Brain graze



Well Amir Taheri of the Saudi English daily ARAB NEWS says he is.
Taheri can't offer any actual proof, but rest assured, he says Bin Laden is dead as a political operator.
Although Taheri can't show us the monster's rotten corpse, he mounts a lucid case that suggests the stars of Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda are on the wane in the world of Islam. He says the elements that permitted Al-Qaeda to flourish, such as the Taliban and the indifference of Americans to the possibility of home-front terrorism, have disappeared. Taheri optimistically suggests the Islamic leadership void is being filled by reconstructed Muslim intellectuals. He writes:

People like Maudoodi and Qutb could catch the ball and run largely because most Muslim intellectuals did not deem it necessary to continue the work of Muslim philosophers. Modern Muslim intellectuals, seduced by fashionable Western ideologies, left the new urban masses of Islam’s teeming cities exposed to the half-baked ideas that Maudoodi and Qutb peddled. In time, Maudoodo-Qutbism provided the ideological topos in which Bin Ladenism could grow.

Now, however, many Muslim intellectuals are returning home, so to speak. They are rediscovering Islam’s philosophical heritage and beginning to continue the work started by pioneers of Islamic political thought over 1,000 years ago. Paradoxically, it is Maudoodo-Qutbism that is now being exposed as a pseudo-Islamic version of Western totalitarian ideologies.

It makes interesting reading.

Seeing that TIM BLAIR has credited me with coining the first Cheryl-Gareth gag, I better include it here. I e-mailed it to Tim last night, intending to publish it here when a break in work permitted. Alas, Thursday night is footy teams night and there's no getting away from the: "From the backline...''.

Anyway, if Cheryl had Gareth's baby who would keep the bastard honest?

Boom, boom!



Saddam Hussein's stepson Mohammad Saffi who has been arrested in Miami, flew from New Zealand to the US to undertake flight training. According to THE MIAMI HERALD Saffi works for Air New Zealand as a flight engineer. What investigators want to know is why take flight lessons in Miami around the July 4 holiday.
I want to know what the heck NZ security have been up to.


The British should no longer be served up endless inappropriate jokes about the Germans and the war, the departing German ambassador said yesterday, THE TELEGRAPH reports.

The media, said Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz, should learn to live without printing stereotypical jokes about the Germans "which just don't fit any more".

At the same time, the Germans, he believed, "should develop the maturity just to smile and brush it off" when the British press were nasty about them or their food and traditions.

The ambassador's comments follow an outcry about an anti-euro advertisement in which the comedian Rik Mayall is dressed as Hitler in an SS uniform.

Ignoring a grand tradition of Jewish comedians mocking Hitler, the usual suspects whined about the ad's insensitivity and how it could revive the holocaust.Lord Brittan of Berlaymont issued a press release, calling it "tasteless", "nasty" and "desperate". A public relations official representing comedian Eddie Izzard has expressed the strongest possible disapproval.

Yet the brilliant Boris Johnson in THE TELEGRAPH points out that Hitler is a perfectly apt character to associate with the Euro. After all, he had his own version planned.


In breaking news from 7 News, Miami, a man thought to be the step-son of Saddam Hussein was arrested tonight in Miami on an immigration violation. Mohammad Saffi arrived in the Los Angelas yesterday on a flight from New Zealand and then came to Miami. He came to South Florida to attend a flight school.



In what is commonly known as the US standard railroad gauge, the distance between the rails is 4 feet 8.5 inches. That's an odd number, so why was that used?

Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads. Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used. Why did they use that gauge? Because they used the same jigs and tools they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Why did the wagons have that spacing? If they tried to use any other, the wagon wheels would break on the old roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts. So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long roads in England for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts were formed by the Roman war chariots, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in wheel spacing. So US standard gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches was derived from the original specifications for the Roman chariot. So next time you're handed a specification and you wonder what horse's arse came up with that, you may be exactly right, because chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two warhorses. An ironic twist to the story is, when you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters or SRBs. SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRB would have preferred to make them a bit fatter but they had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' arses. So a Space Shuttle design feature in arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's backend. And you thought being a horse's arse wasn't important.



A London taxi driver who said Woody Harrelson damaged his cab has dropped charges against the American actor, police said Monday.

Harrelson was arrested last month on suspicion of damaging the vehicle after a late-night taxi chase through the streets of London.

Cabbie Les Hartnell said Harrelson broke an ashtray and a lock before leaping out and jumping into a second taxi.

According to YAHOO Hartnell gave chase but was beaten to his target by police who intercepted the cab carrying the 40-year-old actor.


A Milwaukee desperado has done little to advance the notion that the criminal classes have intellect on their side.

He attempted to rob a store at knife point. It was a gun store. His wounds are not life-threatening.

THE JOURNAL SENTINEL says the store owner, 44, shot the man once in the chest and that apparently no one else was inside the store when the shooting took place. The store owner was not injured.


Every now and then a story comes along that is so fantastic it has to be true.

We swooped on this report like a seagull on a hot chip: the plight of an Alaskan chicken-hypnotist whose circus tour was cut short in Edinburgh when a charity shop sold her bicycle by mistake.

YAHOO reports that the chook trancer's tale of woe reached some big hearts in the Lone Star State, namely some out of work techies who saw a kindred spirit.

Lawrence Hartley said he and his friends had identified with Harris after reading that her star act consisted of hypnotizing chickens and making them play the piano.

"We're all pretty much not quite normal. We identify more with a chicken-hypnotist than with the normal world," he said.



Mark Steyn reckons Bin Laden is dead, but it suits the Bush administration for the Eurosophists to believe he is alive.
Steyn accepts that his opinion's not shared. The allies are just not looking hard enough for the binster's corpse.

In the THE SPECTATOR Steyn explains:
"I said in the Sunday Telegraph a couple of weeks ago that Osama was ‘deceased’ and in the Daily Telegraph back in March that he was a few specks of DNA somewhere in the Hindu Kush. Everyone else seems to think he’s alive and well. Recently, several hundred of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry exhumed every corpse in an al-Qa’eda cemetery near Kandahar and, failing to find a body with a very long beard and a very short penis, concluded that Osama had gotten away. (He had at one point ten lookalikes to confuse the Americans, but, of course, even the most convincing doppelgänger would be unlikely to match Osama’s unusual deficiencies in the trouser department.)''


Regrettably, it's a constant. From WW2, to Korea, Vietnam and now Afghanistan, the Yanks have been slammed by their allies. Not for coming to the rescue and not for spending more than the combined budget of its allies on the situation at hand. No, again the US has been blasted for its gung-ho approach and blunder-prone actions.

THE TELEGRAPH reports that senior officials in the British Prime Minister's office have launched an astonishing attack on America's handling of the hunt for Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'eda fugitives.

They have told The Telegraph that troops carrying out house-to-house searches in the remote tribal areas of Pakistan along the Afghanistan border were "blundering" with a "march-in-shooting" approach.

The US action was "backfiring", increasing support for terrorism and making it harder for bin Laden and his henchmen to be caught.

Could we keep the profile down a tad, buddies?

Go Cats!

SCOTT WICKSTEIN is unimpressed by my footy tipping prowess, pointing out that Blind Freddy would have picked Geelong to flog the Tigers.
Any price a winner, Scotty, and the rest can please themselves.
Hailing from the city of bodies in barrels, Scott advises all to wack a fiver on the Crows this arvo.