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.)

Back to main blog

RSS thingy

Jane's Blogosphere: blogtrack for Natalie Solent.


( '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

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Saturday, April 27, 2002
No more till my keybo8rd'z fixed. Bye.

There be life in the old girl yet. Three decidedly non-PC Oxford ztudentz h8ve come up with Oxblog.

I c8n't believe thiz.

Two of the keyz on my keybo8rd h8ve ztuck. It'z the letter before b & the one before t. I c8n juzt 8bout lever them up with 8 h8irpin, zo I m8y be 8ble to link to thiz wonderful zhot of my webcounter c8ptured by D8wzon.

If the im8ge doezn't work - zometimez it doez, zometimez it doezn't, I don't underztand imaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagez - fe8r not! You c8n go zee it @ (...oh-oh, h8irpin time, though I c8n do zome of it with cut & p8zte...) hiz webzite, & t8ke 8 look @ the weird ze8rch requeztz while you're there, ezpeci8lly if you ye8rn for 8 f8t g8y terrorizt of your very own to love & c8re for forever.

Or zhould it be "f@ g8y terrorizt"? Th@ z8vez on the typing.

Friday, April 26, 2002
Instajustice, Palestinian Authority-style. The paragraph below is from a story in yesterday's Times concerning Zuhair al-Muhtesseb whose mutilated body was hanging head down from a pylon yesterday, and presumably still is today. He was killed as a collaborator by the Tanzim, the military wing of Fatah. I keep getting ejected from the Times registration process so I can't give you a link, but you can get the flavour of the whole from this final paragraph:
"In Ramallah a month ago, 22 year-old Raed al-Liftawy was beaten and hanged after his sister reported him to the Tanzim because she had heard him speaking to an Israeli officer."

News roundup. 18 students were killed in Germany in the latest in the worldwide series of school shootings - the globalisation of madness? British and Dutch plane-spotters found guilty of espionage by a Greek court, and soon they'll be able to come and get you over here courtesy of the European Arrest Warrant. All the papers are hinting like mad that the boys acquitted of murdering 10 year old Damiola Taylor did in fact do it. Finally, Natalie Solent still has too much to do and too little time to do it in. Expect limited posting for the next few days.

Just my luck. I passed 50,000 hits on a day when I was too busy to go near the computer....

Amygdala told me I would want to hear what Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci had to say about anti-semitism in Europe. He was right.

Thursday, April 25, 2002
Talking of the fallibility of my memory, I never did find the TV clip of toddlers dressed as suicide bombers to which I referred on April 10. Though I have ample evidence that the phenomenon occurs, I now think that my mind conflated two separate film clips or one film clip and one still photo. I meant to say this earlier, but forgot. Further proof of my mental decline.

Les schadenfreudes d'antan... I went over to England Shamed Again to see if there were any "Britain most racist country in Europe" stories I could jeer at in the aftermath of Le Pen's surprisingly strong showing over in France. There weren't, though. I had been almost sure I remembered one or two, but perhaps I saw them somewhere else. I will nonetheless permit myself a little topical jeer at the blog's motto, "Learning from our European cousins."

Le Pen's day of victory is something like finding out that one member of the household of one's goody-goody neighbours who are always being held up as examples of virtue is actually a thug long known to the police. (In fairness to my pleasant and peaceable real-life neighbours I must stress the similie is purely fictional.) There is a certain amount of pleasure at seeing the tables turned, but it is pretty soon outweighed by realizing that the thug is only a wall away.

It is Anzac Day. Elitist links to a fascinating story in the Sydney Morning Herald, about a man who may be the last survivor on Earth of the Gallipoli campaign.

Canadian Shenanigans. One thing that really gets my goat is politicians who get their way by the substitution of tricks of procedure for honest debate. I forget exactly why the Northern Ireland Alliance party became "unionists for a day" - to fulfil some criteria or other, or win some vote - but they were cheats and liars whatever their reason.

It's the same story worldwide. This post, appearing in Lawrence Garvin's What Fresh Hell, exposes a sly bit of work in the Canadian Parliament. This time a party called the Alliance, or at least one of its MPs, Dr Keith Martin, is the injured party. Dr Martin forward a private members' bill to decriminalize cannabis in some circumstances. It never had a hope of passing, but you might have thought that the decent thing would be to give it its run of debate in the time-honoured fashion. The Liberal party thought otherwise. Having shown their own disregard for Parliamentary convention they then affect outrage when the original sponsor got understandably irate and - oh horrors! - touched the Mace, the naughty little Oliver Cromwell that he is.

I found that link in Ranting and Roaring. David Janes shares my dislike of trick laws. I dislike them even when they further causes of which I approve. I'm pretty much pro-life, but you won't find me supporting anti-abortion measures being sneaked in under the cover of social benefits to pregnant women.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002
And now for the weather: Light posting in the Solent for the next few days, due to high pressure readings on the work barometer. Medium to heavy posting elsewhere. Gales possible from this newly discovered Antipodean cyclone, even if he is a wicked Republican-in-the-Australian-sense.

UPDATE: David Morgan informs me that he's a Republican for Australia and a Monarchist for Britain. In recognition of this principled stance I suggest that the secret agents of the Royalist International chop off his head in Australia but let him have it back should he visit these shores.

Sports column from the Dude. He makes some suggestions for improving socker*
"First, shrink the field down to about half. Second, put some flashing lights up on the goals so that when the one or two actual goals per game are scored, ya got yourself a little light show to spiff things up a bit! Third, don't let these guys take their clothes off when they celebrate. I mean, come on... Fourth, cheerleaders, yeah that's right, girls with big bresteses in tight sweaters. Fifth, make the coaches wear suits and cool hats like Tom Landry used to do. It will still be a boring game with all those 1-0 scores, but who knows, it just might become the most popular team sport in the world..."
*Note for those surgically connected to their computers: socker, along with crickett, is a popular sprot.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002 says he's going offline for a while due to deadline pressures. And some other sad stuff, so spare him a prayer tonight. But even though it's a sad post, he did get a smile out of me with a simply marvellous top line. Beats "edit your blog" any day.

The sun shines. I blog not, neither do I sew.

Never write things like that. As soon as you do, you spot something like this and just have to blog it. Peter Beaumont, writing in the Observer, see-saws madly between condemning Israel for brutality and loss of control in Jenin and flatly stating that no massacre took place. The see-sawing may not say much for his literary style but it does give a strong impression of sincerity.

That Tom Paulin pops up everywhere. In this Times story, concerning an Oxford student who has lost his racial discrimination case, our man is "excitable and may have had his own axe to grind", according to the judge.

Ooh, look! I'm the lucky visitor!
... Hey, who are you calling a cheater?!
- Dave

Not you, Dave! Just as the click was about to come in, Real Life intervened and I had to go off and do stuff. So I did not reply immediately, alas. You win a... um... free endorsement of whatever T shirt, baseball cap or coffee mug you happen to own anyway. It is now an official shirt, cap, mug or other promotional article. Tell all your friends! There, isn't that easier than all this micromanufacturing lark?

Monday, April 22, 2002
Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. When five more visitors have popped through the system I will have had 48,888 hits. Send me an e-mail if it's you. No cheating.

At bloody last the sheeplike British public and the Judas-goats of the British Press seem to be waking up to the fact that gold-plated rail safety systems cost more lives than they save.

It occurs to me that the times being what they are I should explain that sheep will ordinarily try to run away when being driven to slaughter, but will willingly follow a trained "Judas goat" into the slaughterhouse.

But if it slags off Krugman, who cares who wrote it? I'm not sure whether this was written by John Weidner himself or one of the cabal of Deep Cover Economists he mentions.
"Another problem is healthcare rationing. This is a biggie! What we refer to is the following: If the government is going to sponsor the delivery of expensive health services through Medicare at prices substantially below the providers’ costs then either the government must fund the difference, or providers will engage in some form of non-price rationing, e.g., refusing to offer services or turning patients away. The financial capacity of the government to do the former is in serious question. This is not just a matter of changing a few percentage points in marginal tax rates. As Krugman points out, the numbers here are bigger than the defense budget. The top tax rate could be raised to 100 percent and still be a drop in the bucket.

"So the answer probably requires a consensus on some form of non-price rationing. What this means, in plain English, is that some Medicare patients, under some circumstances will not receive treatments that might conceivably benefit them because they cost too much. More precisely, the cost/benefit ratio of those services given the state of a patient’s health is judged to be too high. This is tough stuff. The decision making process behind such judgements is a subject no politician wants to even hear about, let alone discuss. But somehow people of goodwill, hopefully people with hard heads but soft hearts, must face and resolve them."

Beat me to it. Everything I wanted to say about Jean-Marie Le Pen reaching the second round of the French Revolution, er, I mean French Election, has already been done for me in a series of posts over at Samizdata.

Sunday, April 21, 2002
And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars..." Well, I choose to believe that the conjunction of the planets is a sign that a thousand years of peace and harmony are about to descend. We had the whole family plus cheapo Argos telescope (ain't capitalism wonderful!) out on the front lawn at about half past eight. Don't worry, the neighbours are used to us. Magic.

Saturday, April 20, 2002
The Telegraph does something to restore the tattered reputation of the British Press. First read this leader on tolerated anti-semitism, then click at the bottom for Mark Steyn's latest column, which asks how many more blind eyes can the UN turn?

Ping-pong I've added a longer response to Emmanuel Goldstein's response to me. Scroll down three posts to see it. Sorry about the embedded quotes. I did my best to make it clear who was saying what, but I hope this rally doesn't go on much longer as I'm running out of fonts.

Lifestyle necessity: a Tony Blair doll. Angie Schultz sent me the website of "Herobuilders" dolls, complete with handy "read our hate mail" feature. Angie's accompanying e-mail said, "Dammit, woman, I see you beat me to it *days* ago! Must be the time delay between here and Earth---er!---forget I said that!" I promised to forget instantly. Her secret is safe with me. And you.

"The NHS is not the envy of the world", says this Indy leader of a few days ago. It also praises the Tories. I need another coffee.

My pig ate my kitchen... According to AOL news,
"A couple are facing a £5,000 bill after their 12-stone pot-bellied pig ate the kitchen in their two-bedroomed flat. Mike and June Bunter discovered the devastation after leaving Max in the kitchen of their Bournemouth flat while they were out. He had ripped cupboard doors off their hinges and charged at walls and skirting boards. Mike told The Sun: "It looked like a bomb had hit the kitchen. It was smashed to smithereens, with Max sat in the middle of it all. "Once he decided to get stuck in there was only going to be one winner." Now the couple will have to find the money to repair the kitchen themselves as their insurance does not cover damage caused by Max. Mike added: "We have forgiven Max. We couldn't get rid of him because he is a pet and part of the family. He's just very playful and likes attention. The other day he stuck a tusk through the hem of my jeans and dragged me around the room. I suppose he gets mischievous when he's bored." They are now playing Max classical music while they are out in a bid to calm him down. "It's our secret weapon and hopefully it will save him eating us out of house and home," said Mike.

Pot-bellied pig expert Heather Powles said: "We recommend people don't keep them indoors because they're not always well behaved. It's not their fault, they just do what comes naturally."

Italics added by me. Unsympathetic cackle added by me. Good thing I have better sense than to let such a destructive beast into my home. Excuse me while I clean up some cat vomit.

Friday, April 19, 2002
Airstrip One gets back to me. I shall have to return the serve at some time when I am not harassed by trivial but urgent tasks and the internet is not oozing like treacle. As a sort of taster, I think he has mixed up my responses to two of his quotes. Also can he really think that Peter Briffa retroactively lamenting his own failure to suicide-bomb Paulin while watching a bad Spielberg movie is quite the same as someone saying "Jews should be shot" to an Arab newspaper in a time of rampant Arab terrorism against Jews?

ADDED LATER: According to his latest post, no he doesn't. A slightly fuller response to Mr Goldstein's earlier post follows.

EG: Firstly she claims that one comment about respecting Islam by killing Muslims is actually sarcastic. I doubt she would be so charitable to that piece of excrement Tom Paulin, who would probably claim the same about killing religious American Jews

NS: Firstly, I haven't heard any claim from Paulin that he was being sarcastic. The second difference lies in the likely response of the audience. In this specific case it was readers of a blog vis a vis readers of an Arab newspaper.

EG: Then she says that another piece about killing the bomber's entire family was actually against genocide. Like the bit where he almost, although not quite, calls for the Israelis to clear the West Bank of Palestinians by cutting off their water. Of course this is a more in sorrow than anger piece as USS Clueless says:

I guess I better make something more clear. No, I don't expect Israel to go out and start slaughtering the families of bombers. That's not the point I was trying to make. The point was that when you back someone into a corner and leave them only the alternatives of being killed or lashing out violently, then you better make sure to have plans for violence. If the only way they can survive is to become monsters, then you shouldn't be surprised if they do.

EG: So it's not advocating acting like monsters, its saying they have no alternative. I suppose that's a new twist on things. Gerry Adams didn't advocate bombing innocent civilians, he just claimed that there was no alternative. Sorry, one person doesn't see the difference.

NS: Now you must be kidding. (1) Read again the part where Den Beste says, "I better make something more clear". How much clearer can he make it? To predict likely consequences is not to approve them. Your own side's frequent predictions that, for instance, foreign adventures on the part of the US make terrorism against the US more likely do not in any way approve the terrorism. (NB My own response to that theory is "sometimes." I do not seek to comment on it now.) The Gerry Adams reference is just a tease. It has always been open to those who want a united Ireland to press for one by peaceful means. Nor do you hear a sizeable chunk of British or NI Protestant opinion clamouring for NI Catholics to be killed indiscriminately or driven into the sea.

EG: And then there was the piece de resistance, that the call for bombing Mecca "promotes moderation rather than the reverse". It's quite neat, if a bit implausible, so you could read it. You see it was just putting out a meme, or an idea to think about. Which would not explain Rich Lowry's follow up posting:

Lots of sentiment for nuking Mecca. Moderates opt for something more along these lines: “Baghdad and Tehran would be the likeliest sites for a first strike. If we have clean enough bombs to assure a pinpoint damage area, Gaza City and Ramallah would also be on list. Damascus, Cairo, Algiers, Tripoli and Riyadh should be put on alert that any signs of support for the attacks in their cities will bring immediate annihilation.” Then there are those who think we really can't do too much differently than what were doing now (my original proposition).

EG: Note the absence of any "hey that was just an idea to play with, not to take seriously" or "jeez, I was only joking".

It was a serious thought. He may prefer that we keep bombing - although the term "original proposition" seems to show that he was wobbling, but that's perhaps deconstructing it too much.

NS: Actually the reference to moderates going for Baghdad or Teheran first (and more explicit statements later) does tell me that Lowry was half-joking. I'm not, though, when I say: it is good that the bulk of the Arab world should know that in the event of them using weapons of mass destruction against us it is quite likely that we will do the same against them. Having that made clear might well, by a familiar process of deterrence, save many lives, theirs and ours.

Looks like there will be a homecoming from that Den of Brian's soon.

A kinder, gentler France? I would have thought that all the enforced free time would have meant more political activism, not less. But Philip Delves Broughton says that the either the times or the 35-hour week is tending to ensure that the French lose their passion for power and politics

Thursday, April 18, 2002
Here I make my stand. You know, there is something admirable about the way Gordon Brown has dropped all pretence in his latest budget. The Guardian's Hugo Young gives a fair description of how the night's fog has lifted. Now the battle lines are clear. Brown and his chronicler Young believe pouring a river of money down into the NHS will help people. It won't. Here's why...

You guessed it. I'm going to post that Anthony Browne Observer article about the harmful results of a command economy in health yet again. Cry all you like, I don't care. I'm going to keep on posting it until every British boy and girl can recite it like you yanks do the Pledge of Alleigance.

They'll sing it at football matches: "'ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go, the failure of the politically controlled, state-funded NHS is sadly as inevitable as the failure of the politically controlled communist economies, 'ere we go..."

They'll joke about it in the playground: "Knock, knock." "Who's there?" "Sophie" "Sophie who?" "Sophie noble ideology behind the NHS should be ditched because it costs lives. We should ditch the ideology and ditch the NHS"

And so we should. When we do, I'll shut up about it. Odd though it may seem, yesterday's Budget was a step in the right direction.

Blog watch. Mind over what matters is back, although sounding sore in need of a party. Fortunately one is in the post. England's Sword has been slashing merrily for a couple of days. Dawson hasn't posted since last Friday,but must be home because the blue header strip along the top is subject to mysterious transformations, in tune with who knows what currents of Dawsonian thought. The current currents (don't bake them in your cake) sound romantic and exotic.... Inappropriate is still Inappearing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002
This is what they call having a bad day. The PM's official spokesman is feeling harassed.
"Asked to explain the logic of publishing the Report on the morning of the second busiest day in the Parliamentary calendar, the PMOS said..."

"Put to him that the timing of publication wasn't a 'cock-up' but had been planned deliberately because we had something to hide, the PMOS said..."

"Pressed further, the PMOS said..."

"Asked for a reaction to Peter Mandelson's proposal for an 'Ethics Commissioner', the PMOS said he hadn't heard..."

Peter Mandleson wants an Ethics Commissioner?

Warblogger Watch has all the comedy of a stereotypical tourist in some foreign city making cutting remarks about "all these dreadful tourists". He slags off Asparagirl for using a pseudonym while using one himself. He slags off Reynolds et al for "mediocre" and "third-rate" writing while proclaiming that his many errors are just examples of his vigour and spontaneity. He affects outrage at Peter Briffa's obviously humorous lament that he didn't have a stick of dynamite handy when he met Paulin (to alert even the thickest readers that he is joking Briffa goes on to console himself that at least the world wasn't deprived of his weblog); yet you can be sure he'll shriek "only joking" if anyone ever sues him for accusing named individuals of crack addiction or sexual peversion.

And I assume he is indeed joking. These hysterical ravings, however, I think he takes seriously:

"...that Reynold's and his sick ilk believe in, where Arabs are savages who don't deserve basic human rights and can be rounded up like cattle, exterminated like vermin."
The contrast between that baseless accusation and the sudden gooey outbursts where he reaches out the hand of love to the benighted ones is really quite something.

Goldstein strikes back with some quotes designed to prove warblogger genocide-lust. Here's the link. I'm unconvinced. As one of the comments says, Swift did not really wish to eat Irish babies. The quote from the brothers Judd can far more naturally be read as an sarcastic attack on the adulation by the Muslim press of anyone, however evil, who is killed by the Israelis, and on the many fervent expressions of desire to be martyred. "You wanna be martyrs? Happy to oblige" is a completely obvious and frequently made black joke.

Moving on to the second quote, click the link and you'll find that Goldstein did not get the words direct from USS Clueless but via Warblogger Watch, who himself got them from someone else. Had Goldstein or Blair troubled to get his facts from the source the pair of them would have read something a few lines later that made put a very different complexion on matters: "Can we outside the region prevent this? We in the US can do so by quietly letting the Israeli government know that it would be a step too far. But we can do that, because Israel still has something to lose by antagonizing us." It goes on to make quite clear that Den Beste's point was "don't push Israel into a corner where they have nothing more to lose." At the bottom of the entry there is what ought to be superfluous further clarification, presumably added as a result of being quoted in Warblogger Watch.

The third quote, from NRO's Corner, is self-evidently a call to think about what act merits what retaliation now rather than in the heat of outrage. Hence it promotes moderation rather than the reverse. Yes, it mentions the possibility of flattening Mecca - as a retaliation if their side were to use weapons of mass destruction. It is an example of the widespread Warblogger meme of applying the lessons of the Cold War to the Arab Street. Deterrence, Mutual Assured Destruction, Balance of Terror, all that. You may approve or disapprove of this scheme but its adherents don't want Armageddon in Saudi or Iraq any more than their fathers wanted to nuke Moscow.

BTW "genocide" means the destruction or attempted destruction of an entire race.

I'm not sure which way the joke is meant to run in the second comment.

I could get to like this man. Rod Liddle on why Paulin is a twat, why the Jews weren't kidding about anti-semitism, and why we should not censor the British National Party.

I've just seen that Peter Briffa has both this op-ed and the Osama dolly thing. He also alerts the world to the dangers of surgery. He is quite wrong, though, to say, "this could happen to anyone." It couldn't happen to me.

UPDATE: Dodgeblog had unerringly homed in on the same story, charmingly described in culinary terms.

More weird toys. The latest dolls for your collection are Osama Bin Laden and Tony Blair.

PejmanPundit talks about what he calls suspicious similarities between accounts in several British papers of the claimed Jenin massacre. I have to say that I don't find the links particularly suspicious. It is obvious that the reporters travelled in a pool. (Who can blame them?) It shows the habitual low standards of the British press that not one of them says so. Each of them would rather we think he alone was Out There In Search Of The Truth, just one heroic pressman and his trusty tape recorder on a lone mission to bring the story home. All of them lack the habitual honesty shown by most bloggers, who say how they found the story (I caught this link to Pejman at Instapundit.)

But after all that is said, the accounts given are not disproved by being multiply reported. Or proved either.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002
I gotta go. I am slowly working through the mail pile, and expect to reach Base Camp C soon. From there I shall launch my assault on the summit.

Do you knit too, or just sew?The brothers Judd asked me that question (the answer is aaaaagh!) and sent me this link to this USA Weekend article by Michele Hatty on an unlikely form of "therapy with a takeaway" in the wake of September 11.
"In the days following Sept. 11, young people retreated to an unlikely place in their search for solace: a yarn store. The shop in question, Los Angeles' La Knitterie Parisienne, quickly became a haven for gathering, comforting and -- not incidentally -- knitting.

"Customers collected their yarn and anchored themselves to spots around the big wooden table in the store's back room, the gentle clicking of the needles lending a bit of peace to each person there. "They needed to get away from the television and just to talk to each other," explains owner Edith Eig, who relocated the cozy shop six years ago after 20 years in New Jersey."
Read the rest. Apparently there is a resurgence of knitting among young US urban professionals, some of them male.

Good luck to them. So why the aaaaaagh? Because knitting is topologically impossible. (Like sewing machines. When does the needle come up through the fabric, eh?) All knitters have the secret of extra-dimensional finger movements, which could easily be developed into an FTL drive. They are keeping it from the rest of us for fear that the rest of the galaxy wouldn't be able to cope were humans unleashed upon the defenceless stars.

The Sorceror's Apprentice. I rather think Emmanuel Goldstein is away. Someone really ought to tell him that in his absence his naughty little apprentice has been playing with the spell book and posting inflammatory comments.
"Do they [the warbloggers] not realise that the biggest obstacle in the way of their dream of a genocide on the Euphrates.... "
The italics are mine.

Twenty years ago I was sympathetic to the peace movement. Such was my concern that I sent off for a handy pack of cards containing useful facts and debating points. A great many of these dealt with reasons to suppose that nuclear war might well happen and the horrors that would be unleashed if it did. Although I did not get many converts with my little cards no one accused me of wishing to have a nuclear war merely because I warned that it was not impossible and would be a fearful thing. Perhaps standards of charity in debate have declined, or perhaps my different experience these days is merely a function of having different opponents. Goldstein (if it is he) says "the warbloggers" - not "some" but "the" - actually want to commit genocide. What evidence does he have for this dreadful charge? I read a lot of warblogs and I have not seen even one statement remotely resembling such a wicked desire.

UPDATE. Re-reading my own post, I see I have left myself open to misinterpretation. Warbloggers do, by definition, want the war on terror to be waged. They do not merely warn against it, they advocate it as better and safer than alternative strategies. My analogy with my time in CND does not hold when considering the "basic war". In making that analogy, I referred to a common additional belief held by many but not all warbloggers. (I myself sometimes do and sometimes do not convince myself that it is a probable outcome.) Namely that if terrorism is seen to succeed then there will be more of it, and in return more and more indiscriminate reprisals, until you might end up with mutually catastrophic, intentionally genocidal war between Islam and the West/Israel. Were this to happen the West would "win", for lack of a better word, but that would be small comfort indeed. The point I was making was that I haven't come across any warblogger who wants this nightmare to come true. They want to fight before the monster grows too big.

Monday, April 15, 2002
Moppets & Martyrs (international section). Our latest cutie, found at Don McArthur's blog, shows a child dressed up as a suicide bomber at a march in Berlin.

UPDATE: Instapundit comments on the same picture. As does Damianation! As does Lileks. (It's looking as if all I need do is direct you to the links on the left hand column.) (I wasn't kidding. Now it's LGF)

Earlier Moppets can be found here, here and here.

Notice this? "....His message jarred with a poem by Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to London published on the same day. It saluted an 18-year-old woman bomber who blew herself up in a Jerusalem supermarket on March 29.

The praise for Ayat Akhras and criticism of the White House by Ghazi al-Gosaibi, the veteran Ambassador who was supported by Britain as a candidate to head Unesco, was published on the front page of Al-Hayat, a newspaper based in London. “Tell Ayat, the bride of loftiness . . . she embraced death with a smile while the leaders are running away from death,” Dr al-Ghosaibi wrote. “Doors of heaven are opened for her.”

(From a Times story. Emphasis mine.)

Truly, it seems as if the world has written "Not To Be Resucitated" at the foot of Zimbabwe's hospital bed. But sometimes medicine might do more harm than good. This story details how food aid is being used as a weapon against the children of MDC supporters. Would more aid get them fed or just prolong the regime that denies them food? I do not know.

If only, if only I had some damaging anecdote about this Paulin chap.

It brings down a curse to kill a king. At least that's how it seems for poor Nepal since the heir to the throne massacred his own family last June. Now we learn that 164 people have been killed during a Maoist attack on a police post.

Predictably there are those who think the killers just need some love and attention:

Siddhi Lal Singh, a Communist Party central committee member, said: "After so many killings, and with the economy shattered completely, the government should start talking immediately."
We in Britain know that you should never reward terrorism with immediate surrender. We wait thirty years and then surrender.

Bang goes my reputation as a schoolmarm. Should it be "ran" or "run" in that last post?

UPDATE: opinion - er - ran 100% with "run".

Even a sports duh-brain like me sat up and took notice of Paula Radcliffe's performance in the London Marathon. Not only was her race the second fastest marathon of all time for a woman but it was also her first competitive marathon, and it was ran without clocks or pacemakers. She had no means of telling how she was doing. A fantasy come true.

Sunday, April 14, 2002
"...Palestine saves death for its civilians, little boys and young women. This is why Arafat lives and Ayat Akhras is dead." Read the rest at Turkey Blog.

MKultra = MK Ultra Matt Johnson writes:
"...the level of conspiracy mindedness of Ray Vaughn, he's probably talking about the MK-Ultra program. CIA Mind control. Most of what you read about it seems to be crap, like this. (Of course supermodels must be involved!)
Not to mention telepathic instructions to submarines. Way cool stuff.

Steve Bodio is a five-star natural history writer. (He didn't ask for the plug; but he is very complimentary to me at the bottom of the page. I trust his profession will ensure that he will take it as a compliment if I employ another of my famously robust metaphors from natural history and describe this as "mutual grooming behaviour") This is what he has to say about museums:
The recent post about the "modernization" of museums touched something close to my heart. I grew up in the Boston area (I now live in New Mexico) and have fond memories of the vast collection of stuffed birds and mammals in Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. They have now been replaced by dioramas, and I doubt anyone could gain an appreciation for the diversity of creatures on the planet by looking at dioramas and playing video games. I remember spending hours there, dreaming about the places these animals came from and hoping I would get there one day.

Such people as Stephen Jay Gould, Oliver Sacks, and my friend, the English zoologist and artist Jonathan Kingdon have all written essays about the superiority of old-style museums to the "interactive", shallow displays that have replaced them. All say that they were attracted to the sciences and to their fascination to the whole natural world by wandering through institutions like the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the London Museum. In 1994 I had a chance to visit the Pitt-Rivers Museum of Anthropology at Oxford (at the suggestion of Kindgon). It was an incredible place, full of the real objects, collections, detritus, and notes of generations of British Colonial officers, administrators, and scientists. I could have spent a month there. It was decidedly un-PC: I wonder if it is still the same.

One more note: when we were at the British Museum that year we saw a dinosaur exhibit. It was full of electronic dinosaurs. There were a huge pair of plastic casts of Deinochierus arms hanging down from the ceiling, with a stern warning not to touch them. No real bones were in evidence anywhere, nor did I see any stuffed skins of anything else. Years later on my first visit to Ulaan Bataar (one of my secret favorite cities in the world) I saw the actual arms. They were surrounded by swarms of children touching them, as I did myself. The rest of the collection included real bones found by Roy Chapman Andrews on his expeditions to the Gobi in the 1920s, which I had read about since I was a child. Which museum do you think would inspire a child to further dreaming?

I don't know about those numbers -- I check your site twice a day on the off-chance you've added something else.

Today, it wasn't such a bad bet.
Along with Samizdata (to which I contributed a slogan a couple of months ago) you're among my top five blogs.

Best always,

Steve Bodio

Magdalena NM

PS FYI, I am a cradle-Catholic, Kipling-quoting, Churchill-admiring, science fiction reading, gun-loving, libertarian natural history writer, for what it's worth. I also enjoy going to Central Asia and collect books about it and the Great Game. All of which might explain my affection for your blog, Perry deHavilland's comments. etc.

A quickie reflection from me along the same lines: all these animal activists who think zoos - all zoos, however spacious the enclosures, however important the breeding programme - demeaning ought to think ahead twenty years. A generation might grow up who have never looked in wonder at a tiger. If all a child has ever seen is film of rare animals then maybe it will seem as unreal and unimportant as a film that the tiger should depart this earth.

We have "Children in Need"; they have this. Fox News have an article about the Saudi telethon The Saudis have assured the US that it is just about helping Palestinians generally and not about rewarding death cultists. Obviously they aren't quite getting the message across.
"A 6-year-old boy, with a plastic gun slung over his shoulder and fake explosives strapped around his waist, walked into a donation center and made a symbolic donation of plastic explosives, according to Al Watan daily."
Naturally the shocked authorities hastily told the wee one to stop this disgraceful behaviour, and reported his parents to Social Services. Yeah, right.

Jenin. There's a BBC radio debaters' programme called "The Moral Maze". Trying to steer the right course when writing about the claims and counter-claims of a situation like that in Jenin, where the Palestinians claim the IDF has massacred hundreds, is very like negotiating your way through a moral maze. Someone trying to stick to the right path is Damian Penny. His writing on the Independent's reporting of the situation at Jenin should be an example to the Independent.

Closing the doors of history. Robbyn Kenyon writes:
When I was growing up there was a museum in New Hampshire called the Morse Museum. It was small, private and, for a child, absolutely wondrous. Originating in the 1920s or 30s, it contained such incredible marvels as actual, real lions and cheetah cubs (stuffed, of course) and the skins of many other animals (mostly elk and deer of various types) decorated the walls. There were displays of incredibly complicated, carved ivory (the real stuff) and chests and tables of teak, mahogany and brass. There were a couple of cases of human remains, one male and one female which, far from being frightening or ghoulish were remarkable and fascinating. And there were lots of glass cases containing the money of various countries, clothing of various types (ie: the shoes that the women of China who had their feet bound wore), pictures and various other cultural artifacts like bowls, knives and spears.

My parents and I visited it several times when I was growing up. It was a taste of the rest of the world and it was one of my favorite places to go.

When I last tried to find some information on this museum, I discovered that it no longer existed.

I know that by today's "enlightened" standards the whole thing was terribly un-PC. One doesn't go big game hunting any more - it isn't acceptable. One doesn't show off artifacts like the tiny Chinese shoes because they reflect the unacceptable practice of crippling women. One doesn't display intricately carved ivory because of both the nastiness attached to the harvesting and the low-paid (or unpaid) labor that was likely used to create the statue.

While I might agree that any of these things shouldn't go on, or at least not as they did in the last part of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, I can't for the life of me understand what it accomplishes to pretend they never happened. Nor can I see why it's better for anyone (children included) not to know about it. I would no more shoot a lion than I would shoot my cat! I cannot condone harvesting ivory with the attendant decimation of the elephant population - but that splendid, spectacular museum piece was created in a time when this wasn't a consideration and it cannot be regarded apart from that. As for the little Chinese slippers (also a product of their time and culture), I have never seen them anywhere else. They were silken, exquisitely embroidered and about 4 inches long. It was my first exposure to the notion of arrogant cruelty and I never forgot it.

I know it's not quite the same issue as your piece presents, but Gabb's article had the same regret and anger about the Maritime Museum that I feel about the Morse Museum. We are setting aside, hiding or outright destroying the cultural and sociological signposts to our past. When they are all gone, how will we ever figure out how we got from there to here?
How indeed. In the last year of primary school I noticed that when black or brown-skinned characters (or even black or brown-haired white characters) appeared in some of the older books I read, they never seemed to be the heroes. I was saddened because for some reason I had decided that they were the "team" I supported. I won't say my outrage had much of a moral basis; it was only on about the same level as my irritation that cats, which I also liked, never seemed to get a good press either. Nevertheless I had discovered for myself something about the world that helped me later decide that racism happens and is wrong. In contrast, the modern system seems to be to present to little children a sanitized present where every second white mummy is a car mechanic and every second black mummy a judge. Then, suddenly, the children are held to have reached the age to Know The Truth about "a society irredeemably soaked in unconscious and conscious racism." The past, of course, is shown as nothing but one long act of predation by whites against blacks.

Kids all over the world like to dress up. LakeFXDan sent me a link to this picture archive. It took me a while to work out how to see the pictures. Press the number after the description and then scroll down to the frame below. Now take a look at "Kids as suicide bombers" picture No. 3.

It has to be said that the two earlier pictures in that category show teenagers rather than actual "kids". (So that's all right then.)

A note: not all the links work - for instance in the category "Armed kids with their fathers" only number 4 works.

Saturday, April 13, 2002
Flattery will get you everywhere! The bodaciously excellent Patio Pundit writes to express doubt in the nice direction as to my figure for hits:
"I find that hard to believe - I got a whole bunch of hits when you linked to me (100 or so), so if it is true (I believe you, but maybe your counter is in error?), you have devoted readers. I have gotten less referrals from bloggers who claim higher numbers than you do."
I had said that my maximum ever daily hit total was 878.

Could it be simply that I usually post in the morning GMT whereas most of my readers visit in the afternoon PST? Hence it is usually not worthwhile to hit "refresh"; I may have devoted readers (it's nice to think I do) but even their devotion does not extend to repeated visits while I sleep.

One specific item found by Martin Devon that you should certainly check out is what he described as "this great pro-Palestinian article" by Tarek Masoud. Not words he or I often use, but justified none the less.

Continuing the theme, this post by Diana Hsieh of the deliciously-named "Noodle Food" starts off by talking about the likely effect of reparations and then describes how Ms Hsieh feels that she was intellectually saved by moving from public (in the US sense, i.e. state-provided) school to private school. In fairness to my own state school, I must say that I experienced there no more than the pessure to conform inevitable when you assemble an age-cohort. Mind you, it was all girls so perhaps the reflexes of the baboon-troupe didn't fully cut in.

The Black World Today, black university students yesterday and My Falklands Memoirs.

Regarding my earlier post about a dismal column in The Black World Today, John Costello writes:

Black World Today is a frustrating com. Sometimes the articles can be quite interesting, at other times the writers let their paranoia and prejudices flower. I would say it accurately reflects the intellectual state of the American Black community. By the way, I am white, so this is an observation from an outsider (although one with degrees in Anthropology.) I think their statement about the calibre of their staff is true, alas. I have had a chance to read 'Afrocentric' literature and histories recently and the quality and accuracy of such varies wildly from writer to writer. Also, I do remember from my days as a grad student, the reasons why the majority of (mostly liberal to socialist) academics supported 'Black studies' programs on both my campuses: 1) it allowed the schools to inflate the total number of black students on campus and thus proclaim themselves 'more fully integrated' and 2) in segregated the worst black deadheads well away from anyone who was interested in serious study.

Please bear in mind that the professors were _not_ racist. They were delighted to have African and Asian students because those students, unlike the white undergraduates, wanted to learn, and because, unlike the black undergraduates and graduate students, they were not perceived as hostile to the (mostly white) professors.

From my own experience, I can tell you that African students on American college campuses were far more likely to have multiracial groups of friends (that is white and Asian) than American black students, and I personally never experienced racial hostility from any African students (well, there was that one Ethiopian student who decided to be antisemitic to me, but it wasn't at school --- we were working as security guards in a hotel --- and I wasn't even Jewish!) (My specialty was African Prehistory, the MA paper was the dating of 18 sites in Kenya's Rift Valley) but even getting to know a black American student at UMASS Boston or Penn State would have been virtually impossible because of the segregation (imposed by black students.)

COINTELPRO was, I believe, a Nixon era plan to carry out illegal surveilance on dissident Americans. Like all such secretsa it entered popular mythology. Mkultra is something I have never encountered before.

I can speak from personal experience of the high motivation and willingness to make friends from all races shown by African and Asian nationals who have come to the West to study. At the age of 17 I spent a year as a scholarship student at a private college, of which I have happy memories but which could unkindly be called a "crammer".

The students fell into two main groups. The first group consisted of whites who were repeating their A-level year. They weren't for the most part over-keen on learning for its own sake but pressure from their parents who were footing the bill kept the kids' noses to the grindstone. My tuition still came free as God's good air, as it had at school, and so it wasn't until years later that it penetrated the mildly socialist mousse in my head that the hard work and the school fees had some connection with each other. (There were also a few rich white deadheads who had Video Recorders. Money could no longer motivate them.)

The second main group were foreign nationals; Indians, Singapore Chinese, Africans and others. Nearly all my friends came from this group. One Indian girl shocked me by saying that, although she had been told in India that all the British were racist, she had experienced no hostility at all. I stopped short of telling her to go get some in order to please me, although I did say (an opinion I still hold) that if she were mixing with poor whites who felt threatened by her presence it would be a different story.

So 99% of the time the little multi-racial group with whom I chatted away my lunch hours got along fine. There was only one thing that made me feel utterly apart from them: the Falklands war. It wasn't that they were hostile, it was just that they were indifferent. No business of theirs, chum. Some mild "anti-colonial" feeling against Britain was tempered by equally mild opposition to the dictatorship in Argentina. And there me and my sister were, scanning the shortwave dial at half past midnight and up again for more of the same again at six a.m. Please God, don't let any of our ships have been hit overnight.

Friday, April 12, 2002
"Oh, you're still alive then." Twenty years ago Iain Dale learned that a young man of his age and bearing his name had just been killed in the Falklands. Scroll down to March 29 to read his memories.

Moppets & Martyrs update. Robert Martin writes:
Mr. Alexanian’s strained effort to explain away the photographs is fascinating. It so perfectly illustrates one of the most frustrating aspects of any issue arising in the middle east, the mind-numbing capacity of Palestinians, Arabs, and their supporters to evade the obvious and refuse to deal with facts. Thus the denial that the photographs mean what they clearly do.

Although not a professional, I am a photographer. Mr. Alexanian’s invocation of the “photographer’s safety” red herring is silly. Most photographers shoot for agencies, some for publications. Few photographers are in a position to retain editorial control of their work. Whoever pays for the photographs, the rights to publication are usually part of the consideration for the fee. Further sale of the photos is controlled by the owner. Agencies in particular exist to sell photographs to whoever wants to pay for them. Surely the photographer here knew that. Is it seriously contended that photo agencies should inquire into the intentions and motives of their customers before selling to them? There is no threat to the photographer’s safety here. Hamas and kindred organizations are quite open about these activities. They intend them as a proud demonstration of commitment to the cause, and would probably publish their own photographs if no one else performed the task. No “spying” is needed to get pictures like this.

I do appreciate the distinction drawn between young Palestinians dressing up as bombers and young Americans dressing up as firefighters. Just so, and the difference speaks volumes.

To refer to an earlier post on your correspondents, I am an American. I count on those in different time zones and those who maniacally post at all hours (who?) to have fresh material for me first thing in the morning.

Oh wonderful. As I sit here, a report on the radio of a bombing in Jerusalem.

I assume Mr Martin was referring to this.

Layman's logic justifies its name when Mr Sheriff sets out the reasons for war in Afghanistan, and the reasons why Real IRA fundraising should be stomped upon.

And our "Moppets & Martyrs Calendar" picture for January shows little Ahmed.

I don't actually know the kid's name. I post this picture because I had an e-mail asking me to cite a reference for what I said here about Palestinian toddlers. This still picture is not the TV clip I remembered, just an example of the same sort of thing.

Does anyone else remember seeing a TV news clip showing older youths crawling under ropes meant to show a minefield while what looked like very little kids dressed in white looked on? The kids dressed in white were wearing things that looked like the floatation belts used by learner swimmers, but painted black.

BTW The letter surrounding the picture makes some fair points about the need for accuracy, and for preserving the safety of reporters and photographers. But I don't really think the question of whether one of the masked figures was or was not the child's father is that important. (Nor does the fact that at least one of the masked figures was either a teenage boy or girl rather than an adult necessarily mean that they were not "for real". Many suicide bombers have been teenagers.) Does anyone think that the child shown was there without the consent of his family and his society? Which do you think is the better description of what was being done to him: "training to be a suicide bomber" or "just dressing up"?

UPDATE: February's picture can be found in this Christian Friends of Israel website. Use control-F and search for "Palestinian child". The small picture on the extreme right appeared originally in the Jerusalem Post under the heading "Child's Play", and shows a Palestinian child dressed as a terrorist at a Hamas rally to celebrate that organisation's 12th anniversary.

In November 2000 Justus Reid Weiner wrote this essay on the use of children in the Al-asqua intifada. It is particularly useful in that it is fully footnoted. Here are some excerpts:

Television broadcasts frequently include what in many Western countries would be deemed "hate speech." On July 2, 1998, in derogation of its commitments to combat incitement under the interim peace agreements (discussed below), a Palestinian television children's show called "The Children's Club," similar in its basic structure to "Sesame Street," aired an episode in which young boys with raised arms chanted "We are ready with our guns; revolution until victory; revolution until victory."35 On the same show, an 8-year-old boy announced to the audience (a group of children), "I come here to say that we will throw them to the quiet sea. Occupiers, your day is near, then we will settle our account. We will settle our claims with stones and bullets."36 Also on the Children's Club program, on February 8, 1998, a girl who could not have been more than ten years old declared that she wanted to "turn into a suicide warrior" in Jerusalem.37

Other Palestinian institutions are also imbued with incitement. A New York Times reporter observed a PA-run summer camp program where the 25,000 campers stage the kidnapping of Israeli leaders, strip and assemble Kalachnikov assault rifles, and learn the art of ambushing.43 They are given camouflage uniforms and imitation guns.44 They parade and practice infiltration, crawling on their stomachs through obstacles.

(That last is the sort of activity I think I remember seeing on film.)

ANOTHER ONE: This article by Ibrahim Hazboun describes children dressing as suicide bombers. Children, not toddlers; but it does show that the practice occurs.

Working Together. Samizdata's David Carr on why corporations love environmentalists.

My opinion of Jonathan Freedland has gone up. The man flies his flag. This column begins, "These are days for republicans to walk humbly...", talks plainly about his own misjudgement of the country's mood and then goes on to say why he thinks a connection with the past could be maintained even were the monarchy to go. It's called The story of us, not them.

For my part I am pretty sure that the sort of Britain to ditch the monarchy would also be the sort of Britain where the teachers and education bureacrats would ensure that only the story of an extremely select subgroup of "us" reached the history books. The New Class are already well on the way to wiping out certain memories. Look what they did to the Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

Thursday, April 11, 2002
"The Bush Administration Plays The Daniel Pearl Race Card." is the title of a commentary by Ray Vaughn in The Black World Today. An admirer of, Common Dreams C-Span and a Harry Browne voter (presumably because of the drugs angle; I can't imagine Mr Browne's views on racial preferences would meet with Mr Vaughn's approval), Mr Vaughn gives his inimitable views on... everything that pops into his head, really. He tells us all about "the Reichstaff fire" and "How The Leader's is joined by his parrot Tony Blair" [the spare apostrophe represents the parrot, I suppose] and how "We also know about MKultra and COINTELPRO" [I don't], interspersed with randomly generated comments like "with two you get egg rolls" and "It also provides a cover for carrying out racist agendum."

I know nothing about the status of The Black World Today. It has an authoritative name, claims to be big and boasts a swanky website, but that proves nothing these days. I sincerely hope that the claim made elsewhere in TBWT's website, that "The professionalism and experience of our world-class team of editors, writers, columnists and correspondents is unmatched in black publishing," is either a lie or true in an unintentional direction.

Echoes from Algeria. I found this excerpt in John and Antonio's Inside Europe: Iberian Notes:
From Modern Times by Paul Johnson, pages 497-98:

"...It is important to grasp that the object (of the Algerian FLN in and after 1954), from start to finish, was not to defeat the French Army. That would have been impossible. The aim was to destroy the concept of assimilation and multi-racialism by elimination of the moderates on both sides. The first Frenchman to be murdered was a liberal, Arabophile schooleacher, Guy Monnerot. The first Arab casualty was a pro-French local governor, Hadj Sakok. Most FLN operations were directed against the loyal Muslim element: employees of the state were murdered, their tongues cut off, their eyes gouged out, then a note, 'FLN', pinned to the mutilated bodies...

"...These men (the FLN leaders), who had absorbed everything most evil the twentieth century had to offer, imposed their will on the villages by sheer terror; they never used any other method. Krim (an FLN leader) told a Yugoslav paper that the initiation method for a recruit was to force him to murder a designated 'traitor', mouchard (police spy or informer), French gendarme, or colonialist: "An assassination marks the end of the apprenticeship of each candate." A pro-FLN American reporter was told: "When we've shot (the Muslim victim) his head will be cut off and we'll clip a tag on his ear to show he was a traitor. Then we'll leave the head on the main road."

"...But it was the Muslim men of peace the FLN killers really hated. In the first two-and-a-half years of war, they murdered only 1,035 Europeans but 6,352 Arabs (authenticated cases; the real figure was nearer 20,000). By this point the moderates could only survive by becoming killers themselves or going into exile. The FLN strategy was, in fact, to place the mass of the Muslims in a sandwich of terror. On one side, the FLN killers replaced the moderates. On the other, FLN atrocities were designed to provoke the French into savage reprisals, and so drive the Muslim population into the extremist camp..."

John and Antonio also give the Republican side in and before the Spanish Civil War a less easy ride than is customary.

You mean - we have to pay for this? UK Transport Blog's Patrick Crozier reprints and expands upon an Independent article about the Government belatedly waking up to the idea of "you nationalize it - you pay for it, chum" and safety.

Crozier is going to be famous. He has the knack of coining ideas linked to physical facts. For instance, somewhere he talks about how the reason that rail travel cannot be split up admistratively in the way that air travel can is that the train is continually touching the rail. This constant friction in the literal sense produces all sorts of friction in the Clausewitzian sense. Constant non-catastrophic repairs, constant knock on effects, you need a unified system. (Which does not and should not mean a State system, so all you hopeful Guardian readers who rushed up to embrace me for having seen the light can go home again.) Whereas air travel is nodular both literally and figuratively. You can break off a bit and work on it separately because you can wield the scissors in some of that empty space.

Another Crozier idea is the "rhythm of an enterprise." Once punctuality is lost it is very difficult to regain it. Which links in somehow with the daily tasks that employees perform. I'm not expressing this very well, which is why I am impressed with them as can.

Choosing to be deaf. Here the Guardian prints a selection of letters concerning the child engineered to be deaf. The best was from Sheenagh Pugh of Cardiff:
"Sharon Ridgeway seems to assume the statement "hearing is preferable to not hearing" is equivalent to saying "hearing people are better than deaf people". They aren't, but they are incomparably luckier, as I suspect my deaf father and brother-in-law would be the first to agree. When She says "deaf people are no more disabled than someone who speaks French, Italian or Japanese" she speaks as if hearing involved nothing but language. People who speak French, Italian and Japanese can also hear birdsong, Bach and the voices of their loved ones. Those who have never had that blessing, as Jeanette Winterson rightly calls it, are, frankly, ill-qualified to evaluate the lack of it.

The parents in the US case (Lesbian couple have deaf baby by choice, April 8) claim they want their children to be like them. Presumably, then, illiterate parents have the right to deny their children education. The father of a friend of mine did this, refusing to let his gifted children attend university because he hadn't. Most parents, thankfully, are less selfish. I hope the US boy and girl, when they grow up, sue both the parents and the doctors who engineered them without the blessing of sound."
One could take the absurdity further. The mentally disabled are our fellow human beings. God does not love them the less. I'm not sure, on average, that they are any less happy than those of normal intelligence. Certainly they have their own sense of community. So why not, following this logic, deliberately starve babies of oxygen during birth?

Yesterday was my highest ever hit-count, at 878. One day I'll install Bravenet and find out who you all are. The timing of the hits recorded on my BeSeen hit counter suggests that you are nearly all either Americans or insomniacs.

Read Norweigan Blogger. He's Norweigan. He blogs. He rules.
(In my youth we used to say, "rules OK" but in time of war one drops the superfluous. So I won't say where I found this one.)

Senator Clay Waters has in his hand a list of known warbloggers.... (found on Tim Blair)

Mr Waters suggests that if one's name has not been included one should sign up to "Warblogger Watch". Sniff. I'd have really preferred not to have to ask.

You ain't seen nuthin' yet. Following on from the last post, if you think former Coventry City goalie and Green Party spokesman David Icke's conspiracy theories are weird, go and look in the Handbasket. Also if you scroll up to the top, Mr Rummel gives concentric definitions of the word "Yankee", having heard my account of Moira Breen's inappropriate adventures with the word.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002
Puny mammalian scum! Soon you will all be our slaves! Yes, the glorious day is coming when the green of skin will assume
their rightful dominance over all lesser races! Hahahahaha!

Oops. Broke my cover for a minute there. Mustn't panic, those humans are too dozy to notice. It's all that disgusting warm blood they have; it overheats their brains.

That Gary Farber, though, he may have some inkling...

Arf a mo before I go. Some fun from Chris Pastel:

Well, I don't have a fancy Newton, but I do have an ordinary HP 32S which tells me that 28.41 ml (1 fl. oz in UK) times 16 ozes (obviously the plural for "oz") to the pint gives 454.56 ml, which divided by two gives 227.28 which rounds down to 227 ml for arf a pint.

UPDATE / VAGUELY RELATED COMMENT: My dear husband used to be the sane one. So why did I just hear him saying, while sitting next to me measuring bits of cardboard for a remote controlled buggy, "I do like the simple, basic fact that a millimetre is 1/25 of an inch." (Pause) The French realised the doomed nature of their civilization..."

Alex Bensky writes:

Unfortunately I don't even question the recent report from Norway about someone made to remove his jacket in the parliament buildings because it had a Star of David--while pro-Palestinian regalia goes unchallenged and unremarked upon. This is merely part of the anti-Semitic wave crashing across Europe, as dismally documented by you and other bloggers.

This is, I suppose, part of that superior and more sophisticated and cultured European culture that Europeans keep offering to teach Americans. Perversely we continue to engage in our greedy, oppressive, consumer-mad culture.

Yet, oddly enough, I note that except among Moslems, some blacks, and the usual fringe crackpots, anti-Semitism barely registers. To the astonishment of our chattering classes but to no one else, fundamentalist Christians' voting patterns didn't seem to be affected one way or the other by an Orthodox Jew on the ballot. It is inconceivable that any national or state legislature would bar a Star of David if it allowed other symbols. And of course, lacking the wonderful structures of the European Union, such an activity would be flatly unconstitutional.

The Norwegians will no doubt continue to sneer at us crass Americans. I can live with that.

Ah, but you don't have to live in Norway. I keep on hoping to see a wave of reaction against all this. There was that pro-Israel march in France. It would be interesting to know how many of the marchers were gentiles. If the point comes up I always stress that I am not a Jew. I do this because (a) I'm not, and (b) one popular measure of the moral rightness of a case is whether it can attract supporters who have nothing to gain personally.

It's obvious to me that's why Moira Breen made it clear she wasn't a Jew, when Netlexblogger (sorry, can't make link work. Look in Moira's site under the word "classified") mistakenly said that she was. His reply starts off OK, but then opportunistically siezes on her jokey reference to being "accused of being British", and continues in this not entirely nice way:

It seems that the terms "jewish" is problematic for some pro-israel supporters who pride themselves to stand by the Israeli nationalists, but would feel offended to be "accused" of being members of the jewish people. Let's make it clear. "Jewish" is not an insult on this weblog. Nor is it an insult of being taken for someone else, jewish or not, unless you have serious personal identity problems to solve.

Is it insulting to be taken for a "jew" ? Since when has "jewish" become a slang word ?
So it is my view that my wording using the term "jewish blogger" was not insulting anybody.
So the question is why do some people of WASP background have so little trouble identifying with the Israelis, but would find it almost insulting to be really taken for jews ? It reminds me that some deported jews by the nazis reported that the day the gates of their concentration camp were opened by the Allies, some of their "fellow-prisoners" were shouting by their side to their liberators "I'm not jew. I'm a true prisoner".

Today, why should someone reclaim so loud not being called "jewish", making a point of honnor in saying to the face of the world that he or her is a true ("damn") Yankee ? (Note that i would never use the expression "damn" Yankee in my blog that would sound very pejorative when translated in french).

By the way, what is the definition of a true "Yankee" ?

I sometimes get accused of being American. Even San Franciscan. I try to bear it bravely.

Two cheers for the monarchy. Andrew Sullivan is clearly a good deal less attached to the monarchy than I am. Perhaps for that very reason he has expressed better than I could why those who seek to abolish it should be passionately opposed. This is from near the end of the article:
Besides, as a practical matter, the monarchy could only be successfully retired and an alternative constructed if there were overwhelming public support. As long as a significant proportion of the country wanted to keep it - even a minority - the replacement would be so constitutionally divisive that it would undermine its own rationale. The Windsors would not be executed. They'd live on somewhere. And plenty of Daily Telegraph readers would still regard them - regardless of the new constitutional settlement - as the legitimate sovereign. We'd be replacing an institution with which many are tired with an institution against which many are passionately opposed. That's called undermining the basic political order - and unless there's a vital reason for doing so, no responsible government would or should dream of it. Abandoning the pound would be divisive enough. Getting rid of the monarchy in the same breath would be tantamount to the destruction of large swaths of political legitimacy in the country at large. It simply can't be done. And it won't be done. A nation isn't simply its people today. It's also its people yesterday. It's a contract, to paraphrase Burke, not just between the current generations but between all the generations who have ever made it up, and especially those that played such a vital role in making it what it is today. For them, the monarchy mattered. That's why it should also matter to us, even if we cannot begin to think of it in even vaguely the same way.

Saudis, too, help suicide-murderers turn a profit. At Ken I found this UPI article by Pam Hess.

Towards the end of the article we had this statement by a Mr Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American Islamic Relations:
""Sometimes I'd like to ask these people who criticize these things (the funds) to find a list of Palestinian orphans who shouldn't be fed. Give us a list of Palestinian widows and orphans so Muslims can comply with dictates of not feeding the wrong people," Hooper said. "Are you supposed to penalize some child, some widow, because of what their father did or did not do?"

Hey, you can ask some of "these people". Ask me.

I answer: it doesn't take that many thousands of dollars to keep a child fed. You don't have to make a widow rich on the proceeds of murder.

I answer: the majority of the families of evil, psycopathic suicide bombers are, of course, evil and psychopathic themselves. When discussing the death cult dominant in present day Palestine and influential across much of the Muslim world, certain sad but true observations must be made. It is regrettable, but all too likely to be true, that the parents of suicide bombers are evil, their brothers are evil, their sisters are evil, their spouses are evil, and their children are born innocent but rendered evil by about the age of eight. We see them do the work of corrupting these children on our TV screens, when they parade toddlers wrapped about with mock bombs and teach them to sing of murdering Jews. There is no reason to suppose that a task at which so many Palestinian parents and teachers work so assiduously does not meet with success.

Perhaps some of these children can be rescued even now. My goodness, perhaps even some of the adults can be saved, but I'll concentrate on the case of the children since organizations like CAIR do seem very concerned about these orphans. By the grace of God, great things are possible. Some of the children kidnapped by warlords and death-cults in Africa and forced to kill as an initiation test have indeed been restored to humanity and morality. Of course the task is harder in Palestine than in Uganda or Burundi because the Palestinian children, unlike the African ones, were warped and abused by their own parents.

Since Mr Hooper has so kindly expressed an interest in this fine work of giving these abused Palestinian children a chance to grow up into normal human beings, I am happy to respond with my suggestions.

  • Allot each family the amount it had before the criminal killed himself. (Not more: perhaps those over-lenient governments in Saudi Arabia and Iraq with their famously lax penal systems do not know this, but it is not conducive to good order to make crime pay.)

  • I answer: make the money gven to those with custody of minors conditional on the self-evidently dysfunctional surviving carers embarking on a course of reform and/or psychiatric treatment and the self-evidently vulnerable children being educated in a civilized educational institution. If there are no civilized educational institutions to be found in the Palestinian Authority, put some of this money to good use by founding one.

  • Obviously, despite the odds being against it in a brainwashed country like Palestine, it can happen that the child of respectable people turns to evil without the parents or other family being in any way responsible. In these circumstances, naturally, a simple statement by the family repudiating their evil spouse or child and condemning their crimes would suffice.

  • Call it the "Charity fund for feeding the dependants of criminals and psychopaths and rescuing them from the Death Cult."
Then I'll contribute.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002
Random Jottings is my baby. Yep, that's what John Weidner says. Wow. I'm honoured. (John sent me my second ever Reader Comment. The first was from Brian Linse, and Dawson wasn't far behind.) But, as I said to Glenn Reynolds when adding myself to his list of Instapundit-inspired blogs, what if offspring-blogs start suing parent-blogs for blog maintenance?

Talking of Brian Linse, he leads a busy life over there in the Den of Lions. "We had to kill two people, make Stephen and Laura fall in love, and cut a deal with an international terrorist."

Whither 227ml? You guys are on the ball. Captain Heinrichs writes:

According to the authoritative converter on my Newton MessagePad 2000, in
the UK:
1 fluid oz = 28.41 ml
.4 pints = 227 ml
However in the US:
1 fluid oz =29.57 ml
.48 pints =227 ml
My listing:
1 fluid ox = never use it, have shot glasses
1/2 cup = 112 ml (also called "Little Scoop")
1 coffee cup = 1 serving instant soup
1 cup = 250 ml (also called "Big Scoop")
>1 cup = gauge relative quantity of basic ingredient, add
remaining ingredients to taste
Be creative!


J.M. Heinrichs

What on earth is going on? 0.48 of a US pint is very close to half a pint, but not exactly. No cook yet born can differentiate between 227ml and 228ml so why that exact number? Is 227ml the equivalent of some Thai measurement I don't know about? Is it a secret act of resistance on the part of the Blue Dragon company - and if so, resistance against whom? Have a good old slosh of whisky while you ponder this mystery.

None so deaf as those that will not hear. Anthony Woodlief rails against efforts to deliberately concieve a deaf child.

In an empty house, my screams echo from the walls. Er, possibly I am getting overwrought about this. But some things just get to you. I just cooked some Blue Dragon Thai 3-minute noodles from a packet. No, they weren't that bad, really quite acceptable. Only - grrr-I'mgoingtoexplodeagain! - on the instructions it said, "Bring to the boil 227ml of water and blah blah blah..."

227ml is half a pint.

So why can't they just say, "half a pint"?

or "227ml or half a pint"

or even, if they must, "250ml"?

Instead, in obedience to who knows what "guideline" they have to say a sum that means half a pint while contorting themselves to avoid putting in print that dreaded, unmentionable obscenity at which all good folk must make signs warding off the Evil Eye, an Imperial measure.

Khatami's Iran described by Michael Rubin.

This struck me forcefully:
"In his recently published memoirs, Grand Ayatollah Husayn Ali Montazeri described a purge in 1988 of political prisoners that resulted in several thousand deaths. Khatami was a member of the ruling council at the time and intimately involved - at least administratively - in the purge."

Note how large the number of deaths and how recently they occurred.

Brownshirt Barbie. Angie Shultz sent me this wonderfully nostalgic e-mail. Her words appear in italics, mine in ordinary type:


If there is a roughly Christian afterlife, I am going to do hard time in Purgatory for the sin of under-appreciating my mother.

(Yes, I will eventually get to the point.)

When I was a wee lassie I of course had a Barbie doll. And of course she needed clothes. And of course my younger sister and I asked for Barbie clothes for Christmas.

But we didn't have a lot of money, and Barbie clothes were expensive, so my mother spent a lot of time sewing clothes for our Barbies. I remember one year she made us an entire shoebox (each) full of Barbie clothes. We were underwhelmed. We didn't like the dumpy old clothes she made Barbie any more than the dumpy old clothes she made us.

But in that shoebox were wondrous things! My grandmother had a fur coat--- some respectable fur, soft and silky. Muskrat, for all I know. Lord knows how she ended up with it, because as I've said we did not have much money. It was left to her by someone, but I can't imagine who. Anyway, no one in our family was ever going to have an occasion to wear a fur coat, and it had a very wide hem, so Mom cut away a bit of the inside of the hem to make "mink" stoles and hats for our Barbies. She also had a lot of material left over from making our clothes, so often Barbie had clothes very like ours (ick). Sometimes she got little scraps of exotic material, and Barbie had really wild clothes.

I still have my Barbie. At least, all but the head. She's dressed in a garish early-'70s flowered pantsuit. I sure wish I had those Barbie clothes now, especially the fur. I remember Mom sitting at the sewing machine working on those clothes (which she said were for our cousins), and now I can see how hard it was on her eyes and hands to sew the little things.

You bet! After fixing some torn underarm seams I flatly refused to do any more of the wretched things. I'm an unrepentant doll heightist. Any doll under eighteen inches high has to dress in rags in our household. - NS

Er, anyway, my point. The Hitler doll. If you loved sewing doll clothes, you might really get into the Hitler doll. Imagine sewing him little satin negligees, and lacy things, and maybe if you were daring, leather thongs. Him and Goering. And you could pose them in compromising positions. I have a Star Trek Barbie and Ken (of much more recent vintage than the Headless One, natch) and a Han Solo and a Darkwing Duck. I'm sure these intrepid Good Doers would love to burst in with a tiny digital camera and take pictures of Adolph and Hermann in compromising positions and publishing them on their tiny web page. Hours of fun for the whole family! (But not at 118 pound a pop.)

Regarding Ms Shultz's striking concept for a web page, a few years ago in either the Observer or the Sunday Times I saw a photo-story about Action Man and Barbie (or perhaps Sindy). It was an ironic comment on war by some artist or other. A google search has not turned it up, although some of the sites it did turn up seemed... interesting. But any readers wishing to set to work on Goering's negligee should beware the unsleeping Mattel legal team, although the legal eagles did suffer a setback last August.

By the way, in the US every once in a while there's a great cry over how Barbie is teaching girls to be passive consumers. My sister and her friends and our cousins played Barbies, and their Barbies generally did the standard lunch-and-shopping thing. But my Barbie lived alone in the woods with a tribe of wild (plastic) horses, who would obey only her because they loved her, and they were telepathic and originally from the Andromeda Galaxy. Sometimes Barbie and the horses had to go to town for supplies, and they would come thundering in, overturning the cafe tables and sending the lunching Barbies scattering in terror. Ha ha! Consume that!

Thank you for prompting this little stroll down memory lane. We now return you to something important.

Angie Schultz

You mean... you think this isn't important? No Barbie goes unmourned on this blog. Actually when I was little the market leader in Britain was Sindy, a much more matronly figure. My sister and I had about four Sindys (Sindies? Peccavi!) in various stages of dismemberment, a Ken (an ambiguous character, I always thought) and one Barbie who I didn't like much because her chest stuck out so oddly. And they got put into combat fatigues quite often. It does not require Survivalist parents for this to happen, just an older brother into Action Man.

Action Man was a jolly sight easier to dress on account of having ball-and-socket joints somewhat resembling one of Larry Niven's Protectors. Unfortunately these joints were a weak point in his anatomy and after a year or two of bungee-jumping on a piece of string thrown from the landing railings Action Man became Quadriplegic Man. Sindy #2 tended him lovingly, while Sindy #1 (helped by her unjointed but squidgy legs) took over his missions, at least when I was in charge she did. Ken was deemed unfit for combat duties as his legs had been paralyzed into a rigid position even when new. Also his waist was too wide for Action's trousers. Tut tut, Ken.

Monday, April 08, 2002
What are friends for? Bitter Girl reports that, knowing of her womanly habit of knitting things, one of her chers amis sent her a most bizarre article and sweetly said I thought of you. What she said in reply her blog does not reveal.

And she thought to forward it to me! She knew I liked to sew, you see. Er, Shannon, I'm more into fluffy soft toys. Kittens. Squirrels. Maybe I'm just old fashioned. You go follow the link to see what the creative toymaker is into these days.

Feeling happy? I can cure that. Read both Damianation and The World After WTC.

Quote from the latter: "Who would have guessed that the road to the hearts of 21st century Norwegians would pass through the blood-soaked floors of Israeli restaurants?"

It's painful to be at odds with most opinion in your own country. Here in Britain I can sometimes persuade myself that there is a silent majority giving the lie to the establishment view on, say, Europe. And I think Tony Blair is doing the more or less the right thing regarding Iraq etc. However, when it comes to some of my more far-flung libertarian opinions - guns for instance - hooo boy I am out there on the nut fringe and there is no fudging the fact that 95% if not 99% of decent British folk would reject my views if they could bring themselves to believe that I was serious in holding them. But I doubt that hurts me anything like as much as the peverse response of Norweigan public opinion to the daily outrages in Israel hurts Bjorn Staerk, or the PC blabber in Canada hurts Damian Penny.

(Light relief: I'm afraid I still can't do the aelig, oslash and aring things. Back on January 24th the Strong Bear told me how, but when talking to me about computers you have to use very short words indeed, and can't complicate the issue with "&" signs. The level I want is: Press This Key. Now Press That Key. You Can Breathe Now.)

Even a priestess of the anglosphere cult must take a moment to congratulate France on an almost embarrassingly definite victory in the Six Nations. Rugby has spread in an unusual way. Usually the mark of history is quite clear: the Indians play cricket and the Cubans baseball. Soccer, of course, was created fully formed as part of the human genome. But what other sport links the countries of the British Isles, France, Italy, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa?

UPDATE: Okay, okay, I know the origin of the game. Dr Arnold picked up Harry Flashman and ran with him or something like that. Then Martin Luther split the game up into Union and League and so we continue to the present day. Floreat Etona. I should have said that rugby is odd in having two separate mechanisms of diffusion: a British Empire one and a purely geographical one.

Some Frenchmen play cricket, too. Even some Welshmen play it. No, cariad, of course I'm not getting at you. How can you think such a thing?

Views of the South again. Southern boy Patrick Carver quotes a radio commentary on Mississippi achievements. I certainly didn't know about the ballet, but I did know about the heart and lung transplants.

Some people asked if I am on some sort of crusade to restore the Confederacy. No, just challenging a stereotype.

Bear facts - there are a whole lot of intriguing stories flagged up on Dodgeblog over the last few days, particularly the creekwater thing. Have these people ever heard of Weil's Disease, also known as Rat Syphilis?

But actually, being a straightforward bear fan, I am moved to Just Say Wow about a British TV programme that MommaBear is unlikely to have seen yet. It was all about large carnivores in Romania. Did you know that there are more bears in Romania than in all the rest of Europe combined? Or that, for fear of wolves and bears, Romanian shepherds really do wrap themselves in sheepskin coats and lie down to sleep beside their flocks? It was like seeing the opening scene of the Christmas story by infra-red camera.

BTW Momma Bears are admirable role models. Sadly Daddy Bears are not, particularly if you are a stepchild.

Elizabeth, the Queen Mother RIP. OK, so my hackles did rise just a bit at that word state in the phrase "exaltation of the British state" in this quintessential Telegraph leader - but, hey, that's just me. Other than that I'm cheering the writer on, and a pox be upon the knave Freedland, who writes for AOL's diddy little news magazine as well as for the Guardian, so I get him both ways.

Just why did people queue for so long to see a flag with a coffin-shaped bulge under it? First, let me admit to be present two factors which Mr Freeland has no doubt also mentioned. The sun shone and it's the school holidays. But nobody spends twelve hours making smalltalk with two randomly-chosen strangers just to have a day out and give the kids something to tell their kids. The main reason, of course, was that she was widely loved and with good cause. As everyone keeps saying because it is true, her death marks the end of an era. There are perhaps three or four hundred people in Britain who were alive before she was, and few enough who remember the world before she became a public figure, which I take to have first happened in a small way in about 1915. The Queen Mother and the royal family generally are symbols of permanence and identity in a dangerous and anonymous world.

It may seem odd to talk about a woman who has just died as a symbol of permanence. But of course her influence will survive her by decades or even centuries, as Queen Victoria's did. (Although without meaning any disrespect it cannot be as far-reaching as Victoria's, who managed to have a whole era named after her, the kind of score you just can't top.) Memories of her particular life will flow like a stream to join the river of kings 'n' battles 'n' prime ministers 'n' Alfred burning the cakes. I hope and trust it'll take more than Peter Sissons' bloody burgundy tie to make that river run dry.

Saturday, April 06, 2002
All can have prizes, I don't mind. Belatedly, I'd like to respond to Ben Sheriff's criticism of this old post of mine. [FUTZ! Internal link stopped working when archives updated on Sunday. Just click the man himself: he quotes all you need to know.] He thinks I'm too mean to hard-working but limited students. Actually, I did once, and with fair success, teach remedial maths and English and I was always careful to guard the pride of my students. What I objected to in the letter was the nonsensical and demeaning assumption that an F was as good as an A. It is not (although the F student may be as good a person as the A student), and that hard fact of life is better learned early.

It was said in the old days that noblemen only learned one art well, that of horsemanship. That was because "the brave beast is no flatterer and will as readily throw a prince as his groom." What once went for princes now goes for young black boys in state schools. The one art they learn truly is football, because there the crude coaches will give them the unedited information they need in order to progress. Their highly qualified teachers don't.

Here, though, is one change that might please everyone at no cost in honesty. Rather than have GCSEs or A-Levels (or whatever they call them this week) graded A - F, so that everyone knows in their heart that D to F are failing grades, why not have the same upwards-pointing grading system as now exists in music?

A "Grade 1" would be the most basic level. A "Grade 8" would be advanced knowledge. No grade 2 pianist fools themselves into believing that they are as good at the piano as a grade 3 pianist, but on the other hand our grade 2 boy or girl most reasonably thinks of his or her grade as an achievement gained, not as a failure to get the next grade up.