Sunday, March 30, 2008

"We shan't really die"

You may recall, dear reader, that I have never had much cause to agree with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
For instance, remember what I said in this entry: Williams has said that Al-Qaeda terrorists could have "serious moral goals," criticizes America and the War on Terror, said that sharia should be allowed in Britain and be recognized by law, and stipulates that adults, not young people, are the real public menace.
Not a guy who has much of a clue, you say? I would whole-heartedly agree, save for this year's Easter sermon that he delivered. Monsignor Williams asserted that people must prepare for their eventual deaths by letting go of "selfish, controlling, greedy habits."
Attacking the culture of greed—and the notion that there will always be an inexhaustible supply of needs, goods and services to cater to our every whim—Williams stipulated, "Whether it is the individual grabbing the things of this world in just the repetitive, frustrating sameness that we have seen to be already in fact the mark of an inner deadness, or the greed of societies that assume there will always be enough to meet their desires—enough oil, enough power, enough territory—the same fantasy is at work: We shan't really die.
We as individuals can't contemplate an end to our acquiring, and we as a culture can't imagine that this civilization, like all others, will collapse and that what we take for granted about our comforts and luxuries simply can't be sustained indefinitely. To this, the Church [of England] says, somberely, don't be deceived: night must fall."
This sermon was very similar to Williams' Christmas sermon, in which he asserted that human greed is threatening the Earth's environmental balance.
When Williams, in the words of The Daily Telegraph's lead editorial on Monday, March 24, "eschews politics and sticks to theology" (for Jesus asserted the same thing regarding human greed), he actually makes a lot of sense.
He's right. If the quality of life on Earth ends, for us as well as other species, so do we. A sobering thought indeed. And so, perhaps if we accepted death—our own in addition to our society, which is corrupted in so many ways—we can begin to feel a connection with nature again. We can stop this ruinous, rampant consumerism and feel happy to make do with what we already have.
Maybe then we can all take a good look around us and stop destroying the planet with our detritus before it's too late.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A clear-cut case of shooting the messenger

Agree or disagree with the following statement? Society should not tolerate the practice of women on welfare who breed like rabbits, having several children by several different men, and something must be done to curtail such irresponsibility.
If you are a sane person with a mind larger than that of a walnut, you would agree. You would see the sense in opposing the arrival into this world of children who cannot be properly looked after nor provided for, and who have no common father to provide the vital male influence their young lives will need for spiritual growth on their journey into what is hoped would be a satisfying, productive adulthood.
You would, no matter how unfair it may seem, say the woman is to blame for having sex so freely with so many men. The woman is, after all, supposed to be the smarter sex, the gender who can usually be relied upon to control her hormones and to instruct men to "keep it in their pants."
Lastly, you would sanction the rule that no-one is allowed to live whatever lifestyle they choose when the public is paying for it—both literally and figuratively.
Now imagine someone being practically crucified for pointing all this out. But in this politically correct society of ours, can anyone honestly be surprised?
Tory councillor John Ward got into trouble with the media, the political elite, his own party and the brainless rabble that make up most of our ailing society for criticizing Karen Matthews (the mother of Shannon Matthews, who was recently abducted then found unharmed; read about that particular case here, if you wish), asserting that she was an example of "breakdown Britain", where people are content to sponge off the state, expecting taxpayers to fund their lifestyle of bone-idle hedonism.
His comments about sterilizing women on benefits may have been tongue-in-cheek. This is what Ward actually wrote on his weblog:
"There is an increasingly strong case for compulsory sterilisation of all those who have had a second child—or third, or whatever—while living off state benefits. It would clearly take a lot of social pressures off all concerned, thus protecting the youngsters themselves to some degree, and remove the incentive to breed for greed, i.e., for more public subsidy."
For this, Ward was called a Nazi. For this, Ward was called the ultimate antithesis to personal freedom. For this, Ward was forced by his own party (the Conservatives) to resign, proving, of course, that when push comes to shove, the Tories have no backbone to do what they say they will, i.e. clean up society.
I was so incensed by all this needless furore that I sent Mr. Ward an e-mail, the text of which read:
"This e-mail is me personally thanking you for taking such a bold stand and saying what absolutely needed to be said regarding benefit spongers and their idle, hedonistic lifestyles which they expect us taxpayers to fund.
I'm also as sick and tired, as you are, of the up to ten children they have, none of which ever receive a proper upbringing.
I regret that you had to pay the ultimate price for speaking the truth. Maybe sterilisation is a bad idea. Just take their benefits away, or lower the amount they receive on benefits so that working once again seems like a way to sustain one's self and one's lifestyle. Once they are not getting funded by the state to breed like rabbits, they will change their ways. Control the pursestrings, control the behavior. Or so one sincerely hopes.
All the best, John, keep your head held high and keep fighting the good fight in whichever capacity you can so do. Don't back down from anyone."

It's such a shame that no-one wants to listen to common sense anymore. And that, indeed, is the very reason why society is becoming increasingly fouled up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Smacking" will earn you a smack

What's the one thing about people that drives you absolutely around the bend, dear reader?
I don't care how much of a "people person" you may be. Surely there's something—some habit, some nuance, some aspect—of other people that causes you to grit your teeth and dig your nails straight through wood.
For me, it's people who smack and chomp when eating. Believe me, if there is any one thing that would give me cause to quite happily shoot you in the area where the sun don't shine, eating your food loudly would be it. This is the sort of annoying stuff—among countless others—that children do, but by the time you've reached adulthood, you should know how to eat properly.
I don't know anyone who doesn't get annoyed when someone noisily chews gum. So why do some people tolerate or even think it's normal to make similar levels of annoying noise while eating?
Now we all occasionally make chomping noises when eating. The infrequent second of "smack" is to be expected. And, dealing with cankers or sore teeth or other mouth problems may give cause to noisy eating.
But, under normal circumstances, there is no—let me repeat: NO—reason whatsoever to smack and chomp while eating. Don't give me this "well, you have to masticate your food thoroughly" business. And please don't also give this "I enjoy my food" shit, because I'll take your beloved food and throw it out the window. 
Take a morsel of food, chew with your mouth perfectly closed for as long as it takes, swallow it, repeat. That is the way to eat. No excuses.
As for people who eat noisily, with their mouths open, they are either completely without manners, were brought up by wolves or other animals, inbreds or completely retarded.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter is just too early this year

The earliest Easter in more than one hundred years is upon us.
If you enjoy Easter, as I do, you tend to see it as a time of rebirth, the Earth rejuvenating herself after months of frost and bitter winds. Jesus rising from the dead is reflected in nature.
However, an Easter that falls just after the Spring Equinox is a tad problematic. It may look like spring around here: Daffodils everywhere you look; most azaleas and fruit trees such as cherry are in fragrant bloom; most horsechestnuts are already coming into leaf; the blackbirds are singing once more. But, the weather is atrocious.
Most of Europe is in a cold snap right now. On Friday, it rained off and on here, sleet mixed with the rain. Squirrel and I had only just gotten home from the supermarket when a brief thunderstorm hit. It's been a long time since I'd seen it thundering-and-lightning with sleet (1977, to be exact, if my memory does not fail me).
And yesterday, it snowed off and on. No accumulation, of course, but it's interesting that yesterday was the first time it has snowed here all winter long. Even more fascinating that technically, as aforementioned, it's not even winter anymore. But, as most of us who live above the 40th parallel know, the weather does not care what the calendar says.
I always feel a bit spiritual around Easter. I know that sounds incredible coming from this curmudegonly so-and-so who normally complains about holidays, but it's true. One Easter morning, many moons ago, my mother had drawn pictures of deer, rabbits and a dragon, and then showed them to my sister and I, just before our Easter egg hunt. I've never forgotten that; I never will. I associate Easter with a time of rejuvenation for dragons as much as anything else.
But I'm afraid I prefer Easter in April. March is usually still too wintery to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day Remembrances: John McCain vs Gerry Adams

I hope the following serves as a vignette regarding the steely nature of John McCain.
I read in one of the Irish papers yesterday morning about how, during the 2005 St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Washington, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was largely cast out in the cold. By this time, Congress, and President Bush himself, had grown tired of Sinn Fein's apparent ambivalence toward the Irish Republican Army's criminal elements and activities.
Yet another of the IRA's many atrocities came to light around this time—the killing of Robert McCartney outside a bar in East Belfast by a crowd that included many IRA members. When the McCartney sisters appealed to Adams to help them investigate the circumstances of their brother's death, the Sinn Fein leader repeatedly snubbed them.
The 2005 St. Patrick's Day fête in Washington focused on the McCartney sisters who had been invited to tell their story over shamrock-shaped cookies and tea to Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. They also met with President Bush, who vowed to support them "100 percent." The whole story blew the lid off the romantic vision of the IRA amongst Irish-Americans and, for perhaps the first time ever, Americans saw Adams, Sinn Fein and the IRA for the monsters they really are.
Gerry Adams, meanwhile, had seen his guest-of-honor status at the St. Pat's celebrations scrapped. He did not meet with the President. Instead, the justice-seeking McCartney sisters were the causes célèbres on this day.
Even Kennedy, that Irish-American stalwart, pulled out of a meeting with Adams, citing the IRA's "ongoing criminal activity and contempt for the rule of law."
But John McCain—an Irish-American himself—delivered a thunderous speech at the American Ireland Fund dinner in which he branded the IRA "cowards" who did not deserve to be called Republicans. Looking Adams right in the eyes, McCain declared, "Stealing from banks and slaying men on the streets to settle personal grievances are not the acts of freedom fighters, they are the work of a small minority trying to hold back the forces of history and democracy and they hurt the very people for whom they claim to fight ... There is nothing republican about the Irish Republican army."
McCain also stated that "[a]nyone, Irish, American or British who desires and works for the success of peace, freedom and justice must denounce in the strongest possible terms not only the cowards who murdered Robert McCartney but the IRA itself and any political organisation that would associate with them." McCain's speech was so saturated with vitriol toward Sinn Fein and the IRA that Adams was stunned to silence—shortly after the speech, he wordlessly made a hasty exit. Adams' aides recalled wondering if the Sinn Fein leader was about to explode, cry or faint.
And so Gerry Adams learned that John McCain was not a man you wanted to mess with. McCain proved his mettle on March 16, 2005.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

And the yoke shall deliver thou from evil?

I'm sorry, but is it just me, or does being associated with religion during an American election seem contentious to the point of stupidity?
Case no. 1: John McCain and televangelist John Hagee, who has been accused of anti-Catholicism. Hagee endorsed McCain for the presidency on February 27. McCain's reaction to Hagee's endorsement was tepid, yet McCain at a campaign event Friday morning opined of Washington D.C. that, "it's harder and harder trying to do the Lord's work in the city of Satan." The event was staged at the company headquarters of one S. Truett Cathy, a devout Baptist.
On this same Friday morning, McCain addressed the socially/religiously conservative Council for National Policy. When asked by a council member how important a role religion plays in his life, McCain answered, "Obviously, very important."
McCain is walking a tightrope between disassociating himself from Hagee's Catholic-bashing and the Christian lobby who are holding his feet to the fire. You can't help but feel that, if you are running for office, you are damned if you accept endorsements that reek of religiosity and damned if you don't.
I wish to see McCain reject Hagee's endorsement and tell born-again folks like those in the Council for National Policy that there is a limit to how much of a role religion will play in his policies. But the senator's hands, unfortunately, are tied.
I also wish to see conservatism left to those folks who actually believe that Earth is billions of years old, not thousands.
But, alas, it's an uncomfortable fact of life for conservative candidates who essentially end up bound-and-gagged by the holier-than-thou lobby.
Case no. 2: But the yokes around the necks of conservative candidates tend to pale in comparison to those around liberals.
Barack Obama has had to distance himself from the pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ, Jeremiah Wright.
The "good Reverend" railed against the United States in a sermon he delivered seven years ago, in the wake of 9/11. Wright asserted that America brought the Sept. 11 atrocities on itself, stipulating that "[n]ow we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."
Two years later, in 2003, Wright delivered a sermon in which he expressed his belief that blacks should rise up against America. "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' ... God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."
Recently, Wright attacked Hillary Clinton, remarking that, "Hillary ain't never been called a nigger."
Now for the killer: During this same sermon, Wright compared Obama to Jesus. That's a hell of an endorsement.
That's also one hell of a yoke.
Obama, as was expected, condemned the content of these controversial sermons, announcing, "I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Reverend Wright that are at issue."
He also claimed to have thought of leaving the Trinity Church had such statements been "the repeated tenor of the church."
Yet, as also expected, Obama has refused to condemn Wright as a man, asserting that he is actually more decent than he has recently been portrayed and that, while he may denounce what he may say, he will continue to look upon Wright as the man who brought him to Christianity and served as a major mentor in his life.
And so, just another normal American contest being marred by African-American preachers the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright who go to bat for the Democrats. And then you have the fire-and-brimstone types who have reservations about supporting a Republican candidate who's anything less than ethusiastic to enshrine creationism as the national belief via a Constitutional amendment.
I don't think I would even recognize a Presidential election if not for the religious madness.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Free love?

If you're a morally deficient, emotionally crippled loser, polyamory may be the answer!

Although I should know better, I continue to find myself amazed at the steaming bullshit that The Metro paper deems acceptable for print.
This newspaper has a weekly section entitled "Metro Sexual" in which they discuss—as you would imagine­—some truly stomach-turning subjects: Women who don boxer shorts and fake moustaches to "spice up" their bedroom activities (no mention, of course, of men who might like to don brassiers and stockings in quest of the same). Women who find men the size of a hillock attractive. People who love horses in more ways than one, in honor of the London showing of the play Equus ... and now, polyamory.
Polyamory, according to the Metro Sexual article, is wrongly compared to swinging. It's actually, don'tcha know, "more about romance and domesticity." And the cutline underneath the picture of several men and women holding hands announces, "if you find yourself torn between two partners, polyamory could be the answer."
An answer to what? Immaturity? A desire to have one's cake and eat it too? A way of life that assumes very little responsibility?
This is just the latest low blow from a society that expects to have any way of life validated. Now I realize that I'm biased, happy married man that I am. But what bothers me is the brazen way this trash is presented, as if it's a viable option that, quite simply, no-one has considered.
Of course, morality doesn't often come into play where seuxal deviancy is concerned. It's understandable why The Metro published an exposé on polyamory considering that London is a city where almost everyone seems in serious need of love. Any article that seeks to legitimize having multiple lovers of both sexes entitled "The more, the merrier" seems tailor-made for the sort of losers who live in a city as large as this one, feeling detached as a result, and who would be only too happy to consider such an abomination seriously.
At one juncture, the article laments that "[t]he biggest downside [to polyamory] is time: sometimes there just aren't enough hours in a day to give all your love to lots of other people." Ah, golly gee, what a shame. The thought of actually concentrating all your love on just one person is such a cause for regret, an emotional disaster. I mean, that sounds a little too uncomfortably close to commitment!
And who the hell needs that nowadays? Most of these nitwits live on fast food, why not have fast love? Why spend three hours of your evening with a one-and-only when you can divide that time equally in three different people's rooms?
Are we so neurotic now that loving one person seems passé? Are some people so emotionally deficient that they must make their housemates their fuck buddies as well? Hey, if you can all sit around the kitchen table drinking coffee in a state of total nudity and feel comfortable with it, then life must surely be worth living!
If polyamory is the answer, then I can only assume the question is, what is the surest sign that society has dipped to even greater depths?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

News round-up: Yout's, the NME, and bottled water

The continuation of my news smörgåsbord:

Unfairly targeting youths? (Part II)
1. Yesterday, I discussed Rowan Williams' bleeding-heart message of tolerance for gangs of kids, his argument being that it is the fault of intolerant adults, in addition to uncared-for cityscapes, that causes hostility and gang mentality in young people.
But the Archbishop of Canterbury is far from the only nutter out there who thinks that yout's have a right to cause distress to we cold-hearted, intolerant grown-ups.
The reaction the Children's Commissioner had to the Mosquito is a good case in point.
The Mosquito is a small electronic box that emits a pulsating, high-frequency buzz of around 80 decibels that only those under the age of 25 can hear. The noise is so annoying and distracting that it deters kids from hanging around the fronts of shops. When used outside shops or on street corners, the Mosquito has proven effective as a kid-gang deterrent.
Well, don'tcha know, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the aforementioned Children's Commissioner, branded the Mosquito an "indiscriminate weapon" responsible for the animosity that exists between the young and not-so-young. He aims to rid the country of Mosquitos and has enlisted the help of the human-rights group Liberty.
In pure Williams-esque, Aynsley-Green said that the Mosquito "demonises" yout's and that "it is a powerful symptom of what I call the malaise at the heart of our society."
Er, so kids hanging around in front of shops drinking, smoking and making pains-in-the-ass out of themselves aren't the malaise, you see. No, it's we adults—especially those store-owning goons—who are at the heart of the problem.
James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: "These youths deter customers, intimidate staff and commit vandalism and violence." Oh, Mr. Lowman, surely you jest. You're just being intolerant!
But, alas, it's no wonder Aynsley-Green feels moved on behalf of troublemakers as he is your typical limosine liberal. Aynsley-Green lives on a leafy street, protected by high walls, dense hedging and a sturdy gate. He gets paid £130,000 per year for telling adults in the real world how mean-spirited they are.
But, dear reader, it gets better.
In a desperate move to tackle the problem of youth drinking, children caught with alcoholic drinks risk receiving a criminal record. Nothing will probably come of this as this Labour government is infamous for making promises and failing spectacularly to deliver. But, when Home Secretary Jacqui Smith revealed that she and other ministers were looking to give police expanded powers to remove alcohol from under-18s and brand them with a criminal record, those of us not living in ivory towers thought, "good!"
Of course, there are those out there who were aghast at this. Alcohol Concern's Frank Soodeen sniffed, "We are concerned about the unnecessary criminalization of young people for drinking. The fact is that large numbers of kids are getting their alcohol from older friends and relations."
It is true that mush-headed parents are letting their children drink and they should be prosecuted for it. To Alcohol Concern's credit, they are pushing for such a law.
But it's the deterrence factor in punishing children that will be most effective. These yout's are going to end up with a criminal record for something-or-other anyway, so what does it matter that being caught with alcohol by the police is the cause for their conviction? Prevent the kids from binge-drinking, prevent a significant amount of crime.

NME: Nitwitted Moronic Exhibition
2. I urge my readers to boycott NME, the New Musical Express. When it comes to cluelessness, these guys are in a league of their own.
Their Hero of the Year award was Pete Doherty. Apparently, they bestowed the award on Doherty for his attempt to give up hard drugs. That's the only reason I can think of.
Question: Why should we give anyone an award for trying to kick a habit they should never have taken up in the first place? If you're on drugs, get off them because you know it's the smart thing to do, not because you feel you should be rewarded for it.
God only knows how many wayward youths this trilby-hatted shithead has inspired with his bizarre on-stage antics and his high-profile drug-taking. For all the talk about what brilliant music he writes and what Lord Byron-esque lyrics he pens, nobody apart from a handful of his fans have actually heard his work with the Libertines and his current band, Babyshambles. The reason Pete Doherty is so famous is because he once went out with Kate Moss and because his drug-taking is legendary. Twice a week, there's some story in all the papers about Doherty and drugs.
Doherty is also infamous for promising to go straight, but he's been in and out of rehab countless times. The rehab center has installed a revolving door just for him. After one rehab stint, Doherty filmed himself injecting heroin. And, just a day after winning NME's Hero of the Year award, Doherty sported a bleeding nose which he laughingly blamed on a kitten scratch. If "kitten scratch" is the druggie's latest euphamism for cocaine, then I believe him.
The fact that the NME awarded, in the words of The Sun's Gordon Smart, "this bleeding, bloated, greasy, drug-addled junkie" a Hero of the Year award is disgraceful beyond compare.
And guess who their Villain of the Year gong went to, pray tell? None other than George W. Bush. Quite aside from the predictability of the pop-and-rock industry condemning Bush, while happily ignoring despotic world leaders who are far worse, why does the NME nominate rock stars for Hero awards but politicians for Villain awards? That makes no sense. What does the President have to do with rock'n'roll? Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were also nominated for Villian of the Year.
Further proof that the entertainment industry actually thinks it speaks with an intelligent voice on politics.
Further proof that the NME and its readers are clueless twats.

Scams in a bottle
3. Bottled water has to be the biggest scam to be thrust upon the consumer since ... well, plastic bags.
Whenever I see someone with bottled water, I think "what a pretentious idiot." Those who drink bottled water actually think they're cool, their bottle of water is their way of announcing to the world, "Hey, look at me, I'm drinking mineral water! I'm on such a health kick! Am I the shit or what?"
Of course, in the truest style of the gullible idiot, these same people probably think drinking bottled water is all they need to be healthy. Bottled water is our elixir, our magic potion, our cure for all ills.
For those of you geniuses who think bottled water is the greatest thing since the wheel, consider what this article has to say:
"Water is water. What gives the different bottled waters their particular characteristics is the minerals and chemicals that they pick up in their passage through the ground; and they will pick up any and all. Most of the water is taken from a rural environment. This means that to be safe to drink, what happens on the earth through which they flow must be strictly controlled. For example, cattle and other animals excrete waste material. Ground around springs should not be used for grazing. Over large areas, there should be no pesticides or herbicides used. Do these areas get the degree of control they need? Nobody knows - there is no information."
Water is water indeed. There is no—I repeat, no—difference between the mineral water in the disposable plastic bottle and the water from your faucet that you can fill a Thermos with. Acutally, there is a difference: Guess what you aren't getting from bottled water that you will get from tap water? Flouride. You know, that stuff that helps keep teeth strong and healthy?
As with the plastic bag, people have been conned into thinking they can't do without bottled water. Companies like Perrier worked hard to convince us that tap water was unhealthy, not to be trusted. Drink our water instead, they told us, and you will be pure! The Financial Times wrote in 1974 that it would be a waste of time to market bottled waters because only cranks would drink it. Bottled water turned out to be a great success—which leads me to believe that there are millions of cranks out there.
Relax, I don't support a ban on bottled water. Let the market decide. I just think the whole mineral water phenomenon is sad. I can only hope that the media keeps pounding home the message that bottled water is one of the greatest cons of the twentieth (and twenty-first) century, and that people will start listening.
If you're not interested in helping to preserve the environment, then at least save your money. Why on earth people would pay to drink what they are already paying for at home is beyond me.
Of course, didn't a wise man once say that the bad taste of the public (American or otherwise) could not be underestimated? I rest my—and his—case when it comes to the curious success of bottled water.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

News round-up: Plastic bags, capital punishment, common sense and yout's

I've got a lot of stuff on my plate here, news items that really deserve entire entries of their own, but time will not permit that, so I offer up one of my rare but enticing smörgåsbords:

Tax plastic bags, or ban them
1. The anti-plastic bag brigade has turned up the volume again, as they did last year. Once more, there's talk of plastic taxes and even of banning, as several communities across Britain have already done. The British high-street retailer Marks & Spencer has announced a five pence charge for plastic shopping bags, hoping this will cause people to think twice about whether or not they really need more plastic to carry their shopping in than is necessary.
I'm on board with this brigade myself. Think that's un-conservative of me? Well, bring this up with one of the Tories' main hatchet-men and Mayor of London candidate, Boris Johnson. The Conservatives re-printed his excellent column from last November, in which Johnson points out that the plastic bag "is [d]iscarded and takes about 400 years to biodegrade, and the result is that we are slowly sprinkling the planet with the crinkly detritus of our consumption."
Johnson also points out that all this plastic is endangering sea life and takes loads of fossil fuel to produce.
It seems everyone you talk to approves of taxing or banning plastic bags, but most of it is pure lip service. I so often feel like I'm the only one who turns down a plastic bag, putting my groceries in my knapsack and/or gym bag. As is so often the case with people, there's a big discrepancy between what they say and what they actually do. The plastic bag is free and convenient, so what the hell?
Somehow people managed to do their shopping before the advent of the plastic bag. We can learn to do so again. I appreciate that these bags are convenient, but I have never been one to give my assent to environmental degradation in the name of convenience, consumerism, capitalism or conservatism.

Bring back capital punishment
2. There's been some debate about re-instating the death penalty here in Britain. In the wake of lawlessness—thanks to "New" Labour, the police are more concerned with paperwork than people—and the killings of innocents by morally bankrupt thugs, some are wondering if capital punishment will put an end to prison overcrowding and make some inroads into cutting crime.
I have always supported the death penalty, and I still do. I believe that, once you have killed with malicious intent, you have given up your rights as a person to exist. Human rights no longer apply to you. You are only fit to have your own life taken away, the state exacting revenge on behalf of the victims and of law-abiding society.
In Britain, the rates for unlawful killings have more than doubled since the abolition of capital punishment in 1964. In my mind, this is surely no coincidence.
In Singapore, death sentences are always carried out where appeals have been turned down; as a result, Singaporeans are left with no doubt what will become of them if they are convicted of murder.
I do not believe in capital punishment for mercy killings, self-defense killings or manslaughter.
But, for most cases of homicide, the death penalty is right and just. It costs less than incarceration for life, it serves as a deterrent, it removes the worst criminals from society and ensures that the recidivism rate for such criminals is zero. I have no desire that my tax money help feed and shelter these thugs. I want their life ripped away from them. I want them to sense the insane, cold fear that their victims did once they are strapped into that chair. I'll insert the needle into their arms myself.
Bring back capital punishment.

A rare victory for common sense
3. Part of the reason Britain is so lawless is because not only do thugs routinely get away with their crimes, but it's the victims of crime who are made to pay. Someone will act in self-defense or in defense of their home and property and find themselves charged while the perpetrator escapes free and happy, secure in the knowledge that neither the Government nor the police are interested in persuing him. As long as the police meet their targets—usually by harrassing peaceful animal-rights groups—then all is well. Someone was stabbed on their doorstep? We don't want to know, we're too busy filling out the paperwork on this bunny-hugger.
But I digress ... On February 17, shop-owner Tony Singh was assaulted by a robber outside his store as he was closing up. In the scuffle that ensued, Singh managed the stab the robber, Liam Kilroe, with his own knife. The police, no surprise, recommended that Singh be charged over Kilroe's death. The Crown Prosecution Office, however, ruled that Singh had acted in self-defense and had his murder charge squashed.
Is anyone upset that a career criminal met his end? Liam Kilroe, good riddance to you, mate. No-one cares that you're now six feet under; it's where you deserve to be.
Singh said he was relieved at the CPO's ruling. He has every right to be. It was an exhilirating but all-too-rare victory for common sense.

Unfairly targeting youths? (Part I)
4. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has said some stupid things in the past because he is essentially a clueless man. He said that Al-Qaeda terrorists could have "serious moral goals," criticizes America and the War on Terror, said sharia should be allowed in Britain and be recognized by law, and now he stipulates that adults, not young people, are the real public menace. This is a man who, as this piece so excellently states, "[d]islikes our Western way of life and romanticises the Islamic world as much as Marxists used to romanticise the USSR."
In his latest mindless diatribe, Williams actually begins by stating a truism: "The sight of young people gathering on streets and in shopping centres is one of the things that can create alarm or suspicion in adults, who think such groups are going to be abusive or extreme in their behaviour." And the problem with that statement is ...?
I whole-heartedly agree with Williams' assesement that "open space, in park or street, is something we in the UK have not been good at handling in the past decades. Some urban development has created desolate and uncared-for cityscapes, in which people do not want to spend time and which are distant from where anyone lives. An uncared-for environment invites vandalism, and a downward spiral is set in motion." But this is not the sole reason that youths feel detachment or why they're riding off the rails so disastrously in this day and age, and Williams should know that full well.
Young people always feel at odds with the older generations, and that's been true since the dawn of the human race. Young people have always felt the need to congregate and try to claim an area of space that's exclusively theirs. This isn't exactly news, it's a social reality that everyone experienced while growing up.
The problem is that there are no moral boundaries for youths to follow. Lack of discipline, no appropriate male role models, the media's degradation of fatherhood, and lazy parents who don't care what their children are up to are all factors. It's not poverty, it's not "demonization" by adults, and it's not depressing urban landscapes. It's a lack of moral integrity, of restraint, and of social responsibility.
We have also indulged kids too much, told by those in positions of power that we must treat them as equals, we must prop up their self-esteem (and so what if actual learning and life skills get sacrificed in the process?), that we dare not smack them. We are then surprised that such kids grow into teenagers who think no-one can touch them, who think that every destructive urge they harbor should be indulged in and accepted by everyone else.
Alas, it's not only monsignor Williams who feels the need to defend wayward yout's, but that subject I shall leave for tomorrow ...