Friday, 22 November 2013

the acid test: will Lee Rigby's murderers be treated the same as Mohammed Saleem's murderer?

The murder of Mohammed Saleem while he was walking home from his mosque in Birmingham was a callous, cowardly act.

So was the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

Every crime is individual. But there is one equivalence between the murders of Lee Rigby and Mohammed Saleem. Mohammed Saleem’s murderer, Pavlo Lapshyn, hated non-whites. Lee rigby’s murderers, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, hated non-Muslims.

It’s been said Lapshyn is a racist because of his hatred of non-whites, and I have some sympathy for this, especially when I read of the grief of his victim’s family, who say "He did not do anything to deserve this - other than be a Muslim". However, if you ascribe differences between groups of people to culture, not colour, it soon becomes clear that "white" is no more a race than "non-white". And "Muslim", indicating adherence to a religion as diverse as any other, is no more a race than "non-Muslim".

So why is it that news of Pavlo Lapshyn’s trial was – rightly – all over the mainstream media while Adebolajo’s and Adebowale’s is conspicuous by its absence?

The media blackout of the Somalis’ trial is so deep our increasingly prone press is not even commenting on the blackout’s existence. This must only fuel rumours asserting our masters and their media lapdogs have acceded to the view that "Muslim [jihadi] blood is superior to infidel blood".

go to petition to lift media blackout

That being said, the blackout is not the most important issue. Pavlo Lapshyn was sentenced to life imprisonment with a tariff of 40 years for his repulsive act. Will Adebolajo and Adebowale receive a similar term for their equally repulsive act, caught on multiple cameras? If they aren’t, surely it would be naïve of the government not to expect those effectively declared as being of lesser worth to react accordingly?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


HM Government e-petition: lift the Lee Rigby media blackout

Pavlo Lapshyn's 90 days of terror -

Mohammed Saleem stabbing: Man admits murder and mosque blasts

"Muslim blood is superior to infidel blood" - Raymond Ibrahim, The Commentator, 19 November 2013

Mosque bomber Pavlo Lapshyn given life for murder -

Monday, 18 November 2013

it's time to let JFK rest in peace

click for All about History website

All about History is, for my money, the best of the new arrivals in the burgeoning history magazine market, and this month they haven’t skimped on marking the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s assassination. There’s not only an account of the assassination but an assessment of Kennedy’s achievements and legacy, plus a review of assassinations through history. It’s all good reading, and conspiracies are left to rest in peace.

November’s History Today, the best of the established magazines, counted JFK among its subscribers. Peter Ling, in Killing Kennedy: Cock Ups and Cover Ups, assures readers that this was the reason behind his assassination, before going on to chronicle a catalogue of failings by investigators that would have shocked those who had birthed forensic science decades before.

This is the 50th anniversary, and historians generally agree that it marks Camelot’s sad end passing from current affairs into history. Sharing that view is Colin McLaren, who has been sucked into the Deeley Plaza industry as have many before him. In the Channel 5 documentary JFK’s Secret Killer: The Evidence he brings into the frame George Hickey, who many people, myself, have never heard of before.

When I saw JFK’s Secret Killer I thought, "that’s it!" McLaren’s theory explains the many enduring contradictions and explains cover ups of the sort that, according to Jesse Ventura, breed conspiracy theories. What is most elegant is that he leaves room for what Karl Popper – in Conjectures and Hypotheses – are the marks of authentic theories: unintended consequences.

Then I discussed the programme with a friend who’d served in the forces and had experience with weapons similar to those mentioned and with how bullets behave, and who was not impressed with this or any other theory.

In the end I agree with one thing McLaren says: it’s time to close the door on this assassination. Let’s let the man and his brief shining moment rest in peace.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


All about History

Killing Kennedy: Cock-Ups and Cover Ups - Peter Ling, History Today, November 2013

JFK's Secret Killer: The Evidence Channel 5 - available until 10 December 2013

JFK conspiracy theories abound, despite a lack of evidence - Scott K. Parks, Dallas News, 17 November 2013

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Book of Eli

Helen Keller: find out more

Some years ago I attended a lecture by metaphysician Frank O’ Farrell focussing on Helen Keller (right) who, struck blind and deaf in infancy, had only limited ability to communicate her wishes and feelings to those around her.

Helen’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, had a fruitless time trying to teach her to communicate by signs stroked into the palms of the hand – until one day Helen finally understood a particular sign referred to water. Frank’s point was that Helen’s understanding that a particular sign stood for water, despite sharing no similarities whatsoever with water, enfranchised her culturally.

The most widespread example of our ability to create and store symbols – identified by Ofer bar-Yosef of Harvard University as the one element of the Upper Paleolithic revolution that enabled culture to develop – is writing. The three letters "cat" instantly remind us of the feel, sound and haughty behaviour of the beast, although nothing about the written symbols or their pronunciation resembles any of these.

click to read reviews on Amazon
In The Book of Eli, the Denzel Washington post-apocalyptic fable recently shown on Channel 5, writing is almost totally absent. That’s the point, in more ways than one grasps until the denouement delivers a dizzying change of perspective.

Books have been burnt in the aftermath of a war that destroyed technology through electromagnetic pulses. Order has collapsed – and that’s undoubtedly related to the sun setting on literacy; most people can’t read.

Literacy’s long sunset has started in our real-life culture. Pictures still speak a thousand words, but less and less of them are transmitted through printed pages that cannot be electronically altered, eg as this page can be edited. As literacy declines, gullability rises: witness the cachet of "climate" scientists and related charlatans.

That sunset is not yet a done deed. Go buy a book, read it and give it to a friend.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


About Helen Keller - Helen Keller International

The Upper Paleoloithic Revolution - Ofer bar-Yosef, 2002: " the storage of symbols...leads to the emergence of modernity", p16 of the .pdf

Read reviews for The Book of Eli at amazon

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Curtain - Poirot's Last Case

thanks to David Suchet and ITV
One of the best aspects for me of Hercule Poirot’s apparently needing a wheelchair in ITV’s Curtain – Poirot’s Last Case is that although he is invalid, in the language of the time and for decades afterwards, he is in no way in-valid. His is the obstinate anger of the person who knows his worth, and what’s more of the disabled person who refuses to be perpetually grateful evidence of others’ forebearance and charity.

The issue of invalidity is key to this mystery which, Agatha Christie biographer Laura Thompson tells us, was written in 1940 while Christie was working in a central London hospital during the Blitz. It was by no means certain at that point that Great Britain would be on the war’s winning side, and the Nazis’ ideology of Übermensch and Untermensch come through in a dinner conversation about "unfit lives" and euthanasia, just as the national conversation about whether Hitler was a Good Thing or not would make it into Dorothy L Sayers’ work earlier, when British people at all levels of society were split down the middle on the matter.

Unlike other commentators I see no need to cast aspersion on other screen Poirots in order to praise David Suchet’s definitive interpretation. Albert Finney and Peter Ustinov were exquisite Poirots, and Suchet takes the material and elevates it to those heights of high art that excluded the novels on the grounds that they were readable, ie not literary. With Curtain, Christie gives us literary Poirot and Suchet rises to the challenge wonderfully. We’re still reading Christie almost a century since she started writing, and our descendants also still be watching Suchet’s Poirot a century hence, when it will feel as if it was made for them just as it feels Christie wrote for us.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

What made Hercule Poirot perfect - Laura Thompson, The Telegraph, 13 November 2013

Click to read reviews for Agatha Christie: An English Mystery by Laura Thompson

Agatha Christie's Poirot on ITV Player

Read more about David Suchet and Poirot at

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


click for Cabaret on IMDb
It’s been so long since I’ve seen Cabaret I was really glad BBC1 scheduled it tonight.

I hadn’t left school the last time I saw it. I liked my school, but the history curriculum at the time was abysmal and appears not to have recovered over the decades. So it’s only at this end of a long journey of self-education that I felt able to appreciate the compelling and devastating fable of Germany’s descent into madness.

Michael York plays an overeducated twit who thinks the power of his middle-class contempt will wither the forces of darkness gathered under the swastika, and in this he captures Europe’s mood during the Weimar Republic perfectly. He plays opposite Lisa Minelli, whose talents necessitated changes in the script – in the Broadway original Sally Bowles couldn’t sing.

click for Cabaret on IMDb
Joel Grey’s Joker-like emcee (left) captures both the cosmopolitan freedom that made 1931 Berlin the citadel the Nazis had to capture, and, as the film moves on, the amoral accommodation with the Nazis that was effected by not just the West in general but also that portion of the German elite that realised that the Nazis wouldn’t be pacified after they’d finished with the communists. And, of course, as we see throughout, with the Jews.

In a sense the Nazis stall rage on, through the Final Solution. Post-Nuremberg this was resurrected by Muhammad Amin al-Husayni, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who’d moved to Berlin 1941 to advise Hitler on the Holocaust and, incredibly, avoided capture as a war criminal. From his new base in Egypt he continued preaching hatred, and many of his followers walked antisemitism right back into Europe.

So it’s fitting that Cabaret ends ambivalently: in the minds of modern Nazis, the last act in their pursuit of Jews – and of every Western freedom – is yet to play out.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Friday, 8 November 2013

all that glitters: the hidden secrets of money?

I once volunteered at the Bath Street Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Glasgow. In 1998, a senior member of staff there said at a public meeting that he could lay his hands on proof that the financial system was configured to produce debt. Shortly afterwards the branch was informed we owed a staggering unpaid debt that nobody had heard of. Before twelve months had passed since that meeting, the branch – the busiest in Scotland – had been closed down. We never had a chance to hear the lowdown on the financial system.

go to Hidden Secrets of Money website
So I’ve no idea whether the answer would have been similar to that of Mike Maloney (right), who has posted a series of four videos on Youtube entitled Hidden Secrets of Money. The last episode, The Biggest Scam in the History of Mankind, has gone viral.

There’s no doubt that Mike is selling something: he runs a company that trades in silver and gold. And if the videos stir up anxiety and even panic about the imminent collapse of global currency systems, that would be to his benefit.

However, I’m left rather disturbed by the videos; they have the ring (no pun intended) of truth. It’s been suggested that Gordon Brown sold Britain’s gold to shore up international banking systems as the financial tsunami that still rages approached, but - as Maloney suggests - could countries holding British pounds have actually been demanding the repatriation of their gold? And I’m left wondering (I emphasize this is me and is not said at any point by Maloney) if the coming influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe has been planned in order to soak up the enormous amount of money being printed by the treasury so prices don't start rising precipitously?

I agree wholeheartedly with Maloney that our greatest investment is education. I recommend you watch these videos, do your research, and make your mind up.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Hidden Secrets of Money - YouTube. Episode 1 - each episode links to the next

The Biggest Scam in the History of Mankind - Hidden Secrets of Money on Youtube

Hidden Secrets of Money website

Revealed: why Gordon Brown sold Britain's gold at a knock-down price - Thomas Pascoe, Telegraph blogs, July 2012

Money Week: The End of Britain - 300 words

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Popper's theses on gov't (4): we're not democrats because the majority is always right

We are democrats, not because the majority is always right, but because democratic traditions are the least evil ones of which we know. If the majority (or ‘public opinion’) decides in favour of tyranny, a democrat need not therefore suppose that some fatal inconsistency in his views has been revealed. He will realise, rather, that the democratic tradition in this country was not strong enough.

The best-known example of people voting for tyranny is Germany, 1933. However, as Channel 4’s Hitler’s Rise: the Colour Films show, the Nazis had formed part of coalition governments since 1930. Had Adolf died in 1938, writes biographer John Tolland, he would be revered as a great statesman for getting Germany back to work. And, presumably, proto-Holocaust atrocities swept under the carpet. The Germans had undergone the double whammy of a humiliating peace treaty in 1919, and the strategy of printing money to pay the war debts obliterated its wealth come the 1929 crash. They had a psychological need for a strong leader.

The same psychological need can be seen at work in those Greek voters who support the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, in a country which was occupied by Nazis within living memory.

Greece, despite nurturing democracy in classical times, does not have the same democratic hinterland as, say, the Nordic countries and their former colonies, which started producing parliaments in medieval times. Greece didn’t win its independence from the Ottoman Empire until 1827; once that tyrant slipped out of memory another – Ioannis Metaxas, previously a minister in a coalition – took power in 1936.

So can public opinion, when it results in votes for something objectionable, be "toxic", as Business Secretary Vince Cable referred to it in regard to immigration? Christian saints before (like St Ambrose) and even after (like St Anselm) the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity thought so, referring to tyranny of the multitude, and the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia refers to the same thing in an analysis of Rousseau’s The Social Contract.

The problem I have is that today it’s so easy to rig ballots, especially using postal votes, that it’s difficult to work out what the multitude actually wants.

Just watch out for those coalitions.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

This series:

Popper's theses on gov't (1): state a necessary evil

Popper's theses on gov't (2): democratic government can be got rid of without bloodshed

Popper's theses on gov't (3): democracy confers no benefit on citizens

Popper's theses on gov't (4): we're not democrats because the majority is always right

Popper's theses on gov't (5): institutions are insufficient without traditions

Popper's theses on gov't (6): Utopia is an impossibility

Popper's theses on gov't (7) - liberalism is evolutionary, not revolutionary


Hitler’s Rise: the Colour Films - 4oD

Review of The Social Contract - The Catholic Encyclopedia

Vince Cable: public opinion on immigration is now 'absolutely toxic' - Rowena Mason, The Guardian

Monday, 4 November 2013

A Life Steered

'A life Steered': go to Amazon
I ordered A Life Steered after reading a review of it on author Bertha Mukodzani’s blog by Deswell Chitewe, who champions Zimbabwean authors.

A Life Steered begins with a distressing scene in which the main character’s hard-drinking father finally throws her mother out of the house after many fights. From such a beginning I could not have imagined that the novel would go on to be an uplifiting testament to the strength of the human spirit - demonstrating that while our beginnings are always with us, the wings of our hopes await.

The travails of Zimbabwe are expertly understated through the course of the action and are braided with signposts non-Zimbabweans will be able to orientate themselves by. Not that you need to be from Zimbabwe to appreciate A Life Steered: when you focus down on a small group of people and look at the different ways they choose to overcome their obstacles, you never fail to find the universal interplay of suffering and hope, and which one triumphs is often due more to how people approach them than to random interventions of fate.

click to go to Bertha's website
What struck me particularly is that A Life Steered is set at a time when girls and young women were looking beyond the traditional lot of females in Zimbabwean society, not least the complex politics of polygamy which, whenever that practice arises, seems to favour men. Heroine Sandra’s glass ceilings come not from corporate structures, but the society Bertha describes so lovingly and with such humour. In the UK I don't think we've been totally successful in maintaining what was best about our traditions while we removed our glass ceilings, and would be interested to hear what Bertha thinks. Perhaps food for a future novel?

A Life Steered is Bertha Mukodzani’s (right) first novel, and I was gratified to read on her blog that another one is in the pipeline. I look forward to following her career and to collecting her works.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Read reviews of A Life Steered on amazon

Bertha Mukodzani's homepage

Deswell Chitewe reviews A Life Steered on Bertha's blog

an excerpt from Bertha's second novel

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Marie Antionette: more truth and less cake, please

"Ooh, there's no bread, let them eat cake…" The line comes from Rush’s 1975 hit Bastille Day, about the French Revolution (the 1789 one), and the phrase "let them eat cake" is a reference to Marie Antoinette’s response when she heard of the French people’s poverty not allowing them to buy bread: "qu’il mangent de la brioche" – brioche being an egg- and butter-based bread beyond the reach of said pauvres.

But was she framed?

Marie Antoinette: click to learn more
Marie Antoinette was born on 2 November 1755 and was the mistress of King Louis XVI, and here the attribution becomes shaky: there are no famines recorded during this Louis’ reign. Antonia Fraser, in her biography of Marie, states that the quote was spoken a century previously by Marie-Thérèse (Maria Teresa of Spain), wife of Louis XIV, king during la grande famine of 1693-1694. Marie-Thérèse is said to have recommended "la croûte de la pâté" during the famine. Rousseau managed to get this garbled and recollected in his Confessions that a "great princess" had recommended "let them eat pastry".

But even further back, the 3rd-century Chinese emperor Hui is said to have asked "why can’t they eat meat?" when told his famine-stricken subjects had no rice. That the question still stings is shown by The [Republic of] China Post’s comparison of Taiwan’s President President Ma Ying-jeou to Hui for saying to a student left feeling unfilled by a Bento box "perhaps you need to eat another bento box, or simply endure being hungry".

The attribution of "let them eat cake" to Marie Antoinette is a triumph of misogynistic revolutionary politics over historical fact and it’s woeful that newspapers repeat it on her birthday. Hopefully someday a journalist will interview Antonia Fraser to put the record straight. In the meantime, at least it makes for a good rock song.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Did Marie Antionette really say "let them eat cake"? -

click for more on Antonia Fraser's biography of Marie Antoinette

1693-1694 : Les années de misère -

Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau - the passage about "the great princess" is on p 255 of the .pdf

DPP chairman gets personal in run-up to Jan. 13 demonstration - The China Post