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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Saturday, June 29, 2002
Advantage: blogosphere. I was shocked to hear the BBC claim that the Israelis were shocked by this photo of a baby dressed as a suicide bomber. The Israelis who were surprised must have been living somewhere else other than Israel for the last few months. Or perhaps it was just the BBC who were surprised, seeing that they are so out of touch as to have only just noticed this child re-enacting a lynching, and not yet to have noticed this three year old girl coached to say on TV "why we kill the Jews", this little girl dressed as a suicide bomber at a Palestinian rally in Berlin, this whole archive (look under "kids dressed as suicide bombers"), and this boy dressed as a suicide bomber and surrounded by masked adults (scroll down), and several more circling around the blogosphere. Those are just the ones I linked to. The link to the "Jerusalem Post" picture of a child dressed as a suicide bomber, headed "Child's Play" is unavailable.

In fact, as such pictures go, this latest is one of the least offensive. The kid is too young to remember the obscene thing that was done to him. If someone buys the child off his Palestinian parents in time he might yet be saved. (Link and further discussion of the suicide-baby picture found in Damianation.)

Getting back to the original BBC story, anyone have a clue what Palestinian "legislator" Hanan Ashrawi was on about when she described the photo as a "painful image" and said, "To me it is a... strange heroism" ? Huh? Who was being heroic where? Even by the peverted lights of her society I didn't see any heroism going on. Sheesh, anyone would think those were real sticks of dynamite....

Friday, June 28, 2002
The tinnitus will go away after a minute. And you had plenty of time, so you can chain up your lawyers again. When your mouse went to the link it showed up http://dawsonspeek at the bottom, didn't it? that meant you had at least a tenth of a second to realise it was Dawson and, give me a break, just how likely was it that he was going to do the "quietly" bit?

However this really is quietly persuasive on the same issue. As is this, albeit persuasive in a different direction.

It's all right. Click them. Don't you trust me?

Quietly persuasive.

Paul Wright of TANSTAAFL described this post about a Palestinian state as "anger management." Great post, great blog, but it didn't assuage my anger at all.

(No kidding on the "great blog" bit. Read this passionate denunciation of Tim Blair's bête noir Margo Kingston. Put up or shut up, Margo.)

And on the ironing - what's with giving away our secrets, male scuzzball?

Scepticism from reader Angie Schultz about the John Sweeney report mentioned here.

I didn't see the "Correspondent" program you mentioned on your blog, but I did see BBC World's brief little segment on the faked child funerals.

Here's a Beeb web page about it: link

Matt Welch also discusses it; there are comments too: link

Matt did a Reason article on the inflated numbers, but still concludes that there were large numbers of children dying because of the sanctions (actually, I don't remember if he concluded it was because of the sanctions, or if he just said "during the sanctions period", something like that).

Matt cautions us again (in the comments page, and to me in email) that Sweeney's report contains no hard math. I was stunned by the tone of the article, which is not what I'm used to seeing on the BBC.

(I find BBC World annoyingly sensationalist. I became disgusted with them when they reported on the "panic" weeping through the streets of New ork during the anthrax mailings. Even as their reporters talked about panic and hysteria, behind them in the real streets, people carried on as normal. You could *see* them. Just because sensationalism uses calm tones and plummy British accents doesn't mean it's not sensationalism. Feh.)

Sweeney's tone on the web page is not calm, but he turned it down a bit for the TV report. The only thing that really struck me about that was the fact that they showed the former torturer and his little girl. They didn't
show her trying to walk, but they did let us get a good look at her little crushed feet---which looked plump and healthy. Of course, inside, the bones might be gravel, but outside they looked just fine. I hope her father isn't using her (and *abusing* her, with the braces described) to get back at his former boss, whatever kind of a monster he is.

There's some interesting stuff about Saddam's son Uday's unnatural lusts, too, on the BBC page.

You can't expect any better from them, can you? Here is a classic Joanne Jacobs post on the treatment of disabled students.
"In other words, special education doesn't mean educating students to function in the world. It means letting them grow up without self-control, manners or, inevitably, academic skills and knowledge. These students are being treated like animals."
Read the rest.

You Are All Guilty. Racial harassment officer sends libellous letter to every single resident of a street. (Via Libertarian Alliance Forum.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2002
Busy day tomorrow (Thursday), so no blogging for me. And light posting for the next few days. Yup, gonna post that light all over the place. I'm stuffing some ultra-violet into envelopes right now.

"Those drawn with a very fine camel's hair brush." At least one reader, Mitchell Porter, didn't believe in the Chinese classification system that was featured in Teresa Neilsen Hayden's Making Light and wrote, "I have never seen this anywhere, except as a Borges quote.I'm pretty sure he made it up."

But my regular correspondent, A Regular Correspondent writes:

"Some Chinese classification info:

"The philosopher you were thinking of was not Voltaire but Michel Foucault (I think; of course, Voltaire might have said something about it too). Foucault's quote:

"In the wonderment of this taxonomy, the thing that is demonstrated in the exotic charm of another system of thought is the limitation of our own."
"Well maybe; there again it may demonstrate that another system's poor filing may see the stages of an animal drawing class re-filed as an animal taxonomy :-)."

And there you have the answer that makes the classifications practical, given the formal style of Chinese art. For (a) one assumes that Imperial creatures must be drawn in a special style that shows their Celestial nature. This, naturally, is Lesson One. Conventions cognate to those we use in cartoons would cover the trembling of category (i) and the "innumerable ones" of (j). Category (m) would make a fetching study, suitable as a Mother's Day project to take home.

"The classification is alleged to come from the charmingly titled tenth century work, 'The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge'. I have encountered mild speculation that it is apocryphal but its age and oddity rather inclines me to believe in it."

Much as I want to believe in it too, the tedious demands of honesty compel me to state that Foucault got the quote from Borges. Perhaps acknowledging the Higher Necessity of charm in relation to truth, my correspondent moves on to the ideal China of Kai-Lung.

"An ancient Chinese drawing class in which these would have been natural successive lesson titles is hilariously described in 'The Ill-regulated Destiny of Kin Yen, the Picture Maker' from 'The Wallet of Kai Lung' by Ernest Bramah. (Kin Yen, having paid for only half the course, finds he has only been taught to draw human figures facing to the right, so has to start a new artistic movement that only illustrates funerals, processions and people alienated from each other.)

[Changing topics!] "Some thoughts were prompted, very indirectly, by your 4 and 1/2 rating of Brendan whasisname's remarks. His reasons for rejecting human rights seem very dependent on the states' rights doctrine you wisely reject (with equally wise practical qualification; relevant Burke quote: 'All that we have a right to do is not always wise to be done').

"However the 1/2 just happened to make me wonder, did Burke wholly disbelieve in human rights or only half-disbelieve? (Following quotes are from memory; better check or ask me to if you ever want to use them.) "

Fiddlesticks! Chesterton never checked his quotes, so why should I? Also, where is your gamesmanship? Don't you want the fact that you can extensively quote Edmund Burke from memory advertised?

"On the one hand, Burke valued the 'rights of Englishmen', not the French revolution's 'rights of men'

'It has been the uniform policy of our constitution to assert our rights as an entailed inheritence from our ancestors, to be transmitted without diminution to our descendants, without reference to any other or more general concept of liberty.'

and asserted that their 'rights of men' could only give or be 'the right of the naked savage'. However he also valued a government in which 'no man, or description of men, could trespass on the just rights of any other man or description of men'. His concept of rights links them to duties:

'Government is easy; teach obedience, give commands, the thing is done. Freedom is even easier; let go the rein. But a free government is a difficult thing.'

'Men must possess a certain fund of moderation to be fit for freedom, otherwise it is noxious to themselves and a perfect nuisance to everyone else.'

"To the politically correct, human rights seem to be some kind of innate quality. You are born with them, so if you are ever discovered to be without them, someone must have stolen them from you. To Burke, I think they were more like something that had to be built and for which you had to take responsibility, not something the world owed you. If you built a temple of liberty, you could live in it; or you could inherit it, along with the habits required to maintain it. If you lacked the ability to operate a given state of freedom, then you couldn't enjoy that state, and were not wronged thereby, any more than people who don't know metalworking are wronged by having to use stone tools.

"What I'm wondering is, does thinking of human rights as an intangible which those who would possess them must (re)take possession of in each generation, like a national character, instead of something everyone is born with, like sentience, mean you don't believe in them? As the debate is usually framed, by me as much as others, yes. The politically correct own the term and have since 1789; to have any hope of being understood, you must deny it and call Burke's concept something else. But you could defend the idea that he believes in half the concept. People should possess these rights but the 'should' describes their duty to make and maintain rights that are intangible but not innate, still less owed.

"Hannah Arendt has a most interesting and detailed analysis of the breakdown of human rights for various groups before world war II. Her conclusions stress the 'practical soundness' of Burke's concept and the uselessness of the more common French one. I don't agree with all of 'Origins of Totalitarianism' but it has much good matter in it. (By the way, do you have my copy of her 'On Revolution'?)"

Yes. Small coffee table, centre-left pile, under the copy of Bulbasaur's Big Day and the letter from the school about the Easter holidays. Can't think why you didn't notice it before.

Oh, phooey. All these brainy people also think Borges made it up. Gagrind, thy name is Google.

Great White Telephone time. Instapundit is rude about an absolutely puke-worthy fan article idolizing (I choose the word advisedly) Cornell West.

Ferrari awaits a ruling on whether they are allowed to bore motor racing fans to death by sublimating all individual ambition in their team members.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002
Talking of Junius, read his latest post which incorporates an Observer article by John Sweeney describing how far the Iraqi government will go in its propaganda. I didn't see Sunday's "Correspondent" programme to which the article refers. Does anyone who did have any comments?

Faster than a speeding blog... Literally within minutes of my posting the mention of Brendan O'Neill below, I had two e-mails. The first hit the mat at 11.21 and came from Chris Bertram of Junius and said:
I was thinking of posting something on Boneill's latest too, (though am currently busy trying to disentangle all the various ways Rousseau talks about freedom). I take it that when you say that you agree with him about 4.5/6, you don't agree that the rights of states to non interference (as embodied in the UN charter) should trump individual rights, since that would be an extraordinary thing for a libertarian to agree to.
and the second came at 11.24 and was ex anima Brendan himself . It said,
So...which one-and-a-half do you disagree with?
I am put to shame. I plucked the figure of 4 1/2 out of the air as approximately expressing my agreement-level. The extra half sounded um, you know, sort of humorous.

Bloody hell, that's lame. Next time anyone asks I will be ready with a complex sum involving 0.15 agreement with point one, 0.8 agreement with point two and so on, which will all most certainly add up to 4.5 exactly.

Chris Bertram is right; supporting states rights over individual rights would be absurd for a libertarian. It is, however, often imprudent and officious to try and fix the problems and arbitrate the quarrels of strangers.

Talkboardfightin' man. Tal G in Jerusalem had a link to a Guardian chatroom where the subject up for discussion was the Middle East. That link will keep changing as more comments are added, so I'll preserve a notable exchange below. Look at the speed of response from "reality1948". Remember, if you want to rule the talkboards, you gotta keep reading those blogs.
reality1948 - 05:48am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#63 of 79)
>"What makes you so sure of it ? Common sense dictates that when you stop occupying and oppressing a people, that people will become less belligerent"

Because there are so many groups in the world today who are so much worse off than the palestinians and don't teach their 5 year old children to kill people by suicidee in kindergarden.

lind3420 - 05:50am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#64 of 79)

Exactly, where did you hear this information?

reality1948 - 05:51am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#65 of 79)
The children are taught hate from a very youung age as the picture in this link shows. A kindergarden graduation where a little girl celebrates lynching with fake blood on her hands.

Basil44 - 05:53am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#66 of 79)

You may have a point here, other people may behave differently. However, this is a trait Jews share with the Palestinians (whith which they are genetically-related: correct me if I'm wrong): the same fierce tribalism and religious fanaticism which helped Jews survive as a people in foreign countries for about 2000 years. It's like you are blaming yourselves.

AJSch0ll - 05:55am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#67 of 79)
Palestinians: Armed with more than stones

lind3420 - 05:58am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#68 of 79)

What are the Israeli children taught? Do you think they are taught to love Palestinians? They all have to do mandatory sevice. Where is the info on this. Your site was not very informative, nor credible.

reality1948 - 06:03am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#69 of 79)
Every time a bomber blows themself up, you hear an interview with their mother who is so happy and that she wishedd she had more sons to blow themselves up.

There is nothing congenital here, its indoctrtination into a cult of death, that most mulims in the west must find an abomination, considering suicide is terrible sin in Islam.

I truely pity the palestinians for what their "leaders" have turned them into and what they are doing to their children.

lind3420 - 06:04am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#70 of 79)

Link, please. I have not seen the mothers so happy. Please inform me.

reality1948 - 06:05am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#71 of 79)
Do you think those pictures are made up? Want me to post a link of a picture of palestinian "Sesame Street" with a 3 year old girl taught to kill jews.

Israeli children are not taught to hate palestinians. In thruth most pity them for what their leadership has turned them into.

reality1948 - 06:06am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#72 of 79)

An English translation of a London based newspaper's interview with a mother of a suicide bomber.

Basil44 - 06:09am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#73 of 79)

Even if what you say is true, you are as fanatic and brainwashed as them if you believe that this will not change even if these people regain their freedom from racial oppression. Show my something similar that occured before the occupation in 1967.

reality1948 - 06:10am Jun 25, 2002 BST (#74 of 79)

The full article in english.

and the original in Hebrew

It ain't chance. Joe Katzman links to and comments on a compelling article by Ralph Peters about what makes a country unsuccessful. I have meaning to capture the Winds of Change and set them blowing for the New Model Army for ages, and now I've finally got round to it.

Also welcome Brendan O'Neill, writing from a very different (or, to use the technical term, wrong) perspective but nontheless managing to have broadly the same opinion as me (what we in the trade call being right) in 4½ out of his six shibboleths of received opinion.

Monday, June 24, 2002
The worst yet.

You should read this. Link to it. Pass it on.

"Avishai, 5, the family's youngest, began shrieking, after he awoke from the commotion. The terrorist soon opened fire on his tiny body. "

God knows, I've said this before, but the defining feature of the Palestinian terrorists is that they seek out civilians, women, children and old people to kill, and the defining feature of Palestinian culture is that they like it that way. In this case the terrorist deliberately murdered three children and their mother. One by one.

A few days ago three Palestinian children, two of them from the same family, were killed by the Israeli army. They weren't harming anyone; they were going to market in Jenin, thinking that a curfew had been lifted when it had not. Someone panicked and opened fire. Those children's lives are not worth less than Avishai's and his two brothers. But they weren't murdered.

(Link found in Dawson, original report by Harvey Tannenbaum.)

Bizarre as it may seem, given their "Free Country" campaign, the Telegraph website has hidden away this important story under a catch-all link title in tiny, tiny print. You see if you can find it. Now that you've failed miserably, I will show my irritating superiority by waving a careless hand and saying, "Here it is: 'Blunkett adopts EU arrest warrant.' "

"More moppets, if you can stand it" was John Weidner's comment about this story covering the Palestinian 'Sesame Street'. I don't blame them for the adding the disclaimer, either. Jim Henson, a man who gave innocent pleasure to millions, would reach out from the grave to sue the **** out of them if they omitted it. And here, courtesy of Little Green Footballs, is a five year old re-enacting a lynching as part of a kindergarten class.

Saturday, June 22, 2002
Who said this?
"And it is necessary to reflect that the Palestinian suicide bombers don't even ask these questions. For the suicide bombers are executioners, the executioners of whole Israeli families. The immolation of their own lives does not excuse the fact that, in their last moments, they are able to see the Israeli child in the pram who will die with its mother, the Israeli family eating its pizzas on a hot Wednesday afternoon, the old folk celebrating a Jewish religious festival who will be his or her victims. The 17-year-old Palestinian girl who blew herself up to kill a 16-year-old Israeli girl remains an awesome symbol of youth destroying youth."
Click here to find the surprising answer.

An example to us all is cited in Travelling Shoes.

Among their other crimes, the North Korean regime won't even tell their own people about South Korea's sterling performance in the World Cup.

UPDATE: Given the outrageous incompetence of the referee in Korea's game against Spain, I'd correct that last phrase to "won't even tell their own people about South Korea's peso performance in the World Cup."

The sad story of British gun control. The Financial Times carried this Joyce Lee Malcolm article. Not the FT's usual fare, but not nearly so surprising as if the ordinary Times, let alone the Guardian or Independent had carried it. I look to the day when we start seeing newspaper columns by British writers saying this same message. Unfair it may be, but many of her readers are going to spot the reference to Bentley University/MIT on the bottom line and say, "Ah, she would say that. She's an American, and everyone knows what they're like." (Link via Instapundit.)

Friday, June 21, 2002
Back to the real world. The Palestinians: working towards statehood.
JERUSALEM — Hours before her death in a suicide attack, 5-year-old Gal Eizenman was jumping around, a blond bundle of joy at a children's musical performance organized by her grandmother Noah Alon, 59.

A videotape of the occasion shows the two of them happy and dancing. Later, the tape was used to give details of what Gal and her grandmother were wearing so their bodies could be identified.


In another tragic tale, two orphaned sisters, Shuval and Shagal Shemesh, ages 7 and 3, lost their adopted grandfather in a suicide bombing on Tuesday, three months after their parents were killed in another attack in Jerusalem.

At the time, the girls' parents, Gadi and Tzippi, had left a clinic where an ultrasound test showed their mother was five months pregnant with twins.

The two girls were adopted by Gadi's sister Anat whose father-in-law Baruch Graoni, 60, was among the 17 people killed in Tuesday's bombing on a bus.

I've got a little running joke on this blog. I put up pictures of Palestinian kids dressed up by their loving parents in suicide belts and make a little play on the notion of a "Moppets and Martyrs" calendar. It's a way of dramatizing my belief that Palestinian society is sunk in barbarism. Well, just now I saw a picture of the little girl mentioned above who never got to play being blown up. They blew her up for real. Perhaps it would not be strictly accurate to call her a martyr. She didn't want to die, any more than did her grandmother. But in a way she was martyred. I can't cry now because it's a training day at the school so the kids are home. They are running about all over the house, my children and another little kid who's visiting, having a fine old time. I hope they don't come in here.

One day I'm going to make it out of TV and into the blogs.... Happy Fun Pundit on the sad tale of the Canadian cable TV channels who discovered "...their prime time audiences measured not in the hundreds of thousands, but in the hundreds. Or dozens. Or one guy named Old Joe who watches 'CanoeTV' religiously for the portaging tips."

Blair still has not admitted the bad news. A scandalous cover-up. Typical spin and news management. When will Blair learn to come clean?

Why aren't we tracking these things? Not to mention reducing them to their component atoms with cleansing nuclear fire. Asteroid came this close to hitting Earth.

Tim Blair's up and posting here, but I'm more up to date. Unfortunately.



Good morning everyone! I now commence on a 48 page analysis of trade policy, Third Way economic macro-management and its correlation with underlying trends in-- My neighbour just drove in to the street like a bat out of hell. Whatever was she doing out of reach of a TV?

Thursday, June 20, 2002
Watch patiently. If nothing happens after several seconds, twiddling the mouse may correct the problem. This... thing is my gift to you all.

I got it, and the "thing" description, from MCJ who got it from Transterrestrial Musings. It needs Flash to work.

Those that resemble flies from a distance. This comes from Teresa Neilsen Hayden's blog. It is unlikely to the point of impossibility that Teresa Neilsen Hayden resembles a fly from a distance, or, indeed from close up. (Indeed she doesn't. Just found her picture. Ignore me when I whiffle on like this.) But she does quote a passage from Borges that itself quotes an interesting Chinese classification system. I had come across this before - I seem to remember that Voltaire described it as "sublime", though Google gives me no reference. Anyway, quiz for you, with a provisional answer to be revealed in a few days. A friend of mine thought up an explanation of how this system came about, under which the classifications are eminently practical. Can you?

Fat chance. Moira Breen observes the battle between two different PC sects: health fascists and fat activists. It sure pays to have a lifetime of double fries: you can sue MacDonalds for over-feeding you, then reinvest some of the proceeds by suing Southwestern Airlines for having too small seats. Click the comments, too. One lady, self-described as a "fat chick", takes charge of her own affairs well: she buys two seats. Patrick Neilsen Hayden of Electrolite makes some fair points and then finishes up most engagingly with "You know all this. I'm engaged in the process described on rec.arts.sf.fandom as "arguing in order to be polite."

Except when it's good news. Then I'm not written out. Lots of people have commented on the Al Ahram/Independent article from Edward Said. OK, so I did make one of those atonal hums through the nose while reading it. No one would call it a clarion call to morality. But it's an advance on the time when Mr Said's idea of a good answer to "When are you [Palestinians] going to stop killing people?" was "That's an American question." Here is Junius's take on the article.

There's more to come. InstaPundit led me to this excellent news in Zachary Barbera's blog. He links to a Sydney Morning Herald article saying that 50 notable Palestinians have taken out an advert condemning suicide bombings. Their quoted statement still seemed to dwell overmuch on the pragmatic inadvisability of the tactic, rather than its evil. But, again, it's a start. And they risk much more than Said does in speaking out.

I'm written out for a while on the subject of suicide bombers. Iain Murray isn't. Also note spot-on comments from Kris Murray.

And I see Iain, too, has a jeer about spoilsports Perugia.

"For the Italian team, the whining noise doesn't stop when the plane touches down." That, from memory, was the unwontedly witty signing off line given to us by a BBC reporter on the news last night. Perugia sacked the Korean player whose goal pushed Italy out of the World Cup. La Bella Perugia! City of Raphael, Urbino, wine, truffles and babies in a sulk.

Learn from us. The man behind "Rogernomics" in New Zealand says you can't fix the NHS with money. Compared to Gordon Brown, Roger Douglas is a paladin of economic good sense. Not everyone is a fan, though.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002
Check out Eric Raymond's Armed and Dangerous. Not afraid to follow the thought through to any conclusion, is he?

Go rant and roar someplace else! "OK," says David Janes, now at Update links time again.

Honourable mention. Sorry, Basmallah. You may be cute, you may be three and a half, but you don't get a slot in the Moppets and Martyrs calendar because your Mummy hasn't said in so many words that she wants you dead. Yet. But getting coached to say that "we kill the Jews because they are apes and pigs" is a really good start, so keep trying, Basmallah!

I ought to say that Medical Aid for Palestinians seem fairly respectable, and I am quite happy to see Palestinians get medical aid. (What with UNRWA looking after them, Saudi killathons and Yasser Arafat crisps they must be the most medically aided people in the world, but they don't seem to be getting any less sick. Sorry, meant to say, any healthier. Perhaps some of the money slips through the cracks.) What I object to is all the talk that implies that the Israelis shoot the curfew-busting husbands of women in labour for fun. They do it because murderous suicide bombers have given them ample cause to believe that they might have 0.02 seconds to get a bullet through the brain of the Palestinian driving very fast in their direction.

What is it with ex-ambassadors to the Saudi Entity? Just re-read Matt Welch's demolition of the onetime US ambassador to the place, "Saudi lapdog" Wyche Fowler. Now update the scene to the floor so recently hit by Cherie's little dropped brick. The carpet so abused belonged to a charity called Medical Aid for Palestinians. And who is the guiding spirit of this body?
...What she got from Sir Andrew Green, a former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and MAP's chairman, was a gruesome slide show of the inhumanity he claimed the Israelis had carried out in several Palestinian villages...


It was deliberately undiplomatic language from Sir Andrew, who said that Israel's "ruthless occupation" was stopping the charity delivering medical supplies.

The whole Times story can be found - drat!, can be found on page 12 of the Times. Buy a paper for once. Every time I link to the website my computer freezes. If you want to risk it the story is headed "Slide show developed into a political sideshow."

So what gives? It could be that irresistible charm exercised by the class of Saudis who mix with Western diplomats, I suppose, that turns their heads, but Daniel Pipes thinks it's the consultancy fees. (When I started writing this post, I knew I wanted the earlier Matt Welch post on Wyche Fowler and googled straight to it. I had not yet seen this more recent Welch / Charles Johnson posting on the subject.)

So there you are. Sir Andrew Green was amassador to the Saudi-Controlled Place from 1996 - 2000, overlapping with his US colleague Wyche as it happens. He's also guest speaker for Swan Hellenic cruises. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It just one of those human interest details.

Like a pound coin found down the back of the sofa, this editorial saying that the post office needs competition sparkles brightly among the fluff, broken bits of toy and old lollipop sticks surrounding it.

It's a poor memorial to the 19 innocents killed in Israel that much of what the British papers can find to say about them is what a clanger Cherie has dropped. However it was interesting to see the BBC Television news assuming that it was a clanger when all she was doing was repeating their own line of a few days ago. Last night's ten o'clock news was the most anti-bomber I have heard yet. Something has changed, and if the change sticks it will will save a few lives down the line. It might cut down the flow of EU money to Arafat for a start.

BBC News 24 is quite separate editorially, but it too is beginning to feel the see-saw tip. No equivocation about this story: Child heroes of bus bomb rescue. On the other hand, BBC News 24 keeps to its old habit of putting quote marks round "terror attacks" in the introduction to the story about Israel re-entering the West bank, as if the terror attacks might be something else; friendly pats on the back for instance. (That link will only be good for today, Wednesday.) Can I make myself believe that the quote marks merely show that Sharon is being quoted? No.

Why blog? I posted a fortuitously-found quote from Trevelyan's Life and Letters of Macaulay over at Samizdata.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002
As promised, I'm coming back to Brendan O'Neill's question "Why is blogging a right-wing thing?" As I said to him in a private e-mail, after his calling all my readers "easily shocked ladies who lunch" I would dearly love to rend his gobberwarts.* But there's a problem. I agree with him.

He says, "I have always suspected that the right-wing blogging phenomenon is a result of the right's increasing isolation from the mainstream - from mainstream politics, mainstream journalism and mainstream debates. Over the past 10 to 15 years, traditional right-wing views have become ever-more unpopular, as Third Way and consensus politics have take centre stage. The Reaganites and Thatcherites who were in the ascendant in the 1980s have found themselves out on a limb in an age where we're all supposed to be caring, sharing, non-argumentative, environmentally-aware centre-lefties. "

You can't say truer than that. It's like being a sheepdog on a sensitivity training course these days. Pah. But after this strong start the limitations of Mr O'Neill's mindset soon become clear:

"And rather than build an effective and coherent opposition to the new political orthodoxies, some on the right seem happy to retreat into the 'Blogosphere', from where they can throw insults at their enemies without having to challenge them fundamentally."

Huh? Just what sort of fundamental challenge do you think I was putting up before the blog? Cleaning the toilet in a right-wing way? Non-multicultural clearing up after breakfast? The point about blogging is that it costs next to nothing, anyone from housewives to executives can do it, and you don't need to go through an editor. Mr O'Neill's disdain for such low-intensity warfare comes through in his repeated use of the word "challenge":

"...the very nature of the Blogosphere ... means it is best suited to poking fun or poking holes in the mainstream media, rather than actually challenging it at a serious level."

Er, yes. Such a relief. As I write this post now I know that it is well short of the serious and weighty response that I could be composing were I Gladstone reborn. How nice that I'm not, and it's just a blog post that I can get done before nipping round the shop for some more milk. For all his romantic attachment to the spirit of 1798, Sir Brendan the Serious has all the attitudes of a nobleman demanding that these oiks put down the longbows and fight properly (with the very important caveat that first they have to buy the horse and the armour i.e. get a journalism degree and a proper job.)

"'s safe to say that The Guardian - now the most mainstream, pro-government paper in Britain - won't be quaking in its boots."

No, but it's turning red and shuffling about. Did I ever tell you the story of Matthew Engel's column that was laughed right out of the Guardian archives?

" means that many on the right will end up simply talking to themselves, rather than building a real opposition to the Blairs, Clintons and Schroeders of this world. That is one of the reasons I have a lot of time for Iain Murray. Iain and I disagree on many things, but his Conservative Revival weblog was a good stab are thinking about actual alternatives to New Labour and how such alternatives could be reconstituted as an opposition."

He means proper politics again. Join a party. Become activists or local councillors or journalists. Get a proper job. Not that I have the slightest objection to Iain Murray (May his sword arm be ever strong!) or anyone else doing these things. But it all boils down to play nicely! To which I say, "Shan't!"

"In short, I think blogging is a right-wing thing as a result of the right's increasing isolation - and as a result of right-wingers' fancy for short, sharp, pithy attacks on an enemy that, in fact, they don't feel like they can take on. "

Classic guerilla tactics. And a classic guerilla error is to be tempted before you are ready into full scale battles that you are certain to lose.

Whoah, brakes on. Perhaps I'm in danger of letting my military metaphor push me into conclusions I don't really believe. Although I do think the right wing three quarters of the blogosphere does indeed do much of its work by pinpricks, it may have its greatest effects through conventional means. As Brian Micklethwait says, 'Blogging is going to impact seriously on all this, by identifying non-left and libertarian journalistic talent, giving it a start, training it, and then feeding it into the mainstream media.' So come on Brendan, gis a job.

*As Terry Pratchett fans will know, not as much fun as it sounds.

For reasons I explain over there, this post also appears in Libertarian Samizdata.

Uncommon Sense says "I hasten to point out the following: The immigrant-welfare problem exists only in the welfare state. Eliminate the welfare state, this "problem" disappears as well."


An interesting combination. This and this.

Good sense from the Guardian. It happens. Buzz off, snoopers.

Monday, June 17, 2002
Total Perspective Blogdex. Like Zaphod Beeblebrox discovering that he really was the centre of the universe, I emerge unconcerned from having passed under the lens of Brendan O'Neill. Hey, what's the problem? Any mention that puts me next to Instapundit is fine by my Inner Troll. Stirring up Junius and Public Interest simultaneously was an undeniably brave stroke, but I'm not sure that Brendan's daring last-minute substitution of his Fenian forbears into the argument - or rather, substitution of his Fenian forbears for the argument - is really enough to keep him in the tournament, seeing that so many Irish ancestors are playing for my team too.

More tomorrow.

Britain considered as a private party. Jim Bennett (who, I discover, is Australian - click link to find out more [UPDATE: No, he's an American. I misunderstood - see below.]) writes:

You wrote:

"and while I oppose compulsory English and citizenship classes on the same grounds upon which I oppose compulsory anything else, it is nice that so many British Muslims want more of their people to learn English."

I think the problem is with the fool that called the classes "compulsory" when he should have written "conditional." As marginalized fringe libertarian wierdos know, but Guardian writers don't, is that there's no similarity at all between a compulsory measure and one imposed as a condition of contract, when the action contracted for is entirely voluntary. And immigration to the UK is surely a voluntary act in this case.

I myself find this news extremely encouraging. But then, I've always said that Anglosphere cultures tend toward assimilation unless forced otherwise.


*&'$%"£! I should have thought of that. In fact I already had thought of it, but in another directory. My mind is like the internet without Google. The directory where I had thought of immigration as agreeing to a contract was headed "welfare/problems/immigration" or something like that. The world is full of hardworking, active people who would like to live in the Anglosphere. In order to get this valuable benefit they would happily contract to do without welfare. If we could let them in on these terms we existing residents would gain the benefit of their energy and talents and we wouldn't get swamped by freeloaders. But such is the horror of unequal treatment that even though both sides would benefit we can't bring ourselves to do it. The English lessons are - or were - subject to the same constraints. Quite rightly we don't want the Home Secretary checking our apostrophes, and so we shy away from allowing him to check anyone's.

Mr Bennett's argument, that a contract freely assumed is no oppression, is a strong one. I teeter on the edge of agreement - but remain worried: what if we get the new immigrants learning English and citizenship (I assume they come as a package), and it works fine, and then someone oh-so-reasonably says, shouldn't we all share in the benefits of Education in Citizenship? Ah, come now, the test at the end is easy, platitudinous even... you just have to say that you are committed to the British ideal of "social justice" in order to pass.

The adoption issue, too, brings up a conflict between universal rights and particular conditions accepted as part of the deal. We've all heard about the hoops that those wishing to adopt a child must jump through. The hoops are frequently absurd and outrageous, but that's another story. Even if one accepts that some check must be made that prospective adopters are fit to be parents, that doesn't mean that one supports similar checks on natural parents. A tremor goes through me when I hear a sententious TV commentator raise the topic, because they always finish up by talking about the "anomaly" that even the most feckless natural parent is allowed to breed.

Finally, I gave some thought to another important question raised by Mr Bennett. Which is the best service area on the M1 for children? It's a close run thing, but I'd say Newport Pagnell if you like them fried, but Toddington if you go for the fricassee option.

What's all this Australian bit? In a sort of director's cut, Mr Bennett has sent out an extra three words for his column exclusively for readers of this blog. "I suppose I should have written the following sentence with the additional 3 words in brackets. "In its own way this immigrant mix has become part of Anglosphereness, so that a bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup can be for me a taste of home (even when I'm ) in Australia."

British Muslims pro-integration? I was surprised by this finding: "Further evidence of the appetite for integration lies in the level of support for David Blunkett's plans for compulsory English language and citizenship tests for new immigrants - 65% of Muslims backed the proposal. " The Guardian and ICM carried out a poll on the attitudes of British Muslims. Although this commentary exaggerates the extent to which the respondents did want integration, I must admit that I was surprised and heartened by the support for Blunkett's proposals. Which is weird, because I don't actually support them myself. But given that I am a marginalized libertarian weirdo, I must take my comfort where I can; and while I oppose compulsory English and citizenship classes on the same grounds upon which I oppose compulsory anything else, it is nice that so many British Muslims want more of their people to learn English. It's a pity that there is a great swarm of "diversity officers", British Sign Language to Urdu intepreters and the like whose jobs depend on this not happening.

At last. Teleportation.

Power without responsibility. Peace Process without Peace. There was a story in Saturday's Telegraph that brought back memories. Headed "Terror threat to policeman" it described how a young Catholic policeman narrowly escaped injury - they called it injury, though I would have thought "death" was more the mot juste - after a bomb exploded under his car. The link says that too many people are trying to access that story. Good. I hope the crowds trying to access note well that Mitchel McLaughlin, chairman of Sinn Fein refused to condemn the attack on the officer. Sinn Fein grow fat on the rewards of participation in the peace process. Their placemen prance about for photo-opportunities and pose at the big desks they now have in government. Yet they refuse to condemn attempted murder of a policeman.

The story reminds us that this type of killing is not new. Both the Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Ulster Constabulary were meant to be religiously mixed. But the IRA killed as many Catholic policemen and part-time soldiers as it could. It was easy to do. The gunmen knew where the Catholic recruits lived. Then, then, they set up a great wail that the UDR and the RUC were sectarian, and wasn't it shocking how few Catholics there were in them. And the "liberal" British press, let alone the foreign press, just lapped it all up.

Dawson is up at five in the morning, posting for you. Loads of classic exuberant LOL ranting. Not everyone can do exuberant ranting. I think you need to eat mysterious Southern food, like fried opossum, to do it right. But I have to say that the link to the man he shot in Reno put me into a weird loop. Cunning, these Frenchies.

UPDATE: Some of my less cosmopolitan British readers thought I was joking about fried opossum. No, I'm not. Do a Ctrl-F search or scroll down to find the 'possum, passing the bear fillet in burgundy on your way. Now, I'm very soft-hearted and happen to know that my meat appears by special act of creation divinely shrink-wrapped on Tesco shelves. But if I had to eat dead animals like the rest of you, there is a certain appeal in going out in the morning to hunt your lunch.

Sunday, June 16, 2002
What is this, a frigging gossip column? My dear friend Junius (of course he's too high-principled to use his title, but we all know) tells me that Electrolite has moved to most chic little place at - cost him five million, you know, but worth it for that location, and of course we're all missing Myria who, getting serious here, is having a bad time according to a comment on her blog. I heard that snippet while at the most magical party thrown by my dear friends over at Dodgeblog...

Saturday, June 15, 2002
Moves, News, Corrections. Midwest Conservative Journal is now at so adjust your links. I hope Our Editor does keep the archives available somewhere. Ain't No Bad Dude says that the Gun Show Loophole really exists and needs closing, others disagree. One for you Yanks, I think. And, keeping up the non-idiotarian liberal theme, Gary Farber's Amygdala is back and strategizing after a hiatus.

Layman's logic has looked a little closer at The American Kaiser's post cited by me earlier. He corrects some maths and mathematical terms and gets a less dramatic result. The corrected figures are still striking: "...And therefore a Jewish child is two and a half times as likely to die as his Arab neighbour, and it's mother twice as likely." Someone else - in fact several someones - should check up on this. Not because I don't think Ben Sheriff hasn't done a capable job, but because if confirmed these figures are extremely important and should be spread widely.

But the checking won't be done by me any time today. I have birthday party games to arrange, loot bags to fill, panics to have, a temper to lose. I love it all really.

Friday, June 14, 2002
Wallabies from Hell hit Henley. Why do I have to turn to the Sydney Morning Herald to find out all the important news? I never heard about the chimpanzee, either.

Cook, A Snoop, At the World Cup. Sorry. Couldn't resist that. A regular correspondent (Let's call him A.R.C. for short) writes:

...I observe Robin Cook has called for Labour to spin less. Is this a disguised bid to be a rival to Gordon Brown in the post Blair leadership election? (As you may deduce, I'm not disposed to credit the remarks of cabinet ministers. Cook is presumably experienced at spinning to his wife re his occasional affairs; surely he shouldn't treat strangers better than his nearest and dearest. :-))

Meanwhile, I assume the goverment's radical expansion of the list of agencies that will be allowed, with zero oversight, to examine which web sites you visit, is providing the UK blog community with something to talk about. A civil service spokesman has assured us that occasion to use these powers will be rare so there's no cause to worry. Alas, the sentence structure reminded me (actually happened genuinely to remind me) of Hitler's reassurance, to the Reichstag that voted his enabling law in 1933, that occasions to use these powers would be rare. That coincidence doesn't actually worry me; but this government's untrustworthiness does!!

A final question: why are so many Japanese supporting the UK in the world cup?

Rage against a cupcake. The story that made my blood boil last night was not a murder, a rape, or a terrorist attack. I don't know why I should be so bothered by a school dispute in a foreign country, unless it's because I have been a teacher, but I was absolutely incensed by this story about some idle brat in Peoria, Arizona who who was about to fail for cutting classes, plaiglarism, ignoring the offered second chance and all-round complacent inefficiency. But not, I think, stupidity. Oooh, no, this chick knew how to ensure she passed without the trouble of actually working. She just gave Mommy and Daddy a call, and Mommy and Daddy hired this nice lawyerman called Stan F. Massad and he told the mean old teacher lady that he'd be make her very sorry if she didn't let Daddy's girl have fun with a cap and gown.

But the school authorities knew that would be unfair to the honest students. They acted firmly to back up their teacher, Elizabeth Joice, and defend the reputation of their school, right?

Wrong. They caved in abjectly.

Seems I wasn't the only one incensed. The Arizona Republic described the original report as "knuckle-whitening" and speaks of a wave of angry comment from readers. And several blogs have covered the story, such as Desert Pundit who includes an e-mail address for complaining about the lawyer's intimidatory tactics,
Zonitics, Instapundit, and of course my personal start-point for education stories, Joanne Jacobs.

And here's the cool cartoon by Benson that gave me the "cupcake" line.

I've had a little play on Google myself. I didn't find Cupcake's name, alas, but I did find the website for Sunrise Mountain High School. (Motto: We Won't Fail You)

I bet Cupcake sang the school song with a big smile on her face as she graduated: "Go mighty Mustangs! gallop to glory / fighting all the way / Mustangs will conquer / in purple and white / standing up tall / with their heads held high / So let’s go, fight / we’re Sunrise Mountain High School / onward to victory! "

I've wimped out of ringing up Arizona. But if anyone nearer or braver wants to courteously ask the school why they allowed the hard work of their honest students to be debased, the phone number and address can be found here. Or perhaps the Peoria Unified School District Administrative Center at 6330 West Thunderbird Road, Tel. 623 486-6000 would be the guys to talk to; I am unsure of American practice in these matters. And if you're feeling very, very brave indeed, Pirhana-lawyer (I refer only to his undoubted tenacity and initiative on behalf of his clients) Stan F. Massad can be contacted here. I live far away and have a pure past, Stan. And no money.

Thursday, June 13, 2002
A good sport. I'd just like to mention that Nick Butterworth, author of the Percy the Park Keeper books, very good-humouredly signed a copy of his justly famous work, "Just Like Jasper" for my son. Nothing unusual about that you say? Well, the copy concerned still had its "Withdrawn from Hertfordshire Libraries" stamp clearly visible. I think we paid 20p for it. But we got Percy new, honest. And in hardback.

Ain't no way to pretend that I'm posting this story about an actor alleged to have taken out a contract on his wife for any other reason than a ghoulish interest in its sheer filmability. An interest shared by the LAPD, according to the defence.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002
I'd have caught this Lileks blast on the profiling issue eventually as I complete my sweep through the blogs I've missed over the last week or so. But Joanne Jacobs caught it first. Mr Lileks is talking about fingerprinting and photographing visitors to the US from high-risk countries.
I don’t care. I am way past caring. I have not a jot of the care-sauce left in my bones. The care tank is empty. There’s no one home in Careville. The dog ate my care. The Care Crop didn’t come up this year. comes up as a 404.

Would I raise an eyebrow if the government quarantined everyone with a Koran, kept them in holding cells for a week, tagged them with a microchip and sprayed them with a dye that shows up on orbiting satellites? Yes, I would. I’m raising an eyebrow right now, just for practice’s sake. But when these people get hysterical about co-religionist non- citizens being photographed and fingerprinted, I not only disregard what they say now but whatever they say in the future, as well as whoever cites them as an authority.

There's the germ of an idea in that last paragraph. Or rather, there's one point that has been widely made and another idea that needs to be teased out further. The widely made point is that he suppression, or attempted suppression, of obvious and moderate precautionary steps against Arab/Muslim suspected terrorists is one of the factors promoting hatred against innocent Muslims. Man, it does not please folk who have just had three thousand slaughtered in front of their eyes to be told that they are racists for wanting to check out the next Saudi buying a copy of "Teach Yourself To Fly."

The point I haven't seen widely made is that intelligent profiling might have good effects on Muslims of goodwill. And I can see why. The way I've written it, it looks completely freaking loopy. Getting Hassled, Stopped, Frisked and Full Body Searched Is Good For You. Yeah, right. But there's something there. Something more than the obvious point that their lives might also be the one saved: many Muslims were murdered in the WTC, the Pentagon, and on those planes.

Perhaps the proposition looks a little saner if we consider what's happening now. There is a vicious circle. Moves that would clearly make us all safer are not openly taken. Result: resentment among non-Muslims at being endangered for the sake of political correctness. But, of course, Arabs and Muslims are being profiled, only stealthily, and you can bet the stealth adds poison to the way that baggage checkers and cops carry out this task. Next result: resentment among Muslims at the snide insults they suffer. So we get hysterical denunciations of measures that are not objectionable when the real cause of their anger was the objectionable way in which those measures were carried out. But the denunciations annoy non-Muslims even more, and motivate the frisker to be a little more rough, the policeman to put a little more sneer in his voice, the press and public to build on any existing tendency to lump all Muslims together as terrorists and enemies. And characterizations of that sort have a way of coming true.

Open and avowedly temporary precautions would be a lot better. The inconvenience to travellers is never going to be fun, and the powers granted to snoopers are always going to be worrying. But the bad effects would be much softened. Among those fingerprinted there would be occasion for dignity and fortitude, two qualities that Islam does seem to promote. There would be occasion for sympathy and imaginative identification among the bystanders, and that the West does well.

God knows, we're in need of some more positive thoughts about Arabs and Muslims. MEMRI's latest shocker, ably described by David Tell, featured on Instapundit today, and is going to be all over the world tomorrow. As it should be. Truth will out and should out. This soft-spoken corrupter of children, Doaa 'Amer, and her supporters should be denounced before the world. I think there are Muslims who would like to speak out against this behaviour. They are (mainly) silent for two reasons. The first is obvious: physical danger from either their rulers or the mob. Those more fortunately situated could make them safer by highlighting their cases in the way that Amnesty International still does well, when it can tear itself away from callow anti-Americanism. The second reason for silence is isolation. Like Winston Smith watching the film of the lifeboat being bombed, individual Muslims who are disturbed by the fanaticism look round and see everyone else baying for more blood. Why, even most of the Franks who you might think would object seeing as they are so loudly against racism, seem vaguely approving. Unless these individual Muslims are very exceptional individuals they do as Smith did and shrink into themselves. Here, again, Muslims and non-Muslims living in free countries help by speaking out. If the general population of Egypt, say, learn that the rest of the world are horrified by their anti-semitism some of them are going to wonder if the rest of the world might be right. The first person to say so looks a weirdo, quite possibly an apostate, and lives in fear of his life. The ten thousandth person doesn't.

Fans of 'Robot wars' will like this picture from Random Jottings. Me, I feel sorry for the poor little aeroplane. Did laugh a bit, though.

A certain profile. Dr Frank asks some questions about the exact histories of dirty bomb man Padilla and his British equivalent, Reid the shoe-bomber. Both are members of disaffected ethnic minorities who converted to Islam in prison. It is very clear to me that members of this category should be looked at hard. "Looked at" does not mean insulted, harassed, or arrested. Forensic profiling does have a fair record of success in catching serial killers, along with some notable failures. The term refers to a procedure more complex and more tentative than what people usually mean by profiling, although one-word profiling also has its uses. In other words, yes, I do think that the baggage checker should snap to attention when either an Arab or a Muslim reaches the head of the line. That is hard on the non-terrorist majority of Arabs and Muslims, so let it be done with decent discretion. The checkers should never be dozing, of course, but the ideal of constant total alertness when checking all passengers is forever unattainable. Some selectivity is necessary. The selection will be a mixture of simple broad-category-prejudice, more complex narrow-category prejudice and the copper's standby of watching to see if they twitch. And, I hope, specific intelligence briefings based on the answers to Dr Frank's questions.

My point is that the broad category prejudice is not irrational. Al-Qaeda have turned to non-Arab agents such as Padilla and Reid precisely because the operations of their Arab agents are hindered by it. It is good that they are forced to work from a much smaller pool of agents, as their chances of finding people with the correct temperament are smaller. (Both Reid and Padilla seem to have lacked it: both prone to hysterical display.) But if you say, "no point in looking extra hard at Arabs because neither Reid nor Padilla was Arab" then you relax that pressure and restore access to the larger pool of terrorists. I made some similar comments to a post entitled "Profiling folly" at The Edge of England's Sword before seeing Dr Frank's post, which expressed what I wanted to say better than I did. Iain Murray correctly points out that most Arabs in the US are Christian, but I don't see that that negates my argument any more than the undoubted fact that most Arab Muslims are not terrorists negates it. All investigation has some element of slander, since even to look over a suspect violates the pure presumption of innocence. We just have to manage the balance as best we can. One-word profiling and detailed forensic profiling don't stop being useful merely because they are not security panaceas.

And it stayed 0-0. A table-full of football pundits seem to regard this as a quite good result for England. I begin to see why people like talking about football. It's nicer than real life. In real life people bomb school buses and the Guardian reports on it without comment.

The American Kaiser has done some counting of the dead in the current conflict. (Link found by Damianation.) Everyone knows that many more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed. But did you know that "... nine Israeli women were murdered for every Palestinian woman, and five Israeli children for every Palestinian child." ?

That, in a nutshell, is why I am so hostile to the Palestinian side in this war. They go for soft targets. The fact that these bombers also kill themselves is irrelevant in ethical terms. Certainly the fact that they are in the grip of that rare but ineradicable fever of the human species, a death cult, is important. The psychology of the cult demands that its adherents kill in in a spectacular way, outside the bounds of normal wartime behaviour. Put crudely, it would be a waste of all that mana generated by an act so unusual as premeditated suicide to use it all up while doing something so boring and passé as waging war according to the custom of civilized nations. It's important but not crucial. Suicide per se does not outrage me. It is not their self-killing that makes them evil but who else they kill.

(Fattening up your own five year old children to kill themselves later does outrage me, but that's another story.)

The garage opens at eight. So why don't I ring up the nice mechanic right now and order the part I need. Of course I shall have to give him detailed information about the chassis number, the engine number, the make and model of the car and suchlike - he may have to look some of these details up, but I'm sure he won't mind taking a little extra time for a customer. And I always think it's polite to engage people in a little social conversation, don't you? Everyone likes to talk about their kids!

Just kidding. I wouldn't really do a thing like that. It's still 0-0.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Great Lines from the Movie of Life. It must have looked rather sinister, me saying, "I'm going away for a day out... at least the roads will be empty." Famous Last Words or what. (Count no man happy until he is dead. The last words of General John Sedgwick at the Battle of Spotsylvania were: "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist--")

I do hope there is an innocent explanation for the silence of Muslimpundit, who has now had the longest two minute break in history.

Chewing the cud. Or other bodily products. Hi, Ray. Ray has written to me saying,
"And you thought seed-rich poo didn't work as a metaphor. I like it better than this one...."
Then he links to a Bill Quick link to a sparky blog called Silflay Hraka. And if you don't know what that means you need to either read Watership Down or check out this bunnytalk dictionary. Exercise caution if you are of a sensitive disposition and/or have a taste for raisins or chocolate drops. (Having only one rabbit I had no idea that they did it to each others'... I trust I need not continue.) Sensitive people won't like the insect adolescents post either. Pure Far Side.

If I were not nissed as a pewt on chink pampagne I would say more on why I think Watership Down has one of the best portrayals of an alien mindset that I have ever read in a science fiction novel. Oops, just spotted an unintentional ethnic spur in the Sloonerism back there. Doubly unfortunate given that we have just been so royally feasted by the staff of the Lucky Star and an aromatic duck (whadda they do, wear aftershave to pull the drakes?) who died gloriously so that we could celebrate my husband getting the job he wanted.

And with that I shall gid you bood night.

Can this be for real? D'y'hear that? Dawson is the latest to get his own domain name. Us Blogger bloggers are getting thin on the ground. Or flushed out to sea. Whatever. And another one gone, and another one gone, and another one bites the dust...

And, like Random Jottings, another one who acts like I just disappeared into the Lost World for an untraceable four months hunting dinosaurs and lost civilizations when all I was really doing was shopping, eating, drinking and plinking. I have an ominous feeling that my post of 4 June that was meant to explain things either didn't explain or didn't appear.

UPDATE: It didn't appear, according to reports from my trusty spies. You know for a guy who gave, free, a phenomenally useful and innovative service to the world, poor old Ev of Blogger (sounds like a minor thegn of Ming the Merciless) must walk around with a lot of curses on his innocent head. Over the last month or so I have occasionally found that despite pressing "post and publish" and getting back the message, "your transfer was completed successfully" when I check the web page nothing new has appeared. There doesn't seem to be any cure other than try, try again. Or go off to Belgium. Works for me.

No man or woman of spirit lets a little thing like the limits of statistical validity get in the way of judging the entire spirit of a nation from one chance encounter. So, amid all the reports of murky French equivocation about terrorism, allow me to inform you definitively that the true France has not spoken yet. While waiting for the ferry home from Dunkirk we popped in to the little museum that commemorates the evacuation of 1940. The custodian there, or at least the one on duty when we visited, is a very pleasant ex-army chap. We got talking when my husband went over to point out that the Martini action shotgun-type thing was actually nineteenth century, and used for hunting not war. (Whenever you let my spouse into a war museum he always does something like this. I've learnt to put up with it. Pretending that I've never met him before only leads to embarrassment later. There always comes a point when he cheerily says"...and you must meet my wife", and then I have to either drop all pretence or respond "unhand me, sir!") So the nice custodian comes over and he and my husband have a happy talk about the rifling, the diameter of the barrel, what sort of rifles colonial troops had in 1940, and the way people just give things to museums who, being the mathom-houses that they are, haven't the heart to refuse them. I learnt the French word for "rifling". I've forgotten it since, but it's cool to have known it even for a little while. Anyway, the conversation moved on to his experiences in Algeria (he wasn't hostile to Algerians) and thence to terrorism in our own day, and he said some pretty uncomplimentary things about intellectuals and their spouting off, and added for good measure that we knew how much King Solomon paid for the pillars of his temple, so it sure seemed to him like the Jews weren't complete interlopers.

Or, at least, I'm fairly sure he said that. I found I'd reached an interesting plateau in my French comprehension. I could understand 90% of his words and 75% of his sentences, but was missing at least half of what he said. What I desperately needed was more processing time. Misled by the pretty way I can reel off a pre-prepared sentence of French he assumed that I was a good deal more fluent than I really was. Next time I must remember to dumb down my sentence structure to a level commensurate with my understanding.

Get your priorities right. Skimming through Samizdata, I see that Brian Micklethwait imagines me as denouncing discussion of football when there are so many more important issues that demand to be addressed. And so there are! Did you know, for instance, that I got some beautifully nuzzly suede mules from a little place in Lippenslaan for the absurdly low price of thirty Kalganids?

"Lippenslaan". Don't disabuse me; if this doesn't mean "Lips lane" I don't want to know. In the previous post I really ought to have said that Flemish sounds like English happily drunk. No doubt it is all just a linguistic coincidence but there are dozens of jolly Flenglish constructions to delight the Anglophone visitor. For instance "toegang" means either "entrance" or "forbidden". (I really ought to sort out which before next visiting a Flemish nuclear reactor. Or, indeed, the Flemish shooting range that I just did visit. "Geen toegang" definitely does mean "entrance forbidden," I have at least established that much.

But what a likeable word "toegang" is. I look down at my toes (neatly dressed in suede) and wriggle them. The way they hang around in a gang all the time is something shocking.

She's back! She's unpacked! She's - oooh, about five-eighths of the way through the enormous pile of washing. My husband and I just spent a long weekend in the Belgian resort of Knokke-heist. Long ago it would have been two separate cutely-named resorts, Knokke and Heist. Flemish sounds like English, drunk.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002
The Stealth Blogger strikes! Sorry for the dearth of posts over the last few days. And I'm afraid the famine is set to continue until next Tuesday, the 11th. We have a few more family events to pack in before going off to Belgium to indulge in an activity illegal in this country.

Wash your minds out! I refer to the sport of target pistol shooting.

Sunday, June 02, 2002
I'm going away for a day out now - with the great issue still undecided. At least the roads will be empty.

Sweden has equalized. Not that I'm interested.

Random Jottings continues to track me telepathically. John Weidner writes that he put in a swipe against the Palestinians as a whole people when feeling grumpy, which he has now removed. He even apologises. A little while ago I too condemned the Palestinians as a whole.
"Palestinians don't bomb places where families congregate as an unfortunate side-effect of hitting an armaments plant; they aim for them so they can kill families."
I was conscious what I was doing while doing it. That, thought I, is the first collective condemnation I have written in decades. Hitherto I had said some pretty damning things about them, but phrases such as "a people sunk in barbarism" yet imply that it is possible to rise up again. "Palestinians do X" implies an eternal character. Fine, I thought. About time someone said it. The killing of an eighteen month old girl and her grandmother at an ice cream parlour and the usual peverted boasting that followed it had put me in a black fury.

OK. I was wrong to put it quite like that. I don't actually feel particularly like apologizing, but one thing I will say: anyone and any group is capable of redemption.

There appears to be some sort of sporting tournament taking place. I thought you might like to know that. We turned up at church at the usual time but the service was over and everyone was just scarfing the biccies and leaving in a most unsociable hurry. So home we go, and the kids are watching TV - some wholesome educational programme, no doubt, and my daughter informs me that "England scored." I hope she is not referring to the purchase of illegal pharmaceuticals.

And has the Guardian/ Observer shut up shop or something? Where are the customary denunciations? Iain? Peter?

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by.... sloth. Uncommon Sense explains why the US State Department seems to prefer one-party states. Mind you even sloth is preferable to the sort of imaginative intiative shown by some public servants teaching Police Studies at Chandler school. (Scroll to the post below.)

The "Post and Publish" button worked just then, for the first time in twenty-two hours. I have not actually been sitting here for twenty-two hours trying it, but that's what it feels like.

Blogging will be low to non-existent over the coming half-term week. For some of it we will be away, for the rest we will have a guest staying in the room where the computer lives. And while the demands of hospitality might allow me a well-defined blogging period I can't get away with popping in at one in the morning with a cheerful cry of "I've just got to see if Blogger is working."

Saturday, June 01, 2002
Democracy is wonderful. I recant all of that wicked anarcho-capitalist drivel I was spouting to Brendan O'Neill. Online democracy is the wave of the future. And you, YOU, can ride on the very crest of that wave by voting for me at the War Now poll for cutest female blogger.

Go on, then.

What are you still here for? Hop to it! Do you seriously want to argue with Momma Bear?

[Responsibility outbreak here.] Believe it or not, there are reasons for following the links above other than voting for me. Voting for Diane E. of Letter from Gotham, for instance. She's a bit behind right now, possibly because she is one plain spoken woman, not afraid to express unpopular opinions. Momma Bear's denmate Andrew Ian Dodge continues with the much admired rock and roll series - this has the same effect on me as the naval terms in CS Forester or Patrick O'Brian: I have only the vaguest idea what Andrew is talking about, but breathe deep of all that authenticity. The Brendan O'Neill link has his response to my response to his post on the monarchy. Although Brendan tries manfully to provoke, the whole dicussion is actually morphing away from the monarchy and into Individual Rights versus People's Will. If it were not past my bedtime I'd start on about Athenian ostracism and the Federalists. And War Now has a fascinating post about Bruce Hill's first few weeks of wearing a kippa.

(Bruce, it's just the way my mind works; I have to know these things. Having slugged the guy and taken your leave, did you ever get to see how the The Seige ends?)

Natalie and Blogger. When it works, I don't. Some of this stuff has been lying untreated on a trolley in the lower half of my Blogger screen for a shocking amount of time. UPDATE and looks set to stay there for yet longer. Look, I'm not asking for a qualified Blogger doctor, even the charge nurse will do...

Confessions of a Criminal Justice system: Christopher Pastel writes:

I don't know what is meant by "a suprisingly large proportion" of Japanese crimes being successfully prosecuted based on confessions, but I can tell you that the percentage in the States (at least back in the early 1980's) was about 80% of guilty verdicts being based on confessions.

There was more on comparisons of crime between Japan and the US from Antoine Clarke. (Hey, Antoine! I found your Alternative Clarke Budget in my filing cabinet the other day. I never did slip it under Ken's door, coward that I was, so it's my fault that Labour won the next election and I am personally responsible for everything from then on.) Antoine wrote:

The explosion in crime rates in both the USA and the UK coincide with the simultaneous massive expansion of the welfare state, the virtual abandonment of the death penalty (in the US, New York got it back in about 1996), reductions in prison sentencing (especially for young offenders under 21), restrictions in firearms ownership and in the British case, the arrival of immigrants who didn't assimilate as easily as predecessors. This last point I blame squarely on the welfare state which created short-term rewards for failure. See Charles Murray's "Losing Ground" and his pamphlets for the IEA) on prison and on the underclass.

I don't know what the Japanese welfare state is like, but it might have something to do with crime rates. The ratio of "alienated" immigrants compared with the UK may also have something to do with it.

My own particular Charles Murray plug would be for his least known book, "In Pursuit of Happiness" which focuses squarely on why welfare gives you a horrible life.

Antoine also brings out into the open my dark suspicions as to why I had to part with £20 in order to get my car scrapped. "Two reasons why you had to pay," he writes, "(1) Raw materials continue to fall in price (except gold since 9-11) [market]" That's no fun! I can't slag off the market, it's not in my job description. C'mon, gimme one I can use. "(2) Recycling costs more than building from scratch but it mandatory and there's a new tax on landfill. [state]" Better! Thank you!

A cold wind over French free speech. Turkeyblog is first with a translation of the link to the French court decision regarding internet forums. Or fora, if you insist. (Reminds me of an oldie: one maths professor sent a note to another saying, "Shall we meet this evening to discuss some conundra?" The other guy writes back,* "I can think of nothing more boring than sitting on our ba doing sa.") But it's not just France. Tom Fox of Triple Dub writes:
I think that the UK has a similar problem, as Demon Internet found out to their detriment. I myself used to be in charge of the Web for a National UK paper. Unmoderated forums were a no-no. Things get more interesting when people use services such as YACCS, which may well be in a third country. In this case it would be the US, which has more "liberal" libel laws.

Liberté has been an oft forgotten word in France. The police protested last autumn over the introduction of the presumption of innocence, over 200 years after the revolution.
I think it was Hannah Arendt who asked why the paradigm of revolutions has so often been the French and not the American, and speculated that the defining difference between the two types was large-scale seizure of property.

*This must have happened at the high noon of Royal Mail excellence around the turn of the century when a letter to the same town could be sent and replied to in one day.