Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Friday, July 02, 2004
"Somebody upstairs cares." Black Triangle isn't too amused by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, and still less so by Seamus Milne, who unlike Yasmin Alibhai-Brown doesn't even have the decency to be ashamed.
"...the media and commentators still carry a responsibility to the society they live in, and to those they report on. In the highly connected world we inhabit, news spreads quickly. For example, a Michael Meacher column in The Guardian was quickly propagated onto extremist websites, and used to re-enforce their ideology.
Quite. We live in a milieu where if I were to criticise a writer on the grounds that what he or she wrote is bad for morale the response would be a refusal to believe that I could mean it anything other than ironically. If I were to say that a piece of writing was bad for the morale of the troops the response would be peals of laughter.

Prediction: if this carries on, we won't live in such times for long. There is a familiar pattern whereby the inability of pseudo-pacifist Western liberals to admit that war can ever be legitimate makes war when it comes longer and all the more terrible.

"The will to win, to continue through periods of intense crisis, stalemate or defeat, to keep the prospect of victory in sight and to mobilise the psychological and moral energies of a people under threat, proved to be inseparable from the ability to fight better. There is no doubt that at times in the war moral confidence was badly dented; in each Allied state enthusiasm for war had to be actively maintained."
- Richard Overy, from the chapter headed Why the Allies Won in the book of the same name.

I'm not joking. John Ashcroft was right. One should think before one speaks. Note to my fellow libertarians: this is not a call for censorship. We of all people ought to be able to tell the difference between moral suasion and compulsion. Nor do I want crimes by our side such as at Abu Ghraib to be supressed - reporting of crimes by each side in proportion to the frequency with which they occur would be just fine, thank you. Note to left-wingers: before you assume that any appeal to watch what you say is absurd, remember you have already accepted that similar appeals have moral force in the case of racism, sexism and homophobia.

Heigh-ho, Seamus Milne is going to step back from the abyss when he reads me (as he does daily) quoting stuff about WWII, yeah, right.

[ADDED LATER: Re-reading what I wrote, and the last sentence from Richard Overy that I quoted, I think I have come across as wishing to see more active government propaganda in favour of the war. I don't. We have quite enough of that on the subjects of smoking and obesity. Better if the government were forbidden by custom from making any public pronouncements at all outside the Houses of Parliament. What I am saying boils down to the rather banal statement that individuals who basically support Western values shouldn't fixate on the motes in our eyes to the exclusion of beams in non-Western eyes. And I will say that some of my writing and linkage on this blog has been done with the conscious intention of raising my own morale and that of others, and I see nothing wrong with that. One example is when I have tried to use examples from history to show that the struggles of previous generations seemed as arduous and uncertain to those living through them as ours does to us. Every word is meant, every word is my best guess at the truth, but it is written to propagate a more positive or resolute emotional state, and to that extent is propaganda. What a hostage to fortune that sentence is. Over to you, Seamus.]

Changing the subject from the WoT, but staying with "Somebody upstairs cares", many rifle shooters of my acquaintance have noticed that pretty well any planned change of technique, be it position, breathing, focussing or trigger-pull will temporarily improve performance. In other words if the coach persuades half the team to place their bodies at a steeper angle to the rifle and half the team to line up more nearly parallel to the rifle both groups may well find their scores increasing at first. It makes deciding which changes of technique have intrinsic value a long term project. You mustn't jump the gun.

The "any change helps temporarily" effect can be attributed to the fact that any change of procedure increases concentration. Thinking back to the days when I shot for university teams I do remember that happening, but another factor almost certainly is that the shooter's morale is raised because of the extra interest and care shown by the coach.

Jump goes my grasshopper mind to the way that so many pilot schemes show promise that is not fulfilled. I have blogged about this before but had not until now come across such a neat phrase to explain it.