Having just received a couple of Amazon vouchers for participating in surveys, I visited Amazon to see what I could spend them on, and the first thing I spotted was The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I had to have it, and the total of my vouchers coincidentally came to the price of the book, so I pre-ordered it prior to publication and awaited its arrival. Dawkins is a master of the English language and has a fine analytical mind, I knew this book would be worth reading and owning, and so far I haven't been dissapointed.
It's already the #1 book on Amazon.co.uk, #1 on Amazon.ca(Canada), and #4 on Amazon.com(US) and still climbing, which, considering how saturated with born again delusionists America is, is a small triumph. And on Amazon it's half price so a bargain. I'm informed by the publishers that the first print run has already sold out, and the second is underway, and I would urge everyone to buy this book, especially those still harbouring a feeling that there might be a god, or that atheism is just a bit too extreme to embrace. Richard hopes it will be read by religious readers who he hopes will be atheists by the time they put it down, but as he says, 'dyed-in-the-wool faith heads are immune to argument' so there are bound to be some who will be unaffected, as there will be those who won't read it, fearing the effect it might have on their closed minds and safely secure lives. But for anyone with an open mind, this is an important book by one of the foremost thinkers alive today - he was recently voted one of the world's top three intellectuals alongside Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky by Prospect magazine, but don't let that put you off, he's enormously readable, and writes with clarity accessible to all. It's only £10 on Amazon, go buy.
In the Japanese fishing village of Taiji, fishermen are rounding up and slaughtering hundreds and even thousands of dolphins right now.
Most of the dolphins are butchered and sold on Japanese supermarket shelves as whale meat or dolphin meat. Fishermen also claim they kill dolphins because they eat too many fish — a scientifically false argument.
After driving pods of dolphins into shallow coves, the fishermen kill the dolphins, slashing their throats with knives or stabbing them with spears. Thrashing about, the dolphins take as long as six minutes to die. The water turns red with their blood and the air fills with their screams.
This brutal massacre – the largest scale dolphin kill in the world – goes on for six months of every year. Even more shocking, the captive dolphin industry is an accomplice to the kill. You can find out more here at Earth Island Institute: http://www.earthisland.org/saveTaijiDolphins/ based in California, they work to make oceans safe for marine mammals worldwide.
And this is the website of the Japanese Prime Minister, who you can personally email with your thoughts: http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/forms/comment.html
You can join the campaign against this disgusting evil and sign a petition here.
The fishermen have driven a large pod of bottlenose
dolphins into the killing cove. They are cutting off the
dolphins’ escape with two nets placed 50 feet apart.
Photo by Helene O’Barry
A huge amount of blood is swirling with the currents after
pod of Risso’s dolphins has been eradicated in the most
gruesome way imaginable. The dolphins fought for their lives
even as their guts were ripped from their bellies and blood
gushed out of their blowholes.
Photo by Genna Naccache
All photographs are from the Earth Island Institute website.
And another petition against dolphin slaughter is here on the Care2 Petition Site.
And in case anyone thought the ozone hole had gone away, the hole over Antarctica's ozone layer is bigger than last year and is nearing the record 29-million-square-km (11-million-sq-mile) hole seen in 2000, the World Meteorological Organisation said on Friday.
A remark by a teenager in a recent promo on TV went like this 'What use are daddy longlegs?' Lots of people have commented on the proliferation of crane flies which is the proper name for daddy longlegs, as if they don't always appear at this time of year in large numbers. There might be more this year due to ideal climate conditions [a wet end to summer] which in previous years haven't occured, but there's always a lot of them, and I remember well when I was at grammar school, putting hundreds of them in the teacher's desk so that, when he came into the room, with us all sitting quietly and expectantly which should have warned him, and opened his desktop, a cloud of them flew out in his face, much to the amusement of us little buggers. Of course the answer to 'what use are they?' is that they feed the swifts and swallows prior to their migration to Africa for the winter, so more will survive the journey and return next year to raise more young. They also provide a handy feast for bats, which can be seen at dusk diving and wheeling in the air above the cooling gardens, scooping them up. What use teenagers are is still a question no one has satisfactorily answered to date.
I keep wondering where slugs come from. Having seen none during dry months, as soon as the weather turns wet there they are, up to six inches long and in a variety of colours, all over the meadows and gardens as if they arrived full sized from another planet. You rarely see baby slugs, although it's not unheard of, so I wonder where they hide out while growing to maturity, or whether rain instantly swells them, being mostly water anyway. The niche they occupy is in eating up dead vegetation, and providing handy snacks for starlings, blackbirds, thrushes and other birds too slow to gather insects on the wing. Thus again beating teenagers in the usefullness stakes.
So Branson, having spent years promoting cheap air travel and doing his bit to trash the planet, is to promote global warming that he has done more than most to exacerbate. What monumental hypocrisy, I expect he's going to lecture the rest of us about it now. Is there no end to the self promotion of this ego? The biggest threat to the planet, and our future, are the rich. They consume more and they pollute more. Something which isn't going to change; Richard flew to the US to make this great announcement in the presence of Clinton, also keen to remake his image on the back of environmentalism, presumably to keep up with his ex-sidekick, '[call me Al] Gore'. I wonder if Branson pays these people to stand on the stage behind him and look suitably impressed by every word the great Sir Rick says, clapping at the end of it like he did something saintlike [the one immediately behind him managed a 'wow' at the end of it as her face filled with admiration, but she might have been his wife], rather than just announcing he's going to reinvest all his profits in renewable energy from now on, a wise move considering that fossil fuels have been coming in for more and more stick, and the users of those fuels are not going to be seen as the good guys in the future. Added to that the need, as he stated it, to keep the aircraft flying, and he seems to think bioethanol will do that, despite most available land being used to grow food at present. So it's all self interest and by no means any kind of eco-friendly gesture, even in a world of empty gestures. The usual pics of Branson with bottle of Champagne grinning broadly, what a prat.
This is naked self interest, the only way Branson knows how to behave, being the ultimate showman and self promoter. And the sad plebs of the media fall for it, scraping their forelocks as they cringily ask him promotional questions with Sir Richard this, and Sir Richard that. With one stroke he could actually do something for the environment, he could surcharge all his passengers and give the money to renewable energy organisations which are developing fuels you can't pour in an airliner's tanks. He could do all in his power to reverse the twenty or so years of cheap air travel he has helped promote which has not only resulted in the air we breath being significantly more polluted than it would have been if air travel had remained something most people could not afford too often and had to save for, but has given support for massive airport building and extending resulting in thousands of acres of countryside being devoured by runways with the resulting rural blight and destruction. The media, relieved Sir Richard had with one stroke solved the problem of global warming, will sleep sounder in their little beds tonight, secure in the knowledge that it's all alright now. I just wish we had some intelligent adults working for the media, who weren't already half mad with ego explosion.
Climate change thus becomes another method of selling things. Going to be a big surprise to some people when it really starts to bite.
Two events recently in the news seem to typify the chaotic and unfocused nature of human world views. In the UK, the presenter of the TV show Top Gear, a programme for boy racers [and girl racers] concerned with big cars, big engines, big noise motors, is seriously injured driving a rocket powered car at around 300mph, while in California, the attorney general is suing major car manufacturers for causing climate change and costing California vast amounts of money. The boy racers haven't yet heard about climate change, but will continue with their inane need for speed until the oil runs out, demanding then that someone make an alternative fuel for them to burn in vast quantities to get their hit. This guy's crash seems to me like instant karma.
Another instance of instant karma is the death of Steve Irwin, the Australian loudmouthed 'crocodile wrestler' who was stung in the chest by a sting ray. He always irritated me immensely with his over-egged 'look at me taking incredible risks with big dangerous beasties' and he was never concerned with the animals, but with his own ego. Now he's lauded as a conservationist despite giving shows in zoos where he dangled his newborn baby over a crocodile and other such inane antics, but he was actually just a white man with an oversized ego. The sting ray is not known for aggression, so he must have really pissed it off. Since his death dozens of sting rays have been left on Australian beaches with their stings hacked off, a sure sign that his friends/admirers are as ignorant and homocentric as this bozo Oz. I wonder if the Aborigines were as impressed as all the white folks seemed to be, with even the PM of Australia eulogising over a showman who made his repuation out of showing no respect for the animals he manhandled. Just because crocodiles are fearsome creatures doesn't mean they are not due respect. They are part of the interlinked web of life, part of the food chain, and have an integral part to play, unlike humans and especially showbiz egos. Crikey!
David Cameron seems to have tapped into the zeitgeist and is sounding more and more convincing each day as the Labour party implodes in self hatred and recrimination, with half of them going 'stop fighting' and the other half dissing everyone they can think of who supports 'the other side'. We see before us a group of people corrupted utterly by power, none of them have any idea what happened, what is going to happen [they are going to be kicked out at the next election bar a miracle] and why [power corrupts]. Having failed to get rid of Blair despite him being twice as unpopular as Thatcher immediately before she was ditched by colleagues who recognised a mad old bat when they were up close, the Labour party is about to get punished for failing to keep control of mad Blair as he's rampaged round the world as Bush's deputy dawg, in effect saying to any insipient Muslim extremist, 'come on if you're man enough, bomb some more innocent British people, see if I care'. Most of the population see that he's made them targets, especially those who have to travel on train, tube, bus or aircraft, and they resent him for it, funnily enough. Even two thirds of children think he's a waste of space.
But Blair doesn't see it, being mad, and those few supporters who haven't seen the lie of the land yet still attempt to defend him, but the list is getting shorter. He will be gone soon.
Meanwhile, Ratzinger, head of the Rome crime family, has upset Muslims by quoting a 14th century emperor with a remark about violence, so millions of Muslims protest violently round the world, hoping to cowe him into apologising out of fear they will attack catholics. Umm, so he was right then? I doubt many of those protesting have actually read his words any more than they saw the Danish newspaper cartoons they used as an excuse for a similar bout of bloodletting and burning recently, including burning churches and shooting an aging nun who worked in a children's hospital in the back in Mogadishu, Somalia, one of the most backward countries on the planet.. The prepared text of the speech is here.
Trouble is, Islaam took hold in really backward countries, which have not progressed much in the last few centuries and have never had a reformation, so they tend to get excited and vicious whenever they feel affronted, which is pretty much all the time. Short skirts worn by non-muslim women upset them, cartoons of their prophet upset them because he's not allowed to be portrayed according to one set of divergent Muslim opinion, which is actually a misreading of the Q'uran. Basically, there's no one in charge, unlike the catholic church which has an' infallible' pope. It's hardly surprising Islaam comes in for so much stick, when they make women dress head to toe in black like they're still in the fourteenth century, but the men can wear jeans and Nike trainers and that's cool. They even accuse non-Muslims with heresy, which is about as confused as you can get.
Just returned from a week on the Ceredigian coast of Wales which included a visit to New Quay where Dylan Thomas lived while writing Under Milk Wood. A pretty little town of pastel shades crawling up steep hillsides above the harbour where gulls soar and cry above the fishing boats, landing to take the leftovers of snacking tourists watching for the appearance of seals. Went on a boat trip out to sea to see the dolphins which feature on a plethora of tourist souvenirs in every other shop, but saw none - you have to be lucky - but enjoyed the trip which was a salt-sprayed, wind buffeted slog against the tide and a smooth run back to harbour in half the time with the wind behind us. In our absence seals had appeared in the harbour though! Beautiful rugged coastline cast in sloping shelves of jurrasic bricks and carved by the sea into fantastic shapes complete with smugglers caves.
Camping up the coast was intermittently brilliant sun and raging winds off the Irish sea, rain lashing the tent which sometimes seemed to be more like a kite about to take off and soar. Exciting stuff though wearying in the middle of the night when you just want to sleep. Just the smell of the sea was a rejuvenator.
Fool on the Hill
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