Dr Throttling is away from the bar.

Duffster will be pulling a couple of double shifts covering for the good doctor who is travelling and, well, doctoring.

Only eight dead? Meh, not interested.

Something to think about in terms of where and why an editor chooses to position a particular story in the paper.

This news item details the mass murder of eight people in a Georgia trailer park. It caught my attention because Continue reading

Is this you?

Thanks again xkcd!

The Lighter Side of Torture

John Yoo was part of the White House Legal Counsel under George W. Bush. Yoo was instrumental in producing the infamous legal memo that legitimated the use of torture by the CIA. If I didn’t find him so loathsome, I would feel a little sorry for John Yoo.  As with the likes of Henry Kissinger and Robert McNamara, the bad decisions he made will Continue reading

Judge torpedoes teen dreams

A Dutch court has forbidden Laura Dekker, a 13 year-old girl, from setting sail on her planned solo round-the-world voyage. Instead the state has been granted temporary custody and she will be assessed by a team of psychologists in order to see if she Continue reading

Right-Wing Torture Enablers

The Wall Street Journal, reporting on the US Inspector General’s just released report on CIA interrogation techniques under the Bush administration, still refuses to call it torture, but why break with eight years of tradition, right? Have a look at some of the language used below in a couple of extracts taken from yesterday’s WSJ editorial and compare them to John Conroy’s list  (from a previous post) of the excuses that torturers and their enablers use to ‘justify’ torture (bold and italics added for emphasis):

Interrogations were carefully limited, briefed on Capitol Hill, and yielded information that saved innocent lives. (respectively, see #8 and #4 on Conroy’s list)

The enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) “would be used on ‘an as needed basis’ and all would not necessarily be used. Further, the EITs were expected to be used ‘in some sort of escalating fashion’ ….” The agency had psychologists evaluate al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, to ensure he would not suffer physical or long-term mental harm. (see #2 and #10).

We should not be surprised that the right-wing WSJ continues to act as a mouthpiece for the justification of torture. Human rights and conservatives, it seems, have never been easy bedfellows.  Even when torture was being publically condemned as an ‘atrocity’ by the likes of Voltaire back in the 1700s, it was right-wing traditionalists who were producing pamphlets and treatises arguing for its retention.

The abolition of torture across Europe by the end of the 18th century was fundamentally necessary for the concept of universal human rights to take hold, which in turn provided the bases for modern democracies to emerge. Refusing to go quietly into this new day, conservative politicians and philosophers, including Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and Edmund Burke (1729-1797), would continue to argue for a more religiously-oriented, hierarchical society predicated on existing social inequalities.

How far have we truly come since then?

Heroes – Talbot Rothwell

Where would we be without the contribution to modern culture made by Carry On film screenwriter Talbot Rothwell?

Yes, his oeuvre appears anachronistic today… you could never make the Carry On series again right? But, without this rich history of smutty innuendo and double-entendre, would our culture really have managed to evolve in the way it has?

Popularised by these movies, the exclamation ‘phwoar’ is now central to our conception of lust. A simple aligning of six letters of the alphabet that express that lust, yet at the same time, the unavailability of the desired object. So close to the mental ejaculation of pent-up desire by the viewer that, since Talbot Rothwell penned Carry On Doctor in 1967, it has become a staple of bawdy popular culture.

Talbot Rothwell. Writer. Prophet. And prisoner of war?

Okay… now we understand where phwoar came from….

We salute you!