors to your blog mean? Do you have a traffic counter?
Number of visitors means little. It's nice to know people read, and that it creates a reaction. I don't have a counter, but I do check to see where people come from. I love the fact that anyone, pretty much anywhere in the world, can pop along, drop by, and have a read.

Do you imagine what other bloggers look like?
Nope.

Do you think blogging has any real benefits?
I'm sure it does. It's great that blogging gives people a chance to have their say. Share your opinion on a global level. Write something interesting and share it with others. Exchange opinion and idea. Learn about other people, and how they view things. That can only be a positive thing.

Do you think that the blogosphere is a stand alone world community separated from the real world?
It is a community in it's own right but it is not separated from the real world. It's a reflection of opinion from people who live in the real world. Mostly. Some blogs are just plain wacky.

Do some political blogs scare you? Do you avoid them?
No, not at all. Some extreme sites can be a bit sick. But I like to read opinion that challenges and opposes my own. Staying safe and reading/sharing opinion only with like-minded people is boring. I like to challenge my beliefs.

Do you think that criticising your blog is useful?
Yeah, sure, why not. Throwing around abuse for the sake of it helps no one. But if I write something that offends, or you don't like, say so. If I am out of order, criticise. Make it constructive. Lets build conversation.

Have you ever thought about what would happen to your blog if you died?
No, not at all. There are more important things I would like to make sure are dealt with when I die than this blog. Lets keep it in perspective.

Which blogger has had the greatest impression on you?
There isn't one.

Which blogger do you think is the most similar to you?
I haven't yet found one who shares my opinions.

Name a song you want to listen to?
I'll name the song I listen to more than any other. Buddy Holly - It Doesn't Matter Anymore. I love that song.

Tag some people
Err.....

31 October 2006

The most popular Saint to the Italians

Is San Padre Pio. When an Italian Catholic asks a Saint to intercede, Padre Pio is the most nominated Saint. The survey was commissioned by Famiglia Cristiana, a weekly Christian magazine.

Padre Pio was quoted as favourite Saint by 31% of those surveyed. Second was Sant'Antonio da Padova, with 25%. A distant third was Santa Maria, Madre e Vergine, with 9%. San Francesco d'Assisi came next with 7%, Santa Rita with 3% & San Giuseppe and the Crucified Christ with 2% Only one in 10 nominated San Cristoforo, San Michele, Madre Teresa or Santa Chiara.

But although over 70% of Italians pray for intercession to the Saints, it would seem they are not as well informed about the Saints as this would suggest. 75% recognise San Francesco as Patron Saint of Italy, but only 37% were able to also nominate Santa Caterina of Siena as Italy's second Patron Saint, often confusing her with Santa Chiara of Assisi.

Virtually everyone nominated San Gennaro as the Patron Saint of Naples, 83% nominated San Marco of Venezia & Sant'Ambrogio of Milan. Just under half were able to nominate Santa Roslia of Palermo, whilst only 29% knew San Petronio as the Patron Saint of Bologna.

30 October 2006

Climate change - will we do something now?

So, climate change is the big story on all media today in the UK. Front page of the newspapers, lead story on news bulletins on TV and radio. Yay. People are realising that we need to act before it's too late. Because if we don't, the cost to future generations would be significantly more than the cost to our generation. Well, someone has to pay. And if the only reason people are starting to become concerned is an economical one, rather than genuine concern for the planet we live in, I suppose it's a start. The single biggest threat to mankind in recent years. Climate change is happening, and we need to do something about it.

There are lots of contributory reasons to climate change. The earth only has so much resource, and what there is we abuse and waste as if it were an unlimited source. This sentence points to one fact. There are too many people on the earth. Population is higher now than it ever has been. There are too many people, draining the earths resources. I'm not the only one to think so.

We all need to do our bit to ensure that life on our planet continues as it is meant to. Too many times I hear people say "What difference can I make on my own?" Well actually if each person made a solitary contribution, added together that can be quite a change. A popular one for me at the moment is low energy lighting. Switch your lights to low energy bulbs, and you save money on a) replacing bulbs so often as they last longer and b) on your electricity bill because they use less energy. There you go, what more reason do you need to make the change? If you join me in making the change, then your cousin makes the change, then Aunt Ethel across the road, then your parents, then your dad's best friend at work, and then his brother, and then his sister in law, then her Uncle Joe..... Can you see where the chain leads? Singular action won't necessarily make a noticeable impact. But start to add all those singular actions and you get a noticeable difference. So, what are you waiting for?

26 October 2006

Runaways

I was amazed to hear that 200,000 people are reported missing in the UK every year. That's a massive amount. And it's only the reported numbers. Surely there are more than that. Where do these people go? I understand that people disappear for a variety of reasons, children runaway from abuse, adults run away from debts, families, etc. But 200,000?

From the BBC:

On 19 December, 1995, Diane Lilburn walked out of her home in Lincolnshire. She left no note for her mother and stepfather, she simply disappeared.

Her parents spent the next six years trying to find her, but with no sightings or leads their search was ultimately fruitless. Her mother Peggy had to try to come to terms with the fact her daughter might never come back.

In a last-ditch attempt Peggy contacted the National Missing Persons Helpline (NMPH), after learning about the charity from a television programme. It found her daughter within a month, tracking her down to Brighton.

Diane was reunited with her family and told them she had run away from home because she was gay.


The NMPH does an amazing job. The BBC article states how, unlike police, NMPH has no access to things like mobile phone records, bank records, etc. But they generally find 70% of missing people.

Information on missing persons organisations can be found here.

23 October 2006

Brits waste more energy than others in Europe

The UK wastes more energy than other countries in Europe, according to a report from the energy saving trust.

Top offences include leaving electrical equipment on standby, leaving mobile phone chargers plugged in and turned on, after the phone has finished charging, and leaving lights on.

Nothing more than pure laziness really. Especially when you consider most Brits prefer to take the car for short trips to the shop rather than walk.

When will people get the message? If you want to learn more about how you can do your bit, check out the energy saving trust website

21 October 2006

No arrests during ramadan

I saw a story posted on USSneverdock earlier. It is one of those stories that I really find hard to believe. One of those 'jaw-dropping, surely this can't be true' stories. Apprently, Manchester police have been told to avoid arresting arresting Muslims wanted on warrant during Ramadan. You can find the story here:

Police to avoid Ramadan arrests

Why are authorities in the UK running scared of Islamic faith? As said on the original post, Britain is going totally mad

19 October 2006

How can you justify murder?

I heard a story on the radio on my drive home. A man, David March, helped his wife to commit suicide. Mrs March suffered from MS and had often expressed her wish to end her own life "While she could." She did not want her condition to deteriorate to the stage where she felt her quality of life was not worth living.

Mr March returned home one evening to find his wife had taken an overdose and put a plastic bag over her head. Mr March tightened the bag, and shortly after his wife died.

This is the story as I heard it on the radio this evening. I really feel for Mr March, how difficult times must have been for him since his wife's death. I hope the end of the court case brings some closure on the episode to Mr March and he can live a serene life for himself.

But the story raises a point to me. Is it ever right to kill someone? I don't want to make Mr March the subject of my question, the story is just to illustrate one of the many combinations of "but what if?" when it comes to assisted suicide.

I can't see how it is ever justified to take the life of another human being, no matter what the circumstance may be.

"But what if that person is ill?" "But what if that person wants to die?" "But what if I have had enough of this life?"

I can't justify it. Can you?

Pope urges opposition to 'deviant love'.

At a national convention of the Catholic church today, Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics to oppose moves towards leagalising 'weak and deviant' unions.

He urged them to fight "with determination ... the risk of political and legislative decisions that contradict fundamental values and ethical principles rooted in human nature"

The Pope said they had to defend "the family based on matrimony, opposing the introduction of laws on other forms of unions which would only destabilise it and obscure its special character and its social role, which has no substitute".

In another section of his speech, the Pope stated that the Church had to say "'no' to weak and deviant forms of love".

He said the Church wanted instead to say "'yes' to authentic love, to the reality of man as he was created by God".

In his address to the Catholic convention, the Pope was also applauded when he said the Church had to continue to defend "life in all its phases, from conception until natural death".

He said the Church did not want to be "a political agent" but wanted to help shape social policy.

17 October 2006

Goblins & giants

It has been predicted in a report today that humans will divide into two distinct sub-species in 100,000 years from now.

Descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative, whilst the "underclass" humans, will evolve into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.

The forecast has been made by Dr Oliver Curry, after spending two months investigating the ascent and descent of man over the next 100 millennia. He suggests within a thousand years humans will evolve into coffee-coloured giants between 6 and 7ft tall. But Dr Curry said centuries of sexual selection was likely to create more and more genetic inequality.

The logical outcome would be two sub-species, "gracile" and "robust" humans.

Dr Curry said: "Things could get ugly, with the possible emergence of genetic 'haves' and `have-nots'."

Other predictions included:

  • Physical appearance, driven by indicators of health, youth and fertility, will improve.
  • Men will exhibit symmetrical facial features, look athletic, and have squarer jaws, deeper voices and bigger penises.
  • Women will develop lighter skin, large clear eyes, pert breasts, glossy hair, even features and smooth hairless skin.
  • Racial differences will be ironed out by interbreeding, producing a uniform race of coffee-coloured people.
  • Improved nutrition and medical science will see people growing taller and fitter, while life-spans are extended to 120 years.

15 October 2006

Italian hand expressions

It's one of the wonders of the Italian language. As well as having a beautiful melodic language, Italians talk with their hands. If you ever wondered what those gestures mean, watch the video clip below. (Beware, contains a few strong words):

Freedom of expression

Wearing a cross for religious reasons is a personal thing. The right to express yourself by wearing a cross should not be restricted by your employer. As long as you complete your tasks in a professional manner, the fact that you wear a crucifix is irrelevant.

It is a symptom of the screwed up society we live in that people assume Christianity offends, and do all they can to remove it from every day life, but bend over backwards to accomodate every other religion or fad cult for fear of upsetting the followers.

So people rename Christmas to 'Winterval'. Even though most followers of different religions aren't bothered by Christmas and even join in the celebrations. I propose we rename Divalli. I'm open to suggestions on what we rename it to.

13 October 2006

Italian MP's are ignorant

Le Iene is one of the better programs on Italian TV. It airs on Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset network. This week the show was not allowed to transmit a report where they had proven that some Italian MP's had recently taken drugs. Out of 50 MP's, 16 had taken canabis, 4 had taken cocaine.
The MP's were set up. They believed they were going to participate in a TV interview. The makeup artists were not applying make up. They were taking sweat swabs for testing. The Italian privacy authority did not allow the show to air the report.

So, instead, they interviewed MP's outside Italian parliament and asked them some general knowledge questions. Several MP's were unable to answer questions on Darfur. Another failed to answer the question "What is Guantanamo?" When told it is a US terrorist prison camp the MP replied it was in 'Iraq or Afghanistan'.

More than one MP was convinced Nelson Mandela was from South America, whilst another was clueless as to why he had won his Nobel.

It really is pretty shocking. But I'd bet if you were to blindside MP's from England, or America, or pretty much anywhere with some general knowledge questions they would fail too. Without a script most politicians are lost.

09 October 2006

Ecological debt

Today marks the day that the earth enters into ecological debt. There is a parameter that is used to measure the resources the earth can provide on a yearly basis. Those resources measured for this year have already been used.

Using this measure, which is provided by an independent organisation based in the UK called New Economics Foundation, it was first calculated that 'Eco debt day' happened in 1987, on the 19th December. Since then the day has been anticipated on a yearly basis. And this year it arrives at the beginning of October.

This is significant. It shows that humanity lives in ecological balance with the earth for just three quarters of the year. And if nothing is done to remedy this, Eco debt day is only going to come round sooner & sooner each year.

There is something we can do, but the question we need to ask ourselves is, "Do we care?"

We need to use less of the earths natural resources, and we need to use more renewable resource. Lets do it now, before it is too late.

08 October 2006

We're doomed

Seriously. There are so many nut jobs out there in this big old world of ours, all who think they are the ones who are right in their interpretation of the word of God. It's clear, it's not God who is the cause of most of the wars & conflicts, it is the people who twist the words in the Bible for their own purpose. Take a look at this video clip. I've not heard of this woman before, and I hope I never have to hear from her again. Whatever it is she is spouting, it's clear there is no christian thought or compassion in what she says. When I hear the words from people like her, and words from similar nutters from other religions, I just despair.

06 October 2006

Fast day for CAFOD

There are a lot of good charities out there, doing work that would only be noticed if they stopped doing it.

Every year CAFOD organise two 'fast days'. A day where you go without, to give to those who don't have.

One fast day is during lent, the other during harvest. Today is the fast day for harvest. They make it really easy. All you are expected to do is miss a meal. For most this would be lunch, but depending on your circumstances you could miss breakfast or dinner. CAFOD ask that you donate what you would normally spend on one meal, and they will pass on that money to help people in a region of the world where they don't have access to the luxuries we in western civilisation take for granted.

This year CAFOD are focusing on a small village called Lushebere in DRC. You can read more about it here:

CAFOD fast day

Anyone can join in with the fast day. It's not proper fasting, you are giving up one meal. How you do that, and whether you do it properly is a matter for you. I guess you don't even need to fast if you prefer not to, just donate what you spent on a particular meal.

05 October 2006

Jesus camp

I heard this story a few days ago and saw some items on the net, but this is the first video clip I've seen. Honestly, I'm astonished. It's shocking the way these kids are being fed religion. Believing in Christ and following an honest, truthful, fulfilling life is not reflected anywhere in this clip.

It's a news piece about a documentary aired in America. Whether the documentary is one sided and gives an unbalanced view of this whole set up or not, I couldn't comment. Ive not seen the whole program yet. Take a look at the clip. Make up your own mind.

No more room in UK prisons

Prisons in the UK are almost full. Of 80,000 places available, only around 160 remain available.

When I first heard the story, and I heard the 80,000 figure, I immediately thought "That's not many" After all, this is a country with around 56 million inhabitants. 80,000 prison places is not a lot.

So who's fault is it? Surely the responsibility lies with the government? Law enforcement ultimately lies at the governments door. It would seem we need more prisons, but I assume building more is a lengthy process. UK prisons are full, now. We don't have time to wait. Doesn't mean they shouldn't start building two or three more though

In the meantime, I assume that we will have to put up with prisoners being released early, & criminals knowing that being sent to prison is becoming less & less likely, as there is no room for them.

Poor management by the government all round, it seems. But I suppose we are used to that by now, from Blair's government.

04 October 2006

Pregnant teenagers 'smoke to get small babies'

I couldn't believe this story when I heard about it. But apparently, teenage girls smoke during pregnancy to ensure they get a smaller baby.

I find it outrageous, disgusting, shocking, amazing that teenage girls would consider putting their unborn baby at harm in this way. For their own selfish ends, really. They believe that by having a smaller baby it will hurt less when they give birth.

Well, the facts are, smoking during pregnancy 'can' mean a smaller baby. As well as affecting the childs growth potential, not to mention the harm that child suffers as it develops, all the chemicals and nicotine and other horrible elements from tobacco smoke passing through to the child from the mothers blood, the increased risk of asthma in the child and other breathing difficulties.
But having a smaller baby does not guarantee a less painful childbirth. If you don't want the pain don't get pregnant. It's a simple enough solution, that even todays dumbass teenagers should be able to understand.

More than outrage, disgust, shock and amazement, though, I just feel so sad that teenagers who get pregnant have so little understanding of what they are doing that they are ignorant of the harm they do to their unborn child. It's a very sad situation. If they are so ignorant of such basic facts, how can they ever be ready to be a parent?

28 September 2006

2.6 billion

2.6 billion. That's the number of people in the world who have no access to basic sanitation facilities according to a recent UN report.

No clean water, no adequate toilet facilites. In a world where some countries spend billions of pounds on weapons, 2.6 billion people do not have clean water.

Of the 2.6 billion people worldwide without access to proper sanitation, about 2 billion live in rural areas, some two-thirds in sub-Saharan Africa and 37 percent in South Asia.

It's shameful, but because it's not happening 'to us' or 'on our doorstep' nobody seems to care.

Quality of prison life

The busiest jail in London is over run with vermin & cockroaches. The staff treat the inmates with disdain and assault is common place.

Prisoners may be in jail because they have committed crime, but does that mean they should be treated with no respect as a human being? Does it mean they deserve to live in rat infested jails? I thought conditions like these had died out with the Victorians.

Being a criminal doesn't mean you deserve to be treated in an inhumane way. Sure, commit a crime and you get punished. But if you treat a human like an animal, he'll act like one. It's disgusting that such a thing happens, and is allowed to happen.

27 September 2006

Climate change

Climate change is a fact. We abuse the resources on the planet, we throw chemical shit into the atmosphere at a rate the earth can't cope with. This wonderful planet, which has amazing balance in life, everything in proportion . A positive for every negative. But what is not accounted for is the ignorance and 'who gives a shit' attitude that we show it every day.

Resources are finite. The way we live our lives today is not sustainable. Is it too late to make a change? Who can know. What is certain though, it's not too late to try. Lets see what we can do.

The biggest problem is peoples response: "What can I do that will make a difference?" Well, as it goes, quite a lot. If you use low energy light bulbs instead of normal bulbs, little will change. If one million people use low energy bulbs instead of ordinary bulbs, it will make a difference. If five million make the change, again it will make a difference. And so on.

So you can see, what we do individually does make a difference, to the collective change. And that was just one example. Every day I learn of new ways I can make a difference. If I can do it, then it isn't that hard.

So turn of the tap whilst brushing your teeth. Walk to the local shops instead of driving. Re-use those plastic bags. Recycle your rubbish. Turn off lights when not in use. Reduce your central heating by a few degrees. I promise you won't notice, but if everyone done the same the difference would be immense. There are so many different ways, different things we can do. Lets not be the generation that destroyed the planet.

23 September 2006

Torture in Iraq 'worse than ever'

I really grieve for those poor Iraqis. Thrown into turmoil, their country invaded, and things have just got worse and worse.

Saddam is gone, which surely long term is a good thing. The problem is nobody filled the leadership void. So you now have security forces, militia groups and anti US groups running amok. There is no law and order. Murder is common place. And reports claim that bodies in morgues in Baghdad bear signs of extreme torture and abuse.

It must be a real hardship living in Iraq these days. Every day there is mass murder. I grieve for the poor innocent victims.

22 September 2006

Police force selects candidates on race

It's not easy being a police officer. Certainly not a job I could do very well. I'd be too emotionally involved if I were to turn up to a crime scene to see a woman whose husband had just knocked her senseless. I'd be too frustrated seeing all hard work I put in to removing degenerates of society from the streets put back there by courts who don't have the power to hand out real sentences that are justified by the crime committed. (Sometimes, it would seem, they don't have the balls to give out proper sentences either)

So when I see a police officer, I want to know that the person entrusted with enforcing the law was the best candidate from applicants for the job. That the person possessed the right qualities to do the job. I don't want to know whether that person is black, white, brown or yellow. Whether that person is male, female, gay or not. I really don't care. What is important is in a time of need, when a police officer is required, when action needs to be taken, that the person there is good at their job. Simple as. Ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, totally irrelevant.

Gloucestershire police force has been found guilty of trying to 'increase diversity' in its force by rejecting 108 candidates, whose only failing was the fact they were white, male.

Of course you have to lay the blame to some degree with the government here, who lay down targets forces are expected to achieve for increasing ethnic minority representation within the police forces.

Judge not on race, colour or creed, just on ability to do the job. It's not hard. Is it?

21 September 2006

Freedom of expression

Freedom of expression and the right to freedom of speech. The right to hold certain beliefs. The right to express those beliefs. The rights of others. Respect for other people. Respect for other religions.

It's a fine balance. Sometimes people get it wrong. Some want it all their own way. Some feel they can criticise but want to be protected from criticism. Some wish to provoke without recourse to their actions, whilst reacting to any provocation, real or imagined.

We all remember the cartoons which upset followers of the Islam faith. If these caricatures upset, why do they then respond in the same fashion against the Pope? Which image upsets? Which offends?






19 September 2006

The Pope's real threat

Originally posted here:

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/008071.php

Please visit the link above, there are links at the bottom of it to other sources of information. The text, here:

Many people have written about the controversy over Pope Benedict's recent remarks at the University of Regensburg, where he quoted a medieval emperor about the barbarity of forced religious conversions. In a replay of the Prophet Cartoon madness, Muslims only escalated their rhetoric after the Vatican apologized for any offense the quotation may have given followers of Islam. Despite apologizing Wednesday for quoting Manuel II's words from 1391 (but not for its argument against violence in religion), Muslims burnt effigies of the Roman Catholic leader and staged demonstrations around the world:

Protesters took to the streets in a series of countries with large Muslim populations, including India and Iraq. The ruling party in Turkey likened Pope Benedict XVI to Hitler and Mussolini and accused him of reviving the mentality of the Crusades. In Kashmir, an effigy of the pontiff was burnt.

At Friday prayers in the Iranian capital, Teheran, a leading ayatollah described the Pope as "rude and weak-minded". Pakistan's parliament passed a motion condemning the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, criticised him hours after a grenade attack on a church in the Gaza Strip. ...

The head of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, said the remarks "aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world".

Similar comments were made in other Muslim capitals, raising fears of a repetition of the anger that followed the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper earlier this year.

All this has shown is that Muslims missed the point of the speech, and in fact have endeavored to fulfill Benedict's warnings rather than prove him wrong. If one reads the speech at Regensburg, the entire speech, one understands that the entire point was to reject violence in pursuing religion in any form, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or Bahai. The focal point of the speech was not the recounting of the debate between Manuel II and the unnamed Persian, but rather the rejection of reason and of God that violence brings

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

This is really the crux of the argument, which is that argument, debate, and rhetoric are absolutely essential in forming any kind of philosophy, including religious doctrine. The words of sacred text do not cover all situations in the world, and therefore development of a solid philosophical body of thought is critical to growth and wisdom. That requires the ability to challenge and to criticize without fear of retribution, a difficulty that most faiths struggle to overcome.

Islam, on the other hand, doesn't bother to try. Benedict never says this explicitly, but Islam's demands that all criticism be silenced turns doctrine into dictatorship, which rejects God on a very basic level. A central tenet of most religions is that humans lack the divine perfection to claim knowledge of the totality of the Divine wisdom. Islam practices a form of supremacy that insists on unquestioned obedience or at least silence of all criticism, especially from outsiders, and creates a violent reaction against it when it occurs.

Islam bullies people into silence, and then obedience. We saw this with the Prophet Cartoons, a series of editorial criticisms that pale into insignificance when seen against similar cartoons from the Muslim media regarding Christians and especially Jews. It is precisely this impulse about which Benedict warns can occur in any religion, but modern Muslims show that they are by far the widest purveyors of this impulse.

Unfortunately, the Muslims are not the only people who missed the point. The New York Times editorial board joins Muslims in demanding an apology and an end to criticism of Islam:

There is more than enough religious anger in the world. So it is particularly disturbing that Pope Benedict XVI has insulted Muslims, quoting a 14th-century description of Islam as “evil and inhuman.” ...

Muslim leaders the world over have demanded apologies and threatened to recall their ambassadors from the Vatican, warning that the pope’s words dangerously reinforce a false and biased view of Islam. For many Muslims, holy war — jihad — is a spiritual struggle, and not a call to violence. And they denounce its perversion by extremists, who use jihad to justify murder and terrorism.

The Vatican issued a statement saying that Benedict meant no offense and in fact desired dialogue.

The Times missed the point, too. They aren't satisfied with the explanation offered by the Vatican. They want a "deep and persuasive apology" for Benedict's temerity in criticizing the use of violence and rejection of reason in religion, and specifically using a six-hundred-year-old quote that insulted people who regularly insult everyone else, including other Muslims. The Times counsels surrender to the threats and the violence.

Benedict opposes both. That's the real threat behind the Pope's speech, and don't think the radical Muslims don't understand it.

18 September 2006

Holy war?

Yep, another post on this subject.

The Pope makes a speech in Bavaria last week. In that speech he quotes a 14th century emporer who had said that the prophet Mohammed had brought the world only "Evil and inhuman things" The Pope said the comment was a bit brusque. He never said he agreed with the comment.

Normally most of the world doesn't give a monkeys huff what the Pope says. But those few words in a long speech seemed to upset followers of Islam. How dare the Pope infer criticism on the prophet Mohammed.

As if Islam, Muslims & Mohammed can be considered above criticism?

The Pope regrets some people take offence at his words. So he apologises. Not enough for some people, it seems. It would appear the apology would only be acceptable if the Pope were to get down on bended knee and pledge allegiance to Allah!!

Meanwhile, the nice, peaceful, loving followers of Islam burn effigies of the Pope, protest and threaten violence.

And now, 'Al Qaeda' issue a warning, vowing to wage war on worshippers of the cross. They threaten to 'break the cross and spill the wine'

Right. And this all makes neutral observers of this situation believe that in fact the Pope has slighted followers of Islam, and in fact their religion is one of peace??

There are two options. Either Islam is a violent religion, whose followers believe that any who criticise or fail to bow down to Allah deserve to die - Spreading the faith by the sword - or the Isalmic faith has been abused by these people, used for their own end.

The evidence is there, draw your own conclusions.

A simple request

If anyone who passes by this blog happens to have a good understanding of the Koran and the teachings of Islam, please get in touch. I am curious to learn what I don't know, and so far have been unable to find a reliable source of information. I'd appreciate if anyone can help.

And still they complain

During Sunday service yeterday, the Pope offered an apology to any and all Muslims who happened to be offended during a speech he gave last week.

It seems however that it is not enough for some people. His apology was not heart felt enough. Perhaps if he were to lay down and receive 50 lashes as punishment, maybe that would suffice?

A totally crazy situation. The argument has been hijacked by extremists for political reasons, taking the comments out of context, and using them for their own purposes. And the peaceful followers of the Islam faith demonstrate their displeasure by attacking churches and burning effigies of the Pope....

Apparently there is a moderate majority who follow the Islam faith. I would suggest that this 'moderate majority' do something to reclaim their religion from the extremists.

An apology has been offered. Have the good grace to accept it, understand that no offence was meant, that comments have been taken out of context, and lets move on.

Junk food kids

Everyone knows that kids eat too much junk food. Ready packed meals, crisps, chocolate, junk, junk & more junk. Obesity is a big problem in the UK, following the US model of eating more than you need whilst not getting any excercise.

Recently, some people have started to take notice and tried to make an effort to bring about changes. TV chef Jamie Oliver started a camapgin to bring in real food (i.e. freshly prepared and cooked that day) into schools for lunches, a better choice of fresh fruit and vegetables and removing some unhealthier options.

There have been many studies which prove how a proper diet can improve health. There is also proof that a proper diet improves behaviour rates, and helps kids concentrate better. Avoiding soft fizzy drinks stuffed full of sugar is a good start.

And ultimately, it's parents who need to take responsibility for how kids eat. Parents need to encourage children to eat a better variety of foods, and to get off their lazy asses and go outside to play. Fresh air and excercise.

Instead, we find that outside a school in Yorkshire, two mothers are instead running a 'Junk Food Meals on Wheels' service. They take the childrens orders for fish n chips, burgers, sweets, chocolates, fizzy drinks during morning break and bring the food over at lunchtime.

Julie Critchlow & Sam Walker. You should be ashamed of yourselves!

15 September 2006

Pope Benedict upsets the Muslims

It seems the over sensitive Muslim community has been taking offence at recent comments made by the Pope. Pope Benedict XVI made comments in a recent speech how the concept of Holy war is 'contrary to God's plan'.

The Pope's comments are not anti Islam. He was making the point how science and philosophy in western culture have separated themselves from faith, leading to secularisation in Europe.

Secularisation has made it difficult for the West to understand cultures where faith is fundamental.

During his speech the Pope reflected on dialogue between a Byzantine emperor and an 'educated Persian' on the subject of Christianity & Islam and the truth of both. Pope Benedict specifically focused on the distinction between Mohammed's teaching on Jihad & Christianity's view that spreading faith through violence is wholly unreasonable.

I don't see why this would upset anyone? It is a valid point, made well. The use of violence in any form to force someone to conform to your own views is wrong. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God.

You can read the Pope's speech here:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/bavaria06/message9.htm

11 September 2006

9/11

I've rewritten this post at least four times. It's hard to put into words sometimes, without wanting to be misunderstood or mis-interpreted.

Today is the fifth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade centre in New York. In total 2,749 people lost their lives in those terrorist attacks. Innocent victims. They were especially in my prayers today.

Also in my prayers are the thousands of innocent victims who have lost their lives since the attacks in New York. All human, not one less important than the other. All equal before God.

I pray for remembrance of those lost, and for the hope of a better world in the years to come.

27 August 2006

A criminal offence

The person pictured is Artur Boruc, a goalkeeper for Celtic football club. He is a catholic. Now normally, someones religion is not a discussion point. But in a football game against Glasgow Rangers football club, at the beginning of the second half, Artur Boruc made the sign of the cross. Something millions of Catholics do every day, without thought. Something thousands of footballers do as they enter onto a football pitch.

It seems that this simple religious gesture upset a few fans from the Rangers support, and they made a complaint to the police. And the end result is this man now has a criminal record for making a simple religious gesture.

What a sad episode, and a sad reflection on the narrow minded attitudes of the Rangers fans to be upset with this simple action, and the authorities for taking the actions they have.

25 August 2006

No water.

I find that the older I get, the more concerned I become about the world around me. I am less selfish and want to do more to help those who are less fortunate than me. I have more concern for the hungry, the homeless, those affected by war. I am also more concerned for the planet we live on, about the totally ignorant way we abuse finite resources.

If Peak Oil is true, we're all screwed already. But if the report I just read on the BBC website is true, then we're doubly screwed.

Oil is the basis for everything we do in our modern society. There isn't an industry, or a product that is not somehow reliant on oil for operation or production needs.

Clean, fresh water is fundamental for life itself. What worries me is if I am an average representation of the general public at large, when they become old enough to be concerned about the world and it's finite resources, it may be too late.

The report on the BBC site can be found here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5282496.stm

Full report copied below:

" As Samuel Taylor Coleridge said: "Water, water every where, nor any drop to drink."

Less than 0.02% of the water on the Earth's surface is liquid freshwater in rivers, lakes and wetlands, and the management of this finite resource has been the subject of this year's World Water Week.

Freshwater is important to all life on earth, including sustaining human populations and meeting development goals; this has been self-evident to all who participated in events in Sweden this week.

The miniscule fraction of freshwater available on Earth is also home to an extraordinarily high level of biodiversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) therefore recognises that the stakes are very high.

As human populations have grown and consumption of water increased, our activities have taken an enormous toll on global freshwater resources. Not only are we over-consuming a very valuable and finite supply, we are abusing it.

We are allowing pollution from activities on land to flow into rivers, to be transported for eventual dilution in the sea, or to accumulate in lakes and other wetlands.

It is not surprising that the stresses we have placed on inland waters have resulted in them being in the poorest condition of all ecosystems.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 report confirms that the rate of ecological loss in these habitats is the fastest of all.

This in itself is cause for concern; an even deeper concern is that too many people regard this consequence as a necessary outcome of our quest for development. I beg to differ. In my view it is the outcome of mismanagement.

The biodiversity that inland water ecosystems support is directly used by countless millions of people worldwide for food and nutrition, fibre, medicines and a host of other benefits, including supporting cultural and social well-being.

The poorest and most vulnerable groups rely on these animals and plants the most. Yet their dependence continues to be under-valued by policymakers.

Of even greater significance is our growing awareness that the problems and their solutions are best addressed from the perspective of the vital range of goods and services that inland water ecosystems provide.

These services include food, freshwater, fuel, the regulation of climate and water flows, water purification and waste treatment, erosion control and mitigation against the growing threats from natural hazards.

All of these functions need to be managed in order to achieve human development targets. I echo the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment by noting the inescapable link between ecosystem condition and human well-being.

The CBD is much more than an agreement that implores that whilst managing water we must conserve biodiversity. It is not just a consensus on minimum standards as we strive to move people out of poverty, or grow richer.

As water is managed and used, biodiversity will change; this is inevitable. The CBD is not in conflict with such change, but its concept of sustainable use implies two major things:

  • we must maintain ecosystem options so that we do not deny our children the right to do better than us
  • the changes that we make must result in sustainable, equitable and desirable human development outcomes

Not an easy task, but the 188 Parties to the CBD have already agreed that this is what we shall do.

On taking up my appointment as Executive Secretary I have made my own commitments. I intend to spare no effort taking the message of the CBD to those who need to hear it - including the world's youth, women, NGOs, the private sector and civil society.

I will reach beyond our traditional borders and offer a partnership to all to contribute to ensuring our common future. I will ensure that we work even better with our major partners in this endeavour.

Despite the despair at the rapidly deteriorating situation regarding water and associated biodiversity, there is room for optimism.

We are learning to manage multiple objectives for water better, and the tools to help us improve by the day. There is growing awareness of the multi-dimensional nature of water resources management, and increasing signs of willingness to make fairer and better informed trade-off decisions.

But we will only completely achieve the wise use of water when we understand that we are all trying to achieve the same result."

Ahmed Djoghlaf is Executive Secretary of the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity

10 August 2006

The American view

Listen to this clip. It's only 50 seconds or so. It's unbelievable that on a major American news network channel somebody could be allowed to broadcast such an opinion. It's outrageous somebody could even hold such an opinion.

03 August 2006

What's going on?

A quick view of the world headlines today:

The continuing war in Lebanon. Internal damage inside Lebanon is blocking aid to the innocent victims of the war.

Iraq. The top British diplomat suggests that civil war is 'More likely than not', a view shared by General John Abizaid, the top US commander in the middle east.

The Sri Lankan army and Tamil Tiger rebels blame each other for the deaths of 10 innocent civilians, in the Muslim majority town of Muttur.

At least 21 people are killed and 13 injured in a car bomb attack, on a market in southern Afghanistan

The Ugandan Lords Resistance Army will NOT send representatives to peace talks with the government

The conflict between Somalia and Ethipoia continues.

At least seven people, including a child, were killed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza.

All this war and fighting, do people really hate each other so much??

But war is not all:

Typhoon Prapiroon hits southern China, bringing heavy winds and rain, causing the evacuation of 10's of thousands of inhabitants. The Typhoon has already killed 6 people as it passed over the Philippines, and comes so soon after Typhoon Bilis killed over 600 people.

Meanwhile America still suffers from a heatwave affecting many areas across the states and which is suspected as the cause of death in at least 13 cases since Sunday. Temperatures and humidity in New York are so unbearable that special areas are being allocated in buildings so people can escape during the day.

Back to China where rising Sulphur Dioxide emissions are causing Environmental damage. In 2005 China emitted nearly 26m tons of sulphur dioxide, a 27% increase since 2000. Sulphur dioxide contributes to acid rain, which damages buildings, crops, and more importantly the health of humans.

So we do hate each other. We continue to kill each other the world over in war, conflict and we continue to abuse the planet, ruining the eco system. Either we will kill each other with guns, or we will kill each other by ruining the resources of the earth.

Will people realise in time the true damage they are causing? Or is mankind determined to destroy itself, one way or another?

01 August 2006

Video uploads

They seem to be the flavour of the month these days. YouTube is popular, and other services are popping up all over. I think they're great, although the content on some videos leaves a bit to be desired...!

Found this video on the libero video upload site, I feel for the presenter, but the guy next to him holding the snake just stands there, laughing. Poor bloke nearly had a heart attack!

26 July 2006

Global warming

Read the following quotes:

"In many countries, farmers are worried about the possibility of crop failures and loss of income."

"
....In the town of Turin, northern Italy, where the temperatures hit 40C (104F)...."

"
....In Barcelona, north-east Spain, the death of a woman of 83 was registered as the ninth fatality in the country due to the scorching weather...."

"
....In France, the heat has brought back memories of the summer of 2003, when about 15,000 people died...."

"....
According to reports in the Polish media, the capital Warsaw has experienced the hottest July since records began more than 200 years ago...."

"
....Polish firefighters are on high alert to tackle forest fires caused by the drought. There have been more than 8,000 fires in recent days...."

"
....High water temperatures have also disrupted electricity production at nuclear power stations in France and Spain, which use water as a cooling agent...."

"
....Electricity supplies in the Czech Republic were back to normal on Wednesday after widespread blackouts due to overload the day before...."

"....
Authorities in the state of California are investigating at least 50 deaths thought to be related to the heatwave gripping parts of the US...."

"
....Power supplies have been stretched by the record temperatures which have reached up to 46C (115F) in some areas...."

"....
The heatwave also caused blackouts in Missouri and New York...."

"
"....It's unbreathable hot," Los Angeles office worker Shauntel Barrow told Reuters news agency. "It's hard. We were not running the air conditioning until we get home at 5 o'clock. But it was like an oven so we left it on low. We're cheating but we can't help it....""

Global warming is happening, it's a fact. If we don't act to change things now, it may be too late.

Food waste

I get really upset, when I read stories like this:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/5218134.stm

"....The aid agency Oxfam says it has already seen families reduced to eating leaves from trees, just to get by...."

Having just recently read stories like this:

http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,1827316,00.html

"....7 million tonnes of food dumped in landfill sites in Britain every year. A quarter of the food buried in the ground is perfectly edible...."

Totally wrong.

£61m profit, a day

The Italian mafia made a £61m profit last year, per day!! That put's them on a par with Fiat & ENEL, and earns them five times as much as Telecom Italia.

The report, compiled for the Italian government, shows that the four major criminal organisations in Italy earned £25m A DAY from companies listed on the Milano stock exchange.

Revenues for the Mafia, which is made up of the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, the Camorra in Campania and the Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia are up 25% on earnings in 2004, to an annual total of £24billion.

The majority of extortion happens in southern Italy. In Sicily, 80% of businesses pay protection money to the Mafia. In Palermo a city centre store can pay as much as £700 a month, a supermarket can expect to pay up to £3,500

However, protection money accounts for a small percentage of Mafia income, with Gun running and drugs giving the largest incomes. Other activities include pornography, prostitution and gambling.

22 July 2006

Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp's testimonial match against Ajax has just finished. The last match for a true Arsenal legend.

It was great to see the respect attributed to Bergkamp from his fellow professionals. Marco Van Basten and Johan Cruyff both played for Ajax, Vieira, Henry, Wright, Overmars and more were there for Arsenal. Henry flew in from America this morning from his holiday, he's going back on his holiday tonight.

Bergkamp is easily the best foreign player to have played in the English league, let alone for Arsenal.

Thanks Dennis, for many wonderful memories.

21 July 2006

Courst says it is ok to swear at people

(Some strong language)

The Italian Court of Cassation has ruled it is ok to swear and hurl insults at someone, as long as the other side gives as good as it gets.

The courst decided a woman was entitled to call an acquaitance "Cretin" "Fool" "Bastard" & "Drug addict" because the insults had been mutual

The judges decided there was justification for the 'crime' upholding a decision made back in March. In that case a woman was acquitted after calling an immigrant co-worker a "Bloody nigger." The judges decided this was allowed as the man had isulted her family and her response was 'an equivalent insult'

This is not the first time a ruling from the court has caught the attention of the Italian media. In fact, the court is often the source of much amusement and bemusement with it's rulings. Past decisions have included:

  • A woman is complicit in rape if she removes skin tight jeans, even under threat
  • Bottom patting is ok, as long as it is 'a sudden & isolated' act
  • Overturning a conviction for rape of a youth who continued to have sex with his partner even though she had changed her mind halfway through
  • Punishing a council worker who blew the whistle on his colleagues for using taxpayers money to pay for calls to sex lines on council mobile phones
  • Saying it is ok for paedophiles to take pictures of minors, so long as they do not sell them
  • And they upheld an adultery ruling against a woman for kissing a bus driver. The reason they gave was 'The time and emotion invested in the relationship betrayed marital trust'
Sometimes you have to wonder what life these judges lead, to be able to pass such judgements.

Best newspaper front page.
























No comments needed. This front page says it all.

Full article is here:

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article1188875.ece

20 July 2006

Innocents of war







It doesn't matter, who is right, who is wrong. What matters is innocent people are dying. It must stop.

Innocent people are being killed. One third of the victims have been children. I pray that this conflict will end, and soon.

15 July 2006

Pine Barrens

For any Sopranos fans, you'll know this is the one of the best, if not THE best, episode from all series. Enjoy a taster....

14 July 2006

Calciopoli verdict

The results for the Calciopoli scandal are in, and they make sad reading for fans of the four teams involved.

Juventus, are relegated to Serie B, with a 30 point deficit to overcome. This probably means they will not be promoted next season unless they pretty much win *every* game. Unlikely but not impossible. Juve's last two Scudetto wins have been revoked. No news if they are to be awarded to another team, or if they will be cancelled from the records.

Lazio are relegated to Serie B, with a deficit of 7 points to overcome.

Fiorentina are relegated to Serie B with a deficit of 12 points to overcome.

Milan are not going to be relegated. They will stay in Serie A but have had 44 points taken away from last years league total, leaving them in a league position that gives NO European football. They start the next Serie A competition next year with a deficit penalty of 15 points.

They judges have spoken, the sentences have been passed. A sad day for all fans, as ever the innocent victims of the greedy few.

Rant time








Three vehicles, all of which have one thing in common.....

They SHOULD NOT be on the road during rush hour times!!

It's totally irrational. Rush hour is the peak time for traffic on the road, and it is the time you will find these vehicles, trundling along without a care in the world, holding up masses of traffic. Queues and queues of cars sitting behind the ignorant drivers of these vehicles. Never, do they pull over to allow the traffic to pass, never do they acknowledge the stress they cause.

These vehicles should be banned from the road during peak hours. So selfish.

12 July 2006

Sorry doesn't always work


Sorry doesn't always work. It's a phrase my daughter tells me, every so often. She learnt it at nursery (my daughter is only 4) When the kids say sorry, they are told "Sorry doesn't always work" to emphasise it is not enough to just say sorry, you need to be sorry for it to have any meaning.

Zinedine Zidane this evening in an interview on French TV gave his side of the story, around the incident that ended with his being sent from the field in the World Cup final, his last competitive game of football, for headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi.

Zidane apologised for his actions. But he doesn't regret them. For me, his apology has no meaning. An empty phrase. I'm sorry for what I done, but I do not regret doing it. If you don't regret it, then why apologise? Surely if you have no regrets then you have nothing to apologise for?

Zidane at least put some unfounded rumours to rest, by clarifying that Materazzi had NOT racially abused him. The insults Materazzi threw at Zidane, he claims, concerned his mother and sister.

Materazzi has made a statement this evening too. He has already admitted throwing insults at Zidane. He always denied calling Zidane an Islamic terrorist, or saying that Zidane was the son of a terrorist whore. Materazzi claims ignorance on such matters. He also denies insulting Zidane's mother. Materazzi lost his mother when he was young, and says for him the Mother is sacred.

Materazzi goes on to say that he held Zidanes shirt, and Zidane looked at him with an arrogant attitude, and said if he was so desperate for his shirt he could have it at the end of the game. It was then that Materazzi shot back with the insults, which lead to Zidane losing his cool and landing the headbutt on Materazzi. You can see this in the film clip in the post below.

I've had enough of this story now. Zidane behaved like a thug in his actions, and committed a common assault on Materazzi. He apologises, but doesn't regret his actions. His apology means nothing. Whatever the verbal provocation, the actions cannot be justified.

Sorry doesn't always work.

11 July 2006

And the polemic rumbles on

After the World Cup final, the talk is more about the headbut of Zidane to Materazzi than the fact Italy won. Not that anyone in Italy cares, they are still partying.

A new angle on the incident has been posted up on Youtube. You can clearly see Materazzi and Zidane together, Materazzi holding Zidane. It appears Zidane offers his shirt to Materazzi, and as he walks away Materazzi has a lot to say about it. And Zidane snaps. I still believe more than what was said here, is important at how they arrived at this point. Video needs to be reviewed of any previous incident during the finals between these two. Only then can we get a clear picture of what happened.



I still believe, whatever Materazzi said, Zidane should have kept walking. His reaction is below any level of provocation he may have received. A violent response to a verbal insult is wrong. Violence is never the way, and it is a shame violent conduct has marred Zidanes career, and damaged his reputation from this act in the final game of the tournament. The final game of his career.

10 July 2006

Four stars on our shirt


It's still sinking in. Italy, champions of the world. My throat is so sore, I didn't know I could sing so loud (or so well)

Overall I feel Italy can be proud of the way they played in this tournament. People will always trot out the old stereotype image of dour and boring football. But this team, whilst retaining the strong defensive qualities Italy is famous for, showed they had more than enough in attack too. 12 goals scored in the tournament, by 10 different players. Strength in depth.

We should find out today the results of the calciopoli investigation, and whilst I hope the offenders are punished in the manner they deserve (remembering my team, Milan, are one of the four accused) I hope for two things:

Winning the world title doesn't in some way lessen the punishment given for the crimes committed.
That the scandal takes it's place in the scheme of things and doesn't detract from a wonderful Italian achievement.

09 July 2006

Campioni Del Mondo!

Finally, after 24 long years, Italy are once again football champions of the world, for the fourth time in our history.

I'll take all arguments over whether we deserved to win, who was the best team and all the rest another day.

For now, all that needs to be said is ITALIA, CAMPIONI DEL MONDO!

Calciopoli, well that's another day. Today it's all about gli Azzuri, and winning the trophy, and title.

Campioni Del Mondo.

04 July 2006

La dolce vita

An excellent little article in the Guardian online today.

According to scientists at Leicester university, people in Italy stay healthy for longer than those in other European countries.

Guido Santavecchi explains:

The Germans - or i panzer, as we usually refer to them - lag behind us, in terms of both life expectancy and the number of years of healthy life one can expect. And so do the French, our cugini transalpini (cousins over the Alps). And as for the United Kingdom (sorry, we used to call you perfida) ... apparently Italian men can expect to stay healthy a whole decade after British men. Italian women, meanwhile, can expect to avoid the first ageing illnesses (we call them acciacchi) for a full 14 years longer than British women.

Under the circumstances, I wonder if you Brits would mind taking some advice from an Italian. After all, with Italy and its politicians and its economy forever in dire straits, perhaps we deserve the chance to feel a little full of ourselves, and full of a little good advice too.

First of all, at lunchtime, stop that crappy junk food, be it sandwiches or pots of salad that you are so eager to buy after queueing for ages in the street or at Tesco. And stay well away from your company canteen with its frustrated cooks.

Instead, go home for your lunch. It's what the Italians do, and it serves us well. OK, your boss may object, but really your boss should be going home at lunchtime too.

Second, remember not to cycle home - the correct thing to do is drive. We Italians are very proud of our very unhealthy habit of driving fast and noisy cars in our traffic-jammed towns. Somehow, it works for us.

When at home, have a decent ration of pasta with a glass of red (one, no more - doctor's orders).

And take note of this: there are two ways to cook pasta properly, ie al dente. The first one is the most difficult but it is not impossible: you put five litres of water in a pot with some salt, wait until it comes to boiling point and then you put your pasta in. You must have occhio (a ready eye) and keep trying the pasta before it's ready. It's a learning curve, but pasta is part of Italian culture, for men and women alike, and it should be part of your culture too.

Alternatively, if you are lucky enough to have someone waiting for you at home, you can call before you set off from the office with the popular old refrain: "Amore butta la pasta che sto arrivando," which means, roughly: "Darling, put the pasta water on, I'll be there very soon."

So that's lunch. The next bit involves rest, something the British are bad at. There are still quite a few Italian people indulging in a nice pennichella (a little rest) after lunch. Why not try it too? After all, whatever the scientists say, however much evidence they come up with, one will probably never really be sure what adds up to that extra decade of good health - the only safe thing to do is to ape us in everything.

And on that note, stop going jogging like a horse at noon, when you should be heading home for your leisurely lunch. What is the point of being slim and fit if it means sacrificing a decade of good health?

This more Italian, more leisurely approach to your day should be carried through to the workplace. When you are back at your desk, some time in the afternoon, after a nice stroll, spend at least half your remaining working time drinking coffee with mates or spreading gossip about your boss. Sure, the scientists don't talk about this stuff - but it's all part of the Italian way.

Yesterday, in the British papers, one scientist was saying that the weather may also play a part in the differences in good health between European countries. Of course, I have no way of helping you here. You know, Italy, not the UK, is o' paese do' sole

But why don't you stop keeping records of every single millimetre of rain? Why don't you stop complaining because, you know, it's the first week of Wimbledon and it's rain as usual, as it was in 1949, 1950, 1953, 1954 etc etc. And now it's the second week of Wimbledon, and it's as bad a heatwave as it was in 1961, 1962, 1964 etc etc. You see what I'm getting at here. Just take what God sends to you, as we say.


Guido Santavecchi is a London based correspondent for Corriere della Sera. And the above contains some excellent advice.

4th July

Today is 4th July, American independence day. Happy independence day to you all.

Maybe today would be as good a day as any for the Americans to stop for a moment and take stock of their place in the world. What does the world really think of America?

I saw a piece in the Telegraph online yesterday, a YouGov survey on how the Brits view the Americans.

It seems the majority of Britons think that American culture, and the actions of the present American administration, are making the world a worse place to live in. More than half of those interviewed regard the US as an imperial power bent on world domination by one means or another.

More than three quarters think that George W Bush is a poor, if not terrible world leader and almost as many believe that for all his hot air about promoting democracy in the world, his real aim is to push American values and national interests.

Americans, as individuals, are still held in fairly high regard, but the American 'special' role in the world is not. Britons tend to like Americans "a little" (49 percent) or "a lot" (21 percent) and more than half, 54 percent, feel positive about the US in general.

The core problem seems to be with Americas relations with the rest of the world. And, 69 percent of Brits say their opinion of the US has gone down in recent years. Respondents were asked to assess the impact of the Bush administration beyond the shores of America. Less than 1 quarter of those, just 22 percent, believe that American governments present policies and actions make the world a better place to live in. Three times that proportion, 65 percent, view American actions in the world as detrimental.

American culture generally fared slightly better, with one third approving of the impact of American culture world wide. Even so, 52 percent viewed American influence, on balance, as harmful.

It seems many Americans like to view the US as 'a beacon' in the world, the last best hope the world has. Just 11 percent accepted that view. A massive 77 percent were startled that Americans believe they are setting the world a good example.

George W Bush fairs very poorly in this poll, it seems no other former US president has had such a negative impact on the world stage. 34 percent think he is a "pretty poor" leader, with 43 percent thinking he is "terrible." The majority of Britons view Bush as incompetent and a hypocrite, with little regard for democratic values. 72 percent believe he uses pro-democracy rhetoric as little more than a pretext for pursuing selfish American interests. Even more, 76 percent, take the view that if Bush really does want to promote freedom and democracy, he is going about it in the wrong way. Only 9 percent think Bush is doing a good job.

America is viewed as a society split by class and race. Forget the American dream, one nation united together. 72 percent of britons view American society as unequal. 65 percent view America as "vulgar" whilst 56 percent say it is "uncultured"

73 percent believe America is badly led, 73 percent again view America as ignorant of the outside world and 83 percent belive America doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks.

The last question in the poll:

"If you had the chance, would you go to live in America?"

19 percent said they would, but 67 percent said they preferred to stay where they are or choose another country.

Happy Independence day.

27 June 2006

Veterans Day

Today in the UK is the first veterans day. A chance for the masses to celebrate and thank those who put their lives on the line defending the freedoms of the country during times of war.

Although, seeing the standard these freedoms have led to in the UK*, you would think these veterans may wonder what they fought for.

War is wrong, violence is never going to resolve an issue, but sometimes you need to defend yourself against an aggressor. And those people who went out and put their life on the line for all of us, deserve all the thanks and praise due to them.

To all members of the armed forces, who would give their life for people they don't even know, in name of Queen and Country, I give my thanks.

* See posts here:
http://ellasdevil.blogspot.com/2006/06/dont-spoil-it.html

and here:
http://theseawitch.blogspot.com/2005/08/we-are-not-amused.html

Lads Mags

There is going to be a short debate in the houses of parliament over the standard of 'Lads Mags' today. An MP, Claire Curtis-Thomas is going to request a bill be approved that all 'Lads Mags' be moved to the top shelf, out of the reach and sight of children.

I applaud her efforts, but unfortunately it is most likely that her bill won't be acted on, most 10 minute bills are not. But anything that helps to try and raise the moral standards in the UK can only be a good thing. And it shouldn't apply to just lads mags either, there are magazines who target the 10 - 15 year old female market which also include non suitable sexually explicit material.

It comes down to common sense. Ask yourself a question. Should a magazine produced and targeted at 12 - 15 yr old girls include articles such as "Sexual position of the week"?

I don't advocate censorship, but a level and moral standard has to be applied. I fear the effort of Claire Curtis-Thomas may be too little and have little effect but something needs to be done and every good path needs a first step.