Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In the news: Homosexuality and Hugo Chavez

●  The Left loves to tell us how repressed and undemocratic America really is. But tell me if something like this has happened in the U.S. lately. OK, there was Stonewall, but that was way back in 196-bloody-9, OK? The whole Western world was unenlightened toward homosexuality in those days, not just Americans. But, in a country that claims to have instituted democratic reforms and which decriminalized homosexuality in 1994, the beating up of gay campaigners like former Labourite Peter Tatchell and Right Said Fred lead singer Richard Fairbrass is the real expression of repression. Tatchell, Fairbrass and other gay campaigners were punched and kicked by neo-Nazis who infiltrated a pan-European celebration in Moscow marking the 13th anniversary of Russia's decriminalization of homosexuality. And yet who did the Moscow police arrest? The gay campaigners. The neo-Nazis and homophobic Russian nationalists walked free. Tatchell, a moderate liberal who has not been hesitant to speak out against radical Islam and once tried to perform a citizen's arrest on Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe, was still in a daze as a result of his beating when police apprehended him. Welcome to Putin's Russia. It may not be the power center of Soviet communism anymore, but Russia still has a long way to go before it can be considered truly democratic and free.
● And, on the subject of homosexuality, this story elicited a sympathetic nod from me. The owner of the club, Tom McFeely (an unfortunate name for a gay man, you must admit!), stated that his gay male patrons had previously been subjected to unkind comments by lesbians and straights alike and were sometimes stared at like "zoo animals." So he petitioned, under Australia's Equal Opportunity Act, to refuse entry to lesbians and heterosexuals, and won. McFeely said that large groups of women on "hens' parties" would make his gay male customers uncomfortable. "There are numerous places where heterosexual people can go," McFeely said of the decision. "But for my homosexuals, there's none." This, I feel, was a good outcome. McFeely is right. The Peel Hotel is a private establishment. As such, the owner has the right to allow (and disallow) whatever clientele he deems appropriate to his establishment. It doesn't matter whether you consider homosexuality right or wrong. What matters is respecting privately owned property. McFeely is the owner of The Peel Hotel and won the well-deserved right to establish how he wants his business to be run.
● In case, dear reader, you're wondering why the sudden emphasis on homosexuality here from me, the answer is varied: 1. Both stories are in the recent news, 2. they're both certainly newsworthy, and 3. I am bisexual. My sexuality is moot considering I am a happily married person and I love my wife and am totally devoted to her. And I have, for the record, never had a same-sex experience. But I do know how it feels, at least before becoming the married guy that I am now, to desire the same sex. Now, both as a bisexual and as a conservative, I do not always see eye-to-eye with the gay community. I have my own issues with them. But I don't think any nation that considers itself democratic should allow violence toward them or deny the owner of privately owned property the right to set his or her own rules in favor of them.
● Lastly, but in no way leastly, my heart soars at the news that thousands—THOUSANDS—of Venezuelans rioted against Hugo Chavez in the wake of Chavez' decision to shut down a television station critical of his government. Like most South American dictators, Chavez rose to power in the wake of considerable human-rights abuses. It's really funny how the Left will assert that the War in Iraq was all about oil, yet cannot see that Chavez' "revolution" in Venezuela is about the same. Does anyone think that Chavez could successfully throw his socialist weight around if not for his country's vast oil reserves? Gimme a break. To those Venezuelans who bravely gave the Venezuelan police forces as good as they got, I say: If ever you want to consider (legal) emigration to America, then I sincerely hope that our government opens the door for you and I trust you will make as positive a contribution to American society that anti-Castro Cubans have.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Meme: "I am ..."

Even though she did not tag me to do this, I will still complete this meme that Eden did, because I agree with her that it, as she wrote, "fills the voids in my brain when I need to blog." As far as I can tell, you have to say as much about yourself using the phrase "I am." So here goes:

● I am the possessor of a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography.
● I am a speaker of French and Spanish, though by no means fluent in either (and better in French).
● I am very thankful for my wife, my best friend and more. We've been married 8-and-a-half years.
● I am a cynic.
● I am politically incorrect most of the time (and proud of it).
● I am right-handed.
● I am a Bostonian and a rabid, die-hard Red Sox fan.
● I am a lover of nature.
● I am politically conservative.
● I am still registered as a Republican, although I am considerably disappointed in the G.O.P.
● I am also a conservationist and environmentalist.
● I am NOT a fan of Al Gore, however. The man is an opportunist as well as a hypocrite. It's up to every single one of us to do our part for the Earth, not place all our faith in one man who simply wants the limelight if not power.
● I am (if you didn't know it already) a vegetarian, though I do occasionally eat fish.
● I am not religious but I do believe in a higher power.
● I am a "T-shirt and jeans" type of guy. (Form-fitting jeans, that is, not that baggy "urban" crap.)
● I am long-haired but also like wearing baseball caps.
● I am a runner, who prefers long-distance over speed.
● I am half-Irish, half-English. Meaning, I've never known which side of me to beat up! My father's mother was born in Montreal, so I guess I have a bit of French-Canadian thrown in there too.
● I am short, but I do experience those precious moments when I tower over others.
● I am nocturnal and, as such, a third-shift worker.
● I am most fond of the sound of birds singing during the early morning hours of a hot summer day.
● I am an introvert and someone who likes long moments of solitude.
● I am perfectly capable of entertaining myself.
● I am, like most males, only capable of crying over something sports related.
● I am obsessive-compulsive, though not to a degree that impacts negatively on my life. My OCD is annoying but manageable.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The UFC: We don't need it, but it's not going anywhere

This morning at work, I read a column in one of the Northern Irish papers that questioned the legitimacy and even the sanity of holding the Ultimate Fighting Championships in Belfast. Why, the columnist wrote, should Belfast host such appalling violence when, for 30 years, they got that kind of shit for free?
The mixed martial arts organization (MMA) which promotes the UFC claims that there are established guidelines that, as with boxing, can lead to a fighter's disqualification and that they have dropped the "no holds barred" moniker that used to define their events. Still, the UFC is a disquieting spectacle all the same. Despite the MMA's guidelines, the blood still flows and bones still get broken.
I have mixed feelings about the UFC. Truth be told, if a bunch of testosterone-drenched (and probably steroid-enhanced) alpha males want to knock the absolute stuffing out of each other, I have no problem with that. Go for it, fellas. These guys presumably know what kind of brutal competition they're taking part in. They talk about no-one having died in the UFC's "octagon" yet—emphasis on the word "yet"—but even if that were to happen, it wouldn't spell the end of the UFC. Quite frankly, the UFC tapped into natural human curiosity, what Stephen King referred to in Misery as "the gotta." And most viewers just gotta know which Cro-Magnon goon is going to win. The Romans watched Christians get torn apart by lions. This is not so different. Human nature has not changed after all this time. How surprising.
There's another factor, of course: violence brings in the bucks. It always has, and it always will, and there's no shortage of both live and pay-per-view audiences to lap the blood up and scream for more. The sad thing is, you could hardly call this entertainment like what the World Wrestling Federation serves up—though, in this case, please bear in mind that I use the word "entertainment" as it would apply to a 3-year-old—because at least there's always an element of comedy to WWF matches. And UFC events aren't really much like boxing either in that boxing is a controlled sport. Boxing I can watch and see it for what it is: a contact sport. After all, who doesn't love cheering for poor ol' Rocky Balboa?
But I feel there's no saving grace to the Ultimate Fighting Championships—they are just pure carnage, whether they take place in Belfast, Boston or Brisbane. But we'd better get used to it, because it's sure not going anywhere and will only continue to grow in popularity.

Friday, May 18, 2007

One in the eye for "superior" meat-eaters

There was a debate in the letters section of the London edition of The Metro paper regarding vegetarianism recently. One carnivore wrote that vegetarians aren't as ethical as they claim to be because forests are being destroyed to create land for growing soya.
Excuse me, but most of the soya being grown is feed for livestock and land is also being cleared at exponential rates for cattle with which to feed greedy human-carnivore mouths. At least what we veggies eat doesn't emit greenhouse-gases into the atmosphere. Cars and cows are as bad as each other.
Frankly, I would have thought Mad Cow Disease and then Bird Flu would have turned people off meat. But, morbid or contrarian creatures that people tend to be (I'm not quite sure which), eating meat has never been more popular. After all, how many people went for a "meal" at McDonald's or Burger King after watching the movie Fast Food Nation? I'm willing to bet a lot more than you'd suspect.
I suspect a lot of this has to do with these super-annoying twits known as "foodies." You know, the types that brag about having eaten penguin feet or deer pancreas and about how wonderful and brave and open to all experiences that they are? And the 1,001 varieties of cooking programs on television do nothing to discourage these people. Personally, I can't think of anything sadder than bragging about the food you've eaten. Tell me that you've run a marathon or climbed Mt. Everest and I'll be a hell of a lot more impressed. And also tell me that you did it strictly on a vegetarian diet, which you could.
Listen, if you want to consider youself "superior" simply because you choose to clog your arteries with saturated animal fats, go for it. If you want to laugh at us veggies for being weak fairies with insufficient protein levels—which isn't at all true, as I gained ten pounds of muscle working out in the gym for a year on a vegetarian diet—then you go ahead with this fallacy. But be under no assumptions whatsoever as to what the more environmentally friendly option is. It's not even a contest, folks.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I would have loved to see some punches thrown myself ...

So, let me get this straight: Genteel English reporter John Sweeney loses his temper after having leading scientologist Tom Davis in his face, denouncing him for what must have been the seventh time throughout the course of Sweeney's investigation, and it's Sweeney who's the nutcase and should apologize?
The footage of Sweeney hollering at Davis has predictably made it on to YouTube and the fallout is as expected. One viewer of the video wrote, "Surely this is a joke right? How can a mentally unbalanced man like this be a BBC reporter? This kinda makes you wonder if he is not dreaming up what he reports or if TV actually reports truth! Man I'm done with the BBC."
I was done with the BBC a while ago. The BBC is a biased left-wing institution that never misses a chance to criticize America or Israel in its reporting. So you must take anything from them with a grain of salt. But this does not mean that they are incapable of putting out a quality product, and to give credit where credit is due, that issue of Panorama was excellent and they clearly did their homework with regard to Scientology. Perhaps if people had seen the whole show, instead of just the part where Sweeney blows a gasket, they'd understand the frustration that had been building inside him.
It wasn't enough that Sweeney had been harassed and shouted at by Davis, simply for asking critical questions which is a journalist's job. It also wasn't enough that Sweeney had been followed around by other scientologists as he went about his business. But then he witnessed Scientology's "Psychiatry: Industry of Death" exhibition. In this exhibition, psychiatry is regarded as a Nazi tool to convince Jews that they were mad. Sweeney, quite rightly, was appalled and considered this a trivialization of the Holocaust. So when Davis confronts him yet again over his attitude, Sweeney explodes and lets him have it.
As Sweeney himself put it after wrapping up his harrowing experience with the scientologists: "It was like an animal reaction to a series of images and pressures. I felt they were trying to control my mind. I can't wait to get back to Zimbabwe: hiding in the backs of cars from Robert Mugabe's goons is a damn sight easier."
The scientologists, crafty as they admittedly are, made a counter-documentary in which Sweeney is seen as the aggressor. Luckily, however, Sweeney—who did apologize immediately after his bout of temper and again later on—was not found in breach of any violations by the BBC and will be kept on as a reporter. Strike another rare victory for common sense.
I see it this way: Tom Davis and other scientologists agreed to be interviewed. Yet, when Sweeney dared to ask critical questions, used the word "cult" in their presence and interviewed several critics of scientology, he was accused by Davis and his gang of thetans of having no intention of presenting a balanced viewpoint. Of course, one has to wonder what the Church of Scientology considers "balanced" when they seek to ruin anyone who dares to criticize them.
Well, I for one, am not afraid. Britain, and a dozen other countries, are right to refuse this psuedo-scientific load of horseshit status as a religion. If someone were to tell me they were a Scientologist, my reaction would likely be to look at them as if they were from outer space. Then again, given their beliefs, that's exactly what they'd want.
But is the point that Scientologists are cultish, loopy basketcases? No. Those of us with healthy brains already knew that. The point is, John Sweeney, award-winning reporter, was not wrong to lose his temper. Yes, it was unprofessional. But get a load of the shitheads he had to deal with and suddenly you can no longer find fault with him.

Friday, May 11, 2007

As if we don't have enough problems!

Sometimes I can't help but feel totally unsurprised that support for the British National Party—a National Front-style party that's as anti-immigrant as they come—has risen slightly in the U.K.
I speak of this. Half a million illegals demanding amnesty so they can stay and work? I understand why they came—sure, they just want a better life. But are their problems necessarily ours?
Britain needs to learn from America's experience. The moment we say it's OK for them to stay, that would open the floodgates for some "family re-unification" style immigration policy where even third cousins once-removed can enter. This would be disastrous. And are there enough jobs for them? As if. Hop on the gravy train, folks, there's room for everyone. Welcome to the U.K.!
Britain is a relatively tiny island that has to provide living space for 58 million people, land for agriculture, land for the ever-growing prison population, land for nuclear power plants and waste disposal, and protected areas like some forests, wetlands and coastlines.
The housing market in this country is very tight. People wait years to secure a foot on the property ladder. The national health-care system is showing severe signs of overburdening. How many more people does this government think it can cram into this space before it compromises the environment and everyone's way of life?
Furthermore, if something is worth doing, then it's worth doing right. Yes, I too am an immigrant, but I came through legally. I had to jump through every hoop the Home Office told me to. And I did so without complaint, knowing that every nation reserves the right to take precautions. I had to wait two years to gain permanent residency and work rights here; before that, I had to make due with temporary visas. I was also told not to even think about taking state benefits lest that compromise or even endanger my eligibility. Not that I wanted it anyway, mind you. But the point, I trust, has been made.
Legal immigrants sustain a nation. Illegal immigrants are a strain on that nation's capabilities. Granting illegals amnesty is rewarding them for breaking the law. That is, if the law means anything and, living here, I seriously question whether it does.
We're already facing a rapidly growing native-born population of undereducated and unemployable young adults. So let's compound the problem by adding to this underclass? Britain needs to find a way to provide for its own native population of potential no-hopers, not worry about accommodating law-breakers who think they have an automatic right to live and work here.
And you have to love the hypocrisy of those demanding amnesty for these illegals. Take singer-activist Billy Bragg for instance. He was asked, during an interview with one of the papers, since he praises and values multiculturalism so much, why does he live amongst well-to-do whites in a posh Dorset? Bragg responded, "You know, that reminds me of the question they used to ask, which was, 'if you like socialism so much, why don't you go to Russia?' It's irrelevant." Actually, Billy, it's a damn good question, but I'm hardly surprised that you lacked the cojones to actually answer it. Do as I say, but not as I do, eh, Billy?
The BNP are vile, racist scumbags who deserve no place in a civilized society. I'd rather die than ever cast a vote for them. But, again, I honestly can't blame some people in this country who feel they have no choice in who they vote for anymore. This country's lack of a cohesive policy to deal with illegals as well as its "soft touch" reputation is driving a lot of British folk to the brink of dark desperation.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Rat infestation!

No, not really! Meet our little gang, dear reader:

Our just-turned 1-year-old lady, Star. She was full of love and licks even as a 4-month old pipsqueak, but she's matured into a fine healthy girl, and she's friendlier than ever. As I've done with most of the rats that we've had, I like to "feed" them drops of wine off my finger (not enough to get them drunk though!). And yes, that red splotch on my finger is wine, not blood! I've never been bitten by a rat.

This is 6-month old Mary. We call her Mary-bird, because she likes to nap on the seed trays (the cage they're in was intended for songbirds, but it gives them plenty of room to move about). It took her a while to get used to us, but she's really come along. I also gave her a second name: Constance, ergo Mary Constance. This is because she looks a lot like my very first rat.

Sapphire (or Saffy, for short), also six months old. She was even more nervous than Mary and it's taken a while to get her to trust us. But she has and she's really found her courage. She is always up at the bars greeting us when we first walk into the living room, very curious and inquisitive.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Let's go, Sarko!

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well that I am backing Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency.
A year before the race for president began, I wondered, why doesn't "Sarko" go for it? He was the only person in Chirac's cabinet that seemed to have any clue as to how France was changing and how that change must be dealt with. All we ever heard from Chirac and Co. was typical Gaullist head-in-the-sand railings against "les Anglo-Saxons." Sarkozy, however, is a transatlanticist, someone who admires both Britain and the U.S. and seeks a much closer relationship with both. He also wants to bring greater economic liberalism to France by allowing a 40-hour week (or more) and liberalizing the economy by tearing down some of France's protectionist walls.
Sarko did gain some notoriety by calling the French "hoodies"—young deliquents with nothing better to do than cause trouble and blame it on French society—"scum." Well, Sarko is right. They are. Last month's riot as the Gare du Nord station in Paris was a disgrace. With Sarko in charge, heads will start cracking and I would dearly love to see it.
Segolene Royal or "Sego," his socialist rival, looks to protect welfare benefits for layabouts and slap the thugs on the wrist. Not impressive. Royal also, typically for a Left-winger, sees Israel as an aggressor and America as a threat. Nothing will change if she's elected.
But, fortunately, I don't think that'll happen. Sarkozy is leading Royal 55%-45% going into today's election. There is still a considerable-sized undecided voter base left over from the independent moderate Francois Bayrou, who has criticized Sarkozy. However, on the subject of Sego, Bayrou has been quiet but refused to endorse her campaign, much to her party's bewilderment and anger. A proportionate amount of those planning to vote for Royal say they are only doing so to keep Sarkozy out, not because they like her, whereas one woman who voted for Bayrou in the first round said she will vote for Sarkozy, even though he "scares" her, because she does not think Royal has what it takes to be president. If this the majority opinion among Bayrou voters, then this could be a cakewalk for Sarko.
And France will be much better off for it.