Days: it’s a blog thing

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

Thursday, April 17, 2003 ↓


There, that got your attention! Also spotted in today’s Guardian, which it in turn had picked up from Reuters Berlin bureau:

Police in western Germany said a rampaging wild boar rammed open the front door of an elderly couple’s house and leapt into bed with them before biting the man and fleeing. The 71-year-old man was not seriously hurt.

Reuters does not enlighten us as to where the boar came from, or what grudge it held against its victim.

Posted at 10:47 PM


From time to time throughout my adult life, I’ve been asked (usually by believers) why I don’t believe in God. A facile response might be, “Which god should I believe in?” The god of the Christians, or Muslims, or Jews? Or perhaps a Hindu deity or two? Or maybe one of the gods of antiquity (I was always rather taken by portrayals of the Egyptian god Anubis, the jackal-headed rascal)… or perhaps an old Norse god: Thor and his big hammer make a potent image. Viewed with any real objectivity, there is nothing less rational about belief in a god from a dead religion than from a surviving one.

Of course, I do have much more reasoned explanations, but I don’t generally care much to get into a debate over them. One thing I have learned is that it is as pointless for an atheist to attempt to persuade a confirmed Christian/Muslim/Jew/Jedi towards his point of view, as it is for the Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Jedi to attempt to persuade a confirmed atheist towards theirs. I simply agree to disagree. If I judge people at all, it is by their deeds, and not their religious beliefs, and I expect a similar courtesy in return. I am no less a human being ― and no less good a human being ― because I choose not to believe in the existence of a supernatural creator.

Someone who does choose to debate the issue from time to time, and with more eloquence than I could ever muster, is the veteran Scottish broadcaster and writer, Ludovic Kennedy. Ludo gives expression to my own thoughts in his article in today’s Guardian. So if you want to know…

Posted at 5:22 PM


The pressures of work and travel over the last month or so (not to mention the annual fun-fest of trying to get my accounts and tax affairs in order) have drained me of the time and energy to post anything here, hence the long silence.

Meanwhile, there seems to have been some conflict over in the Persian Gulf, that has started, run its course, and pretty much played itself out.

I don’t mean to trivialise the war in Iraq. It’s just that there’s been so much to say about what has gone on in the last few weeks (and in the months that led up to them) but no time to say it ― so I won’t try retrospectively. Anyway, it may be that the real conflict is just about to begin: over how Iraq, with its disparate peoples with their disparate religious beliefs and cultural identities, is to forge a new, cohesive, representative and ultimately democratic government ― and how much of a part the USA will permit the UN, the EU, or other powers (not to mention the Iraqis themselves) to play in that process.

I will throw in a few words about the television news coverage, though. No other conflict has had such pervasive, round-the-clock attention, and I do wonder how truly useful it has been. Having reporters all over the place, “embedded” with combat units, is all very well. But the public isn’t stupid, and we could see all too readily that embedded reporters were only able to report what the military or political commanders wanted or permitted them to report. Propaganda, even by omission, is still propaganda ― and nobody these days is sufficiently naïve to think that only “the other side” engages in it.

The perceived need on the part of the news channels to fill almost every minute of their schedules with War In Iraq! presented them with something of a challenge: there just wasn’t enough news to go around. Too many reporters, in too many places, all with too little to say. Hence

  • too much repetition
  • endless and pointless hours of video of B52s sitting on the tarmac at RAF Fairford doing precisely nothing (an ITN favourite)
  • equally endless and pointless shots from the roof of the Information Ministry in Baghdad across the street, to where precisely nothing was happening
  • much studio analysis and debate with armchair generals and defence/military experts no-one had ever heard of before the war, about matters that were little more than rumour or conjecture and which were often discredited just a few hours later.

Save for breaking, important and verified news, wouldn’ t hourly bulletins have sufficed?

As to the style and quality of coverage, CNN struck me as being particularly partial; BBC and Sky were just about tolerable; while ITN was lamentable, especially during the night-time hours. Alastair (Police! Camera! Action!) Stewart? Angela (Come Dancing) Rippon? I ask you…

And why did the grannies favourite Trevor Macdonald have to present the Nine O' Clock news from Kuwait? Was he really in a position to tell us more than he could have from the cosy ITN studios in London? Besides, Kuwait being a few hours ahead of the UK, it must surely have been past his bedtime…

One thing I miss already, however, is the daily briefing from the (former) Iraqi régime’ s gift to the world of stand-up comedy: the irrepressible (but former) Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.

As B.Logman says, “If he was a bad man, he deserved trial. If he was not, he deserved a late night talk show.”

Posted at 4:31 PM

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