Dawkins on religion. I enjoyed The Root Of All Evil, a two-part investigation into the nature of religion (and in particular the growth of fundamentalism) by Professor Richard Dawkins shown on Channel 4 last Monday. Dawkins, probably the world’s greatest authority on evolutionary theory, took a look at religion from his militantly atheist viewpoint and met with some very unsavoury characters. One, a bug-eyed evangelist preacher from somewhere in the bible belt, took enormous displeasure to having his belief system poked with the stick of science and accused Dawkins of ‘intellectual arrogance’. There’s nothing wrong with intellectual arrogance, of course. It’s certainly preferable to philistinic ignorance. Speaking of which, he also met with an ex-pat American who was raised as a secular Jew in New York, but now lived in the West Bank as a devout follower of Islam. His ‘opinions’ were terrifying. Anyway, part two is being shown on Monday night, Channel 4, 8pm.
Ruth Kelly. A real storm about sex offenders teaching in schools this week. To be honest, I haven’t followed it that closely and I have a built-in switch-off reflex to tabloid hysteria. That said, it seems pretty obvious to me that anyone with such history should be permanently excluded from ever working with children. For much the same reason that bankrupts are permanently excluded from selling investments and arsonists tend not to get a look in during fire brigade recruitment drives.
Lib Dems. The leadership race for the Liberal Democrats is underway. Not that you’d notice. According to candidate Simon Hughes, it’s not a “beauty parade”. You can say that again: I’ve never seen such an uninspiring bunch. Hughes and ‘Ming’ Campbell, standing in for departed Charles Kennedy at Prime Minister’s Question Time on Tuesday, were worse than hopeless. Apparently there are two others running as leader too – Mark Oaten and Chris Huhne – but it might as well be Champion The Wonder Horse and Olivia Newton-John for all I know about them.
Mentalist. Our old friend, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the lunatic ‘president’ of Iran has said today that Iran will hold a conference to discuss the Holocaust, which he recently described as a ‘myth’. Excuse me, a conference? To be held where? The Birmingham NEC? Kind of like the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, but exclusively for agents of Nazism and fundamentalist Islam. According to a spokesman, the seminar would examine the “scientific evidence” supporting the Holocaust. Regime change has rarely looked so inviting.
The Golden Wonder Age. And to finish on a lighter (and indeed, crunchier) note, Golden Wonder went into liquidation this week, deep-fried into oblivion by the unstoppable (Pepsi owned) Walker’s. I’m of the generation that remembers a time when Walker’s crisps were unheard of on the school playground, when cheese and onion packets were green and salt and vinegar packets were blue. Walker’s reversed that and it never felt right to me. Additionally, Golden Wonder brought us such legendary snacks as Wotsits, Wheat Crunchies, Ringos and the infamous Nik-Naks (the scampi and lemon flavour was so toxic it made kids glow in the dark). The end of an era, but all is not lost. . . .