Days: it’s a blog thing

Since August, 2001. Surely it can’t last…

Friday, September 13, 2002 ↓


Yes indeed, Research Holds Hope for Genitally Challenged Men. However:

The scientists had only been successful in growing the erectile tissues of rabbit penises — not the entire organ — and in all cases the erect member had the reduced firmness of a 60-year-old against that of a more virile 30-year-old.

I never knew rabbits survived to 30, let alone 60…

I don’t know if size is a problem for Ross Watt, resident of my own dear home town, but there must be some reason for seeking relief in a traffic cone. Or maybe he’s just a bit of a nutter, as the Sheriff hearing the case seems to think. Mind you, nothing that happens around Calton Hill surprises me much. (Story spotted by Sue Bailey and picked up by Davezilla.)

Posted at 1:29 AM

Thursday, September 12, 2002 ↓


I missed an anniversary last month. It was a bit more than a year ago, on August 20, 2001, that I launched the present version of this site, with my first ever blog entry.

Since then, I still haven’t built up the content on the site the way I had intended, but hey — this is a hobby, after all. And this little blog has suffered from my overwork, travelling and exhaustion in recent months. But I’m trying.

Posted at 11:46 PM


Yesterday, while the rest of the world was watching the memorial activities at Ground Zero on TV, I was travelling back to Edinburgh from Gothenburg. Even here in Europe, there did seem to be a reticence to fly on that date: the plane from Gothenburg to Amsterdam wasn’t as full as usual, and I thought Schiphol airport was relatively quiet. But nothing stops Scots returning home, or, apparently, visitors heading to Scotland — my flight from Amsterdam to Edinburgh was stappit fu’.

In the couple of days before this September 11, I saw the footage of the planes striking the Twin Towers, and the ensuing carnage, again and again — on the BBC, CNN, and any number of other channels. For those of us not directly and personally affected, the impact of the events of last year might have faded somewhat. But the images have lost no impact. Seeing it all over is just like seeing it for the first time; as sharp as a kick in the head, I suddenly remembered exactly how I felt when I saw it on 9/11/2001.

So what has happened in the year since? Sadly, there has been only one real achievement: the ousting of the despicable Taliban regime in Afghanistan. While commentators still rightly describe the political situation in that country as “unstable”, news coverage from Kabul shows people out in the streets again: there is bustle, trade, conversation — all the signs of people getting on with their lives.

As for the rest of Bush Junior’s “war on terror”, significant results are thin on the ground. Most of the al Qaeda leadership is still running free, perhaps plotting the next big strike. We are sure that there are cells of al Qaeda members scattered in umpteen countries throughout the world, but we don’t know who they are, or where, exactly. We are sure that al Qaeda still has access to enormous financial resources, but we don’t know where the money is, who it all comes from, or how it gets moved around the globe. I’m certain that the failure to come up with the goods is not through any lack of effort on the part of the intelligence services of the USA and other countries. It’s just a damned difficult task.

Which brings me to Iraq.

I can’t help but wonder if Bush’s current fixation with bombing Baghdad isn’t motivated by a need to be seen to be achieving something in the WOT (war on terror). And Iraq is a much easier target than al Qaeda. The US military command knows where it is, for one thing.

Make no mistake: do I think the world in general and Iraq in particular would be better off without Saddam Hussein? Certainly; he is a maniacal despot who cares as little for his own people as he does for us in the west. Do I think that getting UN arms inspectors back into Iraq is a good alternative solution? No, because he will jerk them around as he did in the years before they were finally expelled. But launching a military attack on Iraq raises in my mind the questions of what problem are we trying to solve, is this the right way to go about it, and is it the right time?

Taking the last point first, we had the right time eleven years ago during the Gulf War. The allies had enough reason and enough international support to pursue what remained of the Iraqi forces all the way back from Kuwait to Baghdad, and to get rid of Saddam and his henchmen. But despite the reason and the support, the allies (notably Colin Powell and Daddy Bush) lacked the will.

The problem the present President Bush wants to solve seems more to be the potential threat posed by Saddam, rather than any actual responsibility in the deeds of September 11 last year. I don’t really have any doubt that Saddam is trying to expand his chemical and biological weapons capability, and that he wants to add nuclear capability to his arsenal. But launching attacks on Iraq, with the unavoidable consequences on the largely innocent population of the country, is perhaps not the smartest response. The root of the problem is Saddam himself, his family and close gang of supporters. Solving the problem requires removing Saddam and those around him who might step in to replace him, and that won’t be achieved by dropping bombs on Baghdad. A more focused, covert operation is needed — which will take intelligence, planning, and time. Which brings me back to the issue of timing.

The other day, Condoleezza Rice, talking about the threat from Iraq, said that she didn’t want “the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”. Frankly, whatever Saddam’s attempts to conceal his weapons programme, intelligence reports, aerial reconnaissance and satellite surveillance would give us pretty good warning if or when Saddam gets anywhere near a truly threatening stage. So the apparent haste on the part of the Bush administration to take action against Iraq may have more to do with producing some kind of a success in the WOT (“Look! We hit some bad guys!”) to make up for the failure thus far to rout out Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda faithful.

Dubya could have made much more productive use of the last year by making serious attempts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — which would relieve so much of the tensions in the Middle East and remove much of the reason why America was targeted on September 11 last year. Of course, that would necessitate saying some harsh things to Israel. The constant attack and retaliation between Israelis and Palestinians has become a classic chicken and egg situation, each blaming the other for having started it. In recent months, though, Israeli actions (on top of the intimidation they have heaped on the Palestinians over the years through, amongst other things, their building of settlements in the Palestinian territories) have served only to make matters worse. One of them has to stop the aggression for there to be any hope of the other stopping. One of them has to act like an adult instead of a child. And the adult should be Israel: it is Israel that holds all the power, and so should assume the responsibility. Since Israel’s leaders seem unwilling to do that, then they need to be persuaded by their most influential friend — America. Which would mean Bush would have to face the backlash from the Jewish lobby at home in the USA.

Should he have the balls to do it? Yes. Will he? I doubt it.

Look out, Baghdad.

Posted at 11:20 PM

Previous entries

Older material is stashed away under Replays.