Category: "Politics"

US President Obama needs a history lesson

Oh dear, this old fairy tale again.

It is the tale of the British people, whose courage during the Blitz forced Hitler to call off the invasion of England Britain (thanks, we know the US has long tried to destroy our union, pack it in).

Hitler never intended to invade Britain, nor did he want a war with Britain.

Britain turned down many offers of peace from 1939 till 1941. Heck even as late as 1943 when Churchill was asked by a reporter while going to meet Roosevelt in Quebec if they had considered offering peace terms with Germany he replied "heavens, no. They would accept immediately". They just weren't interested in war with other powers in western Europe, even France's terms of surrender were light - calling for French neutrality in the war, and allowing Germany to occupy northern France to continue the war with Britain, the south of France, its empire largely business as usual. After getting back from Paris, Hitler made it pretty clear the USSR would be next, it was only due to the sanity of his generals that this was delayed until 1941.

The Nazis regarded France and Britain, and their empires as equals. Unlike the Slavic people in central and eastern Europe and those Bolsheviks in Moscow, who's lands would form the basis of a new German empire.

It's unfortunate how history is trivialised, and sound-bited, how easily and readily some powers go to war, and how the actual material conditions that cause war are so poorly understood by so many, brushed aside by vague generalisations and half-truths. Just like dismissing the Nazis and a sizable chunk of the German population as racist, blood thirsty war-mongering un-human monsters means you can't understand the material conditions that resulted in their movement, how they were played by other western powers to stamp out socialism in Germany. Nor can one understand the similarities between the Nazis in the 1930s, and the BNP today, and even some of the policies of UKIP, and why such policies, such an ideology is fundamentally anti-human, unprogressive and frankly utterly backward.

History is not so simple, and it can be better served by not inventing German invasions of Britain and downplaying how badly the British ruling class wanted war. All that without mentioning how the USSR always gets a raw deal these days - a country and a people who contributed 50 or a 100 times more than the western powers did towards defeating the Nazis are barely mentioned.

The NHS should not be funding nonsense

It looks like the National Health Service might soon be willing to provide acupuncture for suffers of back pain, thanks to guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

What is acupuncture?

Essentially its the notion that disease or other problems are caused by your qi (read: magical body energies) being out of whack.  This out-of-whackness can be corrected by inserting needles into specific meridians (read: magic qi pathways) to reflow the qi energies.

Today however we know the actual causes of disease, and there's no magic qi involved.

So what do the studies show?

Studying acupuncture is actually fairly difficult as its problematic to develop way to blind the tests, and decent placebo controls are difficult to achieve.  However some recent studies have been well designed to take these into account.

Typically they would comprise of four groups.  One group getting real acupuncture, with the needles being inserted into the magic qi pathways, a second group getting fake acupuncture, by having the needles inserted randomly.  A third group having no needles inserted, for example having cocktail sticks pressed against the skin without penetrating it, this group acts as the placebo control.  And finally a forth group getting no treatment.

What do the results look like?  For starters inserting needles in the actual acupuncture meridians show no difference to inserting them randomly.  This tells us that the whole qi thing is bunk - but anyone with two brain cells would have guessed that anyway, considering we actually know how the body works today and we don't just make things up randomly.  Importantly however jabbing people with cocktail sticks without breaking the skin produces the same results as the real and fake acupuncture.  What does this tell us?  That acupuncture is no better than placebo.

What does that mean?  It means it doesn't work.

Complimentary and alternative medicine have no place in today's society.  But they're nice sounding right?  Wrong, by definition they don't work.  If they did work they would simply be called medicine.  Getting people to think there's anything alternative about any of these "treatments" is one of the biggest marketing achievements in history.

If the NHS are going to do this - let me suggest a cheaper and safer alternative.  Paul's ancient mystical art of cocktail stick jabbing - all the same effects as acupuncture - but safer as there's no risk of infection from breaking the skin, plus I'll do it for half the price these acupuncture whack jobs will charge you.  The only difference?  My marketing department isn't as well funded.

Support for Dr Starkey and freedom of speech

So Dr Starkey has found himself in a spot of bother over his remarks he made on Question Time last night. Basically when asked if he supported having a public holiday for Saint George's day:

"If we decide to go down this route of having an English national day, that means we become a feeble little country, just like the Scots and the Welsh and the Irish." and "We don't make a great fuss about Shakespeare like the Scots do about that deeply boring provincial poet Burns" and "What the Scots and Welsh are, are typical small nations with a romantic 19th Century-style nationalism".

What's the problem with that? Oh wait yeah, people don't like having their cherished petty nationalistic beliefs trodden on. WELL TOO BAD. Dr Starkey has the right to say what he thinks and let's be honest, he knows a tad more about British history than the lay-people sat in the audience booing - not only that he does have a point. Just think what we'd have to put up with if we had English nationalism on the same scale as in Wales or Scotland, it would do my head in and would probably end up destroying the union.

I don't take offence with all the points he made on QT which I disagree with, I don't demand an apology for him stating a position contrary to mine.

These people have no counter argument and so they resort to getting "upset" and demanding an apology, essentially admitting that their position is baseless.

I'm sick to death of people being "offended" and trying to curtail freedom of speech. Dr Starkey should not apologise to these people. To do so would be like apologising to the Christian mobs that burned down the Great Library in Alexandria because they found reason, logic and knowledge, offensive.

Catching homeopathic pseudoscience on the Obama's visit

I was just going over some of the BBC's coverage of the Obama's visit to London today and caught something rather odd during Mrs Obama's visit to a London hospital.

The clip I'm speaking of can be found here. Why the BBC bothers to publish such short and trivial clips is beyond me, and why the BBC calls Sarah Brown the first lady is questionable too, as we do not use the term in this country and if we did it would apply to the Queen. Anyway...

About 9 seconds into the video Mrs Obama is being spoken to by some woman, and the only thing I can make out is "naturopathic homeopathic route". What the hell? If somebody has more information about what was being said I would love to hear it. Perhaps my American readers could also enlighten me as to where Mrs Obama stands on this sort of thing, she strikes me as being a pretty intelligent woman so with a bit of luck she was just rolling her eyes at this.

Seriously why is this even being talked about in a hospital? Or was she visiting one of our world famous and utterly ridiculous homeopathic hospitals – god I hope not. The only time anything like this should ever even need to be mentioned in a hospital is if a patient brings it up, and needs to be informed about it, namely with somebody sayings it bollocks.

Worse still it's not only rubbish. HOMEOPATHY KILLS, heck so-called ALTERNATIVE... (aka not scientifically proven, made up by a bunch of random people who don't bother to do any tests, heck why test things when you can make vague claims about whatever junk you put into a bottle and sell it) ...MEDICINE KILLS.

And even worse in the UK homeopathic hospitals are funded by the tax payer, the only thing the tax payer should be involved with to do with homeopathic or alternative medicine in general is banning it and putting the proponents of it in jail, yes Prince Charles I'm looking at you, and the rest of you lot.

A Muslim Prime Minister? So what?

Over on Labourhome one poster attacks Labour MP Shahid Malik for "handing the BNP a massive propaganda victory".  What's the reported mishap?  At a conference back in 2008, Shahid Malik is reported to have said:

"I am confident, as Britain's first Muslim minister, that, in the next thirty years or so, we'll see a prime minister who happens to share my faith."

What's the big deal?  We have a Church of Scotland Prime Minister right now, we've had Church of England Prime Ministers in the past and even in-the-closet Roman Catholics.

The real issue everyone seems to be missing isn't about which supernatural intergalactic dictator somebody subscribes to, but the fact they subscribe to any supernatural intergalactic dictator.  I'd like to think that in 30 years time we would have made some progress and that we wouldn't have people in such important positions believing in such childish fairy tales.

The original poster goes on to ask:

So my question is this - how should Labour respond to Mr. Malik's remarks?

Respond to what?  He's entitled to his opinions, why should the Labour Party do anything about that? 

I do believe he's wrong and that the Christian elite are too well entrenched in this country for us to see a Muslim PM in that sort of time frame, at least not without a serious shift towards a secular state.  I'd like to think the increasing fundamentalism between Christianity, Judaism and Islam will help bolster the secular movement and drive the sensible majority in this country against religion - or irrationality in general, if its the Prince of Wales' bogus detox snake oil or supernatural intergalactic dictators at the end of the day its all the same thing - bullshit, and we should strive against it.

Sell off Royal Mail? No thanks

So the government's plans to sell off about 30% of Royal Mail are again getting attention.  Most of the newspaper world are of course siding with the government on this.

The Sun says that this "shambolic" operation should of been sold off long ago.  I say The Sun newspaper should of been thrown in the bin ages ago, and Rupert Murdoch sent down into our underground sugar caves. I'd also suggest that this would be a good time to try and push your Sun-reading friends over to better newspapers.

As far as I can see Royal Mail works fine, I get my post just fine.  In fact a couple of weeks ago I ordered a few bits and pieces off the internet, all at the same time and all were dispatched the same day.

The first item to turn up?  The one sent through Royal Mail (1st class), not only was it the first to turn up, our postman normally gets here around 11:00, it also was considerably cheaper than through the other couriers, CityLink got here about 4 hours later, DHL got here a couple of days later.

Not only that if it does turn up on a day I'm not at home I only have to walk over to the sorting office to get it.  If I miss a CityLink or DHL delivery - damn I have to walk to Bristol or Taunton or somewhere to go and get it, kind of difficult, that or try and juggle it with days I have off work.

Sure Royal Mail has a £5.9 billion pension deficit.  Oh of course we can't put the money in towards that, where on Earth would we get the money from?  Oh wait - we found hundreds of billions for the banks, I'm sure we can find a few billion for Royal Mail to sort their pension fund out, if not we'll just take the national lottery's profits for a couple of years.  Problem solved.

Of course this also highlights the problems with company pensions.  I say get rid of them, let the state handle pensions itself.  Simple no more hassle, no more paper work, no more worrying if the company is going to fold.  With today's technology we can really get some nifty stuff going on too.  How about being able to change your National Insurance contributions through DWP website where you can easily see how much you pay in and see how much you'd get back in your pension.  Failing that in Post Offices have a table and a form to send off to do the same thing.  Simple.  Everyone get's a pension, yes we'd need a bigger state pension, perhaps something that could bring us up to the European average, and those who want a bigger pension can pay in more money.  No more worrying about companies going bust and the like.  And yes, companies will be legally required to pay you the value they were putting into any pension scheme.  We need to unhook people's pensions from the disaster that is capitalism.

Anyway, enough rambling about that over Royal Mail we should demand the following:

1) Sack Peter Mandleson, send him down the underground sugar caves with his mate Murdoch.

2) Demand all Labour MPs to bloody stand up for the workers for a change.  I'm sick to death of the government having its way thanks to the Tory vote.

3) Give Royal Mail the £6 billion they need to plug their pension hole, and another few billion for genuine modernisation (not the cost cutting modernisation) where required.

4) Look into the feasibility of establishing Royal Mail's monopoly on postal services again.

5) Get those Post Offices open again, heck make them branches for our nationalised banks (yes might as well finish nationalising the banking system while we're at it).

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