Sunday, 30 August 2015

Peanuts


The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale - Genesis: Chapter 32 - The (Not at all Stupid) Reason Why Israel is Called Israel


Now thus far, I think we can be generally agreed, Genesis has been a riot of idiocy, brainlessness, fecklessness, misogyny, casual racism, xenophobia, incest, slavery and bigotry. But we now come to a real humdinger of a story that rivals them all for sheer laugh out loud stupidity.

First however we have to deal with Jacob and his brother once again. So Jacob, released by Laban, albeit only after God threatened him, now went on his way. God sent some of his angels to meet him and after having done so he named the place where this took place. This, by the way, just in case you are wondering, is just a device by the authors to lay claim to land. We are entitled to this land because this was the place where Jacob saw angels. Its no more sophisticated than that. Nevertheless there are still people to this day, some of whom even sit in the Knesset or the US House of Representatives, who believe all of this crap and who use it as a means of legitimising Israel's claims to the holy land.

Anyway, after this wholly specious means of claiming a bit more land by the cunning use of retrospective naming, Jacob then sent a message to his brother. Esau, you will recall, had been mad at him because Jacob had stolen his birthright by impersonating him, a ruse that had not only fooled his blind father but God too. Still, many years had passed since these less than credible events, so Jacob was clearly hoping for forgiveness. He sent his brother word that he was now a man of many wives, many beasts and many slaves and that he hoped his brother would look kindly on him. If he also sent word that he was terribly sorry for his former behaviour it goes unmentioned.

The messengers then returned with a message from Esau. They said that Esau was coming to meet him and that he was bringing 400 men with him.

This frightened Jacob and so he decided it would be sensible at this stage to divide his family and his worldly wealth into two and send them in different directions so that if Esau were to come across one party and slaughter them then the other would hopefully get away. Its like a kind of craven and cowardly pincer movement.

Then Jacob tried calling on his pal God to save him. He pointed out all of the promises that God had made to him of his having numerous children and of his being prosperous and implored God to protect him from his vengeful brother.

Then, clearly not content with calling on God for help, he sent his brother a present of 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes and 20 rams, 30 camels (which was quite an achievement because domesticated camels did not exist at this point in history when all this work of fiction was supposed to be happening) plus various cattle and other beasts.

Then he made camp but not before he had sent his wives and slave wives and his many many children across the river to safety.

And now we come to the stupid bit. Or at least the really really stupid bit. At this point Jacob, who was in his fear of his life, spent his time wrestling. He was wrestling with what Genesis describes enigmatically as 'a man.' In fact this man was God. Why God decided to come and wrestle with him is unclear. It must be mysterious ways. Or perhaps its one of those things not to be taken literally which is always the way with awkward, facile, brainless stuff in the Bible.

Anyway, Jacob not only wrestled with God - perhaps God was tired from the journey all the way down that ladder from heaven - but he was beating him until God, who is supposed to be, well, a god, had to cheat by grabbing him by the balls and dislocating his thigh. But still Jacob would not let his wrestling partner go. What a guy!

At this point God, who was supposed to have been looking after Jacob as his favourite all of this time, asked the name of his doughty and worthy foe. Jacob told him. But God said that this would not be his name from now on. His name would now be - drum roll here, please - Israel. Israel, it should be pointed out, means 'striving with God.'

And so, obviously, Jacob felt a further naming ceremony was necessary for this as the location for this not at all far fetched and stupid story. He decided to name the place where this happened as Peniel: the place where he saw God face to face.

Oh and this was also the reason given why Jews must never eat of the sinew which shrank when God grabbed him by the balls and dislocated his thigh. So that's a good reason isn't it.  

Introduction to Astronomy



We're reaching the end of this series and with this one on white dwarfs we've now caught up with all of the episodes made so far. So the remaining episodes will now be weekly. I'll have another series on the blog starting in September. The next episode on Astronomy, one about high mass stars and supernovae (worth waiting for) will be here in a couple of weeks alongside my Video Diary.

Starting tomorrow I have a new short series for you called Big History explaining the origins of the universe, evolution and so on. That's Monday to Friday this week and next week.

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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Peanuts


The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale - Genesis: Chapter 31 - Jacob Makes Off With His Wives and Animals and is Pursued by Laban


Once again our story relies on someone overhearing someone else's conversation. This time Jacob overheard Laban's sons discussing the fact that he had managed to get himself all of the best animals from the flock. And then he noticed that Laban was suddenly not looking at him with the same affection and indulgence as previously, not surprisingly since Jacob had fiddled him.

At this point God intervened. He told Jacob to leave this place and to go back to his homeland, the lands of his father. He also said, in a manner that was probably accompanied by dark chords and darker skies, that he would be with Jacob and watching his back.

So Jacob called both of his wives, Leah and Rachel, who met him where he was looking after his ill gotten flock and told them that Laban was not looking favourably on him anymore, but that fortunately he had a God on his side.

He felt a bit more explanation was required though before he asked them to abandon their father and family. He said that he had served their father faithfully all this time, but that Laban had changed his wages 10 times. Fortunately  God had told Laban not to hurt Jacob but he had still ill used him and short changed him hence the scheme with the speckled goats or were they sheep. Or cattle? The different versions of the Bible can't agree on this.

Thus, said Jacob, God had taken away Laban's animals and given them to him, which seems a fantastical way of describing events, but then it is only what all believers do to this day. Stuff happens. It must be God's will. Jacob told them that God had come to him in a dream and told him about the animals and what to do in order to claim what was his by right. So that was what he had done. How convenient. To be fair though Jacob had been ill used by Laban who was his uncle after all. 14 years for two wives when he had only asked for one? A herd of sheep, goats, cattle or whatever seemed a small price for over a decade of work. And anyway, he had a big family to feed thanks to having all of those wives.

Anyway, Leah and Rachel were more than happy to accept Jacob's word and felt some ill will to their father too, not unreasonably it has to be said. They also felt that, since he had sold them, they were due some of his wealth for themselves and their children.

So while they were preparing to leave, Rachel stole into Laban's tent and stole various idols he had, which were presumably worth a bit.

And then they all gathered up their tents, gathered up their cattle, flocks or whatever they were, gathered up their very many children, mounted on camels they couldn't possibly have had at this point because they hadn't been domesticated yet and left. They managed to do all of this without being noticed by Laban, his sons or anyone there. All of those animals being stolen, all of those children being removed, all of those idols being stolen and nobody noticed anything was amiss for 3 days.

When Laban finally realised what had happened he got his family together and they went off in pursuit, a pursuit that was easier because they didn't have a huge flock of animals to move. They quickly caught up with Jacob.

But just before the big confrontation, God came to Laban in a dream.

Incidentally, why does he always communicate through dreams? Why not send angels, or messages in better form than in dreams? After all dreams can be misinterpreted, they can be dismissed as real dreams. Dreams can be forgotten too. I always forget mine. What if God has been trying to get in touch? He should use SMS or e-mail.

Anyway, he came to Laban in a dream. God told him to mind his manners when he spoke to Jacob.

The next day they overtook Jacob and his vast itinerant menagerie and Laban confronted him. What have you done, he asked, stolen away without saying goodbye and taking my daughters with you as captives. This is an odd thing to say since he had sold them off in return for 14 years labour.

He said that if only Jacob had said goodbye properly he would have thrown him a going away party first. But instead Jacob had left and denied Laban the opportunity to kiss goodbye his daughters and many grandchildren.

He could, said Laban, give Jacob a right good whipping, but God had spoken to him via a dream and told him not to. So he was going to let him go, but first he wanted to know what had happened to his idols. Now this is a man who had just been spoken to by a God and who had heeded the words of that God. Yet he still wanted his idols of other gods. Maybe there were just a lot of gods around in those days, although of course that's the whole premise of the entire Bible. The whole point of it is to show that there is only one god and that he has chosen one tribe. Tendentious? Just a little.

Anyway, Jacob had not known that Rachel had stolen these idols and truthfully claimed ignorance and so told his father in law that he was welcome to search for them and that whoever had stolen them would be put to death. Note that he didn't say 'why have you god idols of false gods? Why aren't you down with the main man? The real God?' That would have earned him some brownie points, although it would have spoilt the story.

So Laban started searching the tents for his stolen idols. When he came to Rachel's tent she had hidden the idols under a saddle they used for sitting on in the tents. She was sitting on this and did not rise when he entered the tent and started searching for his precious idols. Fortunately she cleverly told him that it was her time of the month and so she couldn't stand up for him. Since men didn't want to sully themselves with such filth as menstruating women this dissuaded him from hanging around.

Now Jacob rounded on Laban and told him what he thought of him. Why had he pursued him with such vigour he asked. He had worked 14 years for his wives and another 6 years for the cattle, sheep whatever they were. He had been badly treated by Laban despite all of his hard work and he had changed his wages 10 times. Had it not been for the fact he had a God looking after him he would surely have been sent away empty handed he claimed.

And Laban confirmed this. They are my daughters, he said, and these are my cattle. It's all mine that you can see. But he came round and decided to make the peace with Jacob.

And so, as usual on such occasions, they now built a lot of furniture with stones and one of them was placed in a perpendicular arrangement to act as a kind of altar to commemorate the peace between them. And, also as usual, they named the place where this happened. Jacob called it Galeed and Laban called it something else entirely which explains how confusion can arise.

Then they made a sacrifice of one of those speckled beasts and they ate bread which is an odd thing to do when you have just killed an animal.

The next morning Laban kissed them all goodbye and went home.





Introduction to Astronomy

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Friday, 21 August 2015

Peanuts


July WAS NOT The Hottest Since Records Began


Various know-nothings in the press have swallowed whole the propaganda being disseminated today that July was the hottest since records began. It wasn't. It was warmer, marginally, than last July. Here in the UK it was actually cool and rather disappointing other than for a couple of days at the beginning of the month, which of course sparked stories about global warming on the BBC. The reliable satellite data we have show that July was by no means exceptional. It was normal. The pause continues. There are deviations up and down on a monthly basis by marginal amounts. But nothing exceptional and nothing that detracts from the established fact now that temperatures, when averaged out, have paused now for 20 years. The data clearly shows this.

Some in the press are even reporting that it might be the warmest July in 4000 years. But how can we possibly know that? We simply don't have the data to determine this. The proxy data from tree rings and the like do not delineate by month.

But of course this is the kind of propaganda dressed up as science we must expect for the rest of this year. Anyone would think there was another climate conference coming up.

Interlude

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Introduction to Astronomy

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Peanuts


Interlude

The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale - Genesis: Chapter 30 - Jacob, His Brood of Women and Children and Speckled Goats


So, since Leah had produced so many babies for Jacob, Rachel was bitter and envious of this because she had been made barren by God for no very obvious reason. Probably mysterious ways again.

Anyway, Rachel complained about this to Jacob because she felt worthless if she could not give him sons and he got angry with her and said it wasn't his fault, which to be fair it wasn't. So, given her desperation for babies to compete with her sister, Rachel made the somewhat tangential jump of logic of telling Jacob to 'go in unto'  her maid and slave Bilbah who would bear sons for Jacob as a kind of surrogate.

So Jacob, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, went in unto Bilbah and she conceived and gave him yet another son. If she also gave him daughters it is not mentioned. Girls aren't important. They are just for going in unto. This of course meant that Jacob now effectively had three wives.

This first son was joyously received by Rachel who said that God had judged her and made her barren but had also heard her pleadings and given her a son, which seems a very odd way of looking at things. Probably mysterious ways again. She felt that she had now given her husband a son and she named him Dan.

And then Bilbah conceived again and gave them another son who was again received joyously by Rachel who felt that she had prevailed over her sister. She named the second son Naphtali.

But when Leah saw what was happening she wasn't having any of it. Given that she could now no longer conceive having had four sons she too gave her slave, Zilpah, to Jacob and he went in unto her too and she bore a son for him. This was like a baby making competition. Jacob must have been exhausted and yet walking around with a big grin on his face.

This son of Jacob and Zilpah was named Gad by Leah who said that a troop was coming - or at least a football team.

And Zilpah had a second son and this one was called Asher.

We then skip ahead a few years because Reuben, Leah's eldest son, was out picking mandrakes which he brought back to his mother. Mandrakes are a kind of narcotic plant which were thought to have aphrodisiac qualities. Why they needed such voodoo when they had a God on their side is not mentioned.

So Rachel saw these mandrakes and asked if she could have some. It presumably never occurred to her that she could just go and pick her own. But Leah said that, since Rachel had stolen her husband (although it should be noted that Leah was quite happy for her slave to sleep with him too) she could not have any mandrakes. But Rachel really wanted the mandrakes and so she told Leah that if she gave her some then she could have sex with Jacob that night. Did Jacob not get any say in the matter? Perhaps he didn't mind.

So Leah went out and met Jacob as he was returning from a day working in the field and told him that he would have to come in unto her that night because she had bought him with mandrakes. So he did.

And God obviously approved of all of this because he then allowed Leah to conceive and give Jacob yet another son, this one was called Issachar.

And Jacob must have enjoyed his night with Leah, or they must have been really really good mandrakes, because he must have gone in unto her again since she then had yet another son, her sixth. She was delighted that she had given him so many sons and thought that this would mean that he would now dwell with her. The sixth son was called Zebulun.

And Jacob must have been dwelling with her at least a few days a week because she then had a daughter called Dinah. You might note at this point that we are unusually mentioning a daughter. Why? Well that would be a spoiler, but suffice to say that Dinah will figure prominently in a future chapter. It doesn't go well for Dinah, but at least she gets mentioned despite being a girl.

Jacob was still putting it about a bit because now God remembered Rachel and suddenly she became fertile and finally had a son too. She was pleased that God had forgiven her for marrying the man her father had said she could marry in a lie and she named her blessed son Joseph.

So now, with this huge and apparently growing family, Jacob went to his father in law (since he had two sisters as wives he was a father in law twice) and asked Laban if he could now leave this place and set up with his family back where he had come from in his own lands.

But Laban had seen, or at least he thought he had seen, that Jacob had God on his side and he had received a blessing from him as a consequence. Therefore he didn't want Jacob to leave.

Jacob pointed out how hard he had worked for Laban and how his animals had increased in number to a multitude since Jacob had arrived because he was blessed by God. How he had had time for all this livestock breeding when he had all of those women to go in unto all the time is left unsaid.

Laban acknowledged the truth of this and asked how Jacob wished to be paid. So Jacob said he would like to be paid with all of the speckled goats in the flock. He didn't say that he had devised a way - a way that is actually biologically impossible but never mind - to breed more of the speckled goats than none speckled. This is a kind of fraud, but then his father in law had defrauded him with his choice of wives even if Jacob had then spent the intervening years going in unto both of them plus their slaves.

So, the bargain done, Jacob got the animals to drink water which had been laced with green poplar and hazel and chestnut tree rods and this had the miraculous consequence of making them conceive speckled offspring. And he got them to merely look at these rods whilst copulating and this too made them conceive speckled flocks.

Then he took the feebler animals and separated them from the strong ones and gave these to Laban. He kept the stronger for himself.

Now he had a large number of animals to his name, which was fortunate because he had four wives and a dozen kids to feed. He even had camels and asses, although where they came from is unknown, especially since, at the time all of this was supposed to be taking place, domesticated camels did not exist.



Introduction to Astronomy

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Saturday, 15 August 2015

Peanuts



The Great Global Warming Swindle



The Video Diary is taking a few weeks off over August while there is nothing going on. It will return big and bold and twice as brassy in September.

In the meantime have a look at this again. You might remember it. It annoyed a lot of people. In many ways its a wonder that it is still available on YouTube because the Green Meanies do not tolerate dissent.

Bear in mind however that, since this film was made for Channel 4, the case for man-made global warming is if anything even more full of holes than it was in 2007. We are being lied to, systematically and brazenly. Yet we are still heading towards a conference in Paris this winter which will attempt to sign us all up to new limits, new taxes and new measures based on these lies. That's why your energy bills are so expensive, that's why you are being taxed out of your car. And yet all the time the climate is not actually warming, or warming by so minuscule an amount as to amount to nothing and so they are having to resort to fiddling the figures to show that it is.

Here also is a lecture by Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT. He explains why the whole issue is a scam and why nothing unusual is happening. He also explains why this is not currently making any difference whatsoever to the public debate because the bien pensant community has decided that global warming is happening and that something must be done.

I made a video diary about this subject last week. It got a huge response. Interestingly I also got a few self appointed and not very knowledgeable would be censors on who told me I was an idiot. Not one of them could explain why however. Its like a religion. But the believers don't seem to know why they believe. They just say this is basic physics. Its not basic physics. Its much much more complicated than that. Watch and learn.



Introduction to Astronomy


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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Peanuts


Don't Go, Dave. Stay for Labour's Corbyn Implosion



My time off to write my book is being spoilt by events, dear boy, events. Interesting and potentially momentous things keep happening. I'll get back to the book in a minute.

Yesterday it emerged, possibly in a kite flying episode by Downing Street, that David Cameron may not, after all, stand down as PM and party leader before the next election. In short he may stand at the next election and serve for another full term.

Perhaps, since that famous interview with James Landale (which still didn't get him the BBC's Political Editor job) during the election campaign, Dave has come to regret it. Or perhaps, given events since then, he has looked at the febrile state of our politics, at the unexpected majority he now finds himself in possession of, at the imminent implosion of the Labour Party at the absence of Lib Dems in his government and has just realised that he is in possession of a bloody great job.

Whatever the reason, well, maybe he had not better give voice to the latter one,  I for one would have no problem with his choosing to stay on. Indeed it might be better for us all if he did.

There is nothing wrong with politicians changing their minds. I am all for them doing so actually when the facts change. When Dave made that half promise in his Oxfordshire kitchen it was in the expectation that he would either be turfed out of office within weeks or faced another long, hard parliament of coalition with self serving, sanctimonious Lib Dems, being shouted at by Ed Balls, facing Wallace for another parliamentary term and always on the cusp of losing power and being replaced by a coalition of Labour and the rapacious SNP.

Now he finds himself in the position to keep many and maybe all of his promises. He finds himself in the position to be properly radical. He finds himself in a position to push through the boundary review that the Lib Dems perfidiously stymied. He finds himself in a position to finish the job he started and finish it properly.

But best of all he now finds himself firmly ensconced as PM for a full five year term thanks to the Fixed Term Parliament Act, without Balls bawling at him and facing the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs every week.

Like most prime ministers, Dave does not relish PMQs. But against Jeremy Corbyn? Give him an extra 6 questions. Double the time allotted. Corbyn is an accident waiting to happen, except that he is an accident that has been happening for 32 years since he was first elected as an MP. That's 32 years of injudicious statements, poorly chosen friends, lunatic prognosticating, voodoo economics, brainless posturing, political correctness that would embarrass even Hattie Harperson and a quisling attitude to every enemy this country has ever had and ever will have.

Unilateral nuclear disarmament? Withdrawing from NATO that has helped keep the peace for 70 years? Printing money to spend so that he turns the country into Venezuela? Sucking up to Putin who shoots down airliners and invades sovereign countries?  Befriending terrorists? This is the likely next leader of the Labour Party, Dave's next interlocutor across the dispatch box. Corbyn, in the great tradition of lefties in this country, hates America for reasons unknown and is determined to be one of Russia's useful idiots abroad - from the front bench. Downing Street should start advertising now for a team of gag writers. I would do the job for nothing.

In fact, Dave, let's be serious for a moment, not only should you not stand down, it is your duty not to stand down. Like me you love your country and don't want to see it in the hands of the petty vandals and brainless bovver boys of the Labour Party. But that was just when it was in the hands of that amateurish bloke with the big nose, the bigger stone for erection in Downing Street and the even bigger preening self regard. Now Labour, in an act of self indulgence that is sadly typical of this party of moral turpitude dressed up as righteousness, is about to elect a genuine Marxist as its leader. A Marxist! In the 21st century! Is this their way of commemorating the Bolshevik revolution in 1917?

And yes I know that I and others have said that Corbyn is unelectable. But what if? Accidents do happen. After all which of us thought that Corbyn stood a chance when he sneaked into the poll? Not the idiots who nominated him despite not being willing to actually vote for him that's for sure.

So, though it is unlikely, a Corbyn government is a very remote possibility. It would require a swing of epic proportions and an electoral earthquake for him to even sneak over the line with a small majority. But think of the carnage he could wreak on the country we love and which he and his ilk despise. It is to be hoped that instead he wreaks that carnage on his party. It richly deserves it. But we cannot afford to take the chance. Labour has a history of backing its leaders to the hilt whether or not they deserve it and whether or not they think they can win. Yes I too have heard all the talk of them refusing to serve in his shadow cabinet, of forcing him out within a year. But for now its all talk. Labour is good at talking. Not so good at actions.

Just look what is about to happen. Comrade Corbyn might be about to become not only leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition - what are the chances he will ask for a change to that title? - but he will become a privy counsellor and entitled to briefings on national security. Jeremy Corbyn? Let's face it this deserves to start a constitutional crisis. He can do untold damage to this country without ever getting into government because if he is elected leader by his party of dimwits he will get a sniff of power that people like him should be denied by law. If the Labour Party allow him to be their leader they invite richly deserved opprobrium for all time.

If Labour's MPs - and this is their fault because they had the power to stop the Corbyn bandwagon before the wheels even started to roll - allow this to happen then their party deserves to die. They still have it in their power to stop him even if he is elected by refusing to serve him or follow his whip. It means civil war in the Labour Party, but then it is facing existential crisis anyway. Civil war is the very least it should engage in, if not a mass exodus.

But, given this danger, the best course for this government, for this country is for us to enjoy stable government under a PM who knows and enjoys his job and is just learning the levers to pull to get things done. We need a one nation government that governs the whole nation for the good of the whole nation, that ignores the juvenile antics of the SNP and Labour and gets on with the job of good governance on the centre ground. You have the opportunity, prime minister, to camp so firmly on that centre ground, the place where the majority of the electorate resides to the apparent disgust of a large part of the Labour Party, that it will be forever yours.

And then, in a little under five years time, you can stand again for election. The chances are that you will be rewarded for your decision now to stay on and fight for your country. You will be rewarded with a landslide win against a feeble and absurd Labour Party that may eventually come to its senses if it doesn't die first. But we cannot take that chance. Don't go, Dave.

Interlude

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Introduction to Astronomy

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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Peanuts


Corbyn Exposed



If you haven't already seen it, The Times published an opinion poll today which has Jeremy Corbyn in the lead by 32 points. That would mean he is elected as leader without need of secondary votes. Of course the recent record of opinion pollsters is not good, but surely they can't be this wrong can they?

But then this is the modern Labour Party. This is not the party of Attlee, Bevan, Gaitskell, Healey. It isn't even the party of Wilson and Callaghan. This is a party bequeathed by Blair, Brown and Wallace. A party that has no idea what it is for anymore in a modern world the Corbyn's of this world dismiss as neo liberal.

Wallace in particular is to blame for this debacle. It is his idiotic £3 membership scheme which is allowing entrists to gain access to a party and to bring it to the brink of disaster.

It is tempting of course just to laugh at this state of affairs. I confess I have done just that. But this is a potential disaster for the whole country and not just Labour. They are the party of opposition. They have, in a democracy, a constitutional role to play. The leader of the opposition is given a state salary, a car, a big office at Westminster. More importantly he is instantly made a Privy Counsellor and gains access to all kinds of information and secrets we might not necessarily want someone with his attitude to international relations to have. We thought it was bad enough when The Guardian released all of those secrets stolen by Edward Snowden. Imagine what damage Corbyn could do. Today he has said he thinks we should be closer with the proto dictatorship in Russia. Old habits die hard I suppose, even when that country is now closer to fascism than socialism.

But then this seems to be Corbyn's whole approach to politics. It is like the British tendency to favour the underdog taken to extreme and ideological lengths. Lefties instinctively and indeed belligerently side with the underdog or the unfashionable cause, even when they are demonstrably wrong or worse. How can anyone, given what we know about what is going on in Russia, think it wise or desirable to foster closer relations with Putin? Is it naivety, stupidity or perfidy? It's like when they defended the Soviet Union despite clear evidence of its appalling crimes or the current regime in Venezuela that has brought that oil rich nation to the brink of chaos and bankruptcy thanks to an economic policy remarkably similar to Corbyn's prospectus for Britain.



Have a look at this old debate from a few years ago in which John Redwood and others take the piss out of socialism and communism and of Jeremy Corbyn. His face, humourless and intolerant, tells you all you need to know about the socialist mindset. Those telling us that he is a genial chap should take a look at him when he is gently ribbed by Redwood on rather sparkling and whimsical form. The pout on his face belies the genial image we are being asked to accept as the real Corbyn. Generally lefties are not really keen on being ridiculed or not taken as seriously as they take themselves. They genuinely believe themselves to be morally superior to the rest of us. That's how they justify their often strange or downright evil actions. Its all for the common good allegedly. Such open debate and ribbing will never be allowed in the People's Republic Corbyn would like to lead. Dissent cannot be tolerated. Free debate will no doubt be stymied for the greater good of us all as we are bent to the will of those who will soon inaugurate their Zil Lanes so that they are better able to lead and administer us all.

Socialism definitively does not work. Nobody has ever said that Capitalism is perfect. It isn't. But, like in all areas of human interaction, it needs rules and regulations and enforcement. But Capitalism, as John Redwood says, works. Just look around you. Look at the device you are reading this on. Look at the modern world we all enjoy and which desperate people in countries denied our benefits are queueing up and risking life and limb to enter. We tried socialism in this country, it led to poverty, decline and regression. The socialists ended up fighting amongst themselves for their share of the ever shrinking cake.

We have also seen real life laboratories of Socialism versus Capitalism in whole countries in which one half of a country adopted Socialism and the other Capitalism. Germany, after being devastated by the war, was split this way. East Germany got repression, shortages, queues, state bullying, imprisonment for saying the wrong thing and industry that created the Trabant. West Germany got, prosperity, wealth, freedom of expression, democracy and industry that is the envy of the world creating four of the greatest motoring brands anywhere: Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi and VW.

Or there is Korea split between north and south. One side has become rich and prosperous and has become a fierce rival of Japan for creating our electronic goods. The other is a Stalinist state in which the leader can only come from one family and he is the only person in the state who can afford to become fat, people are executed for falling asleep during his speeches, there are shortages of food and even malnutrition and starvation as a consequence of state policies. But the country has one of the world's largest armies and spends what little money it has trying to develop weapons to protect its regime from outside influence.

It is astonishing that, in the world post 1990, we are still debating or even considering the case for socialism. It is astonishing that Labour is on the cusp of electing a man like Corbyn who wants to take us back to the 1970s or beyond. Yet that is what might be about to happen. In a month's time this hapless, shambling figure, this juvenile dimwit who has never grown out of ideas most of us leave behind when we reach the age of 20 (your blogger by the way has always been a Tory, even when I was a teenager) could be the leader of the Labour Party and entitled to receive information about national security. Labour wants to elect as leader a man who will probably dispense that information to his terrorist friends rather like the Guardian newspaper does when it publishes the stolen documents of Edward Snowden.

This has been a pathetic spectacle of a leadership contest. The two other leading candidates are trying to win by default by saying as little as possible and competing to be the most anodyne. Liz Kendall to her credit has tried to speak truth to her party but they don't want to hear it. They prefer the socialist fantasy of Corbyn. He is speaking in platitudes. His promises are the standard lefty drivel with money we haven't got and will never get. £120 billion from cracking down on tax evasion? That is a figure plucked out of thin air, the same thin air that socialists always think that money comes from. They can never get their heads around the fact that money has to earned by making things and that people tend to work harder if they get their just rewards for doing so. The rich as a general rule these days are rich because they have worked hard, done something clever or done something enterprising. The country needs such people. The Corbynistas would drive them abroad and then wonder why the country is bankrupt and enduring inflation and shortages. How long would it take for them to take us back to the 1970s? Not long enough.

For now Corbyn is simply not being challenged on his childish politics and policies. If he wins the leadership then he should not expect this to continue. We still have freedom of expression in this country, the sort denied in Socialist countries and I and others intend to use it to expose the vacuities of Jeremy Corbyn who may well be elected on a platform of vague and bland promises of a better tomorrow with money from his magic money tree. Labour don't seem to care that they may be about to consign themselves to the wilderness, so much so that David Cameron may well stay on as PM so that he can win a landslide next time and complete his revolution with a huge and safe majority. In that sense Labour may well be doing us all a service. But I would rather they got real. For now it seems they prefer purity to reality. To hell with what the voters think. That's socialism for you. Power to the people. But only the right sort of people with approved views.


Interlude

Interlude

Interlude

Introduction to Astronomy

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