Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas to all

It’s that time of year again. December the 25th. Christmas Day.

So I take the time to wish a Merry and Happy Christmas to all readers.

For many who celebrate Christmas the rush to get everything in place is now done. What has been left incomplete will have to be managed without and it is time, hopefully, to Celebrate the birth of Jesus and to enjoy the company of friends and family and a meal together.

For many the sense of comfort will seem stronger for contrast of warmth light and company indoors while the cold and snow and long nights are kept at bay outside.

Generally it is true. There is a sense of good will to our fellow men, throughout Christendom, even amongst those of a more secular leaning, even amongst those of some other religions.

A powerful example of this was during the Great War (WWI), the so called “Christmas Truce” all along the Western Front around Christmas of 1914. This was not an official truce, more a ’grass roots movement’.

It would be truly wonderful if that sense of good will, capable of briefly holding at bay a full blown World War, could hold for the rest of the year.

Alas there are evil individuals and groups filled with hate who make that unlikely.

Although we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December the 25th, it is quite unlikely that he was actually born on that date, That is simply the date the early church picked to mark the occasion. Unlike Easter, where the date is accurate, according to the Lunar Calendar.

The date of Christmas Day probably owes more to the fact that most pagan religions had a feast and celebration around that time to mark winter solstice and the fact that days were at last getting longer again and there was the distant but real promise of spring and summer to look forward to.

New converts would have been very reluctant to give up such a highlight and so it is likely the early church decided against forcing potential converts to have to make such a choice.

The relationship between the date and the actual solstice may have been further altered by use of a calendar introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC called the Julian calendar that was much better that what had been used before but was still slightly inaccurate over centuries.

Some orthodox Christian Churches still use the Julian calendar to calculate December 25th and celebrate Christmas. That corresponds to around January 6 or 7 of the Gregorian Calendar. So they have their Christmas 'late'.

The Julian year was around eleven minutes longer than the actual solar year. It might not seem much, but it adds up to a gain of about three days per 400 years - and drifting of the calendar against the seasons.

This was later compensated for with another calendar reform that introduced the Gregorian calendar that we use today and ‘lost’ or shifted back some calendar days.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Two wolves and a sheep plan a menu...

The British public, or certain sections of them, often display sheep-like qualities. Much encouraged by British politicians who would prefer to (if your forgive me) to be able to pull the wool over their eyes on demand.

British politicians seem truly terrified of the prospect of the prospect of an armed informed electorate and encourage the sheep to bleat to that effect whenever possible... along with the familiar mantra of wondering why the innocent would ever object to the surveillance society.

The citizen is in practical terms strongly discouraged from defending themselves, their family, friends and property by the police and the way the courts administer the law. Citizens are often actually advised against trying to tackle anti social behaviour by the authorities.

People who do tackle burglars in their own homes seem as likely to end up being prosecuted by the authorities and sued by the burglar for having thir human rights infringed.

Now there is yet again more talk of rationalising the admittedly overly complicated UK gun law. This time yet again after a rampage. Whatever the outcome it is practically certain to only restrict legal gun ownership and use further.

The fact of the matter is of course that the practical result is the only section of the population who have no problem acquiring and owning firearms are those who have less qualms against ignoring the legal niceties... essentially the “Criminal Community”.

It is relatively easy to rent or acquire a weapon illegally. It is the law abiding citizen who is disarmed. Such laws mean little to those who hold them in contempt.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

FIFA foe fum Pantomime season

The initial furore over the abject failure of England's bit to host the soccer word cup has subsided.

New things take attention away from it and it sometimes seems that there is quite a limited public attention span for such things. Politicians and officials probably rely rather strongly on that. I imagine Joseph (Sepp) Blatter and his cronies are... having arguably decided attack is the best form of defence.

England's bid to host the soccer world cup was solid. It offered a concentration of some of the finest actually existing venues anywhere on the planet. There is a transport infrastructure and the country is stable.

It seems unlikely that, all else being equal, the bid should have secured more than two votes. while there is no guarantee of victory it seems unlikely such a solid bid would fare quite so badly.

One might also wonder at the countries FIFA actually selected, Russia will need to do a fair bit of building and one wonders at the attraction of a tiny hot middle eastern state such as Quatar with very little soccer related infrastructure that if built might be considered to be overkill, given their population (less that that of the county of Derbishire., much less than the City of Birmingham)

It seems clear more than two votes had been confidentially promised to the England bid team. At least 6 to be precise.

It says something that the English Football Association's acting chief Roger Burden, known for being 'above board', has unequivocally stated that he can no longer trust members of Fifa.

Three prominent members, Nicolas Leoz, Issa Hayatou and Ricardo Teixeira are implicated it taking money from a Sports Marketing company in exchange for being awarded contracts.

There is a strong suggestion, apparently backed by evidence that FIFA is blighted by dishonesty, and corruption.

Now Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, (allegedly one of those who had indicated, apparently inaccurately if they did, that they would support the England bid) has justified what looks suspiciously like a planned 'revenge' by claiming: "Fifa could not have voted for England having been insulted by their media in the worst possible way." "... To do so would have been the ultimate insult to Fifa."

It is perhaps time the England no longer lent FIFA credibility by taking it seriously.

In any event England are unlikely to get a look in. Members of FIFA have apparently taken against England because the UK press reported on some of their corruption.

One suspects it will likely be a cold day in hell before FIFA gives England the time of day, let alone anything else. Seeing England have little to loose it would seem to make sense to take the lead in an unenviable task and to do its best to unrelentingly root out any corrupt individuals and attempt to force some real anti corruption rules upon FIFA.

Unleashing if not the dogs of, war, then the press, upon FIFA. Possibly even with a quiet information related nudge or two from MI5.

It might also be worth seriously considering starting something like a Commonwealth Football cup. Maybe put our money where our mouth is and show how things can be done.

Possibly it could be based around nations, possibly around teams. Possibly best of all more on the lines the FA cup. We should ensure it is absolutely honest and above board. Matches could be played in many nations improving the game across the board and earning smaller nations the chance to earn money also to develop and showcase talent. It could be a fresh breeze and good for the game.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Taking the Wikileak II

Initially I was fairly convinced that the denial of service attacks Wikileaks complained of were more likely to be a result of the massive number of hits generated by huge international interest in the site than a denial of service attack.

I am more fond of the idea of occam’s razor than of conspiracy theories. I really don't think most of the supposed possible conspiracists are smart or watertight enougn to have a hope in carrying them off.

I am still fairly certain that much of Wikileaks DOS type problems were/are generated by massive and continuing interest in their site, just search engine traffic is likely to be enough to cause problems.

Having said that it does seem they may be subject of a concerted campaign to silence them, or at least make it so much bother keeping going they are rendered ineffective.

PayPal has made it more difficult for people to make donations, by permanently restricting their account. MasterCard is apparently restricting payments to the site and their Swiss bank, PostFinance has closed Julian Assange's account. we are apparently expected to believe this is all a pure coincidence and all alleged to be unmotivated by any political consideration.

What is the old saying? "Once is chance. Twice is coincidence - but three times is enemy action."

Then there is the problem Wikileaks seem to be experiencing with finding hosts and with their domain name.

I still believe that some of what they are releasing should not be easily available, or necesarily in the public domane at all. I worry it may risk lives.

It does seem that, less through any conspiracy than simply by, frankly p*ing off a lot of powerful people and interests, 'They' may really be out to get Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

It all sows a seed of doubt about the attempts to extradite Assange.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Quote of the Day

"No public man can be just a little crooked"

Herbert Hoover

"Never esteem anything as of advantage to thee that shall make thee break thy word, or lose thy self-respect."

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Monday, 6 December 2010

Will that be eat in or takeout?

It seems it's official - According to Wikileaks anyway, Saudia Arabia is basically funding Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, to the tune of millions of dollars.

Not the Saudi state, officially at least, though it might be said there is a blurring between the stae and certain individuals there. It is reportedly through companies/charities/groups within Saudi Arabia. This region is the seat of the extreamist Whabbi funamentalist Islamic sect.

It is interesting that Saudi Arabia, like Kuwait and some other ostensibly 'friendly' middle eastern states seem to be more keen on dealing with internal terrorism, when they can't risibly blame it on westerners allegedly blowing each other up in fatal disputes over alcohol smuggling.

They seem far less keen on dealing with what amouts to the export of terriorism and steming the flow of funds to it from it's citizens.

One presumes one reason is these states feel they are less likely to suffer the effects of terrorism themselves - if it takes place off their own soil. If they allow what might otherwise be an internal problem with their own dissidents who might destabilise their own regimes to be safely occupied much further away, targeted agaisnt western 'infidel' interests else where.

One wonders, given this apparent massive terrorist funding through Islamic 'charities', how much of their funding is actually due to the trade in drugs and goods counterfeiting that western governments seem keen to blame it on - and why they are.

A continued uniterrupted supply of supply of oil might be a good reason. with the added bunus of providing a nice justification for new laws and powers.