Monday, July 31, 2006

[living] how to spend twenty-five minutes with a russian girl

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself with a Russian femme fatale with brunette hair, a winning smile and a brain the size of a computer? And if you had more than a passing interest in her? In my case, three hours ago, I suddenly decided to interview her. For some people, I may have had my priorities wrong. Interview follows.

[living] blogger of the day - tim worstall

Being new to the blogosphere and with the naive arrogance only upstarts can display, I ambitiously embarked on a ‘blogger-of-the-day’ corner, little realizing the impossibility of encapsulating, in half a page, the public life of a known figure.

And yet, looking back, I stand by the decision.

Looking at the spread of visits to my own site, it seems reasonable to suggest that there might be some in other countries who are still not familiar with the blogger-of-the-day and I think they should be. So, in my own small way, I hope it contributes.
Today’s victim is Tim Worstall.
Says Theodore Gray: Tim Worstall is an interesting character: A Englishman living in Portugal who deals in scandium metal and scandium oxide. He doesn't just deal in them, he does most of the dealing in them (60% or so) that is done worldwide. Oddly, I don't have any pure scandium from him, but rather a couple of rare earths he happened to have on the side. You can contact him through If you're an industrial user or producer of scandium and you need someone to broker your scandium oxide transactions, see Tim.

Is this the same Tim Worstall? I thought he was an economics blogger.

Tim Worstall vs. Greenpeace. One of our favorite bloggers takes on Greenpeace, and it isn't pretty.

Environmental blogger.

Blogbuster: Tim Worstall's entertaining new anthology of web writers, 2005 - Blogged, puts the best into a book, says Rafael Behr [Sunday December 4, 2005 The Observer]. On paper it’s a terrible idea: let every have-a-go writer on the planet publish whatever they fancy and give it all away free. No editors, no agents, no fees, no quality control. But a new generation of diarists, satirists, polemicists and poets have made the idea work, precisely because they dispensed with paper. They are bloggers, their medium is the internet and there are around 19 million of them worldwide; 300,000 or so in the UK.

Er – 19 million? What have I got myself into? To delve further:

Rafael Behr continues: Worstall is an expat businessman based in Portugal. He is also a prolific blogger, with a libertarian bent, who is on a self-appointed mission to eviscerate every newspaper article that he judges guilty of economic illiteracy. He is not, however, exclusively hostile to old media, nor immune to the charms of ink on paper. He must be at least ambivalent about olde worlde recognition or he would not have published anything so Luddite as a book. But therein lies a contradiction in much political blogging: it rather depends on the very thing it likes ostentatiously to scorn.

Curiouser and curiouser.

"That rare commodity: knows economics and can write" - The Observer Blog

Yes, I'd heard this.

A blog interested in the interface between economics and environmentalism. Other matters are also discussed.

That’s more or less what was expected. Now to his site:

We actually want to abolish the taxation of retained profits altogether. This is, after all, what a company uses to reinvest. Tax dividends as income, fine, tax capital gains (although more on that later) but retained profits? Shouldn’t be taxed at all. Actually, there’s interesting evidence that even corporation tax, at least in part, is actually paid by the workers in the form of lower wages.

Yes, well that’s more or less what was expected of him as well.

There is no unique, absolute, scientific cut-off threshold available to decide whether any product is safe or not. If we are to hold the world to the standard being demanded here we would never have anything new ever again. In fact, we would have to go back through the stock of what we already consume and we’d probably have to excise potatoes, tomatoes, nuts (people die every year from nut allergies), rhubarb (not a great tragedy, I agree), possibly coffee.....
Potatoes [not even spelt in the Quaylian manner]?

I sit back and scratch my balding pate and think of this man whom I e-mailed about different pesky little blogging questions of concern, which he answered immediately, repeatedly and helpfully.

Tim Worstall. Blogger and scandium dealer.

[living] the naked truth about blogging

In the red corner, ladies and gentlemen – Oliver Kamm, author, journalist and writer/blogger. In the blue corner – Clive Davis and Tim Worstall, unashamed bloggers.

Here I sit at ringside, one week after I started this blogging business and I’m wondering what to make of it. Bursting from the starting gate, I launched into the blogging with a vengeance. One week later and I’m somewhat more circumspect.

What on earth am I doing?

Inordinate amounts of time consumed, lost friends who can’t reach me on the phone, lack of sleep, almost nobody commenting on any of my pieces and giving that much needed feedback and yet … and yet …

My counter ticks over and tells me 187 people visited yesterday, [I'm not sure if that's good or bad], the James Bond Big Java Board lights up with pinpoints of prettily coloured lights, mainly centred on the UK, the US, Australia and a mysterious ‘unknown country’. I thought that unknown country was me until I checked addresses and it seems I’m not the only stateless person out there.

The language spread shows English, French, German and Portugese and one of the latter was inside for some minutes. Why? I put a French recipe in [hope you enjoyed the aubergine] and hoped to get some French traffic ... but no luck. I suppose I’ll try again tomorrow.

So I repeat the question – what on earth am I doing? Oliver Kamm knows. He says:

What blogs do effectively is provide a vehicle for instant comment and opinion. Some newspapers have established blogs for their journalists or other commentators. But the overwhelming majority of blogs — no one knows how many there are — are set up by amateurs using software that is easily available and almost free.

All right. But they’re still at the cutting edge of the new journalism, aren’t they?

These are not a new form of journalism, but new packaging for a venerable part of a newspaper. Even the best blogs are parasitic on what their practitioners contemptuously call the “mainstream media”. Without a story to comment on or an editorial to rubbish, they would have nothing to say.

Well yes, we’re all derivative in the end aren’t we? We all have to do our research and glean our material from somewhere, surely. And look at the vast mass of interesting material, the sheer dazzling variety of what’s on offer.

Most blogs have nothing to say even then. Without editorial control, they are unconstrained by sense, proportion or grammar. Almost by definition, they are the preserve of those with time on their hands.

I see. So I’m wasting my time, it seems. I’m writing pieces I can’t write, for a non-existent readership of fellow bloggers – a sort of worldwide club for the illiterate, perhaps. Oliver Kamm also added that he detests the term ‘blogosphere’. Oops. Clive Davis appears to agree with him:

Jean-Remy von Matt, the CEO of a German advertising agency … called blogs "the toilet walls of the internet". "What on earth", he asked, "gives every computer-owner the right to express his opinion, unasked for?"

But one moment – he heads this piece with ‘Another one who doesn’t get it’ and refers to von Matt as belonging to the ‘tribe that time forgot’. Ah, now there is hope indeed. Tim Worstall now weighs in to the debate and a review on his book 2005 Bloggers says:

But a new generation of diarists, satirists, polemicists and poets have made the idea work, precisely because they dispensed with paper.

And another thing. Since I began, I've been snubbed by one or two, vilified by e-mail by one or two but by and large, I now have a few new - dare I call them friends, some from this post. I think Oliver Kamm certainly has a point -
are we sad cases? I certainly feel myself one. Or are we fearless bloggers, bringing the latest news and views to an anxious and expectant public?
The referee is at the centre of the ring, the combatants either side, but so far he’s raised neither side’s hand in victory.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

[world] the other powder keg - korea [2]

This is not a journalistic article – it is merely collated research and you can draw your own conclusions.

Further to part 1, the other powder keg - korea, hopes of a re-opening of the six nation’s talks under the umbrella of the ASEAN conference depend on the real positions of the various combatants.

There is national interest involved and the complication of forthcoming elections, creating posturing on the part of potential national leaders and though historical precedent and lingering resentment have not in the past, in themselves, resulted in war, nevertheless they do provide convenient pretexts for pre-emptive strikes.

For example, Asia Times reported, in 2004 that:
The abduction of 13 Japanese nationals by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s is the major stumbling block to improving diplomatic relations. When Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made a historic trip to the North in September 2002, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il admitted that government agents abducted the Japanese nationals, eight of whom reportedly died.

As for the tone of the reaction to the missile firing, Japan Times reported:
South Korea, which has pushed rapprochement with the North, condemned Pyongyang's action. Russia joined in the criticism, saying the missile firings complicated the situation surrounding North Korea's nuclear program. China declined comment at first, but said later it was watching the situation closely and urged the countries concerned to remain coolheaded.

One complication is the amount of sabre rattling from the North. The Taipei Times reports this sort of rhetoric on the part of General Kim:
"The general has declared that not even a tiny concession will be made to the imperialist US invaders, our archenemy," said a broadcast on North Korean state television.
Kim, who never speaks himself in public, said that if the US took "revenge," it would mean "all-out war."
"It is not empty talk for the DPRK [the Democratic People's Republic of Korea] to respond with revenge to any revenge by the enemy and with all-out war to an all-out war," the TV said.

Bloomberg reported yesterday:
"North Korea is the key player, so without North Korea's participation, there is no way we, Asean, can facilitate the dialogue,'' Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. "All six members are here, so one way or another, we should encourage any meeting.''
Representatives from 16 nations will take part in the 13th Asean Regional Forum on July 28, according to Asean.
Rice will arrive in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow and hold a joint press conference with Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar at 5:05 p.m. Malaysian time on July 28, Asean said in a statement. North Korea's Paek has confirmed his participation, Syed Hamid said today.

ASEAN regional forum adds that:
South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Chun Yung-Woo told reporters that a five-nation formula was "one option that is being considered but the goal at the moment is to hold six-party talks."

However, RIA Novosti was more pessimistic:
Moscow sees little chance for a resumption of six-party negotiations on the Korean peninsula's nuclear problem, especially a five-nation meeting without North Korea at an Asian security forum, a Foreign Ministry source said.
"There have been proposals to conduct negotiations in Kuala Lumpur - not specific proposals, however, but just an idea that was aired in Beijing on the level of experts," the source said. He said a multilateral meeting on the problem in Kuala Lumpur was unlikely, adding, however, that "everything could yet change."
But he said Russia would hold bilateral contacts with all parties to the six-nation dialogue on North Korea's nuclear program.

Herein lies one of the stumbling blocks – Russia wishing to play the negotiator, the US with the big stick and China essentially keeping its own counsel.

Spacewar, which is not a source I would ordinarily quote from, reports the words spoken by US Envoy Christopher Hill:
He said he was also ready to meet North Korea bilaterally if Beijing succeeded in organizing a round of informal six-way talks in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang.
"Even within the informal six-party talks? Yes, I can," Hill said. "I just can't do it when they are boycotting the six-party talks," he said after meeting South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon.
The United States has had more than once met bilaterally with the North on the side since 2003 so this is a departure.

So the ARF, which began on July 28th, is the last realistic chance for some time to bring North Korea back to he negotiating table but your guess is as good as mine as to whether the postulating is simply jockeying for a better negotiated result or whether there is a real chance that national agendas must irrevocably clash and the flashpoint be reached.

And that has been the basis of the major wars since the mid 20th century, only here we are dealing with Eastern temperaments and national pride.

[world] the other powder keg - korea [1]

Remember the TV series MASH?

Everyone has been concentrating on the Middle-East but why have all eyes moved away from North Korea? There appear to be fashions in wars – first Iraq, Iran and now the flavour of the month – Israel. My attempt to draw people’s attention to Northern Ireland was roundly ignored.

The Six Party Talks - the US, Russia, China, Japan, North Korea and South Korea have been a total dud but it’s perhaps a little unfair to the US to single them out for the failure. It’s mind has been somewhat preoccupied lately.

With Shinzo Abe poised for victory as the new Prime Minister in Japan, watchers are deeply concerned by his nationalistic posturing and aggressive attitude to North Korea. Yasuo Fukuda, the aging moderate, now appears to have little chance.

Instead, Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki appears to be the only candidate who can oppose him in the current behind the scenes negotiations.

Park Geun-hye, the former strong man’s daughter, is also trying out for President in the South and that can only mean a reversal of the thaw over the last decade between the two Koreas.

So there seems a three way belligerence looming in the area and the mind boggles in contemplation of the scenario of a triple pre-emptive strike, just as the Middle-East reaches its next gruesome stage.

Then the fallout from the missile tests has to be taken into account. This had the effect of worsening already strained Sino-Japanese relations. The Yasukuni Shrine visit hardly helped and the fear of a new Chinese hegemony in the area has refuelled Japanese nationalism to a startling degree.

The result of all of the above is a powder keg just waiting for the first match.

If the US could just look over its shoulder for one moment [an expression I used about the IRA in an earlier piece], they would surely see the necessity to move hell and high water to push for a solution.
Perhaps it might even be the trigger for the much vaunted US/Russian co-operation - both have an enormous amount to lose. Even the beginner’s military textbook says that the less fronts you fight a war on, the greater your chances of an acceptable result.

Keep your eye on this one.

[living] dressing the french way

How do French women manage to achieve the look they do? Even when dressed down [as above], they still have that certain something which mystifies most Anglo-Saxons . However, there are some rules which can be followed:

No. 1: Blend. A French woman strives to unify all the elements into a seamless whole. The stripes and the jeans will be a neutral colour, the bangles will be bone or cocoa. They allow accessories to float on a basic canvas and blend a look together.

No. 2: Softness. All clothes except your suit and your classic white blouse must look supple, not starched. And that goes for hair as well. Highlights must never be noticeable and makeup borders on the bland. For a good example of French restraint look at Clarins models’ golden natural glow.

No. 3: One item noticeable. Despite the fixation with natural and neutral tones, every French woman wears one flirty item: high heels, a leather skirt, a skim of black eyeliner, a choker. The trick is just one item - never two - and that’s the hard part.

No. 4: One expensive classic. A Vuitton bag, a Hermes scarf, a pair of Charles Jourdan heels, diamond earrings - these remain the cornerstone of a chic wardrobe no matter what your age. The young wear them with jeans, the older with pencil skirts and cashmere sweaters cut low. Kept in immaculate condition, a French woman will wear her Kelly bag for life and simply change the clothes around it.

No. 5: Flatter your body. Pleasure in being a woman is the philosophy of French dressing. Silk lingerie, lace stockings. Dressing to flatter your body and investing in well-cut basics allow for eccentric touches.

No. 6 Signature item. Find what you love and make it your signature. It might be long flowing hair and short velvet gloves or chisel toed boots and mini-skirts.

No. 7: Less. Nothing blatant will do. Anglo-Saxon style is about the big statement. French style is always a matter of less. Less is so much more! Less clashing colours, less makeup, less costume jewellery, less fur but one ravishing perfume.

No. 8: Class. No piercing, tattoos or multiple earrings. These are from the bordello and are really quite ugly. French women would not lower themselves this way when there are so many other ways to stand out.

No. 9: Grooming. Clothes, hair and makeup must be immaculately kept. Simple glossy hair, tied back, looks vastly better than a highly structured style. Eyebrows trimmed to perfection lessen the need for eyeshadow and mascara.

No. 10: Little black dress. The most essential item in any woman's wardrobe. Whether it's a holiday party or New Year's celebration, basic black is the basic statement.

No. 11: Perfectly tailored suit. Look for one in which the jackets and pants or skirt can be worn separately, that can be paired with jeans and a stylish pant that can take you from work to cocktails.

No. 12: Leather jacket. Sexy, cool. equally chic with denim or a dress, a leather jacket can last a lifetime. A timeless shape is best.

No. 13: A well-cut trench coat. As in the photo above, it should allow for layers underneath yet isn't so roomy that it adds bulk to the figure. The colour and fabric usually suit autumn or winter.

No. 14: Knee-high boots. Lend instant drama to any ensemble, whether a denim mini or an intricate black lace skirt. Lush leather with a sensible yet chic heel are best.

No. 15: Strappy black sandals. Platform styles are too passe and high heels are too painful in summer. Small, low open shoes are the way.

This article relies heavily on pieces by Anna Johnson and Diana Pemberton-Sikes.

[world] israel is the vanguard

This is a personal statement, devoid of linked references, devoid of attempts at intellectual cleverness, devoid of anything but a shell-shocked reaction to what is happening at this troubled time.

The Christian perspective, for all the criticism it attracts, can give you a different take. For a start, Revelations becomes relevant. Also Ephesians 6:12. Also Isaiah and Daniel. You can tear all these to shreds as you wish but if you run with these ideas for a little while and view the current events through this filter, you begin to see a whole new ball game.

Don’t get me wrong - I believe that many of the currently proposed theories hold water – as far as they go. Yes – Iran and Syria are trying to destabilize Israel. Yes, Israel is intransigent. Yes, the BBC, the FCO and the Establishment are pro-Arab. Yes, the US is supplying weapons to Israel. Yes, Hezbollah are everything which has been said about them.

I also believe, after sifting through hundreds and hundreds of documents, just letting them take me to where they led, that there is a third and even a fourth player in all this.

On the temporal level, do not discount China’s role. Just research their moves in the last year and a half – it’s easy enough to access, if you know the questions to ask.

Hence the name of my site.

Also, on the temporal side, there is not the slightest doubt in the world that the Finance is very closely interwoven into it. But it really goes without saying, doesn’t it? Where it becomes very, very interesting is when you adopt Deep Throat’s advice to Woodstein in the Watergate saga:

Follow the money.

It’s interesting, precisely because of the barriers and obstacles strewn in your path as you do this. The closer you get, the more you need to back off.

So let’s come back to Israel. Doesn’t anybody except Israel understand that, fundamentally, this thing has absolutely nothing to do with Jewish/Arab antagonism? Israel is simply the first and the last bastion against global conflagration. Do you think that if Israel goes under, if Europe fails to lift a hand, that Europe or any of the West is going to stand very much longer?

And if you think I’m referring to Islamic conquest, then you’re not piercing through to the core of this matter.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

[living] writer on sunday - gene weingarten

Gene Weingarten is a journalist and writer who runs a column called Below the Beltway in the Washington Post on Sunday. To access his pieces online, you need to go to the site, find the little panel to the lower left, scroll down until you find him and click.
He could also be described as a sort of blogger, in that he hosts a forum on Tuesdays at the Post Online.

He’s described as a humour writer and he certainly follows that prime directive, his Sunday articles being a must read with the early morning coffee. This, below, is from a piece called Eau de Toilet, describing his terrifying experience alone in a high end perfumerie, trying to select a gift for his wife:

Calling French perfume "pricey" is a significant understatement, like calling a tsunami "moist." Your typical ounce costs a C-note. I decided that I was going to shop intelligently and not lose my head.
Immediately, I lost my head.
I blame it on the fumes, but it may also be because perfume saleswomen tend to be young and lovely and will frequently, without warning, offer you their necks to smell.
The fact is, after about half an hour of perfume shopping, I was cheerfully looking at $150 liquids in quantities that could fit into a contact lens case.
Fortunately for me, everything stank.

He deviates from such fare from time to time to comment on the political scene and describes here the run up to the election in which Michael Dukakis was the Democratic candidate:

During the 1987-88 year, Nieman curator Howard Simons took all of us Fellows to meet a man who was running for president. Michael Dukakis … Dukakis was terrific, we said. Impressive. Commanding. Presidential. We were falling all over each other to find adequate superlatives.
Howard heard us all out, then shook his head and said: "Won't win. No sense of humor."

The Post sent him to Israel to ‘live’ what it was actually like under the threat of constant death and the result was a long piece entitled Fear Itself. Now widely acclaimed and available on the web, it put him in, as I wrote to him, ‘Great danger of losing the ‘humorous’ tag and being taken as a serious writer of note.’
This is from the introduction:

So here's a question: Would you ride a bus in Jerusalem? Right now? Here's your 5 1/2 shekels, go take a bus to market, buy some figs. Pick a bad day, after the Israelis have assassinated some terrorist leaders and everyone is waiting for the second sandal to drop. There are lots of buses in Jerusalem -- the odds are still long in your favor. Do you take that dare?
A few weeks ago, I did just that: boarded a bus on just such a day, and rode for nearly an hour. I did it because I wanted to better understand the psychology of terror. Not the psychology of the terrorist -- the psychology of the terrorized.
After 9/11, Americans are concerned enough by terror to be waging a costly war against it. But, by and large, the fear of terrorism has not seeped into our bones. We are new to this thing. The Israelis are not. Terrorism creates a hierarchy of fear; theirs is greater than ours.
Hence, this trip. Call it a scouting report.

Maybe these two commenters sum him up better than most:

Thanks for your excellent article. It was particularly gripping for me, because I felt that I lived what you described. I was in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2001, and was just two blocks from the Sbarro restaurant when I heard the loud explosion. In fact, had my wife not changed her mind so that we stopped at another pizza store to grab a bite instead of continuing on our original plan to eat at Sbarro, we might have been among the victims of that attack.

And another:

A great article. We sometimes forget that you're not "only" a writer of humor, and this is an excellent reminder.

Today, if you click on the Post site, you’ll get the more humourous side.

[living] blogger of the day – samantha brett

Controversial? But of course. A phenomenon? Undoubtedly. Any woman who can get 600 or 700 comments on one of her postings is a phenomenon and it appears she’s now taking the world by storm:

"Sam and the city blog" 11 July 2006 Hindustan Times, India
"Stewth mate! We love this blog" 07 July 2006 Iol Technology, South Africa
"Sex and romance blog rides Australia's Internet dating explosion" 06 July 2006 Yahoo! News International
"At 22, Sam Brett, is one of Australia's most widely read writers." 06 July 2006 Antara News, Indonesia
"Sydney's very own Carrie Bradshaw" - Daily Telegraph.

So who is she?

Author, journalist, reviewer, text messager extraordinaire – this is
Samantha Brett. Born in South Africa but moving to Sydney, Australia, she has carved out a career, speaking on matters of love, text and sex.

What’s all the fuss about? Look at
one of her postings and you’ll get the idea:

That said, perhaps next time you reach in for the kiss, remember a few golden rules: have moist lips (although too much lip gloss is a definite turn off), keep your tongue soft (find a good balance between not too much action, but not too little), and always have slab of minty gum on hand.

For this reason alone, I wan't sure at first but gradually modified that view as I saw what she was really about. There is a lot more going down than the above.

She sometimes has upwards of 400 commenters on any one posting and testimonials are common and regular. Simply reading other people’s stories of heartache, related to your own situation, can be amazingly cathartic, something I can attest to.

There also seems to be a dating scene based around her Sydney blogs. She’s no agony aunt – that’s not her purpose - but the lady certainly has something going. What that something is, I’m still not absolutely sure about.

I’ve never seen a journo/blogger before who so assiduously answers e-mails, encourages feedback to the extent she does and who charms you to this degree. She has her detractors, to be sure, her vilifiers, and they can be found on the internet; and their vitriol convinces me they’ve never dealt with the lady on the personal front. Does she worry? She has too many other things to do.

This is one serious achiever.

[general] another scoop from iceland

A study in Eurostat report that Icelandic women are the most fertile in Europe in 2004. The birth rate per woman in Iceland is 2.03. Irish women come in number two at 1.99 and French women number three at 1.90. Morgunbladid reports on this.

All these fertility rates are too low to maintain a steady population number. To do that the rate has to be 2.1 per woman. The birth rate is lowest in Eastern Europe. Slovenian women have 1.22 children on the average and Czech women only have 1.23 children on the average.

In some countries the benefits for families have been increased to encourage women to have more children. Increase child allowance was part of the economic agreement announced in Iceland last month, but the stated purpose was not to increase the number of children but rather to meet the needs of big families.

[world] the interesting logic of political correctness

I think I need to lose weight, and the only person who would dare say anything to me is my trainer at the fitness club and I think he’s right. If he said anything to me in the US, I could take him to court for "severe induced stress, occasioning psychological damage".

I could do with the $10 000 payout, I can tell you.

So what are you allowed to call the person with the thickening waistline? Officially - "person of substance" - and that, in linguistic terms, is euphemistic claptrap.

The slow but methodical scrutinization and expurgation of anything ... read more here.

Friday, July 28, 2006

[world] look back over your shoulder

Peter Hain says the IRA has ceased its criminality; that individual IRA members may still be involved in criminal activities, but that this should not prevent political progress from being made.

Nigel Dodds said Mr Hain was living in fantasy land. "This latest assessment from the secretary of state lacks credibility … [and the] comments that the IRA is not engaged in criminality fly in the face of the recent Northern Ireland Select Affairs Committee report on organised crime."
Mr Hain countered by saying that "an absolute state of perfection" from the IRA was not realistic. There probably is still some localised individual criminality... What there is not, is organised 'from the centre' criminality any more. To that extent the IRA are delivering on their commitments made last July."
Richard Waghorne, in siciliannotes, says: The question of IRA criminality is intrinsically political because the question of whether individual crimes collectively constitute a conspiracy against the state or unrelated incidents can only be settled as a matter of political judgment exercised by the government of the day.

The Irish Anti-War organization add: Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, a veteran IRA commander who denies ever being a member, has repeatedly said IRA activity cannot be described as crime. At his most recent party conference in March, Adams said Sinn Fein would "refuse to criminalize those who break the law in pursuit of legitimate political objectives."

While the devolution and criminality questions are being debated, meanwhile we have this: Sinn Féin's International Affairs spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on members of the Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs to come together behind a motion calling for the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides Israel with favourable conditions when trading with EU member states including Ireland.

The Irish have the gift of the gab, to be sure but I was in Newry myself years back, two hours before it was bombed and I know the type we’re dealing with here. I was also caught up in the Canary Wharf and Euston Station bomb threats and these things were not funny either. The son of one of my army mates went back to Northern Ireland and spent the holiday in the corridor of the house. Is it all over?
2002 was a year to note in the annals of Ireland and for the record, I'm half English and half Irish myself. Now all eyes are on Israel and Lebanon but mine also glance anxiously back over my shoulder at the same time.

[general] latest news from iceland

Seagulls Targeted in Reykjavík

The environmental committee of Reykjavík City Council has announced that it will take action on seagulls in Reykjavík and neighboring areas, as they are very prevalent in the city at the moment and many people have complained about them over the last few months, the Icelandic State Broadcasting Service reports.

Pest control officers, who will be given the responsibility of reducing the gull population, say that there have never seen as many seagulls in Reykjavík before. The gull population will be reduced by consultation with specialists and informing the general public about what to do (and not do) when near the birds. In addition, there is to be greater cooperation between local authorities on limiting the gull population.

[living] blogger of the day - clive davis

Clive Davis was first described to me, by one commenter, in this way:

You can get tons of comments simply by saying something inflammatory about the Middle East - but almost all those comments will be worthless or worse. By contrast, a good post that conveys interesting facts might get no comments at all. Clive Davis and Tim Worstall, for example, get far fewer comments … but they're much better bloggers.

That’s the starting point for this mini-profile of Clive Davis. On his own site, under ‘About’, he gives this as the reason he blogs:

Because I'm opinionated, hate pitching ideas to editors over the phone and love the wide open, un-cliquey spaces of the blogosphere.

Here he is in action:

For one thing, conservative bloggers still tend to be more tolerant of dissent than their left-wing counterparts, many of whom are about as much fun as superannuated members of the Militant Tendency. More importantly, if American bloggers often take a superficial view of Europe (we all sit on street corners begging, apparently) Europeans must take some of the blame. There simply aren’t enough of us out there working the internet.

Clive Davis has seen the future … and it blogs.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

[society] voodoo chic

This is a long, rambling speech given to a Seminar on Humanism in Education on September 6th, 2005. It does meander to a conclusion, if you can wait that long. Feel free to lift any part you like for your own purposes but please attribute.

Let’s start with Credit

Everything is on credit – the home, car, refrigerator and mobile phone. Even petrol is paid for on credit. Almost all ... read more and comment here.

[editorial] 10 things not to do in a blog

Clive Davis brought to our attention this:

Jean-Remy von Matt, the CEO of a German advertising agency … called blogs "the toilet walls of the internet". "What on earth", he asked, "gives every computer-owner the right to express his opinion, unasked for?"

If it was meant to be smiled at, this comment, alas I think, in my case, it may be justified. Yesterday in my enthusiasm to get off the ground, I committed ... read more and comment here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

[focus] blogger of the day - oliver kamm

Oliver Kamm needs no introduction to readers of these blogs and, together with Iain Dale, there scarcely seems any point doing profiles and yet there are readers outside the UK who might be less familiar; so here goes.

He appears to be currently semi-resting from blogging and instead engaged in writing his current book and a discussion of his Anti-Totalitarianism: the Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy appears on his blog-site. For a more complete profile, you can't go past ... read more and comment here.

[middle-east] three views of the UN

These were recently posted on a forum at the Melbourne Age:

For the UN to even be relevant two member states must be involved in conflict. I am having trouble finding the second state. Certainly Israel is a legitimate state but Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation not a state.

Lebanon has brought this upon itself. It had 20 years to remove Hezbollah. It did not have the balls to do so. It then blames Israel for protecting itself and doing what it should have done in the last 20 years - remove the terrorists from Lebanon. Supporters of terrorists are just as bad as the terrorist themselves.

There also seem to be a few brain dead people who continue to write in this forum. Hezbollah are pawns of Syria and Iran. They are being used to divert attention from their own problems. Iran is the country that will (if it ever get them) provide terrorists with nuclear weapons. And these weapons may find their way onto your doorstep.

Read more here:

[iceland] earth shattering

In our current time of turmoil, Iceland Review continues to add its own in-depth analyses of earth-shattering events. Here is an abridged version of two of their current major stories:

Salmon Fishing is Better compared to an Average Year

Salmon fishing in Iceland's rivers has fallen short of last year's phenomenal catch but despite this, fishermen have still been pleased. Reykjavík has its own salmon river, Ellidaár. The city's mayor, Vilhjálmur Th. Vilhjámsson, caught the first salmon this year and the catch so far has been satisfactory.

However, Morgunbladid reports that fishing without a permit has increased in recent years.Curators say that the culprits are usually of foreign origin and claim ignorance. Language difficulties often make it difficult to explain that the river is not open to all. Similarly, some people have been caught hunting ducks at the local pond in Reykjavík.

First Excellent Weather in Reykjavík of Summer

The heatwave from Europe may not exactly be here, but the weather in Reykjavík has finally turned sunny. It was rainier this June than it has been for many decades. July has been worse, that is until today.The heat is now 17 degrees centigrade, which is excellent for Reykjavík. Many people have taken the day off.

This explains why not much is happening in the country, as you can see from the lack of news.

I adore and the Icelanders, except in the matter of cod. Wish I hadn't mentioned that - now I want some cod and chips and mushy peas.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Behind the name Nourishing Obscurity

The name came from an article on China, written in 2006, which quotes Deng Ziao Ping:

According to Deng Xiaoping, in order to eventually overcome, China should adopt the ancient maxim of "hiding brightness and nourishing obscurity," and Beijing adds, "to bide our time and build up our capabilities" and again - "to yield on small issues with the long term in mind."

I quite liked the idea of remaining obscure, particularly in this day and age but it appears to be a misnomer in the case of this blog. Whilst I myself remain obscure, the blog is heading for a fall, taking on and castigating the high and mighty; it's just a question now for how long. :)