Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Am The 1 In (A Lot Less Than) 10?

Last week a report by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) concluded that nearly three quarters of a million UK adults say they are gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Six years ago it was estimated the UK's LGB community was 3.5 million.
Over 480,000 (one per cent) of the UK’s adult population consider themselves to be gay or lesbian with a further 245,000 (0.5 per cent) to be bisexual, according to data published for the first time today by the Office for National Statistics.
The data has been collected as part of the new Integrated Household Survey (IHS) which is the largest social survey ever produced by the ONS. The IHS contains information provided by nearly 450,000 individual respondents - the biggest pool of UK social data after the Census. The survey is based on a core suite of questions from six current household surveys and includes a question on self-perceived sexual identity.
The question was asked by providing the respondent with a showcard containing four options Heterosexual/Straight, Gay/lesbian, Bisexual or Other. They were then asked “Which of these options best describes how you think of yourself?” The question was asked to respondents aged 16 years and over, 96 per cent of whom provided a valid response.
The IHS data indicates that

• 95 per cent of adults identify themselves as heterosexual/’straight’
• 1 per cent of adults identify themselves as gay or lesbian
• 0.5 per cent of adults identified themselves as bisexual
• 0.5 per cent as ‘other’
• just under 3 per cent of adults stated ‘Don’t know’ or refused the question
• fewer than 1 per cent of respondents provided no response to the question.

The highest proportion of adults who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual were in London with the lowest found in Northern Ireland.
The sexual identity question was developed and tested on a number of ONS surveys in 2008 and was added on the IHS in 2009. The data have been collected to provide accurate statistics to underpin the equality monitoring responsibilities of public sector organisations and help give a fuller picture of equality in British society.
So, why have we shrunk?

Well, how would you answer when a stranger knocks on your door, identifies themselves and asks if you will take place in the survey:

The question was asked by providing the respondent with a showcard containing four options Heterosexual/Straight, Gay/lesbian, Bisexual or Other. They were then asked “Which of these options best describes how you think of yourself?” The question was asked to respondents aged 16 years and over

Other interesting statistics to bear in mind however:
  • gay dating website Gaydar has 1.5m UK profiles, most of them men
  • gay dating website GRINDR has over 1m registered UK users
Does the size if the UK's gay population matter?
within hours of the ONS publishing its findings last week, calls had emerged from religious groups for less political attention and public money to be spent on meeting the demands of gay people. Right-wing newspapers talked of the figures "exploding the myth" that as many as one person in 10 was gay.
However, the ONS survey did show that gay people are far more likely to be successful professionally and to be better educated.

52:52 - Update



Last night saw a return visit to the Menier to see Aspects of Love for the second time.

Trevor Nunn returns to the Chocolate Factory to direct the first major London revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Charles Hart's Aspects of Love starring Katherine Kingsley, Michael Arden and Dave Willetts.

Based on David Garnett’s novel of the same name, the musical tells the story of passion, love and loss across three generations of a family and their companions set against the background of 1940’s France and Italy. Alex Dillingham, a young student travelling through France, falls in love with the alluring actress Rose Vibert. As the pair embark on a passionate affair, the unexpected arrival of Alex’s uncle changes their lives forever. A love story spanning twenty years binding six people and three generations as they come to appreciate that love changes everything.


Aspects is my favourite musical. First produced at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London on 17th April 1989, where it ran for 1,325 performances before finally closing on 20th June 1992.

I loved this more intimate production, sometimes seeming more authentic (the French people interact in French, until Alex the Englishman comes along, and then they change to English, mainly, but not always...).

As for Objectif 2010 - well, I don't think I'm going to get there now - we got sidetracked with another focus!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Week Day Survivor

I was at the Dorchester today for a working breakfast. Normally I don't eat breakfast.

Therefore I was on the tube (not my usual mode of transport) before 7am. There really is a different world of people traveling at that time of day. Sometime I must go on a bus 4.30am to see what it's all about.

This time next week Xfe will be furth of the UK, on his travels, doing the make-up of someone great and good on some foreign assignment.

The new iTouch is amazing. When I'm in wi-fi it's just like having the iPhone, but with no charges. I can FaceTime, I can Skype.

I can make movies...



Well, vid clips!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

iWant...Happiness

Did get - with a bonus £35 contribution from John Lewis online, bringing the Apple Covent Garden price to sub £3nonce!

Hurrah.

In the meantime I learned today that earning £100,000 a year is an expensive business.

"It's like a gilded cage," he says.

"They earn huge amounts but they have the massive mortgage, they have the high-maintenance trophy wife, they have the kids at Harrow - then they wake up on their 50th birthday and think, 'What a waste of a life.'

Phew wow!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pope Fact Of The Day #3

The state and organisation of which he is head has been responsible for: opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids; promoting segregated education; denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women; opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people; and failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.

Source.

Another reason to celebrate the Pope's state visit to the UK.

Good Riddance To Old Rubbish

Today is the last day of the state visit by Ratzinger, Defender of Holy Child Abusers, Opposer of Equality and Promoter of HIV/AIDS, to third-world Britain.

How gracious of one of his senior advisors to acknowledge the British tax-payer, who part funded his state visit, in this way.

Who is Ratzinger?

He is the head of the Catholic Church an organisation responsible for: opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids; promoting segregated education; denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women; opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people; and failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.

Source.

The Pope's state visit to the UK ends today. Good riddance to dirty intolerance, (unless you are an ordained paedophile, in which case you might simply be sent somewhere nice and quiet to recover and reoffend, going on past practice).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pope Fact Of The Day #3

The state and organisation of which he is head has been responsible for: opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids; promoting segregated education; denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women; opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people; and failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.

Source.

Another reason to celebrate the Pope's state visit to the UK.

Protest The Pope - Day 3

A senior Papal adviser has pulled out of the Pope's UK visit after saying arriving at Heathrow airport was like landing in a "Third World" country.

Cardinal Walter Kasper reportedly told a German magazine the UK was marked by "a new and aggressive atheism".



So reported the BBC on Wednesday, the night before Ratzinger arrived on his papal state visit.

As if Ratzinger's visit wasn't grubby enough!


This Defender of Holy Ordained Child Molesters, this Disciple of Unsafe Sex and the Spread of HIV/AIDS has been honoured with a state visit to "third world Britain", partly funded by the UK tax-payer.

From Wednesday's Guardian:

Pope's visit: pontiff should not be 'honoured' with state visit

Figures such as Stephen Fry and Terry Pratchett criticise honour over Vatican's record on gay rights, abortion and birth control.

Stephen Fry, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman and Richard Dawkins are among more than 50 public figures who have signed a letter to the Guardian arguing that the pope should not be given the "honour" of a UK state visit.

The signatories, also including Ken Follett, Stewart Lee and Sir Jonathan Miller, call for "Pope Ratzinger" to be stripped of the right because of the Vatican's record on gay rights, abortion and birth control.

The letter blames the Catholic church's opposition to the use of condoms for aiding the global spread of Aids and criticises its failure to properly tackle the clerical sexual abuse scandal.

Benedict XVI begins the first-ever state visit by a pope to Britain tomorrow. While his predecessor, John Paul II, visited the UK in 1982, his was officially a pastoral visit. As well as meeting the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and David Cameron, the pontiff will visit Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham.

The letter argues: "We believe that the pope, as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a religion with many adherents in the UK, is of course free to enter and tour our country. However, as well as a religious leader, the pope is a head of state, and the state and organisation of which he is head has been responsible for: opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids; promoting segregated education; denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women; opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people; and failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation."

The letter adds: "In any case, we reject the masquerading of the Holy See as a state and the pope as a head of state as merely a convenient fiction to amplify the international influence of the Vatican."

The lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC argues that Britain is wrong to afford the pope a state visit because the sovereignty of the Vatican and Holy See are based on a 1929 Lateran treaty, which was signed by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini

Organising the visit will cost taxpayers an estimated £12m, with policing costs expected to total an extra £1m.

Another reason to celebrate the Pope's state visit to the UK.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pope Fact Of The Day #2

The state and organisation of which he is head has been responsible for: opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids; promoting segregated education; denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women; opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people; and failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.

Source.

Another reason to celebrate the Pope's state visit to the UK.

Protest The Pope - Day 2

Friday 17 September is day 2 of Ratzinger's State Visit to the UK, part-funded by the UK taxpayer.

Need a reason to protest the Pope - aside from the child-abuse excuse?

Reason #3 - he actively promotes discrimination, seeing homosexuality as "an intrinsic moral evil".

Pope says gay marriage is 'insidious and dangerous'

The Pope condemned same sex marriage as a "dangerous and insidious" challenge to society in an address to half a million Catholic faithful.

In a strongly worded attack, Benedict XVI insisted that marriage should be founded on the "indissoluble" marriage between a man and a woman.

Addressing a huge crowd at the shrine of Fatima at the climax of his four day visit to Portugal, the 83-year-old Pope said that same sex marriage and abortion were among the "most insidious and dangerous challenges that today confront the common good."

He expressed his "profound appreciation" for anti-abortion campaigners, who he praised for defending the right to life and the "recovery of people wounded by the drama of abortion".

The Vatican regards being homosexual as a "deviation" and an "irregularity" and the act of homosexual sex as a sin.

In December a leading Roman Catholic cardinal reinforced the message, saying that homosexuality was an "insult to God" and that homosexuals and transsexuals will never go to heaven.

In remarks which outraged gay rights groups, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, 76, claimed that people were not born homosexual, but chose to embrace homosexuality of their own free will.

The Pope himself angered homosexual groups in December 2008 when he suggested that the need to save humanity from the harmful blurring of gender roles was as critical as conserving the world's rainforests.

Stonewall, the British lesbian and gay lobby group, condemned the Pope’s remarks.

“Some might say that it’s dangerous and insidious for the Pope to spend so much time publicly belittling gay, lesbian and bisexual people,” said Derek Munn, director of public affairs.

Left-leaning MPs in Italy have proposed various kinds of legislation for some kind of homosexual union in recent years.

But the measures have gone nowhere in the face of stiff opposition from the Vatican, which continues to wield enormous influence over Italian politics.

The Pope's remarks carried particular resonance for his host country – three years ago Portugal decriminalised abortion and it is now on the verge of legalising homosexual unions.

A law allowing same-sex marriage was passed by parliament in February.

President Anibal Cavaco Silva, a practising Catholic, is expected to sign the bill into law by May 17, three days after the end of the papal visit.

His ratification would make Portugal the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriages after Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway.

In Britain, same sex marriage is not legal, but since 2005 homosexual couples have been allowed to enter into civil partnerships, which carry the same rights and responsibilities as marriage.

One of Christianity's most important pilgrimage sites, the shrine of Fatima consists of an enormous white basilica marking the spot where three Portuguese shepherd children allegedly witnessed a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1917.

The Pope's visit commemorated the anniversary of the first apparition – May 13.

He was greeted with cheers and applause when he arrived at the steps of the basilica in his bullet-proof "Popemobile", with pilgrims from more than 30 different countries chanting "Vivo o Papa" – Portuguese for Long Live the Pope.

Another reason to celebrate the Pope's state visit to the UK.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pope Fact Of The Day - Bonus

The Pope is Not Gay

The Pope is Not Gay!

Charts the history of homophobic and sexist obscurantism in the Holy Roman Church and an endoscopic examination of its greatest contemporary advocate, Pope Benedict XVI.

Tracing the evolution of Joseph Ratzinger's life, beginning with the Pope's childhood in Nazi Germany, his membership of the Hitler Youth in Bavaria and his conscription into the German anti-aircraft corps. His has been a startling career, a story that helps explain his development as a reactionary theologian and culminates in his election to the papacy in 2005.

Glossing over his relationship with his private secretary, Cardinal Georg Gänswein.

Yet another reason to celebrate the Pope's state visit to Britain in 2010.

Pope Fact Of The Day #1

The state and organisation of which he is head has been responsible for: opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids; promoting segregated education; denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women; opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people; and failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.

Source.

Another reason to celebrate the Pope's state visit to the UK.

Protest The Pope - Day 1

It's the first day of Benedict's state visit to the UK.

Need a reason to protest the Pope?


Reason #2 - he spreads HIV/AIDS.

But don't take my word for it.

Ben Goldacre set this out very clearly in Saturday's Guardian's Bad Science piece.

Pope's anti-condom message is sabotage in fight against Aids Stance makes Catholic church a major global public health problem.

condoms


Condoms do not immunise against infection but they are an effective barrier against the HIV virus. Photograph: Digital Vision / Alamy/Alamy

This week the pope is in London. You will have your own views on the discrimination against women, the homophobia, and the international criminal conspiracy to cover up for mass child rape. My special interest is his role in the 2 million people who die of Aids each year.

In May 2005, shortly after taking office, the pope made his first pronouncement on Aids, and came out against condoms. He was addressing bishops from South Africa, where somebody dies of Aids every two minutes; Botswana, where 23.9% of adults between 15 and 49 are HIV positive; Swaziland, where 26.1% of adults have HIV; Namibia (a trifling 15%); and Lesotho, 23%.

This is continuing. In March 2009, on his flight to Cameroon (where 540,000 people have HIV), Pope Benedict XVI explained that Aids is a tragedy "that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems". In May 2009, the Congolese bishops conference made a happy announcement: "In all truth, the pope's message which we received with joy has confirmed us in our fight against HIV/Aids. We say no to condoms!"

His stance has been supported, in the past year alone, by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster. "It is quite ridiculous to go on about Aids in Africa and condoms, and the Catholic Church," says O'Connor.

"I talk to priests who say, 'My diocese is flooded with condoms and there is more Aids because of them.'"

Some have been more imaginative in their quest to spread the message against condoms. In 2007, Archbishop Francisco Chimoio of Mozambique announced that European condom manufacturers are deliberately infecting condoms with HIV to spread Aids in Africa. Out of every 8 people in Mozambique, one has HIV.

It was Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo of Colombia who most famously claimed that the HIV virus can pass through tiny holes in the rubber of condoms. Again, he was not alone. "The condom is a cork," said Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Spain, "and not always effective."

In 2005 Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, explained that scientific research has never proven that condoms "immunise against infection".

He's right, they don't. They stop the virus which kills you from being transmitted during sex.

How effective are they? It's wise not to overstate your case. The current systematic review of the literature on this question published by Cochrane found 14 observational studies (because it's unethical to do a randomised trial where you actively stop people using condoms, since you know that they work but just want to find out how well).

These studies generally looked at HIV transmission in stable couples where one partner had HIV.

Many of them looked at transfusion patients and haemophiliacs. Overall, rates of HIV infection were 80% lower in the partners who reported always using a condom, compared to those who said they never did. 80% is pretty good.

There is no single perfect solution to the problem of Aids: if things were that easy, it wouldn't be killing 2 million people every year.

ABC is a widely used prevention acronym in Africa: abstain, be [faithful], [use a] condom. Picking out one effective measure and actively campaigning against it is plainly destructive, just as telling people to abstain doesn't make everyone abstain, and telling people to use condoms won't make everyone use them. But Ratzinger has proclaimed: "The most effective presence on the front in the battle against HIV/Aids is the Catholic church and her institutions."

This is ludicrous. You, the Catholic church, is the only major influential international political organisation that actively tells people not to do something that works – on a huge scale. Your own figures show that your numbers are growing in Africa, even faster than the population does.

I'm happy for you to suggest abstention. But sabotaging an effective intervention which prevents a disease that kills 2 million people a year makes you a serious global public health problem.

Another reason to celebrate the Pope's state visit to the UK.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Pope's State Visit To The UK

Pope Benedict XVI begins his four-day Papal state visit to "Third World Britain" tomorrow.

Need a reason to protest the Pope?

Reason #1 - the international criminal conspiracy to cover up for mass child rape.

From Saturday's Guardian.

The first child sex scandal in the Catholic church took place in AD153, long before there was a "gay culture" or Jewish journalists for bishops to blame it on. By the 1960s, the problem had become so dire that a cleric responsible for the care of "erring" priests wrote to the Vatican suggesting that it acquire a Caribbean island to put them on.
What has made a bad situation worse, as the eminent QC Geoffrey Robertson argues in this coolly devastating inquiry, is canon law – the church's own arcane, highly secretive legal system, which deals with alleged child abusers in a dismayingly mild manner rather than handing them over to the police. Its "penalties" for raping children include such draconian measures as warnings, rebukes, extra prayers, counselling and a few months on retreat. It is even possible to interpret canon law as claiming that a valid defence for paedophile offences is paedophilia. Since child abusers are supposedly incapable of controlling their sexual urges, this can be used in their defence. It is rather like pleading not guilty to stealing from Tesco's on the grounds that one is a shoplifter. One blindingly simple reason for the huge amount of child abuse in the Catholic church (on one estimate, up to 9% of clerics are implicated) is that the perpetrators know they will almost certainly get away with it.

For almost a quarter of a century, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the man who is now Pope, was in supreme command of this parallel system of justice – a system deliberately hidden from the public, police and parliaments and run, so Robertson maintains, in defiance of international law. Those who imagine that the Vatican has recently agreed to cooperate with the police, he points out, have simply fallen for one of its cynical public relations exercises. In the so-called "New Norms" published by Pope Benedict this year, there is still no instruction to report suspected offenders to the civil authorities, and attempting to ordain a woman is deemed to be as serious an offence as sodomising a child. There have, however, been some changes: victims of child abuse are now allowed to report the matter up to the age of 38 rather than 28. If you happen to be 39, that's just tough luck. As Robertson wryly comments, Jesus declares that child molesters deserve to be drowned in the depths of the sea, not hidden in the depths of the Holy See.

How can Ratzinger get away with it? One mightily important reason, examined in detail in this book, is because he is supposedly a head of state. The Vatican describes itself on its website as an "absolute monarchy", which means that the Pope is immune from being sued or prosecuted. It also means that as the only body in the world with "non-member state" status at the UN, the Catholic church has a global platform for pursuing its goals of diminishing women, demonising homosexuals, obstructing the use of condoms to prevent Aids and refusing to allow abortion even to save the life of the mother. For these purposes, it is sometimes to be found in unholy alliance with states such as Libya and Iran. Neither is it slow to use veiled threats of excommunication to bend Catholic politicians throughout the world to its will. If Pope Benedict were to air some of his troglodytic views with full public force, Robertson suggests, the Home Office would have been forced to refuse him entry into Britain.

In fact, he argues, the Vatican's claim to statehood is bogus. It dates from a treaty established between Mussolini and the Holy See, which Robertson believes has no basis in international law. The Vatican has no permanent population, which is a legal requirement of being a state. In fact, since almost all its inhabitants are celibate, it cannot propagate citizens at all other than by unfortunate accident. It is not really a territory, has no jurisdiction over crimes committed in its precincts and depends for all its essential services on the neighbouring nation of Italy. Nor does it field a team in the World Cup, surely the most convincing sign of its phoniness.

"Petty gossip" is how the Pope has described irrefutable evidence of serious crimes. His time as the Vatican official in charge of overseeing priestly discipline was the period when, in Robertson's furiously eloquent words, "tens of thousands of children were bewitched, buggered and bewildered by Catholic priests whilst [Ratzinger's] attention was fixated on 'evil' homosexuals, sinful divorcees, deviate liberation theologians, planners of families and wearers of condoms".

Can he be brought to book for this? As a widespread and systematic practice, clerical sexual abuse could be considered a crime against humanity, such crimes not being confined to times of war; and though Ratzinger may claim immunity as a head of state, he is also a German citizen. The book comes to no firm conclusion here, but the possibility of convicting the supreme pontiff of aiding and abetting the international crime of systemic child abuse seems not out of the question. The Vatican, in any case, is unlikely to escape such a fate by arguing, as it has done already, that the relations between the Pope and his bishops are of such unfathomable theological complexity that no mere human court could ever hope to grasp them.

This is a book that combines moral passion with steely forensic precision, enlivened with the odd flash of dry wit. With admirable judiciousness, it even finds it in its heart to praise the charitable work of the Catholic church, as well as reminding us that paedophiles (whom Robertson has defended in court) can be kindly men. It is one of the most formidable demolition jobs one could imagine on a man who has done more to discredit the cause of religion than Rasputin and Pat Robertson put together.



Another reason to celebrate the Pope's state visit to the UK.

Protest The Pope - The Day Before

Pope Benedict XVI begins his four-day Papal state visit to the UK tomorrow.

Need a reason to protest the Pope?

Reason #1 - the international criminal conspiracy to cover up for mass child rape.

From Saturday's Guardian.

The first child sex scandal in the Catholic church took place in AD153, long before there was a "gay culture" or Jewish journalists for bishops to blame it on. By the 1960s, the problem had become so dire that a cleric responsible for the care of "erring" priests wrote to the Vatican suggesting that it acquire a Caribbean island to put them on.
What has made a bad situation worse, as the eminent QC Geoffrey Robertson argues in this coolly devastating inquiry, is canon law – the church's own arcane, highly secretive legal system, which deals with alleged child abusers in a dismayingly mild manner rather than handing them over to the police. Its "penalties" for raping children include such draconian measures as warnings, rebukes, extra prayers, counselling and a few months on retreat. It is even possible to interpret canon law as claiming that a valid defence for paedophile offences is paedophilia. Since child abusers are supposedly incapable of controlling their sexual urges, this can be used in their defence. It is rather like pleading not guilty to stealing from Tesco's on the grounds that one is a shoplifter. One blindingly simple reason for the huge amount of child abuse in the Catholic church (on one estimate, up to 9% of clerics are implicated) is that the perpetrators know they will almost certainly get away with it.

For almost a quarter of a century, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the man who is now Pope, was in supreme command of this parallel system of justice – a system deliberately hidden from the public, police and parliaments and run, so Robertson maintains, in defiance of international law. Those who imagine that the Vatican has recently agreed to cooperate with the police, he points out, have simply fallen for one of its cynical public relations exercises. In the so-called "New Norms" published by Pope Benedict this year, there is still no instruction to report suspected offenders to the civil authorities, and attempting to ordain a woman is deemed to be as serious an offence as sodomising a child. There have, however, been some changes: victims of child abuse are now allowed to report the matter up to the age of 38 rather than 28. If you happen to be 39, that's just tough luck. As Robertson wryly comments, Jesus declares that child molesters deserve to be drowned in the depths of the sea, not hidden in the depths of the Holy See.

How can Ratzinger get away with it? One mightily important reason, examined in detail in this book, is because he is supposedly a head of state. The Vatican describes itself on its website as an "absolute monarchy", which means that the Pope is immune from being sued or prosecuted. It also means that as the only body in the world with "non-member state" status at the UN, the Catholic church has a global platform for pursuing its goals of diminishing women, demonising homosexuals, obstructing the use of condoms to prevent Aids and refusing to allow abortion even to save the life of the mother. For these purposes, it is sometimes to be found in unholy alliance with states such as Libya and Iran. Neither is it slow to use veiled threats of excommunication to bend Catholic politicians throughout the world to its will. If Pope Benedict were to air some of his troglodytic views with full public force, Robertson suggests, the Home Office would have been forced to refuse him entry into Britain.

In fact, he argues, the Vatican's claim to statehood is bogus. It dates from a treaty established between Mussolini and the Holy See, which Robertson believes has no basis in international law. The Vatican has no permanent population, which is a legal requirement of being a state. In fact, since almost all its inhabitants are celibate, it cannot propagate citizens at all other than by unfortunate accident. It is not really a territory, has no jurisdiction over crimes committed in its precincts and depends for all its essential services on the neighbouring nation of Italy. Nor does it field a team in the World Cup, surely the most convincing sign of its phoniness.

"Petty gossip" is how the Pope has described irrefutable evidence of serious crimes. His time as the Vatican official in charge of overseeing priestly discipline was the period when, in Robertson's furiously eloquent words, "tens of thousands of children were bewitched, buggered and bewildered by Catholic priests whilst [Ratzinger's] attention was fixated on 'evil' homosexuals, sinful divorcees, deviate liberation theologians, planners of families and wearers of condoms".

Can he be brought to book for this? As a widespread and systematic practice, clerical sexual abuse could be considered a crime against humanity, such crimes not being confined to times of war; and though Ratzinger may claim immunity as a head of state, he is also a German citizen. The book comes to no firm conclusion here, but the possibility of convicting the supreme pontiff of aiding and abetting the international crime of systemic child abuse seems not out of the question. The Vatican, in any case, is unlikely to escape such a fate by arguing, as it has done already, that the relations between the Pope and his bishops are of such unfathomable theological complexity that no mere human court could ever hope to grasp them.

This is a book that combines moral passion with steely forensic precision, enlivened with the odd flash of dry wit. With admirable judiciousness, it even finds it in its heart to praise the charitable work of the Catholic church, as well as reminding us that paedophiles (whom Robertson has defended in court) can be kindly men. It is one of the most formidable demolition jobs one could imagine on a man who has done more to discredit the cause of religion than Rasputin and Pat Robertson put together.



Another reason to celebrate the Pope's state visit to the UK.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Make Your Own Kind Of Music

What is the now sound?



I'm rather liking it!

In the meantime, Xfe's still up north, leaving me homo-alone. But he is back on Thursday. To pass the time, I was doing my singing tonight. Tomorrow we have office quarterly drinks and on Wednesday I'm advising at the free-legal clinic I volunteer at.

So he'll be home before I know it...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Want Doesn't Get

I'm edging.

Edging closer to these objects of desire.






I'm edging. For sure.

BUT, instead, my head is keeping me focused on something more boring.

Tax mitigation strategies:
  • an opportunity to pump salary sacrifice into my pension, providing instant tax relief, and a more transparent way of ensuring I don't loose my personal allowance
  • contributing rent on the N1 flat into a SIPP so when it comes to paying tax on the income it's set off against the higher rate relief; and
  • paying off the mortgage on this place given our interest only loan.
I know it's the right thing to do, but doesn't the Apple TV look gorgeous?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Spooks, And Crannies

Xfe has taken a trip up north to visit our new niece and our hyper-mignon nephew. To visit and to lend a hand. Mum had a c-section, Dad goes back to work after paternity leave, so Mum needs a hand with the 22-month old youngster - she can't lift him - and baby.

Leaving me alone, in our house.

A house that once again has a personality with the life we brought to it. A house that has its own strange noises. Noises I never notice when the two of us are here.

It's not the first time I've been here on my own. I moved in while Xfe was working in China, 2 weeks into a 6-week trip. But then it was new, an adventure.

He was also away mid-summer. It got dark later.

But now, in September, when it feels like the nights are starting to draw in, and the house is more homely, with all our things. Including our creepy things...



There are nooks and crannies everywhere. Dark spots, cold places. Areas with their own noises. Up here is a whole floor I rarely visit. Who knows what is to be found around the corner at the top of these stairs.



I preferred not to go up, even to take a picture.

Here is, I think, the darkest place. It doesn't look like it's any distance, but the corridor stretches to the back of the house, now our dressing room.



But away from the welcome glow of the kitchen I have to go.



I have to go to the bathroom, but I prefer not to in the dark. Alone.



When I do, in order not to so do with the imagination, I try not to let my eyes wander. I don't look down, unless I'm going down. I don't look up, unless I'm going up. For fear of what I might glimpse you see...

When Xfe's not here I keep the doors to this room closed.



Then, of course, there's the outside. Don't want to look there.



Not sure what I mean? Well, look closely...



Do you see anything?

No.

Are you sure? Look again...



Creepy, huh?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Somewhere In My Youth Or Childhood.

I can with all conviction say that Life's Never Easy.

Sometimes, the threads as bare as they can be, remain intact when challenged.

Thin, though as strong, as a web spun by spider they hold.

Whether, might, you let that kind of thing defeat you? Rising to the challenge maketh the man.

Though, as you know, with my ambiguous posts (such as this one), I never really mean it.

They are just space fillers. maybe. you decide.

Vale Decem.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Missing The Point

The BP came and went.

I got soaked in the heavy downpour coming home last night.

Work has been stressing me. This morning will be a stress just getting to work, with the tube strike (although, I take the train).

Xfe is off to visit his niece and nephew in Newcastle this week.

More rain to come, apparently.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Beaux Parents

The BPs arrive in town today for a weekend sojourn.

I was hoping to take the day off tomorrow, but work commitments will not allow it :(

Let's hope they like the house!

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