There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the other appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first is excellent, the second good, and the third useless.

Friday, September 30, 2005


PETA President Ingrid Newkirk this week fired off a fax to Yasser Arafat. She began the letter with a polite salutation: “Your Excellency. We have received many calls and letters from people shocked at the bombing . . . in which a live donkey, laden with explosives, was intentionally blown up”

WTF? This from a woman who, when asked to choose between swerving to save a child or a dog whilst driving, famously replied "dog".
It's sad that in today's modern western society we can afford such luxuries as the elevation of animal over human. But was such a letter necessary? Must we as educated, well raised holders of moral conscience continuously make ourselves look like asses?

“We watched on television as stray cats in your own compound fled as best they could from Israeli bulldozers”

This was followed up by an article in the New York post that praised the heroic activists that rescued abandoned animals from the Gaza strip and condemned the Jewish settlers who left them there. One activist spoke on the matter;

"What were they thinking. They call themselves religious. Judaism says you have to feed and water your animals before you even sit down to eat,"

Again WTF? Of course Judaism has less provision for when you and your family are dragged out of your homes and forcibly placed on buses and are then forcibly driven away from your homes which are then demolished behind you. You focus on preventing your children from being beaten and your wife from being molested, rather than on pleading with the soldiers to let you go back for your moggy.

I fear the world is becoming a strange and dangerous place

Friday, September 23, 2005

Christianity as antiquity

When we hear the ancient bells growling on a Sunday morning we ask ourselves: Is it really possible! This, for a jew, crucified two thousand years ago, who said he was God’s son? The proof of such a claim is lacking. Certainly the Christian religion is an antiquity projected into our times from remote prehistory; and the fact that the claim is believed - whereas one is otherwise so strict in examining pretensions - is perhaps the most ancient piece of this heritage. A god who begets children with a mortal woman; a sage who bids men work no more, have no more courts, but look for the signs of the impending end of the world; a justice that accepts the innocent as a vicarious sacrifice; someone who orders his disciples to drink his blood; prayers for miraculous interventions; sins perpetrated against a god, atoned for by a god; fear of a beyond to which death is the portal; the form of the cross as a symbol in a time that no longer knows the function and ignominy of the cross - how ghoulishly all this touches us, as if from the tomb of a primeval past! Can one believe that such things are still believed?
- from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Human, all too Human

Sunday, September 04, 2005


You could be forgiven for thinking that this
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Was taken in a third world country. The unnecessary suffering that has, and still is taking place in America’s south is truly shocking. For god’s sake get those people out of there.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Terrorism bandwagon

I remember when Dubya was first elected, I remember thinking it was awful. Shortly after the two towers fell I remember hearing him tell the world that we were either with him or against him. Well if you have a choice between American democracy, murderous misogynist and a state governed by diktat and sharia, then whose side do you think we’re going to pick?

There is a lot about America that I love. I love its freedoms, its celebration of free speech, its love of betterment. It is still the land of opportunity; I know that, there is still no better place in the world to be young healthy and ambitious. A lot of us Brits affect to be appalled that so few Americans have passports, but I’ve been to the states and I know why they don’t. The states are countries, the sheer scale of the place, it’s variety of climate and landscape is stunning. Is there any nation and ethnic group not represented in the states? Hell Americans don’t have to go out into the world, the world has come to them, and you can understand why.

I still have a lot of issues though; I have a problem with people who voted for the man who claims to be the president. In the anger and pain that followed 9/11 the American government stated down a path of awful mistakes, mistakes that will damage America, damage the UK and eventually all of us in the future.

It’s as if there is a kind of madness built up about terrorism already, a denial that befits nobody, and we ourselves are all guilty of it. Actually no, that’s not right, it will benefit some body, the kind of people who commit these acts will benefit. Americas denial will benefit its enemies and if this can’t be understood then they can’t be understood and they will never be defeated. To believe that England and New York were attacked out of jealousy is not just self deluded and ludicrous it’s self defeating as well. They were not acts of over-developed petulance or because we have more domestic appliances than they do, it’s the foreign policy. It’s that damn simple.

In the end though it doesn’t matter if you or I can’t see it this way, because to them it’s every corrupt, undemocratic regime the US and UK has poured money and arms into since the last worlds war, propping up dictators because they are sitting on a dessert full of oil and helping them crush dissent; it’s the infidel occupying their holy places, and it’s the unending oppression of the Palestinian people by Americas fifty first state. That’s the way they see it. We are wrong to them but we are right to us.

Friday, September 02, 2005

In Nam

I’m sorry but this just has to be done. My friend Ben who I went to Tibet with is currently travelling across China and Vietnam with his girlfriend. Every Sunday I get an email from him with an update and this week was simply hilarious. This is why I love travelling:

When we left you last week, we were waiting for our first sleeper bus
in Kunming, having taken the train, day buses and boats for the journey so far. We explored the city a bit, finding dyed green, pink and yellow chicks (of the avian variety) in the animal market and having significant difficulty changing money into Vietnamese currency. Almost unbelievably, not one of the eight or so bank staff we approached could identify Vietnam on a map, despite it being a neighbouring country. We wonder quite how insular their education system must be.

Anyway, to celebrate our departure from China, the local transport
company hauled its most dilapidated bus out of storage, removed a couple of vital parts from the engine and paid 20 or so filthy locals to enjoy a magical mystery tour. Throughout the night, the driver stopped at random intervals at random locations for random purposes. In brief, though, the reasons were (in order): engine difficulties, toilet, engine failure, landslide, issues with the engine, drinks break, communal toilet break (the 21 Chinese passengers watching the three non-Chinese trying to make use of the doorless toilet), engine failure and engine failure again.

Despite the driver's unwillingness to use brakes on windy roads, we
managed not to fall out of our 20-inch wide beds too many times and got to the border only two hours late. After an easy crossing, we became instant millionaires by changing 100 US dollars into 1,558,000 dong. We and another girl from the bus then hired a minibus to take us the 38km to our destination, Sapa, but after just a few minutes the rather greedy driver stopped at the roadside and sat on the pavement for half an hour before demanding extra money to go any further. Underestimating the wrath of two Australian females and their willingness to perform summary castration, he quickly changed his mind. Sapa itself was a nice place, a former French mountain town. We stayed in the most up market accommodation of the trip so far, although almost predictably we then experienced our first difficulties with cockroaches. In common with the minibus driver, the offending bugs underestimated the wrath of an Aussie chick (human variety), so died a nasty death by 1,000 blows of
a shaving cream can. Still, he had just walked on our toothbrushes, so
really should have known the likely outcome.

Other than generally admiring the town and views, we enjoyed a hike
through terraced rice fields visiting local villages and their people. In just the surrounding area, there are five different ethnic groups, each with their own language, traditions and clothes. The Black H'mongs are clearly the mad ones as we were held up for an hour or so at stick-point by an insane woman demanding money for the crime of looking at her rice field. Whilst we as tourists appeared to be safe, she repeatedly threatened to damage our guide. He was sufficiently worried to stay put until a compromise was reached (or so we thought - she then stalked us for a mile, ambushed us with her pointy stick again and demanded more money).

We're now in Hanoi, which is our prettiest city so far. We've spent a
day simply walking around the old quarter and then one seeing the sights, including our first embalmed former president of the trip. We missed Lenin in Moscow by a few minutes (he shuts at 11am) and his Mongolian counterpart (we didn't know who he was anyway) before deciding not to bother with Mao in Beijing. However, after enduring the longest queue either of us ever seen - over an hour; probably one mile - we saw Ho Chi Minh today. Ho didn't do much by way of party tricks, so it wasn't the most enthralling spectacle ever, but one week later and we'd have missed him as well - he gets sent to Moscow each September for his annual rinse and blow-dry. Culinary delight of the week has been water buffalo, although we didn't realise until later that the beef option on the menu wasn't cow. Apparently, the fact that the meat was nice and tender meant that the buffalo had been dead for some considerable time.

Scary insect of the week was a gigantic grasshopper at least 84 feet
long (or it was by the time that we'd told the story a few times). In
reality its body was probably seven inches, which was more than enough to be mildly worrying as it flew towards us. Next, we're off on a boat trip around a pretty set of islands on Vietnam's north-east coast over the next few days (Halong Bay, for anyone who's been there or wants to look it up) and will hopefully make our way to Hue in central Vietnam by next week.

As always, we hope that you're all doing well.

Well the funny stories and the passport stamps, passport stamps rock
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