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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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:
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Sunday, August 31, 2003
Whodunnit? Marduk has been studying the Observer for clues as to who killed the late lamented Mr Hopesforpeace.
Saturday, August 30, 2003
And, keeping all my blogs fed, here's something for Biased BBC about when Auntie drops the pretence of moral neutrality.
Friday, August 29, 2003
Dropping the ball. I posted about a particularly stupid decision in Iraq over at Samizdata.
Fun discussion of Time Travel movies from Brian of Crooked Timber.
I was just discussing a 70s Czech movie about time travel with a friend. Some baddies were going to give the neutron bomb to Hitler. (Any Czech film made in the 70s required unfavourable mention of this "capitalist weapon".) Title was something like "I'm going to spill my tea tomorrow," but a search for "czech time spill tea film Hitler" is not yielding results. Gosh, I'm glad Google is a robot. Anyone recall it?
Anyway, here is a brief account of the film with insightful comments from several viewers.
Matthew Turner has now said he wrongly accused me of being a racist. Undeniably, that is nicer than what went before. He is having a campaign of niceness on his blog. As part of it he might consider that when one has cause to retract a wrongful accusation one also has cause to apologise for it.
Debate on this important issue continues and should continue whether there is much niceness around or not. Matthew Turner adds as an aside that, of course, what I meant by informed black opinion is black opinion that agrees with mine. Well, no. Being factually informed on the issue of black crime is not at all the same as having similar opinions to mine.
Some writers manage both. Thomas Sowell, for instance, who has influenced me a lot, writes quite coolly that black taxi drivers will (more on this use of the word 'will' later) pass up black male passengers in New York at night – and he, a black man, does not blame them. And the black talk show host and columnist Larry Elder whom I greatly admire, says: "…many blacks demanded that cops ignore reality and pretend that young black men do not disproportionately commit crime."
In contrast, having heard her speak on the radio, I don’t agree with much of what Diane Abbott MP says should be done about the explosion of black-on-black gun crime in her area – but hers is nonetheless informed opinion. She knows there’s a problem.
And I agree with very little of what what the Ligali organisation proposes (they support reparations for one thing), but theirs, too, is informed opinion. On reflection, though, perhaps “informed” isn’t quite the word I should have used throughout this post. The actual distinction isn’t so much between informed versus uninformed as between in denial and not in denial. As a writer on the Ligali website put it: “Gun Crime. No matter if we talk to we're blue in the face, some of us still won't acknowledge there's a problem.”
In general I don’t agree with much that Yasmin Alibhai-Brown writes, but hers, too, is informed/not-in-denial opinion when it comes to this issue. (Furthermore she is neither black nor white, which in the present climate gives her enviable freedom.) In an article called “Black-on-black violence: there is a way forward” she writes: “…in the US and the UK, black people's lives are being ripped to shreds by drugs, lawlessness, fear and frightful violence plus the endless circle of racism, exclusion and incarceration.” She gives this example:
A black youth worker too frightened to be named tells me: "These kids are vicious. They think bullying and beating each other up is what sissies do. They talk about killing. They are kings when they kill. One even brought me a cat he had shot to show the others they are in command. They love it that everyone is afraid of them, even their own parents."
(I think it was half-remembering this line in her article that put it in my mind to write the sentence about mothers becoming afraid of their sons that was one of the things Matthew Turner quoted as “evidence” of my racism.)
In another of her columns, called “Who wrecks the hopes and dreams of black boys?” Alibhai-Brown wrote:
“After studying 150 black 15-year-olds in five secondary schools, Sewell concluded that peer group pressure was a bigger threat to the progress of these children than racism or a lack of role models. Four out of five interviewees cited this as their main barrier to achievement. It is uncool to get good marks, the hard workers are "dissed" and the leaders of the pack pride themselves on how many girls they can pull and how easily they can threaten teachers, especially women.” Time now, I think, to tackle that other massive problem in our society – black on black violence, external and internal.
Next bit. Matthew Turner writes:
Some progress has been made, as she now says [not now says; always did say - NS] she was only talking about a subsection of the black population. And yet I'll quote her original article again:
Well and good for him, maybe. He says that inter-blog wars are confusing and boring. For me the interest level of inter-blog wars goes right up when it's me being called a racist. Try it sometime. So I was motivated to turn to my dictionary. It says of the auxiliary verb "will" that it expresses "insistence, resolve, habit or intention," adding that 'would' is the past tense. Habit or predominating custom is the meaning used in this case. Here are some other sentences using the word the same way.
"Spanish workers will take a siesta in the afternoon."
"Your best friends won't [=will not] tell you, you know."
"On Friday afternoons I will curl up with my copy of Gardening Weekly."
"Blacks will start up their own businesses to sidestep the white-dominated job market." [That last in the sense of an observation of the present, not a prediction of the future.]
This usage is standard English. It's not particularly easy to misconstrue, unless you read with your hand on the trigger.
Moving on to the substantial points, the ones which could have been debated without all this fuss, if I were willing to let being called a racist go by, which I am not:
"Essentially however the point of our disagreement is that Solent believes that black youths try less hard at school because they don't think they'll need qualifications because everything will be made easier for them. I think that's a load of Horlicks."The point is not that they think everything will be made easy for them. I specifically said in the original article that "the rising generation may never explicitly make the calculation 'I don't have to work so hard because I'm black.'" The point is that they think or, what is harder to cure, they half-consciously feel, that it won't make much difference what they do. Given that the officially sanctioned model of fairness speaks of matching the proportion of blacks in each profession to the proportion in the general population, irrespective of individual merit, it is no surprise they react that way. Any qualifications, reputation or habits of diligence they might gain won't make as as much obvious difference as they should. The scale of incentives is flattened out. The incentive to stay well behaved in class today is that much less. And that, by the diffuse but cumulatively powerful effect of a thousand individual daily decisions to speak or not, laugh or not, listen or not, jeer or not, means the incentive to stay within the law tomorrow is that much less.
He don' like spammers much, does he? Both John Daragon and the Philosophical Cowboy have written in with explanations of this "returned mail" thing. Mr Daragon writes:
Actually, some spam-emitting bastard is sending out bastard spam with a forged "Reply-to" tag which says it came from you.Also, take a gander at the Cowboy's post on the London power cut. Victoria to Brixton? Nyah, that's nothing. During an IRA bomb scare I once walked from Victoria to Seven Sisters. When pregnant. Beat that, Cowboy.
Good, balanced post on the hairshirt tendency in foreign aid from Bjørn Stærk:
Doing what's right is not the same as doing what eases your guilt. Morality takes the whole picture into account, guilt fixates on one issue, panics and pulls the hand brake.
Anyone remember the Henry Root letters? I think he must have a daughter. Read this and hurt yourself laughing. (Via Tim Blair.)
Then finish the job of doing yourself serious internal damage by looking into this tale of entrepreneurial revolutionary scam artists. Unlike Miss Missive mentioned above these people were not harmless pranksters but seeking to gain money by deception. But, like many accounts of ingenious crime, their story has a certain louche appeal and I think that Harry may be proved wrong in saying that it won't appear in the bourgeois press.
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Oliver Kamm is now at http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/
Phil J just emailed to say that it wasn't Coming Up for Air in the post three down, it was A Clergyman's Daughter. 'Course it was. Since citing the wrong Orwell book adds nothing to my argument I have corrected it below.
BTW did you know that émail is French for 'enamel'? See, I do know some stuff.
The attitudes bred by communism are well illustrated by this anecdote from Sofia sideshow.
The Craft Service guy is 'old-school' (in Bulgaria, this is a bad thing). A conversation will often go like this:
Unbelievably cute, and useful too. Or do I mean 'unbelievably useful, and cute too'? Both. Yesterday I linked to John Weidner of Random Jottings when he was speaking in combative mode. Today, however - aaaaaaaah.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Evil computer update. I keep getting messages saying "returned mail, user unknown", referring to emails that I am meant to have sent on days when I did not turn on the computer at all. I assume it's a virus.
And it's telling me I have to do something to the counter. Free counters aren't worth the money you don't pay for them.
It's a small blogosphere when you're a "racist" and writer of "foul articles" - like me. Just after putting the finishing touches to the post below I came across the comments to a post in Conservative Commentary where Peter Cuthbertson directed his readers to my post called "The Ratchet" of August 16. A great many of the same points as I made two hours ago also came up in the 32 comments the post has so far generated - ranging from mention of John H. McWhorter's recent article to the unpleasantness and genius of Richard Wagner. However if you have to choose between reading my post and these comments, read the comments, because there is no denying the same ingredients gain extra zing from being spiced with acrimonious disagreement. A commenter called Matthew* writes:
"If Natalie Solent believes the institutional and social setup in this country is such that black people think 'I don't have to work so hard because I'm black' then frankly god help her. Her assertion that the biggest problem faced by British blacks is crime by other black people is -particularly stupid. At one point in her foul article she gets perilously close to asserting -- well basically she does assert that all young black men are thugs. ('Even black women will avoid a group of young black men. Imagine the tragedy of a black mother who watches her son go from being a lovable kid to being one of those rowdy, threatening youths'. and 'Black youths who have never had to take that lesson [that they should be punished for being less educated] to heart cannot fail to be dimly aware that they are sadder, cruder, less accomplished and complete people than they might have been.')
Somewhere in Orwell's A Clergyman's Daughter, the heroine ends up teaching at a particularly oppressive girls' school. Her attempts to enliven the girls' lessons come to an abrupt end when, while studying Macbeth, one of the pupils comes across the line "was from his mother's womb untimely ripped", asks what "womb" means and then repeats the teacher's explanation to Authority or her parents, I forget which. The teacher is promptly threatened with the sack for corrupting young minds and, to keep her job, must retreat into rote-learning and platitude.
It's like that with much discussion of racial issues. Upon the mere mention of certain forbidden subjects a good portion of the audience literally become unable to read the ordinary meaning of English words, so great is their passion that taboos not be breached.
Matthew, you didn't really read my comment, and I'm going to have to say 'as usual'. So, let me repeat: the black-on-black crime issue has been raised here in London by the (black) Voice newspaper. They have also thrown their support behind the Met's Trident operation which is directly targetted at black gun crime. The black on black crime issue has been raised by leading black political figures in London. I'll name two for you: David Lammy and Trevor Philips. Now, a third point: in London schools, steps are being taken to do something positive about the underachievement of, specifically, young black men. I actually work in one such scheme.
Informed black opinion, both in the UK and the US, has moved on from the days of denial. I am no admirer of Jesse Jackson, but even he has candidly said as long ago as 1994, that "There is nothing more painful for me than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start to think about robbery and then look around and see it's somebody white and feel relieved." That doesn't differ in intent from what I said about young black women veering away from groups of black youths on the tube late at night. I have seen this happen. Who knows - perhaps those particular women were mistaken in their perception of those particular men. But my experience and many like it point to a widespread problem.
More significantly, in crying 'racist' as soon as I stated some unpleasant facts about crime levels among black men, Matthew blinded himself to the resolutely environmentalist tone of everything I wrote. (Another commenter, 'Guessedworker' is mistaken in thinking that I do not talk about racial difference because I am too scared of the PC police. I do not talk about it because I don't believe in it, except in a trivial sense.) Getting back to Matthew's views, they, again, reflect in miniature the conduct of a far larger debate. If I - or conservatives and libertarians generally - thought that all black men were forever foredoomed to criminality just by being black then why the hell would we bother to go on and on about incentives and cultural changes and suggest changes to the law and other schemes of improvement?
Yes. Judge not by skin colour, but by character. That's why I'm against affirmative action.
ADDED LATER: Something was sparked in my mind by another of Matthew's charges, namely that writing 'Black youths who have never had to take that lesson to heart cannot fail to be dimly aware that they are sadder, cruder, less accomplished and complete people than they might have been' was racist. I've just remembered what it was.
But before I get to that, the wording of Matthew's interpolation to explain what I meant by 'that lesson' was misleading in effect if not intention. It is customary when inserting explanatory text in square brackets to keep it purely factual, lest you appear to put words into the author's mouth - yet he inserts the words "[that they should be punished for being less educated]" in such a way that it could easily appear that I held to this absurd and cruel sentiment. Giving someone a C in Mathematics because he or she has scored 50% in the maths exam and that is listed as a C in the mark scheme does not constitute punishment. Nor does holding black applicants for jobs or higher education to the same standard as white or Asian applicants constitute punishment.
Now on to the thing that's been nagging at my mind. I'd have thought that the first things anyone would notice if they cared to analyse my sentence were (a) that it referred to a subset of black youths - the most natural reading of a phrase starting "black youths who XYZ" implicitly allows for the existence of black youths who don't XYZ, and (b) that it is contingent in nature. The whole point of it is that the black youths didn't have to be this way - that's the very opposite of racism, I submit.
The easy resort to accusations of racism and the term racist has so debased these words as to rob them of meaning or impact. They are not used to contribute to the conversation. The intent is to end the conversation.
*ANOTHER UPDATE: Peter Cuthbertson has just alerted me to the fact that Matthew has posted his comments on his own blog, here. He, Peter Cuthbertson, adds:
Rap, rock and alpha males on the rampage. Ice-T , Bone Crusher, Lil' Kim, Fabolous, Lil' Jon and the East Side Boyz and Eminem can all sleep easy. They will not have to live - assuming they are all still living and haven't got themselves shot as so many seem to - with the awful knowledge that I have criticised their music, for the excellent reason that I have never knowingly heard it. I know them only by reputation.
That reputation, so far as I can see, is not good, but for all I know their music might be. Alice Bachini seems to like Eminem and she hasn't turned into a gun-wielding gangsta yet.
I never took to all that sex drugs rock and roll lifestyle stuff. It frightened me back then and it frightens me still. For many of my contemporaries it felt like a personal liberation. To me it looked like the alpha males on the rampage, and alpha males are always scary to all the gamma and delta males, and I was a timid little creature way down the Greek alphabet, plenty of brain but no hormones to speak of. Everyone has their ideal age, and nineteen was absolutely not mine. I think that those who said that all that stuff was a threat to social decency and social order were quite right. But then there was that beautiful music.
While catching up on my Iain Murray I found an article by a black American commentator (the Manhattan Institute's John H. McWhorter) who believes "Rap only ruins":
The attitude and style expressed in the hip-hop "identity" keeps blacks down. Almost all hip-hop, gangsta or not, is delivered with a cocky, confrontational cadence that is fast becoming - as attested to by the rowdies at KFC - a common speech style among young black males. Similarly, the arm-slinging, hand-hurling gestures of rap performers have made their way into many young blacks' casual gesticulations, becoming integral to their self-expression. The problem with such speech and mannerisms is that they make potential employers wary of young black men and can impede a young black's ability to interact comfortably with co-workers and customers. The black community has gone through too much to sacrifice upward mobility to the passing kick of an adversarial hip-hop "identity."I don't know quite what conclusion I am walking towards here, except that the Muse exercises no political discrimination in deciding to whom she will grant her favours. Look at Richard Wagner.
Des res. Mugabe's retirement palace costs vastly more than his official lifetime earnings.
The worm turns. There is something wormlike about all this "why do birds hate us?" squirming to accommodate the feelings of mass murderers. Random Jottings favours a different approach:
We are no longer going to "adjust" ourselves to this problem, we are going to bear risks and endure pain to solve it. We can solve it.
Oh, I remember. You whiffle on about anything that strikes your fancy or that it is important the public should know. Such as the important fact that there is stuff they won't tell you about putting in zips. Secret knowledge. Oh sure, the books will tell you some of the techniques of the lesser illuminati - for instance how it pays to start with a paradox: before doing anything else, sew together the two halves of fabric that the zip is going to open. Only when the zip is in place do you unpick the seam. That way the line of division runs straight down the middle, with the two halves neither gaping nor overlapping but just abutting nicely and making you smile.
What they don't tell you is that, like all techniques, this doesn't always work when you try to do the whole job on the machine. When you sew through several layers of fabric the needle always goes a little bit diagonal, whatever you do. That's why the zip on my stripy canvas clothes cover came out asymmetrical. Looked perfect from the back, wonky from the front. So don't kid yourself. Sew in the end points by hand first and baste the rest. Firmly baste, too; none of your enormous floppysloppy basting stitches that look like someone left a skipping rope lying around. You need little stitches that would almost do in their own right, so that if you are struck dead before you finish inserting the zip (as might happen to any of us) the preacher will have something nice to say about you in the eulogy.
Saturday, August 16, 2003
I may or may not be able to blog tomorrow. We are going on holiday (with the puppy because we felt short of stress in our lives) on Monday. See you all on or around the 25th.
Cool. I'm in The Arizona Republic.
The Ratchet. All restrictions on freedom of association are bad, but perhaps the most harmful restrictions of all are the new type of anti-discrimination laws that work by measuring outcomes rather than monitoring procedures. These laws act as a ratchet. They lock in any existing correlation between any undesirable characteristic and being black. They make it almost certain that the correlation will increase rather than decrease.
The old type of anti-discrimination law worked like this. Companies, banks, landlords and so on were required by law not to discriminate by race. Sometimes the authorites or investigative journalists would run a test to see if the procedures for giving people jobs, housing or credit were fair - they would mock up two similar applications, say, equal in every substantial qualification but with one candidate called "Edward Smith" and the other "Samuel N'Dema." If the company only called Smith to interview, they were in trouble with the law.
I really have taken this freedom of association stuff to heart, and I have gradually come to the conclusion that having *legal* penalties for such racist behaviour is a bad thing; as bad or worse for the N'Demas of this world as for the Smiths - this despite my firm belief that the company in this case would deserve censure and boycott (assuming all the circumstances were as they appeared to be.)
But that's an opinion for the deep-dyed libertarians. I won't justify it here, I'll just ask you to take it on trust that there really are people who hold it in all goodwill. What I'd like to concentrate on here is not those types of anti-discrimination law, the sort that demands interview procedures be colour blind for instance, but the type that replaced them after they had seemed to reach a plateau of effectiveness. Because after ten or twenty years it became clear that, although it was no longer the case that anyone dared hang out a sign saying "No blacks need apply", blacks weren't getting any further in gaining positions of real power and influence. (Most of this piece is about blacks rather than minorities in general, as they have made least progress.) 'Right,' thought some angry people, 'it's time to stop talking about theory and start talking practicalities. What counts is results. We don't care about all your excuses and stratagems. From now on we will look at how many blacks are at administrative level x, and it had better equal the percentage of blacks in the British population or else.'
This change was a disaster for those it was meant to help.
Why do I put it so strongly? Because the biggest problem facing black people in Britain (and the US) is crime by other blacks. This truth is often denied, but you watch the loudest deniers choose which tube carriage to get into late at night and you will get an education. Even black women will avoid a group of young black men. Imagine the tragedy of a black mother who watches her son go from being a lovable kid to being one of those rowdy, threatening youths. Eventually her fear for him may well turn into fear of him.
People are not born criminal, they grow into it by degrees. Yet a healthy society has various antibodies against the descent into criminality. They are the systems that provide incentives against anti-social behaviour. 'Pay attention to the teacher and you will do well at school.' 'Do well at school and you will get a good job.' 'Get a good job and you can marry the girl of your choice.'
How old fashioned it all sounds! For black and white alike, welfare has stripped away the link between "steadiness" and success in finding a marriage partner. Two generations have grown up fatherless - but I digress. My subject was meant to be the sort of anti-discrimination law that works on outcomes rather than procedures. These types of law have worked (along with welfare) to strip away the self-correcting mechanisms that could have pulled back many black youths from the first steps in crime.
Let's start off with the observation that black school leavers are less qualified than their white counterparts. (It does not affect my argument whether this is through the racism of their teachers or their own bad behaviour. ) By insisting that they will not be openly penalised for this in the job market, the anti-discrimination laws ensure there is less of an incentive to study. The problem never gets solved. It just gets papered over. Although the rising generation may never explicitly make the calculation "I don't have to work so hard because I'm black," that is the message that will filter down through the millions of little allusions, jokes, observations and examples that make up each individual life experience.
And of course, many of them do explicitly make that calculation. They don't work and mock their classmates who do. It has its inevitable result: blacks really are, on average, less well educated than whites. Prejudices come true.
It goes wider than just education. If real deficiencies do not attract any penalty there is less of an incentive for any behaviour that trades present inconvenience for future gain. Yet understanding that tradeoff that is, I suggest, the key to most of the satisfactions the world has to offer in work or in relationships. Black youths who have never had to take that lesson to heart cannot fail to be dimly aware that they are sadder, cruder, less accomplished and complete people than they might have been. Yet, they like all of us, have a burning need to believe that they are in the right. This passion leads them to glorify their own deficiencies and scorn the whole business of 'white' education, not to mention 'white' respectability. If their ancestors, who wore their black respectability with fierce pride and strove for black education with all their might could see them now...
Hooke's Law says that when you stretch a spring the force pulling it back will be proportional to the extension. In a normal society something like Hooke's Law would operate on young black men and women as they veered out of the groove of correct behaviour. Small deviations would result in a gentle pressure to get back on the straight and narrow. Anti-discrimination laws might seem at first sight to not to affect this interplay of small corrections, but they do. The public sanction given to the view that fewer blacks in profession x must mean that blacks have been injured, and must not mean that blacks should change their culture, filters down in a million ways. A black boy is sent out of class for acting up: he resists with all his might the idea that he should conclude it is better not to act up. His white teacher, angry and defensive, mentally defends herself against the charge of racism that is certain to come by learning his faults by heart. A black mother reproves her son. He despises her for her surrender to enemy values.
There are currents of thought promoting respectability within the black community, many of them based around churches. Unfortunately they themselves are infected by the same need for victimhood, and switch uneasily between moralising (it should be clear by now that I thoroughly approve of moralising) and bluster, and what moralising does get through the victimhood filter is overwhelmed by the more demanding pressures demanding endless, unwinnable rebellion.
For it is unwinnable. The laws don't do what they want to do. Long before I had anything like the opinions I have now I observed with pain that modern black pioneers frequently seem to come a-cropper. I saw a dispiriting number of reports saying things like 'the first black policeman in such and such an area has left the force,' or 'the first black guardsman has left the army in acrimonious circumstances,' or 'the first black barrister to be promoted to this or that office is suing the Law Society.' This would be a stronger article if I were to quote hard examples. I'm too tired to find them. But trust me, I can if anyone wants to argue (though it might have to wait until next week.) Yet earlier generations of black pioneers were ferociously competent despite labouring under far more virulent racism. Men like the Tuskagee airmen gained the sweetest revenge on their persecutors: the knowledge that they were reluctantly respected. (I am aware that they were promoted by a congressional program; as I said I think that form of making-things-fair legal fiat is far less harmful than the modern system which will not allow blacks to prove they can do it.)
Wait a minute, some will say, how the hell do you know that the troubles of the black policemen etc. weren't caused by the malice of their white colleagues? The answer is that I don't. I accept that certainly some and probably most of them were. And so what? Do you want that situation solved or perpetuated?
Any serious - in fact any unserious - study of the way prosperity varies with race will conclude that in an open society you can be rich, successful and accomplished even if your neighbours hate you and discriminate against you. Look at the Jews. Look at the expatriate Indians and Chinese. People of these races raised themselves under a system of cumulative incentives to responsibility. The melancholy exception is the race everyone's trying to hold in position artificially.
Once the whip of slavery was off their backs, blacks made startling progress when many white hands were raised against them. Whites back then made startling progress, too, in seeing that they had to repent. As I said earlier, I believe that even the early procedures-based anti-discrimination laws may have actually done harm by letting whites off the hook of seeing that they had to change within themselves - but at least those laws mandated finite and just forms of behaviour. In contrast, outcomes-based anti-discrimination laws mandate unjust behaviour and look set to go on forever. Black cultural mores cannot be improved without rational discrimination (not least by blacks) Rational discrimination is one of the medicines that could restore the black body politic to health. Without it, blacks will continue to be worse bets than whites or orientals.
I said just now that minority races can prosper despite being hated. I would go further. Given basic freedoms much of the hatred goes away. I do not say all of it. Race hatred will always be with us, always springing up in unexpected places. But if you were in the re-incarnation base station waiting to be born, which race would you choose to be now?
The angry cries by the black establishment that their children shouldn't have to suffer even rational discrimination because their initial lack of education, or respectability is ultimately the fault of whites are like the angry cries of a man dying after a street accident: "I shouldn't have had to look! I had right of way!" Maybe true, but it would still have been better to get into the habit of looking both ways
A company or organisation will, shutting its eyes, recruit incompetent people if it has to. It will throw money and titles at them. What it won't do is put them at the core, where it really matters. Employees so sidelined resent it and react against it. The white employees casually dismiss them as "affirmative action hires". Their daily experience tells them that blacks can't hack it. In the small hours of the night some blacks begin to believe it too. Even, tragically, those who would, in fact, have made it on their own.
It is my firm belief, based on experience and fairly wide reading, that they are wrong. The blacks are only acting exactly as the whites would do in like circumstances. Anyone, when starved of the opportunity to prove themselves, will feel their soul start to fester.
There is more to Hooke's Law than the proportionality of the extension of a stretched spring and the force pulling it inwards. Once a certain limit, the elastic limit, has been reached, the spring gives up, so to speak. It breaks or sags, permanently pulled out of shape. That's what outcome-related anti-discrimination laws and the culture that goes with them have done to many black youths; pulled their moral development past the elastic limit.
Friday, August 15, 2003
Philip Jackson writes:
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Ban lifted on petrol pumps. I don't understand all the references in this story from The Hindu. What is the mysterious "Centre"? What dealers do the Dealer Selection Boards select? But if there was a ban on petrol pumps until now, that's one reason why India has remained poor. And if the ban on petrol pumps has been lifted India will get richer.
Better yet if the State-run oil firms were dumped entirely.
UPDATE: Rajesh Sharma writes:
Just to comment on the article you linked to the Centre means the central government as opposed to state governments.
Cornelius Fudge admits Voldemort has returned? This AP report quotes the Saudi authorities as saying that that the network of terrorist sleeper cells in Saudi Arabia is wider and deeper than first thought. That's wider and deeper than they thought not wider and deeper than I thought
Has Samizdata done its poopy yet? Last night, having finally checked that every beastie had been fed, watered, done its business and was on the right side of the catflap in accordance with the system of cat-dog apartheid that reigns in our household, and hoping to get in my first brief blog for two days, I sat down at the computer - and promptly fell asleep in the chair. When I woke after a few minutes, groggily wondering if Samizdata had done its poopy and had I set the catflap so that Instapundit could get out but not in, I saw a message saying "Your internet connection has been lost."
Someone was trying to tell me something. I went to bed.
Monday, August 11, 2003
Not all Muslims participated! I spend a lot of time saying, let's stop pussyfooting around over the issue of the Islamicness of the Islamic fanatics who would enslave the world if they could. That's why it's particularly important for me to register that the headline to this Times story, "Police foil Muslim plot to bomb tourists in Spain," is crassly phrased. It wasn't a Muslim plot. It was far less of a Muslim plot than Guy Fawkes' little scheme was a Catholic plot. It was a plot by Muslim fanatics.
If there was any news today, I don't know about it.
You want 1,000 words on puppy poopy, I'm your gal.
Iain Murray on National Review, writing about the late great planet BBC.
While on the subject of gun writing, shooting enthusiasts worldwide will lose no time in reading IMAO’s confident technical exposition on the many types of firearm It spoke to exactly my level of expertise.
I cannot but feel that the death-dealing industry is letting its standards slip. Recently I was shocked to observe that one of my husband had acquired a magazine for one of his shooty things that was, get this, made of see-through plastic. Excuse me, that is not cool. If it had been the other sort of magazine it would have been Hello!. I've got water pistols that look more lethal. He muttured some rubbish about being able to see how many bullets you’ve got left. Ha! Does he think that just because I played with my overlocker instead of watching Die Hard for the fifteenth time I am ignorant of these things? That Bruce Wilkinson chap can keep calm and keep count in any crisis, and anyway the Plot will supply one more bullet when needed.
Re "... or the 00s (zero-ies? noughties?)"I like it. A few years ago I read Hell, I Was There, the autobiography of renowned shooting writer Elmer Keith. I was much taken with the way he described events in his early years on what still was recognisably the frontier as taking place in "nineteen and five" or "nineteen and six." Here's another speaker from the same era who said it the same way.
Sunday, August 10, 2003
The good old bad old days. Quite a good article by David Aaronovitch saying no, the fifties weren't a golden age is spoilt by the addition of a randomly chosen insult:
And I am increasingly suspicious of those who, from Left or Right, want to go backwards. Aren't they the same people who are always moaning? Don't they regret the passing of the days of stoicism at the same time as complaining about one inch of snow, one inch of floodwater or three days of heat?Nope. They aren't the same people. Complaining about the weather and nostalgia for the fifties correlate negatively, if at all.
And I don't see why we must have either the 50s menu or the 00s (zero-ies? noughties?) menu. Why not pick the best bits from both?
Drat. That was meant to be my sign off line, and now I've spoilt it by thinking maybe improved technology does make certain types of community impossible - it's well known that the ease of modern transport is a factor in rising crime, for instance: the perp's in the next county before the alarm stops ringing. And it's easier than it was to get away from unsuccessful relationships rather than fix them.
Saturday, August 09, 2003
Two minutes is about as long as I can stand in this room, which faces south. Here’s some speed blogging from the furnace. Pinochet. Cuthbertson, Crozier, Goldstein, me.
Marriage. Micklethwait, quoting Lileks. Bachini comments. Also Breen, quoting Kamm.
And Jim Miller scores, with some great Orwell quotes on anti-Americanism half a century ago.
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Let's celebrate the summer! I haven’t had a Moppets & Martyrs Calendar entry for simply ages. LGF has several years' worth. To be strictly accurate, some of them don't qualify. Merely dressing up the tots in warlike gear doesn't count: you have to want your children dead to get that coveted M & M slot. But Palestinian parents have come up trumps again, and there are several worthy entries. Those kids dipping their hands in red gloop to reenact a lynching didn't quite qualify, but what a splendid effort they made, eh?
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Solidarity with the workers of Scarborough? That indefatigable foe of imperialism, Dave Dudley, has written an inspirational account of his soul-searching as to where a true son of the Revolution can get a sun-tan without guilt.
The safety god demands lies as his offering. Today I went to the regular Wednesday viewing for tomorrow's sale at our local auction house. This isn't the posh sale but what they call the 'general' sale and everyone else the 'Thursday junk auction.' The catalogue (priced at 50p) bears this message:
IMPORTANT NOTICE CONCERNING POST-1950 FURNITURE.The first thing to understand about this is that it is bullshit. The guy who wrote it knew it was bullshit and the people who read it know it is bullshit. No-one on God's good earth buys a 1970s armchair as a work of art, or if they do they probably bought it as a job lot with California from the Emperor Napoleon in the next bed. Nor does one buy a 1981 reproduction oak coffee table (slight surface damage) for one's office, not if one wants to keep one's creditors from panicking.
You know, the calling of auctioneer has not always had the best press, but this outfit has always seemed respectable enough to me. Been going a long time, too, right back to the days of monthly horse sales, which implies that they didn't make too many enemies in and around a small market town. And now they have to tell stupid lies and we have to pretend to believe them. The Harlot's cry from Street to Street Shall weave Old England's winding Sheet, said William Blake, but I'm not sure the legal disclaimer isn't weaving it faster.
For a moment, while I posted this rant about the evil of Ryanair over at Samizdata, I forgot how hot it was.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Possible puppy picture. John Weidner of Random Jottings has kindly said he will post a puppy picture I emailed him. I know, I ought to learn to do it myself, but this is quicker. Besides, my brain has turned to mush.
UPDATE: Definite puppy picture - but it's at the new Random Jottings at http://www.randomjottings.net/
Oliver Kamm's deconstruction of Beatnik Salad's praise of the Baader Meinhof gang is much more than a fisking; it taught me plenty I did not know. For instance the small but fascinating detail about the difference between "fraction" (as in Red Army Fraction) and "faction" in revolutionary politics. Kamm also quotes an article by Paul Berman on the political evolution of Hans-Joachim Klein, a German would-be revolutionary who was sent to train in an Arab country:
Klein did not specify which country. But wherever it was, he was not happy. He found himself in a military training ground where, in one part of the camp, European leftists singing left-wing songs received their anti-Zionist military training, and, in another part, European fascists singing fascist songs received their own anti-Zionist military training.I doubt Mr Kamm's post will change the attitudes of its intended recipient. It was not lack of background knowledge that caused the author, 'Ryan in Manchester', to write as he did; it was lack of human sympathy for people who can be placed in enemy categories and morbidly swollen sympathy for people who can be placed in progressive categories.
Incidentally, the post above complains that it was arrogance for Oliver Kamm to put his hostile comments in his own blog instead of in the comments box. Why? That's what Oliver Kamm's (or anyone else's) personal blog is for, to bring together the author's thoughts on all sorts of subjects, at least half of which will be sparked off by someone else's post. That's the deal on offer at the Oliver Kamm shop. In this post on his Culture Blog, Brian Micklethwait talks about personal versus theme blogs in a much less controversial vein. Some estimable commenters don't have their own blog but prefer to flit from place to place leaving their views wherever they go - which is good luck for the other blogs thus pollinated, but the downside is that there is no central place to go to find their stuff.
Nor is there anything wrong in Kamm rendering himself "untouchable" by not having comments. So long as he doesn't stop Ryan speaking as he pleases he is under no obligation to allow himself to be touched. Someone likened having comments on your blog to having a permanent party, open to all, taking place in your living room: some people might thrive on it, but there's nothing wrong with wanting to keep some space as your own. And you have to continually tidy up after the guests, even when you don't have to eject them bodily.
When I started blogging, back in the Jurassic i.e. November 2001, comments software was unheard of. (Eee, back then we dinna even have permalinks.) You just sent someone an email saying "I have commented on your blog", or trusted that they were one of your regular readers. This is still the way I do it. There were and are certain advantages: comments are fewer but longer than if someone just pops off a quick note of approval or disapproval in a comment box. Also you don't have to learn scary computer stuff or pay any money, and the site is quicker to load.
As it happens, what with the advent of Laptop, the kids being home for the summer holidays, and the non-political writing I do from home, I am beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with the number of comments received by Biased BBC, where I serve as letters editor. At the outset it was me who suggested not having comments software over there, fearing a deluge of junk deliberately designed to gum up the works. I may have to eat my words. Encouragingly, Iain Murray and Patrick Crozier have both said that their fears when opening comments pages have not come to pass. Yet I still feel that this blog is by definition my show and I want to keep control over who else gets to be a guest exhibitor, so to speak.
UPDATE: I just finally got to read the comments to Beatnik's Salad post, which were taking a long time to load for some reason. Jackie D of Au Currant says what I said but better.
UPDATE AND BOO-BOO ALERT. Oops. Jackie D whose comment I just mentioned and The Green Fairy, to whom I initially attributed the comment, are poles apart. My explanation is that it was rather difficult to tell at first glance whether the attribution referred to the text above or below. Pathetic excuse, I know. Regard the link to the Green Fairy's site as a special gift bonus.
Take a look at http://semiskimmed.net, more formally known as "The Sporadic Chronicles". Or a ferocious beast belonging to a mate of the editor will bite your nose off.
On a similar subject: Jay Cantor (cat person) writes
Natalie, Natalie! How awful of you! You got a (obviously little, cute and adorable) PUPPY and you don't blog a picture! Or even a link! How cruel! How else now are your legion (well, regiment anyway) of blogosphere fans going to able to gurgle, coo and go AWWWWW with you over the new baby? Please correct this a.s.a.p. THE BLOGOSPHERE NEEDS TO KNOW!!!Why don't I post pictures? Because I haven't the faintest idea how. You can all write in telling me, if you like, and weeks from now when I have stopped going into a state of nervous prostration every time the little beastie tenses his rear leg muscles, I will do something about it.
He is awfully sweet though. To prevent our innocent puppy being upset by hate mail from enraged cat people (unlike the tolerant Jay Cantor) I shall conceal his real name on this blog and refer to him as "Laptop." Why this name? (1) He fits on a lap quite nicely (2) that's the other thing we could have had for the money.
Another possible name came up in e-conversation with Captain J M Heinrichs. I'd blipped him an e-mail apologising for my lack of response to a couple of his and he said
I feared the Anathema, and was contemplating the steps required to avoid such. On hearing of the new resident chez les Solent, I knew I was merely being overlooked, possibly ignored, but such has been my life; I am stronger for it, really I am.If only I'd called him* Anathema I could have had the pleasure of saying, "Anathema sit." (Not my pun. I think it's one of Terry Pratchett's.)
*The puppy, I mean. I was not present at Captain Heinrichs' naming. Though, come to think of it a "Captain Anathema" would certainly strike fear into the hearts of Canada's enemies.
Evil tidings from modern Britain. There were two disturbing letters to the Telegraph yesterday. The correspondence had started when the British Ambassador to Germany said that our obsession with WWII was causing German visitors to be insulted in the street. Here is the first letter, from Maciej Pomian-Srzednicki, who, jjudging from his name, might have cause to know about nationalist abuse. He says that the victims are not just German; the yobs are not fussy about their prey:
These incidents are a sign of our inability to prevent the gradual disintegration of order in our society, and are not a consequence of deficiencies in the teaching of foreign languages, an idiosyncratic sense of humour and biased history teaching.He's right. The yobs goading schoolchildren are the direct descendants of the mobs who followed Titus Oates. Old Adam is never put down. He is always ready to break out again whenever society's guard is down, as it has been these last forty years. In contrast I think the American author of the second letter, V L Mahoney, is quite mistaken about the motivations behind at least some of the abuse his family has suffered.
If someone were to perform a study across this country, it would soon emerge that anyone from a foreign nation is stereotyped because of their cultural, physical or linguistic differences.
Obviously at a moral level those who insult Germans or Italians for their nationality and those who insult Americans for theirs are the same. However the groups of people doing the insulting were, I would guess, quite different. The people "educated enough to know better" will not stereotype "anyone from a foreign nation," only Americans, Israelis (increasingly) or white Africans (decreasingly). With anyone else they will exercise an almost painful sensitivity. It's political, of course, and as far as they are concerned it's not insult it's political education.
Sunday, August 03, 2003
Bjørn Stærk has two excellent posts. One is about the lack of repentance by and excoriation of all the Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao-worshippers of the 70s:
Focus on the extremist minorities, on [Norwegian far left political grouping] AKP (m-l)'s support for Pol Pot and other surrealisms, is necessary and just, but risks taking the place of a harder, more important task. Who said what and why isn't as important as staking a new course away from the blast zone of the whole damned era, a course that rescues feminism from the feminists, environmentalism from the environmentalists, global awareness from the anti-globos, the fight for peace and democracy from the neo-pacifists. One that emphasizes individual liberties against paternalism, and knowledge, curiosity and honesty against ideology and dogmatism. The course already exists - we've been working at it for more than 2000 years - but we have to choose to rejoin it.The post below is about Jessica Lynch, and the way the Norwegian papers pretend that they are revealing secrets the US papers will not.
Saturday, August 02, 2003
This is the last post I shall ever write with a free mind. I can feel the irrestistible pull of an all-enveloping mind control making inroads into my every synapse. A fundamental overturning of my identity is taking place, in its own way as irrevocable as giving birth. Nothing will ever be the same again.
People talk about the two paradigms being able to coexist, or even to flourish together. Foolish delusion! True devotees surely know that there can be no compromise with them.
Must resist. Must remember our glorious motto, Feles regunt, canes salivant. To those who have already succumbed to the madness, I hurl defiance! In the dying moments of my former identity I write these last, desperate words:
Friday, August 01, 2003
Iain Murray thinks a bill before parliament is daft. It would criminalise public snogging by under 16s. The Cowboy thinks it's not just daft but downright frightening.
"Please don't mug me today, I've got the entire payroll in this briefcase." According to the Scotsman the latest Fringe show Osama like it hot wasn't.
On Wednesday, after being confronted by a scrum of journalists and being dubbed a "talentless git", the comedian decided to ask newspapers not to send reviewers for the first few performances.Which is why I think it would be nice if you didn't click on the link.
Mean old Uncle Robert! Still from the Telegraph, Mugabe has said that his relatives can only have one confiscated farm each and not the three or four they are accustomed to.
A British family have been arrested, beaten by police and given a ludicrously inadequate trial in Greece, oh what a surprise. Their crime appears to be 'being the same nationality as lager louts'. Oh, and the even more heinous crime of coming to the attention of the authorities at a well-timed moment for some politician's populist campaign. In other words, the same sort of thing that would cause Deep South police chiefs of a few years back to arrest any passing black when a crime had been committed.
The good news is that the Greeks can't come and arrest you for being the same nationality as lager louts. Yet.
But don't worry! Here's what the Home Office FAQ page has to say to reassure us.
Doesn't the example of what has happened to the Greek planespotters demonstrate the dangers of relying on other EU Member States' criminal justice systems?