World service

I wonder, did any of my loyal readers manage to catch me on BBC World Service TV today at 0630GMT? I was the tired looking one in the black suit and white linen shirt, talking about the Cardhu whisky scandal.

One of the reliable aspects of my job is that whenever I’ve got a convival evening’s entertainment planned during the week, I seem to end up having to talk about alcoholic drinks at some ungodly hour the following day. I’ve become extremely good at not retching under the media glare.

Still, at least there’s still some glamour and coolth to making a media appearance as a Consumer Expert. The really unpleasant hangover experience is dealing with angry clients who actually know more about the industry than me…

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Wrong ‘racist’ sacked

An employment tribunal in the UK is currently hearing the case of a prison guard who was sacked because he made mean comments about Osama bin Laden in front of some Muslim visitors.

It’s clear from the story that there was an extremely unpleasant racist working in Blundeston Prison on the relevant day. However, it’s also pretty clear that it wasn’t Mr Rose… rather, it was the guy who disciplined him, Andrew Rogers.

Osama bin Laden is a vile man, and only the most crazy, blinkered lunatic could deny this. Most British Muslims, correctly and unsurprisingly, agree that he’s an evil murderer who ought to be despised. To say that nasty comments about him would offend Muslims is an insult to Muslims everywhere.

Recasting this for the benefit of white readers – would you rather work for a black boss who regularly spouted off about how much he hated the BNP thugs, or a black boss who was very careful not to criticise the BNP in your presence because he thought you’d probably support it?

Update: James Taranto agrees with me. Ugh, I feel all dirty…

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Consent and cannibalism

…and other rejected Jane Austen titles.

A man named Armin Meiwes is currently on trial in Germany for killing and eating another man. This isn’t entirely unprecedented behaviour, as cinemagoers everywhere will testify – nice Chianti, anyone? However, the case does have one key unsettling aspect, beyond the obvious.

The consumee, Bernd-Jurgen Brandes, replied to an advert that Mr Meiwes placed on the web (well, where else?) asking for a willing victim to be cooked. The entire killing and eating thing was consensual.

For people with views tending towards the authoritarian, this case is doubtless great evidence that basing morality on consent doesn’t work – and therefore that it’s right to lock people up for their private sexual proclivities, to ban books to stop them from depraving people, to censor the Internet, and so on.

Still, in the absence of a god, consent is one of the very few consistent ways to build a moral system – it’d be a shame to throw it out and return to theocratic and/or facist nastyness. In which case, I guess I ought to be championing the right of people to meet up over the Internet and be cooked. So, err, best of luck Mr Meiwes, hope I never meet you…

Final point – note that the consumee’s first name is Bernd. Hurray for bad puns!

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Long horns

Kudos to the Malaysian pirates (in a good sense, not in a murdering sailors sense) who’ve proved that the Muslim world isn’t entirely devoid of technological skills. If any of my Malay readers fancy posting me a CD of Windows 2005, then go ahead…

Also amused to see Microsoft say “it would be extremely risky to load the still unstable operating system onto a home computer“. Didn’t stop them launching Windows ME, did it?

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