Monday, May 26, 2008

Playing God while Frankenstein saves lives

OK, dear reader, I have left the last bit of news from my smörgåsbord for last. This deserves to be an entry on its own account, and so it shall be:
It really seems as if every horrible aspect of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill can't receive enough enthusiastic backing from our lawmakers.
Ministers in the House of Commons voted in favour of animal-human hybrid embroys, of "savior siblings," declaring fathers obsolete, and retaining the 24-week limit on abortion.
I have grown very tired of hearing those in favor of this squalid embryo and stem-cell research say, "but it's going to save lives!" At what price are we going to "save lives?" What type of monster will be born while we're saving lives? This is an area of science where we dare not tread, a vindication of the maxim which states that because we can do something doesn't necessarily mean that we should do it. But of course, going to bed with the scientific community, which all governments do on a too-regular basis, meant that it was inevitable that this research would be given a thumbs-up.
With regard to "savior siblings": Can you imagine the pain and the anguish you'd feel if you found out that the only reason you were born—the only reason you were allowed to exist—was to provide spare parts for your diseased brother or sister? There are going to be a lot of tortured souls in the future. We are in deep trouble when we stoop to the point where a person is looked at primarily as "spare parts."
Until recently, a woman seeking fertilization treatment would have to provide proof of a father's role in her child's upbringing. The law has now been changed to "supportive parenting." Which I guess means that if you can afford to buy the kid an Xbox and a copy of "Grand Theft Auto," and simply pat him or her on the head every now and then, then you're good to go. Once again, in formally announcing their belief that fathers are not necessary, our lawmakers betray us and show that they have absolutely no insight as to the causes of social breakdown and disorder.
Finally, can anyone tell me why the hell it is so necessary for the limit on abortions to be 24-weeks, when premature babies are perfectly viable at 20 weeks and when the limit in most European countries is 12 weeks? As far as I can tell, the freedom to commit infanticide is still high on the feminist agenda. If you can tear a child of 24 weeks apart in the womb, what exactly is the difference in tearing a newborn baby limb-from-limb? They would both feel the most agonizing pain, but you can't hear the former scream.
This Embryology and Fertilization Bill has to be the biggest blow to human respect and dignity since the Nazi's Third Reich (an appropriate comparison, methinks). And yet, sadly, it comes as very little surprise that every controversial aspect of it has passed. Our politicians prove once again that they are only too glad to sell their souls—and ours along with them—for profit and short-term gain with very long-term consequences.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

News smörgåsbord: May 18 - 25, 2008

Well, I find myself in an ever-familiar situation: Lots on my plate, and too little time available to discuss any of it at length. Time for one of the nightdragon's famous news smörgåsbords, taking into account some of the major news stories of the past week:

Mizens define respect in every way

You can't help but feel the most astounding respect for the parents of Jimmy Mizen, the 16-year-old practicing Catholic who died after being cut across the neck with a shard of broken glass by a thug. The low-life had challenged Mizen to a fight; Mizen refused to fight and got stabbed for it.
Barry Mizen, the young man's father, said that people need to assess and change their own behavior rather than relying on the Government to make them feel safe. Margaret, Jimmy's mother, also said that she felt sorry for the parents and family of the thug who killed her son and opined that there "was not enough hugs and love in this world."
I suppose I'm as guilty as anyone else of not challenging the status quo enough, much as I complain about it. I much prefer to mind my own business, not get involved with anything involving others, and I'm certainly not about to go doling out hugs to anyone other than members of my immediate family.
But the message is hard to argue with. Have more respect for yourself and others. Try to spread love simply by being polite. Don't let anger grind you down into the type of person who would commit such horrible crimes.
The whole world would be a much better place if there were more people like the Mizen family.

Obama: Toughen up or shut up

Barack Obama has warned the GOP: "Leave my wife alone!"
The Republicans jumped on remarks made by Michelle Obama; Mrs. Obama had opined "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm proud of my country." The would-be First Lady also has a history of Black Power activism.
Sorry, Barack, but this is politics. The nation can decide for itself whether bringing up Michelle's comments and activist past is relevant. If they think it's dirty politics, they'll vote against the GOP.
But all is fair in the political process. It's a rough game and those who take part in it don't always fight fair. Any advantage is worth considering. This is the nature of the beast.
You went into this contest head first and with both eyes open, Mr. Obama. Now you must deal with the consequences. You yourself will be looking for any advantage against McCain and, once you have found it, you are likely to use it.
Grow up, Barack. To run for president, you have to be a big boy. If you don't like the Republicans' tactics, then stand up to them and challenge them. Stop whining and fight like a man (if you can).

I suppose they'll still find a way to blame this on the white community ...

So much for the Lefty-liberal argument that only whites are rabid anti-immigrant thugs who commit violence against their racially diverse neighbors.
The black community of South Africa, Johannesburg in particular, have proven what a fallacy that is.
This is black African on black African violence, on a truly appalling level.
Yet, this is what tends to happen when people feel the pinch, food prices rise, employment levels stagnate and crime levels are too high for most people's comfort. Immigrants bear the brunt. This has been the case the world over, not just white communities in Western countries.
As with South Africa, as with Italy, as with Britain, as with America, as with any other sovereign nation, the message is clear: Controlled immigration is the key. It's such a simple, elementary policy to adopt, but it's surprising how little countries take notice and act upon it, largely because they're at the beck-and-call of the corporate world which demands, "let them in, we need their cheap labor!"
I can understand why so many Zimbabweans, Malawians and others want to live in a relatively economically stable country like South Africa. But South Africa cannot, and is under no obligation to, take in as many as want to come.
And that is the real lesson that South Africa needs to learn if they hope to quell the violence and ensure that it does not repeat itseslf.

Only servants to the Brave New World deserve respect and tolerance

I personally don't take offense to civil unions between gay people, as long as the distinct term "civil union" is used and not "marriage." As long as that bit of semantics is honored, I have no problem with it. Gay people exist and they have always existed, and they should not be treated as second-class citizens.
However, having said that, I feel that—as with Black Power, as with feminism—gay rights is not so much about equality as it is about superiority, about shunning and punishing those who dare to disagree with their views.
Take the case of Lillian Ladele, the marriage registrar for London's Islington Coucil who faces being fired for refusing to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies. Ladele is not being discriminatory because she takes pleasure in so doing, but because her Christian beliefs tell her that these sorts of unions are wrong. This is a personal belief that one would think, in a supposedly free country, she has every right to uphold.
But the new Statistics and Registration Act, which came into effect last December, ended the freedom of opt-outs for registrars. A spokesman for the gay-rights campaign Stonewall sniffed, with regard to Ladele's case, "All public servants are paid to uphold the law of the land."
The real message here is, don't take a job in the public sector if you disagree with what you see going on in society. Unless you're an obedient slave to the Brave New World, don't even bother.
Ladele, however, is fighting to keep her job with the council because a £31,000 a year salary is not to be sniffed at.
It is alright to accept and be tolerant of one set of beliefs and practices but not another. That is essentially what the politically correct bullies of the Government are saying. Respect and tolerance is a one-way street in this day and age, and how sad and abhorrent that is.

Speaking of respect: An Armed Forces Day?

The Government is mulling over plans to create an official holiday entitled "Armed Forces Day." The real reason for such a holiday is that respect for the armed forces among the public is at an all-time low.
This follows reports that, in the English city of Peterborough earlier this year, Air Force personnel were being abused by members of the public whenever they went into town wearing their military uniforms. Because the Afghanistan and Iraq efforts are deeply unpopular, the public is taking out their frustration on military staff.
OK, the obvious: This not only suggests that the British public are ingrates on a truly mind-boggling scale, but that they are woefully ignorant not only of the raison d'être for both wars, but of who is responsible for them. The military fight where they're told to fight by the Government. In attacking RAF personnel, people seem to have completely lost sight of that fact.
Of course, we have seen this ugly, despicable behavior before. Americans acted no better during the waning years of the Vietnam War. Our soldiers were "welcomed" back home to be jeered, spat at and called "baby killers." (This is one reason why I will always be grateful that I am not a member of that fetid, spoiled "baby boom" generation.)
But Americans have learned their lesson. Even though the War in Iraq is rapidly becoming unpopular amongst the U.S. public, the average American still holds his country's troops in high esteem. As this article from The Daily Telegraph states, "The war in Iraq has not thrown up anything like the same bitterness as the Vietnam War, and civilians are careful to keep separate any abhorrence for political policies from their regard for the serving soldier."
This is what needs to happen here in Britain. The British public need to stop repeating the same awful, infantile behavior of Americans in the Vietnam War era.
We can only hope an Armed Forces Day will help steer the British public toward a righter frame of mind.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Let's hear it for alcohol awareness

The (ahem ... useless, cough, cough) Labour government here in the U.K. has recently launched an alcohol awareness campaign, in light of the fact that Britain is a land drenched in copious amounts of the liquid poison. A government study concluded that most people are unaware of how many units of alcohol are in one pint of beer, large glass of wine or G &T. (Answer: 3 units for all three drinks.) This, they conclude, is why so many British people have a drink problem.
Organizations such as Drink Aware have set up safety limits for drinking based on the aforementioned units. The safe level for men is 21 units per week, and for women it is an astonishingly small 14 units per week. (Benefits of being male: You can safely drink more!)
I'm not the only one wondering if most Britons who enjoy their drink will pay the slightest iota of attention to this campaign, but I will say this much for it—it caused me to take notice and to take action.
I was pretty gobsmacked to work out, last Sunday, that my weekly average alcohol intake was 63 units. If the safe level for my gender is 21, I was imbibing three times the threshold for a responsible male drinker. (I was drinking nine units a day, 7 days a week.)
Because my body was used to that much booze, I rarely got seriously hung-over. But I would very frequently feel groggy and dazed. Little wonder, eh?
As of last Sunday, I changed my ways. I figured that if I could give up soft drugs and cigars, then I could also work on my drinking. I was clearly as bad as other people in this country when it came to the partaking of alcoholic drinks.
I haven't had any alcohol since Sunday. It's been five whole days since I've had a drink. And you know what? I feel great. I feel healthier. I feel enriched. In fact, I do not even miss beer. I have found that I can easily do without it. I do, however, still have a taste for rich, blood-red wine. It's a dragon thing, dear reader.
Therefore, I have decided that I will not be drinking anything but shandys—a lemonade-based drink whose overall alcohol content is a mere 0.5%, hardly enough to even worry about—during the five-day workweek. I will enjoy my red wine on the weekends. If I have one bottle on Friday and enjoy a few glasses at the pub on Saturday, that means I will have had my 20 to 21 units. And then, come Sunday, no more wine till the next weekend. And so on.
I will save money. I will be sparing my liver. And I may also lose some more weight. Even though my waistline is a pretty good 33 inches, I could definitely get away with a more svelte 31 inches. Drinking 63 units a week of such a calorie-rich substance cannot have been doing much for me, despite all the running I do.
Oh yeah, guess what? I've been running better this week than I have done for a long time! Surely no coincidence.
Alcohol is a healthy, life-enhancing substance if taken in moderation. It's when you drink beyond the safe limit that it becomes problematic.
I have listened to and acted upon this awareness campaign. I just hope others do as well. Everyone deserves to know how good life can seem without the hooch, and if there's one example of this fetid, bloated and slowly dying government of ours finally doing something good and useful, this campaign would be it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Does anyone really know what time it is?

The curse of the night-shift worker

Robert Lamm, vocalist and keyboardist for the classic rock group Chicago, once asked in a song, "Does anybody really know what time it is?" I suspect that he must surely have once been a third shift worker.
Faithful reader, let me impart an amusing story to you:
You see, when you work nights, as I do, it tends to take its toll. Now I love the quiet hours, the dark, the spookiness of going to an abandoned part of the building (as I do when I change for a breaktime run), and the fact that I can sleep the entire day away, or lie on the lawn in the park during the mid summer, while everyone else has to work. I take great pleasure in that.
I also love watching the sun rise over the trees and church across the street from our building. I love hearing the blackbirds start to sing come 4 a.m. I love early morning talk radio, whose moonbat callers often make me laugh out loud. The night shift does have its benefits.
But, there is still a price to pay.
Yesterday, I went to bed around noon. The wife, who was off from work herself, joined me. And we snoozed and dozed for what seemed like forever.
When I finally decided to wake up, it was light out. I looked at the alarm clock, which announced a time of 8:35. Now, considering that it's still light at 8:35 in the evening here at this time of year, I thought it was only Friday evening. I honestly thought, "oh, it'll be getting dark soon, so I'd better prepare to spend an evening with my wife."
I never once entertained the idea that it was anything other than Friday evening.
Squirrel got up about 10 minutes after I did and asked, "Are we going to the pub today?"
I gave her a blank look. "Today?" I asked. "You mean, tonight?" I thought it was really odd that she'd want to pop out for a drink at nearly 9 in the evening, because we don't normally do that.
"Not really tonight," Squirrel replied. "I mean today."
I started to laugh. "Hon, today is nearly over. It's the evening. You really want to go out now?" For a moment, I thought she had no idea what time it was.
The joke, however, was on me.
"Hon, it's Saturday morning," Squirrel said. "It's quarter to nine, Saturday morning."
For a moment, I didn't believe her. Then it all made sense. After all, if it felt like I had slept forever, that's because I really had. More than 20 hours. I really must have needed some serious sleep!
And that is the curse of working nights. You lose sleep. You have to try to sleep while it's light out and while it's considerably noisier outside than at night. You lose track of what day it is, and what date it is. I never know the date. Ask me what date it is, on any day, and I'm likely to scratch my chin and go, "Um ... er ...," until I finally come up with a number that is probably going to be wrong.
I once thought it was February 26 when it was actually the 1st of March.
Doing nights really does your head in.
But, despite all that, I still take great pride to be among the elite, the proud: the graveyard shift worker. We truly are a special breed. Not everyone can work the hours that we do—with the accompanying silence, the dark and the painful microsleeps which afflict all of us from time to time—and I take great pride in that.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


So, the blond buffoon is our new mayor.
This was the moment I'd been praying for. When the news broke at about 12:30 a.m. last Friday night that Boris Johnson won the key to the fair city of London, I nearly bounced off the walls. Instead, I just silently pumped my fist the same way Boris did once he was crowned the winner.
I did not know if Londoners were truly ready for a change. Nobody could have called this contest. Not even the most battle-hardened political pundit could have predicted this outcome. Some reports, ranging from weeks to days before the May 1 election, said that Boris was a shoo-in. Other reports asserted that "Red" Ken Livingstone was catching up to Boris and could yet win his third term in office.
But Boris finished over Ken by 150,000 votes, a remarkable victory.
I remember when Boris first announced his candidacy for the mayoral office last year. At the time, I thought, "that would be great, but it'll never happen. No-one will vote for this guy."
This is because I seriously didn't believe that Londoners were ready to elect a Conservative. Especially one like Boris who was referred to constantly as a "buffoon," a gaffe-prone clown who was once fired from the center-right newspaper The Times for making up a quote, who criticized Liverpudlians for "wallowing" in grief over Ken Bigley's death in Iraq, and who once referred to blacks as "picaninnies with watermelon smiles."
But, if that seems harsh, remember that Ken Livinstone once referred to a Jewish reporter as a "concentration camp guard," called China a model of economic success — despite the massive human rights abuses that take place there, which he chooses not to acknowledge — planned to spend £2 million of Londoners' tax money on a citywide pro-Fidel Castro party, and worked with Hugo Chavez to supply fuel to London Transport for half-price fares — on the backs of Venezulean peasants, of course.
As to the latter, Boris Johnson referred to it as "completely Caracas." He's right. I sincerely hope that one of Boris' first acts in office will be to call Hugo up and tell him to stick his fuel deal up his fat Commie ass.
The point is, Livingstone was no stranger to gaffes and controversy himself. He positioned himself as pro-gay, yet had a close buddy-buddy relationship with the radical Muslim preacher, Yusef al Qaradawi — who believes that gays should be killed — and welcomed him to London, an action that clearly was at odds with a pro-gay agenda (or, indeed, a democratic Western agenda). He positioned himself as a man of the people, sensitive to everyone's needs, yet neglected rape crisis centers. The last remaining rape clinic in the whole of London recalled how Boris visited them, asking them how they were doing and what they needed, while in the entire eight years that Livingstone was in power, he had "not so much as telephoned," according to Yvonne Traynor of the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre.
Perhaps, most damaging of all, was the squalid Lee Jasper affair. Jasper, Livingstone's chief advisor on race relations and policing, was involved in financial irregularities in publicly funded organizations which were run by his friends and associates. Livingstone denied any wrongdoing on Jasper's part, but suspended him in the attempt to "clear his name." When the news of the investigation into Jasper's dealings was first announced earlier this year, Livingstone responded that he had full faith in Jasper and would keep him at his post. As Johnson later asked, "What has changed his mind?" Did Livingstone — through Jasper — bandy about taxpayers' money? This may have been the pivotal decision for many Londoners who were tired of asking just where their considerable tax money goes.
Livingstone was the mayor for all exotic Londoners (except Jews), and was happy for the struggling white working class to fund every single expensive venture on behalf of illegal immigrants and belly-aching ethnic communities in London.
Boris challenged Ken on every one of these points (and more), and there are enough hard-working people left in London who were eager to send the message to the Government that they are sick and tired of paying for Lefty social engineering.
Johnson's mayoral victory was the icing on the cake for the Conservatives, who delivered a punishing blow to Labour in nationwide local elections. Labour now stands at third place at 24 percent, as opposed to 25 percent for the Liberal Democrats and a truly impressive 44 percent for the Conservatives. The London mayoral position is significant, and if Livingstone had won, Labour would have breathed a sigh of relief. But the loss of the position to a Tory has sent Labour into a free-fall that was thought unthinkable only weeks ago.
I do not personally hate Ken Livingstone. Not at all. I think he's got a decent enough soul and clearly he feels for London; the city runs in his blood. He meant well, but he began to rule as though the Mayor of London position was his by birth-right. He's far too ideological to effectively run such a large, world-class city.
It's clear that Boris Johnson has won the hearts of Londoners keen for a change, eager for a city that will tackle its serious crime problem. If Johnson can deliver a safer city whose residents have more money in their pockets, and if he can beat back the power-hungry council busybodies, then more power to him.
Godspeed, Boris.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Farewell to the "Get Carter" brute

It was with great sadness that I recently read about the demise of the "Get Carter" Trinity Square Car Park in Gateshead, England. I wish I had been there to say my goodbyes to it.
The Trinity Square structure was nicknamed after its appearance in the 1971 British gangster film Get Carter, in which Michael Caine throws a corrupt property developer (played by Bryan Mosley) off one of the parking garage's top floors. Many fans of the film, and of Michael Caine, have long defended the carpark's iconic existence. The assistant editor of Empire magazine lamented, "There are so few iconic British film locations and this is one of them. If you are a Michael Caine fan... it would be one of the places where you would go to worship at his altar."
Many residents of Gateshead, however, despised it. To be fair, it is a spooky building, built in the architectural style known as Brutalist by architect Owen Luder in 1968. In this article, the parking garage is referred to as a "concrete brute." You can't argue with that. The building is a monster; it looks like the monster that ate Gateshead.
But that, I think, is what also gave the building a strange sense of beauty. How could you not love something so big and so strange? There were those who wanted, and attempted, to save the carpark, but did not succeed.
It is little wonder why given the rusty steel ramparts, the stained concrete, and the fact that the structure's top five floors have been closed for safety reasons for many years. There was even a room on the building's roof that was intended as a restaurant, but a lack of commercial interest in opening an eatery in such a strange location meant the room went unused since the garage's early days. No-one ever found any actual use for it! Even the building's defenders admit that it would cost too much to revamp and restore the structure.
So, given the building's virtual uselessness, it's a wonder it even held on for this long. It did well to live for 40 years.
But I still feel sad to see it go. And I've never been inside it. I've never even seen it with my own eyes. One of my plans was to go to Gateshead one day and experience this building in the flesh. Now I won't get the chance to. I was never personally acquainted with the place, but I still felt an infatuated fascination for it.
Nevertheless, I can't blame residents of Gateshead for wanting it gone. Iconic or not, nothing can change the fact that it is a concrete monstrosity and perhaps never should have been built in the first place. It is characteristic of 1950s and '60s era Britain, in which concrete was the building material of choice—and why so many British town centers are so depressing. The Get Carter park is a notable example of Brutalism, and Brutalism was a socialist style of architecture.
And it's no surprise that socialist architecture lends itself to depressing monstrosities.
So, au revoir to the concrete brute. If only every ugly concrete building in the whole of Britain could come down with it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A few reasons to smile ...

Things here in London seem to have gotten much brighter, literally and figuratively. Indeed, I have two major things to smile about:
1. The gloomy, rainy, breezy and cold garbage that has passed for weather around here for far too long has finally blown away to be replaced by warm sunshine. I may even sunbathe later today! With temperatures forecast to be around the 75° mark, I'm loathe to miss out on the opportunity.
2. We now have a Conservative mayor of London! That Hugo Chavez-embracing, Fidel Castro-worshipping dictator Ken Livingstone is now out of a job! Nothing makes me happier than that. Boris Johnson may be a little buffoonish, but I have every reason to believe he'll be much better than Red Ken at providing Londoners with a safer city, one to truly be proud of.
And 3. Labour got pounded in local elections nationwide. The Conservatives won 44%, the Lib Dems 25% and Labour, in third place with 24%! We may just be witnessing the rise of Conservative rule again in Britain! Gordon Brown says he "gets" the message and will turn Labour around, but I really don't believe him. Even if he does, it's only because he fears Labour and himself losing power; it's a cynical move. Let me put it to you this way, Gordon me chum: unless your re-branding of Labour, your Cabinet reshuffles, your revised proposals put more money in our pockets and gets these tin-Hitler council busybodies off our backs, there's no way you're getting elected two years from now. Notice I didn't say "re-elected," because you weren't elected in the first place. We have Tony Blair to blame for you.
All this is assuming, of course, that Labour doesn't oust Brown before 2010. But then they'll stick us with that Eurocentric David Miliband, and I fear that Miliband will be an even worse nightmare.