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Wheeling and Dealing
I see that the editor of the Irish Catholic, David Quinn, has been showing his ignorance of Catholic teaching again.
Eamonn McCann, 30 Aug 2001
But first, The Secret Of Perpetual Motion revealed at last.
In the IC (August 9th), Quinn was aquiver with excitement at having happened upon a chap called Orffyreus who in the middle of the 18th century baffled the best minds of Europe with his invention, Orffyreus’ Wheel.
The Orffyreus’ Wheel differed from run of the mill-wheels in this respect only: that once set in motion, it never stopped. Left alone on a level surface, it rolled forward, then picked up speed. It trundled unaided up steep hills. It lifted weights. All despite the fact that it had no source of energy.
As 10-year-olds fresh from their first physics class will immediately appreciate, this contradicts every known law governing the universe.
When Orffyreus “was assailed as a fraud and a con artist”, Quinn tells us, his response was to build ever bigger and better wheels. The last wheel he built could lift loads heavier than a hundredweight. No coils, springs or hidden pressures. It just took the strain and hoisted heavy objects. Advanced groups like Britain’s Royal Society professed themselves “baffled”, says Quinn, and I wouldn’t doubt it.
“There is voluminous literature from the period which discusses, and tries to explain, Orffyreus’ Wheel”, Quinny solemnly pronounces. “No solution has ever been found”.
Neither has anyone ever explained how the moon came to be manufactured from green cheese.
Scarcely pausing to draw breath, Quinn then regales us with the latest nerve-wracking news from the United States.
Peter Singer, “an Australian philosopher currently teaching at Princeton University”, has expressed such perverse and outrageous views that Quinn apologises for having to describe them. But: “If one is to repel the assault its (sic) necessary to describe and understand it, even if that causes offence”.
What Singer said was that, “There is really nothing terribly wrong with bestiality”.
Regular readers of this column will be more aware than most that Singer’s declaration was no more than orthodox Christian teaching.
Having sex with an animal is merely a venial sin for the obvious reason that animals lack the capacity to give or to withhold informed consent to the act, and, more crucially, do not have souls. This has been standard stuff for centuries.
Having just introduced us to and endorsed Offyreus and his Wondrous Wheel, Quinn concludes his philippic against Singer with the observation that, “He is simply taking the abandonment of natural law to its logical conclusion”.
We could while away a happy half hour pondering the multi-layered stupidities and contradictions therein revealed, but, hey, what’s left of life is too short.
The other reason for mentioning this matter is that it provides an excuse to remind readers, again, of the exchange between the prosecutor and witness Albert Harris in the case of one George Gilbert:
Prosecutor: “Mr. Harris, on the day in question were you proceeding along a lane adjacent to the farm of Mr. Clarke?”
Harris: “I was.”
Prosecutor: “Would you describe for his Lordship what you saw?”
Harris: “Well, George Gilbert was standing in the doorway of the barn with a sheep.”
Prosecutor: “Yes, and what was he doing?”
Harris: “Well, he was messing about with the sheep.”
Prosecutor: “By that statement, are we to understand that the accused was having sexual intercourse with the sheep?”
Harris: “Er, yes.”
Prosecutor: “Mr. Harris, what did you do when you observed this shocking spectacle?”
Harris: I said, “Morning, George.”
And thinking on people pulling the wool over your thighs...
“No amount of money would be enough. He was a very handsome animal with perfect black and white markings. Size does not matter. He was such an attractive beast” – Lancashire farmer Eric Nelson, who’d been paid £50,000 compo. for a single sheep put down during the foot’n’mouth madness.
Many Irish people who know little about Latin America will nevertheless have been disturbed by the stories of what Republicans have been up to in Columbia – consorting with cocaine entrepreneurs, swapping information on the development of new bombs, generally giving the impression that, far from contemplating an end to violence, they are intent on escalation.
And it’s not just the Republicans. The Democrats, in office, were just as bad. Plan Columbia, referred to by liberals of one sort and another as “George Bush’s Plan Columbia” was devised by the Clinton administration and its $1.3billion budget approved by Clinton before he left office.
The purported aim of the plan is to eradicate cocaine production in Columbia. Aerial spraying of coca bushes began in early December, using a pesticide patented and supplied exclusively by Monsanto. (Nice earner there for the genetically modified community.)
It’s hard to find reliable reports on the effect of the pesticide on coca bushes. The Guardian has claimed that when leaves damaged in spraying are torn away, the plants flourish in even more flamboyant profusion. Maybe that’s just the way it look to altered minds.
But the effects on livestock, crops and humans have been well documented. January and February this year saw 178,377 animals splutter their last in the chemicrazy regions, thousands of hectares of sweet potatoes shrivelling in the poisoned soil, and 4,289 humans reporting skin and stomach diseases after sniffing Monsanto’s deadly drizzle.
More than half of Clinton’s $1.3billion has been earmarked for helicopters, satellite surveillance and “discrete” cluster bombs – clever new devices which are seemingly very effective against the more incorrigible of the “narco-terrorists” but which don’t shred too many passers-by. Unless they are passing too closely by.
It’s something of a complication that right-wing paramilitaries seem to dominate the Columbian cocaine trade, not the left-wing nationalist guerrillas who recently hosted a trio of their Irish counterparts.
It further complicates matters that the overlap between these paramilitaries and Columbian State forces is so extensive as to render distinction largely meaningless. Two years ago, the US State Department’s annual human rights report suggested that “individual commanders and troops at local levels armed and coordinated or shared intelligence with paramilitary groups”.
Three years ago, the US Drugs Enforcement Agency declared that “all branches of government” in Columbia were involved in “drug-related corruption”.
The Columbian Commission of Jurists estimates that the paramilitaries have been responsible for around three quarters of the deaths from political violence in the past decade.
The real motivation for Plan Columbia is not to end terrorism or to deter the production of cocaine but to protect US interests in the region. Like, what else?
Columbia has the biggest untapped reservoir of oil in the Americas. The Samore field alone holds estimated reserves of $35billion. Occidental, which already produces about a third of the country’s oil exports, is poised to move into the Samore region. A few months back, an Occidental representative appeared before a Congressional committee to explain that the presence of “terrorists” was hampering efforts to open up Samore, and to plead for increased military “investment”.
In the minds of some, the problem for the Provos lies not in the exposure of their association with Columbian nationalist guerrillas but in the fact of their association with successive US adminstrations.
Sinn Fein leaders were instantly on the airways to deny any connection between themselves and the three men who have now been charged as a result of their dealings with the FARC. Meanwhile, a senior Sinn Fein official spent hours at the US embassy in Ballsbridge reassuring envoys that the party cherishes its connection with the Bush administration.
There’s a scandal here, right enough. But where you locate the scandal depends on where you’re looking from.
And that’s almost it. Just space for a few observations on the news that Mother Teresa is set to be made a saint within two years... No, no, I tell a lie, I’ve just been told to finish up. The evil little hypocrite will have to wait.