Goodbye, Arthur C. Clarke

BBC – Obituary: Sir Arthur C Clarke

I once read a wonderful short story about Arthur C Clarke, and I wanted to share the guts of it with you, even though I can’t for the life of me recall the title or author…

It is the not-too-distant future. Arthur C Clarke is being presented with a lifetime achievement award atop one of his creations; a tower that is two (?) miles high.

His many inventions and achievements are listed and praised during the ceremony (I can’t recall them all, but just imagine every boy’s shopping list for the future minus the silver jumpsuits) but at the reception that follows, a guest notices Clarke gazing out of the window, in a bit of a funk and lost in thought.

The guest asks Clarke what he’s thinking. The response (to best of my recollection) is a deep sigh followed by this reply:

“You know, I’ve always wondered what my life would have been like if I had been a writer.”








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People of Mid Bedfordshire; your MP, Nadine Dorries, is a muppet

Some idiot spammed me on YouTube last night with this P.O.S. chain mail:

A few years ago, two parents went out for dinner. A few hours later, the babysitter was calling to ask if she could cover up the clown statue in the kids’ room, the father said, “Take the kids and get out of the house. We’ll call the police, we don’t have a clown statue.”; The “clown statue”; is really a killer that escaped from jail. If you don’t post this letter on to 10 videos tonight, the clown will be in your bed at 3:00 am with a chainsaw in his hand (SORRY BOUT SPAM THIS REALLY FREAKS ME)

Now, there are two things that the ordinary citizen requires when faced with data like this;

1. Some good old-fashioned common sense.

2. The ability to use Google.

Here you go; look how simple it is to ascertain the truth if you’re having any difficulty with #1:

Google

Now I should point out here that Nadine Dorries is no ordinary citizen; as MP for Mid Bedfordshire, she is the parliamentary representative for roughly 130,000 people… but for some reason she appears to spend the bulk of her time campaigning against abortion.

(Was this one of her campaign promises? Inquiring minds want to know.)

As part of this ongoing campaign, Nadine Dorries recently launched a totally unjustified attack against Dr Ben Goldacre that showed her complete ignorance of parliamentary procedure and – to avoid any feedback about that reaching her readers – she closed down the comments feature on her ‘blog’.

So Dr Goldacre is well within his rights to point and laugh now that Nadine has been caught peddling an urban myth as documented fact… again, as part of her ongoing efforts to convince us all that abortion is murder and a sin in the eyes of Almighty Lord God.

Nadine Dorries – The Hand Of Hope: This picture show a pregnant uterus laying on the exterior of the mother’s abdomen, having been lifted out of her abdominal cavity, via a c-section incision made in the abdominal wall. Dr Joseph Bruner performed this procedure in order to operate on the baby whilst still in utero before it was born. The baby had spina bifida and would not have survived if removed from his mother’s womb. When the operation was over, baby Samuel, at 21 weeks gestation, put his hand through the incision in the uterus and grabbed hold of the surgeon’s finger, a gesture which was apparently met with a huge amount of emotion in the operating theatre. Dr Bruner said that it was the most emotional moment of his life and that for a moment he was just frozen, totally immobile.

No, what Dr Joseph Bruner actually said was this…

“Depending on your political point of view, this is either Samuel Armas reaching out of the uterus and touching the finger of a fellow human, or it’s me pulling his hand out of the uterus … which is what I did.”

And this…

“It has become an urban legend… The baby did not reach out. The baby was anesthetized. The baby was not aware of what was going on.”

Now, look how easy if is to find this out for yourself if what might be the truth when confronted with a claim that a 21-week-old foetus is capable of recognising its surroundings, thrusting its little hand out of an incision, and grabbing the hand of the operating surgeon…

See? Easy peasy:

Google

But Nadine Dorries did not do this small amount of research or provide her readers with the benefits of this small amount of research. Nor did she point out that the surgeon and the photographer have published vastly different accounts of this event.

Instead, she completely misrepresented the surgeon’s position on the matter.

Because she is a muppet.

Good people of Mid Bedfordshire, I urge you to recall this moment the next time Nadine Dorries asks for your vote as parliamentary representative. You might also want to have a word about how much time she wastes on her own personal crusades.

SPECIAL FEATURE: BLOGGERS ONLY

Take a look at how Iain Dale handles this on his pseudo-blog:

Iain Dale – The Daley Dozen: Wednesday: Nadine tells of the Hand of Hope, is then slammed by Bad Science, who says it’s a hoax, but he is then contradicted by the photographer, Michael Clancy, who took the picture. You pays your money…

1. Note how Iain gives the impression that the photographer has posted his account in response to Dr Ben Goldacre’s bloggage, when this clearly isn’t the case.

It’s a pity it’s semi-anonymous, but this comment just published on Iain’s site covers the matter nicely:

When you say Ben Goldacre “is then contradicted by the photographer” that’s extremely misleading. Ben Goldacre LINKED to the photographer’s (old) story in his blog entry, that was part of Goldacre’s story.

If you believe an emotive story from the man who took the photo, instead of the description of what happened from the very surgeon who did the operation, and does the operation for a living, then that’s your affair. But to suggest that Goldacre has been responded to and shown to be wrong is as misleading as the original Nadine Dorries story.

2. The photographer, Michael Clancy, dedicates his entire website to telling his side of the story (and selling copies of the photo) and says himself; “I have become obsessed with proving to the world that I did capture the earliest interaction ever recorded.” Iain Dale, who loves to claim that anyone who presses him more than once for a straight answer is ‘obsessed’ (or perhaps even a ‘stalker’) chooses not to dismiss a self-confessed obsessive in this way.

3. Iain doesn’t like anyone doing the same to him, but like many political bloggers/writers, Iain will often point out affiliations and associations that might suggest that someone’s version of events is less than objective. But Iain does not mention that this image and account, used widely by religious groups campaigning against abortion, comes to us from a devout and evangelical born-again Christian.

UPDATE – Ahahahahahahahaha! Please excuse me while I quickly address what passes for meat in Nadine’s rebuttal sandwich:

Nadine Dorries – Hand Of Truth: Two points from me: first is that if the experienced paediatrician operating on the 21 week old baby had anesthetised, then that fact endorses the Professor Anand position that a foetus can feel pain; otherwise why would this doctor, who operates on unborn babies all the time, bother? My second point is look at the tear in the uterus. See how jiggered it is just above the hand; and yet the rest of the surgically incised openings are controlled and neat.

1. By anaesthetising the mother you anaesthetise the foetus. The drug travels – via the mother’s bloodstream – through the placenta and into the foetus. Nadine’s not very good at this science thing, is she?

2. Is Nadine aware of the force required to tear even compromised human flesh this thick? Clearly, what we are dealing with here is some form of super-baby. The mother is lucky the little tyke didn’t try thrusting his arm out when a surgeon wasn’t on hand to wrestle him back into place.

I’m not even going to go near Nadine’s none-too-subtle suggestion that the surgeon changed his story because he feared he might be attacked by roaming gangs of ‘pro-abortionists’.








Posted in Christ..., The Political Weblog Movement | 5 Comments

William Hague and Flying Lion Limited

Ministry of Truth – Hague’s Air Miles: The serious point is that due to the lack of clarity in regards to the correct method of putting an in-kind value on these flights, which, if strict rules on market value were applied could come it at anything from three to thirty two times the reported value depending on distance travelled, a conservative (no pun intended) estimate of the unreported value to the Conservative Party of having Ashcroft’s air taxi service on tap could easily be anything upwards of £1.5 million since 2002 and who can guess how much since Flying Lion first cropped up on the public radar in 1997 – and never mind the questions about the Conservative Parties ‘carbon footprint’ to go with this now that they’ve allegedly embraced a green agenda.








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Look out! Stalker!

“Ken is Obsessed by Boris” say the man who (by his standards) is clearly ‘obsessed’ with Ken Livingstone.

(Been living in London long, Iain? Or do you just have a thing for Cuddly Ken?)

BTW, I went looking for 18 Tory Street’s video attack on Ken Livingstone and tripped over this gem, which I’ve not seen before:

Check out this video produced for Iain Dale’s 2005 North Norfolk campaign.

Look! Iain’s in the newspaper! Look! Iain’s on telly! Look! Iain’s… standing right next to Anne Milton?!

Iain Dale and Anne Milton

Well, that might partly explain why Iain was so hesitant to blog anything about her activists anonymously claiming a Lib Dem candidate was a paedophile. You would think that them publishing that poor bloke’s name, photo and whereabouts next to this claim would at least earn a ‘stalker’ label from Iain, but no.

(Is there anything that you’d like to declare, Iain? Do you only meet with Ms Milton during conference season, or is there more to it than that?)








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 6 Comments

Hey Ma – Its Now 5 Years In Iraq

Just caught a great video from HelpForHeroes on b3ta.com/links. Worth sharing:

Hey Ma – Its Now 5 Years In Iraq
WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC SCENES

When you’re done with that, check out Justin’s exellent blogswarm post.

UPDATE – A great post on the invasion vote from Septicisle, and a shedload of Iraq-related links from Liberal Conspiracy.

UPDATE – Poons (who is also swarming today) thinks an old video/slide-show of mine Drawing The Line (which is similar in content/approach to ‘Hey Ma’) is worth a mention here, and I agree. I may as well plug Unbelievable and The Roses of Success while I’m about it, too.

UPDATE – This, from Clive. Lots.








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, Video | 4 Comments

The Iraq War (according to Page 3)

The Sun newspaper, in case you’re not aware, is the British Murdoch-owned tabloid that helped Blair’s government push the 45-minute WMD lie (even suggesting at one stage that they could have been deployed in 30 minutes), dedicated more column inches to a Labrador puppy thrown off an overpass than they did to the Abu Ghraib scandal, and endorsed Tony Blair on the eve of the post-Iraq general election by declaring that he had quite an enormous penis.

One thing not a lot of people have noticed about the Sun newspaper is how editor Rebekah Wade has, since mid-2003, integrated editorial content into the topless-model feature on Page 3.

An article I wrote about this a few years ago provides some background, and there are many, many recent examples listed here in this category at Bloggerheads, but the short version is as follows:

For many years before 2003, there used to be a short bio alongside each model; just enough information to allow the reader potential masturbator to become (ahem) familiar with the model. Now, there is an editorial on most days that comes from the editor of the newspaper but is presented as the model’s own opinion; the upshot of this is that the reader potential masturbator – on a conscious or subconscious level – needs to align himself with a political view before he can imagine shagging the model (unless of course he opts for the masturbatory version of a grudge-fuck).

My entry for the 5-years-on Iraq War blogstorm is a run-down of the most audacious war-related editorials to be fed to the public via these topless models in the 18 months following the invasion of Iraq.

The post would be too top-heavy if I included scans for all of these examples, but rest assured that they are all entirely genuine and unaltered. All of the text below in red has been quoted verbatim, and each example was published/presented as the opinion of a topless model:

- | -

Date: Friday, August 15, 2003

Circumstances: The opening hearings of The Hutton Inquiry have just taken place.

Nicola T has been following the Hutton Inquiry into the death of government scientist David Kelly. She says: “The only clear thing about the inquiry is that someone is lying. Whether it’s politicians or the BBC, it is very worrying. I just hope we get to the bottom of it soon and find out the truth.”

- | -

Date: Friday, October 24, 2003

Circumstances: George Galloway has just been expelled from the Labour Party following his criticism of the Iraq war.

Joanne reckons George Galloway deserved to get the boot from Labour yesterday. She said: “He’s a disgrace. I couldn’t believe how he betrayed Our Boys during the war. They were laying down their lives and he was urging the Iraqis to rise up and kill them. He’s a traitor. I’d boot him out of the country, too.”

- | -

Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Circumstances: George W Bush makes his controversial visit to the UK. The only British newspaper to get an interview is the Sun. The Washington Post reports that this was done “on the recommendation of Tony Blair” and that “officials at the White House acknowledge that it was a reward to the Sun for its unstinting support of the United States regarding the war in Iraq.” The interview appears on Monday the 17th, in a rare edition that does not include a topless model on Page 3. The next day, Page 3 is back… and backing Bush.

Page 3 Idol Krystle says President Bush’s visit is a boost for Britain. She adds: “He is the most powerful man in the world and it’s nice to welcome him to this country. I think his first state visit will symbolise America’s special relationship with us. I hope he enjoys Britain.”

- | -

Date: Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Circumstances: It is the week after Bush’s visit and the fallout continues after Blair’s use of a US-style ‘free speech zone’ in Sedgefield. On Monday (24th) Tony Blair hosts an Anglo-French summit. As part of his visit, French President Jacques Chirac inspects a guard of honour by the first Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. The Sun is notably “appalled”.

Anna, 22, saw footage of Jacques Chirac inspecting the Grenadier Guards yesterday and took this pop at the French President: “It was about time he was introduced to Our Boys – real soldiers. He shied away from Iraq. Maybe he took notes yesterday to pass on to French troops.”

- | -

Date: Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Circumstances: Following Operation Red Dawn, the US announces the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Krystle says of the capture of Saddam Hussein: “It was the news we have all waited for. That terrible man tried to crush the Iraqi people. Now they can celebrate their freedom and rebuild their country. I really hope this is the beginning of the end of the troubles in Iraq.”

- | -

Date: Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Circumstances: It is the peak of the aftermath of the leak (to the Sun) then release of The Hutton Report. Later this same day, the government announces The Butler Review, an inquiry into the intelligence relating to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Zoe is certain Tony Blair was right to take Britain into the war with Iraq. She said: “You don’t need to be an international diplomat to realise the world is better off without Saddam. We should be proud of what has been achieved.”

Zoe on Iraq

- | -

You may need a few minutes to get over that one. I still do. Take your time.

(calm blue ocean)
(calm blue ocean)
(calm blue ocean)

OK, all done? Let’s carry on…

- | -

Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Circumstances: The insurgency in Iraq is expanding. It is one week since Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah ambushed a convoy containing four American private military contractors and a mob set their bodies ablaze and dragged their bodies through the streets. It is 3 days since the resulting First Battle of Fallujah began. The message from the White House is; “Our resolve is firm… and we will prevail.”

Natasha believes it’s vital that our troops remain in Iraq. She said: “Our boys are doing a fantastic job peacekeeping. To give in to a minority of extremists would be an insult to the brave soldiers who lost their lives fighting to free Iraq from its evil regime.”

- | -

Date: Friday, July 2, 2004

Circumstances: Saddam Hussein appears in court for the first time and describes Bush as “the real criminal”

Ruth hailed yesterday’s court appearance by Saddam Hussein as a triumph for Iraqis. She said: “This was a great moment for the people of Iraq. Yet many will feel a proper trial seems too good for a man who denied the same right to millions of victims.”

- | -

Date: Friday, December 10, 2004

Circumstances: It is one month since Bush secured a second term as US president. The conduct of the Bush administration in/over Iraq has been a hot topic on both sides of the Atlantic for months now following that election campaign and the Abu Ghraib scandal. In the US, it has just been declared that evidence gained through use of torture would be used against the detainees in Guantanamo Bay. In the UK, there are calls for an inquiry into civilian deaths in Iraq following the release of the first Lancet survey of Iraq War casualties. In Iraq, Rumsfeld has just faced a grilling from his own troops over equipment shortages and responded with the now-infamous “You go to war with the army you have” remark. In short, it is a week where you will struggle to find an editorial in favour of the Bush administration in any newspaper bar one…

Nicola T thinks people are too keen to forget the help given to Britain by the US. She says: “People are too quick to condemn America. We’re indebted to them for the help they gave us in the war. Imagine if they had decided not to support us.”

- | -

Gosh, can you just imagine it? Without the Americans we might have been up to our necks in war-mongering fascists and their xenophobic propaganda.

(ahem)

Well, we’ve skirted far too close to fulfilment of Godwin’s Law for my liking, so I think we’ll pull up *right* there, thank you very much.

- | -

Epilogue:

Date: Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Circumstances: It is the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Most newspapers are running features on what has come to pass and what has come to light (and have been for days now). But the Sun does not mention Iraq today. At all. I’ve checked today’s edition from cover to cover, and cannot find a single article about it. No praise for Our Boys, no mention of how jolly good it is that we took out a brutal dictator. Nothing. The nearest we get is a headline in a puff piece for chocolatier Paul A Young; “Choc and awe”. The good people at the Sun do, however, dedicate eight pages to telling us what a nasty liar Heather Mills is. Yes, Page 3 gets in on the act, too… and today’s tit-tastic editorial seems as good a note as any to go out on:

Peta on Heather Mills








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, Page 3 - News in Briefs, Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch | 1 Comment

Obi enters Africa

LayScience – Dr. Joseph Obi cons the President of Gambia. Seriously.

O.M.G.

I’m with LayScience… Obi is ceasing to amuse me.








Posted in UK Libel Law | 3 Comments

The master opportunists are finally on deck

Independent – Opposition push for immediate Iraq inquiry faces defeat: MPs will vote next week on whether there should be a full-scale inquiry into the Iraq war to ensure that lessons are learnt from the mistakes made. The Tories will stage a Commons debate on Iraq a week today in an attempt to force Gordon Brown to honour his pledge to hold an investigation. The Prime Minister committed himself to calling an inquiry in a letter to the Labour-affiliated Fabian Society. But he insisted the time is not yet right because the situation in Iraq remains “fragile”. The Liberal Democrats and some Labour MPs who opposed the war will join the Tories in voting for an inquiry into the “origins and conduct” to be set up now. But the Government is likely to defeat the Opposition’s proposal. Many Labour MPs privately want an investigation, but are reluctant to support a Tory motion.

1. Funny how things can be hunky-dory one minute and “fragile” the next, isn’t it?

2. The solution is simple; the inquiry should – amongst other things – look into how, when and why Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition failed us before, during and after the invasion.








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | 3 Comments

Lords of the Blog

Clive Soley is back, and he’s brought a few mates with him. Top stuff.

See also: Clive Soley – Nine lords a’blogging

(Clive is an elder statesman of blogging. He is also a Labour Peer. Just two possible reasons why Iain ‘Carpetbagger’ Dale is willing to publish anonymous comments like this without challenge.)








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

Everybody loves George Osborne

George Osborne: Hypnotoad

(Dedicated to all those Tory bloggers who take emails from Osborne’s office and repeat them without question. Hat-tip to Hopi Sen for the inspiration.)








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off