A calm and reasoned response

November 30, 2007

This is clearly a calm and reasoned response to naming a bear SmithMuhamed:

Marchers chanted “Shame, shame on the UK”, “No tolerance – execution” and “Kill her, kill her by firing squad”.

Yup, that’s a calm, rational and reasonable response alright. Where else have we seen this reaction? Oh.

Incidentally, I noted when this was first reported various comments such as thisone, reported on the BBC:

“This was a completely innocent mistake. Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam.”

What the hell has that got to do with the price of fish? This was the same argument used by British newspapers when they refused to publish the notorious Danish cartoons, and the same argument used when criticising the Rushdie knighthood, “don’t insult Islam”. I think, if we can take any lesson from this, we can now agree that it is impossible not to insult some faction of Islamist extremism in the most innocuous of daily activities, so isn’t it about time the press and politicians stopped trying?

It shouldn’t matter if it was intended to insult Islam or not. That should not in any country in the world be a criminal offence. It should not be illegal in Sudan, it should not be illegal in Saudi Arabia, and it should not be illegal in the UK.


Liar, Liar

November 27, 2007

Even when applogising Bill Demski can’t get a story straight. The story, as told at ERV is that Bill Demski – notorious evolution denier and creationist ID proponent – used a video in his talks. The problem was that the video was copyright Harvard University and XVIVO, and the video Demski used was substantialy altered from the original, adding a voiceover and removing the credits.

In his apology, he states:

The video was so good that I wanted to use it in some of my public presentations, but when I tried to purchase a DVD of it (I sent several emails to relevant parties), I was informed it wasn’t ready.

Which is entirely irrelevant. Mr Demski – biochemist, and darling of the ID movement – is apparently blissfully unaware that simply owning a DVD does not grant you the right to publicly show the contents of the DVD, or to show an edited version of the contents on that DVD. Mr Demski apparently believes that owning a DVD grants him the right to infringe on the copyright holders reserved rights in anyway, shape or form.

Note also a pertinent piece of information: Mr Demski had seen the original film which includes the credits and a specific copyright before he started showing the infringing version at his talks. Keep that in mind:

Demski notes that:

  1. He did not personally modify the film, and
  2. He did not strip the copyright information
  3. He did not retitle it as “The Cell as an Automated City

Points 1 and 2 may be true. Demski does not link to a source showing where the edited version he was using came from. Nevertheless, having seen the original film, he would have been aware that the version he was seeing was an infringing – and therefore illegal – derivative work of the original film. This is willful infringement. He knew he could not use the original format that was on the web, so he initially attempted to buy a DVD so he could deliberately infringe copyright on the DVD. When he was thawrted in that attempt, he deliberately and willfuly used a version of the video that he would most certainly know was an illegal derivative copy.

Regarding point 3, he claims that he did not re-title the video, because removing the title from the video, and presenting a completely different title in a power-point presentation immedeatly preceding the showing of that video – i.e. presenting a title to a film that – is not “retitling” the film, because Demski says so. I Am Not A Lawyer (I just play one on Slashdot), but I strongly suspect that such actions would constitute “re-titling”.

The second point, that the copyright was shown at the end, is entirely irrelevant, and quite possibly libelous (again, IANAL, BIPOOS). The copyright information at the end should really have reminded Demski that neither he, nor the people who created the final video he showed, were the copyright holders, and therefore had no right to do what they did, but worse: It gave the deliberately false impression that the opinion expressed in the voice-over was that of the original copyright holders, when nothing could be further from the truth.

In attempting to “explain” his errant behaivour, Demski has simply shown that he knew perfectly well that what he was doing was illegal. That was not an apology, it was a signed confession.


Sick

November 16, 2007

This is just sick

A woman is punished with 200 lashes and six months in jail for having the audacity to have been raped

If we went to war against Iraq simply because Hussein was a nasty piece of work, then why the f*ck is the Saudi Arabian government considered an “ally”


Hold up, I’ll correct that for you…

November 14, 2007

Actual BBC headline:

Travel terror security stepped up

What they meant to say:

Travel terror security theatre stepped up

There, that’s better

Look, just for a start, at screening at major train stations: how, precisely, is that supposed to help? If you’re a bomber, will you then:

a) Start your journey at a smaller train station without bag/strip searches, or

b) erm, well that’s about it really.

This is security theatre, pure and simple. Clearly the only logical next step is to assume that anyone at a small train station is deliberately and maliciously avoiding security at the big stations and – therefore – is a terrorist.

Which fits; if you protest at a Labour conference, you’re a terrorist. Brazillian electrician? That’s a terrorist (and an execution, a character assasination, etc. etc.) Arms protestor? Terrorist. Small train station user: clearly and obviously a terrorist.


The 10 Suggestions

November 10, 2007

There’s an article on the BBC suggesting that the Italian Mafia have their own Ten Commandments. What I found particularly amusing was that the BBC decided to show these commandments alongside the 10 commandments from the bible (technically, from the Anglican/protestant faiths, I wonder what Catholics, Jews, Greek Orthodox and Lutherans make of it).

Why?

What a stupid comparison, and they can’t even get the commandments right. Nevertheless, it gives me an opportunity to offer some thoughts on those first two commandments – given that so many christians seem to believe that morality is derived from this twaddle. Here’s what Deutoronomy says are the first two commandments (Presented as a un-ordered list to be as un-controversial as possible; anglicans and protestants please remember that this is a preface, and two commandments. Catholics, please note that this is all just one commandment):

  • (5:6) I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

Interestingly, the first part of the first commandment (along with most of Exodus) would appear to be utter rubbish. The first commandment states that the Lord their God brought them out of Egypt in an event that was never recorded, and that they wandered around the desert for 40 years leaving no evidence of this ever happening. Surely the Lord their God would remember to get this right? Nevertheless:

  • (5:7)Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth.
  • (5:8)Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.

Why is it that this whole list of commandments and additional commentary is so often reduced to the apparently less obnoxious “Don’t make idols”. There’s some interesting alleged autobiographical detail here: if (as so many christians claim) god is a loving god, then he is self-confessedly a jealous lover, of the kind that not only beats their girlfriend up if they think they’ve looked at another man, but beats that man up, goes and beats his kids up, and if he or the girfriend don’t currently have kids, stalks them until they do and them beats them up. You know; really nice guy (/sarcasm).

This can also be read as: “Not only shalt thou not bow down to pictures of animals, thou shalt not damn well make them in the first place, because, basically, I’m a bastard.” So no only is this god – apparent arbitrator of all things moral – not a nice guy, he has absolutely no appreciation for art. Probably doesn’t visit the Sistine Chapel very often.

On second thoughts, perhaps comparing the biblical commandments to the mafia is entirely appropriate…


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