Monday, November 22, 2004

Health for life: only £150!

Who says Neocons can't do irony? Bush has chosen his new education tsar: Miss Spellings!

In Britain, meanwhile, the Cabinet have gone all metapysical on us. Ben Bradshaw assures us "There are very real challenges to be faced in Iraq." How real, Ben? I mean, are they challenges that can be faced physically, or do spiritual challenges lie ahead? What is the relative reality of securing the energy supply, and persuading the Kurds not to join the anti-occupation revolt? By what standards should this reality be judged? Number of civilian deaths, number of dollars of reconstruction contracts awarded, or level of hassle to your good self?

Fresh from using that measure of most dubious constitutional status, the Parliamnet Act, to force through the foxhunting ban, the danglies have turned their eye to a different sort of fish altogether: pheasant shooting. This is different because the pheasant which are reared in the semi-wild are then shot for food, which foxes clearly are not. When asked why this was a more important target than battery farming, the animal rights lobby argue that shooting is wrong because people take pleasure from it. To get things in perspective, the number of battery chickens killed each year is in the hundreds of millions, the number of pheasants shot in the tens of thousands. The pheasants live wildly on managed estates, until they are induced into the air and shot in the hunting season. Both end up on food markets. The logical point of debate, which has been universally ignored is this: notwithstanding the fact that conditions for battery farmed animals are worse, is it better to produce animals for the food market in a way which gives some humans pleasure, or in a way which brings pleasure to nobody? The only possible opposition to shooting would be some kind of Victorian 'moral degeneration' argument, but in a world in which Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo Bay are the results of the export of "freedom" I think a few shooting toffs are of the least moral significance.

So come on animal rights campaigners. I challenge you all. I want to hear a logical, convincing representation of your position.

SantaMariaDellaSalute-VeniceIn about 1699 Venice suffered a terrible plague. The people of the city built a big Church to Madonna della Salute, and the plague went away. Every year everybody in the city crowds to the Church, buys a two Euro candle from a street vendor, and lights it in the church, which bestows on them good health for the next twelve months. It is much cheaper than the NHS or Bupa. It was a joy to see the legions of Italians pouring out of the Church and lighting cigarettes. Now thats what I call faith.

Finally, Big Ron is making his tentative steps down the comeback trail. He has astutely but indignantly pointed out that his sacking for calling Desailly "a f****** lazy n*****" would never have happened if he had used the word "Frog" instead. Not quite the penitent approach that trial by media demands, Ron...


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