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, October 31, 2002
I said I wouldn't be blogging for a few days. So I lied. This made my blood boil, and the bubbles hurt. They won't die down till I post it. Read it. Link to it. (Found via Samizdata.)

Now I really do have to go away. I shall be back on 2 November, which is this blog's first birthday. Anyone want to buy it a birthday present?

Tuesday, October 29, 2002
And by a multitude of posts, it seems....

No blogging for two or three days, as I am beset by a multitude of tasks.

No blogging for two or three days, as I am beset by a multitude of tasks.

A specialised conscience. Richard Mullen, writing in the Catholic Herald, asks how the defenders of harassment by referenda sleep a-nights.

The Lincoln Plawg gives a line-by-line critique of Yale Professor John Lewis Gaddis's Agincourt on the Euphrates analogy. I'm probably closer to the Professor's opinion than to Plawg John Smith's (i.e. opinion on what should be done about Iraq, I don't know much about Agincourt), but it's well done.

By the way, a search for "plawg" -Lincoln produces pages in a language which I deduce to be Hmong. So I'm none the wiser.

UPDATE: Now, I'm wiser. Alex Bensky writes,

I don't know if they are still being sold, but there used to be a toy called Lincoln Logs. It was one of those construction things--a number of pieces of wood of varying length, notched at the ends. You can build log cabins, bridges, whatever.

You can spend your time constructively building things, or you can quickly throw something together and when your mother isn't around toss firecrackers at your little cabin and see if you can blow it up. Not that I ever would have done that, of course.

Gorblimey, the effort of that nearly fried my brain. It took a peanut butter and marmite sarny to get myself back on line. Amazing that some people do this on a regular basis.

Mary had a little lamb

Its fleece was white as snow.

Alas, still-born, to Earth's embrace,

The lamb was sure to go.

But the inspector said a burial

Would be against the rule,

The knacker, too, was licence-bound:

"Not spinal cord, you fool!"

And so the farmer turned it out,

but still it lingered near,

And rotted patiently about,

Till a copper did appear.

"Why expose poor lambsy so?"

The eager copper cried

"Why, eco-friendliness, you know."

The farmer did reply.

"In the interest of hygiene, bio-security and the environment, the countryside is due to be decorated with piles of rotting animal carcasses awaiting collection from farms. This will be the result of regulation without preparation, by the same officials who brought us the foot and mouth fiasco." - Letter to the Telegraph

Reuters accused of hacking. Ah, but one man's hacker is another man's proactive business information analyst.

Take that, Louisiana! Texas voters anxious to make a responsible choice in the coming gubernatorial election might like to consider this candidate.

Sunday, October 27, 2002
Butt out, Beeb. Momma Bear at Dodgeblog pointed out Kim Du Toit's spirited rant, started off by a BBC "Talking Points" internet debate on gun control in the US. Gosh, MommaBear, I can't imagine what made you think I might have some fellow feeling with that sort of thing!

The BBC forum is still open, if anyone wants to write in. I might put in a one-liner about Britain's own crime rate being far lower when guns were freely available for self defence, only I've never had any luck getting published on these things before and am beginning to entertain dark suspicions.

Peverse incentives. Libya has cut itself off from the world in an effort to get compensation from Italy for Mussolini's crimes. Now, I am happy to add my voice to any call that the few surviving Libyan victims of Mussolini be treated right. But we all know that what Gadaffi (a super-nationalist, warmongering, philandering, foreign-adventuring, monstrously vain crackpot, and Musso's spiritual heir if ever there was one) wants out of this is not cheques for old men but more millions to shore up his decrepit regime. But Libya shuts up to "force" Italy... I'm sorry, I can't even complete the sentence for laughing. Boy, have those guys misunderstood the situation. I believe Musso has a granddaughter active in the more dubious reaches of Italian politics even now. Call her in quick: more oppression needed today!

We don't have to replay the 70s. Heath rolled over to the hijackers, freeing Leila Khaled, and started us on the road, paved with Danegeld, that led straight to the hell of officeworkers leaping to their deaths from the Twin Towers.

The Russians are refusing to play that role. Yes, it's sad that so many hostages were killed. Yes, if ever I am as desperately placed as those mothers waiting outside the theatre then probably I will change my tune, and plead with the authorities to surrender, as they pleaded. I'm human too. But if Russia had given into those mothers' entreaties yesterday, then sure as an apple falls there would have been more hostage-taking, more deaths, more mothers weeping.

Samizdata has several posts saying much the same thing. Start here and scroll down. And if you don't believe them, listen to the words, taken from the link I started with, of one who should know - Leila Khaled:

Khaled admitted that the PFLP had been greatly encouraged by Britain's swift capitulation to its demands.

"It was a good step for us that we saw governments could be negotiated with," she said. "We could impose our demands.

"The success in the tactics of the hijacking and imposing our demands and succeeding in having our demands implemented gave us the courage and the confidence to go ahead with our struggle."

Watch your back. The world's attention has been on Moscow and Washington, where two flares of the wordwide explosion of Islamofascist terror have been put out of action for now, but that doesn't mean that their spiritual allies elsewhere cease their work. Joseph A Norland of "Dawson Speaks" alerted me to similarities between Egyptian behaviour now and Egyptian behaviour in 1967. Strange troop movements. Demonization of the "Zionist enemy" by every lie available - this time round Egyptian TV is broadcasting a series based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Refusal to act against "spontaneous" acts of terrorism. It's starting to look like a pattern.

Saturday, October 26, 2002
Letters about the sniper concentrated on whether the Muslim connection was important or not. Chuck Simmins wrote:
With the arrest of two suspects in the Washington sniper killings, the label game is in full swing.

Suspect one is John Allen Muhammad. He is labeled as black, Moslem, a Black Muslim, a vet. Suspect two is John Lee Malvo. He is labeled as an illegal immigrant, and the victim of a controlling father figure.

Do any of these labels, or any others, define a reason for these crimes? I don't believe so.

Muhammad and Malvo seem to fit the profile of many serial killers who are couples. Indeed, an unstated label in all this is that there may be a homosexual relationship. These guys killed for reasons that have nothing to do with any of their labels. Do we ever read "Catholic goes insane. Kills twelve."? Religion does not enter in to this spree.

The drifting across country. The use of Tarot cards. The tenor of the notes and phone calls. The demand for money. Not at all like a series of killings based upon an ideology. The victims of the sniper include young and old, black and white, men and women. An ideology would have selected, sorted its victims. Nothing like
that appears to have occurred.

Expecting Moslems to apologize for Muhammed is silly. Did we ask the Catholic Church to apologize for the Hillside Stranglers, Angelo Buono Jr. and Kenneth A. Bianchi, since both of them had Catholic origins?

Muhammed has a history of petty crime and domestic disputes. Child custody issues seem to have dogged his life. Could the shot young boy and the statement about the safety of children have anything to do with his own problems?

Fox News is reporting that Muhammed nicknamed Malvo "the sniper". While this is probably bogus, it remains an interesting item until it is proven false. Usually the younger person in a serial killing couple will claim that they were afraid, held hostage by their fear. Or, that the older person had them so controlled that they had no free will. The poor little Johnny Malvo whine is already beginning.

I await the claim that the anthrax vaccine, or the malaria drugs, or "Gulf War syndrome" have something to do with this. And, there are folks that seem to believe that merely serving in the military turns you into a murdering subhuman. But, no, all the Army did for Muhammed was teach him to shoot like millions of other young men and women. Hardly a defect in character.

My rather different take on many of the same points as were raised in this letter appears over at Biased BBC. There I describe Islamic-inspired terrorism as being the dominant hypothesis as to a motive. It is true what everyone keeps reminding me, that Muhammad was a Black Muslim, not a Muslim simpliciter, and he seems to have been an oddity even among them. Little seems to have been said about Malvo's religion. But the case for a connection between Islam and this pair's crimes remains way stronger than that between the Hillside Stranglers' Catholicism and their crimes. Catholic terrorism hasn't done much lately; Islamic terrorism has erupted all over the world. On a more specific line of enquiry, the Biased BBC post links to an article about possible links between Muhammad and Al Qaeda supporter James Ujaama, currently being held by the US authorities.

Talking of Catholic terrorism sparked a reflection. I am a Catholic of Irish ancestry. The IRA were active all through my childhood and beyond. My memories are punctuated by IRA atrocities. The Birmingham pub bombings... the murder of soldiers taking part in a charity Fun Run... the bombing of a Remembrance Day ceremony at Enniskillen. I remember hearing the mortar going off that tried to kill John Major. One thing I do not remember, though, is any significant hostility to me because of my religion or ancestry. In my whole life I can home in on perhaps two or three bigoted comments. I get the impression few Muslims could say the same now. Why the difference? One obvious reason is racism. Another is the fact that Muslim terrorism kills at a higher rate than the IRA ever did. A third reason, which I think is significant, is that there wasn't the constant media denial I complain about in the Biased BBC post. Everyone knew the IRA were Catholics, and that little as the average IRA man cared about transubstantiation, Catholicism was a defining part of the terrorists' identity. They knew that as a group it was up to Catholics to disassociate themselves from IRA terrorism, and that most Catholics did.

The media pretence that the Los Angeles Airport shooting and the sniper murders cannot possibly be related to the religion of the perpetrators prompts the scornful reaction, "Oh yeah? Don't give me this crap. I'm going to stress the Islamic connection loud and long and watch Nanny wince."

The actor Richard Harris, who most recently played Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter, has died. Not perhaps his most demanding role, but how he did it was important to fans, and he did it well. I'm glad he finished on a high note.

Russian troops storm theatre, free hostages. If the numbers of deaths quoted in this BBC story are correct - about ten hostages killed, along with some 30 of the 40 Chechen terrorists - then that is about as good as can be hoped for in the circumstances.

UPDATE: As it turned out, many more hostages were killed than first reported. My comment stands.

Friday, October 25, 2002
Megumi's daughter pleads for grandparents to visit. For new readers, Megumi Yokota was the 13 year old Japanese girl kidnapped 20 years ago by North Korean agents. In Korea she married, bore a child and eventually killed herself.

Presumably no word comes out of North Korea that is not passed by the censor. What are they playing at now?

Dale Amon, foundling. Brian Micklethwait pointed out that due to a missing html close tag, the last post read, until I boringly changed it, "Brian Micklethwait found and commented on Dale Amon." This gives me a charming picture of Baby Dale left in his cradle on the steps of Micklethwait Mansion. Awakened by his cries, Brian opens the door, sees the note: Please look after this baby. He comments. Vigorously. But just as he is about to instruct the butler to "remove that object" Dale's little hand reaches out, and his chubby face breaks into an innocent smile. Brian's wicked old heart is softened....

For all I know, Dale is older than Brian. But I never let truth stand in the way of a good story.

Two letters overnight pointed out the difference between American followers of orthodox Islam and followers of the Black Muslim sect started by Elijah Mohammed. It seems that the alleged sniper ("alleged", but no one seems in much doubt) was a Black Muslim.

Iain Murray of The Edge of England's Sword wrote:

Please remember that there are two forms of Islam over here -- the one we all know and, er, love, and the strange sect that is black Islam, that of Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali (in his younger days) and (in its latest form) Louis Farrakhan. Everything I've read so far seems to point to John Williams/Muhammad being a Nation of Islam-type Mohammedan (if I can use that term) and not a Richard Reid-style convert radicalized by "real" Islamic forces.

I don't think this has been terrorism in anything but the most banal sense, ie that they were trying to instill a sense of fear. I'll be very, very surprised if these two (if they are responsible) have been supported by any recognizable terrorist organization.

Randy of San Diego wrote
I think you reason pretty well, and when you think things through, you move in the right direction, but when you start to empathise, you wander off the reservation. What "right-wing

America is not crawling with muslims, [Coincidentally Iain Murray who wrote the letter above, a statistician by trade, has published an article on this vexed question - NS] in fact I'd bet that there are more extant american indians than there are american muslims. Now Mr. Mohammad was a "Nation of Islam" buffoon, and a particular kind of nitwit. The Nation of Islam was created out of whole cloth by one Elijah Mohammad several decades ago, when while walking the streets of Detroit he decided to forsake the sale of brushes and become a prophet. He is the same fellow who had Malcom X whacked several years later. Should you come to an American city where there is a large population of blacks, you'll see his acolytes pan-handling for some "worthy" front cause. They are identifiable by their natty attire, and red bow-ties. Should you engage in any deep exploration of this "religion" you'll find that whites are "blue-eyed devils", and that they await the "mothership" which is coming to fetch them from their torment amongst the "devils".

The commonality they share with real live muslims is their hatred of jews. The ADL page on one Louis Farrakhan speaks to this subject: link

Now one might say that all muslims don't hate jews. This is where my head starts to swim, because all I know about the middle east revolves around arab/muslim hatred of the jews. In fact it is their primary uniting factor. So where does this leave us? Well, hopefully not with misplaced sympathy for those who don't mean us well.

In terms of empathy I don't think it makes much difference. The orthodox Muslims - some but not all of whom are as fanatical, anti-semitic and hate-filled as any in the Black Muslim sect - are still going to be tarred by the same brush. I don't care about the ones who deserve to be because they've been painting with the same tar; I do care about those who don't. Moderate Islam in the last few decades has suffered from a historic failure of nerve about terrorism. In Yeats' words, "The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity." There are signs of hope - Brian Micklethwait, no soft-pedaller when it comes to criticism of Islam, found and commented on this link to a list of Muslim condemnations of terror.

Just out of interest, I did read that one splinter-group of Black Muslims have become orthodox Muslims. Whether this is a good or a bad thing I cannot say. In another Samizdata link, Dale Amon speculates that Al-Qaeda might be infiltrating Nation of Islam in the good old communist style. Interesting times.

Thursday, October 24, 2002
My first thought when I heard that the sniper had probably been caught was "Thank God that's over." Very proper. My second and third thoughts were slightly unworthy: "Thank goodness it wasn't one of us" and "Told you so." One of us was revealing; I meant, broadly, "a right wing shooter." In fact I'm not sure I didn't mean "a right-wing white shooter." No, I haven't gone mad and joined the posse comitatus or whatever that cyst calls itself. However every time there is a crime comitted by a white right-wing shooter I have to explain that, no, I am not like that - blah blah - statistically very small percentage - blah blah - law abiding group of people - et cetera. This is the where American Muslims are tonight. My sympathy for them is real and spontaneous. I have been there. It is not a nice place to be.

Nor is my sympathy untypical, even among those with a strong view of the danger of Islamofascism. That is why the pussyfooting to which I allude below is so dangerous. It blocks the channels of sympathy. And as John Weidner and others have pointed out, it denies patriotic Muslims the chance to give the lie to blanket slanders. "Why should they have to prove their patriotism?" ask the politically correct. But that's like saying to a husband or wife, "Why should I have to prove my love?" - yes, I dare say it could get to be an imposition if you have to do it every minute of the day, especially if the other side doesn't, but in general declarations of love or patriotism are not a burden but an emotional necessity. And of course the need to speak is greatest when a shadow lies over your soul.

A convert to Islam and his stepson have been arrested in connection with the Washington sniper murders.

We'll have to see whether this is the real thing. But to deny that there is a pattern of converts to Islam turning terrorist is just to waste everyone's time.

So poor old Estelle's had to hop it. Wise words from Janet Daley:

"Miss Morris's resignation does not reflect personal or even professional inadequacy so much as an inevitable collision between political wishful-thinking and reality."

Despite my own words, I can take no pleasure from seeing her go, as the whole rickety structure of attempted state interference in academic goals remains in place.

UPDATE. My regular correspondent A.R.C. writes

So, Estelle Morris is out. To paraphrase Shakespeare's Macbeth, nothing in her ministerial career became her like the leaving of it; and even that did not become her much, it just made a certain contrast with the wretched style of Byers and suchlike Tony's cronies. The A-level whitewash report she arranged stinks ("the board 'honestly' thought they'd been ordered to fix the grades but the ministry 'honestly' did not intend to give that impression"). I also found myself utterly unable to believe her claims about her missed literacy targets (The "I would rather aim higher and fail than aim at an easy to get..." line). I think back in 1999 she chose a target she thought she should get; a straightforward admission of failure would have been more honest. So, while it may well prove to have been a much wiser long-term career move for her than struggling on with the A-level fiasco, I think it wisest not be excessively impressed.

That said, a critic I once read on Macbeth, re Macbeth's soliloquy how the murder of Duncan would look to others, comments that Macbeth could not see this so clearly if the deed did not also horrify him. I suspect that Byers et al can never even imagine how they look to us. Also, I'm inclined to believe her when she says being minister was not as much fun as she had expected (she didn't quite put it that way but I think that is the truth of it). Those truly consumed by ambition would always rather stay in the game, however little fun it is.

Random Jottings is back on line. Astonishingly, he has an explanation for the blackout - a corroded wire - that I understood. Most people say something like, "...and then, would you believe it, we had systemic overload on the Z-drive. Had to go right into the warp core to pull out the splicers from the base routines. My firebricks were debased, too."

Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Surgeon struck off for saying, "We all die."

Actually, the man does sound rather a jerk, but no more so than the prissy madam who lectures him about "Good Medical Practice" while depriving him of his living for the crime of stating an unwelcome truth. "In this respect," she says, "you were in breach of Good Medical Practice [Why the caps? Is she referring to some ghastly government pamphlet, or does Good Medical Practice get capitals just for being important, like the Queen and God?] which states, 'successful relationships between doctors and patients depend on trust ... to establish that trust you must listen to patients and respect their views and treat patients politely and considerately'." That's right, honeybunch, you tell him how to establish successful relationships with patients when you've just forbidden him to have patients at all.

But, leaving aside his living, the question is, how many lives will this cost? How good a surgeon is he? I had got the impression from somewhere that the NHS was, you know, desperately short of them. If ever I need the old sawbones, pick me one with a steady hand and a good patient-survival ratio and I won't care if he talks in grunts.

Synchronicity. Instapundit led me to Eugene Volokh's post on the failure of the gun control movement. But I'd have probably got there anyway. Articles about my theme of the moment always seem to find me by telepathy, and my theme of the moment right now is the way that gun control advocates won't acknowledge that there are thought-out reasons why people want guns; the only permitted explanation is anthropological.
But what the article completely misses is any sense for the main practical reasons that people oppose gun bans....

...You can say that it's because of the movement's political power, but that's begging the question: Why is the gun rights movement so powerful? The article does say that "the majority of Americans believe[] gun ownership [is] a constitutional right" -- but is that really all there is to it? Do the majority of Americans really say "Yes, I think private gun ownership is just as bad as the pro-control forces say, but I'm so committed to strict enforcement of the constitution that I say 'Let justice be done though the heavens fall'"?

...In the entire article, I saw not a word about people's desire to have the tools needed to defend themselves and their families; search the article for the text "defen" and see what you find. I saw not a word about people's skepticism that gun control can ever disarm criminals. There was no mention of John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime" thesis, even merely as an acknowledgment that some people believe that an armed populace helps deter crime.

...Self-defense and crime have been at the crux of the gun control debate for decades. They were certainly part of the debate about Columbine -- and maybe the reason that, "[d]espite the attention the tragedy received, no major gun legislation was passed," is that many voters thought that gun control isn't really going to stop people who are bent on mass murder and suicide. Maybe the reason that "Banning handguns was off the table. Americans didn't want to hear about gun control." is that Americans think gun control will only disarm the good guys and not the bad guys. Maybe the reason that "a 1982 initiative in California that would have banned the sales of new handguns in the state . . . failed," leaving "the gun control forces look[ing] out of step" is that people think that handguns are necessary for their self-defense.

...Not a peep about this. Why not? Are the notions of guns being a self-defense tool, and of gun control being inadequate to fight crime, so alien that they don't even bear mentioning -- despite their centrality to the debate that the article is supposedly talking about?

I'm really snatching the time to blog this week. Yesterday, we went to Colchester zoo. They don't do the elephants' bathtime any more. Why not? The usual wearying whinge about "health and safety reasons". Some bint had to dry clean her cashmere sweater when an elephant squirted it, I suppose, and decided a shakedown would be a good idea. I would like to see the day when people would talk about a person who made a personal injury or damages claim in the same doubtful tones as we talk about a person who walked out on their family - conceding that it might be justified, in certain circumstances, but really...

Oh yes, and health inspectors should be belled like lepers.

Now you can all send me your heartbreaking elephant-damage stories. Know that I share your pain. Or would if I had time to read your e-mails.

Monday, October 21, 2002
I used up what little time I had to blog this first morning of half term by fisking the BBC's coverage of the US debate on guns over at Biased BBC.

If you would like to hear about a jollier subject before I go away (apologies to all those who sent no doubt fascinating links and e-mails that will just have to wait), here is a joke my sister told me:

Question: What's brown and sticky?

Answer: A stick.

Rules of war, again. Captain Heinrichs gets back:
Okay, I'll bite. As a ricochet off your grenade comment, I had a class in "The Laws of Armed Conlict", which included "Rules of Engagement". The subject was on responding to a threat and the discussion arrived at 'Firing a Warning Shot'. We were asked where the warning shot should be aimed: over their heads, to one side, etc. One of the other students beat me to the punchline, "Two rounds, centre of visible mass." The instructor was taken aback, but a review of the Rules showed that the answer was legitimate.

Saturday, October 19, 2002
Irish as She Is Spoke. I can't make Stephen Pollard's individual links work, so you'll just have to get scrolling yourselves. First look for the intriguing headline: "This place of destiller total translates the expressions in the languages of extrangeiras and the later part." Got that? It links to a cute little program that takes the work out of the much-loved pastime of running passages through Babel Fish and then bouncing them back into a transformed and charming version of English.

A post or so down he has a post called "the meaning of is", where he quotes the famous words of EU bigwig Günter Verheugen concerning the way an inconvenient verdict in the Irish referendum can't possibly mean what you think it means. "If a treaty is rejected twice in a country and that country knows exactly that this treaty is a precondition for the conclusions of enlargement negotiations, the outside world cannot make the judge whether the rejections means enlargement or something else."

Given that I speak no foreign language as well as Mr Verheugen speaks English, it would be unfair and hypocritical to make fun of his slightly wonky English. Unfair, hypocritical and fun. Through the mangle it went. We had:

Via French:

"If treaty is rejected twice into a country and this country knows exactly that this treaty is a prerequisite for the conclusions of the negotiations on widening, the external world cannot make the judge if the rejections means the enlarging or something else."

Via German:

"If contract is rejected twice into a country and this country knows exactly that the present Treaty is a precondition for the summaries of the switchings on widening, which external world cannot form the judge, if the enlargement or something means the refusals else."

Via Italian:

the contract of the "If is refused two times in a country and this country knows exactly that the Treaty puts into effect them is presupposing for the summaries of the commutations on the increase, than the external world cannot form the judge, if the blowup or something means the refusals else."

Via Portuguese:

the contract of "If is refused two times in a country and this country knows accurately that the treat one puts in the effect that presupposing for the summaries of the commutations in the increase, of that the external world cannot give form to the judge, if blowup or something to mean the refusal else."

Via Spanish:

the contract of "If is rejected twice in a country and this country knows exactly that convite one puts in the effect that estimating for the summaries of the commutations in the increase, of that the external world cannot give to form the judge, if explosion or something to mean the refusal else."

Then I tried another translation. It came out:






Sadly, early polls suggest that the Irish might spoil my fun by voting Yes. But we'll see.

UPDATE: We saw. They did. Pity.

Friday, October 18, 2002
"You are IndyNutter, I am holding today's Daily Freakzoid, and I claim my five pounds." Compared to some, though, our Germ shines like a good deed in a naughty world. Here's a chap whose own personal Daily Freakzoid has the headline:

Micro Nuke Used in Bali

You have my attention.

“Terrorist” Lookalike Attack

Sure looked like terrorism to me.

- Zionists forcing Australian support for American war on Iraq.

Oh, one of them.

Germaine Greer says, "In allowing the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, to be the first to identify the Bali bombers as al-Qa'eda, American intelligence has sent an ill-prepared Australia into the front line."

Paul Wright of Tanstaafl says, "Stupid of me, I know. I could have sworn it was the murder of my countrymen that put us on the front line. What was I thinking?"

Read the whole post. There have been moments in her long career when Greer slipped into sense. This wasn't one of them.

Still surfing through Slugger's links, I found this post in Fenian ramblings, covering Ireland's upcoming referendum on the Nice Treaty. You would be right in supposing that I don't agree with every word on that blog. However, I certainly agree with this:
The other main propaganda technique, used mainly by Irish politicians, has been to threaten the Irish people with the prospect of a loss of power and influence in the EU, should they vote NO again. Bertie Ahern has repeatedly threatened the Irish populace with the promise that "a second No to Nice would dilute the considerable Irish influence at a time when decisions are looming on issues which go right to the heart of our economic wellbeing." Brian Cowen takes this one step further in this article, where he spells out the exact political process to which the Taoiseach alludes:

Ireland's success in Europe and nobody, even on the No side, denies we have been a success, depends hugely on our capacity to win friends and build alliances. We would never succeed on the basis of our clout. Instead, we assess what is politically possible, how our interests overlap with those of others, how to present our case in the most persuasive way. We need from time to time to draw on the goodwill we have gathered over the years, as a constructive and positive member of the Union towards whom others are well-disposed...

a No vote would lose friends and influence in Brussels and across Europe above all in the promising new markets of Central and Eastern Europe. It would move us to the margins, making us less credible as negotiating partners.

In lieu of any valid way to formally rebuke Ireland for voting NO, the EU-politicos will instead work behind the scenes to undermine any future decisions that could benefit Ireland. The EU-politicos' message, then: Ireland, you'd better vote YES or you might as well leave the EU, because you will have no more influence here and your future benefits from EU membership will be few and far between.

So that's how the EU operates. Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Cowen.

Nota bene: not only is Patrick Crozier back from Japan and sending me e-mails, he is also once more vigorously posting to UK Transport and CrozierVision, which it seems I didn't kill after all.

It's coming to something when the happiest post today was about lice. It's so difficult to insult a louse, seeing as "louse" is itself an insult. One can try "scum", I suppose, as an even lower form of life. Anyway, be assured that chemical warfare is being waged with no prisoners taken.

Still on the subject of rules of war, Slugger O'Toole has an interesting post about the Bloody Sunday soldier who broke ranks to claim that the Paras were not under fire.

Has the soldier done a Scott Ritter - gone over psychologically to the enemy? It happens. Or is he merely the only one to come clean, when his former comrades kept a conspiracy of silence over a massacre? I don't know. I have no special knowledge of what happened at Bloody Sunday. My opinion, being no more than that of an attentive reader of the newspapers, is that they probably did come under fire - it's not as if the IRA at that time would never have dreamed of firing on British soldiers - and that then they reacted as they would in the war they were trained for, the war against the Red Army.

Later on in the post, David McKittrick of the Independent is quoted as saying, rather weirdly, that "This picture of events has been generally contested by civilian witnesses. Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, who has admitted to the tribunal that he was second-in-command of the IRA in the city on Bloody Sunday, is to testify that the organisation's members did not open fire." I hope that it was merely a looming deadline, or a cack-handed sub-editor, that led Mr McKittrick to cite a top IRA man as just another "civilian witness", as if he were just a passer by with no reason to lie.

Following the links on Slugger, I came across "The Shamrockshire Eagle." I read back through the Eagle archives as there were a lot of anti-libertarian headlines that looked, and were, interesting. Eventually I caught sight of my own name, the implication that I only cared about Protestant victims of terrorism in Northern Ireland, and the suggestion that my eyes would be opened were I to investigate the murder of Miriam Daly. In fact I didn't have to do much more than refresh my memory, as I already knew something about it. A strange example to make that particular case. There were, literally, hundreds of innocent Catholics, randomly slaughtered by Protestant terrorists in their living rooms, as they drank at bars, or returned from concerts, some with the collusion of terrorist sympathisers in the RUC, UDR or British Army, who would make better poster children for that argument than a woman who was certainly an apologist for terrorism, and who is lauded here as an actual INLA volunteer.

But her killing was still murder, because murder is murder. The men who left her bound and tortured body to be found by her ten year old twin daughters as they came home from school would be punished - up to and including hanging them, depending on the circumstances - if it were in my power to arrange it. OK?

Israel has slipped off the headlines recently. Don't forget that going to pick up groceries in Israel is like going to pick up groceries in Washington at the moment: you know that someone may be preparing to kill you or your loved ones. Except that in Israel, it's like that all the time.

Continuing the theme of Israel and the press: Joseph Alexander Norland of Dawson speaks! has a post on PLO intimidation of the media.

Oh, yes. The interesting reason for me having not much time to blog today. Yesterday, I thought I felt lousy. Streaming eyes, runny nose, aching bones. Then I had a nice hot bath... and I discovered that there is feeling lousy, and there's being lousy. Yeeeeuuuuuch. So the entire family have to be doused in Disgusting Gloop. "Pleasant to use," it says on the bottle. Not unless you are seriously deranged.

Go on, have a good scratch. Feel free. The guys in the office won't know why.

Jus in Bello. Loadsa letters in response to the one from Randy posted yesterday, including some further remarks by the same correspondent. I'll quote excerpts from a selection - apologies to those left out. If I don't dig out as many links and research it all as deeply as I should, that's for an interesting reason which I will tell you later.

Patrick Crozier of UK Transport gave me the title for this post. And writes:

I think there are all sorts of practical reasons quite separate from the ethics why you might want to take prisoners. The main point is that if soldiers know they will be treated well if they surrender then they are more likely to surrender.

Having said that I do rather agree with your correspondent. If you going to go to war make damn sure you win it. This is the thing that has always irritated me about the Ulster War. We decided to play by a quite ineffective set of rules and lost.

It ain't over yet, Patrick, much as I agree with you about ineffective rules. My regular correspondent A. R. C. also took up the subject of Northern Ireland, among others. He writes, case you haven't already thought of it, find your copy of 'The Sword and the Pen'. I _think_ it's there you'll find an excerpt from General Sherman on how to treat civilians which qualifies his 'war is hell' with certain do's and don'ts, so is very relevant to your remarks and Randy's reply. (I'd quote it to you except we returned the book to you a month or two ago. I therefore deduce that it was then on your dining table; good luck finding it now.)

Thanks for the good wishes, but no such luck. But, trust me readers, this chap A.R.C., whom you will deduce I know personally, has a frighteningly good memory for such things. And if I spent my time fooling about with the piles of books in this house I wouldn't get any blogging done. - NS

(From memory) Sherman's point was on the one hand the difference between the civil war and an 18th-century dynastic conflict required measures against civilians but on the other hand these measures should have their limits as regards non-violent civilians. He also stressed the need for giving southerners time to accept their defeat and change their minds.

Background remarks: I think Randy is wrong to compare Sherman and Cromwell. Sherman's ruthlessness was about destroying things, rather than civilians. When he burned houses and cities he let the inhabitants leave (or compelled them to). Many suffered and some died but administrative massacre was not done. The concept that an army killed soldiers and only impoverished civilians remained. Sherman was also guided by military necessity. "The devils seem to have a determination that cannot but be admired. No amount of poverty or adversity seems to shake their faith ... I see no sign of let up - some few deserters - plenty tired of war, but the masses determined to fight it out." (letter to his wife, March 12th 1864). This was a rational assessment (as most admit, though there is a very dishonest politically-correct historical trend that denies it) and not prompted by ideological hatred of his enemy (one of the war's oddities was that Sherman approved of slavery and Grant was indifferent whereas Jackson disliked the institution and Lee wanted it abolished). Sherman knew he had to break Confederate will to win.

Cromwell differs. At Drogheda and elsewhere, civilians, not things, were the explicit target. And this was not from military necessity. England's military advantage over Ireland far outweighed the North's advantage over the South. Once Cromwell had made himself master of England and created a skilled, well-disciplined army, his Irish conquest was certain in a few months. The hostility of Cromwell and many in his army for the Irish has a different quality from north/south enmities [i.e. during the US Civil War]. Crucially, it had an element of unreason. There is the comical complaint of the colonel stationed in the Burren that it was a place where 'there is not wood enough to hang a man, water enough to drown a man, nor earth enough to bury a man'. There is the utterly atypical (in England) massacre of royalist women after Naseby, sometimes related to the spirit created by the puritan witch-burnings but more often explained as the Welsh-speaking women being taken for Irish by Cromwell's soldiers. There is the hanging of English protestant royalist POWs simply because they had returned from Ireland to fight for the king; that they had come from Ireland was enough for the roundhead commander. (Their hanging preceeded by hours the arrival of a letter from Prince Rupert, sent immediately they were captured, warning that ill-treatment of them would be avenged. Clearly, he knew how the roundheads would react to anyone 'from Ireland' even though these were English soldiers from the garrison there.)

There is a real need to free our troops from insane politically-correct rules of engagement. (The grenade must still be in the terrorist's hand when you shoot; if it's already flying through the air towards you, shooting the terrorist who held it a fraction of a second ago will be judged murder - I thus summarise one of our army's sillier rules of engagement in the Balkans.) But I strongly agree with you that the need to denounce wrong rules doesn't imply the need to denounce all rules. WWII was as ideologically bitter as the war on terror but the rule against using gas held, for which soldiers on both sides were glad.

There is a separate question about whether terrorists, as opposed to enemy armies, will, or even can, observe any rules. Perhaps islamic terrorists will never observe any rules, in which case we should be clear about which and why we do. In principle, a disciplined terror organisation with a limited aim _could_ observe some rules (e.g. IRA agreed passwords to distinguish genuine warnings from hoaxes) even while committing vicious cruelties.

Randy, whose letter below started this thread wrote back:

I have not advocated killing prisoners or gassing civilians. The "Law of Land Warfare" extends to many other things, and this is one of the reasons why the US has rejected having our military tried by a world court.

The US is correct to resist. The tranzis put Gadaffi in charge of human rights; who knows what twits or madmen they might select as judges. I hear that France (!) has also negotiated some sort of exemption, but very, very quietly. - NS. Randy continues,

Were the fire-bombings of Dresden and Tokyo war crimes? Was nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Did you know that the allies intended to try Admiral Donetz for leaving submarine attack survivors adrift at sea to die, until the sticky point was put forward that we had done the same thing to the Japanese?

Yes, and I think I can add a similar example. The USSR wanted to prosecute various Luftwaffe types for bombardment of civilians but the US and UK for obvious reasons resisted this idea. World War II aerial bombing was a special case. A wholly new technology arose, evolved in the heat of the most terrible war in history until it played a major part in that war, dominated our thinking for a few decades, and then refined itself down until we reached the precision bombing of Afghanistan. I cannot blame the airmen of either side for participating in the Blitzes of WWII. It would not pass to do the same thing now. Nuclear deterrence (i.e. bombs not intended to be used) is another special case - but it would take more space and time than I have to cover that subject halfway adequately. - NS

Your unattributed expression attaching the views of "many soldiers" is gratuitous and unworthy.

I don't see why. It was not intended to be insulting, only a direct rejoinder to Randy's own (very reasonable) statement that he had some personal knowledge of these matters as a veteran himself. I grant that personal experience has weight, but it cannot be conclusive since others - my "many soldiers" - have had the same personal experience and yet have come to varying conclusions as to the worth of "war by the rules." I did not quote any then because it seemed too lightly made a point to warrant it, but the literature of war includes ample examples, some referred to in this post. Although it's going back a few years now, I used to know several serving soldiers via the OTC and I recall that their opinions on the laws of war were quite conventional (in a good sense). - NS

We live in a world with few professional soldiers today. The collapse of socialism cut the ground out from under the warriors of the West, and gave rise to bureaucracies where girls and gays could play too. The apex of western strength was Gulf War I. We may have improved some technical capabilities since then, but the warfighters at the top were driven from the camp during the Clinton years.

Now Rumsfeld appears to be buying the new paradigm arguments, while the realists know that some poor dumb bastard has to stand on the ground and do the job. If they find these fellows, and passions or bad decision making leads them into inevitable wrongs, I won't judge them. I know what their aims are.

Pass the winecup, and be witty.

Water the sands, and build a city.

Slaughter like devils, and take pity.

Only a beauty, only a power,

Sad in the fruit, but bright in the flower,

Endlessly erring for its hour.

- Masefield

Or better yet:

When a man hath no freedom to fight for at home,

let him combat for that of his neighbor. Let him

dream of the glory of Greece, and of Rome, and

get knocked on the head for his labor. To do

good for mankind is the chivalrous plan, and is

always as nobly requited. So, battle for freedom

whenever you can, and if not shot... or hanged...

you'll be knighted.

- Byron

Randy also added, in response to my "It can be done without killing prisoners or gassing civilians.",

Maybe, maybe not. Saddam is an evil bastard, and his gassings have shown how far he will go. How far will we go to rid the earth of him? Unless those around him bring him down, or his military lay down their arms, I don't know how you get him without destroying the country.

It may come to that. Let's go for him now before it does.

Finally, another regular correspondent, Captain Heinrichs, dropped me a line. As a serving soldier he has no doubt decided that he gets enough of all this warry stuff in the day job and chose to cover another topic altogether. Namely his significant contribution to my hundred thousand bloghits:

Twice a day, sometimes three; four if I forget. I'm doing the best I can, what more could I do?

Thursday, October 17, 2002
Just looking at my hits thingy, I see it's passed twenty thousand. I was a little short of eighty thousand before the BeSeen counter packed in. So this blog has almost certainly reached the hundred thousand mark. Thanks for stopping by!

Links policy. I do try to look at the urls people send me, although not usually the same day. I don't usually put a blog on my blogroll until I've found myself linking to it for the fourth or fifth time and thinking, oh, that one again.

Rules of War: a reader responds:
I'm a fan Nat, but what is this "rules of war" blather. I was once a professional soldier, and know something about this subject.

As W.T. Sherman said a century and a half ago, "War is Hell". One need look no further than
fifty years ago on the other side of your channel. It really comes down to burning their cities, and making the bad guys feel the pain. If you don't make the other side capitulate, you end up in interminable unresolved struggles a la the jews and arabs today.

The massacre at Drogheda probably saved more lives of Irishmen, and certainly more roundhead lives than had mercy been shown. The same with Sherman's march to the sea. He left no question in the collective mind of the South, but that they had been to war and lost badly. It was a price the could not, and would not pay again. That's how you end a war.

Europeans never learned the lessons of the American Civil War, and so repeated the mistakes in 1914 on a larger scale. Abraham Lincoln set the course for victory, when he found a general who could face the cost of watching his army being destroyed while he destroyed the enemy. That's what Grant did. He did the math, and unflinchingly faced his distasteful duty.

Our current predicament is only periphreally about disarming a tyrant. We are now facing the once again rising tide of Mohammadanism, where fanatics seek to convert by the sword. When Jerry Falwell apologized the other day for his comments on Islam, he said he "was sorry", not that he was wrong.

Any day now, they are going to find the evil bastard who is slaughtering the innocents around the beltway of Washington DC. His rules of war are the same as those who sliced the throats of stewardesses a year ago giving rise to dancing in the moslem streets. This is fire, and fire must be fought with fire. A limited or timid response that doesn't touch every wahabi heart & mind will only prolong the process. I wish I were wrong.



Briefly, my take - and the take of many soldiers - on this is that fighting war hard and comitting war crimes are different things. I approve of making damn sure that the enemy knows he's been defeated. Often attrition is the only way of doing it. It can be done without killing prisoners or gassing civilians. In general the long-term winners of history have comitted fewer war crimes than the long-term losers.

Two candles lit. And how if they should join up and become a fire? First I read that the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, has reasserted the supremacy of British Law over European, as reported by David Carr in Samizdata. Then I discover via Iain Murray in The Edge of England's Sword that the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, has reasserted the supremacy of Parliament over Brussels. Presumably these top legal guys talk to each other. Presumably they know that anything they say on this subject is picked up pretty quickly. So, we must assume, the word has gone out that the line to take is not one of complete submission to Brussels. Or is it all a a trick, a pacifier?

Joke's over. Christopher Hitchens isn't laughing at North Korea. (Via Benjamin Kepple.)

Professor Glenn Reynolds on how the right to bear arms is the bulwark against genocide. And I add my view that the right to own property is the bulwark against famine. Pity that the human rights "community" is dead set against one and lukewarm on the other; until some sense gets knocked into them bets are off on this being a happy century.

Yet another revelation from North Korea. Thanks to my highly-placed spies I can explain why the Hermit Kingdom has started spilling its secrets.

The scene is Pyongyang, early morning. Exterior view of lone figures scurrying across empty squares dominated by heroic statuary. Cut to a well-appointed conference room littered with crisp packets and beer cans. Picture of Great Leader on wall, slightly askew.

JAMES KELLY: You bastard. Tickling's cheating. It's all up my nose, now.

KIM JONG-IL: Yo baby! You did it, you capitalist running dog, you! You'll be running to the john next, ha-ha! I gotta admit, I thought you were going to puke.

JAMES KELLY: (Blows nose.) Nearly did. Thought you said this was the special reserve? OK, OK, my turn now.

KIM JONG-IL: It's 'cos you capitalists can't take Korean Workers' Brew. Decadent bourgeouis tummies! (Giggles.) Man, you should've seen that Koizumi when he tried it. All over his suit! (Becomes maudlin.) But he's a nice man. A very nice man. Taught me this game, he did.

JAMES KELLY: Talking of which, Jongy baby.... Got it! See that statue of your daddy out there - Put a condom on his nose.

KIM JONG-IL: ...Er, look, I can't do that.

JAMES KELLY: (Folds arms.) Statue. Condom. Nose.

KIM JONG-IL: No, really. Filial piety... I promised my mama, just before I had her shot...

JAMES KELLY: Truth or dare! Truth or dare!

KIM JONG-IL: Oh, poo! You're so mean. That Koizumi was a meanie, too. But (sniffs) never let it be said that ol' Jongy doesn't play the game. Truth it is then! (Staggers over to door. Flings it open, hitting eavesdropping flunky in face.) Hey, you out there! Tell the... the whachamacallits, journalists, we got the Bomb!"

It's the Saudis, stupid. A report from a team that includes several top Clinton-era administration officials states the obvious, but with authority.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002
Oxfam have shown suprising backbone, according to Junius. Ted Honderich offered to donate them the proceeds from his book that apologises for terror. They turned him down.

About ten years ago an Oxfam researcher rang me up. Despite admiring the good work they do in emergency relief, I took the opportunity to tell them off for their "do as I say, not as I did to get rich myself" attitude towards Third World countries. I've taken several other opportunities to tell them off since. Let me now take this opportunity to give them a kind word, and even - aaagh it's painful - a donation.

So it finally published. I couldn't all day.

Eyes cast down, the abductees return to visit Japan but still seem imprisoned in their minds.

The end of habeus corpus is coming, courtesy of the EU. Sometimes nothing terrifies me so much as that only five years ago I would have regarded the EU as a boring non-issue. Ten years ago I supported it.

Ban the Bomb and save the world for conventional warfare. Many moons ago I really did have a badge saying that. I once accidentally - very accidentally - wore it to the OTC Mess, which was a mistake, but in a sicko sort of way it does represent my real opinions. I approve of there being rules of war. Even though they are to some extent arbitrary, I approve of their mere existence. Every now and then someone pipes up that rules just make war acceptable and hence perpetuate it as an institution. My response to that is that those engaged in unrestrained war - be it at the Eastern Front or modern-day Algeria - do not sit up one day and say "Gosh, this is silly. Let's stop." In the vivid and terrible phrase that I heard somewhere and cannot attribute, they curse God, and continue.

The laws and customs of war directly save many lives. Almost as important is that they serve as a reminder that even in the most desperate struggle one can never simply say "Evil, be thou my good." After a war fought broadly according to the rules reconciliation is surprisingly easy, almost as if forgiveness were a natural aspect of the human spirit. It is war crimes, not wars in themselves, that are remembered with bitterness for centuries. The Sealed Knot society happily re-enact the battles of the Civil War and a good time is had by all: but the smiles would be wiped right off our faces if the Cromwellian side took it in their heads to take the boat over to Ireland and play-act the massacre at Drogheda.

As well as forbidding the massacre of civilians, the laws and customs of war have decreed that certain inherently indiscriminate weapons are taboo. Taboo is a good word to use. Make use of the oldest instincts of mankind to build a wall of abhorrence that will hold firm however dire the need or ruthless the actor. The worst of tyrants should say, with a shudder, I may be bad but I would not stoop to that.

When I first heard that Saddam had used gas on the people of Halabja I couldn't understand why the world didn't seem to care as much as I and my immediate circle did. It ought to be a point where conservatives and liberals can come together; conservatives if they are really as steeped in history as they claim, liberals if they are really as concerned for humanity as they claim. Gary Farber felt the same way.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002
The guys at the Korean Friendship Association BBS have noticed me.
To Dermot,

You said that 'Natalie Solent' is attacking the KFA BBS. Who is she? She is a hacker? She want to destroy this BBS. Please tell me the details.

Michael Cheung

Prompting the more relaxed Mr Alejandro Cao to reply:

Dear Mike,

No, I don't think that this girl/women is a hacker at all, but if you give her a column in the Washington Post she'll make wonders!! :-)

This morning I sent the required fax.

To Dermot:

I don't want to talk about someone I don't know. I'll just cut and paste a piece of text from her website:
I love to blog, but alas, am not paid a salary for it - and it does take up time I could spend earning a living. If you have enjoyed visiting my weblog or home page (and would like to make it easier for me to justify all this blogging to my family!), please consider donating.
Don't worry about nonsense comments. The more quoted, the more famous. You know? I'm eager to see Mr Pierce Brosnan [a reference to the unfavourable mention of North Korea in a Bond film discussed earlier - NS] and check how the visits to the webpage increases by 500%.

Best regards,

Alejandro Cao.

For my part, I shall look forward to the coming flood of donations from the eager new readers brought to me by the good offices of the Korean Friendship Association. Don't worry, dear Students of the Juche Idea, Mr Cao is correct in thinking that I'm not into hacking, cracking or any of that bad stuff, and also in thinking that I really ought to have a column in the Washington Post.

Just interested in your world view. What do you think about the abductions, then, now that the Dear Leader has confirmed that's what they were? I can't seem to find the page where you discuss it all.

Kidnapped Japanese arrive home. "Dressed in smart suits and dresses with pin-badges of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il," apparently. Wouldn't be my first choice of apparel in the circumstances, but then again, it probably wasn't theirs either.

At the present count, the numbers of British victims of the WTC and Bali terror attacks now add up to a neat 100.

We could cower in a hole. Or we could fight back.

Decisions, decisions. John Weidner talks about the way multi-faceted decisions evolve. The decision he is examining is "shall we go to war with Iraq." I think he is dead right to highlight the enormous reluctance to accept the validity of that sort of decision. It is not a good enough story. It lacks catharsis.

While I'm hobnobbing with the Greek terms, how about a little bathos. The talk of decision-making reminded me of a technique I learned on a civil service course. I shan't even pretend that I have much of a reason for talking about this other than that it was the most interesting and useful thing the government ever taught me. (The second most interesting thing was how depreciation works. Really.) Say you want to move house. You have three possible houses, and must also include (the Treasury were insistent on this) not moving at all as one of the options. So write "House #1", "house #2", "house #3", "not moving" across the top as column headings. Now think of all the factors influencing your decision. They might include:

number of rooms
nearness to public transport
external appearance of house
work needed
size of garden
quality of local schools

and so on. They become the rows of the grid.

Next step, of course, is to score House #1, House #2 etc. one-to-ten on the various factors. House #1 might be big, so give it an 8 for number of rooms, but it's remote so only a 2 for ease of transport. And so on, until you get a nice grid.

Now here's the clever bit. Not all factors are equal. You must share 100 points among the various factors depending on how much they matter to you. This obliges you to be honest with yourself, and makes explicit the need for trade-offs. Let's say you choose the following weights:

number of rooms - 30
nearness to public transport - 5
external appearance of house - 5
decor - 10
work needed - 15
size of garden - 5
quality of local schools - 5
price - 20

Finally multiply the one-to-ten scores by the weights above. Add up the new, weighted, scores, column by column. The column with the biggest total wins.

That's not how we chose our house. My husband and I exchanged grins saying "this one!" before we'd even seen upstairs. (In our defence I could say we rented it before we bought it so a mistake was much easier to correct.) In general people hate making decisions that way. They want to say, "as soon as I saw that it had a fireplace just like grandma's, I knew the house was destined to be mine" or, better yet, "the house has such loving vibes, don't you feel it?"

It's not just houses. I tell you, there are people who finally decided they support the War on Terror because they were sorry for the dogs. I was sorry for them, too, but we pay our leaders to consider more deeply. The phrase "consider more deeply" means "consider more deeply", not "consider forever because decisions are difficult", still less "surrender."

Monday, October 14, 2002
Not much posting today, as I have to do many things. One of them is make one of those chair covers with a skirt, using some Sanderson beige ticking. (Isn't it amazing how the utility fabrics of yesteryear now sell for luxury prices?) Yes, I know both ticking and skirt-style chair covers are a bit 1998, but I really think we need one. It will go to cover the lower half of our latest acquisition: a very nice Victorian chair for the head of the dining table. Except for possessing arms, which give it an authoritative air that sits well at the head of the table, it is of like style to some we had already. I like it when things don't actually match but blend, don't you? The wood has a patina as smooth and mellow as a ten year subscription to Antiques World paid for by somebody else.

And you can lift up a little lid on the seat and do a wee-wee into the chamber pot therein. Handy after dinner, no? You see why I need the cover.

A nice talk with Teacher. This Telegraph report details how children are being encouraged to inform on their parents. The snoops and spies go under the name of the "Connnexions Service", and that's what they do: compile a dossier on your child to connect the information held by various government departments. You remember, the information that they said was confidential. As usual it's all for the sake of the Children™.

Sunday, October 13, 2002
Slaughter in Indonesia.

There are multiple posts on the growing list of Australian victims of this bombing from Tim Blair.

Hokiepundit posts on the separation of church and state, a subject where he is carving out a distinctive niche. I don't agree with the last paragraph, but there is lots to think about here. It's unfortunate that we tend to use the word "dense" to mean "stupid", presumably from the metaphor of a "dense" skull; otherwise I could safely say that it's a very dense post. I mean the stages of argument are densely packed in quite a short passage. OK?

By the way, should any readers want to ask Hokiepundit about the intentions of the framers of the US Constitution, be advised that it is a bad idea to throw in, as one so easily might in a careless moment, any supplementary questions about his typing speed.

Gregory Hlatky of A Dog's Life has made a statement of his blog's principles. "Made a statement" suggests a chap standing up to a microphone with the world's press shouting out agressive questions, but this statement is more the sort you make at twilight from a rocking chair on the porch, while meditatively holding up your glass to admire the pretty colour of the whisky.

Sarin Man definitely for the drop. John Thacker writes:
Oh, Japan definitely executes criminals. They do it in secret, but they certainly do. They keep prisoners on death row for quite a while (some over a decade), and then inform them of their execution by hanging mere hours before it occurs. Usually something from 2-5 executions occur a year, and about 100 prisoners are on death row at any time.

As you might expect, Amnesty International yells at Japan every so often:

link to Amnesty news index of stories concerning Japan

link to Amnesty public statement on "secret and cruel" Japanese executions

link to report on execution of three prisoners

link to background report on political and legal situation in Japan

Actually, in Japan the justice system can be quite harsh. It often takes a while to be charged, but once you are, you WILL be found guilty. (The conviction rate routinely exceeds 95-99%.) There's a system of pre-trial detention with many accusations of torture.

Not that I particularly object to the hanging of a man who facilitated mass murder of a randomly chosen group of commuters, and who would have killed more if he could, but I ought to know by now that Japan Is Not As Cute As You Think. And, indeed, Not As Utterly Different From Its Pre-1945 State As It Would Have You Believe. Here's a post from my archives on the same subject.

Saturday, October 12, 2002
Washington University will only sell you free speech in approved packages. A link in Instapundit left me thinking, What sort of isolated lives do these campus nabobs live? How can they possibly have thought they would get away with that?

Trouble is, they might.

91 today! According to Blogstreet I am the 91st state of the Blogosphere.

False modesty aside, I think I may have been temporarily hiked up by being linked to by both Andrew Sullivan and The Corner one day last week, which is not a regular event. Samizdata has had quite a few more hits than this blog in a lifetime equal almost to the day, yet has scored lower at 97th.

Lawyers for Liberty - Not. Over on the Libertarian Alliance Forum, Nigel Meek added a pertinent comment to the Scott/ Hudaib case.
Aha! He admitted it. [Scott pleaded guilty] On whose advice? Assuming that he wasn't acting for himself, this is evidence a reoccurring theme amongst libertarian-inclined solicitor chums and those libertarians with active experience of the law: what utter shite the legal profession is when it comes to defending the liberty of the individual, particularly in cases which go against the prevailing Leftist-multiculturalist-Europhile establishment

What did his solicitor say? "Ah, Mr Scott. You're being charged under a new law that is largely alien to British jurisprudence and anyway widely unpopular, and moreover on very dubious and subjective grounds with substantial evidence of provocation even if the law is valid. I know, plead guilty!"

"Ah, a woman of spirit!" Angie Schultz reveals hidden talents. Never mind the academic post, we all knew you could do that, but telepathy and writing romantic novelettes? Lady, you've got it made. Just tailor your outlines to the publisher's secret fantasies.

Did you, dear reader, ever try writing one? For Mills & Boon it is necessary to demonstrate seriousness before they will give you a contract; would-be authors must submit first chapters and detailed outlines for a batch of four stories. At least that's how I remember things stood twenty years ago when a friend and I investigated the possibility of making our fortunes.

Mine, if I had ever got round to writing it, would have concerned the surging emotions lacerating the heart of a British nurse in the first world war. As she bent over Hans to adjust his bandage the crisp white cloth of her uniform blouse, carelessly fastened, fell open and brushed his sleeping face. Instantly his eyes opened, smouldering enemy eyes, and her heart was pierced anew...

Deep breath. Brisk walk. Back to normal now. My friend wrote - although to do it right one doesn't so much write as emit - a first chapter. It was Roundheads versus Cavaliers. A dark, masterful scion of the aristocracy (with mocking eyes like Osama's) performed a daring horseback rescue of a buttoned-up yet passionate Puritan maid whose horse had bolted. Or possibly it was a dark, masterful Roundhead rescuing a Cavalierette. Whichever, the injection of a little action made her effort tons better than mine. The horses' flanks heaved like you'd need a cold shower afterwards.

Friday, October 11, 2002
An artist tells his story. Orin Judd of Brojuddblog sent me some links concerning an artist-embroiderer. I was fascinated by the fact that he prefers to use the nylon/orlon threads he gets by patiently unravelling socks over shop-bought embroidery thread. The sheen you get from the very fine sock fibres is better, he says.

How come he ever got started on embroidering with unravelled socks? Well, when you are in jail for carjacking, that's all you can find. Ray Materson is now able to work at home with his young family, his sentence having finished. Embroidery turned out to be simply more interesting than the drugs he could get in prison. Good luck to him. I do hope he takes care of his eyes with all that detail work.

The Rhineland analogy. Quite a few authors and bloggers have talked about the similarities between the German reoccupation of the Rhineland and Saddam Hussein's various probing attacks. There's nothing earth-shaking in Thomas Sowell's workmanlike summary of the parallels, but how could I have missed the blindingly appropriate quotation from Burke with which he opens the column:
"There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men."

Miz Lillian's boy grown up already. I actually visited the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) in the first place to see what they had to say about Jimmy Carter winning the Nobel Peace prize. Something of a presentational problem for them: is the former leader of the Great Satan, once humbled by Iran, to be praised or condemned, given that the prize is meant to be a criticism of George W Bush? I was intrigued to see how they'd sort it out.

IRNA don't yet have the story. You'll have to make do with ABC. And generate your own blog post using any combination of the words Arafat, Axis, Carter, Evil, Jimmy, Joking, Nobel, Peace, Preposterous, Prize, Travesty. Everyone else will.

It's not just Japanese who disappear. Imam Mousa Sadr was an Iranian mullah who went to live in Lebanon. At one time he gave sermons in Christian churches and admired Martin Luther King. Later he ended up founding the Shi'ite Amal party, which according to this 1986 article by Daniel Pipes sponsored the early Lebanese suicide bombers. To put it mildly, the Imam and I, had we ever met, would have had little in common. Be that as it may, in 1978 he visited Libya and was never seen again. Every now and then the story rumbles up to the surface, as it has today. Perhaps one day the Libyans, like the Koreans, will come clean.

Sarin Man to die. I was under the impression that the Japanese always commuted death sentences. But here they give the impression that he really will hang.

Talk about a turn around in attitude. I have gone surfing over FAIR's news clippings service, and I have signed up for it. It seems to cover the main British media outlets fully, and does not shirk from including stories that cover, for instance, suicide bombings.

Just in. A reply from the Daily News Digest:

"Simon de Bruxelles in the Times covered this story twice, once on the 27th of July, and again on the 4th of October. Both stories were picked up in our News Digest and are archived online on our website. See below for further details.

"I hope this clears up any confusion. . We have, as of yesterday, begun to date our stories. A partial archive of the news digest can be viewed on our website

Musab Bora

Mr Bora appended two sets of hyperlinks:

For 27th July 2002
First conviction on religious hatred
By Simon de Bruxelles
A FORMER teacher who verbally attacked three Muslims has become the first person to be convicted under new laws that outlaw religious hatred.
Alistair Scott, 33, accosted the strangers in the street and began arguing about the involvement of Islam in the September 11 attacks in the US. . .

Times Hyperlink:,,175-366546,00.html
FAIR digest Hyperlink: Headline

For 4th October 2002
Man guilty of religious hatred after Sept 11 row
By Simon de Bruxelles
A MAN who had an argument in the street with a supporter of Osama bin Laden became the first person to be convicted under new laws on religious hatred yesterday.
Magistrates in Exeter were told that Alistair Scott, 33, was arrested after an argument with his Arab-born neighbour, Muhammad Hudaib, who was said to have shouted that bin Laden was great, September 11 was a great day, all Americans deserved to die and called him a "Zionist pigf****r"

Times hyperlink:,,174-435448,00.html
FAIR digest Hyperlink:

When I had seen only the earlier story and compared it to what was obviously the same case reported in the Telegraph, I was suspicious of FAIR (or whoever supplied them with stories), as it really did look like someone had been editing the news in a slanted way. But this reply gives a perfectly reasonable explanation for the apparent discrepancy.

So everybody - FAIR, The Times - comes out of it well. Except me.

"My hero, Osama," she breathed, her chest heaving... "Take me! Oh, take me!" Tim Blair has been helping along the publicity for John Caroll's book that claims to "meditate" on the meaning of September 11. Since Mr Blair claims that reading Caroll's corrosive prose burns away ten IQ points for every chapter read, even on the favourable assessment of his initial intelligence that we are all, I am sure, happy to grant him, you had better link to the series while Blair yet retains the ability to type. He's up to Chapter Two now. The excerpts from Chapter One of Caroll's book read like a Mills & Boon bodice-ripper, only not so discreet:
It had all been brought about by one man, alone on horseback, riding through the wastes of Afghanistan, stealing America's own myth, its hero, its projection of valour. He is tall and handsome, with clear skin and full lips, sun tempered, looking the West and all its might nonchalantly, with a mocking smile, straight in the eye. He wears a fine, longish black beard streaked with grey, a cross between desert nomad and Confucian scholar, yet his bearing is elegant.

Allez-vous -en! Laissez-moi seul! France is in a (possibly constructive) sulk, says this article in the Telegraph.

The Independent says much the same, only leaving out the "possibly constructive". Even Le Monde, quoted in the article, agrees:

The France of Jacques Chirac and Jean-Pierre Raffarin has become the black sheep of Europe. It is in the process of replacing Margaret Thatcher's Britain as a blocker of all common initiatives. This selfish national policy is contrary to France's 50-year long pro-European tradition.

He will re-live this moment in nightmares his whole life long. An Israeli bus driver struggles with a suicide bomber.

I don't think the James Bennett who wrote this story is the same as the Anglosphere Jim Bennett who thinks that if supranational organizations keep breaking down it might just be because the design never worked anyway. The latter usually heads his columns James C Bennett.

Thursday, October 10, 2002
Another Korean abduction story, this time from a major Japanese paper, Asahi Shimbun. 'Police now say mother was abducted with her daughter.' Flicking through the links to other stories at the base of this one you will find some eerie images - a man and a woman managed to escape an abduction by shuffling away still in the sacks into which they had been tied - the North Korean athletes at the Asian games refuse to read the piles of free South Korean newspapers left outside their doors - the North Korean journalists, too, show little interest in the wider world. "This has not been reported," one photographer says, refusing any input that deviates from Party reality.

Reports say that five of the surviving abductees will soon visit Japan. Their children have not been allowed to leave North Korea. That figures.

"Hang Mandela" T-shirts. An anonymous wearer of such garb writes:
The fun that could be gained from watching the local campus left going into a apopleptic fit when they saw the stickers and t-shirts was well worth it.

In the war against liberty grabbing, freedom squashing, thought controlling, mis-information giving forces of darkness I will take any opportunity I can to give them a tough time. There was also a serious side to the campaign.

Mandela is not a saint, his hands carry the blood of innocents he was instrumental in murdering. He is not a democract and he is most certainly not a libertarian a fact that is often overlooked.

I think you should find someone who was wearing one of those t-shirts and ask him for his reasons - I think you may find yourself agreeing with the sentiment, which, we were all aware, had no likelihood of happening, We were using an extreme message to make a valid point.

In general I do not favour using an extreme message to make a valid point - I favour being blunt and honest in making my valid points and not worrying unduly if others say I am extreme. Or even if I am extreme; the important question is not where I stand on some spectrum but whether I am right. Also I think Mandela has done a great deal more good than harm in the world. South Africa under apartheid closed off avenues for peaceful change, so it was no great surprise that the ANC turned to violence. The surprise is that South Africa is relatively peaceful and free today, and Nelson Mandela helped it become so. I do not know enough to comment in much more detail than that. But they did let off bombs, didn't they? And they did not go nearly far enough in condemning "necklacing". Winnie Mandela even made a speech that referred to it favourably. So my anonymous correspondent has a point. Let no left-winger who has praised a play, or a piece of modern art, or a polemic by calling it "provocative" condemn him.

The Times definitely not wimps after all. Blogger ate that last post by the way. If you read an earlier post of mine about the Alistair Scott case, please note that I got a major aspect of the story wrong through being careless and naive. Please do re-read the corrected post.

Times not wimps after all?

11:59 AM
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
Remember my post on university admissions? An admissions tutor had this to say:
A number of different things are going on simultaneously which makes the overall picture a bit messy, but one thing that is happening is that admissions tutors are getting data about the historic A-level performance of particular state schools. This enables us to make a crude judgement about how good an achievement getting a particular grade at A-level is. After all, we're not really interested in past performance as such, just in past performance as an indicator of future performance. And a sad and constant experience shows that kids who have struggled to get BBC in some really crummy comprehensive often do a lot better when they get to university than those who have been very well coached at an expensive school to get AAB. (One reason is that they've often had to learn by themselves and so can cope at university where there's no-one to hold their hands - the public school kids often can't.) Given than fact, we actually made differential offers for years before anyone instructed us to: we were just trying to get the best people. (So I'd defend making lower offers to kids from problem schools.)

On the other side, there's really massive resentment among academics that we're being made to do this and attacked as "elitist" by Margaret Hodge. It isn't our fault that the politicians run such a lousy state school system that - even trying to judge future potential - privately educated kids do a lot better.

Codswallop in parts. "Cosdwallop" was how Steve Chapman described in a comment the version of recent history put forward by Brendan O'Neill. Mr O'Neill is indeed walloping the cod if he really believes what he implies, that the West "destroyed democracy in Iraq." According to this timeline, nothing of any interest happened in Iraq between the Mongol sack of Baghdad and the British moving in to occupy the place in 1917. I feel sure the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, who produced the timeline, would have mentioned it if Parliamentary Democracy had flourished amid the desert sands circa 1916. The series of coups and massacres by and within the Ba'ath Socialist Party since then cannot be laid at our door.

But Brendan is enjoyably scathing about Mr Clinton.

A regular correspondent writes:
If I were surrounded by fanatical, well-armed "anti"-racists, my conscience might fail me so far as to hesitate to say 'niggardly' in some context where the word was otherwise appropriate. I like to think that nothing seriously less would make me even hesitate. Thus while I applaud your contempt for the silly woman who tried to get the teacher fired for saying it, I don't think you should ever (except in the circumstances described, as we'd be heartbroken to lose you) hesitate to use the word yourself. The combination of stupidity and arrogance which alone can be angered by it should not be pandered to. Further, like envy (of which it is a form) it is insatiable; give them 'niggardly' and they'll demand that 'blaggardly', a word containing a clearly-offensive homonym to 'black' be abolished, and then ... make your own list. Those who seek offensive references where none logically exist (or only at an incredible semantic distance) will never be appeased.

Conversely, I agree with with you on Briffa, David et al. Where there is a logical reference to an offensive context, other issues arise. Slang words (and 'nigger' is a slang word) come with their connotations attached; the connotation is necessarily part of the meaning (otherwise one would say 'negro', the non-slang word). You and your respondents discuss possible no-offense usage contexts; I offer two:

- In Dianna Wynne-Jones first children's book, 'Wilkin's Tooth' (written very early seventies), Wilkin's is called 'nig' and other terms, sometimes by the enemy bullying gang but also sometimes by his white friends, without showing resentment, a fact for which the book was criticised by the usual suspects. I was alive and the right age in 1971 but had a very enlightened upbringing on this point (I was taught the nursery rhyme as 'catch a tigger by the toe', c.f. Christopher Robin, and would assure anyone who recited the original version that they'd obviously misremembered it) so do not know for sure whether she's correctly portraying a possible scenario for UK children in that year; I think she might be. However, I suspect Wilkins and his friends would have had their consciousnesses raised for them pretty soon thereafter. Also, if someone chose to argue that a real-life Wilkins would already not like it at that time but merely not yet be saying so, I wouldn't know if they were wrong.

- In Frank Herbert's 'The Santaroga Barrier' (written late sixties), the father of the white girl his son is marrying calls a black man 'nigger' while speculating what colour his grandchildren will be, in a way that conveys how untroubled he is about the issue. Herbert is a writer with such flaws that his later books read like spoofs of his earlier ones and I have no quarrel with anyone who argues the scene is not in fact realistic. Also, one could argue that the point of the scene is precisely that the term would normally be offensive.

In general, a non-offensive contemporary usage scenario is not that easy to construct.

Summarising, political correctness is a one-way street: they may use every form of rudeness but we must treat their concerns as sacred; this must be fought. Politeness is a two-way street: we expect courtesy towards our feelings and we're willing to pay for it by a measure of courtesy towards others' feelings; even others who are patronised by the politically correct. If your audience includes such people, as any general audience will, manners that would be fair towards the politically correct are not fair, and saying "it's a joke", "lighten up", etc., are just the tactics the politically correct themselves use whenever they are too caught-out to be simply brazen.

A final thought: if those caught in the old photo wearing 'Hang Nelson Mandela' T-shirts had instead been wearing 'Hang Robert Mugabe' T-shirts, how cool they would now look. What could have caused them to make the wrong choice? Could they have been imitating the politically correct in letting the pleasure of causing offense outweigh rational thought about why they were doing so?

A Google Re-adjustment Profiteer Gloats Shamelessly Over Those Less Fortunately Situated.

Angie Shultz of The Machinery of Night writes,


> oh, I cannot say it. Number one no longer.

Silence, woman. Last I looked, my blog had not made
me the top Angie, nor the top Schultz, but not even
the top "Angie Schultz"! For that, I had to go to the
second Google page, where I was mentioned on your

Thanks to Google's super-dooper new rules, my blog
comes up first in a search of Angie Schultzes.

I rule the Angie Schultz space of the Net! Huzzah!

Angie Schultz

Free speech hangs on a thread. Arthur Silber of The Light of Reason sent me another example of censorship. (Scroll down the post past the part about Ann Coulter to find it.) A website poked rather obvious fun at the scaremongering and vigilantism over fears of paedophilia. Whether you think the joke is funny or not, did you actually have any difficulty discerning the satirical intention of the site? Of course not, because you, dear reader, have two brain cells to rub together. Not everyone does, though. As Silber says,
A private company took the site down after one complaint, on the basis of an "informal" request from one police officer. Of course, the company clearly only did so because of their fear that if they didn't, the government would take more formal action against it.
That was all it took. The unsupported view of one police officer. Not that even he actually failed to get it, he just had heard that someone else, somewhere in the world, didn't. Paul Carr, involved with the website, tells the story.
'Did you look at the site?' I enquired. 'Yes sir.' 'And you did realise it was a parody?'. 'Yes sir, but the complainant obviously didn't.'"
This could be any of us.