Archive for July 5th, 2009

Doomed I tell you… doomed….

Guido Fawkes  reports that shortly before Andy Murray played Roddick at Wimbelbore 10 Downing Street sent a message via Twitter…. It seems that Murray may have been doomed from that moment on…

Rather enjoyed this from The Observer Upfront page This much I know:

“The democracy of blogging and tweeting is absolutely terrific in one way. It is also the most effective producer of rubbish and insult and falsehood we have yet invented”

Professor AC Grayling

I had a good look around Professor Grayling’s website – some very interesting stuff.  I shall be buying his book Liberty in the Age of Terror.

I rarely read (and certainly do not believe in) astrological predictions. This is not really surprising for an atheist. I was, however, amused by the prediction for my Taurean week ahead from The Observer Bolloxmeister Neil Spencer. … “A fixed smile and agreeable manner will carry you through situations and dealings with people that leave you appalled’. I’d better go out and find some appalling people so that I can practice being an agreeable sphinx.

As far as I can see – and the astrolobollocks in The Mirror is even more spectacular – this must be money for old rope.  I’m now sitting here as I drink some Burgundy whether I can turn my hand to generating astrological predictions and persuade people to sponsor me.  Mystic Charon?   Charon the Mystic?  All suggestions for (a) doing this as a means of paying for even more Rioja and (b) a suitable name – gratefully received.  I’ll even do your first astrolobollocks prediction FREE.

This is a picture of the new head of MI6 or ‘M’ in the 007 films.

In fact  the director of the real-life MI6 is known as “C”, nominally for “chief” but actually the result of the first director, Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming, signing his documents with the last initial of his name.

There was a time, in the not too distant past, when the name of ‘C’ was a state secret and no pictures ever appeared.  But now Sir John Sawers, the next head of MI6, is a very well known man.  The BBC reports that Sir John is the UK’s ambassador to the United Nations and is due to take up his new post in November. It appears, however, that his wife had a facebook page and a fair bit of information was placed on the site – without privacy settings.  Blazer wearers from Surrey and the odd Tory MP are making much of this and harrumphing.

The BBC reports: “David Miliband denied security had been compromised after the wife of Sir John Sawers posted family photographs and details of their children and home. Mr Miliband told the BBC: “You know he wears a Speedo swimsuit. That’s not a state secret.”Some Tories said the disclosure was damaging and Lib Dems want an inquiry.”

“In the old days we used to keep the name secret, all photographs were banned ad I never really believed that the Russians didn’t know who the head of MI6 and MI5 was,” Ken Clarke MP, languidly told Sky news.. possibly as he drank a Martini… shaken not stirred, smoked a Monte Cristo and looked at a man stroking a white pussy across the table from him…

But all is not doom…

Fellow Twitter user and City lawyer  has been going to the gym and smoking a rather good cigar.  There is hope in every avenue of life despite these dark days!  #Smokedo is spreading….


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Some philosophical issues…..

Lord Falconer is championing the cause of those who assist the terminally ill with suicide – to my mind a perfectly reasonable cause to give dignity to those who wish to end their lives because of ilness and pain yet who do not wish to bring harm through prosecution to those who assist them.  Times

“We are in this awful situation where people who travel with relatives probably won’t be prosecuted, but can’t be sure,” said Falconer. “It means people are going to clinics on their own, or going earlier than they otherwise would, which can’t be right.

“In my view rightly, the DPP has refused to prosecute around 100 people in these cases. The law must be brought in line with actual practice and the change in public views on these issues.”

Inevitably there has been a parade of ex-archbishops and bishops coming forward to argue the point.  Lord Carey has joined the ranks of those who wish to block this change in the law and who seem to have missed an elementary philosophical position – the right of an individual to make decisions.  Writing today in the News of The World – a paper not noted for a focus on deep philosophical issues – under the screaming headline – Mercy Killers  are hijacking the suicide bill Lord Carey argues that an amendment would put the elderly at risk of unscrupulous heirs who wish to do away with their relatives so they can get the money.  This may well be the case – but this phenomenon can surely be dealt with by an independent assessor who looks at the evidence and the reality behind a request to die?

For my part if an adult wishes to end his or her life, but is unable to pursue this action alone they should be given the right to do so free of the burden that their partner or family member or friend will be prosecuted. My reasoning is based on a principle that we should have an absolute right – free from religious or philosophical  ethics of a bygone age – to determine how we should run our lives and, in this case, our deaths.  Even on a Benthamite utilitarian construct,  the right to die and enlist the help of another who is prepared to extend love for their friend in this way will give the person who wishes to die greater pleasure to themselves than harm to others and should, accordingly be a right enshrined in law.  Of course we must have laws in place to prevent unscrupulous relatives knocking off their rich relatives  – but that, surely, is not beyond the ability and will of parliament?

And then we have Jack ‘Hardliner’ Straw, our  Lord Chancellor, turning down parole for Ronnie Biggs on the grounds that Ronnie Biggs did not show repentance for his crime and chose to commit another crime by escaping from custody all those years ago.  To this Jack ‘The Pirate Hat’ Straw added that Biggs had courted press attention outrageously.

The facts are these. Ronnie Biggs was one of the Great Train Robbery Gang.  He coshed the guard.  The guard died subsequently.  Biggs and his fellow gang members was sentenced to thirty years – a sentence, some say, issued to show that the government and the judiciary were cracking down on organised crime.  Biggs did a runner and for many years made a laughing stock out of Plod who chased him around the world and finally to Brazil. Biggs returned to Britain, a sick man, voluntarily and was immediately banged up.  Biggs is an old man now and seriously ill.  He is unlikely to be a threat to anyone in society apart from himself.  He is too frail to even steal a newspaper from the local newsagent, let alone use a cosh or commit robberies.  The Parole Board recommended release.

I am baffled by Straw’s decision. In my view – and I am far from alone in this – he has made a poor decision and has diminished himself and the justice system in the process.  Prison is not simply about revenge.  It is about deterrence and rehabilitation. It is, in so far as it can show this, also about compassion and hope.  I can see nothing in this decision of Jack Straw’s other than revenge.  It is a decision which leaves a rather unpleasant odour.   It is ironic when Straw is falling over himself to tell the judiciary not to jail people and not to be offended when criminals show disrespect to them and the justice system because we haven’t enough prisons and we don’t wish young thugs to feel discrimiated against  – that he should now wish to appear to be the ‘Iron Man of Justice’.  Straw would be better off listening a bit more to the senior judiciary and other experts on  other means of punishment.  We have more people in our prisons than any other country in Europe and more lifers, I understand, than the rest of the European Union put together. I won’t even bother to consider today whether half of these people (non violent people) are even in prison.  I doubt whether many prisoners show repentance. Straw would be better placed dealing with the rise in serious crime and not pissing about on a pre-election ‘London Palladium’ stage grandstanding. FAIL… as they say in the modern vernacular.

And finally… My favourite pic of the week. A fabulous one fingered salute from a brave woman.  I am grateful to Natasha Phillips, a fellow blogger and friend, for putting this picture up on Twitter earlier today.  It needs no commentary.  Natasha, who is part Persian, is also a serial user of Twitter (@sobk13)  and, late at night, is a Twitter DJ using Blip.FM!  She also plays a savage and cunning game of Scrabble and is resistant to my puns.  I am working on new tactics.

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Postcard from Wales: 5th July

I escaped on Friday morning to make a trip to Brecon to visit a very good friend of mine, a barrister, who moved to Australia some years ago.  She is from Brecon and is over in Wales seeing her mother with her two sons; sports mad 16 year olds.  Brecon is astonishingly beautiful, a small market town with a quiet lazy feel to it on the day I visited, set in the heart of the Brecon Beacons; some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen.  I have in my youth been up Snowdon (in fact, years ago, I foolishly did the Three Peaks challenge   a completely pointless exercise involving long hours sitting in a van driving and then bursts of frenetic activity climing each of  Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, Snowdon.)  I prefer taking time to walk and see things.

My friend asked if I would like to see Pen y Fan. I have been tricked before with these leading questions.  “As a theoretical proposition I would, indeed, like to see Pen y Fan”  I replied.  The thought of walking up was not on my agenda.  I think she sensed, despite my lean and hungry Smokedo look, that I was a bit unprepared to stroll up a small mountain.  We went for a walk instead up a fairly steep hill to a Trig point from where we could see Pen y Fan and tremendous countryside and the valley below.  Her two sons, perhaps not as fascinated by the view and the lyricism of lush and verdant Wales below us, amused themselves by kicking a rugby ball into the bracken and then losing it.  My friend strode into the bracken and found it – clearly with a sharper eye for where the ball landed than we three men…

So… Bernie Ecclestone, the mighty midget of Formula 1 racing, appears to have finally lost the plot with calls for authoritarian government and suggesting that Max Mosley would make a good prime minister.  Christ knows what goes on the minds of rich business people used to getting their way – but clearly it doesn’t involve a great deal of political acuity or common sense.  Surely, he must know that Max Mosley’s father was a ludicrous figure of ridicule when he pranced around in jodphurs and riding boots doing fascist salutes.  Max Mosley as prime minister?  Yes… I can see Guido and the political bloggers commenting on Prime Minister’s Questions if Mosley was PM – ~Mosley gets/gives a SPANKING!”….

The Times had an amusing article: Hitler?  he got things done…

Perhaps Ecclestone could now fuck off back to his Formula 1 trailer and continue to make millions from what must be one of the most boring sports on earth to watch.?   This is merely a suggestion – I don’t share Ecclestone’s ludicrous tastes for authoritarian behaviour. Here is the Libertarian Party UK response to Ecclestone’s suggestion that Hitler was an OK sort of a guy who may have been got at by the boys – but was a good leader!

Well… there you are, as my Welsh friends say in their lilting voices…. a short one… but I need to go for a walk to ease the ache in the back of my legs from the unaccustomed walk up a hill!  It is very flat where I am East of London…. as it would be… on the sea.

be sure, I shall return and write more… two days off blogging has given me severe withdrawal symptoms….

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