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!

Porn Industry Gets F**ked in the A**

A recent feature article in the LA Times on the porn industry looks at the changes facing the business as it grapples with a major drop in revenue:

I'm as hard as a rock.

I'm as hard as a rock.

Industry insiders estimate that since 2007, revenue for most adult production and distribution companies has declined 30% to 50% and the number of new films made has fallen sharply.

“We’ve gone through recessions before, but we’ve never been hit from every side like this,” said Mark Spiegler, head of the Spiegler Girls talent agency, who has worked in porn since 1995.

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That’s not cheating. THIS is cheating…

Much was made of the performance of South African athlete Caster Semenya at the recent World Athletics Championships in Berlin. Having won the Women’s 800m, her less than stereotypically feminine appearance led to calls for immediate gender testing in case she should prove to be Half Man–Half Biscuit. And now tests have shown she has three times the “normal” levels of testosterone in her body.

What a bore.

In the good old days cheats would hatch fiendish plots and come up with dastardly schemes to outwit their opponents. Like Hippolyte Aucouturier who hopped on a train in the 1904 Tour De France. Though quite how the organisers failed to anticipate the likelihood of a man with that moustache being a bit sneaky is beyond me…

Shortly after disqualification Aucouturier tied the official's wife to a railway track.

Shortly after disqualification Aucouturier tied the official's wife to the train track.

Continue reading

Is this you?

Thank you xkcd!

Heroes – Sidney Frank

In Two Tribes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood asks us “Are we living in a land where Sex and Horror are the new gods?”

The answer would appear to be yes.

Continue reading

When Democracies Torture

Take a look at the following list. Check off how many of the these you have heard from the U.S. Government in the last eight years in response to accusations of torture: Continue reading

Lockerbie or Guantanamo. Which is the greater travesty of justice?

Another big dish of irony just served hot.

The United States is furious at the recent release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who has terminal cancer, calling it “a travesty of justice”.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has quietly released a prisoner, Mohammed Jawad, from Guantanamo Bay. Jawad had been imprisoned for seven years. He was released after a judge ruled that there was a lack of evidence against him after his original confession was found to have been coerced by torture. Continue reading

State Surveillance in the UK: nowhere to hide

French philosopher Michel Foucault noted that in a surveillance society, any surveillance changes the behaviour of not just those who are being watched, but also those who are doing the watching. cctvGreat Britain is apparently the most surveilled nation on Earth. A 2006 report estimated that there were more than 4.2 million closed circuit televisions (CCTVs) monitoring the populace and that on average a person would be filmed by approximately 300 different cameras per day as they moved through London. Knowing this, a couple of gangsters who recently pulled off England’s greatest jewel heist went to great lengths to alter their appearance, disguising themselves with Mission Impossible style latex faces. Continue reading

Cocktail Time – The Daiquiri

The Daiquiri is one of the world’s great cocktails and forms the base from which an almost infinite range of varieties can spring. But there was a time when this colossus of the cocktail pantheon typified all that was wrong about the liquor industry.

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