Archive for the 'Rants' Category

Holy Father, Batman!

August 19th, 2011

Thousands of fans have gathered in Madrid to see the Pope live in concert.

As I drove along the motorway today, all the overpasses were lined with groupies and adorned with banners colourfully declaring their love for the President of the Vatican.

And I have to say it pissed me off.

It pissed me off because these people conveniently forget, or choose to ignore, that this man presides over an organisation that aided and abetted child rapists across the world, not least in my own country.

To me, rape is as serious a crime as murder and I consider the rape of a child even more serious than the rape of an adult, because an adult has some chance of fighting back and has the psychological mechanisms in place to seek help afterwards. The child rapist is the most cowardly of the spineless. He seeks out the most helpless victims, victims usually in his care or at least within his sphere of influence and he seeks to destroy their lives before they have even properly begun.

So what should we think of the person who knowingly shields a child rapist from justice? In my mind, that person is even more culpable, because it could be argued that child rapists are incapable of supressing their urges and it is likely that they were victims of child rape themselves.

Those who shield child rapists, do so coldly and for selfish reasons. In the case of the Catholic Church, it is done to protect the reputation of the Catholic Church, which the Vatican considers more important than the welfare of the children in its care. Regardless of what it might recently have been saying about contrition, the Vatican still considers criticism of Catholic Church over child rape to be more reprehensible than child rape itself, criticism which the Vatican considers “excessive“.

Just to make it clear, there is no such thing as excessive criticism of the rape of a child or the aiding and abetting of a child rapist.

If you agree that the rape of a child is as serious as the murder of a child, then consider this: if the Vatican had colluded in the protection of terrorists in the way that it has colluded in the shielding of child rapists, then Ratzinger would either be wearing an orange jumpsuit today and living in a shipping container, or he would have been shot in the head* in his bedroom by special forces and his body dumped at sea (with all the appropriate funereal niceties, of course).

And yet, he still swans about the world, being feted by political leaders, his visits paid out of the taxes of people who cannot afford to host this very rich man, and his presence applauded by thousands of the deluded.

I am now off to the bathroom to throw up.

* I must emphasise that I neither propose nor condone acts of violence against the Pope or anyone else. I am simply drawing a comparison between the leniency with which the aiders and abetters of child rapists have been treated and the treatment meted out to the aiders and abetters of terrorists (many of whom were merely suspected of aiding terrorists).

A roundabout way to park

December 16th, 2010

I love Spain and the Spanish and they are a very talented race of people.

But there is one thing they just don’t get: parking.

They park on corners, on pedestrian crossings, across multiple bays in parking lots and around the outside lane of roundabouts (also known as “islands”).

They also stop wherever they happen to be when they want to take a phone call, be that on a road or by the side of a motorway (the hard shoulder in Spain is very narrow, so when you pull over, you are partially on the motorway itself).

The best was today, though. I was navigating a roundabout, glancing over my shoulder to see if I could change lanes safely, when out of the corner of my left eye, I noticed a car stopped on the inside of the roundabout. I had to swerve to avoid him and I thought he had broken down, but then I noticed that he didn’t have his hazard lights on and he was on the phone (although he did put his hazard lights on after I passed him the first time). I pulled over and switched on the video camera in my phone and this is what I recorded:


I’ll think three times…

September 10th, 2010

So does Pakistan want help or not?

In a recent post I expressed disappointment in myself for not responding more quickly to Pakistan’s pleas for financial aid in the aftermath of the flooding. But now I am starting to wonder if they deserved my help at all.

First they prevent Israelis and Indians from going to Pakistan to help with the flood relief efforts: Pakistan refuses relief work visas for Indians and Israelis

Then they discriminate against Christians when it comes to aid distribution: ASIA/PAKISTAN – Discrimination in aid: incidents and testimonies

Now some of them are finding the time to burn US flags in response to that idiot Terry Jones’s threats to burn the Koran. Fight idiocy with idiocy, seems to be the method.

The question that is annoying the crap out of me is this: Why are these people spending their time burning American flags when they should be taking the hard-earned money I sent them to help their compatriots in their time of need.

If Pakistan prioritises keeping out Indian and Israeli volunteers, and burning American flags, over helping their own people, then I’ll think three times before sending my cash over there in the future.

As for prioritising Muslims over non-Muslims when it comes to distributing emergency supplies, I didn’t send my €100 over on the condition that it only be spent on atheists! Stop fucking about!

I’m disgusted.

Some Pakistanis would rather spend time burning US flags than helping their own flood victims.

I don’t pimp my friends

June 22nd, 2010

I don’t care if you are UNICEF, I don’t pimp my friends.

So I donate a fixed amount to UNICEF every month, it’s no big deal and I am not some playboy philanthropist. That being said, I do expect the minimum of respect from UNICEF for my gesture. Respect means, for example, not phoning me up and asking me for the phone numbers of my friends. There is an unwritten law about the contact details of friends and acquaintances, which is that you don’t give them out without permission from the friend in question. If you didn’t know that, then you are a bit of a gobshite (see definition 2 here) and you need to read the unwritten book.

Seriously, UNICEF, you do great work, but what kind of a bollocks (see definition 3 here) would I be to hand out my friends’ phone numbers to any company or charity who wanted to grab their money?

That’s right: a big, fat bollocks.

So I don’t care how many babies you are trying to save, when you call me up to ask me for my friends’ phone numbers, I don’t hear:

Could I speak to Mr. T.G. Nobby, please?

I hear:

We think you are a BIG FAT BOLLOCKS!

This is just not me!

This is just not me!

RIP Stephen Gately

October 13th, 2009

It doesn’t really touch me on a personal level that Stephen Gately has died, although it is always sad when someone dies and a tragedy when they go “before their time”. However, I did not know him personally, nor was I ever a Boyzone fan, so I’m not upset.

I am irritated, though, by the innuendo in the media. It’s disgraceful that the family’s lawyer had to issue statements to say that Stephen did not kill himself or die of a drugs overdose or after a binge drinking session.

If any of us knew someone who died at the age of thirty-three, we would immediately be thinking of the tragedy of it and how awful it must be for their loved ones and friends. But when it’s someone famous, or even better, someone famous and gay, the media have to look for something sordid.

Well, there was nothing sordid. The poor man died of a pulmonary oedema. Would it have been too much for the media to have waited for the autopsy report instead of speculating?

Of course, it would have been too much, because decency doesn’t sell papers.

I have a vision of a large sack of snakes into which hack journalists would be thrown and then beaten with sticks. Form a disorderly queue.

Vegetarian evangelism

June 15th, 2009

I haven’t eaten meat since 1979.

My reasons are sentimental. Basically, I am not prepared to eat anything I am not prepared to kill myself. However, I have never urged other people to give up meat. I’m not one of those whiners who is so insecure in their own beliefs that they have to try to persuade everyone else to stop eating meat too.

When I was a teenager, many meat eaters tried to persuade me I was wrong not to eat meat, as if they somehow felt that I was silently judging them. In response to their challenges, I latched on to any scientific or pseudo-scientific opinion to support my position. But that was because I was young. As I grew older, I realised I only needed two arguments:

  • Fuck off and mind your own business
  • I’ll eat what I want

By the time I hit my late twenties, people no longer felt the need to challenge me. Perhaps people assume a teenager doesn’t know what he is talking about.

Anyway, Manahan the Magnificent sent me a link to an evangelising piece about why people just aren’t designed to eat meat and he asked me what I thought.

Here are some key points from that article followed by my own point of view (as someone who loves fwuffy bunny wabbits).

“Eating meat is a relatively recent phenomenon in human evolution.”
Yes, compared to lions, but it is still at least 2.5 million years. In any case, it is a phenomenon in human evolution. Should lions become vegetarians because their ancestors were?

“eating meat was an essential step in human evolution… While this notion may comfort the meat industry, it’s simply not true, scientifically.”
Actually, scientists believe that scavenging for bone marrow and brains is what caused our own brains to grow larger. In any case, all evolutionary steps are taken in response to a change or an opportunity in the environment. The word “essential” is disingenuous and so is arguing against it. Whether essential or not, it happened.

“the birth of agriculture only started about 10,000 years ago at a time when it became considerably more convenient to herd animals”
Yes, but the implication that meat eating began only 10,000 years ago is disingenuous. People began herding animals that they had already been hunting for millions of years because it was an easier way to get meat.

“To this day, meat-eaters have a higher incidence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other problems.”
Because they eat too much meat, not because they eat it at all. Oriental men have a higher rate of illnesses related to Oestrogen Dominance because soy contains the plant equivalent of oestrogen (phyto-oestrogen). Do we conclude that people should not eat soy at all?

“Leakey notes that ‘[y]ou can’t tear flesh by hand, you can’t tear hide by hand…'”
Perhaps modern humans cannot.  Who can say what feats of strength humans were capable of two million years ago. In any case, why are we the only ape that can throw a spear? Why did we evolve that particular skill?

So how come we evolved the ability to throw spears?

So how come we evolved the ability to throw spears?

“carnivores have short intestines so they can quickly get rid of all that rotting flesh they eat”
If that were true (notice the emotive language), they would shit rotting flesh instead of, well, shit. In any case, they have shorter intestines because they are carnivores, not omnivores. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would argue that humans are carnivores. The article should compare humans and other, similar, omnivores like chimpanzees. Comparing humans with animals that are exclusively carnivorous is (you know what I’m going to say) disingenuous.

“And most of us (hopefully) lack the instinct that would drive us to chase and then kill animals and devour their raw carcasses
Bollocks. That’s social conditioning, not instinct. The word “hopefully” gives away the author’s real motivation, which is not scientific fact, but emotion.

“Thousands of years ago when we were hunter-gatherers, we may have needed a bit of meat in our diets in times of scarcity, but we don’t need it now.”
True, but that does not mean we are optimal without it, nor does it imply any lack of moral fibre in those who do eat meat.

“our evolution and physiology are herbivorous, and ample science proves that when we choose to eat meat, that causes problems”
The first statement is absolutely untrue, as evidenced by tool marks on fossil bones dating back 2.5 million years. As for the second statement, for every study there is a counter study. So if I chose to eat a bacon sandwich right now, what would happen? Would my intestines explode?

“it’s convenient for people who like to eat meat to think that there is evidence to support their belief that eating meat is “natural” or the cause of our evolution.”
The corollary is also true for tree-hugging yoghurt-knitters.

“But in fact top nutritional and anthropological scientists from the most reputable institutions imaginable say categorically that humans are natural herbivores”
WHO says that? And how do they explain the tool marks in the fossils? Is it God testing us (again)? Other “top” scientists will no doubt say the opposite. Mostly, each side will say whatever supports their emotional prejudice.

“It may be inconvenient, but it alas, it is the truth.”
It is Kathy Freston‘s truth. Why does she feel the need to make it everyone’s truth?

I would agree that many people would be healthier if they ate less meat and that the environment would be healthier if we produced less meat globally, However, no anthropological or pseudo-palaeontological argument stating the humans were never supposed to eat meat is required for those two points to be true. In fact, this kind of nonsense detracts from real arguments for producing less meat globally.

If someone doesn’t want to eat meat because the idea of killing an animal upsets them, they should just say so. That’s a good enough argument for me.

What’s the matter with blasphemy?

May 1st, 2009

Further to my post below, point 6.1.i of Article 40 of The Constitution of Ireland states:

“The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”

However, the Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that this point could not be applied in a legal case because it was not possible to say what blasphemy actually is.

Instead of moving into the 21st century and removing the point about blasphemy from the constitution, Dermot Ahern wants to make it enforceable by defining blasphemy. His proposal for a new law in Ireland against the publication or utterance of blasphemous matter defines such matter as:

“grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage”

Although I am not quite sure how one can “utter” matter, I’ll go with that for the moment.

There are two problems with this definition. Firstly, it does not go on to quantify the phrase “substantial number”, thus leaving it entirely subjective. Secondly, a successful prosecution would be contingent on proving that the defendant intended to cause outrage. So in his attempt to add clarity, Minister Ahern has added none at all.

But let’s suppose he made things clear by quantifying the “substantial number” and removing the clause about intent, there would still be problems.

Then suppose I started a religion which taught that the “God” of the Old Testament was actually the Devil and that he created the world as a prison, a religion which taught that Hell was in fact our own physical world, created by this Devil as a means of tormenting humans, a religion which taught that the resurrection of Jesus was not a physical resurrection of his dead body but more a spiritual awakening akin to Buddhist “enlightenment”.

Now suppose a “substantial number” of Roman Catholics felt outrage, I could be punished simply for expressing a belief that is at odds with what they believe.*

But hang on! What if a substantial number of my adherents felt outrage at the publication of Catholic beliefs? I could have all the Catholics punished!

Yes, everyone punishing everyone else over which mythology is the right one at a time when people are losing their jobs. That is the way to lead the country out of crisis.

I do not believe that simply causing outrage should be punishable. Such a policy tells us that things should be left alone, be nice, don’t rock the boat. But we all know that sometimes the boat needs to be capsized. Of course, people in power tend to lose their balance when boats are rocked, so they don’t like it.

“Outrage” is often just a politically correct synonym for “intolerance” and intolerance should not be rewarded by enshrining it in law.

Interesting article on this topic by Michael Nugent here.

* These beliefs were held by many in the Languedoc region of what is now called France. The Church of Rome was outraged at this blasphemy and dealt with it by torturing and murdering adherents to those beliefs until there were none left.

Irish Blasphemers, get your licks in while you can

April 29th, 2009

I think I just woke up in the 1920s.

The Irish Times on-line is reporting that Fianna Fáil (the Irish political party currently fucking up the country, if you’re not from Ireland) wants to make it a crime to blaspheme.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern proposes to insert a new section into the Defamation Bill, stating: “A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000.”

The Cambridge on-line dictionary has decided to be the Cambridge off-line dictionary today, so I went to Merriam-Webster instead. They define “blasphemy” as follows:

1 a: the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God b: the act of claiming the attributes of deity

2: irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable

I imagine there would be so many legal problems with such a law that it could never be applied.

With reference to 1a in that definition, surely in legal terms, in order to convict someone of showing contempt for God, you would first have to prove that God exists?

In the case of 1b, does the Minister for Justice (no, really, JUSTICE) seriously intend prosecuting every nutter who claims to be God? That’s what he would have to do in order to fairly apply this ridiculous law.

As for 2, it would mean that if even one person considered something sacred or inviolable, that thing would have to be legally protected from blasphemy. For example, I consider my bollocks to be pretty sacred and inviolable. That would mean I could have somebody arrested for laughing at my two veg in the changing room at the gym.

A return to the glory days of the Church?

A return to the glory days of the Church?

Seeing as the Minister wants to turn back the clock, the next thing you know he will want to bring in a law making it legal for the Catholic Church to start raping children again. Oops! Did I just show irreverence for the Catholic Church. Don’t some people consider that institution sacred?

I’ll save you the bother, Minister, I’ll put myself on the rack just after I finish heating up the branding irons.


Twenty Major says it as eloquently as ever here.

If you want to express your opinion to the Minister, you can contact him as follows:

Constituency Office
Dermot Ahern TD
28 Francis Street
Co. Louth
042 9329023

Dáil Office
Dermot Ahern TD
Dáil Éireann
Leinster House
Kildare Street
Dublin 2
01 618 3000

Drop the tennis racquet and put your hands above your head

March 11th, 2009

I am pleased to see the European Court of Justice bringing a little sanity to the security rules being applied to the airline industry.

You can read a BBC article here about an Austrian tennis player who was thrown off a flight in 2005 for not surrendering his racquets, which airline staff had deemed to be potential terrorist weapons. It seems European Commission had a secret list of objects which could be banned from flights. The ECJ has now deemed the list unenforceable precisely because the public has no access to it.

What caught my eye in that article was that airline staff had not simply deemed the racquets to be potential weapons, which most objects are when you think about it, but potential terrorist weapons.

Tennisist Rafael Nadal surrenders to police after wielding a tennisist racquet in public for several hours.

Tennisist Rafael Nadal surrenders to police after wielding a tennisist racquet in public for several hours.

Now I hate jobsworths even when I am at my most genial, but I reserve a special place in the pit of perpetual arse-kicking for the jobsworth who throws in the adjective “terrorist” just to give a pathetic argument some semblence of meaning. No more so than in airports, where once they have divested you of all pointy, sharp-edged, flammable items (and t-shirts), proceed to make their profits in the departures area  and on board the aircraft themselves by selling you fountain pens, lighters and glass bottles full of alcohol.

Actually, I’m off to the airport today. I wonder what they would say if I tried to bring an empty glass bottle through security.

This Orange has a bitter aftertaste

November 26th, 2008

We have our broadband service with Orange (“Together we can do more”). We have been happy with the service and had not been thinking about changing provider.

Yesterday Orange called us and said they wanted to give us a 10% discount because we had been with them a year. It was nice to see that they valued our continued custom.

Then they had to go and spoil it by saying that once we took the discount, if we changed provider within six months we would have to pay a €70 penalty.

“Here, with my left hand I am holding out a gift to you, but if you accept it, I may end up beating you with the stick I am holding in my right hand.”

So we informed Orange that until they called we had no intention of changing provider but thanks to their twisted notion of appreciating our custom we would now start looking.

Can somebody explain to me just how thick you have to be to become a marketing executive in a company like Orange?

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