Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I've been thinking of getting some guest writers in at The Kitchen for a little while: it's good to have a wee change of style every now and again. So, first on board will be The G-Gnome. I've a few others I want to invite, so watch out for a few more cooks (though not enough to spoil the vitriol broth!)...
This is just too good to be true! As the man says, every Thursday is Blunkett booting day!

BMA spineless: CRE useless

Via Harry, I see yet more discrimination against the libertarian natives of our fair isle.
An eye specialist has accepted undisclosed damages after claiming that he was forced out of his job by Muslim colleagues.

Joseph Erian took the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust to an employment tribunal, stating that he was made to resign from the ophthalmology department of Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, after staff there discovered that he was a Christian. The tribunal, which started earlier this month, ended when the trust offered an out-of-court settlement and admitted that the problems surrounding Dr Erian’s case “were not his fault”.

This is disgusting, and is also very worrying. I have pointed out before that Islam is a hegemonising religion: it does not tolerate those who do not adhere to its strictures. We are starting to see reap the rewards of our immigration policies and tolerance of this religion. The Muslims who forced Dr Erian from his job are not poor or under-educated; nor can I believe that they are all Muslim radicals. When will we see and acknowledge the danger that exists even from those whom we dub "moderate"?
Dr Erian pursued his claim privately after the British Medical Association refused to back the case, Jane Jelly, his lawyer, said. He brought his case under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, which make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the grounds of their religion or beliefs.

What the hell was the BMA playing at? This is a clear case of law-breaking; was it afraid to go against Muslims? Why? Are they now so powerful a body in the medical world? Given that the BMA is made up of doctors, did the fact that "35% of NHS doctors come from the 7.8% strong BME community" make a difference?

It is time to wake up and smell the coffee; we are being gradually colonised and invaded by a highly aggressive religion whose adherents, even those whom we call "moderates", pose a significant threat to our way of life. The strategies of The Project are being enacted under our noses: will we allow this to continue, or will we fight it?

Time to answer Alex

As previously trailed, it's time to answer (angry) Alex.
1) The BNP might try to put forward a public-friendly face now, but by most accounts they've simply hidden the baseball bats and knuckledusters away for a few years - I'm sure they'll be back (if they aren't already). The reason people tend not to link to them is because they /are not/ simply a group of people with strong conservative values; they are racist Nazi-worshippers. I'm totally serious when I suggest that they admire Hitler.

So what? People wander around with Lenin and Che Guavara on T-shirts and I don't wander over and—much as I would like to—punch them in the face. I generally attempt to point out that they are wearing the image of a mass-murderering Communist shitbag, and ask them what the hell they think they are playing at. I generally find that asking them if they'd wear a t-shirt displaying Hitler, whether they'd feel so comfortable. They often reply that the image of Che or Lenin is "iconic" and they seem to think that this wins the argument.

And that's when I punch them.

The BNP might be a bunch of knuckle-duster-weilding scum, or they may have decided that playing politics is more effective. This is where Griffin has been so clever: by playing down—or even (possibly) eliminating?—the naked violence aspect and coming up with policies that, on the face of it, seem reasonable to the average Joe (where beating up Pakis may induce distaste) they have, in fact, made large inroads into local politics in some areas.
2) Notice how much media coverage these attacks get, when 99.9% of racist attacks are whites on minorities; you previously mentioned media bias, and that's it right there. I think you've been bought into the sensasionalised claim that these attacks are common. If you interested in tackling racism, do not look to Islam, look to British culture, because that's where most of it is.

OK, a couple of points here. The first murder that I posted was of a white man by some drunk Pakistanis. Now, it could be argued that, because they had assualted one other Asian man that night, that there was no racial element. However, since when has a racist attack been siomply about the colour of someone's skin? What if that Asian man was a Sikh? There have been a number of incidents involving Sikhs and Muslims, and the fact that another "Asian" man, who could also be Chinese, Malayan, etc., was attacked does not necessarily mean that none of these attacks were racially motivated. I simply fail to understand why the murder that these people—one of whom shouted, "We have killed the white man. That will teach an Englishman to interfere in Paki business"—committed could possibly be construed as anything other than racial. We have convicted whites of racially-motivated murders on far less evidence.

The last three mentioned are "minority on minority" murders, if you like. British citizens were murdered by other British citizens because of an alien belief system. Young men and women have been brutally murdered because of this adherence to a foreign faith. And there may well be only a few cases, but I will bet you that more "honour killings" happen now—whether in hard numbers or as a proportion of the population, or even as a proportion of the BME population—than happened, say, thirty years ago.

3) (A question more than an objection)
Why does the EU rob the Brits of a right to self-government more than a British government robs Scotland/England/London/wherever their right to self-government? Drawing the line between Britain and Europe is totally arbitrary. (I suspect you'll simply agree and argue that we should abolish states entirely and all run on a giant free-market, which is of course another matter).

Any group of people has to be organised. There are some things that free markets do not do well (prevent people from starying, for instance). The bigger the area to be organised, the less efficient becomes the organisation. There are problems of scale and distance. Therefore, we split these areas up into smaller areas. There is a practical reason.

EU Serf comments thusly:
We have a cultural, social and historical connection to the rulers in Westminster however, which despite their many faults gives them a legitimacy that the alternatives do not have.

Chris follows with this:
Size isn't really the issue, it can be any size so long as there is enough binding force to bind it together as a nation. A nation is more than a territory. A single language, religion, culture, history, figurehead, national myth or even just a common enemy can do this.

They are both right. And to pretend that there is any meaningful difference in culture between Scots, English and Welsh is just foolish. There is, however, a significant difference between British and French culture.

However, my problems with the EU can be covered quite simply:
  • Nation states exist. They have governments who must try to do the best for their people or else they will lose their power. This competition between nations is healthy, and helps to stimulate growth through innovation. The EU stifles this.

  • The EU tries—or tries to appear—to serve many masters which means, in fact, that it can serve none. Even were we to dissolve all of the states in the EU, there would still be problems of regionalisation. We have this problem in a country as small as Britain; over a much larger area, the scale of the problem becomes multiplied many times.

  • Governments can be voted out, and their policies changed. The only body in the EU that can initiate laws is unelected; they cannot be removed. Even when the Commission resigned en masse under Santer, many of the people involved retained their jobs, even the egregious Kinnock. Even when some did not, the substantial aim and functioning of the Commission remained unchanged.

  • Few enough people voted for Labour this time around; no British person has ever been given a vote on the existence, personnel or direction of the Commission, the signing of Treaties or our membership of the EU (note: not the EEC). This means that it has no legitimacy for the Brittish people.

  • The EU costs a large amount of our money, which we have no say in the spending of. Money which could be better spent in this country by our elected officials or, even better, returned to the people from who it was taken, who will make best use of it.

  • Competancies, i.e., powers, handed to the EU at one point, by nation states, can never be regained, without leaving the EU. These powers are controlled by the (unelected) Commission.

  • I am, roughly, a free-market libertarian: the EU's policy of economic micromanagement runs directly contrary to these views. And yet I have no say in its direction.

  • The EU is unnnecessary. Countries can, and have in the past, make their own treaties, with each other, for the mutual gain of both.

  • The EU's micromanagement of economies, and vast swathes of red tape, stifle trade and business and thus makes us all poorer. This translates to real tragedies on a personal level.

  • The EU also tries to micromanage on a social level. This makes it as fascist as the current Labour government. However, we can change our government: we cannot change the EU, its structure or its (meaningful) personnel.

  • I'll say it again: the Commission, the only body in the EU that can initiate laws, is unelected.

That'll do for now. There's a lot more, but those points summarise my basic position.
Don't get me wrong, all of these attacks are awful, and do indeed deserve heavy punishment. But its a question of emphasis; yet more 'oh us poor disadvantaged white people' would be hilarious if it weren't so sickeningly self-absorbed.

Self-absorbed? I don't quite get this. What I am complaining about is the blatant double-standards employed by establishment, where white, male, middle-class natives of these islands are the Untermenschen. Who cares whether the one case mentioned above has had disproportionate media attention: the fact is that, I believe, the murderers were let off the hook because they were not white; they were not treated equally under the law.
Please wander across to Guido Fawkes's and vote for the Press Plagiarist of the Year Award!

Via Tim (who is also on the judging panel).

The Rules of Political Correctness

Via chris, Andrew's Random Notes enlighten you with the Rules of Political Correctness.
Many people find Political Correctness confusing. It can be so hard to know what to say, especially when poor oppressed minorities are fighting each other. But you just have to follow a few simple rules and you'll soon be ready to work in the public sector, dine with the intelligentsia, or even write a column for The Guardian. What's more, you'll have a complete belief system that is impervious to rational argument and which guarantees you permanent moral superiority without any effort. You just have to remember the following...

I am now going to submit many ignorant, bigoted articles to The Guardian, and expect to be published forthwith...
Blognor Regis has, with only a few errors, named and shamed the public schoolboys of the blogging fraternity; although he does omit one notable Wykehamist...

Anyone for a Public School Britblog Roundup...?
A merry St. Andrew's Day to you all. Please feel free to celebrate in the traditional Scots way, i.e. get completely plastered, crowbar the word "fuck", at least once, into every sentence and don't forget to mention "the bloody English"* at least once.

*If the English guy is bigger than you, do remember to point out that you don't actually hate the English, just the English media.

Comments on the BNP

I was aware that my BNP post was going to get some strong comments, and I wasn't disappointed. I'm going to reproduce them here, for posterity (I really must switch back to Blogger comments...). First up is The G-Gnome.
As an avid recorder of honour killings, hate crimes and the offending of foreigners in our backyard, the BNP is non-viable for two reasons.

Firstly, the basis of their social policy is racial nationalism - the idea that race is the core of what makes nations nations.

This is historically incorrect. What makes nations nations is shared language, heritage and culture. One of the most profound strengths of British culture is that it was amongst the first countries in the world to grant multi-ethnic citizenship. Case closed.

The best argument against racial nationalism is, OK, one I posed myself. The Binbag Crew who carried out the 7/7 bombings were of South Asian and Afro-Caribbean extraction. Now, imagine a freak of evolution whereby native European peoples' carried South Asian and Afro-Caribbean physical characteristics, and vice versa, but every other aspect of European, South Asian and Islamic cultures had turned out precisely as they have in this world - does anyone think that 7/7 would not have happened?

Of course it would have - the power of culture is too strong. It was an inevitable consequence of Islamic culture mixing with European culture, as dangerous as a binary bomb. Nothing to do with race - everything to do with culture.

The second reason is that the BNP proclaims the primacy of British culture - yet it has no respect for one of its fundamentals, the rule of law. It proposes to pay non-white British citizens and their descendants to leave the country, forgetting that citizenship, once bestowed, bestows certain rights, one of the most important of which is not to be asked to leave your own country, even for money.

They hate multiculturalism - who doesn't? They hate the European Union- who doesn't? Do they offer any solution which is not based on historical fraud and contempt for the rule of law? No.

I have linked to their page in the past, and would do so again. The mainstream must debate with them, because David Davis, if properly briefed, could destroy the BNP completely in five minutes of debate with Nick Griffin. What we need are not racial fantasists like the BNP but British politicians willing to put the rights of all British citizens at the top of the agenda, regardless of their race or faith, and to state publicly that although we are a nation of many races and many faiths we are one culture. What they are doing now is selling us out to foreigners and insisting we don't have to act like British people.

For as long as they do that, then you're dead right, the BNP vote will continue to grow.

Next up is, apparently, some trolling BNP-supporting loon, who takes issue with the Gnome, but addresses it to me...
(1)"Firstly, the basis of their social policy is racial nationalism - the idea that race is the core of what makes nations nations."

A good example of this success is Japan

(2) "This is historically incorrect"
Case closed ?? Fuck off DK, prove it first

Also DK your assumption that we will ask citizens to leave the UK is incorrect. The only ones that will be offered cash inducements to leave will be 1st generation immigrants and those holding dual passports and even then it will be purely voluntary and it's not restricted to non-whites either, eastern europeans are included as well

The rest of your reply is just yoghurt knitted hogwash although I must add that Griffin would wipe the floor in a debate with Davis, Cameron or Blair for that matter as he would trouser the floor with issues that really matter to the people of this once great country, whereas the current politicians in place would fall over the first PC hurdle and end up gibbering the rubbish they normally spout.

Okaaaaay. I think that, just possibly, the ad hominem attacks could be left out. But then again, they probably fit the tone of this site...

Next up is Curious Hamster, who points out that many Muslims do not support these honour killings (they'll mainly be the women, I suspect).

A good example of this success is Japan.

Yes, let's celebrate Japanese Nationalism. Very successful.

DK, I think the point about the first murder was that the murderers were attacking people of all races. They did, as you noted, assault an Asian guy too. The judge didn't believe that they'd killed the victim because he was white.

They are undoubtedly still vicious murdering bastards. Unfortunately, all races have an over supply of those.

As for the second set, honour killings do happen and they are absolutely intolerable. While I might have used a slightly different tone, I fully agree that certain practices carried in the name of Islam cannot be respected in any way, shape or form. And I suspect you'll agree with my view that elements of "the left" are in complete denial over these issues.

I feel I should also point out that very many Muslims also feel that these practices are intolerable. Too many do not, but very many do.

The Gnome wades into "Dave"...

Er, I think it's me that you should telling to fuck off and not DK, as it was my comment that seemed to offend you.

The fact that a BNP sympathiser's first reaction to an analysis of their philosophy is to tell a critic to fuck off just about says it all.

But Dave cites Japan as an example of a successful racially nationalistic society. The history and culture of Japan is militarism, aggression, feudalism, forced conformity, isolationism, the Rape of Nanking, Changi Jail, the Kempetei, 50 years of one party government, the teaching of distorted versions of history to its schoolchildren, a criminal justice system which has a freakishly high conviction rate of over 90% and a post-war economy built on American dollars, all of which has produced a country whose inhabitants spend more time on their mobile phones than the inhabitants of any other developed nation, with the possible exception of the Italians. Very successful. Jesus never cracked Japan the way Abba did. That might have had something to do with all that.

Let's see what happens where Jesus made it big, like here. You get Magna Carta; the Bill of Rights; democracy and the universal franchise; Anglo-Saxon liberal capitalism; sanctity of contract; security of capital; gender equality. You don't have to be part of a particular ethnic group to get ahead here - another example of how culture beats race. The elites might give away citizenship like sweeties - but the very fact that immigrants seek to come here says more about the superiority of our culture as a culture than about racial fantasies which have more to do with sword and sorcery garbage than either real science or history. Save those for Stormfront, pal. I have two hate pages there already.

By Goomgroth's Jimjads, Dave, you old Anglo-Saxon-Celtic-Norse warrior! What's this? Goodness me, it's the BNP's manifesto from the 2005 General Election! It says -

"10. A massively-funded and permanent programme, using and doubling Britain's current foreign aid budget, will aim to reduce, by voluntary resettlement to their lands of ethnic origin, the proportion of ethnic minorities living in Britain, for as long as the majority of the electorate are willing to fund such expenditure. Since the chief impact of such a programme would be the assistance it would render to Developing Countries in the Third World, this is described further in Section 16 – Britain and the World."

[BNP Manifesto.]

Where does that say anything about "The only ones that will be offered cash inducements to leave will be 1st generation immigrants and those holding dual passports and even then it will be purely voluntary and it's not restricted to non-whites either, eastern europeans are included as well". Does not compute...does not compute...

You reply to my comments on the BNP's contempt for the rule of law by calling my arguments 'Yoghurtknitted hogwash'. Such Wildean wit...such [Haloscan Ramble-Guard cuts it off?—DK]

Er, Dave, a quick second any other examples of successful societies?

And now (angry) Alex has a few points, the last of which—his question—I shall deal with presently in a full post.

1) The BNP might try to put forward a public-friendly face now, but by most accounts they've simply hidden the baseball bats and knuckledusters away for a few years - I'm sure they'll be back (if they aren't already). The reason people tend not to link to them is because they /are not/ simply a group of people with strong conservative values; they are racist Nazi-worshippers. I'm totally serious when I suggest that they admire Hitler.

2) Notice how much media coverage these attacks get, when 99.9% of racist attacks are whites on minorities; you previously mentioned media bias, and that's it right there. I think you've been bought into the sensasionalised claim that these attacks are common. If you interested in tackling racism, do not look to Islam, look to British culture, because that's where most of it is.

3) (A question more than an objection)
Why does the EU rob the Brits of a right to self-government more than a British government robs Scotland/England/London/wherever their right to self-government? Drawing the line between Britain and Europe is totally arbitrary. (I suspect you'll simply agree and argue that we should abolish states entirely and all run on a giant free-market, which is of course another matter)

Don't get me wrong, all of these attacks are awful, and do indeed deserve heavy punishment. But its a question of emphasis; yet more 'oh us poor disadvantaged white people' would be hilarious if it weren't so sickeningly self-absorbed.

(angry) Alex

Actually, there are other bits of this that I'd like to address too. In the meantime, feel free to carry on the discussion...
“Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.”—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

No wonder there's support for the BNP

First up, a case in which race was absolutely and definitely not a factor, OK?
Three Asian men who boasted of killing a white man have been jailed for life.

Christopher Yates, 30, was kicked in the head by the group outside the University of East London in Barking last November, the Old Bailey heard.

Sajid Zulfiqar was overheard saying they had killed a white man but the judge said it was not a racist crime.



Zulfiqar, 26, Zahid Bashir, 24, and Imran Maqsood, 22, from Ilford, east London, were convicted of murder and told they must serve at least 15 years.

The court heard that after the attack Zulfiqar shouted, in Urdu: "We have killed the white man. That will teach an Englishman to interfere in Paki business."

Definitely no racial motive in there, whatso-fucking-ever.
After attacking Mr Yates, the group, all unemployed, moved on to Ilford where they shouted racial abuse at a black resident who remonstrated after they damaged vehicles and set off car alarms.

That's definitely not racial either. After all, how can darkies be racist to other darkies, eh?
An Asian member of staff was assaulted at a local curry house before Zulfiqar attacked another black man in a nearby street.

No, no racial element to that at all.

Now, let's reverse that, and imagine that a gang of white men had "assaulted" a white waiter, then attacked a black man, then shouted racist abuse at another black man, and then kicked the living shit out of an Asian and then shouted, "We have killed the darkie. That will teach an Paki to interfere in English business."

Now, I hope that they serve the full 15 years and, when that is done, they are deported to Pakistan. In Pakistan, they will find it much more rare for "an Englishman to interfere in Paki business", and so they should be very happy. Fuck them, the fucking shits.

Next up is one of those honour killings that moderate Muslims definitely don't do.
A brother has been jailed for life for hacking to death his sister's lover.

Ahmed Bashir, 21, was attacked with a sword and knife in the garden of his London home in 1996 after the relationship was discovered.

Waseem Afsar, 32, and Nisar Khan, 31, both of Slough, Berks, denied murder and attempted murder but were convicted at the Old Bailey.

Afsar and Khan were given life sentences with minimum terms of 18 years and 14 years respectively.

Afsar is already serving a life sentence for another murder committed before Mr Bashir's, the court heard.

Do I need to comment?
Afsar had discovered that his sister Nighat had been in a relationship with Afghan-born Mr Bashir, who was refusing to give her back her car, said Mr Altman.

He forced her to reveal the affair, pressurising her to go to Pakistan, where she had earlier been forced into an arranged marriage - and then threatened to kill her, the court heard.

This second is a cultural question: the man involved is obviously a fucking turd, and I hope that he is being viciously honourably buggered senseless in jail every single day. But surely this is an isolated incident?

Ah, no.
A father and his two sons have been found guilty of murdering his daughter's boyfriend in an "honour killing" after she became pregnant.

Arash Ghorbani-Zarin, 19, was found stabbed 46 times in a car in Rosehill, Oxford, on 20 November last year.

Chomir Ali, 44, was found guilty of ordering sons Mohammed Mujibar Rahman, 19, and Mamnoor Rahman, 16, to kill Mr Ghorbani-Zarin, at Oxford Crown Court.

During the trial, the court heard the two sons killed Mr Ghorbani-Zarin due to the "shame and dishonour" brought on the family by his relationship with Manna Begum.

The pair met in 2003 through school friends, who described them as devoted to each other, with Miss Begum becoming pregnant in August 2004.

But Miss Begum's father, a Bangladeshi-born waiter, had planned for her to have an arranged marriage.

Are we seeing a thread emerging here? Yes?

And finally, a story from Turkey.
A survey by a university in Turkey has shown almost 40% support for the practice of "honour killing".

The results come days after a court in Istanbul gave a life sentence for the murder of a girl by her brothers for giving birth to a child out of wedlock.

Turkish law, which used to be lenient on "honour crimes", was heavily revised as part of the country's preparation for EU accession proceedings.

How wonderful this country ius going to be when Turkey does join the EU, and barbarians like this can cross our borders freely. How lovely this country will become.

I think that we should send a stark message to all of those who think that they can bring their perverted, seventh century values to Britain: every single honour killing, or other severe crime motivated in any way by an adherence to Islam, should carry double the normal penalty. So an honour murder will carry a maximum sentence of 50 years, to be served in full, and we will keep doing this until these people bloody well learn. We should also rule forced marriages illegal punishable by another hefty prison sentence. Conspiring to force a British citizen into a forced marriage, also to cover those who are abducted and taken to foreign countries to be married, should also be a "book-throwing" offence.

It is the lack of respect for anyone else's beliefs, either in terms of a system or as a person, that I particularly detest about Islam. How can it be woven into a system of belief that murdering your sister for giving birth to a child out of wedlock is a justifiable thing to do? How can we contemplate cosying up to a government that "used to be lenient" on such crimes? And let's not forget to curse as animals all those cultural relativists in our own country who would happily defend Islamic culture as being equally valid as our own. All of these people had better fucking hope that I never do become dictator of this sceptred isle...

For many people who feel like this, the BNP is bound to be an attractive proposition. Indeed, are they any worse than faithful adherents of Islam? I would argue not. The BNP certainly does not order the killing of anybody as a system by which to live*.

So, whilst I do not endorse the BNP, let me make my position clear: if you want to live by seventh century values, then fuck off and live in a country where everyone else agrees with you.

*I find the instinctive aversion of many bloggers to the BNP slightly odd. It seems that, much as we maintain that we are committed to free speech, many bloggers refuse to acknowledge the BNP as having any kind of worth whatsoever, and will refuse to link to them. So, their 2005 Manifesto is here. There are a few things that I agree with, especially this:
The European Union is an aspiring super state which would deprive the British people of their right to democratic self-government; subject us to alien rule in the interest of a bureaucracy which has no loyalty to the United Kingdom and bring about the eventual liquidation of Britain as a nation and a people.

Withdrawal from the European Union would therefore be the most important single foundation stone of our rebuilt British democracy. Without it, virtually nothing can be achieved.

Since I have said almost exactly the same thing myself, I can't see how I could possibly say that the BNP do not have some sensible policies...

UPDATE: Some more criminals with a no doubt very British background (you can tell from the names, y'see).
A 19-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Pc Sharon Beshenivsky, who was shot during a raid in Bradford.

Yusuf Jama, from north Kensington, London, was arrested on Saturday in Birmingham and taken to West Yorkshire for questioning.

Mr Jama will also face robbery and firearms charges when he appears before magistrates in Leeds on Wednesday.

Two other men - Muzzaker Imtiaz Shah, 24, and Mr Jama's brother Mustaf, 25 - are still wanted in connection with her death.

I'm sure that these gentlemen are all from very deprived backgrounds, and are therefore definitely not responsible for their actions; they were driven to it by desperate circumstances**...

**Such as not being able to afford their Al-Jazeera subscription on Sky.
Via The Moai...


You are one of life’s enjoyers, determined to get the most you can out of your brief spell on Earth. Probably what first attracted you to atheism was the prospect of liberation from the Ten Commandments, few of which are compatible with a life of pleasure. You play hard and work quite hard, have a strong sense of loyalty and a relaxed but consistent approach to your philosophy.

You can’t see the point of abstract principles and probably wouldn’t lay down your life for a concept though you might for a friend. Something of a champagne humanist, you admire George Bernard Shaw for his cheerful agnosticism and pursuit of sensual rewards and your Hollywood hero is Marlon Brando, who was beautiful, irascible and aimed for goodness in his own tortured way.

Sometimes you might be tempted to allow your own pleasures to take precedence over your ethics. But everyone is striving for that elusive balance between the good and the happy life. You’d probably open another bottle and say there’s no contest.

What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.
I have, for a while, dabbled in the world of virtual 'blog trading, via the joy of BlogShares. It's actually rather fun to play, and I am pleased to announce that 1 share in The Kitchen will cost you just shy of B$1,100 (at a P/E of 141.5; not even close to my maximum of 250 or so)!

If only I were really worth so much...

Marines a wee bit violent shock!

There's shock on the left as it is revealed that Marines don't like gardening in their spare time!

Good: I'm with Rottie on this one.
And no, it's not very 'dignified' for a good reason -- It isn't meant to be. It's what we believe our U.S. cousins call a 'hazing'. It's a joke; a bit of a laugh between some of the most fearsome fighting men in the world. Unlike Patrick Mercer [Conservative Spokesman on Homeland Security], who, by the look of him, likes to wind down with a cup of herbal tea, these guys strip naked and beat the crap out of each other.

So, question: Who would we rather stood between Great Britain and the Islamofascist hoards? Mincing Mercer and his 'dignity'? Or the bare-arsed guys whose idea of fun is kicking each other in the head?

And, question: If you were an Islamofascist, who would you rather face in battle...?

To equate this sort of stuff with the undoubted bullying that does go on, or the Deepcut deaths, as both The Guardian and bookdrunk do, is just silly. I've seen worse that that at school; this is not bullying, it's just a bunch of men mucking about. The kick to the head probably wasn't a good idea, but the fact that the MP have only started an investigation recently, i.e. for the sake of form after they knew that the tape was going to be published, indicates that the fact that the guy was knocked unconscious was probably an accident.

These are soldiers and, frankly, if they enjoy violently kicking the crap out of each other, then that's fine by me. We pay them to be tough and to violently kick the crap out of our enemies: if they want to get some practise in, great. A bit of fuss over nothing, frankly. It seems that Mr Free Market, whom I suspect has first-hand knowledge, agrees.

Still, thank goodness that Corporal Mates wasn't there, eh?

UPDATE: Phil broadly agrees, and adds what I meant.
Initiation ceremonies are deliberately unpleasant and humiliating for a purpose—it's to signify the commitment of those joining. The Royal Marines are a body of men that thinks of itself as an elite, and in combat they'll have to rely on each other for their lives. Therefore Marines have an interest in making sure that new recruits are fully committed to the high standards necessary to be a Marine.

When I say "have an interest" I don't just mean a physical interest, in that their lives depend on it, I also mean a status interest. Marines see themselves as high status people because they are tough, and letting in people who aren't fully determined to become as tough as them would be diluting the quality of the Marine "brand" as it were, i.e. lessening the respect which which marines are held for their toughness.

A ceremony that wasn't unpleasant, humiliating, painful, and yes a little bit dangerous, wouldn't do, because it wouldn't serve to prove that someone was physically and mentally tough enough to make it into the marines, and sufficiently committed to do so to put up with a a lot of unpleasantness and danger. In other words, it's to weed out those who'd like to pose as being hard but aren't prepared to put the effort in to make themselves hard.

There are those who think, no doubt, that this is barbaric. But then, I don't see many of them volunteering for the army, either...

Appraising Iraq

There's an absolutely stunning post, so good that it's been added to my Favourite Posts Blogroll, on Iraq up at The Jarndyce Blog (agreeing with Jarndyce again?! I must be getting soft in my old age...); in it, he lays out his position on the whole affair, which exactly mirrors mine, right down to the "So what?" comments.
You're walking past a duck pond. In the pond, a child is drowning. You have the power to save him. There are twenty people sitting on the bank doing nothing about it, and you fail to swim in and save him. If he drowns, you've done a bad thing. But so have they — it wasn't your responsibility alone. Perhaps you're blameless: maybe you can't swim, or at least can't be sure you'll be able to save him without serious risk to yourself. At worst, you can swim, but they all can too, so there's blame to be shared around.

But what about this: there's nobody else around who can save him, and you obviously can. It's either you or he drowns. You are obligated to save his life under any sensible moral code. Failure to do so marks a serious ethical breach. And it's here I think the "West" sat in relation to Iraq, circa 2002. We were obligated to do something — something to replace "let's starve them of medical supplies and food for the another decade". To do nothing at all while they laboured under totalitarianism (worse: part-created by us) would have been reprehensible. File under Spain, 1930s.

I think that, whatever our motivations, what we did by toppling Saddam was morally right. I don't really care about the legality of the war—who makes the laws in any case? It's the guy with the most powerful army—or that "we put Saddam there in the first place": I only care that we've removed him.

You see, it's like all this stuff about the memo flying around: I don't give two shits whether or not Bush wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera, he didn't actually do it.

I don't particularly care that the insurgents are bombing people: unlike most, I did not expect to see peace in Iraq within two years. Me, I looked at it as being a minimum of a decade before it was stabilised, maybe longer.

Nothing in this war has surprised me, nothing has happened that I had not already anticipated, including the insurgency. Jarndyce's post pretty much sums up why.
As you may have noticed, there are a few more refinements being made to The Kitchen. So it's just cosmetic changes for the moment. I'm still looking for a suitable header piccie, so expect that to change fairly frequently over the next few weeks...

Whilst I am tempted to move all of my adverts and suchlike to the right, á la Nosemonkey, I'm not going to, as they earn more where they are. Otherwise, feel free to comment on whether you like stuff, whether or not it's broken in your evil version of Internet Explorer*, etc.

*That's your fault. Get Firefox instead, and make all web designers' lives easier.
Don't delay, hang an Aussie today!

History and Our Island Story

Young Master Nosemonkey today pours scorn upon the Civitas republication of Our Island Story.
Aside from the fact that it was written a century ago and so maintains a somewhat outdated late Victorian / Imperialist paternalist attitude (not meant in any kind of politically ideological way) and a doggedly whiggish, teleological approach to history (with a vague idea that it was Britain's - or rather, England's - fate to forever advance to become the most powerful nation in the world), it is also simply not a work of history, as the sample chapter makes abundantly clear.

Our Island Story is little more than a heavily fictionalised version of a particular interpretation of British history which has now been rejected by pretty much every major historian going as at best overly simplistic, at worst outright wrong.

I think that NM has rather missed the point of a book such as this. It is a history book, in fictionalised form that tells the story in a way that young children can identify with. Yes, it's fictionalised; yes, it's overly emotive. No, it doesn't present the balanced view of history that we can now analyse.

However, what it does do is to present a history story in a way that is engaging. I read many of these sorts of books when I was young, and they fired my curiosity, not dampened it. The mythological status that many of these stories—most especially that of the Princes in the Tower—led me to enquire further about these stories. The point of a book such as Our Island Story is to fire imagination in a way that current teaching patently does not.

How many surveys do we see every year in which even quite mature children have not even the most basic grasp of our history? Could this be because they are not interested? If they are not interested, then why not?

In any case this book is no worse than the GCSE exercises in "empathy" that we had to do, such as the exercise in which you had to imagine that you were in the trenches in 1916 and write a letter home. How is that bollocks any more accurate, or useful, than fictional histories? It isn't. It is certainly a fucking childish exercise to set a 16-year-old. Our eccentric history teacher, who nevertheless had a passion for the subject, could barely conceal his contempt when he had to set us that exercise.

The trouble with history teaching in this country is that—in an effort to be "fair" and not to offend anybody—the subject has been stripped of myths legends (and mystery) and excitement. History focuses on questons of source bias and the like, and does so at the expense of interest. For young children, accuracy is not paramount: the stimulation of interest is.

I find this strange given the heavy reliance on autonomous learning in our qualification courses these days. Like many small children, I lapped up the bloodthirsty nature of the murder of the Princes. When I was older, I found that all was not as it seems, and that stimulated me to look into the research (in my own time) which actually started with a piece of fictionalised history research: Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time. This, amongst other researches, convinced me that, in fact, Richard III did not kill the Princes, mainly because he had absolutely no motive for doing so (and it would have been completely out of character (from what we know of him)).

The point is, though, that my initial interest was stimulated by books as inaccurate and fictionalised as Our Island Story. When you are a small child, you aren't terribly interested in whether sources are biased or not, you just want ot hear a good story. Furthermore, this "Victorian/Imperialist paternalist attitude" that NM decries is the sort of thing that encourages patriotism and pride in our country that is so lacking in our society, washed grey as it is by the PC police. People can find out the balanced, on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-view, i.e. boring as hell teaching that places the source over the story, when they are a little older and a little more mature. For young children, myths and legends are far more important, because they are generally more fun, with more swashbuckling and derring-do.

I applaud Civitas's effort to get that book into primary schools, if only because the approach to history teaching taken by people such as Nosemonkey has demonstrably failed.

Monday, November 28, 2005

British recruit quality again

A spy is sueing the MOD after receiving a suggestive message.
A spy alleging sexual discrimination was the victim of "schoolboy" antics to relieve the monotony of a course, an employment tribunal has been told.

Cpl Leah Mates, of Calne, Wiltshire, is claiming £686,000 for 43 allegations, which the Ministry of Defence contests.

Cpl Mick Wall, 33, told the Southampton tribunal Cpl Mates received a sexually suggestive note but was not bullied.

The tribunal was read a note which was left in Cpl Mates' textbook.

It began: "Leah, I can't stop thinking about you every night at West Moors [the barracks]" and went on to express sexual desires.

Cpl Wall said Cpl Mates appeared upset at what he had assumed had been a note.

He added that Cpl Mates - who was the only woman on the course - had complained about cling film being placed over the toilet bowl in the female toilets.

It's good to see that our army and secret services are only recruiting the really tough people. Still now our enemies know what to do if they catch a British spy, eh? Simply shout sexually suggestive comments and accuse them of being lesbians until they cry and give you all the details...
Wyndham The Triffid—one of those, generallly, non-political blogs that I regularly cast my eye over, and always enjoy—has a post up about musicals that I agree wholeheartedly with. Apart from the thawing towards the genre that he espouses at the end of that post.

Musicals are horrible things. Someone mentions that they're feeling a bit low, and then they feel the need to sing about it for ten minutes*. It's a crapulent waste of my time. "Get on with the story!" I feel like yelling. And then I realise that the story is
  1. pretty damn basic, mainly because they haven't got time to do anything decent because they are too busy singing about every bloody situation, and

  2. either a rehashed Shakespeare story (and better in the original) or one of such stunning banality that it makes Topsy and Tim look like Powell's A Dance To The Music Of Time.

*I don't need to listen to someone singing about how miserable they are: I'm a Cure fan. I can listen to misery at my own convenience, in the privacy of my own home and when I bloody well feel like it...
Chicken Yoghurt continues to induce envy in your humble Devil, by writing articles that he wishes that he had written. The subject is pensions, the language is quietly livid and Hutton is given a firm kicking.
Which is, one suspects, what this is all about. Gordon's pulling the ladder up - if only for a little while - until he gets the big chair. Screw the coffin dodgers, with the economy heading South, he's not going to have the cash to splash about to ensure that these economic drag factors don't freeze or starve to death. To do so would threaten his reputation for "fiscal responsibility" or whatever phrase he uses to induce a glassy-eyed trance in the public. Brown might be convinced that dark Blairite forces leaked the letter detailing his shafting of Turner in order to shaft him in turn, but I think we can be pretty sure sinister Blairites didn't put those thoughts in Gordon's head in the first place.

Go and read it; it's good. That man will always be welcome in this Kitchen, notwithstanding his child's comments on his culinary skills...

Rape and assumption of innocence

A number of people have been getting very exercised over rape statistics recently, and I would, particularly and belatedly (the article has been sitting in my Dock for ages), like to have a look at that case of the drunken woman.
The barrister who prosecuted a rape case—abandoned when the alleged victim said she was too drunk to recall if she had consented to sex—has been asked to submit a report to the CPS.

The court had been told how the 21-year-old Aberystwyth University student became very drunk during a party at the university arts centre.

People became concerned about the state she was in and Ryairi Dougal, 20, from County Donegal—who worked as a part-time security guard at the college—was asked to escort her to her flat.

It was two days later when she complained to a university counsellor that something had happened and police were called in.

Mr Dougal denied rape when questioned and said they had consensual sex in the corridor near her flat. When told this, it was the first time she became aware they had had sex.

So, she didn't remember that they had had sex. So what was the "something" that she recalled exactly?
The alleged victim told the court that there was "no way" she would have agreed to have sex in a corridor.

Really? Why? Because she's a "nice girl"? Because she feared being called a slut? Could that possibly a motivation? And, given how drunk she was, how would she know? I have been with women whose entire demeanor and attitude to sex has changed when they've been pissed; those who are normally very reserved have become active in the soliciting of sex: they have initiated, whilst drunk, sexual acts that they would never have contemplated whilst sober. Alcohol breaks down those inhibitions (and no, I've never been accused of rape).
She continued to insist she had been raped, but the judge agreed with the prosecution when it decided not to continue with the case and told the jury to bring in a not guilty verdict.

A CPS spokesman said it had always been the prosecution case that consent was not given, and under cross-examination the women accepted she could not remember refusing.

So she continued to maintain that she had been raped even though she didn't remember that they had had sex until she was informed of it. Now, as far as I am concerned, this is a clear case of malicious prosecution; this case should never have gone to court.

In this country, we have an old-fashioned notion of presumption of innocence: unless there is proof that a crime has been committed, there is no case. This girl didn't even know that she had had sex until she was told, so how could she bring a rape case? She couldn't remember whether she had given consent or not: therefore, under the law in this country, we should assume that she had given consent, and no crime had been committed.

Now, I know that I am probably going to get flamed for this, but nevertheless it is justice. I do not in any way condone rape and, if it is as prevalent as a recent report suggests, then that is an appalling state of affairs. However, many commenting around the blogosphere seem to assume that all rape allegations are automatically true, when this is demonstrably not the case.

There has also been a large discussion on the issue of blame, and to what extent—if any—a woman is to blame for being raped. I don't see that this is an edifying discussion, personally; indeed, it is a pointless one. It is pointless to say, "Rape is a terrible thing and it shouldn't happen" because it does happen. As with any activity, risk assessment would seem to be a good thing to indulge in.

Getting so pissed that you can't remember whether or not you had sex with someone, let alone whether you gave consent or not, would seem to be a slightly silly thing to do. To then bring it to court and to attempt to prosecute someone for such a heinous crime when you yourself are unsure whether or not a crime has been committed is simply malicious. Therefore it was a malicious prosecution, quod erat demonstrandum.

Furthermore, it damages the chances of other women being believed—a very important factor when so many cases come down simply to one person's word against the other—and therefore does a diservice to those women who definitely have been raped.

Talk Politics has a lengthy and considered post on this issue, which is definitely worth reading.

UPDATE: MatGB also has a post up, countering my position, and a few links to the same. It is interesting stuff, arguing, quite reasonably, that consent given should not be the default position, but there are several false assumptions made.
"Innocent until proven guilty" is a fundamental tenant of our society, and has a sound moral backing. In a case of something as serious as rape, this is even MORE imperative than otherwise. It is VITAL that the case is clearly seen through, which is where the prosecution failed us in this case.
Of course, as I would much much rather have a guilty man walk free that an innocent man jailed, I guess I'm biased on this one.

The case fell down because she couldn't remember giving consent. This is my mind is bullshit because the security guard admits she was very very drunk. but, without that, the burden of proof is always on the accuser, no matter what the crime.

So, Innerbrat would revoke the presumption of innocence, which she defends in that first paragraph, for rape cases? Is this the case? (The government would love that: it would make it so much easier to harmonise our laws with that of the majority of the EU, in which the burden of proof is on the accused.)

There are two fallacies in Innerbrat's arguments. Firstly, the question of consent.
But defence barrister Stephen Rees argued it was impossible for her to be sure she had not consented because she could not remember.

It is not that consent is the default position, it is that she cannot remember whether she gave consent or not. The accused maintains that she did. Given that she cannot remember, one has to take the accused's word for it because he is innocent until proven guilty.

The second fallacy is that she was unconscious.
She told the court she could remember little else apart from lying on the corridor floor and briefly emerging from unconsciousness to be aware "that something was happening".

What was this "something"? And she was not completely passed out. This is important because if she had been, it would have been rape. Someone who is unconscious cannot give consent, and consent is not the default position. Consent must be given or else it is rape. It is the case that she cannot remember whether or not she gave consent, not that she definitely did not say "no".

Now, I think that Mr Dougal acted very foolishly. He may even be a rapist. I imagine that he will not get a job in a position of trust again: mud sticks. If he is innocent of rape, but guilty of stupidity, then he has been punished, and will be for the rest of his natural life. And I imagine that the girl will be a lot more careful about how pissed she gets at parties from now on. Whatever you think are the facts of the case, whatever you feel really happened, and whatever you think of the morality, this case should not have been brought to court.

Under the law, we are all—thank goodness—innocent until proven guilty. This is such a fundamental part of our rights, that it should be inviolable. In this case, there is no proof. We have no proof that her head had not cleared somewhat on the way home. We have no proof that she did not come on to Mr Dougal. We have no proof that she did not consent to sex.

Furthermore, we have no explanation as to why Mr Dougal should violate his position of trust; alcohol is a tricky beast, and there is no reason to think that Mr Dougal knew that she would lose her memory and therefore not be able to bring a credible rape case, had rape taken place.

In discussion with a female friend last night, we pondered how many of our relationships, or sexual encounters of any kind, had happened with the aid of alcohol taken by one or other party. We concluded that it was pretty close to 100% incidence in which alcohol had been taken (though people were not (necessarily!) incapably drunk). Are we to prosecute every man who has sex with a drunken girl? Are we to assume that all men who have sex with a drunk girl are rapists unless proven otherwise? Perhaps we should prosecute every man who acts unwisely? Are men the root of all evil? And is this rape case comparable to the violent rape that Rachel endured? Are there degrees of severity of rape?

Answers and insults in the comments, please.

ANOTHER UPDATE: There's a nice article by Cynical Bastard on this topic, too.

Plastering Bush all over a magazine... *snigger*

I'm glad to see that Nosemonkey shares my opinion on that memo, i.e. that it was just a bit of a joke.
Am I merely being cynical in thinking this could be a deliberate ploy to keep the "look - Tony Blair really DOES have influence with Bush" story running for a bit in the wake of his Terrorism Bill defeat? (And in any case, I'm pretty sure that Bush isn't stupid enough to seriously suggest deliberately targetting al Jazeera - it sounds more like a Reaganesque "we start bombing in five minutes" joke.)

The willingness of people to believe that this suggestion was made in all seriousness is simply an extension of the "black is white because Bush says the opposite" argument; it is predicated on the Private Eye satires of Bush as being a complete idiot, to the extent that he is, in some way, retarded. This is a very naive position: no matter how rich you are, you do not get to occupy the most powerful position in the world without having, at least, some kind of low cunning.

So why the heavy-handedness from our Dear Leader and his cronies? Well, MatGB has some interesting information that may well throw some light on that.
Blair calls talk of a secret plan to bomb al-Jazeera as a "conspiracy theory", and we now know the true reason why it's being blocked. [The men who leaked the memo]'re being prosecuted, not because of non-existent plans to take out a member of the free press, but because it's got details of troop movements and high end disagreements between the leaders.

Details of troop movements and other such stuff would, indeed, be sensitive information that would justify using the Official Secrets Act to block publication, and quite rightly so.

On a related note, Boris has been very bullish about the memo, and has said, on his blog, that he will publish and be damned.
If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. The public need to judge for themselves.

Strangely, although this week's Spectator Editorial does discuss the memo, and the fact that it has been blocked from publication, it does not mention Boris's defiant stance. Could it be that the magazine's owners, who I trust about as far as I could throw them, have leaned upon our gallant editor? Given the, fairly widely circulated rumours of his effective sacking from that position, is this promise, in any case, one that he could ever honour?
BORIS JOHNSON is being forced to give up the editorship of The Spectator next month, bringing to a close one of the most colourful soap operas in recent Westminster history.

The Times has learnt that the Conservative MP for Henley has agreed to announce his resignation on December 8 after six sometimes turbulent years at the helm of the house journal of the Tory party.

By my calculations, that gives him about one, maybe two, weeks to get his hands on the memo and persuade his masters that it should be published. It's a nice stance, Boris, but I fear that it is an untenable one. And if, as has been speculated, it contains details of troop movements, it is not one that should be in the public domain.
Windows is really easy to upgrade these days. No, seriously...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Via Martin, a merry—though belated—Thanksgiving to Dennis Mangan of that blog. And I wholeheartedly endorse his message.
Gordon Brown is a fool. For a detailed analysis of why this man has been so irredeemably disastrous, and how he has screwed our pensions beyond hope of reconstruction, see this post at Politicalog. May I just add that Gordon's policies are coming home to roost; the eventual and inevitable bankrupting of this country is going to be painful for all of us, but at least our Cyclopean Chancellor will get his comeuppance.

When history looks back upon this government, it will—I sincerely hope, for who would not wish that we have seen the worst?—it will deem it to be the most disastrous administration ever. And who will be adjudged the worse: Blair or Brown? For the legacy of each will, in their own way, be as lasting as the other's, although I believe that it will be Brown who will edge ahead in the idiocy stakes.

But those viewed the most idiotic will be those who voted them into a third term, for whom I had some advice.

UPDATE: Bill Cameron also has a nice piece on this.

Labour should court A A Gill...

Well, we all suspected that it was the case, but for a NuLabour apparachik to so blatantly say it seems perverse.
Dear Correspondent,

Thank you for your email.

Neither the Labour Party nor the Labour Government are pursuing the policy towards England or the English that you claim.

England, as opposed to Britain, has an unfortunate history around the world and within the British Isles and please do not say that it is all past.

It is a fact that the right and extreme right in Britain cloak themselves in the English flag, the cross of St.George and claim to be the true representatives of the English.

Wherever there is hooligan behaviour, usually linked to extreme right-wing political groups e.g. at football matches here and abroad, it is the flag of St.George that is displayed and that, I would imagine, is the reason why the MP referred to this type of 'Englishness' as a threat to democracy.


Terry White
Communications Unit
The Labour Party

NuLabour hates England and the English? Now who would have thought that a bunch of liberal meeja-loving handwringers would dislike their country so much?

What is it about the English, rather than the British, that is so "unfortunate", one wonders? Could it be the Crusades? Surely not, it was so very long ago. Many of NuLabour's big guns are Scottish; are they bitter about the Act of Union? Well, many Scots are, but that is usually because they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. Are they talking about the British Empire?

I am one of those who believe that the British Empire actually brought as much good as it did bad. yes, there were brutalities, massacres, slavery, destruction. But there was the bringing of democracy, education, wealth, trade and, goddamit, the good bits of Britishness that are so eroded within the boundaries of our own shores today.

Surely, NuLabour would not be ashamed of so mighty an achievement? Surely they could not be consumed by unreasoning guilt? Surely they could not believe their gods, the Lefty columnists, and be utterly unable to assess for themselves? Perhaps someone would like to enlighten me?

Education: a clarification

I had some interesting comments on my recent education post; not the least fun was the joy which I felt when I saw that the Old Wykehamist had risen to the bait!

However, MatGB had this to say:
It's not grammar schools that are needed, it's not selective entrance, it's streaming within the classroom afterwards.

This is entirely what I meant. Whilst I do think that having grammar schools as well as comprehensives is a good idea, it is also obvious that streaming is needed within the school itself. Relating to my post about bad science reporting in the MSM, it is often the case that those who are good, for instance, at English are not so quick at Maths, and vice versa. The aim is always to group together people of roughly similar abilities in any given discipline. Although bookdrunk argues that class sizes do have an impact, I would still maintain that the impact is negligible when compared to the size of the ability range.

dearieme (surely one of the blogosphere's most prolific posters and yet without a blog, as far as I know) then backed up one of my main points.
When our patience with the local primary expired, we went to an open day at the private school. Its classes were bigger.

Let me explain the Eton streaming system, because I think that it was done quite sensibly. To stream every subject is unnecessarily complicated, if only for timetabling, but the streaming of disciplines is well done.

At Eton, you were assigned to an English stream; this same class was then also taught together for RE, History, Geography, PE and other subjects. French, Latin, Mathematics, Biology, Physics and Chemistry were all individually streamed. At the end of every term, we had exams. How you did in the exams, combined with your performance throughout the term, dictated what sets, or streams, you would be in for the next term. Thus, I was in the top groups of sets for English (and related subjects), Biology, Chemistry, Latin and French, but in the bottom groups for Physics and Mathematics. I moved about a bit when we got to GCSEs, etc. but generally stayed more or less where I was. Generally speaking, this system worked pretty well, even though class sizes were, until A level streaming, in the low to mid twenties.

Note, had my Maths set been determined by my English set, I would either have been in too low a set for English, or too high a set more Maths; either would have been deleterious to my academic career and unfit for my abilities (or lack of them!)...
Via bookdrunk, some good (cautiously) good news for the Cameo Cinema.
Edinburgh's world-famous International Film Festival has stepped in to help rescue the Cameo Cinema from closure.

The rescue bid is being drawn up along with the city council for the Tollcross landmark, which would see it being run by the same management as the festival and the nearby Filmhouse cinema.

There is still a lot to do though: there is a public meeting on the matter this Tuesday...
TUESDAY 29TH NOVEMBER 7.00pm at the Lecture Hall, Central Methodist Hall, 2 West Tollcross, Edinburgh. This venue is one minute's walk from The Cameo, heading towards Lothian Road.

Head on over to bookdrunk's to see what else you can do. All you Edinburgh bloggers, we could do the meeting and have a few drinks afterwards; anyone up for it...?

Best forgotten

Owing to some impromptu distractions, I'm a bit behind on things. However, I feel that the death of George Best deserves some sort of comment, if only to add my voice to those of bookdrunk and Blood and Treasure.
Manchester United football legend George Best will be remembered for his dazzling skill on the pitch, and for his champagne lifestyle away from it.

Best was a footballing genius. He had speed, superb dribbling skills, the ability to accelerate past players and was adept with both feet.

He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players to have graced the British game.

Yes, but unfortunately, he was also a total shit.
George Best will be most fondly remembered for his sublime footballing skills, his balletic grace and his sinewy athleticism.

But he wrote his own epitaph when he once said: "I was the one who took football off the back pages and put it on to page one."

Now, me, I couldn't give two tits about football in any way. I don't follow it, I don't watch it, and I couldn't care less who wins the Mini-Roll Diamond Inter-League Wristwatch Finals either. So, the only thing that really signifies is that George Best was a drunk and a wife-beater.

The G-Gnome has a different take on it, and some information that I neither knew nor cared about.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Going off the blog

No, not me, but Jarndyce (or Donald, as some of us know him. *preen preen*). Could it be this disillusion that has fuelled his natty site makeover? (What! He's put his real name on his site?! Oh never mind...)
Since Tim's new book (buy it here, go on) hit the shelves last week, I'm now famous. Shucks. But posting's been light recently, for one reason: I'm afraid to say I'm rather going off us bloggers.

Take last week and the Guardian piece on The New Commentariat. Not that I read it — just skimmed to see what they had to say about Justin, which wasn't nearly enough, and who they picked, which seemed broadly fair (with one major oversight). What bothered me, though, were the hilarious hissy-fits from the uninvited...

Jarndyce and I very rarely agree. On anything, really. But I have to say that I do, partially, agree with him on this. As someone who started his blog as a personal protest (and because I was bored) I have been surprised, and delighted, that anyone reads me at all, let alone on the scale that they do (alright, I'm no Instapundit, but I do alright, thank you very much).

However, it is sometimes the case that the pursuit of ratings can become an end in itself. Can anyone out there really maintain that they haven't written something, or linked to someone, in the hope of getting some readers back? I know I can't.
It's all very depressing. Bloggers were supposed to subvert and engage the traditional media, the dead trees, the MSM, the legacy media, etc. etc. — on our terms, not as preening supplicants. We're packing pejoratives; we talk a good game, the alternative channel. I thought we didn't really give a toss what they thought people wanted to read.

But I think that most of us do care. In the end, we want people to read us, not because we are subverting the Dead Tree Media, but because we are better than them: isn't that the point? Isn't that why we sit here, fisking blatantly idiotic articles? Isn't that why we link to our sources? Isn't that why we try to draw our conclusions from those sources, rather than making the sources fit our pre-conceived ideas? Isn't it simply because so many MSM writers do not that we excoriate them?

Furthermore, I am sure that people such as Scott Burgess* would like to write for the MSM, but do it properly. Most of us blog for fun, Scott seems to do it full-time. Why wouldn't he do so for money? Is there not the high-minded ideal that we are showing the MSM how to do it, and the best way in which we could do that would to be the MSM?

As a mere minnow in the UK political pond, and one who leaps off the back of others as often as not, I would never expect to be included. Nor would I want to be. Well, not in The Guardian anyway; I wouldn't be able to read about myself, as even the sight of that rag on the newstands makes my blood pressure soar. But would I happily feature in an MSM publication? Yup, probably (especially if they were going to pay me for the pleasure). Am I huffy that I didn't feature? No (notwithstanding this post, which was to be self-deprecating anyway (although the desire for linkage can be, I think, detected)).

So, Jarndyce is right: some of the hissy-fitting is reprehensible. On the other hand, it is also understandable: do we not all want our 15 minutes of fame?

*Scott was, I think, making the point that The Guardian would never have asked him, after the Dilpazier Aslam affair...

Selection in schools

A little while ago, I wrote that selection is, obviously, a good idea; the best idea, in fact, as it truly benefits a child's morale as well as his academic results.
So, streaming is a good idea.

But, you cry, isn't a child in a lower "set" going to feel that he's a failure? Possibly, but he is going to have much more of a chance to shine amongst people of his own ability. How frustrating must it be if, even when you've worked really hard, you are still easily trumped in your class by someone who is more inately academic? However, in a class of similar ability you will have a chance to gain plaudits by hard work; so much more satisfying, surely?

At the pther end of the spectrum, the bright boy, in a class of his equals, becomes challenged; he must work hard rather than just coasting. More advanced stuff can be taught (a luxury that we had at the Old Coll. that most children—their teachers hamstrung by the iniquitous National Curriculum—do not have, however bright) and the child challenged. He can gain more knowledge.

I then followed this up with another post, in which I said,
Furthermore, considering that I, an Eton boy, was in classes of about 25 until my first A Level year, would suggest that, actually, class size is rather less important than Education Ministers might think. It is ability range, not class size, that is important; and primarily responsible for the destruction of education in that area is, I'm afraid, the socialist, one-size-fits-all, every-child-has-the-same-potential dogma bollocks.

Now, these assertions are, to me, entirely self-evident, and it seems that chris has found a report which backs me up.
The most able children are only half as likely to achieve top grades at A level in state schools as they are in the fee-paying sector, a government adviser told head teachers.

Pupils in private schools who were among the country’s brightest 5 per cent at age 11 were virtually certain to get three A grades in their A levels at 18, putting them in contention for places at Oxford and Cambridge.

But only a third of the most able 5 per cent went on to achieve the same results in state schools.

So equally bright kids, put some in a school where they are all bright (thanks to selection) and some not. The ones where they are not slowed down by teachers having make sure that the less bright kids can keep up do less well. Not exactly a suprise. Kids in the independent sector will also have the advantage of parents that really care about their getting a good education, since they are willing to pay twice to educate them, but the results are quite clear. Selection works. Bring back Grammar Schools!

I simply don't understand how anyone could possibly conclude otherwise. The only person that I ever see banging on about how we should abolish selection is the egregious Roy Hattersley, a man so stupid, blinkered and close-minded that he makes half a carrot look capable of getting a Winchester Scholarship. In fact, the tub of lard that famously substituted for him on Have I Got News For You looked rather more intelligent, and was a good deal less baleful. But then, of course, Roy is part of the old Left, i.e. those who think that it is far better that a system fail everyone than that it should benefit only some.

Socialism: the root of all evil.

2005: Blogged tech notes

Finally, my copy of 2005: Blogged has arrived and it is, indeed, a very nice object.

The cover is printed in spot colours: Pantone 7503 is the nearest that I can find for the brown/grey colour, and the attribution box is printed in fluorescent Pantone 804 (it'll look lovely under ultra-violet light, just in case any of you have one). The title and subtitle are in white, and picked out in a spot UV varnish, which looks as good as it always does against the matt laminated ground.

Altogether it is very well produced; I do not, unlike many others, have a post in the book, but I shall enjoy reading it to catch up on the stuff that I didn't read throughout the first half of the year. I shall hopefully also discover some new blogs...


As has been predicted for the last week, Edinburgh is covered in snow; it's been going for a couple of hours and is already a couple of inches deep on the Meadows.

Naturally, Edinburgh Council doesn't deem to have got around to gritting the roads at all...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Socialism and fairness

A wee while back, I wrote, as one of my Devil's Advocate series, the following:
Redistributive socialism is inherently unfair because it takes money away from those who have earned it, and gives it to those who have not.

I then wrote a rant which maintained that redistributive socialism was the root of all evil.
What Gordon is doing is to prove the old axiom that monetary redistribution simply makes everyone poorer; this is at the very heart of why I dislike socialism. Sorry, did I say "dislike"? I meant "loathe". Let me reiterate my stance: socialist redistribution is about taking property (usually in the form of taxes) away from those who have earned it, and giving it to those who have not. Thus, socialism is morally evil: it is simply government-sanctioned theft.

Now we give people economic incentives not to contribute to the economy, or to give birth to legions of bastards that the parents cannot, or will not, support financially. And to finance this gross encouragement of lethargy, idleness and promiscuity we tax (steal from), ever more heavily, those who contribute most to the economy and society. Do I need to spell out why all of this is damaging, stupid and immoral?

Now it seems that chris agrees, as he struggles to define what is "fair" about socialist redistribution.
Ignoring that is is unfair Socialists often argue that this is fine as being rich they will have more money than the less well off and so should throw it away on government so that everybody ends up getting the same. But why should everybody get the same? They are not doing the same, some people will be doing jobs that require more effort than others why should they not be rewarded for this extra effort? Again to me it simply seems unfair that in order to get the same some people would have to work disproportionately harder than others because of their vocation.

Well, exactly. Socialist redistribution is a policy borne of envy, an envy of what others have as measured against your own wealth. No matter that someone might work harder for their money, or that the responsibilities of their job, the reason for which they are generously renumerated, weigh heavily upon them. Socialism only looks at the end result, not the effort made to gain that result.
An excellent post from Mr FM today.
It is often said that the people get the government they deserve. Well, when Nu Labour came to power saying that they were going to rebuild a modern Britain, even the most deeply cynical among us (i.e. me) never thought that rebuilding would entail the complete demolition of the truth, justice & collective ministerial responsibility. We used to leave fabrication to building contractors but these days our government has it off to such a fine art, their utterances ought to be hanging in the National Gallery & the politicians ought to be hanging from the Tyburn Tree – after all shouldn’t lying & deceitful socialist politicians be made to suffer for their ‘art’?

Go and read about vaccines, forgiving Irish terrorists and prosecuting British soldiers...

Leo Blair

Tim Ireland has a new—if, politically, slightly simplistic—Flash animation: The World According to Leo Blair. It's worth reading his motivation for the film.

However, there are a few things; firstly, it's more than a tad biased. Not everyone was anti-war, for starters. Although about a million people in Britain marched against it, by applying the same logic that Tim used on The Sun's 90-day poll, we conclude that about 59 million British people either supported the war, or didn't give two shits either way.

Secondly, I must have missed that bit where we used naipalm; I don't remember seeing that story. Unless, of course, Tim is referring to the white phosphorus story, which has been debunked time and time and time and time and time again.

Many who are complaining about the conduct of the war maintain that we must do all in our power to kill only those whom we must, that we should not stoop to the level of the Islamofascists or else we are as bad as they are. If you believe that your government is spinning and telling lies, this principle still applies: you should not tell lies or propagate propaganda.

(And, on a pedantic note, at one point, the words read, "Now no one knows who Dad [Blair] is" and then switch to "Because they all hate him". A logical problem there, methinks.)

I do like the dedication though: To Rebekah Wade and her blissfully barren womb. And, as EU-Serf has so swiftly pointed out, it works as comedic satire. If only I could believe that that was the only level on which it was pitched.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Apparently Bush threatened to bomb Qatar-based Al-Jazeera. Personally, I can imagine it being said as a bit of a joke (except that this is the government's line, and believing them would make me some kind of nutter), but some people are in a bit of a huff about it.

I can't remember, because I don't think that I was blogging at the time, but was there a stir when Al-Jazeera showed people being beheaded by Islamonazis, at all?

Personally, I'd send in the SAS and quietly garotte the lot of them.
ChickenYoghurt has his copy of Tim's book.

I, however, do not, despite Amazon's delivery estimate of the 17th or 18th of this month. Plus, the bloody thing is now £2 cheaper than when I ordered it. I hate bastard Amazon; they can quite happily suck my balls.

Only, I can't be arsed to wait 3 months for them to get here...

MSM scrape barrel to bash US

A stunning article in today's Herald.
Experimental missiles capable of collapsing buildings and incinerating or entombing their occupants were used by US Marines during last year's assault on Falluja.

As opposed to normal missiles, obviously, which make shrubs grow and flowers bloom all over the rooftop.
A similar weapon, used by the Russians in Chechnya, resulted in the deaths of many civilians. Thermobaric weapons have also been reported as causing crushing injuries such as concussions, collapsed lungs, internal bleeding and burst eardrums.

As opposed to normal missiles, which cure the sick, heal the lame and raise the dead, naturally.
According to Human Rights Watch, thermobaric weapons "kill and injure in a particularly brutal manner over a wide area. In urban settings it is very difficult to limit the effect of this weapon to combatants." The group claims it is "virtually impossible for civilians to take shelter from their destructive effect".

Yes. It's also difficult for Islamofascist loonies—sorry, insurgents—with rocket launchers to take shelter from the destructive effects too, which is, after all, the point. However, it is slightly dubious, under a UN Convention to which the US are specifically not signatories, to use thermal weapons, we'll give The Herald that. And , obviously, the US would stop at nothing, eh? After all, they recklessly used chemical weapons against the insurgents in the same city, didn't they?
Confirmation of their battlefield use follows last week's controversy over the legality of employing white phosphorus munitions during the offensive.

Erm, no.
John Pike, of GlobalSecurity, a defence think-tank, said: "These thermobaric weapons have generated a fair amount of public misunderstanding, and have been made out to be a peculiarly horrible means of killing people. If it turned out that, in practice, the primary effect was indeed incendiary, there might be some problems under the international laws of armed conflict."

Well, not for the Americans, who haven't signed that Treaty. But, should we condemn the US; are these weapons actually incendiaries?
A US military spokesman confirmed that the experimental warheads had been used in Falluja, but denied that they contravened the laws of war.

"They are enhanced blast-effect weapons, not incendiaries or fuel-air munitions. They were used to take out heavily fortified positions where insurgents had dug in deep and could not be tackled without risking considerable casualties among coalition forces."

Er, no.

In order not to draw attention the fact that this is a total non-story, the Herald reporter then goes on to elaborate on the casualty rate in the battle for Fallujah, and then onto how the Americans have not killed Al-Zarqawi (Damn. Damn. DAMN...!).

Like most of the rest of the MSM, their near-pathological hatred of the US leads them to publish a load of old bollocks. When will they learn...?

UPDATE: Emperor Darth Misha joins the party with invective aplenty...

UPDATE #2: Rottie also weighs in with a kicking...
By the way, I keep meaning to point this out, but for those of you interested in the power of CSS as a design tool, I really recommend that you visit CSS Zen Garden and cycle through some of the designs.

Note that you are not allowed to change the HTML file; all of the hundreds, maybe thousands of variations, are accomplished through alterations to the CSS only. Now, if I can just find some time to have a go...

A mix of disciplines

In reference to the Polly article addressed yesterday, Chris asks, in the comments, the following question:
What's interesting is why the industry wants this. Why do so many dead trees value youthful ambition over knowledge? It's too glib to say the latter's expensive.

I think that answer is, to a great extent, a lack of choice. Let me amplify. Firstly, there are some columnists who are simply lazy, and there are some who are not. Columns vary in quality, but where columnists inevitably show the most problems is in the area of science writing. After all, Ben Goldacre makes a living out of pointing this out (follow the link if only to see some beautiful CSS web design).

I have no idea whether studies have been done on this, though I assume they have; however, from anecdotal evidence, I think that we can all agree that certain people's brains work in different ways. Broadly speaking, there are two types: the scientific and the artistic. It is not a case that never the twain shall meet, but they do so relatively rarely; it is very rare to find someone who is equally able at science and arts. It is rarer still to find someone who's interests straddle both stables.

Good writing is more than simply writing down what you want to say; good writing has rhythm and cadence, and can be an end in itself. In the same way, science requires more than a basic ability to copy down colmns of statistics. As with writing, although to a more fundamental extent, science requires a knowledge of the theorectical underpinnings of the subject. There are few scientists who can write an interesting column every week, and fewer writers who understand even the moderately advanced processes of science. As such, many Arts students lack not only the knowledge of science, but also the ability to understand the basic concepts. This is not helped by the "by rote" nature and simplification of low-level scientific teaching, a trait which has only become worse over the last twenty years. A friend of mine obtained an A* in her Combined Sciences GCSE and yet, not only is she unable to balance a relatively simple ionic equation, she also has absolutely no interest in being able to do so.

Furthermore, the inability of "artistic" types to understand science is further complicated, and I can say this from my own experience, by the active encouraging of scientists, throughout their education, not to make their writing accessible. When I wrote science essays, I always wrote them as though I was speaking to a layman (if my father understood one of my essays, I considered that I had successfully accomplished precisely that!); however, I was admonished, and often marked down, for doing so. The argument was that you were writing for other scientists, so defining words like endometriosis or phagocyte were simply a waste of your word limits.

Furthermore, many scientists are simply unable to write interesting prose; the scientific mind often does not work that way. It is about analysis, about measuring and about precision. Really good writing flows, and it is difficult to bring a mind obsessed with the language of mathematics, and the measured precision that that discipline requires, to bear unpon a piece of creative writing. Many of the best scientists simply lack the skill and, in may cases, the interest. One must present the unexpurgated facts; prose is simply a way of embellishing those facts and thus making them less pure.

Furthermore, since the rise of Journalism courses, more and more people entering the MSM are graduates of nothing more than a course on how to write for the MSM. Thus, they are not even encouraged to push boundaries and espouse new ideas or ways of writing. They leave their course looking for a job in the medium for which they have been trained, not to find new ways of experimenting with that medium. In this way, the courses that feed the MSM—reflections, as they are, of the MSM's style and operating practices—are contributing further to the stagnation of that medium, and to the received wisdom of those, no matter how mediocre, that have gone before.

Given these problems, one is left with a very small pool of people whose interests and abilities allow them to write, both capably and with authority, on subjects which require any kind of scientific (and advanced mathematical) knowledge. This small number of people is then further reduced by the fact that very many of them feel that there are better outlets for their talents than the world of journalism. Thus, it is not necessarily true that the Dead Tree Media desire a lack of knowledgeable writers, it is simply that they have little choice in the matter. Given this, youthful ambition does, at least, provide some kind of hope that a decent degree of work will emanate from their eager, newly-hired hack.

NHS Fail Wail

I think that we can all agree that the UK's response to coronavirus has been somewhat lacking. In fact, many people asserted that our de...