Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christopher Hitchens 1-0 Tony Blair - the whole debate

the whole debate here

Starts at about 5 mins into video 2.

Hat tip - Colin

section 5 isn't good quality. this one is better: Episode 5

Paper parcour?

Check this out

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christopher Hitchens 1-0 Tony Blair

From The Grauniad:-

Staunch atheist wins over audience in debate with Catholic convert over whether religion is a force for good in the world

In theory it was not an event that should have created a stir: a philosophical debate on the moral merits of religion. In an age of reality TV drama and Hollywood blockbusters loaded with special effects it would seem hard to get the masses to flock to witness such an old-fashioned, high brow spectacle.

But when the two debaters are the world's most famous recent Roman Catholic convert in the shape of Tony Blair and the charismatic yet cancer-stricken sceptic Christopher Hitchens suddenly it becomes easier to sell tickets.

Two thousand seven hundred tickets to be precise. For that was the size of the crowd that packed the space age-looking Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto late last night to watch the two ideological foes – when it comes to religion – spar and trade verbal blows.

The occasion was part of the Munk Debate series, organised by the Aurea Foundation group, and the motion was simply: "Be it resolved, religion is a force for good in the world".

Both men were unabashedly stalwart in their positions. Hitchens, one of the leading "new atheists" and author of the hit book God Is Not Great, slammed religion as nothing more than supernatural gobbledegook that caused untold misery throughout human history. "Once you assume a creator and a plan it make us subjects in a cruel experiment," Hitchens said before causing widespread laughter by comparing God to "a kind of divine North Korea".

Blair, perhaps not surprisingly, was a little less forthright. On the backfoot for much of the debate he kept returning to his theme that many religious people all over the world were engaged in great and good works. They did that because of their faith, he argued, and to slam all religious people as ignorant or evil was plain wrong. "The proposition that religion is unadulterated poison is unsustainable," he said. Blair called religion at its best "a benign progressive framework by which to live our lives".

Throughout the 90-minute debate Hitchens seemed to have the crowd's sympathy. That might have been to do with his ill appearance due to cancer, but was far more likely to be down to the sharpness of his verbal barbs and the fact that 57% of the audience already agreed with his sceptical position according to a pre-debate poll, while just 22% agreed with Blair's side. The rest were undecided.

But the true winner of the debate was most likely the organisers. The high-profile debaters and controversial subject matter ensured not only a packed hall but an overflow location where people who could not get tickets were able to watch it on TV monitors. Tickets sold out weeks ago and were selling on eBay for several times their cover price. The debate was also trailed on the front pages of some Canadian newspapers and covered by local television.

It even attracted a small but vocal knot of anti-Iraq war protestors accusing Blair of war crimes. Demonstrators unveiled placards that read "Arrest Blair" and "War criminals not welcome here", proving that, as with the merits of religion, some arguments are unlikely to ever be settled with a single night's debate.

More on Hitchens Here

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cameron reacts to student protests

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Secretary Of State has launched a vicious assault on teachers

Secretary Of State has launched a vicious assault on teachers to deflect from an agenda of savage cuts and elitism

Commenting on the statements from the Secretary of State for Education in advance of the publication of the education White Paper today, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“We are today witnessing a vicious assault by the Secretary of State on teachers’ commitment and professionalism to deflect attention from the Coalition Government’s policy of savage cuts to education, its elitist agenda and its free market ideology.

“The Secretary of State’s statements are a disgraceful denigration and misrepresentation of the performance of schools and teachers.

“Teachers will be doing today what they do every day: working hard to ensure that all children and young people succeed.

“But all they will hear from the Secretary of State is that their qualifications are not good enough, they shouldn’t have been in the classroom in the first place, they need to be subject to more monitoring because they can’t be trusted and they must be told how to teach because they have been short-changing pupils.

“Children and young people’s hard work and achievements over the last decade fair no better.

“The NASUWT and teachers are not afraid of change in the education system.

“Any change, however, must meet the tests of raising standards, fairness, equality and social justice, which are at the heart of successful state education.

“This White Paper is history repeating itself.

“The last time the Tories were in Government they left behind the worst teacher recruitment and retention crisis in history, a totally demoralised profession and thousands of young people abandoned by a Government indifferent to their needs.

“We are now witnessing the plans for another lost generation of young people.”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Message from South Wales Police via Neighbourhood watch:
If you have a card pushed through your letterbox from "DPS" saying you have a parcel, DO NOT PHONE THE NUMBER - it could cost you up to £400.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Liz is online

Thanks Nick, if it wasn't for you .....

Monday, November 15, 2010

Take Action

Please visit below. You know it makes sense.
better to light a candle etc etc...

Saturday, November 13, 2010


this is what I mean:

Youthful irony

Just in case you can't remember them, on the day Wales were robbed by South Africa:-

Come back spitting image. please?

Footie "in jokes"? anyone?
The heirs to spitting image?
If so, please come back & focus your cutting satire on the Condem's, please? Where are you when your country needs you?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

welshandgrumpy: Hitchens - Religion Poisons Everything

Hat tip Colin, of welshandgrumpy: Hitchens - Religion Poisons Everything: "Amusing Hitchens speech 'Religion Poisons Everything' from the Festival of Dangerous Ideas."

"above all, we are in need of a renewed Enlightenment, which will base itself on the proposition that the proper study of mankind is man and woman [referencing Alexander Pope]. This Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person. The study of literature and poetry, both for its own sake and for the eternal ethical questions with which it deals, can now easily depose the scrutiny of sacred texts that have been found to be corrupt and confected. The pursuit of unfettered scientific inquiry, and the availability of new findings to masses of people by electronic means, will revolutionize our concepts of research and development. Very importantly, the divorce between the sexual life and fear, and the sexual life and disease, and the sexual life and tyranny, can now at last be attempted, on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse. And all this and more is, for the first time in our history, within the reach if not the grasp of everyone".[104]

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Flight Of The Conchords - Ladies of the World (video)