Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Youngish lefty attacks ageing lefty

From the BBC, first there was this:

Earlier this week the mayor of London [Red Ken] boycotted an event organised by Mr Phillips, head of the Commission for Racial Equality, as part of an ongoing row...

He recently suggested Mr Phillips, who said that the term multiculturalism implied "separateness" and should be dropped, had "gone so far over to the other side that I expect soon he'll be joining the BNP".

Then, there was this:

On Wednesday, in a speech to the Ethnic Media conference, Mr Cameron said "any serious conversation" about racism must move beyond "old Marxist clichés".
Mr Cameron said: "Insulting Trevor by saying he should join the BNP isn't a serious contribution to debate.
It's a discreditable attempt by an ageing far left politician to hang on to a narrative about race that sees people from ethnic minorities as potential agents of revolutionary change."

It's a classic dominance display. David Attenborough would be proud of him. I particularly liked "isn't a serious contribution to debate". I sincerely doubt whether David Webcam would recognise either a `serious contribution' or a `debate' if it turned 'round and bit him.

Where this all leaves `Trevor' is not quite clear.

Darfur? Where's Darfur?

JOSHUAPUNDIT has an important new post on the sickening and under-reported genocide in Darfur: it seems that the president of Sudan is now denying that there's any problem and simultaneously blaming it on the Jews!
Remember when the UN's Kofi Annan was preening himself a little while ago over a supposed agreement with Sudan's jihadi government to accept a UN/ African Union force to protect Darfur's civilians from genocide?

Well, it seems that's Mr. Annan's self-congratulation was a mite premature. Al-Reuters reports today that not only isn't the President al-Bashir going to allow any UN or AU troops in, but now he denies there's any problem!

What's more, Darfur is just a Zionist Conspiracy anyway.

Read the rest. Please.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Can we riot now?

A very funny little post with this title awaits you at Rhymes With Right.

No hard feelings?

Yet another example of poor quality reporting from the MSM:
An e-mail showing a man being decapitated has resulted in 140 Hertfordshire police officers and civilian staff being disciplined.

The e-mail is supposed to have originated in the USA:
The e-mail, originating from the US, shows a black man being decapitated on railings after a pursuit by police.

The next bit seems to be a major non-sequitur:

A senior officer said the image could be perceived as racist and offensive.

The series of images, which show the pursued man being decapitated after jumping from a flyover, is entitled "Do not run from the police".

The objection seems to be based on the fact that the poor man was black:

Eight police sergeants were given formal reprimands and seven civilian supervisors received final written warnings for distributing the message...

Deputy Chief Constable Simon Ash said: "I am disappointed by the conduct of officers and staff who distributed this inappropriate image that some people may have perceived as being racist."

OK? It may have been perceived as being racist.

President of the Black Police Association Keith Jarrett said disciplinary action should have gone further.

"I don't think a robust enough sanction has been taken against the officers concerned, especially the supervisory ones," he said.

"It is, at best, disrespectful to the black people that live in Hertfordshire."

Now that, I really don't understand: why? Why just Hertfordshire? What is it, whisper it, at worst?
Disrepectful to the people in New Hampshire?

What am I missing here? What have the damn MSM failed to tell us?

I can see the objection that the man (a thief?) should not have his disjecta membra used as some sort of trivialised object lesson - although this is the modern way. Die, for example, of an overdose and your mother agrees to a picture of your corpse being used in anti-drugs advertisements for, I hasten to add, the best of motives. I personally think that it is objectionable to use the picture of someone who died by misadventure for any purpose, unless their family have agreed to it. But that doesn't seem to be the issue. The issue is (or is it?) just that he's black.

The only explanation that I can advance (and I strongly suspect that it's the right one) is that it's the old (well, relatively new) `it's all about perceptions' ploy: if I feel harassed then I have been. If I feel victimised, then I have been. If I feel it's racist to show a picture of a dead black fugitive, then it is.

What no-one seems to question, is whether it's feasible to run a society on this basis.

For what it's worth, I have a simple answer to the question. We know it's possible to run a society on this basis, because Stalin did. Orwell re-interpreted it in 1984.
What we have here is clearly a nasty case of thought crime.

Get used to it. Britain's full of it now.

UPDATE: I have now tracked down a blog post from Rivrdog containing the photos. I don't recommend looking at them, they're unpleasant (and I wish I hadn't).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Herculean task

Richard Landes at Augean Stables has a lovely and well-thought out posting on this topic (the problem of radicalized Muslims):
HDS Greenway, who is one of the Boston Globe’s resident Liberal Cognitive Egocentrists, has tackled the problem of radicalized Muslims in the Britain with predictable results.
Greenway quotes the head of MI5:
“My service needs to understand the motivations behind terrorism to succeed in countering it, ” she said. And part of the problem was a perception that British foreign policy was anti-Muslim, “in particular, Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Landes responds:

But the very formulation is astonishing and shows the lack of psychological sophistication of MI5. This complaint about foreign policy has little to do with what turns Muslims radical, although the radicals regularly make the complaint. They do so, not because if England changes their foreign policy these folks will be more responsive to the demands of civil society. On the contrary, the very threat of turning to violence if Britain’s foreign policy doesn’t align with their demands is a form of blackmail which defies the very basis of the civil society they pretend to be willing to join, if only Britain would comply; and Britain’s compliance would show them that Britain isn’t willing to fight for its civil rules.
There's an awful lot more, which you must read, but he ends, after giving the list which the British authorities (I'm not quite sure who, but it sounds a very believable list to have issued from almost any politician's mouth in the UK) are supposed to have stated as a basis for discourse:
This list illustrates better than almost anything how clueless the British authorities and Greenway are about the nature of the problem. It is the implications of this very list, and in particular the granting to “others” of the rights one wants to use to gain one’s own ascendancy that represent the very anathema that Western civilization constitutes to Islamists.

Wonders in The Washington Post

The Washington post ran this article on Sunday (hat tip: JOSHUAPUNDIT):

Needed: A Big Stick

Iran and Syria are waging war in the Middle East. Will the West fight back?

Sunday, November 26, 2006; Page B06

ONE WAY TO understand the deteriorating situation in the Middle East is to contrast last week's assassination of Lebanese Christian leader Pierre Gemayel with the response to it. The assassination was a shockingly audacious attack on Lebanon's democratic forces and their U.S. and European allies. But those Western governments remain in a profound muddle about how to address Iran and Syria, which have been fomenting the destabilization of Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

The killers of Mr. Gemayel have not been identified and may never be. But the attack fits snugly into a pattern of provocations across the region by Iran and Syria, which appear to believe that American reversals in Iraq have given them the opportunity to create what Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad calls "a new Middle East" -- one in which their influence and radical ideology will predominate. They would make their client Hezbollah the power broker in Lebanon, restoring Syrian suzerainty. They would use Hamas to block any progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian settlement and perpetuate a continuing, if low-grade, war on Israel. And they would continue to bleed the United States by supplying insurgents in Iraq with arms and sanctuary. Iran meanwhile presses ahead with its barely disguised nuclear weapons program: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently promised to increase the number of centrifuges enriching uranium from the current 328 to 60,000...

Wonders will never cease! That the Washington Post should finally recognise some of the double-dealing, and homicidal dishonesty that is being perpetrated by Iran and Syria makes a pleasant change. The final paragraph even shows some recognition that actually getting tough might help. That certainly might do better than what the West is currently practising, which is to `speak softly and ask for the stick'.

Iran and Syria are ruthlessly waging war against Western interests in the Middle East. Offering to talk is only a small part of what it will take to stop them.

Of course there's no attempt to explain the profound muddle or the malaise affecting large portions of the West; nor any admission of the large contribution to it that's been made by the MSM. There are some limits to journalistic integrity, after all.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bye bye, Scotland?

Why is it that no-one in the blogosphere is commenting on this stuff? We have Gordon wetting himself that his power base is going to disappear and Blair fearing a `constitutional nightmare' and the MSM seem to be regarding it as a minor blip, while, as I said, places like Samizdata and EU Referendum ignore it completely.
Am I missing something?
Here's some of what Blair had to say;

The prime minister warned against a "constitutional nightmare" where the UK turns in on itself.

He stressed that the choice in next May's election would be between a Labour government or an SNP one which plans to introduce an independence bill within 100 days.

Mr Blair told party members: "Already they are publishing plans for separation - separate currency, separate pensions and social security systems, leaving Nato."

He went on: "The fact they are saying it and with utter precision shows they are deadly serious and would do it."

Brown said

... that everyone in the United Kingdom would suffer economically and culturally if Scotland voted for independence.

He also said:

"The Conservatives don't care about the union and about Britain. They are fighting [on] a policy of English votes for English laws."

and that's the source of it all, isn't it?

Labour's support is city and Scotland-based. If the Scots took their ball away, the Tories might have the electoral leeway to retreat from some of David Webcam's loonier green proposals and send Polly Toynbee back to the Guardian and win an enormous majority in the House of Commons.
Frightening stuff for Gordon and Tony. Maybe not so frightening for the English?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pearls before swine

I despair. One comes out with something with both wit and relevance and it's completely ignored!
I posted the comment below at Done with Mirrors and no one noticed!
Realpolitik works only if the other side is playing it. If the other side is a bunch of millenarian madmen it's a really bad choice.

I would add that continuing to praise, or even fund, the UN is just about as stupid - the majority of nations involved in the UN aren't just out to lunch, they've already cut the waiter's throat and are now going through the till.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fruit Soup

Great post at ShrinkWrapped entitled Risks, risk assessments and Cassandras. The shrink contrasts the immediate and present danger from the Islamists and a nuclear Iran with the much longer term and milder threat from possible climate change. The point he makes is that, in most people's eyes the urgency and risk levels are reversed.

My explanation for this is functional idiocy or, more politely, execrable levels of education.

Most political arguments or statements which are applauded in the UK seem to rely on two or three buzzwords (`progressive' and `modern' immediately spring to mind) which are entirely meaningless. Most of what passes for education is sloganeering.

To give one of my (least) favourite examples, my elder daughter was asked (in Food Technology) to create a fruit soup. Now, it so happens that there is a nation which specialises in fruit soup - it's Finland. Typing `fruit soup' into Google gets you a lot of recipes, too. But that's not what she was asked to do. Instead she had to survey her classmates to find out what they'd like in their fruit soup. She had to choose the most popular three ingredients and use them to make a soup (after plotting the statutory bar chart of the number of votes for each ingredient). She was not given, or asked to find, any recipes to adapt for her purpose. She was expected to produce this delicious creation from scratch.

Here we have the worst sort of “education”. Ignore the history, ignore the thousand years of culinary expertise which is available in pre-digested form [sorry for the inadvertent pun] in existing recipes. Teach the children that nothing matters except what is new, that past experience is no guide and that expertise is oppressive. Uneducated, inchoate desires and being progressive are all that matters and if it’s a disaster, well then, never mind, it was a noble experiment and we’ll ignore those outside puking behind the bike sheds as we return to the drawing board or food blender for another transgressive attempt.

Lebanon explained somewhat better

Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse has a detailed and incisive analysis of what's happening right now in Lebanon. There's not much I can add except the levels of realpolitik and cynicism we're hearing about from Foggy Bottom and Whitehall seem exceptional even for those decaying and corrupt institutions.
Why attempt to stick up for Western civilization when these people are trying to destroy it?
To give one quote:

Both the US and Great Britain have issued strong official statements condemning the assassination and supporting Prime Minister Siniora’s government – except neither one specifically mentioned Syria as the probable perpetrator of the murders. (Bush and Bolton have both fingered Syria and Iran in off-the-cuff remarks but the State Department nixed any mention of Syria in the official communique.)

This is no accident, of course, Nothing can be said that might derail the coming ass kissing session with Assad as we seek his blessing to withdraw from Iraq without the Syrian President causing the country to descend into chaos in the meantime. Given that the thug has just cold bloodedly murdered a man committed to democracy and freedom and was opposed to the kind of Islamic fundamentalism embodied in Nasrallah’s Hizbullah, our State Department and the British Foreign Office may as well have spit on Pierre Gemayel’s grave.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lebanon explained

The BBC, don't you just love it? Here it is "explaining the Lebanese crisis":
In 1982 Iran created Hezbollah, the Party of God, which has evolved into a major player in Lebanese politics and an important ally of Iran and Syria.

And we're supposed to take this with equanimity. One of the nastiest terrorist organisations in existence, with Nazi salutes, thousands of rockets and a policy of hiding behind and dressing as civilians whilst attacking civilian targets in Israel, and all the BBC can say is that it's a "major player" and "important ally" (not even the notorious "militant" description is used). Still, I suppose that the admitted links with Iran and Syria do at least show how unutterably stupid is Tony Blair's idea of co-opting them to help reach a peaceful settlement in Iraq.

Not to worry, after Iran has nuked Israel at least we'll have been helped to reach a decision on replacing Trident. That prime anti-Semite, Beatrice Webb, would have been proud of Tony for that.

Military medics

Having just read the article in the December 2006 edition of National Geographic about Military Medicine, I recalled the Red and Green Life Machine of Ajax Bay.

Some people are just fantastic.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Q for quarantine?

This is priceless (from the BBC website)

In the middle of World War II the authorities had a problem - what to do with those children who had been evacuated but who were too disturbed or delinquent for the average family to handle.

So when a group of earnest young conscientious objectors offered to take them off to rural Essex and "cure" their antisocial tendencies with a mixture of fresh air, unconditional love and radical democracy, nobody asked too many questions.

Q Camp was a utopian experiment which tried to get troubled boys to operate a self-governing community in the middle of the countryside...

The Q stood for query or quest and the camp chief was a young man named Arthur Barron, known to everyone as Bunny.

Staff and boys lived in the most primitive conditions, in ramshackle wooden huts without windows or sanitation. A Probation Service inspector described the camp as "dirty and dismal" in one report. She said the sleeping huts filled her with "horror" and the beds "looked grimy".

Work was shared, but the youngsters weren't compelled to lift a finger. A camp council of staff and boys imposed what little discipline there was. There was also a school but attendance was voluntary and the school hut was set on fire on several occasions...

It was Mr Barron's belief that the young boys should not be told what to do. Smashed windows remained unfixed and obscenities were left daubed on walls because he believed it was better to leave the jobs until the boys responsible agreed to do them. They rarely did.

. .. in its determination to move away from the authoritarian model of the approved schools, it anticipated many of the ideas on residential childcare that became common in later decades.

Many of those involved went on to become senior and influential in their field.

Mr Barron trained as a psychoanalyst with Anna Freud and became an eminent child psychotherapist. Mr Thomas became a director of social work in Scotland. He counts the Q camp a success. Another member of staff, Chris Beedell, became an academic and a guru in the world of children's social work.

But others say Q Camp failed because the children themselves didn't want to share the responsibility, but wanted to feel the adults were in charge.

So much so that they organised themselves into two groups, masters and slaves - the ones who wanted to control and the ones who wanted to be controlled.

"This was the exact antithesis of what the theorists wanted to achieve," says author Maurice Bridgeland, who knew Mr Barron. "It was the opposite of all their principles."

Well yes, Mr Bridgeland, but I know as an academic that practice should never be allowed to get in the way of romantic theory in the social sciences. That's the glory of it. If it's an abject failure, simply describe it as a fascinating experiment which shows the way forward.

Disaster Math

I'm afraid I just had to respond to Reader_I_Am's suggestion at Done with Mirrors: create a parody of FEMA's Disaster Math pages for "kids".
It's on Disaster Math: FEMA, and is very childish.
I would be delighted to receive suggestions/other quizzes from any interested readers.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Don't be stupid, Theodore!

A response to an attack on Theodore Dalrymple

I was reading this thought-provoking post by Callimachus at Done With Mirrors. It' s talking about Lt. Colonel Nguyen Ngoc Loan. You won't know his name. But you will, if you're old enough, remember the picture of him shooting Nguyen Van Lem in the head on a Saigon street.
Callimachus' post is about newsworthiness, images and one-sidedness, and I strongly recommend reading it very carefully.
However, that's not really the point of this post.
When I'd finished reading the post (Media Icons), I started to read the comments. One of the first I came across was this one from (the) probligo:
" For me personally?

The image that defined Vietnam was that of the girl fleeing the napalm at My Lai.

Remember that one?
"What does this little piece of history prove, Cal? That Vietnam was hell? That America was wrong to get involved? Or that America should never have left? That you should have nuked Hanoi out of existance?
Why not use the images of AbuGhraib and Guantanamo and the images of the aftermath of IED's and snipers from Iraq instead? Or how about some of the images from both sides in the last Lebanon war?
Any of those would equally "prove" that war is hell.
Oh, the General was the martyr?
Is there a message there Cal? Bush should be a martyr? Rummy is a martyr?"

I was very struck by two things: first, the mistake about My Lai, and second the almost wilfull ignoring of the original post's messages. So... I turned to the author's blog: The Probligo. Probligo and Callimachus obviously have a bit of history since they refer to each other as Pro and Cal. But never mind that either. My eyes soon lit on this post, since Theodore Dalrymple is one of my favourite writers.
I am not going to attempt to give a proper summary of it since I would do neither it nor my blood pressure justice. I shall therefore merely permit myself a few brief observations.

The post references this article by Dalrymple. It is, as many readers might suppose, rehearsing some of Dalrymple's themes in the context of a visit to New Zealand.
With stylistic elegance Dalrymple talks of the murderer who wrote In the Belly of the Beast and relates his experience and that of the author's sponsor, Norman Mailer. The key quote is
Mailer lived in a world (that of radical politics protected by a bourgeois order) in which words never really meant what they said or said what they really meant, in which moral exhibitionism was the highest good and the sine qua non of the regard of one‘s peers. So safe were they in their literary enclave that reality didn’t matter much; what counted was the ability to use words in the approved fashion, and truth was nowhere.

Then Dalrymple relates this to New Zealand as follows:
While I was in New Zealand, I learned of two cases that seemed emblematic of the Mailerian developments in the new Zealand criminal justice system. The first concerned a man with 102 convictions, many for violence including rape. (I should point out that 102 convictions means many more offences, since the conviction rate is never 100 per cent of the offending rate, and is sometimes only 5 or 10 per cent of it.)

This man nevertheless became eligible for parole. As conditions of parole, the board told him he must not drink, smoke cannabis or frequent certain places. The man told the board that he would abide by none of these conditions, but he was released on parole anyway. Within a short time, he had killed three people and so maimed a fourth that she will never recover.

The second case was of a man with many previous convictions, some for violence, who abducted and murdered a young woman aged 24. He was imprisoned and applied for bail. Three times he was turned down, but a fourth judge granted him bail. He was sent to live at a certain address, where he befriended his neighbours, who did not know that he was accused of murder. Eight months later, while babysitting their children, he killed one of them.
Perhaps the most extraordinary twist of this terrible tale is that the parents of the murdered child then had another baby, which the social services then removed from them on the grounds that they had previously entrusted a child to the care of a murderer and were therefore irresponsible parents. The state blames its citizens for the mistakes - if that is what they are - that it makes.

Dalrymple ascribes this to the `moral frivolity' of the NZ criminal justice system. He goes on to blame Rousseau as one of the main sources for the terrible moral confusion that pertains in most criminal justice systems in the Western world, to say that`most criminals come from a very bad background' but finishes by pointing out that we ` confute two questions: first, how do we prevent people from becoming criminals in the first place, and second, how do we prevent those who have become recidivist criminals from committing further crimes? The two questions have different answers, and there is not a single answer to them both.'

Now what has (the) Probligo to say?
Well he starts like this:
It would be a perfect world if we could stop all of these killings and maimings. It would be a perfect world if we did not have road traffic deaths as well.

But commentators like Dalrymple, and organisations like SST [Sensible Sentencing Trust, of which Dalrymple was the guest] as well come to the point, really do piss me off more than just a little.

Yes, I have a problem with them, and it is very simple.

Like so many people, they take a single instance or a very small number of instances and make sweeping generalisations covering the whole population. I can not argue against the figures, they pretty much speak for themselves.

What is missing -

* A meaningful and supportable discussion of the causes of increased crime levels.

* A meaningful and supportable discussion of possible and effective measures that would reduce crime.

* A meaningful and supportable discussion of effective crime prevention.

He concludes with
How about some sensible, workable, suggestions on how it can be stopped?
My first reaction, as someone on the right and an enthusiastic reader of Dalrymple (did I already say that?) is simply to tell him that Dalrymple has spent a long time advancing solutions to these problems and indeed attempting to do his bit to implement them whilst working as a psychiatrist in an inner city hospital and in a nearby prison. Read this book!
My second reaction, as I guess it should be for any mathematician is "there's only a finite amount of time available, so let it go!".
But this time I decided not to.

I shan't take long.
Preamble. We on the right tend to believe in the imperfection of man. We don't believe (with Rousseau) in the noble savage (if he did), indeed we believe that, along with his life, he himself was probably nasty, brutish and short. We note with no surprise whatsoever that some modern archeology has estimated that in the past 25% of males died at the hands of others. We are not in the least taken aback to learn that "the great majority of Aboriginal people themselves are voting with their feet and assimilating into white society." In short, we think that civilization can do better.
I should add that Dalrymple writes very well about this (did I say he's good?).

First main point. How is man improved from his state of innocent imperfection? By teaching, training, example and punishment.
We learn to care for others and treat them with respect by a mixture of experience (I banged my head, it hurt), observation (when I pinch little Jemima, she hurts like me), punishment (I hit little Jemima and I was smacked) and example (Jemima forebore to hit me and got a sweet). Much of this was (in the past) provided by good, or even fairly average parents. They were strongly encouraged in this task by society's approbation, encouragement and the threat of sanction.
The Golden Rule was commonly taught and widely understood as a recipe for a good society.

Second point. Where parents and the immediate environment fail, and occasionally they will, the wider society needs to be seen to step in. A process must be initiated which will rigorously attempt to establish the facts [and it's not a game]. If a transgression is established to have taken place then the process must impose punishment.
The purpose of punishment is threefold: to signal to the individual society's disapproval; to signal to society the fact that transgression will not go unpunished; to exact retribution and enable the individual to regard the transgression as "spent" so that they may be rehabilitated. In the interests of these purposes, other consideration of circumstances must take place and should affect the level and nature of the punishment.

Third point. It's much easier and more effective to run such a system with very limited chances to be `let off'. I.e. at most one warning should be given before a full punishment takes place and even minor transgressions need to be noticed else more serious ones will follow. In the language of parenting, "we need clear boundaries, which are firmly adhered to".

Fourth point. No system is perfect. We say with Flaubert [for we never despise wisdom, whatever the source] "perfection is the enemy of the good". Thus, to spell it out for the dullards, society will fail (if you like to put it that way). Some people will become hardened in their wickedness whom a different system might have saved. We accept this as the cost of imperfection. The alternative costs are even worse since they will penalise the innocent.

Final point. Look around you. Do you see any of this sort of thing happening? No, we see someone with 102 convictions being considered for parole rather than being required to serve his whole sentence. We see the prison population climbing fast in the UK despite more and more attempts to restrict imprisonment to fewer and fewer crimes (recorded crime 1 per 360 individuals per annum in 1921, 1 per 10 individuals per annum in 2001; 1 in 3,400 in prison in 1921, 1 in 850 in prison in 1999).

This last is a common phenomenon across Western civilization. And this Theodore Dalrymple has written a lot about (did I say he has a beautiful prose style?). This is what is available to anyone with a brain, the power of observation and the courage to believe that their current perfection may not be entirely due to their own efforts or the state of [no doubt secular] grace in which they were born.

Enough already.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


It's so good to hear about someone as reliable as Kofi Annan and Jan Egeland, isn't it?
`The Sudanese government together with the Janjaweed militia have launched new attacks in northern Darfur, the African Union (AU) has said.

The AU said the ground and air offensive was a flagrant violation of security agreements.

It said there had been a heavy toll on a civilian population. Rebels in the area said 70 people had died.

Earlier, Sudan welcomed the UN's support for AU peacekeepers in Darfur but denied the UN will take command...
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Thursday after talks on Darfur in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, that a compromise had been reached for a hybrid UN-AU force in Sudan's western region. ..

UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has cut short his trip to Darfur after Sudan's government told him it would be too dangerous for him to travel outside the region's major towns.

Mr Egeland said on Saturday the international community should not drag its heals over implementing the Darfur deal, warning that more people would die in the region.

He said that leaders "from all over the world... swore to protect civilian populations. We have a responsibility to protect. We are not living up to that responsibility in Darfur today.

"I met... yesterday women [in Darfur] who were pleading for security, who said we are abused, we are raped, we are attacked and nobody seems to want to protect us," Mr Egeland said.'

Many of us care about Darfur. The hated USA has been saying for years that genocide is being committed there. But now Kofi and Jan have really got it all together. There will be no more problems. Just like Rwanda. And Somalia. And Serbia. And Lebanon. And Bosnia. And the Congo.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bullying of Muslim schoolchildren

Teachers have been warned that bullying prompted by Islamophobia is on the rise in schools across the country.

This was always likely to be a problem. Children do not put up with the same mental inconsistencies, half truths and sanctimoniousness that we adults generally tolerate. Their responses tend to be direct, unfair and cruel.

How clever of the politicians to let it get to this stage.

Life - well, some time anyway

It's nice to hear that this charming lot have been put away. It's not clear for how long.

A gang of armed robbers have been jailed for life for kidnapping people off the streets and subjecting them to "sadistic and brutal violence".

More than a dozen pedestrians and motorists in London were beaten and stripped of their valuables.

The court heard they cruised London at night armed with guns, knives and baseball bats looking for victims.

In the dock were: Jamaican national Robert Lincoln, 18, from Barking, east London; Rwandan Sofian Majera, 22, from nearby Dagenham; and Portuguese national Pedro Frota, 19, also from Barking.

Also before the court was the only gang member to avoid a life sentence.

Frota's older brother Louis, 22, got four-and-a-half years for his lesser role.

All four defendants, who have previous convictions, face deportation after their sentences have been served.

I'm very glad to hear it.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Picking on Islam?

I wonder.

Two things are going on here. I'm not quite sure what's going on, but the two phenomena seem particularly contradictory.

First this comes up, reporting on the acquittal of two British National Party members on charges of inciting racial hatred:
During the trial, the jury heard extracts from a speech Mr Griffin made in the Reservoir Tavern in Keighley, on 19 January 2004, in which he described Islam as a "wicked, vicious faith" and said Muslims were turning Britain into a "multi-racial hell hole"....

Speaking to the BBC after the acquittal, Chancellor Gordon Brown said race laws may have to be tightened.

He said: "I think any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country and I think we've got to do whatever we can to root it out from whatever quarter it comes.

"And if that means we've got to look at the laws again I think we will have to do so".

[I feel it necessary to say that I've grown up loathing the BNP. They were the spiritual successors of Oswald Mosley's blackshirts. Many of their statements and publications were unashamedly racist. I do not know whether under Nick Griffin they have actually reformed themselves. I am told that they claim to have done so.]
Then we read this in response:

Home Secretary John Reid said he would consult ministers after Gordon Brown said current laws may need reviewing.

Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said Muslims were offended and must be sure that the law would protect them.

But Lib Dem MP Evan Harris said tighter laws could create "extremist martyrs".

Lord Falconer later told BBC Radio 4's Any Questions? that the government had to show young Muslims that Britain was not anti-Islamic.

"We should look at them in the light of what's happened here because what is being said to young Muslim people in this country is that we as a country are anti-Islam, and we have got to demonstrate without compromising freedom that we are not," he said.

He said there should be "consequences" from saying Islam is "wicked and evil".

and this from Lord Ahmed:
The will of ministers to tighten laws on racial hatred has been questioned by Muslim Labour peer Lord Ahmed.

Several ministers called for a review of the legislation after the BNP's leader was cleared of stirring up racial hatred in remarks about Islam.

But Lord Ahmed said the government had not delivered on previous promises to the Muslim community on race hate laws.

It was time for the government to start treating Muslims equally and not like "subjects of a colony", he said.

Lord Ahmed told the BBC that the government had made unfulfilled promises to the Muslim community earlier this year when a new law on religious and racial hatred was watered down as a result of a Commons defeat.

The peer said ministers should have shown more determination to push their measures through.

He said: "What I have seen is that the government has been treating the Muslim community like subjects of a colony rather than equal citizens in the UK."

OK, so we ban anti-religious comment (I exclude the "multi-racial hell-hole" comment, which seems unabashedly racist to me; note however, the focus by politicians on "saying Islam is wicked" and the fact that if he'd said "multicultural hell-hole", Jack Straw and many other Labour pols might recently have agreed)
Might one then ask how this is acceptable:
Controversial scientist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins, dubbed "Darwin's Rottweiler," calls religion a "virus" and faith-based education "child abuse" in a two-part series he wrote and appears in that begins airing on the UK's Channel 4, beginning tomorrow evening.
Now, have a look at this not very good article in Wired.

Does the tolerance and praise for Richard Dawkins coupled with the calls for "consequences" to follow on saying that "Islam is wicked and evil" really look like a coherent intellectual position? I think not. More like what you'd expect from my dog or a set of refugees from the asylum, or, and this is more worrying, people with legislative power who see no need for any coherence in the law whatsoever.

Let's move on then to this stuff from the head of MI5 on the terrorist threat facing the UK:

MI5 knows of 30 terror plots threatening the UK and is keeping 1,600 individuals under surveillance, the security service's head has said.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller warned the threat was "serious" and "growing".

She said future attacks could be chemical or nuclear and that many of the plots were linked to al-Qaeda.

and this from Tony Blair:
Tony Blair has said he supports MI5's assessment that Britain is facing the threat of multiple terror plots.

He said the dangers were "very real" and he spoke of "poisonous propaganda" warping the minds of young people.

The prime minister said the threat had "grown up over a generation" and Dame Eliza warned that it was "serious" and "growing".

Hard choices

MI5 has increased in size by nearly 50% since 9/11 and now stands at roughly 2,800 staff.

But according to Dame Eliza the current terror threat will "last a generation" and her concern is that even with MI5's rapid growth, the security service will not be able to investigate nearly enough of activities it deems to be suspicious.

Here is the full text of Dame Eliza's speech, and you might also look at American Future's post.

The Beeb produced more idle analysis of Buller's speech:

The plots were as ambitious as they were shocking.

But in the wake of that terrorism conviction, and a highly-nuanced speech from the head of MI5, it's worth noting that the feeling of shock does not just affect the majority in society.

Right at the heart of this storm are fearful Muslim communities in which individuals are trying to comprehend the threat.

And so while MI5, the police and others press ahead with counter-terrorism work, the real battle is how to undermine the ideology used by extremists to tempt youngsters to their cause.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller's speech warned of the scale of this task - 30 suspected plots, 1,600 individuals.

"More and more people are moving from passive sympathy towards active terrorism through being radicalised or indoctrinated by friends, families, in organised training events here and overseas, by images on television, through chat rooms and websites on the internet.

"My service needs to understand the motivations behind terrorism to succeed in countering it, as far as that is possible. Al-Qaeda has developed an ideology which claims that Islam is under attack, and needs to be defended."...

British Muslim communities and organisations are essentially split over radicalisation.

There is a small minority of extremists - some are genuine security threats, others may be little more than temporary fellow-travellers. The security services fear the balance may be tipping towards the former.

In denial

Then there are many, particularly among the older mosque leadership, who are in denial.

Even after the compelling video "wills" of Shehzad Tanweer and Mohammed Siddique Khan, two of the four London suicide bombers, it is not hard to find people in positions of community authority who deny that terrorists are targeting young people in their midst.

Finally, there are the growing number of British-born, middle class Muslims who are actively trying to reclaim the debate on their faith, amid fears for a lost and confused generation.

Many of this group fear Britain may be acting 15 years too late. Self-appointed preachers such as Abu Hamza and Abdullah al-Faisal, both in jail, may have already done their work.

Amid all this is a majority of ordinary Muslim folk sick of what is going on, confused about how to react politically and yearning for a more banal life [Ed: yes, it really does say `banal'].

Could it be that the attitudes typified by this are part of the problem:
A Muslim editor of a weekly newspaper in Bangladesh is being sent to trial because he printed articles that criticized extremist Islam and/or were sympathetic to Israel.
As editor of The Weekly Blitz, an English-language newspaper published in Dhaka, Choudhury aroused the ire of Bangladeshi authorities after he printed articles favorable to Israel and critical of Muslim extremism.
No, no! It's all ok because:
The fight against terror would be Gordon Brown's "first priority" if he became prime minister, he has hinted.

The chancellor also backed Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair's call for tougher anti-terror powers.

A worried nation breathe a collective sigh of relief. Here we were, just starting to think that there's a serious home-grown Islamist threat and Gordon springs to the rescue. We thought that there might be a problem because the law-abiding Muslim majority in the UK is failing to recognise the growing problem with a radicalised minority (that they are probably paying for) and Gordie reassures us that it's all going to be allright. He's going to give the police stronger powers.
But what for? To catch would-be terrorists or to suppress free-speech?

UPDATES (8pm 13 Nov.): first two links:
Freedom Fighter at JOSHUAPUNDIT
Sir Henry Morgan at Reconquista
These are closely related, indeed Freedom Fighter comments on both this post and the one at Reconquista.
Secondly, I think Sir Henry has definitely got something but the stats could be better (no criticism intended). I shall try to summon the energy, but not yet!

They're just teachers

The Beeb has a little blather about ratemyteachers [for teaching me about capitalisation?]. For me the money quote is at the end:

Does she have any sympathy for those facing criticism on the site?

"No," she replies.

Why not?

"Because I don't like them, they're just teachers."

To which, I suppose, the only answer is "they're just children".

Saturday, November 11, 2006

An inadequate rocket launcher

I don't really know what to say about this. It seems as though idiocy has plumbed new depths with this incident.
A man suffered internal burns when he tried to launch a rocket from his bottom on Bonfire Night.

Paramedics found the 22-year-old bleeding, with a Black Cat Thunderbolt Rocket lodged inside him, when they attended the scene in Sunderland.

I suppose he was showing off: "Look what I can do!" he must have cried as he lit the thing.

The crowning comment is this one:

"And also the body naturally produces methane gas, so combine that with the firework and the exploding effect with methane's flammability - it certainly could have been a lot worse than it really was."

Education, ecduation, no iced tau

What always amazes me about politics (so that means you as well as the politicians) is the way that obvious solutions to problems are abandoned in favour of doomed strategies which will do nothing except to further inflate our already huge tax bills.

Here's a good example: the cost of a failing reader to the UK is probably (I'm underestimating) of the order of £50,000 to £100,000. Yet we won't spend £2000 on an early intervention with an 80% success rate. I don't know whether to cry or scream when I contemplate the wrecked lives that result for illiterates- children who are grossly and signally failed by a system predicated on arrogance, trendy buzzwords and a fundamental neglect of the underclass that would beggar the belief of oppressive Victorian capitalists.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Free societies versus despotism

The fourth brief essay on the Enlightenment is up at Way of the West.

Here's a brief snippet:

A free society is one where customs and habits of freedom of speech, action and association are inculcated, respected, and protected. These customs and habits will constitute an atmosphere, an ambience; easy for a external observer to identify if he examines practices within the family, the school, and the public arena. Concomitantly, in a free society there is toleration of a degree of diversity of behaviour and self-presentation; uniformity isn't regarded as always and automatically good. Likewise, order and unanimity are not seen as the only instrumental political values; they aren't seen as values which should in every case overrule and negate all others. In such a society, when things are going OK people see themselves as diverse individuals and at the same time as loyal members of their particular society. In a despotism this would be a difficult and precarious tension for a person to maintain, but not hard within a free society -- i.e. if you are brought up within it...

Once upon a time there weren't any free societies. As far as we know there were none before the rise of the Greek City States, the poleis, between, say, 800 BC and 500 BC. It was the Greeks who first tackled the immensely difficult task of creating the customs and institutions, and mapping the limits not to be overstepped -- liberty within the law -- which enable such a potentially disorderly bunch of people to hold together as one, to satisfy fundamental human needs and to function without an unacceptably high level of cacophonous turmoil, near-anarchy and routine violence.

The whole essay's as brief and as informative as the others. Read it!

Argentina hosts Zionist plot (again)!

First it was pretending that Joseph Mengele was there, now they're trying to frame the poor Iranians!

It's clear that Perron's aid to the escaping Nazis was simply a Zionist ruse.

This sort of stuff is merely a front:
Argentine researcher Uki Goñi used new access to the country's archives to show that Argentine diplomats and intelligence officers had, on Peron's instructions, vigorously encouraged Nazi and Fascist war criminals to make their home in Argentina...

Actually, as Iran tells us, the issue of an arrest warrant for President Rafsanjani for the bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish centre is the culmination of these semitic plots.

They think we're soooo stupid. And then 1 in 50 Americans believe they've been abducted by aliens and 87% of Europeans thought in 2003 that the USA was the greatest threat to world peace, so maybe they're right

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bush tried, thousands lied

It's a bit late to link to this, but never mind. The NYT stands revealed as an agent of self-destruction and a cheery purveyor of illogic and untruth. Saddam was a year away from nuclear weapons in 2002 but nevertheless the whole basis for invading Iraq was false.

Just exactly how stupid are their readers?
I don't mention the readers of the Indescribablependent because the whole nature/nurture issue comes into play. Were they born stupid or did reading it make them that way? My inclination is to suspect the latter.

The abolition of reason slavery

I don't need to say very much about this, which comes from the Cambridge Papers of the Jubilee Centre, but here are some highlights:

The year 2007 marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade by the British Parliament. The campaign for abolition was spearheaded by devout Christians, and it stands to this day as perhaps the finest political achievement of what would now be called faith-based activism.

Only gradually, from the mid-eighteenth century onwards, did a Christian abolitionist movement take shape. It began with American Quakers. As a perfectionist sect, the Quakers believed that true Christianity would be countercultural, but by the 1730s many owned slaves. Three remarkable figures, Benjamin Lay, John Woolman and Anthony Benezet , refused to accept this state of affairs. So tenacious were they in challenging their brethren that in 1754 the Philadelphia Quakers officially renounced the practice of slaveholding. Slavery was also coming under attack from Enlightenment philosophers like Montesquieu and Rousseau, but it was Christian activists who initiated and organised an abolitionist movement.

Once the British Abolition Committee was established in 1787, abolitionism quickly became a mass movement. In 1788–92, there was a media blitz and petitioning campaign timed to coincide with Wilberforce's Parliamentary bills...

In just one generation, there had been a sea-change in Christian attitudes on both sides of the Atlantic. ‘Thirty years ago', wrote the American Jonathan Edwards Jr ., ‘scarcely a man in this country thought either the slave trade or the slavery of Negroes to be wrong'...

Clarkson and his allies succeeded because they produced compelling evidence of the cruelty of the trade, evidence presented to Parliament in a famous report and relayed to a wide audience in harrowing narratives of human suffering. But it is misleading to conclude (as does one recent account) that abolitionists realised that ‘the way to stir men and women to action is not by biblical argument, but through the vivid, unforgettable description of acts of great injustice done to their fellow human beings'. To say that ‘abolitionists placed their hope not in sacred texts, but in human empathy', [10] is to divorce two things that Christian abolitionists wedded together, and to ignore the evidence of antislavery texts. If religious argument did not stir people to action, why did abolitionists give it so much space? For in publication after publication, critics of the slave trade quoted Scripture and rooted their campaign in Christian values and ideals...

Christian social and political activism has made a major contribution to the culture of modernity. Too many opinion-makers today operate with a fundamentally erroneous picture of modern history – they assume that the eighteenth-century Enlightenment secularised society and constituted a clean break with a religious past. The reality is rather different [my italics and boldface]. As we have noted, a good deal of Enlightenment thought (especially in the Protestant world) still bore a Christian character, and Christian activism flourished during the ‘Age of Reason'. It has been a vital force ever since. The modern world can do without religious violence, but can it do without the Christian conscience?

I can't help but contrast this with what Richard Dawkins has to say:
It is more moral, [Dawkins] says, to do good for its own sake than out of fear. Morality, he says, is older than religion, and kindness and generosity are innate in human beings, as they are in other social animals. The irony is that science recognises the majesty and complexity of the universe while religions lead to easy, closed answers.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nongeek perspective announces availability of Xbuntu 6.10

Under the heading `Xubuntu 6.10 Available' Nongeek perspective states
"Today Ubuntu 6.10 has been released. Also Kubuntu and Edubuntu were released. Xubuntu "has not yet officially been released, but you can already download the final stable image, so it's also available."
Nongeek (as his friends call him) does go on to warn:
"be aware though, that there may be some problems upgrading from the Dapper Drake version when using update-manager".
When I read this sort of thing on Blogs of Note(TM), it warms the Cockles 2.3 of my heart (beta testing version).
In these difficult times, I'm always reassured to read of the young men and co-reproductive units of Western civilization taking an interest in the burning issues of the day. Not for them the vapid and passing concerns with terrorism, the war in Iraq, ID cards or Islamofascism. No, they take up the banner of open source software and bravely carry it through the wastes of indifference and political obloquy until now, now, at long last (eagerly anticipated since the Battle of Rourke's Drift) Xbuntu 6.10 is here.

Was it DeGaulle who said `anyone under 30 who is not a programmer is a scoundrel, while anyone over 30 who doesn't use Xbuntu (version 5.28 or later, but excluding the disastrous beta version of 6.1) is an idiot?'
I am ashamed! Truly I am!
For several years now I have been boring my coprocessor and our two subroutines with diatribes about the lack of depth of modern youth only to read this news and more:
"Xubuntu now has a nicer looking website too."
I am simultaneously ashamed and proud.
`Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!', is not too strong a sentiment.
Of course even so rare a soul as Nong p. (if I may be permitted the temerity of so addressing him) is clearly not above the occasional blemish. How else to explain the slightly rattled:
"7 Reasons To Keep Using Firefox
Is IceWeasel the solution to Debian and Mozilla trademarks issues? I don't know right now. I really think Debian have the right to fork Firefox or any other Free Software project but, in this case, I think it is better to keep using Firefox instead of IceWeasel."
This is not the sterling clarity (R) we have come to expect from Np in our admittedly brief acquaintance. This is not the sort of visionary statement which made his a Blog of Note. `Pull yourself together, Nong', one is tempted to cry.
`Remember the St Crispian's Day speech from Henry V! Where would Hal have got if he'd said "I don't know right now"? The Frogs would not have dealt kindly with that sort of wishy-washy sentiment. What we want here is leadership, Np, leadership. "Give me IceWeasel or give me death" is more the sort of thing we're looking for.My web-browser, right or wrong.' Without this sort of resolution, the Frogs would have forked Harry, I'm sure.

Nong does recover a bit in the update:
"Now they're planning IceDove for replacing Thunderbird and IceApe instead of Seamonkey. They have the right, I insist, but I think it's useless. I'll keep using Thunderbird too."

This has a certain vigour which is more like the Xbuntu post. There is both style and substance to the slogan `I'll keep using Thunderbird 2(sp.)', while the Voltairean tone of `they have the right, I insist, but I think it's useless' is no coincidence.

On the whole, I think Np needs to recover the consistency and firmness of his classic post on desktop environments entitled

KDE or Gnome? I Prefer Xfce, Thanks

Here his maturity of tone shines through. There is a faultlessness of phrasing in what follows:
I don't want to contribute to the old and useless discussion about what desktop environment (DE) is better, Gnome or KDE. However, I noticed in that discussion often is ignored a third contestant: Xfce.
that positively takes one's breath away. One wants so hard to cry out in awe `no, don't contribute to that old and useless discussion about what desktop environment (DE). You are so right, Nong. It's all useless rubbish (UR). Don't do it! A programmer of your talents must not waste his substance on fruitless debates and persiflage. Go with the third way-support Xfce, support it as only someone with your breadth of talents knows how. Go for it (GFI) in support of Xfce!'
But why do I bother? Why do I waste my time in ideal chitchat about one of the world's greats? It's like expecting the distro to have support for winmodems. Pointless, pointless attempts to gild the lily (OS).
Rather than wasting any more of your precious time I'll leave you with one last quote from Nong p:
The most important thing, in my opinion is that "Common to all variants, we have changed the init system from the venerable sysvinit to upstart which is an event-driven init script system". This has many advantages. Faster boot and shutdown are two of them.
And now boot and shutdown is what I'll do.

Rants and Raves

I've now added this lovely blog to my short list of links. I think Mr Browne would benefit from reading the new history essay at wayofthewest (or indeed, all of them) but he has some very nice things to say and he says them very well.

Accuracy? Go fish!

An article from the Seattle Times:

Global fishing trends point to a collapse of most wild seafood harvests by midcentury, according to a team of international researchers who pored through historical data, catch records and studies to document the decline of marine species all over the world...

"It's just mind-boggling stupid," said Ray Hilborn, a University of Washington professor of aquatic and fishery sciences.

"I'm worried about some areas of the world — like Africa — but other areas of the world have figured out how to do effective fishery management."

For example, most of the harvests in the North Pacific off Alaska — where most Seattle fleets fish — are not in sharp decline...

In a note to colleagues that was mistakenly sent to The Seattle Times, Worm wrote that the projection could act as a "news hook to get people's attention."

"One reason why nobody cares about marine biodiversity is that there seemed no clear end in sight," he continued. "... Well, it's time to wake up — IF the current trend continues we will see drastic consequences in our own lifetime."

When asked about the e-mail, Worm said the 2048 projection is accurate [editor's emphasis] , and he reiterated he is very confident that the trend could lead to a global fisheries collapse. He noted that the study's prediction of worldwide collapse is based on an average fishery of the future, and that some fisheries could end up well above the dismal average.

Why do stupid idiots scientists do this?In my experience (which is large) the `lies, damn lies and statistics' quote is correct, but the statistics are almost never perpetrated by professional statisticians, they're produced by someone in a different profession with a very large agenda.

So here we have an idiot (I use this term in the (statistical) professional's sense of someone with a malfunctioning critical sense) deperate for news coverage, doing the most stupid extrapolation (no doubt sophisticatedly non-linear, but completely reductionist in approach; that is to say, involving no study of causes or changing methods) who, when challenged, describes it as accurate!

Now, whatever it is, mate, I can positively guarantee you it's not accurate.

Incidentally, don't think that scientists do this purely for the sake of their subject. There are strong financial incentives to academics to get large positive news coverage.

Here's the sublimely accurate extrapolation.

Hate crime and WMD

From Kobayashi Maru,

...the crowd sat stunned as General Sada explained in detail how Saddam moved tons of WMDs out of Iraq into Syria... [CNN] had General Sada translate 20 hours of "Saddam tapes," wherein the erstwhile dictator discusses these matters openly (in Tikriti dialect). But the network's loathing of George Bush caused them to completely spike the story...

One can either believe Sada--a close-in, firsthand Tikriti dialect-speaking observer and trusted confidante of Saddam Hussein himself--or one can believe CNN and the MSM reporting from their hotel rooms in Baghdad.

It's all about hate. The comment from Maxed Out Mama shows substantial appreciation of what's going on: "what Benedict XVI was trying to tell us in his Regensburg speech. Real faith and real reason must coexist; if we dump the reason we will have a heedless faith which will turn into fanaticism. He trusts to reason and the grace of God to support faith."

This applies to political faith as well (even more?). I've mentioned it allusively in a few of my posts. But, unless we get the basic respect for truth right (Prudence, to give it its proper name as the first of the cardinal virtues), we (Western civilization) are not going to survive.
At bottom, I think this is why so many hate their politicians-it's not just that they don't respect them, it's that even as they vote for them the electors know they are being misled about reality, and that is really galling.

UPDATE You should also check the comprehensive post at Captain's Quarters.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Don't monkey with Kerry...

leave it to JOSHUAPUNDIT.
The best thing to be said for this man is that he typifies the rich liberal. We need such obvious idiots to demonstrate the problem most clearly.

Cox&Forkum do a nice follow-up, too.

Climate Chaos Codswollop Condemned

When even those involved in the original hyping of climate change are rowing back, it's time to get real.
UPDATE (6 Nov. 2006)
Another link, provided by Kobayashi Maru.
Here's EU Referendum and the Daily Telegraph. I append a nice pair of graphs which tempt me to amend `Codswollop' to `Cheating'. Nine out of ten politicians chose the first one.

Reactor reaction

The BBC reports on `spontaneous Iranian demonstrations':

Thousands of school children and students in Tehran have marked the anniversary of the hostage-taking at the American embassy in 1979.

The speaker of the Iranian parliament compared the event to the current nuclear row, saying America always wanted to put Iran under pressure...

A huge red flag saying "Death to America" was burned...

Addressing the crowd, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Gholam Ali Hadad-Adel, warned America that Iranians were ready to react to any attempt to limit their access to nuclear power.

He said Iran was willing to pay the price of its independence once again...

with a new more conservative government in power - there is little sign of remorse.

Instead the speakers asked why America had not learned its lesson from the hostage-taking.

One has to admire the bare-faced cheek. I thought it was the American hostages who paid the price.

Perhaps America should learn its lesson: Iran is a terrorist state. Now that is dangerous!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Don't read this post!

Lecturers made ill by politics

No one's interested-right?
Lecturers 'made ill by workload'
Nearly half of lecturers have been ill because of their job, a poll suggests.

About 1,000 lecturers were asked about different aspects of their work in a YouGov poll commissioned by the University and College Union (UCU).

More than 40% said bureaucracy was the worst part of their job and nearly two-thirds said they had considered leaving the UK to work abroad....

UCU joint general secretary Sally Hunt said: "Universities must take the lead on this issue of excessive workloads or we risk losing a generation of talented academics to the private sector or abroad as well as struggling to fill future vacancies."...

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association, which represents higher education employers, dismissed the survey as "extremely limited and vague"...

A spokesman for the group said it was important to reduce the administrative burden on lecturers, while also ensuring institutions remained accountable.

It said employers always supported the development of a healthy work-life balance and worked with unions in all aspects of employee relations.

It makes me want to laugh. The burden of bureaucracy is enormous. Nearly all of it has been imposed by government, so that they can say that "Bournemouth is as good as Birmingham". We did the "Diary Exercise". We were told not to report the number of hours worked (it averaged 53 per week)! Where I work, the joke is that "we do research in our spare time (i.e after the 40 hour week spent filling out forms and responding to government inititives and questionnaires about gender issues, oh...and teaching).

I sometimes think that the loony left-wing academics have merely been driven mad by initiatives. They yearn for a simple life where paper is yet to be invented and clay tablets take a long time to make and are used sparingly. Tribes of lecturers in cultural studies could make realistic war on business studies academics whilst seeking alliances with the mounted equine studies staff. Memos would not have to be written. Meetings could involve exciting exchanges of views and other missiles. People really could be stabbed in the back.

Think, this could be achieved at a stroke if we admitted that 20% is an absolute maximum for the percentage of people who should attend university and then fired all the sociologists, basket-weavers and media-studies nutjobs who currently populate our lower-echelon universities. Then we relocate them to somewhere isolated, where no-one else wants to go (Bournemouth might be good). We should also include anyone who says things like "ensuring institutions remained accountable" or "the development of a healthy work-life balance". Incidentally, notice that the easiest way to spot a non-subject is that it has "studies" dangling at the end of the name.

You know the joke:
mathematicians are cheap, they only need pencils, paper and wastepaper baskets;
sociologists are cheaper, they don't need the wastepaper baskets!

Trick or trash - post-Halloween blues

Sometimes even the BBC does its job.
There's a nice juxtaposition of posts here:
first a brief article about Asbos (that's anti-social behaviour orders), the "behave or I'll really get annoyed" threats of the modern, ultra-liberal judge/society.
Here's the lead:
Anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) have become a "badge of honour" among young people, according to a survey.

"A considerable number of respondents alluded to the potential for the order to become glamorous," the report adds.

and the article goes on to say:

One district judge told researchers young people who breached orders were not properly punished.

"There are quite a lot of people breaching orders and not a lot happening to them when they do," he said.

"You would increase the (prison) population enormously if we... enforced Asbos fully."

and then contrasts it with the following:

Youth Justice Board chairman Professor Rod Morgan urged the police, councils and courts to consult Youth Offending Teams and "exhaust every preventative measure in the community" before giving a young person an Asbo.

He told the BBC that Asbos should be issued only if liaising with the families in question failed to work...

One district judge told researchers young people who breached orders were not properly punished.

"You would increase the (prison) population enormously if we... enforced Asbos fully," he said...

Nacro said it was concerned Asbos were being used too readily and there was a "worryingly high" level of applications for Asbos on certain ethnic groups.

The study indicated 22% of young people given Asbos are black or Asian - two and a half times the proportion of people from ethnic minorities in England and Wales.

I'm with Freud on this. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and usually a special interest group is over-represented in crime statistics because it's over-represented amongst those who commit such crimes.

I can't understand the liberal objections, either. They claim that these crimes are merely a cry for help and a reflection of disadvantage and deprivation. So why are they simultaneously surprised that those groups that they would claim are particularly deprived are over-represented?

Then there's this:

Britain's teenagers are among the most badly behaved in Europe, a study by a think-tank has suggested.

On every indicator of bad behaviour - drugs, drink, violence, promiscuity - the UK was at or near the top, said the Institute for Public Policy Research.

The institute looked at the results of a number of studies of adolescents conducted in recent years.

The researchers believe the country's record can be explained by a collapse in family and community life in the UK...

Nick Pearce, from IPPR, said these figures pointed to an "increasing disconnect" between children and adults.

He said youngsters were learning how to behave from one another instead of from adults.

"Because they don't have that structured interaction with adults, it damages their life chances," he said.

"They are not learning how to behave - how to get on in life - as they need to."

The researchers concluded that the lack of adult interaction has left British teenagers increasingly vulnerable to failure.

Personally, I recommend reading Theodore Dalrymple and PC David Copperfield to get a good idea of the problems. I think I would be looking elsewhere for a role model if my parents behaved as many do in the UK now. Most of the UK population seem to be desparately avoiding adult interaction anyway. Whatever!

Lastly we have this:
Fears that the UK would "sleep-walk into a surveillance society" have become a reality, the government's information commissioner has said.

Richard Thomas, who said he raised concerns two years ago, spoke after research found people's actions were increasingly being monitored.

The Surveillance Studies Network report said there are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras - about one for every 14 people.

You don't say!

It doesn't seem to be doing much for the crime figures, so maybe the libertarian doom-sayers are right.