Sunday, April 08, 2007


Mistitled Editorial

I hate trying to come up with titles, so I know that it can be difficult, but this editorial by Linda Heard is completely backwards: Forget assumptions, let's wait for the facts. I say this because she has forgotten the facts and made huge assumptions.

Let's take a look at a few:

The contretemps between Tehran and London over the detention by Iran of 15 British naval personnel couldn't have come at a more sensitive time. Iran is in the international doghouse over its uranium enrichment and stands accused by Washington of arming Iraqi Shiite militias. The US has an armada on Iran's doorstep and may be poised to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. [emphasis added]

We are still in the first paragraph, but just take a look at the exquisite word choices: the oh-so-neutral "detention" to describe Iran's action and the loaded "armada on Iran's doorstep" to describe the US. I suppose that it is a "fact" that the US "may be poised to attack", in the sense that it is a fact that anything may be about to happen.

Whether or not the British crew were in Iranian waters is almost impossible to assess. It's feasible that both Britain and Iran are acting in good faith, and it's just as likely that one side isn't. Both sides are attempting to convince the international community of their own veracity.

Instead of making the assumption that it is almost impossible to assess where the British personnel were, how about looking at the facts. Like the fact that the Iranians don't seem to know where the Brits were when they were picked up. The first position that they gave the UK government is within Iraqi territory. Only after the UK pointed out this fact to the them did they realize their error and "correct" it to move it within Iranian water.

Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray maintains "the Iran/Iraq maritime boundary shown on the British government map does not exist. It has been drawn up by the British government. Only Iraq and Iran can agree their bilateral boundary... The published boundary is a fake with no legal force."

OK, finally here is a fact that no one can disagree with. Mr. Murray did say this. However, his statement is quite possibly wrong. Check out the take of the International Boundaries Research Unit of Durham University. These scholars know more about the facts of the boundaries involved than you or I (or Mr. Murray).

In fairness, at this point in the proceedings, no one should take sides. If the sailors and marines are guilty of trespass then Iran had every right to arrest them, especially as Britain and the US are hand-in-glove in Iraq and Iran is being threatened with attack.

If the sailors and marines are not guilty of trespassing, then Iran has no right to hold them, even though Britain and the US are hand-in-glove in Iraq. In fairness, if you are going to assert that Iran is being threatened with an attack, you should provide some evidence.

Just imagine what would have happened if the shoe had been on the other foot and Iranian boats had been caught within Britain's 12-nautical miles limit.

Wait, we were forgetting the assumptions and waiting for the facts. Ms. Heard, with this statement, you are assuming that the British crew was violating Iranian waters. See, at this point you have revealed that you have no interest in looking at the facts. You are going to blame the British for this. In your imagined scenario, you would be arguing just as strongly that the British were wrong to apprehend and hold the Iranian sailors.

For lay observers in the West the easy option is to jump to conclusions that Iran must be in the wrong. It may be but shouldn't we strive to keep an open mind?

Yes, but not so open that our brains fall out.

The mainstream Western media - with some notable exceptions - is particularly guilty of painting the picture in Britain's favour by quoting ministry of defence assertions without question and garnering analysis from biased pundits, who invariably portray Britain as an honourable victim and Iran as a rogue state led by irrational individuals. Those same pundits were just as convinced that Saddam Hussain had the bomb.

Again, no need for facts, let's just take these assumptions on faith. By the way, amoung these "notable exceptions" are such little known media outlets as the BBC, which ran the Iranian side of the argument and Mr. Murray's statement, which Ms. Heard is so fond of. Of course, how it is a fact that Iran is not a rogue state run by irrational individuals is beyond me (or any other open minded individual too). Perhaps it isn't, but if you really are keeping an open mind, as you just urged us to two paragraphs ago, then you cannot say that there is no evidence for this proposition.

For the sake of balance, let's hypothetically suppose the Iranians are correct in their contention. In that case, all Downing Street had to do was admit their chaps had made a genuine mistake and apologise when presumably we'd now be saying all's well that ends well.

What balance? When have you looked at the evidence on the other side? Look, if you want to believe that there is no chance that the British position on this is correct, be honest about it and drop the [expletive] neutral posturing.

But instead Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair came out swinging making threats of imposing sanctions and restrictions on Iranians, and appealing to the US, the EU, the UN and Nato to turn the screws.

This is just bad writing. I have had people come out swinging on me and I have had people make threats to me. They are not the same thing. I'm guessing that even Ms. Heard would acknowledge that she would have people make threats to her than to swing at her.

One of Britain's main beefs is the way that its naval personnel were "paraded" on television and in the case of Faye Turley forced to write pro-Iranian "propaganda" letters to her family. There was much huffing and puffing about the Geneva Conventions, which do, indeed, stipulate that prisoners of war must not be made objects of curiosity.

Actually, I thought the main beef was that their Marines and Sailors where taken in Iraqi territorial waters. I guess Ms. Heard missed that part. (And if you get a feeling that Ms. Heard will find a way to argue against the Geneva Convention, you have been paying attention.)

In essence, no one can argue with this from a legal standpoint...

Wait, I'm wrong, she isn't, because no one can argue with this. Whew, what a relief.

...except to say members of the crew are not prisoners of war because Britain and Iran are not in a state of war. But let's not be overly pedantic.

In truth, Britain's association with the US has caused it to lose any moral platform on this issue it might otherwise have had. America - and, by default Britain - shredded the Geneva Conventions when it opened Guantanamo and authorised rendition of detainees to countries where interrogators aren't squeamish about using electrodes.

Yes, let's not be overly pedantic. Because if we were, we would also have to point out that the US "opened" Guantanamo (a naval base in Cuba) in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War; how exactly this would constitute "shredding" the Geneva Conventions is not clear, especially on the part of Britain.

We also would have to point out how the vast majority of those captured and reportedly abused by the US and the UK do not qualify as prisoners of war (Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention, which defines Prison of War, is here); that the Iranians, even at the time that this article was written, were violating the Geneva Conventions a little more severely than just parading them before the cameras; and that these Marines and Sailors did qualify as Prisoners of War, since they were "Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict" (3rd Geneva Convention, Article 4.1.1). (Despite the fact that POW has "war" in it, it doesn't have to be a state of war, just a conflict. If Tony Blair asking international organizations for sanctions constitutes "coming out swinging" then surely even Ms. Heard can see that training machine guns on the crews of these boats was a conflict). But by all means, let's not be overly pedantic.

When Blair has remained virtually silent on those illegal practices how can he in all good conscience complain when his own people are televised, not hooded, chained or shackled but heartily tucking in to a meal.

How can Ms. Heard complain about those illegal practices while remaining virtually silent on the violations of the Iranians?

History tells us that we would do well not to jump to conclusions.

So why do you keep doing it?

On Sunday, July 2, 1988, an Iranian commercial flight was shot down by a Navy guided missile cruiser the USS Vincennes, which was four kilometres inside Iranian waters.

The US government said it had mistakenly identified the passenger aircraft as a fighter plane and insisted their ship had not trespassed. The then president of the US, George H.W. Bush, refused to apologise saying "I will never apologise for the United States - I don't care what the facts are".

Three years later, Admiral William J. Crowe admitted to Nightline that the Vincennes had been in violation of Iranian territory when it shot down the plane.

All correct. The US should have apologized for this incident. We were completely, absolutely, 100% in the wrong. President Bush was a jerk for saying that.

But if we are looking to history for lessons here, is there anything in the past that might make us think that the Iranians would, say, violate the sovereign territory of another country and illegally hold that nation's diplomatic personnel for 444 days? If perhaps we can think of such an event, would that perhaps tell us something about the odds of them grabbing this sailors and marines and holding them illegally?

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Saturday, December 16, 2006


My response to Hesham's Response

So it was Hesham's spam filter that blocked my comment. He then replied, and tired of using red herrings, I guess, resorted to attacking straw men and ad hominem attacks. I guess that he is trying to cover all the logical fallacies he can. Anyway, here is my response to his response, and yes, this one also triggered his spam filter. I have added the links on this one for anyone who wants to read about them.



No problem on the delay. I’ll try to leave html out of this one so that the spam filters don’t get triggered. Either way, this is your blog, you can post what you want, you have no obligation to post my stuff here.

Let me try to answer your questions:

“Did the hundred of thousands of people that perished as a result of the US invasion killed for WMDs? Where any found?”

Obviously, everyone knows that the answer to your second question is no, no WMDs have been found. I guess that you are not disputing my point that everyone in the world except the Iraqis and Scott Ritter believed that they did have them. If you do have a citation to someone else who thought that they didn’t *before the war*, I would be interested in seeing it. There may be others, but it seems beyond dispute that almost everyone did think that they did.

I think that your first question got garbled, but I’m guessing that you are asking who is responsible for all the deaths in Iraq. Obviously the invasion by the US and her allies allowed the current situation to result.

Look, you don’t like the invasion. Fine. Then put yourself in the place of George Bush and tell me what the right thing to do is given that:
1) your intelligence services and indeed, all the intelligence services in the world are telling you that Saddam has a WMD program.
2) support for lifting the sanctions is spreading, in large part because of the bribery that is taking place from the Oil for Food program, and because the way that sanctions are (probably rightly) being blamed for the deaths of large numbers of Iraqi children.
3) Saddam, if left in power, will almost certainly be succeeded by Uday or Qusay, who are arguable even worse.
4) the UN Security Council, despite passing Resolution 1441, which stated that the “Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations”, is willing to do nothing to prevent further violations.

If Saddam were still in power today, it seems almost certain that the sanctions would have been lifted. If so, then according to the Duelfer Report, “Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq’s WMD capability—which was essentially destroyed in 1991—after sanctions were removed”. So without the invasion, we would have Saddam, who twice attacked his neighbors, and then his sons, brutalizing the country, while developing WMDs. If you can say absolutely that that situation would be better, especially in the long term, than what is happening (and will happen yet) in Iraq, fine. I don’t think that it is an open and shut case.

“Besides our favorite dictator, which other government has a history of using chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons against civilians?”

The US is clearly the only power to use nuclear weapons against anyone, civilian or otherwise. Most of the nations in WWI used chemical weapons. According to this page,
biological warfare has been used since the 6th Century BC. The US may have tried to use biological weapons against the North Koreans and Chinese during the Korean War, but it is far from certain. If you believe that the US is forever forbidden from doing anything in international affairs because we nuked Japan, fine. I disagree.

As an aside, I have no idea where you are getting the 500,000 figure for deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The usual numbers that I have seen are 140,000 for Hiroshima, 80,000 for Nagasaki. The total population of both cities combined was only about 500,000 at the time of the bombings. You are right in that there were some sources that state that the Japanese were willing to surrender before the bombings. But that is far from certain; all we do know for certain that they did not surrender before the bombings. If it would have taken an invasion to defeat the Japanese, then I do not see how you can possibly argue that the bombings did not save more Japanese lives than it took. Just in the Battle for Okinawa, 50 to 150 thousand civilians were killed, and at least 60,000 soldiers. Obviously the prime consideration was the prevention of US casualties, but that doesn’t negate that the bombings killed far fewer Japanese than an invasion would have.

“So the US was ok to participate in the Nazi Olympics in 1936 since the holocaust didn’t occur until 1938?”

I believe what I said was that you had your facts wrong. I guess that you are conceding that, albeit only by attacking what I didn’t say. You didn’t say that the US was wrong for participating, you said that we were wrong for participating because of the holocaust.

It is always easy in hindsight to say what was right and what was wrong. How about this: Can you please provide a list of all the countries that were more morally foresighted than the US and did boycott the games? Depending on how extensive the list is, maybe we can decide if this is a fair criticism of the US.

“The Nazi ideology has always been racists and evil, whether it was 1930, 1936 or 1938 or 2006.”

I defy you to show where I wrote anything that would contradict that.

“Your logic of

1936 Nazi is Good
1938 Nazi is Bad”

I admit it, you easily defeated the argument made by that straw man. However, if you want to address me instead of him, you will notice that I did not say “1936 Nazi is Good”, I said that the holocaust did not begin until 1938. I actually wrote a line something like “Of course bad things were happening in Germany in 1936, but it was not clear at that time just how evil the regime was” but took it out since it seemed so obvious that it insulted your intelligence by including it.

“Is a good example of why education should not be served like fast food; all you get at the end is junk.”

So is this aimed at my education or yours? You seem to be the only person getting their facts wrong in this discussion.

== Begining long quote ==
“…difference between having your facts wrong and lying…”

“That’s ok for me and you, but if the secretary of state, defense and the head of the CIA call for action based on evidence that are “certain and accurate” then it is one of three things:”

“1. They are incompetent
2. They are lying
3. Both”

“Even if I go along with your “having you facts wrong” argument, then who is responsible for not only Iraqi deaths but American as well?”"
== Ending long quote ==

So then you are admitting that I’m right? That simply calling administration officials liars because they are wrong about WMDs is not only wrong but a shallow and superficial argument? After all, option 1 would seem to prove that you think that that is possible that they are not lying.

Look, the administration blew it on the WMD intelligence. I admit it. I never stated otherwise. I did say that they were not the only ones, and that it is not clear that they were lying. You aren’t disputing that here.

“Grab a good book at the library you work at and take the time to actually read some of the books on politics and law, and stop laughing at people that don’t agree with you…this is not 1938 anymore….”

A) You have no idea how much or what I read, just like I have no idea of your reading habits. Perhaps instead of trying to be insulting about me, my education, and my personal habits, you could instead address my arguments?
B) I didn’t laugh at anyone. I pointed out several factual errors you made (errors that you do not dispute making) and I tried to present reasoned, point-by-point explanations for why I disagreed with you. I pointed out my belief that you don’t understand the US as well as you think you do.
C) I have no idea what the 1938 reference is supposed to mean.

“Come on, if you really believe any of the stuff you have written then I can send you a few books from Amazon that you really must read.”

I’m not sure what stuff you think that I can’t possibly believe. You haven’t stated any fact that you think that I have wrong. You have completely dropped the discussion of my original point about AJE. Instead you just keep bringing up more reasons why you don’t like the US. If you want to post some books that would be good for explaining what I am wrong about something I wrote here, I’ll be willing to take a look at it. If you want to state some reason why what I wrote here is wrong, I’ll gladly look at it. Or you can continue to raise red herrings and attack straw men.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


My response to Hesham

Hesham hasn't gotten around to approving my comment on to appear on his blog even though it has been nearly 24 hours since I made it. That is fine, it is his blog and he can set the rules. So instead I'm going to post it here. This is in response to his comment to me made 7 December at 5:20 PM:


Your response to me was so filled with red herrings and off topic, it is difficult to know where to begin. Let me try anyway:

“These freedoms are given to an individual and not governments.” When did I say otherwise? As the Declaration of Independence says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” God gave us as individuals the right to free speech, freedom of religion, free press, etc.

“It is useless to debate freedom of speech and freedom of whatever, if the is a limit set by an external source on what information an individual can receive.”

This is completely irrelevant to the question at hand. First because it is not true, there is always external limits on what information an individual can receive, the most immediate and easiest to demonstrate is time. You or I do not have enough time in our lives to receive all the information that is available. If your statement was true, then free speech is therefore impossible. If you want to take that position, fine, but then just state free speech is impossible, don’t argue that Americans lack it because of the AJE issue.

“Back in the soviet era, a person was free to choose any book from the library as long as the state determined what books are available in the first place.”

And your point is? How is anything in the AJE case related to this? The government is not forbidding anyone from carrying it. It isn’t stopping the network from starting its own cable channel if it wants to. It isn’t stopping it from starting its own broadcasting network. The individual cable companies each looked at this new channel and decided that there was not enough demand for it. You may think that is the wrong decision. I do. You seem to be arguing that the government should require cable channels have to carry every possible network, no matter how few people would want to watch it. Fine, but don’t argue that you are supporting free speech, because you are arguing the opposite.

Moreover, speaking of “nothing … worse than not knowing something except for knowing if half of it and thinking that you know it all”, I work in a library, and your library example is so wrong about this that it is laughable. What is happening with AJE is much more like what happens in every library all over the world. Even in your dream world of absolute freedom, libraries still have limited budgets, staff, and space, and so constantly have to make decisions on what to buy, what to keep, what to discard. Freedom ends when it is no longer the librarians that are making these decisions.

“The media in the US might be against the current administration because its failure in the various ventures it had embarked on, not because the whole premises of war was based on lies and deceits perpetuated by people in the highest offices, nor is it because of the huge loss of innocent lives. There is a huge moral difference there.”

Again, this just shows that you have no idea what you are talking about. First, even at the shallowest level, the American media constantly criticizes the Bush Administration for the wrong intelligence about WMDs.

Second, there is a difference between having your facts wrong and lying. Even if the administration was wrong about the WMDs, that doesn’t automatically mean that they were lying. If I were to ask you, “how many states does the US have?” and you honestly thought that there were 52 and you tell me that, you aren’t lying, you have your facts wrong. As far as I recall, the only people before the war who didn’t think that Iraq had WMD were the Iraqis and Scott Ritter.

Last, on the level that you can only get to by really going past the surface, the one that you claim that Americans and our media are in capable of going past, the reasons that the Bush administration gave for going to war were not just that Iraq had WMDs. If you go back and look at the reasons given at the time, you will see this.

“Justification for slavery was made on economical basis as well…”

So? My decision not to buy everything I saw at Carrefour today was also made on an economical basis too. Was that equivalent to slavery? It did have somethign in common with slavery though. It was completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.

“Moreover, the US was a willing participant in the Olympics held in Nazi Germany, even while the atrocities of the holocaust were being committed.”

Again, you don’t know what you are talking about. The Berlin Olympics occurred in 1936. Kristallnacht, usually cited as the beginning of the Holocaust, occurred in 1938. I suppose that you could complain that the US and the rest of the competitors should have seen what was coming and preemptively boycotted. I guess that you are in favor of a policy of preemption sometimes after all.

“An affiliate Nazi party was allowed to exist in New York…”

I’m confused, are you now arguing that the US has too much freedom? It would prove that the US had freedom if they had banned fascist parties before the war?

“…[there] were many US politicians [who] routinely attended their party meeting to discuss mutual…”

At this point we are so far away from the AJE issue that I can’t even see it anymore. Heck, if you just want to criticize American politicians for their racism, you don’t have to look that far in our past, the dean of Democratic senators (and fourth in the presidential succession) was once a Grand Cyclops and Kleagle in the Klu Klux Klan. You know what else that fact has to do with the AJE issue? Nothing.

I never said that the decision not to carry AJE was moral (or immoral for that matter), only that it was the result of free speech, not the negation of it. If you want to argue that the decision is wrong, fine, I’ll back you 100%. But again, you keep talking about America and her culture, but you sounds as ignorant of it as I’m sure I would if I tried to lecture you about yours.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Who is doing the killing in Iraq?

Hesham asks "What does it mean to kill rape and burn close to a million people for the sake of some ill-defined ideas and values?" Well, let's attempt to break out of the "shallow confines of the tabloid world" and ask the really important question: Who is doing most of the killing in Iraq?

It always seemed to me from news reports that most of the civilian deaths are not from American military action but from the insurgents. Maybe that is wrong, so let's look at Iraq Body Count. The most recent day of casualty list (11 November) has reports for 63-65 deaths. Let's look at each one:

At least 10 and perhaps 12 dead, killed by "Gunmen believed to be local Sunnis".

Police found 12 unidentified bodies in the northern city of Mosul on Saturday, no word on who might have killed them.

"A civilian was killed ... when a bomb inside a car detonated", so unless the US military is now having to resort to car bombs, this was probably not them.

Two people were killed in a suicide attack on a police station in Zaghinya, near Baquba. Again, I'm fairly certain that the US has not resorted to suicide attacks on civilians.

Police also reported finding at least 25 bodies dumped around the city.

A car bomb followed by a roadside bomb killed three people ...
"The first bomb exploded causing no casualties and when the Americans gathered, a second bomb went off, ripping children to pieces and sending pieces of flesh scattered all over the street..".
Again, this doesn't seem like the work of the US.

Gunmen shot dead an Iraqi intelligence officer in south Baghdad. Tahsin Ali Mahmud was ambushed as he was driving through Baya neighbourhood, the source said.

"Eight people died and at least 38 were wounded when two bombs hidden under parked cars exploded among noontime shoppers in downtown Baghdad's Hafidh al-Qadhi square".

So, there you are. Maybe this day was exceptional and most days have huge numbers of civilians killed by the US military, but I doubt it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Al Ain Mall "Bookstore"

Al Ain Mall is the biggest mall in town (at least until the Al Jimi Mall expansion is finished) but surprisingly it doesn't have a decent bookstore. Or even a permanent one. Just a few shelves around one of the escalators nearly all the few books in Arabic. So I don't pay a lot of attention to the books that are for sale there, but this display caught my attention:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Recognize that white book on the second shelf down? How about a closer look:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

They had at least four copies of it for sale.

I'm not sure about the other books for sale. The one just to the right says "From Manhattan to Baghdad" if I'm reading it correctly, but I don't know enough Arabic to make out the others.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Response to Tainted

Tainted: Mother Foooooooooooocking terrorist.

Tainted blogged about the report by Seymour Hersh's report in the New Yorker that President Bush is planning to nuke Iran. Really, everyone needs to take a deep breath and think about this before flying off the handle.

First, Seymour Hersh has a history of "breaking" these kinds of stories and then having them come to nothing. The only big story that he has every broken correctly was about Mi Lai, more than thirty years ago. Just because a reporter says something, does not make it true.

Second, this is nothing compared to President Chirac openly threatening to use nuclear weapons just a couple of months ago.

Third, everyone has been saying for more than a year now, "Israel is going to bomb Iran", or "the US is going to", or "the US and UK are going to" or "No, it will be Syria that is attacked next".

Hey, I'm not a habitual defender of President Bush (I voted for others in both elections). But it would be nice if those who disagree with him try to have the intellectual honesty to admit that they don't have all the right answers either. What to do about Iran is a difficult question. (The same is true about what we should have done about Iraq, but you very rarely see any honesty there either.)

Do you let them develop nukes and hope for the best? Do you attack them militarily? Do you impose sanctions? Do you make threatening comments in public and at the same time negotiate secretly? The right thing to do may never be known. And please remember, just because you disagree with someone doesn't make that person stupid or evil.


Giving Drive-Through a New Meaning

If you haven't seen this article, Shoe store smash startles shoppers, check it out immediately.

And to luis sanz in the comments at 7days, the only possible way that this could happen is as the story says, that she thought that she was hitting the break but was instead pushing the accelerator. The engine of cars is not strong enough to move the car, much less make it jump a curb and fly through the window if the break is completely depressed. And this is no doubt what happened to your friend too.

Monday, April 10, 2006


An American's Response

I've seen this before, but when I saw that Underground Dubai had this, I feel like I have to reply:

Declaration of Revocation by John Cleese

No, this is not by John Cleese. You can tell this by looking it up on various websites such as Truth or Fiction. Or you can just read it and realize that John Cleese's version would have been much funnier.

To the citizens of the United States of America, in the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today.
A reoccuring theme of this response will be "becareful what you wish for". The population of the UK is 60,609,153. The population of the US is 295,734,134. If you did revoke our independence, I don't like your chances in winning any elections.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy.
See, this just shows that you have no idea what you are talking about. If you are only going to leave out one state, that state had better be either West Virginia or Mississippi.

Your new Prime Minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a Minister for America without the need for further elections.
You do realized how well this worked out last time, right?

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium." Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

This is almost as funny as me writting "Look up 'aluminum' in Webster's Dictionary. Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it."

The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour'; skipping the letter 'U' is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters.

This is pretty rich coming from a nation that cannot spell "jail" or "curb" properly, or realize that "lieutenant" does not have an "f" in it.

You will end your love affair with the letter 'Z' (pronounced 'zed' not 'zee') and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise."

OK, not only do more of us say "zee", the French pronounce it "zed" too. I'm just saying.

You will learn that the suffix 'burgh' is pronounced 'burra' e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to re-spell Pittsburgh as 'Pittsberg' if you can't cope with correct pronunciation.

Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up "vocabulary." Using the same thirty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "uhh", "like", and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

Look up "interspersed."

There will be no more 'bleeps' in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn't have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary, then you won't have to use bad language as often.

2. There is no such thing as "US English." We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of "-ize."

Be careful what you wish for. If, as you are implying, you want one form of English, then again, 295,734,134 to 60,609,153, we win and "US English" is now "English". "British English" is now just a quaint dialect with lots of misspellings.

3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier).

You are right, it isn't that hard to tell the two apart. Also, the Aussies are the ones that think that you all are insufferable twits, though they use somewhat stronger language.

You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents --- Scottish dramas such as "Taggart" will no longer be broadcast with subtitles.

Does anyone in America watch "Taggart"? Is that even a show? I say this as someone who likes many British shows, like Red Dwarf and As Time Goes By. I have never heard of this show. Perhaps you believe that since American shows are popular there, then your shows must be popular in the US. Not so much.

While we're talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is "Devon." If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become "shires"e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

I can never remember hearing an American talk about Devonshire, so I have to wonder just how big a problem this is.

4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters.

British sit-coms such as "Men Behaving Badly" or "Red Dwarf" will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can't cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.

"Men Behaving Badly" lasted less than a year in the US, and the Red Dwarf pilot was never shown, so I don't think that these are good examples. And of course, since the UK will not show the "Trapped in the Closet" episode of South Park, it takes some nerve to lecture us on political correctness.

5. You should relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen", but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

6. You should stop playing American "football." There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American "football" is not a very good game.

The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays "American" football. (This will be a big shock to those fans who watch NFL Europe, as well as the Canadians who love the CFL.) You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football.

Really, really, really be careful what you wish for. As you no doubt know, soccer is at best the fourth most popular game in the US. If we really devoted ourselves to it, had our best athletes and coaches focus on it, do you think that we might be better than we are now? And how good are we now? According to FIFA, the US national team is ranked #5 in the world. And England? #9 (behind France). Who do you reckon will win the World Cup first, the US or England?

Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American "football", but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies).

I have had to explain this before, and expect that I will again. The primary effect of wearing football equipment is making you hit harder, because you lose the fear of what will happen to your face and body. This is exactly the same as boxing gloves. People believe that wearing gloves makes boxing safer, because they have padding. Wrong. Gloves let you hit your opponent harder without breaking the bones in your hand. There would be more blood but fewer deaths if boxing banned gloves. If you don't believe that people hit harder in football pads, compare the hitting in the Under-19 Rugby championship in Dubai this week with any high school game in Texas. Also, while we are talking about nancies, at least American football doesn't involve falling to the ground and rolling around after the least bit of contact.

We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2005.

You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the 'World Series' for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls' game called "rounders," which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

OK, for someone who claims to know so much more about the world outside your borders than Americans, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Baseball is played around the world, including very prominently in Canada, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuala, Japan, Korea, and Taipei.

7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don't believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

Let me introduce you to an American phrase you will hear a lot when you come to take our guns: "... from my cold, dead fingers". And the last time you tried to disarm us, it worked out really well for you, so by all means, try again.

8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called "Indecisive Day."

9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap, and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call 'French fries' are not real chips. No, idiot, they are fries. You know what, those things that you call chips aren't real fries either. It is almost as if they are two different things. You would think that being so much smarter than us you would be able to figure this out. Fries aren't even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called "crisps." Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat.

Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.

12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling "beer" is not actually beer at all, it is lager . From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer," and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as "Lager." The substances formerly known as "American Beer" will henceforth be referred to as "Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine," with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as "Weak Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine." This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in the Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.

13. From November 10th the UK will harmonise petrol (or "gasoline," as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon -- get used to it).

The reason that your gas is so expensive is because of taxes. Again, your first time of taxing us without our consent worked out really well. Maybe this is such a painful subject that you all are never taught it in your schools or something.

14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.

Lee Harvey Oswald. Read Case Closed, you will be convinced.

16. Tax collectors from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

Thank you for your co-operation.

OK, I know that I'm taking this way too seriously.

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