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When I recently emailed our local Friends of the Earth group telling them about a forthcoming talk by Mark Lynas at Reading Skeptics In The Pub I got a reply from a friend, who's one of our Green Party parliamentary candidates, saying she thought it was "sad" that Lynas had gone "pro nuclear". My response turned into a bit of an essay. I hope it may be of interest to others.
The true cost of "renewables" and levelling the playing field between baseload and intermittent energy sources.
Gods, Science, Quantum Vibrational Healing Energy Fields and wrestling pigs in mud.
Seen on ... more
These are bran flakes
They've got bran in them ...
... and wheat, sugar, malt, salt and a bunch of minerals and vitamins added to make the cereal a bit more tasty and nutritious than the box they come in
Apparently they're now putting less salt in them
So what would easy work be, then?
1st January 2011. Browsing a movie quotes website I got a series of images with existential-angsty text leading up to this advert:
(For anyone who doesn't already know what that mob are about here's the low-down on them.)
Researchers at Cambridge describe how your stolen Chip & PIN card can be used to take £1000s from your account before you cancel it. The transactions will say 'Verified by PIN' even though the thieves don't know – and don't need to know – your PIN.
And what are the banks and card issuers doing about it? Oh, don't worry, they're onto the case: they're pressuring Cambridge University to suppress the embarrassing news. Aren't we all glad they're so vigilant!
I got this error message from YouTube.
My spam filters let this one through into my inbox. They evidently knew I'd enjoy it.
Mid-September, and my country is welcoming with open arms — a State Visit paid for by taxpayers like me — an international war criminal.
In the worldwide war against AIDS our principal weapon is prevention: safe sex, needle exchange programmes and the like. And it works. But one vast, wealthy, hugely powerful multinational organisation, and the man who heads it, are doing their worst to scupper some of that work by instructing those they have influence over not to protect themselves and others, and spreading disinformation — black propaganda — claiming that proven effective preventative measures are not effective. To the extent they succeed in this they will cause more people to get HIV and more to die of AIDS. Criminal transmission of HIV – whether intentional or reckless – is a concept that is becoming established in many jurisdictions, and arguably applies in this instance.
I'm talking about the Catholic Church, the Pope and condoms, in case anyone hadn't got it yet.
And what are they offering in its place? Abstinence.
I mean: abstinence is a great way of preventing sexual transmission of HIV — if you can get people to practice it. And to go on practicing it consistently and indefinitely. But this coming from an organisation that has failed to persuade even its own employees to abstain from sexually abusing children? What planet are these people from?!
But then we're dealing with a bunch of people who not only believe in a sky fairy who sprung up out of nothing to create the universe and everything in it fully formed, but seriously believes that waving an arm and reciting some abracadabras over a bit of wine and nibbles literally, really, actually turns it into the flesh and blood of a man who died two thousand years ago. If he ever even existed.
What hope is there?
September 11th. International Burn a Koran Day for a minute bunch of religious nutters no-one had ever even heard of before. (Or not, it now seems.) And International Go On A Rampage Of Indiscriminate Violence In Revenge Day (/Week/Month ...) for a larger bunch of religious nutters elsewhere.
I mean, what is the problem? It's not as if they were even suggesting that all korans should be burned – the book suppressed (as if that would even be possible). If the Koran-ites were so upset about it the sane retaliation would be to burn some bibles, not murder some human beings.
Maybe we – atheists, secularists, humanists, skeptics, whatever – should make it International Burn All Holy Books Day and ceremoniously burn Korans/Qurans, Bibles, Torahs and whatever other sky-fairy nonsense comes to hand. I wonder what would happen? I'm sure there would be ruffled feathers (to say the least) amongst some of the more wacko religious types, but it could be an eloquent gesture against the evil caused by religion in the world today. And September 11th would be as good a date to choose as any: it's iconic because it's the date on which a bunch of fervent devotees of religion C wrought spectacular violence on a nation identifying itself with religion B in retribution for its support of a state that, through its following of religion A had been doing bad things to the C-ites. Take away A, B and C and you may still have some grasping and disputes about oil, minerals and other resources but nothing like the easy polarisation which allows human beings to kill other human beings (and sometimes themselves in the process) over differences almost entirely in their imaginations.
I'm not suggesting the book burning should be undertaken as an insult to those suffering from Theism. As with other communicable diseases – such as HIV – it is not the fault of the sufferer that they are infected. But those infected do have a choice how they behave with it. In the case of the HIV+ person they can at least not have unprotected sex with those uninfected. In the case of theism (a killer probably on a par with Malaria) the victim can be not so f**king precious about their Holy books and stuff. Look around you folks: outside of your own ghetto most of the planet doesn't share your particular hallucination. And huge numbers of those others are infected with different strains of what you've got. You don't care about their Holy Stuff so why should they care about yours? By all means if they come to your house and burn your holy book then get appropriately stroppy with them. But if they go out to a bookshop on the other side of the world and buy a copy of your Precious Tome and have a BBQ with it what harm does it do you FFS?
Trouble is, of course, in some people the effect of the disease is more like rabies.
OK not really five. About 5 families, maybe?
"Coffey, Bates, Hill, Renko, La Rue, Washington, Belker ..."
"OK, let's roll! And hey! .... let's be careful out there!"
Hill Street Blues: when it was first shown on Channel 4 in the '80s it was the one bit of TV I'd go out of my way to catch. Nowadays the hectic hand-held camerawork, cocktail-party soundtrack and multiple story threads are so familar from programmes like ER they're almost a cliche, but at the time it was radically new. (The portrayal of the effects of police life on officers' personal lives was apparently new to American TV too, though in the UK we'd had domestic violence and marriage breakdowns in Z Cars, back in the '60s.)
Watching it again today I find it as gripping as I did over two decades ago. The writing and acting is brilliant: I feel I really know and care about the characters (love them or hate them) and there are some terriffic stories. I think the show's use of comedy (often centred around the pompous, gung-ho but gaffe-prone Lt. Howard Hunter) makes Hill St special. It's certainly not played for laughs (and we can only thank our favourite deities that it doesn't have ghastly American canned laughter imposed upon it) but the alternation of almost slapstick farce one moment with shocking drama the next is particularly effective.
However only the first two of Hill St's 7 seasons are available on DVD! Given that just about everything that's ever been on TV is now available on video, from Life on Earth to The Magic Roundabout: Director's Cut, with previously unseen material, how come we don't have the entire Hill St canon (with or without sweepings from the cutting-room floor)? Meantime if you see it coming up on TV again please drop me a line!
A religious leader tells his followers to invade and steal the land of followers of a rival. What will happen to the inhabitants? No problem: they are to be slaughtered, every last man, woman and child. Even their animals. And their city burned and every vestige of them destroyed (apart from silver, gold and other valuables which they keep for the Leader).
Nice guy... (more)