Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

The Old Comrades:

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

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Sunday, August 13, 2006
Britblog roundup time. I particularly liked the post by Tim Newman of White Sun of the Desert in which he "rather takes apart a Russian pondering upon the reasons why democracy causes civil wars." The dismemberment is purely verbal and metaphorical, and that is the point.

I'm off to visit family for a week starting Monday. I may or may not get a chance to blog. Cheerio, all.

Saturday, August 12, 2006
"The Daily Telegraph seemed to imply," writes Inayat Bunglawala in the Times, "that there were Muslims out there who know of murderous acts being planned but who were for whatever motive — perhaps divided loyalties? — refusing to come forward."

In May a Reuters employee was suspended after sending a message from a made-up email address called "" to LGF that certainly seemed to support murderous violence. ("I look forward to the day when you pigs get your throats cut.") The message was sent from Mr Bungawala's workplace, the Reuters office in Docklands. The referring site was a reference to LGF in the comments to this Comment is Free article by, as it happens, Mr Bunglawala.

I am sure that if Mr Bunglawala has any suspicions as to who sent this threatening message he will not be slow to come forward.

You mean that was sex? The scoundrel said it was Pilates!

Tim Blair asks,

Let’s see how the “Pope was a Nazi!” crowd copes with this:

Germany was rocked by the revelations last night that Günter Grass, its greatest living author and doyen of the Left, was a member of Hitler’s elite Waffen-SS.

The Nobel laureate, who has been the country’s moral guide for decades, admitted in an interview published today that he became a member of the infamous Nazi corps at the age of 17.

Tim Blair links back to a previous post of his quoting the many expressions of outrage at the elevation to the papacy of a man who was drafted into the Hitler Youth at the age of 14. Something I never understood about that reaction was that all the same people fall over themselves in their anxiousness not to "stigmatize" 14 year-old "troubled youths" of our own day who are "forced into" to a life of crime. The youths, of course, are forced into crime by truly irresistible forces like inequality and racism rather than anything so feeble as the Nazi State.

Liberal blogger Majikthise, linked to by Tim Blair, asks how this was kept under wraps for so long. Compare it to the way that T.S. Eliot's flirtation with fascism or Ezra Pound's actual fascism have been discussed for decades. I'm afraid that the answer to this is probably that Grass is left-wing, not right. He's in the same Famous Writers Speak Out bracket as Pinter or Chomsky. (This article name-drops nearly every name in the category, although it spoils the effect by dropping Nadine Gordimer's name wrong.) Günter Grass flays Bush. He is "a living legend. When this Nobel laureate speaks, people listen." Can't have living legends showing up in those sinister, disturbingly well-cut black uniforms. I reckon it's been discovered several times and hastily undiscovered an equal number of times.

But to be fair to the old Bush-flayer, he was only 17, and it was Nazi Germany. As the Telegraph article Tim links to points out,

Its members initially volunteered, but after 1944, as Germany's military strength was weakening, members were drafted at random from the male population. Grass, who had volunteered for the submarine forces at the age of 15 to "get away from the family" but had been rejected, was recruited into the SS in the winter of 1944-45.
I've said, and meant, that we shouldn't be too harsh on Grass for doing no better than millions of other propaganda-sodden German youths, and a great deal less badly than some. However I do think that someone so disenamoured of his family that joining Hitler's navy seemed preferable to their continued proximity ought to show a little more humility when diagnosing others as having "hereditary compulsions".

The next paragraph is unintentionally funny. One of God's own innocents, our Günter:

Asked when he had first realised that he was in the SS, Grass replied: "I'm not sure how it was. Did the draft order give it away, or on the letterhead? The rank of the signatory? Or did I first notice it when I arrived in Dresden?"

Measures to take until the regime change comes. This is three years old, but still glorious. Found via an idiosyncratic but sadly now-defunct blog called Not Again Please, I present "Understanding the U.S. War State", by John McMurtry PhD, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
"Outgrowing the ruling group-mind to which we have become enslaved begins with refusing to expose oneself any further to its conditioning. No more American television or media except to expose their lies. No more American junk food or drink inside any free home, and no more fast fat- food and beverages outside it. No more American autos. No more American appliances. No more American or vassal-British gas. No more violence entertainment, and no more American drugs. No American financial services or stocks at any level. No more U.S. dollars or travel until the regime change comes."
Until that happy day comes, we must stay clean.
The strike starts with U.S. oil and gas products across the world. Every ExxonMobil, Texaco Chevron, and BPAmoco brand pump is boycotted as the war state's prime sponsors. Every American media and its Canadian imitators are switched out of. Every fat-and-cancer food and drugged beverage is refused. This structure of choice does not just stop the fuel of the war machine and its conditions. It releases the lives of all those who choose it and their communities into new life and well-being.
Switch out of their every media! Drink not out of their drugged beverages! Purity of essence, that's what we need.

Friday, August 11, 2006
Remember the Religious Hatred Bill? Fortunately the government failed by one vote to overturn Lords amendments that somewhat neutered its restrictions on free speech.

Arguing for the Bill in Parliament, Home Office minister Paul Goggins gave as an example of a statement that would be caught by the Bill a poster asking what Burqa-wearing women were hiding under their clothes.

Now, ladies, for fear of concealed weapons, while on an aeroplane you must carry your tampax in a clear plastic bag.

Thursday, August 10, 2006
If this goes on I shall be quite put off air travel. It's not the fear. I have a near religious faith in statistics. It's not the hassle, or the inconvenience. I understand the need. It's the boredom. First they said I couldn't sew, now they say I can't read a book. The prospect of having to watch the in-flight movies does not please and that of having to talk to the person next to me terrifies.

(And the last time you got on a plane was how many years ago, Natalie?)

That old trouper, Green Helmet. A post for Samizdata.

As for modern Scottish doctors - five quarters of them are dessicated corpses only maintained in a semblance of life by bathing in the blood of Socialist MSPs.

A Scotsman of the living one-quarter speaks.

Carbon dating reveals that these two emails (both referring to this post) date from what we bloggers call the Plasticine Era. Scientists think they may be as much as a week old.

Squander Two writes:

I hope you're enjoying your sewing.
Yes! I am going to right an honest to goodness sewing post Real Soon Sometime - NS

One of my old philosophy lecturers told us that there are broadly two schools of philosophy: there are philosophers who own dogs, who hold that dogs have souls, and there are philosophers who do not own dogs, who hold that dogs do not have souls.

Extrapolated, this remains probably the best system of philosophical analysis I have ever come across.


And JEM writes:
Ae you serious about the Poor Man's Turing Test for Souls? Any computer, or even an iPod or mobile phone say, could be programmed
(well, that's far too grand a word for it really) quickly and easily to ask if it has a soul, and there is probably more processing power in a little amoeba than your typical iPod. Ah but, I hear you say, the iPod is simply repeating what it has been set up to ask; it is not conscious -- self-aware if you like. And yes, I for one think consciousness is the true test of 'soulfullness', not the ability to ask a question.
I took it as axiomatic (translation, I assumed without saying) that by "ask" I meant really ask, ask oneself, ask with a sincere desire to know. Perhaps I should have said "worry." - NS

(You may say the iPod can ask, but cannot hear the answer. True, but that was a qualification you did not make. But with that qualification added... well.. as Francis Bacon wrote in his essay On Truth, "'What is truth?' said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer." So would Pilate have had a soul if he had asked the 'soul' question instead on this occasion?)

Perhaps, but how do you know that another human being -- or any other entity for that matter -- is conscious or not? Only by the external evidence: that is all we can ever have. But as the simplistic example of the iPod demonstrates, that is not good enough. Yet we cannot better it.

If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck... it still may not really be a duck.

As for CS Lewis, I think I could handle a debate on his Christian apologetic arguments, although I am now really quite rusty. In my childhood I was encouraged to read The Chronicles of Narnia, Out of the Silent Planet, etc., and found them tedious. Later my father, who was a minister of the Kirk (yes, I'm a son of the manse just like Gordon Brown... in fact his father and mine were near neighbours at one point and knew each other. Sorry about that.) persuaded me to read The Problem of Pain, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape letters, and so forth. I found his arguments unconvincing and my father and I debated them late into many an evening. Eventually I began to suspect that he also found CS Lewis less than convincing, although he never admitted it. The question of pain was an interesting one, especially since this has been the subject of theological debate for hundreds of years in connection with Christ's suffering on the Cross, and then thrown into confusion by the development of effective anaesthetics. Even before that, there is the case of James Esdaile, surgeon with the East India Company and incidentally another son of the manse, who used hypnotism to perform pain free surgery almost two hundred years ago.

But CS Lewis was about the only time my father ever tried to influence me religiously. He was also a geologist, and that was far more interesting -- for both of us.

Incidentally, this book (I had better say that I know the author) on the history of chloroform argues that the extent to which Christian thinking on pain was thrown into confusion by the discovery of anasthetics has often been exaggerated, partly the result of the "get your retaliation in first" pamphlet arguing against any and all possible religious objections written by the irrepressible pioneer of chloroform, Sir James Young Simpson.* I said more in this old Samizdata comment.

*Incidentally to my incidentally, I have only with difficulty stopped myself from digressing even further on the character of this bombastic, quarrelsome and really rather wonderful man. At the risk certainty of causing offense, compared to him three quarters of modern Scotsmen and nine tenths of modern doctors are not so much anaesthetized as walking around dead.

Saw a plane leaving Stansted not long ago. And that completes my on-the-spot reportage of today's events.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Endangered birds nesting round here? Fetch me a chainsaw! - a post for Samizdata.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Yes, I did go all the way. Missing you already! (Via Tall Minor. Beat the lad soundly, Laban, it will do him good in the end.)

To those who reproach me for finding time for such foolishness while not finding time to give you my thoughts on the World Situation, I can only offer my regrets that I cannot o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only sit and click.

Sunday, August 06, 2006
Britblog roundup is particularly splendiferous today. But if you're here, maybe you already knew that.

More Reuters picture oddities. Drinking from Home posts two Reuters pictures (CORRECTION: one Reuters picture and one AP) of a woman lamenting the destruction of her home by the Israelis. Different dates, different homes, same woman.

(Cross-posted on Samizdata, and the "more" in my title is a reference to the previous posts which in turn refer to LGF's exposure - if you'll forgive the pun - of a fraudulent Reuters photo.)

Saturday, August 05, 2006
Qana - the Director's Cut. The most recent of a now rather famous series of posts by Richard North at EU Referendum. Shane Richmond at the Telegraph blog knocks down one of North's constentions but the others still stand, and Richmond does his own reputation no favours by calling it all a "conspiracy theory." North has made no claim that Qana did not happen, or that the corpses of children shown are not real, or anything like that. What he has claimed - and to my mind demonstrated - is that Hezbollah are moving corpses around to get the best images and that the press are going along with it in exchange for access.

Tommy Sheridan sex libel shocker! As he says, what a turnaround. It all sounds like something by Jeffrey Archer. Things must have looked black for Mr Sheridan when twenty witnesses, spoke against him, eleven of them former colleagues from his own party, some of whom may now face perjury charges. The Times reports:
Perhaps the most decisive testimony of all was that of Mrs Sheridan, 42, a glamorous air hostess, who said that she would have murdered her husband had he cheated on her.
What need of prostitutes has a man already captured by such a lovely lioness?

I am confident that a man of Mr Sheridan's amiable disposition would not wish those who perjured themselves to be pursued too officiously.

Thursday, August 03, 2006
Communism is dead! I knew I'd find some good news if I looked hard enough. There had been a few indications before now that communism might be dead, but now I know for sure. It appears that Fidel Castro handed over Cuba to his brother while he had an op. Back when Communism was alive, they may have been gut-churningly evil mass-murdering scum, but they respected the forms. A society in which anyone could say, "Here y'are, bro, take the whole country" was exactly what they were there to extirpate.

The French Revolution finally died when Napoleon took to handing out the crowns of Europe to his relatives.

I've just come back from Belgium. Beer still nice, Belgium still Belgish, gun laws a little less liberal than they were.

I am now afflicted, if that is the word, by the least favourable conditions for blogging: (1) world going to hell in a handbasket, (2) my life going just dandy.