Friday, December 28, 2007

Merry Christmas!

No, I'm not dead, but I've been on holiday. Unfortunately, my thesis did not write itself in my absence. Anyway, readers:

To all Christians, a Merry Christmas, and to all non-Christians, I hope you have a lovely holiday.

all best wishes
Political Scientist

Monday, December 10, 2007

Richard Dawkins: I'm a cultural Christian

I had to check the link to make sure my eyes did not deceive me. They did not.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Feline Mystery

I have a physicist's distaste for biology ("Yuck! It's all squidgy!"), but sometimes I wish I knew more to give me insight into those biological problems that impinge on my consciousness:

Nimrod, the Mighty Hunter with whom I share my life and my stipend, simply will not eat Whiskers's nice meaty chunks of rabbit or beef: only chicken will suffice. This is a source of tension between us, as Mr. Whiskers prudently sells his meat chunks in packs containing packets of rabbit, beef and chicken. There are no flies on Mr. Whiskers, although there are on the cat dish should I be foolish enough to put out rabbit. Nimrod will have none of it, and she stares at me reproachfully until I feed her chicken chunks instead. This is not the oddity. After gorging herself on chicken, she will track down, torture and kill field mice. This, too, is not the oddity. Having killed the mice, she chews the heads off. What sort of creature turns her nose up at meaty chunks of beef, but eats mice heads? It defies logic and mocks reason. She doesn't even like the mice heads; about once a week they are vomited up under the kitchen table as a lovely present for me. It is very puzzling.

In the meantime, should anyone be interested in a job lot of Whiskers beef, or indeed rabbit, chunks, perhaps they'd get in touch below. Otherwise, eBay beckons...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Our time is now

"Ugly people strike back" - from BBC news
Buenos Aires is a city of beautiful people where appearances are important.
But not everyone in Buenos Aires is beautiful. Gonzalo Otalora, for instance, is downright ugly, and he is not embarrassed to admit it.
It's not fair, he said. The beautiful people get all the breaks. Beauty is a natural advantage and he wants the good-lookers to be taxed to finance compensation for the ugly people.
We will arise, my people.
The French on British Corruption

Le Monde's take on the corruption scandal:

Concessionnaire Mercedes-Benz dans le Berkshire et à Orange County, en Californie, il avait auparavant participé au financement de deux écoles religieuses pilotes à Sheffield, en 2005, vitrines de la réforme de l'éducation du gouvernement Blair.
I suspect this is the principle point of interest: the religious schools. The slash-and-burn anti-clerical reforms at the end of the nineteenth century have left this as something of a curiosity.

A fairly humdrum article, lifted largely from the Mail on Sunday, is enlivened by this rather splendid comment:

Bah, on sait bien que l'Angleterre n'est pas une démocratie mais un pays d' "alternance" politique Droite / Droite, où le libéralisme économique sauvage règne en maître depuis l'époque de l'Empire quand l'Angleterre dominait économiquement le monde. Le Parti travailliste anglais, c'est surtout le parti qui fait travailler...
Worth remembering every time you read a pious piece about the tabloid press "hatred" of the EU.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Why I am not a Leftist

From the "Letters Page" of the Guardian:

It's right that we reflect on the appalling human-rights record of Sudan. But is not the bear which was to go home with the children not also an opportunity to see ourselves as others do? Our encouragement to our children to anthropomorphise wild animals is a baffling feature of our culture. The children's sections of bookshops offer little more than a choice between stories of white children or talking animals. Where does it all lead? Urban pets, Animal Liberation and more spending on pet food than the world's poor have to feed themselves. Many Muslims find our relationships with dogs particularly distasteful, not least in loving them for their companionship. I suppose we must have been doing it since we started breeding them in our post-glacial caves. No wonder we are muddled enough to think calling a stuffed bear Muhammad is OK on the grounds that so many Muslims name their sons after him.
Tom Snow
I hope this is a parody. I fear it is not.
And with one bound, she was free.

Finally, some good news:

Teacher Gillian Gibbons is to be released from prison in Sudan after she was jailed for allowing children in her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Some more excellent news

Dr Imad Hassan, 45, is a Sudanese doctor and writer with a PhD in comparative religious studies who has lived in Britain since 1991.
He feels that someone from the Sudanese community must speak out against the ruling, and is planning to organise a protest from fellow scholars.
"I feel insulted as a Muslim by the government of Sudan, not by Mrs Gibbons," he told the BBC. "Describing the lovely children's toy with the name of Muhammad is a compliment, it is not an insult.

What a top chap. I wish the media would tell us more about men like this, and less about Abu bloody Hamza.