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.)

The Old Comrades:

November 2001 December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 August 2007 October 2007 February 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 March 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 October 2009 January 2010 March 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 April 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013

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Thursday, February 28, 2002
I just loved these "towboat" pics - but, alas, there's a problem with showing them to you. That boat stuff was courtesy of David Janes, coming originally from a Mr Desjardins. However if you click the link you will find a cautionary tale about what happens when the whole world suddenly picks up on a site.

Quantized Jottings. Random Jottings has a snippet on the phrases "quantum leap" and "sea change". Reminds me of my old Treasury days. Any time a spending department wanted to spend a zillion or so on a new computer system that would ensure "a quantum leap in the service we are able to supply to the public" I would be ready with, "oh, you mean a change so utterly tiny that it can go undetected for 99.99% of recorded history and for 99.99% of human activity?"

I must say, I did not know the grisly origin of "sea change" until I read it in Jottings. I always thought it meant the watershed.

Why can't I be James Lileks? There are several answers to this question covering such thorny issues as the quantum-uncertainty breakdown covering the hyperspatial exchange of consciousness paradigm; the alarm, potential distate and indeed civil penalties incumbent on same-sex unions that would be suffered by his wife and my husband were such an exchange to take place; and finally the fact that I can't smoothly connect domesticity to God to an Arab video game in one unified column like he does here.

Lighten up! The feud between Aint No Bad Dude, It's Stephanie and Samizdata is getting close to pistols at dawn. There were some notable female duellists. One time a lady was facing a man. The man, a gentleman literally to the last, courteously fired his pistol in the air. The female nodded her head in gratitude then drilled him through the heart.

Now, I trust - I hope - that Uhlman, DuPont and the guys are all still joking and haven't got to that stage yet....

While at Sami I note that Dale Amon has an Alcor tag. (i.e. he has taken practical steps to get his body frozen after death in the hope that he can be revived later when technology has moved on.) I don't consider this a bet worth taking myself, but I know one or two good folk who think it worth a try. The cryogenics meme often seems to go with a militant atheism I certainly do not share, but I do not think that linkage is logically necessary.

Drat! I'd like to tell you about the two links that Geoffrey Meltzner kindly provides, one of which I think is the same as Geoffrey Barto's, but unbelievably irritating computer things keep happening when I try to even look at them. And the bar saying "post" and "post and publish" keeps disappearing so I cannot edit the previous post.

But while I'm on the subject of Grasshoppa (link below) I may as well say that yes, the US Libertarian Party certainly does advocate the legalization of hard drugs. As do I, despite agreeing with you that they are dangerous and harmful.

Geoffrey Barto at TurkeyBlog: discusses (and translates) that Le Monde story I mentioned, and provides this link.

And Geoffrey Meltzner at Grasshoppa provides

Who was it had those cool boat pictures? You know, the boat goes splish! under the bridge and then pops up the other side. I think it was one of those Canadian chaps below. Alert readers, please assist.

Canadians on Milosevitch. There is an ongoing and principled discussion going on between Damian Penny, Lawrence Garvin, and David Janes about the legitimacy of Milosevitch's tribunal, the morality of googleslobo and similar issues. Actually they aren't the only ones swimming in that pool, but for some reason Canadians seem particularly involved. All that constitutional argument must have made their minds run on the relevant railway tracks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002
Lileks on Engels (Matt not Freidrich (Engels not Welch)) UPDATE: i jUST NOTICED, oops, sorry, I just noticed another little Lileks slip. Sorry about this. I do see the problem. "Freidrich Welch" writes unjustly sneering article, Lileks writes justly sneering takedown, and who do I keep sniping at? Consider it a compliment, sort of, to the standards I expect of both parties. Anyway. And The Point Is? you ask. The point is that it was not merely "an official" that called Israel "a shitty little country" but the French Ambassador to Britain. You know, I've just had a lovely week in France and met some lovely people, and I did feel for Matt Welch's wife, a French lady, when all of us (me included to my shame) were going on about that stupid Simpsons quote. But French Ambassadors aren't supposed to be like that any more, not since the days when they were called Citizen So-et-so and taunted the Scarlet Pimpernel as he writhed in his chains.

[I'm talking about a thing headed "That dreadful bounder Lileks," third post down.]

Talking of French headlines and the Jews, while in France I read, very slowly, some of an article in someone else's copy of Le Monde (Saturday 23rd Feb, I think) dealing with the upsurge of anti-semitism in France. I would like to link to that article, but due to linguistic incompetence the best I can offer is this link to the whole paper. I did try to search for "juif" and "anti-semitisme" but got too many results to trawl - which does suggest in itself that the issue is not being completely ignored.

While I was there I found "Le Web et moi, et moi, et moi." in Tuesday's issue. Guess what that's about.

A correspondent expresses the hope that I am "not one of those Jews who....". It is always a pleasure to be able to fulfil the hopes of another. I am not any sort of Jew, either by race or religion. But if I were a Jew, and if I were about to be murdered for being one, I hope I would make such last words to my murderers as did Daniel Pearl: "I am a Jew, and my father was a Jew."

Although I knew from French headlines that Pearl had been killed on video, I have only just found that moving detail out from Blogs of War. Dr Frank also has a take on the same Matthew Engels (any relation?) article James Lileks takes out below. And he has an account by Tristin Laughter of the changes that 9/11 made to her views - and her life. Ms Laughter had been best-friends with a couple and their young son. After the man of the couple was killed in one of the planes she visited the wife and child. This was her experience:
"Coming all this way to help my best friend, I couldn't help her at all. She was enveloped in her own darkness and sadness and I couldn't reach through to her. Jackson wandered the house calling out for his daddy. We all needed each other yet could not quite reach each other. The darkness of the grief around us was so profound that it completely isolated us all."

The natural and painless death of my father in law the day before yesterday was infinitely less evil than deliberate murder but, still, I do today know well that isolation, which survives everyone's best efforts to comfort each other. It is an isolation that won't end in this world. But I do hope it will diminish with time for the people in that account.

That dreadful bounder Lileks has been shockingly cheeky to his cultural superiors at the Guardian. While doing so he reached into the freezer where they keep the stereotype body parts and inadvertently made a Creature of Horror by the Frankenstinian fusing-together of drunken Liverpool Taig Liam and drunken Liverpool Prod McSodden. The thought of the two of them in one beer-swilling body will long keep me awake a'nights.

The difference between Lileks and the Guardian is that the former knew he was dealing in stereotypes. ("Just dealing on a small scale M'Lud. For me own personal consumption and a few nice crass ones to share with my mates, honest.") The Guardian article is so snobbish and provincial that it does not so much defy parody as defy the efforts of the muscles of the upper stomach to keep down breakfast. For example: with an air of having just discovered it, the writer quotes that joke about the US being late for two world wars, better luck next time. Now that joke was biting satire in 1944. By about 1970 it had mutated into one of the many convincing period touches that made Dad's Army such a believable portrait of the Home Front. By 2002, dear Guardian-writer (Matthew Engels), it is a dead joke. It has ceased to be.

But joking apart, Lileks old chap, regarding the last few lines of your bally article, you Americans didn't defeat Fascism completely on your own. We were there too, and for the whole party. Not to mention the Red Army which may not have been exactly my favourite organisation but did face down nine-tenths of the Wermacht.

Bravery and evil. Christopher Johnson of the Midwest Conservative Journal takes Charley Reese to task for a column in which he calls the WTC killers "brave". To my surprise I find myself lining up with Reese on this one semantic point (so long as I'm allowed to part company with him as soon as possible thereafter). To think straight it is necessary to pay attention to the meaning of words, and it is an accurate use of the word "brave" to say that men who can suppress fear of death enough to kill themselves in carrying out an attack were brave men. As brave as were the Kamikaze, and many members of the SS and the Khmer Rouge. Bravery, like intelligence, can be peverted to the service of evil. It remains what it is.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002
Ain't No Bad Dude ain't the dude any more, it's a lady called Stephanie Dupont. She holds the line against the dorkist hordes while the man himself cavorts with the ladies in London. As a certified Dude-hugger who did not charge for the privilege, I can authoritatively tell you, Stephanie, that I am not a paid escort! But, yes, there is someone out there who does like cats. Even orange cats. Even orange monster communist cats who have an inadequate appreciation of other cats' justly-acquired property rights. Such is my indiscriminate benevolence that I did not make it into the A-string of a violin and an orange muff as it amply deserved but merely ejected the wretched beast from my cats' kitchen.

Oh, and I'm sure Brian doesn't actually hate "Instantman". Vigorous and frequent disagreement, I grant you!

More on that Zimbabwe tape: This BBC News 24 story reports the back-and-forth jumps in the on-screen timer. These guys obviously watched the bit in Thunderbird 6 when Lady Penelope's cobbled-together words were used to lure our boys into a trap. Video-fakery by editing is older than I am. In contrast, digital and sound manipulation good enough to make a well-known face appear to say false words has not yet been born - though it kicks in the womb.

Zimbabwe, Lies & Videotape. Now only Heaven knows what is going on in that sad country. Today's Times story about Zimbabwe includes a quote from this ex-Mossad agent, Menashe, wherein he appears to say that, yes, his video was a set-up - but Morgan Tsvangirai proves his unfitness for the presidency by falling for it. Unpeturbed by this admission, Mugabe has charged Tsvangirai with treason.

Today's story makes an odd contrast with yesterday's, in which the old evildoer was depicted as making overtures to Tsvangirai via President Obasanjo of Nigeria in an effort to save his skin come the deluge.

Thanks, everyone, for the kind messages and prayers.

Monday, February 25, 2002
In the midst of life... I was going to post a very happy account of my holiday, and the merry evening I spent with several bloggers last night. Sadly, though, the news has come that my dear father in law - a man with whom I disagreed on a million subjects and loved very much - has died suddenly. So no posts for a while. If you pray, please remember the many people who will miss him so much.

Thursday, February 07, 2002
My hols coming up. This may be the last post you will get from me until some time after the 24th February, as I am going skiing for the first time in CENSORED years and the second time in my life. Truth to tell, I am not leaving for a few days but, as always seems to happen, I have a whole horrible pile of things to clear first. I am reluctantly convinced that the only way to ensure this is done is to refrain from even turning on the computer. Though I might a tiny bit, just to see.

While I'm gone, Eric Olsen (get some independence man! learn to sew your own buttons!) and his wife Dawn (and don't you sew them for him, it'll do him good to learn) have e-mailed to say that they will open a site called http://tres_producers.blogspot on February 12th. This will deal with the meaning of life. If you know it, e-mail them at stating age, gender and zip code/country. Remain anonymous if you so choose.

Google Yourself. James (Reuben) Haney
has some thoughts on self-googlification. He is an anarcho-capitalist American transport-geek who appears to speak Danish, and have lived in Belfast. You know, just an ordinary joe. In answer to your question, James, the day to day changes in self-googling only come in the high-number entries from about 15 onwards. When I do it the first five or so results are always the same defunct personal websites for which I have long forgotten the passwords. And yes, there is a time lag of several days before new entries appear. I had 1,100 entries last time I tried. For a long time it was an inglorious 3, then it suddenly shot up. I've never looked to see what strange things lie in the realms you reach by pressing "Next" fifty times. Even I am not quite that self-obsessed.

Like a red rag to a bull, telling you guys not to write in about Hessians. A Mr Bolt Throw, who may also be called Dan Truly, writes "i can only assume that one of my proud brethren has come forward to claim heir to the modern usage of this term...but 'hessians' nowadays are of course us dumbasses who, defying all societal pressure (not to mention any sense of musical taste), absolutely love METAL." In a searing testimony, Mr Throw goes on to bravely admit to anti-social behaviours such as professional employment and receding hair, but he's doing his best to live it down.

From a rather different lifestyle perspective, Capt. J M Heinrich writes, regarding military toasts, "Depends on the unit tradition but generally at memorial mess dinners (11 Nov period), the final toast is "Fallen Comrades". The only required toast is the loyal toast 'The Queen', all others are optional and depend on the circumstances, members, guests, etc. Absent friends are the SOBs who managed to avoid the dinner because the wife was washing her hair so he couldn't ...

2. The hessian you buy for your needlework probably originates in 6' wide rolls held in the back room. It is generally sold to the military where it is used to cover windshield, screen latrines, windbreaks, etc. Also sandbags. Glad you like it."

"Glad you like it." With what better sentiment can I bid you all adieu? Hmm. Well, I could submit, "Keep your powder dry and don't shoot 'til you see the whites of their eyes." Whichever you prefer, goodbye until the 25th.

Deborah Orr Bust! Peter Briffa's stroppy new blog "Public Interest" says that she writes for the Independent, not the Guardian as I said earlier. No doubt her sword is widely for sale. "Stroppy" is praise, by the way.

"Genocide is happening right now" says a deaf activist. In fact what this man is talking about - and I know it's a jolt to go straight from talking about anti-semitism which really has killed millions to this - is deaf people being cured of deafness by cochlear implants. Only you mustn't call it "cured." That is the view of the world described in a link which I found in The Occasional, via Media Minded.

Pipped at the post! I have, half-written in the bowels of my computer, an article about this very subject. I must be the only hearing person on earth to regularly scroll through the BBC's Ceefax pages to reach the "See Hear" section aimed at deaf viewers. For foreign readers, Ceefax is a primitive form of text information service that you can get on British TV. For British readers, go to BBC2 and then it's usually to be found at about page 640. The service is maddeningly slow, but if you can bear the wait you get to read some interesting, mad letters. And some sane ones.

The use of the word "genocide" is not that extreme or unusual among deaf activists. As with many subsidy-driven cultures there is an insatiable need to be hard-done-by that infects otherwise reasonable people. I will not call this a ghetto mentality, since the actual ghetto looked out towards the world with real hope and justifiable fear, as well as inwards to seek the meaning of suffering. The aim of the subsidy-activist is to have every privilege and still be the victim.

For all that, I can see the sadness. If the numbers of deaf people drop too far a unique culture will become unviable. People's bodies are their own: if they want to stay deaf, that's their right. And, although this is harder to say, it would be intolerable for the government to force people to have an implant operation on their children.

More examples of the new antisemitism in Europe can be found at Instapundit, which cites the same Ha'aretz survey as I did below.

An old tune from the New Statesman On the advice of a reader I burrowed into the New Statesman's files to find a story by Denis Sewell dated January 14 this year and titillatingly headed (what high minded scorn the NS would have for the Sun, were it to use such tactics to get readers!) "A Kosher Conspiracy." I read the first few lines, which bemoan poor Guardian columnist Deborah Orr's sufferings when people call her an anti-semite for criticising Israel. For a moment I did consider paying £2* to read the rest, before a great weariness with the troubles of Guardian columnists and the deep concern and sympathy felt for Guardian columnists by New Statesman columnists overcame me.

Ha'aretz will show you the cover of said issue of the New Statesman and tell you all about it, and they don't charge you a penny. Rabbi David Goldberg will, writing in the Guardian himself, also tell you something about the Sewell article, and his telling is also free, and a good thing too because I wouldn't pay a lot myself to be advised thus: "To equate a modern Islamic political response to the state of Israel with the church's theological animadversions against the Jewish people, as the chief rabbi did, is, at the very least, dangerously ahistorical."

At the words 'modern Islamic political response to the state of Israel', I could not help thinking of the way that suicide bombers have bound up their genitals for some purpose connected to the promised virgins. For once I say this not to mock but to observe that history does provide some illustrations of that sort of mentality.

*I tell a lie, not £2 but $2. The New Statesman charges in dollars? These Americans, they get everywhere. Let me know if ever it changes to Euros.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002
Bloody Hell. Iain Murray (links, passim) alerted me to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle by Kesher Talk's Howard Fienberg weighing the risks of BSE in the blood supply. Here's the article.

The absolute last on Hessians. John Costello sneaks in through probably having written this before I closed the correspondence! He says, regarding the Hessian hirelings in 1812,
"Of those taken prisoner, about 1/3rd refused repatriation and stayed in the US. They had been used as farm hands and miners well away from the fighting and were viewed as ideal sons in law by the farmers .... English POWs were not viewed as ideal sons in law. The opinion of the farmers was that you could not get a decent day's work out of them (and in general this prejudice was common to Americans for several generations.)
The Hessians settled primarily in the region from New York to Pennsylvania, and German remained the second most commom language spoken in the US until WWI (the anthropologist Theodor Kroeber, a second generation American born in New York City, only learned English when he went to school.)"
Alex Bensky was obviously, clearly too late for my deadline. If he had not been you would have been able to read that:
"I figure it's a tie. Whenever I go to London (Ontario) I pass by the site of the Battle of the Thames, where Tecumseh died and we administered a drubbing to you chaps. I also count Korea as a tie.

That means that including the Gulf War we're W-7, L-1, T-2, and I think that means we're still at the top of the standings ("tables" to you). And we're 1-0-1 in wars with Great Britain. Don't take it personally; you just picked on the wrong people."
Cool letter. Pity he was too late to get it in. (NB further stuff on Hessians really, truly, may be read but will not be posted.)

Well, I didn't put him on the links page because I agreed with him. Emmanuel Goldstein posts back on the Great Iain Murray Controversy, out of which Mr Murray himself has understandably faded away. Emmanuel, it's all much simpler than you appear to think.

1. The kidnappers said that they were going to treat Pearl as (they thought) the Camp X-ray prisoners were being treated. I believe it because they said so, not because of some geopolitical theory. Of course they are also enemies of America on more general grounds. So what? What will motivate their hands to give or withold water, to strike or not to strike the bound man in front of them is "an eye for an eye." The idea of turning the tables is common to all mankind. I'd worry about that even if that particular e-mail turned out to be a hoax.

2. Much of the coverage of the shackles, goggles etc. made out falsely that that stuff was on permanently.

3. The idea that there might one day be equivalent revenge on American prisoners was obvious. I read criticisms of Camp X-ray from your side of the fence that made exactly that point. I think even Colin Powell made it. It is one of the many factors that make it the duty of a reporter to be honest.

4. The idea that reporters might be kidnapped is also fairly obvious. It happens regularly. Intelligent self-interest should have led them to think of this.

5. Finally, Pakistanis can read the Mirror via the internet just as I can read Dawn magazine. It's not that primitive a country. And if the Mirror is not influential there, the BBC certainly is. There is nothing unlikely about the BBC taking its tone from the Mirror, the reporters all know each other.

A disease of our times. The Telegraph reports an investigation into a claim that a child was "culled" from a doctor's list because the parents refused the controversial MMR jab. Personally I think the balance of probabilities is in favour of the MMR jab, and my children have had it. But the attempt to project state power into people's very bodies scares me as much as measles.

Glood, buts and Blooglesearch Andrew Ian Dodge of Dodgeblog has, like me, come out of the closet as a serial self-googlesearcher. (And how do you think I found that one, huh? Um, actually he e-mailed me.) But if you want to see another stupid killer decision of the safety-freaks, scroll down to where it says that anyone American who has been in the UK during the Foot & Mouth epidemic is forbidden FOREVER from giving blood again. Foot & Mouth has in literally one or two cases mildly indisposed humans for whole days at a time. It is not even usually fatal for cows and sheep. Future generations will look back on our reaction to it with something of the scornful awe we reserve for the Children's Crusade.

CORRECTION (THE NUMBER OF THESE I ISSUE IS GETTING EMBARRASSING!) Steven Den Beste (link below) points out: "It's not Foot-and-mouth that they're concerned about. It's BSE, Mad Cow disease that they're worried about, and that is a legitimate concern. vCJD might be passed by blood-to-blood contact and it is fatal."

A quick check of Dodgeblog confirms my error. Blame it on my smouldering anger at the whole Foot & Mouth thing which has obviously preyed on my mind to the extent that I see the words where they are not. Actually I still think the restriction on blood donation is disproportionate, but not remotely as disproportionate. There has been no epidemic of Mad Cow disease as yet. Pray God there never will be as, it is a horrible way to go. But if you ban blood from anyone who has visited a country where there have been (I think) tens or at the most hundreds of fatalities from a blood-transmittable disease then pretty soon you will have scarcely any donors left.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002
A cri de coeur from Brian Micklethwait over at Samizdata. With commendable honesty he admits he half-mourns the passing of the days when he was a big fish in a small pond - the internet went and expanded the pond. I think I'll pop over there and comment directly in a minute. You can also read, if you must, Perry de Havilland and Steven Den Beste obsessing over the merits of various aeroplanes. Dear boys, so sweet, but I get enough of this at home.

Before I close this correspondence, (It's funny what prompts the most mail. "Western drag", petards, payment for blogging, and now this. Are all my readers as pedantic and poor as I am?) I had another note from Robert L Martin who recalled... hey, let him tell it:
"I was in London in 1965 and while there I went to the changing of the Guard. During the ceremony, the band ( I don't recall which regiment) played the marches of all of the U.S. armed forces (Anchors Aweigh, Marines' Hymn, etc.). At the time, I was living in Heidelberg, Germany where my father was stationed with the U.S. Army. The pipes, drums and military band of one of the highland regiments (again, can't place which one) visited U.S. Army Europe headquarters and played at evening retreat, including the Star Spangled Banner and God Save the Queen. I don't know if Mr. Kidd would view these performances the same way as performing the SSB, but it seems to me that if he feels degraded, it has been 40 years in the making. Perhaps he would be soothed by a tradition I became acquainted with while serving in the U.S. Air Force. USAF developed a "dining out" tradition for unit officers. These evening meal events were openly, notoriously, and shamelessly copied from the RAF after exposure to that service during W.W.II. Should a British officer have been present during one of our dining outs, we had no trouble toasting the Queen's health. The penultimate toast, was, however, reserved for the President."
Oh, all right, I'll reopen the correspondence long enough to ask what was the final toast, "Absent Friends"?

ADDED LATER: It was usually "To those who did not return."

More on "hirelings and slaves." Reader John Costello observed that all Americans think that they won the war of 1812, which I must say speaks well for their education as I doubt if most Britons have even heard of it, and then went on to say "of course they don't know about To Anacreon in Heaven either." Which stumped me. Thanks to the miracle of the internet, though, I now know that he was referring to the original song which provided the tune for the Star Spangled Banner.

Jim Bennett was one of several correspondents who made the point that the hirelings and slaves were in fact the mercenaries generically if inaccurately referred to as Hessians. He goes on to say,
"But the interesting point about the Hessians was why they needed to be used in the first place, which is that very few English were volunteering to fight Americans.

"In general, civil wars (which is what the War of Independence was) generate a lot of hard feelings, as well as bombastic song lyrics. Maryland's still-official state song, Maryland My Maryland, starts out "The tyrant's heel is on thy shore". The tyrant in question is Abraham Lincoln. And Maryland was a Union state, at least in theory. The War of 1812 was so heated because it was sort of a rematch from the War of Independence. Many of the Canadians were descenants of Loyalist refugees from 1783.

"As for the IRA issue, personally I think Blair *should* have asked for some quid pro quos in the form of action against the IRA. However, Washington and Whitehall are still locked into the Peace Process, and tolerance of Sinn Fein is seen as part of that comittment. However, it doesn't help anybody's case to rant as Kidd does. It would help to concentrate on providing good documentation to counter the IRA's claims. A very small group of pro-IRA (and pro-Continuity, etc.) adherents propagandize very effectively in the US, because no other story is really heard.
Indeed so. Confound their knavish tricks! Which takes me rather neatly to an e-mail from Robert L Martin, who also took up the point about bombastic lyrics, pointing out that there are "some references to Scotland in a later verse of God Save the Queen that are best left unsung."

What comment is there to make about this story? BBC News | MIDDLE EAST | Defendants killed in Palestinian court

I can however observe that, if you click the "Question of betrayal" link to the right of the main story you will find that the BBC, although it cannot bring itself to call terrorists terrorists has no trouble in describing as "betrayal" any action taken by a Palestinian Arab which helps Israeli security. They say themselves that these "collaborators" were not paid very much but do not consider for a moment that perhaps some of them contacted the Israelis for reasons other than money.

Googlewhack! Doesn't this sound fun? Just what I needed in life, a new way to spend time on the internet.

Talking of Google, prepare for A Disclosure. Sobbing Confession. Heartrending Personal Testimony. Whatever. I google-search my own name nearly every day. And I love it. It sends adrenaline zooming through my veins, fills me with vim, zest, zip and other monosyllables containing letters that score high in Scrabble. Yeah! Google self-abuse gives me the strength to stand up to Life's little vagaries, hit them on the head and steal their mobile phones.

I also find cool websites. Only cool sites mention me, did you know that?

But I want you to know that I am not addicted. I could give it up any time I liked.

A sewing bit! A real sewing bit! It was hopeless trying to hold off the maddened hordes of history freaks. I fought bravely but their sheer numbers and fanaticism overwhelmed me. Angie Schultz wrote:
My dear woman, you simply cannot open up a rusty can of 1812 Brand Fine Worms and just airily wander off, leaving the mess there, stinking up the place. (It attracts Canadians, for one thing.) Oh, but I suppose *you* have a maid. [In my dreams. NS] "We'll leave aside Mr. Kidd's dubious knowledge of history (what's he a lecturer in, I want to know) and instead go on to something I have a better grasp on, namely the Star Spangled Banner. The "hirelings and slaves" bit was not meant as a reference to British soldiers, but rather to the foreign mercenaries and other troops that the British deployed in North America. ("Other troops" would include conscripts, which I very dimly remember were some sort of tribute or treaty fulfillment from one of the German principalities. Hessians, in particular, are remembered for being there, but I don't know if they were there of their own free will or not.) I can't remember whether these were actually used in the War of 1812, but it was a very bitter issue in the days leading up to the Revolution. The fact that the king would use foreign troops against Englishmen (for so many still felt themselves) was what sent many fence-sitters over the edge.

"Nevertheless, it's true that that whole third verse is a bit ripe, and it wouldn't bother me if it was officially chucked out. Besides, it's in an entirely different tone from the rest of the poem, and detracts from it.

"I hadn't heard about the event Kidd is so exercised about---reading about it on your blog I assumed he meant the playing of the SSB at the changing of the guard.
[I hadn't heard it was played at the changing of the guard, though it may have been, but it's popped right out of my head what exactly was the big occasion with the Queen there (and visibly moved) when it was played. The point was that it was some semi-state bash where a foreign anthem had never been played before. It seems to have been a separate concert, that involved the band of the Coldstream Guards playing in New York, which so excised Mr Kidd. ]
"I hang out in some of the seedier dives of Usenet. Think of it as the bitter old war correspondents' bar, a room full of flinty eyes and hearts to match, and the devil take the tender of soul. After the above event, many of the posters wrote of watching this on TV and melting into puddles of warm jello, openly sobbing into their keyboards. Don't think this "nadir" went unappreciated."

Actually I too recall that I had a tear in my eye from just reading about it. I will try to quote from some other letters but I've just remembered that I have to put in our rusty old C-reg Volkswagen Passat in to the garage in order to stop the exhaust trying to lift the whole car off the ground like a rocket. And you people think I have a maid. Sob. (That sob was not a deeply moved sob, it was a deeply envious of people with maids sob.)

Oh, that sewing bit. Did you know that sacking-like scratchy large-weave fabric with vaguely hairy fibres, the stuff they put on display screens and trendy flower arrangements, is called Hessian? You do now.

Monday, February 04, 2002
Two takedowns. Orrin Judd makes life tough for Senatorial turncoats, and James Morrow does the same for Arafat. Still, don't anyone say that Arafat and chums aren't environmentally friendly - they do recycle Nazi propaganda after all.

Q: Am I anglospherical? A: No, I went on a diet after Christmas. This Right Now! magazine piece by Timothy Kidd reminds me of a few things I'd rather forget.

In general, I don't care for the tone of the article. Kidd describes the playing by the band of the Coldstream Guards of the American National Anthem as a "degradation." Perhaps he's lived a sheltered life, but so have I, and yet I can gird myself to think of quite a few things more degrading than this rather touching display of solidarity that took place a month to the day after the WTC attack.

As for what might be the correct response for a patriotic Briton to make when reaching the offending words, "hirelings and slaves", I suggest singing them lustily with many a merry quip about the coming reign of the EU. Americans! As Blogland Royalist-in-Chief, I officially forgive you for trying to invade Canada, claiming you won the War of 1812 (restrain yourselves from comment, this week I am too busy for historical research), not checking the identity of the Little Belt before firing, and for all other crimes and misdemeanors committed before the birth of any person now living. The purpose of the study of history is to make such things live again for a while, but the time arrives for the book to be put down and the news turned on instead.

Aye, but there's the rub. Mr Kidd had some painful reminders about more actions quite recent enough to be still called news, actions by people and groups for whom I have had great sympathy since September 11:
A few years ago, a visiting Sinn Fein/IRA delegation was feted by Mayor Rudy Giuliani at a fund-raising gala, and entertained by the band of the New York Police Department. On a visit to the New York Times, Irish terrorist leaders were greeted by a standing ovation from the editorial board. I myself have seen the New York Fire Brigade marching up Fifth Avenue under a banner with an IRA slogan, and being cheered by the crowd along the whole route.

Q: What would Elvis say if he were alive today? A: "It's awful dark in here. Uh, where's the door?" Sorry. Just slipped out. Dawson has recovered enough for a wee small post or two, although he still thinks he saw the popular musician mentioned above. I won't steal his clicks by giving you all the great links he provides, but the "little people" question in the 20 Questions post is poignant and interesting. Poignant because of the many replies that refer to childhood memories only dredged up with great effort, interesting because it is obviously one of those phenomena that are actually quite common yet remain unknown because those who experience it don't talk about it.

Sunday, February 03, 2002
Off with his head! Michael Lonie dares to dispute that HRH is descended from Boadicea.
"I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but isn't she of German ancestry? If I recall correctly..."
Hey, c'mon! 'If I recall correctly' indeed! Are you trying to convince me that you have all this erudite stuff just in your head and nary a reference book in sight? :-)
"...she is from the Welf family from Hanover on Great-great-grandmama's side and the house of Saxe-Coburg ("stud farm to Europe")on Great-great-grandpapa's side. Perhaps she is descended from Ariovistus, the German king Caesar thumped, or Hermann, who destroyed three legions of the Roman army at the Battle of the Teutoburgerwald in 9AD. Those would give her warrior forebears just as well as the great Briton. Even if you trace back through the immensly convoluted tree to those Scots and French types who sat on the English throne, there is still a break at William the Bastard. Although I suppose you could come back with something about Jasper Tudor..."

Actually I take it all back. Maybe you can do all this stuff without reference books. There are people who can, as I just proved to myself by, in the best tradition of clueless contestants in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, phoning a friend. Two friends actually, married to each other, and, spurring each other on to ever-ascending heights of antiquarian cool, they came up unrehearsed with miles of learned speculation, much of which I missed through not being able to type at supersonic speed. They said, yes, the Queen is a Hanoverian. But the Hanoverians get their claim to the throne via the Stuarts, and they get their claim via the Tudors. (They agreed with Mr Lonie on the Jasper angle. Actually I know a great drinking song called Oh, Sir Jasper, Do Not Touch Me, but you don't want to hear about that.) And Elizabeth II is Heir to the Tudors unless you count any surviving descendants of Henrietta Maria, youngest daughter of Charles the First. Only you don't count them firstly because an elder daughter of James I takes precedence over youngest daughter of Charles I any day, and secondly all such descendants probably died out in WWI anyway. Anyway, if she's a Tudor then she's surely descended from some Late Roman senator who is in turn descended from an early Roman senator. Then you mustn't forget her separate claim via Royal House of Essex, i.e. Alfred the Great and Co. They must have miscegenated with the Britons a bit. So, pushing my luck, yes, Elizabeth II is probably descended from Boadicea.

Then they spoilt it all by saying that Boadicea's family were all probably wiped out by the Romans. But never mind, everybody is descended from everybody anyway.

Zooom! The stealth blogger strikes. I am really not meant to be doing this today, but I have sneaked upstairs for a quick internet fix. And what do we have in the in-tray? Aha! Nice words about the French, as promised, from Midwest Conservative Journal.

4:05 PM

Saturday, February 02, 2002
Last night I passed 25,000 on the hit counter. Admittedly Nos. 24,992 - 25,000 were all my husband clicking in and out. Then we hit the magic number and tried to print out the page for posterity. That was the moment the man from Porlock struck, in the form of a real external hit, so the British Museum will just have to one day launch an appeal to save for the nation the page recording hit no. 25,001.

After that great effort, silence. Sorry for the lack of posts today, lack of replies to e-mails, and yet another apology in advance for the probable lack of posts tomorrow. It's just one of those weekends.

Friday, February 01, 2002
Two new links. The very different Midwest Conservative Journal and Airstrip One join the links column. BTW those little line-spaces every five links do not mean anything. They carry no ideological message. Nor are they there to stop one link biting another, or indeed mating to produce little linkittens. I just read somewhere that the mind cannot conceive at one instant of any number greater than five.

Chickens home to roost. Iain Murray on Edge of England's Sword asks whether the hysterical reporting of conditions in Camp X-ray may have already have helped kill kidnapped journalist Daniel Pearl.

I do not say that the Mirror could have known that a specific "reprisal" would take place, still less that they wanted it to. Yet it is not so very hard to guess that irresponsibility when dealing with violent people can have fatal results. In 1990 Iranian-born Observer journalist Farzad Bazoft was hanged by Iraq for espionage. Iraq may have been influenced by a well known hoaxer active at that time saying Bazoft was a spy.

The Conspiracy Theory Premier League has suffered a major upset, according to the sports commentary at the MCJ:
'Rhodesians the world over were ecstatic. "It hasn't sunk in yet," one of them told the Editor in the victorious Rhodesian locker room while spraying champagne in all directions. "But we did it! Nobody thought we could knock off the Jews but we did! We're number one!'

On reflection my earlier SOTU post saying that Bush "knows what sells" comes across as accusing the President of duplicity. That wasn't my intention. I think the public George W. Bush is a simplification and sometimes a distortion of the infinitely complex real man, but that's true of us all. The point I intended to make is that he knows his audience and is aware of his own appeal.

Yes, Professor, there is a brutal Afghan winter. Hey, so we had to wait a few months, but I always said this would happen someday. Fisk! Pilger! To work!

A bureacrat with a sense of humour is Mr Shawn Dearn, a spokesman for the Canadian Federal Identity Program. First remind yourselves about the controversy over why that smokers' rights website was forbidden to use the Canadian flag. (The link takes you to last week's archives. Scroll straight down to the very bottom to find the relevant post.) Then see what Mr Dearn had to say:
"[The flag symbol] is not to be confused with the Canadian flag, even though they are remarkably similar," he said.

The flag symbol is two red stripes (or black if printed on a black-and-white printer) with an 11-point maple leaf centred between the stripes, Mr Dearn said.

The national flag, on the other hand, is two red stripes with a white square containing an 11-point red maple leaf in the centre.

The difference arises only when the two are printed on non-white paper, or when words are placed next to the flag.
Glad that's been cleared up. (Thanks to Ranting and Roaring who gives us another cute baby pic - that's baby pic not babe pic, you Samizdata-maddened maniacs, and with whom I will probably end up arguing about abortion some day.)

Incidentally, the day I wrote my earlier post I bunged an e-mail to the Canadian authorities citing it and asking if they cared to comment. No reply yet.

Another difference between the UK and US systems is the route to power. In Britain the stages are MP - Junior Minister - Proper Long Trousers Minister - Prime Minister. Yeah, there may be a few aristos and cronies who tiptoe into the Cabinet but it is next to inconceivable that the top job would go to anyone who had not followed the right path. Not so in the US, according to Sean McCray:
"I also have a theory that members of Congress cannot get elected President, only Governors. Congress votes on too many things, and people vote for different reasons on a bill. A person can support the main idea of a bill, but be against the amendments attached to it. These things allow for a Congressional voting record to easily be used by an opponent."
- from Next Right, via

That chap Warren over at Unremitting Verse might be able to turn his pen to any subject, even the Euro, but I bet he didn't know that the original "Pop goes the Weasel" refers to people pawning their fox-furs. Actually not even I know that it does, but that little unverifiable factoid is one of the many bits of trivia that fill up my brain and deprive me of the necessary single-mindedness for becoming President, Mighty She-Elephant of the War Host or any similar top management job.

"SOTU" was the heading of an e-mail from Fritz Anderson. I spent a minute thinking, "isn't that a soya paste that vegetarians put in casseroles? Is this some political comment?" before finally figuring it out. Anyway, Mr Anderson writes,
"I had thought the State of the Union address was almost exactly analogous to Speech from the Throne at the State Opening of Parliament. Is that not a big deal in the UK?"
So I had to hit myself on the head all over again. Of course it is. Why didn't I think of that? Yet some tattered remnant of my once-proud point yet remains.

The main difference is that, no, it's not that big a deal except among chatterers like us. Perhaps that simply reflects the fact that Her Maj merely reads a prepared speech, and despite being one of her more self-consciously loyal subjects I have to say that it's a good thing she's queen and all because she'd never make a living on the stage. There is no performance angle. In contrast the chap reading the TOFU has to have at least enough star quality to get elected. While I grant that Bush Junior's crown is to some degree inherited, I'm not one of those who thinks his "Just Plain Folks" persona reflects any lack of either brains or knowledge of how to project himself. No sir, old Dubya has a pretty good idea of what sells among plain folks. Put another way, his father first made himself Head Spook and then Total Head Honcho and it's not unreasonable to suppose the son has inherited a good many of the qualities that propelled his father to the top.

Two wrap up, while the two speeches are both formally addressed to parliaments of various types, the President is an awful lot more worried about how it'll sell to the cameras than the Queen is. One could make some tediously democratic point at this juncture. I, however, prefer to dream of the glorious days to come when the Queen will once again don the terrifying war-blue of her ancestors and ride out to battle on her bronze chariot, its wheels bearing cruel spikes with which to mow down the bravest of her enemies. For does not Elizabeth bear the blood of Boadicea?

The answer to that is, yes, but in dilute measure. One can't imagine Boadicea (I refuse to use the pathetically correct version "Boudicca") being late for the first time in 50 years because her chariot was stuck behind a learner driver.