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:

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Thursday, October 23, 2008
What about people who bomb abortion clinics in America? When reading on the internet about Islamic terrorism, commenters often mention that there is also terrorism by Christian fundamentalists in America, where there have been bombings of abortion clinics and shootings of abortion providers.

How prevalent is this form of American domestic terrorism? In recent years there have been round about 15,000 - 20,000 murders in total per year in the US. How many of these were of abortion providers?

Guess now. Scribble your answer down.

If you had asked me a few months ago I would have said three or four murders per year.

Considered over the last fifteen years I was overestimating somewhat. According to the best-known pro-abortion organisation in the US, NARAL Pro-Choice America,
Since 1993, seven clinic workers – including three doctors, two clinic employees, a clinic escort, and a security guard – have been murdered in the United States. Seventeen attempted murders have also occurred since 1991
That figure comes from a document published in December 2007. So far as I know the figures have not changed since then.

However the phrasing "Since 1993 seven abortion clinic workers have been murdered in the United States" could be re-arranged, with equal truth, to say that "since 1998 no abortion clinic workers have been murdered in the United States."

The last such murder was ten years ago today.

When I first found out this fact I was surprised. Again and again I have read comments that assumed that this type of terrorism was less deadly than Islamic terrorism but was nonetheless a steadily lethal undercurrent of American life - a death here, a death there.

In the fight against any type of crime, no victory can ever be anything but temporary. The most you can ever say is that the trend is down. There have been several attempted murders of abortion providers during the last ten years and the fact that none of them have succeeded must owe something to mere chance. As has often been observed, the terrorist only has to get lucky once. However it does now seem probable there will be zero murders of abortion providers during the presidency of George W Bush. I doubt that he will be given much credit for this, though if the trend had been otherwise he would certainly have been given the discredit.

(Cross posted to Samizdata.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Hooray, McCain is going to win after all! From today's Times:
In the five days since an Irish bookmaker declared the US presidential race “well and truly over” – paying out more than $1 million to those who had bet on Barack Obama – there has been little to suggest that Paddy Power was taking a gamble.
From the Irish Times of June 13th:
Bookmaker Paddypower has admitted it made a mistake, after paying out more than €80,000 in bets on a Yes vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum. As polls closed at last night, the bookmaker made a decision to pay out punters who had backed a Yes vote after unofficial exit polls indicated a late surge in support for the treaty.

The blunder means the bookmaker will be forced to pay out over €180,000 in referendum bets.

Friday, October 17, 2008
President Sarkozy orders soccer match ban if fans jeer Marseillaise - from yesterday's Times.
"French football matches will be cancelled if fans jeer the pre-kickoff national anthem, President Sarkozy has decreed, after the Marseillaise was drowned out by mocking whistles at the start of a France-Tunisia friendly at the Stade de France on Tuesday night.

"The incident in Paris, which drew indignation from the political and sports worlds, was the third in which French crowds of immigrant origin have whistled and booed the home team when it played one of the country’s former North African colonies."

Imagine how this would have been reported if the booing of the National Anthem, and the President's threat to suppress it, had occured in America.

Saturday, October 11, 2008
"Specific learning differences." An excellent letter to the Times:
Sir, Sue Whiting, a “retired special educational needs co-ordinator”, asserts in her letter (Oct 10) that “there are likely to be 20 per cent of children in any classroom with specific learning differences”. My initial reaction on reading this was that, surely, all the children would have learning differences: that is the human condition. However, on closer analysis I deduced that what was stated was not what was actually meant. Surely Ms Whiting’s unadorned meaning was that 20 per cent of the children would, for one reason or another, have learning difficulties.

Such euphemistic language is an increasing phenomenon in bureaucracies. Sometimes its usage seems intended merely to avoid giving offence; sometimes, there is the suspicion of deliberate confusion. In local government housing circles “affordable housing” is referred to when social sector rented accommodation is intended. Thus, when setting housing policy requiring 50 per cent of new development to be affordable, as commonly understood, is far less controversial than requiring 50 per cent of housing to be social rented.

Orwellian usage of this kind debases the language as a tool for expression. It leads, at best, to lack of clarity and, at worst, it is downright misleading and stifles legitimate debate. It needs to be rooted out.

Julian Critchlow

Sue Whiting's original letter is the second one here. It is quite clear that by "differences" she means "difficulties" or "disabilities". This usage, along with "differently-abled", is quite common now. It always makes me think, well you won't be wanting any money then.

This and That. I have a T and T post up at Biased BBC. Links to Blognor Regis, David Friedman, and a thought of my own about the BBC's new Get Out of Impartiality Free card.