Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Baroness Cox speaks out

There's a report in the Jerusalem Post (Where else? The UK media wouldn't report it) about Baroness Cox's speech to the Jerusalem Summit Europe.
Here's a quote:

"The sad thing is that growing in our midst there is a significant portion of youth who seem to believe in values that are absolutely antithetical to the spiritual, political and cultural values on which this nation has been based over the centuries," Cox said.

"Given their continuous embrace and manifest endorsement of terror activities, this represents not only a political threat but a physical threat which demonstrates their ruthlessness in their commitment to do everything they can to take over our society and to destroy our faith and freedom."

Attacks and spend

There is a gorgeously funny anti-tax advert at the 18 Doughty Street website.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Damage to Stonehenge caused by careless party-goers

Damage is substantial
In shocking news, archaeologists have revealed that most of the damage to Stonehenge was caused by Neolithic party-goers.

Professor Jethro Landcruiser, of the University of Yorick's Department of New Age Archaeology and Arachnophobia, claims to have discovered an enormous party site nearby and is convinced that remains at Stonehenge itself (such as discarded beer-barrels, ox ribs, large numbers of smashed bottles and the broken remains of several drum-kits) suggest that the party-goers `trashed Stonehenge in a drunken stupor'.

`It's clear', says Prof. Landcruiser,` that these Neolithic inhabitants were not primitive cavemen, indeed they were very well dressed and may well have worn Lycra to cycle the 240 miles from Salisbury Plain to the quarry in Wales's Preseli Mountains which produced the stone slabs used to build Stonehenge.'

When asked about the sort of music played at this early rave, Prof. Landcruiser refused to speculate, but did suggest that `rock was a distinct possibility'.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A sustained insult

I am, no doubt, the 987th person to notice this but I congratulate the BBC for picking this little fact up:
A senior civil servant and former environmental adviser to Tony Blair commutes weekly by plane from his home in Gloucestershire to Edinburgh.

As a former member of the sustainability commission, Richard Wakeford said the explosion in low-cost air travel was "unsustainable".

The commission said we should all take responsibility for promoting sustainability in our own lives.

Mr Wakeford, who works for the Scottish Executive, declined to comment.


This is what all of us have come to expect from those who run our lives. It reminds me of the nomenklatura in Soviet Russia.

Guns cause crime?

Glenn Reynolds:
Criminals, unsurprisingly, would rather break into a house where they aren’t at risk of being shot. As David Kopel noted in a 2001 article in The Arizona Law Review, burglars report that they try to avoid homes where armed residents are likely to be present. We see this phenomenon internationally, too, with the United States having a lower proportion of “hot” burglaries — break-ins where the burglars know the home to be occupied — than countries with restrictive gun laws.

Breitbart (hat tip: Gates of Vienna):
Labour has been accused of losing control of gun crime as new figures show a sharp rise in armed robberies.

Guns were used in 4,120 robberies last year - a 10% jump - including a 9% rise to 1,439 in the number of street robberies where guns were used...
Home Office minister Tony McNulty said: "Firearm offences have fallen significantly, by 14% in the year up to September 2006, which amounts to 1,642 fewer incidents.

"While there is a small rise in residential firearm robberies, these account for a tiny proportion of recorded offences overall, although we recognise any firearm incident is traumatic for victims." He added: "We have some of the toughest firearm legislation in Europe."


Kim Du Toit:
Well, we all know that the socialists in the Labor Party are going to do nothing of the kind [repeal the stupid laws which at once deny Brits the right to own handguns and also deny them the right to defend themselves against deadly force], because (duh) they’re socialists, and their dogma forbids them even to contemplate the thought of a free and armed citizenry instead of a docile and dependent society.


Vol-In-Law (a poster on Gates of Vienna):
The right of "free born Protestants" to keep & bear arms is guaranteed by the 1689 Bill of Rights, which has not been repealed. It was simply ignored by successive governments in the 20th century (mostly Labour), who restricted & removed this right not by legislation passed through Parliament, but through undebated administrative orders.

Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjays for War:

The State is not your Friend

Sunday, January 28, 2007

F for Fail

The BBC doesn't like the Stern Report:
Richard Tol is a professor at both Hamburg and Carnegie Mellon Universities, and is one of the world's leading environmental economists.

The Stern Review cites his work 63 times; but that does not mean he agrees with it.

"If a student of mine were to hand in this report as a Masters thesis, perhaps if I were in a good mood I would give him a 'D' for diligence; but more likely I would give him an 'F' for fail...

Professor Tol believes the figures for damage are exaggerated.

"Stern consistently picks the most pessimistic for every choice that one can make. He overestimates through cherry-picking, he double counts particularly the risks and he underestimates what development and adaptation will do to impacts," he said...

Professor Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, believes that when the IPCC report comes out next week, there will be a big difference between the science it contains and the climate debate in the UK.

"The IPCC is not going to talk about tipping points; it's not going to talk about 5m rises in sea level; it's not going to talk about the next ice age because the Gulf Stream collapses; and it's going to have none of the economics of the Stern Review," he said.

"It's almost as if a credibility gap has emerged between what the British public thinks and what the international science community think."

Daniel+Lion+Den

Adloyada and Oliver Kamm both give some coverage to Ken Livingstone's Conference: A World Civilisation or a Clash of Civilisations, which Kamm and Daniel Pipes spoke at.
A quote from Kamm:
The objection to Holocaust denial is not that it is "offensive" - a quality about which a free society should be indifferent - but that it is false, and may be consistently advanced only by fraud.

One (indirectly) from Daniel Pipes:
The great question – he said – is how to oppose the barbarians. The Mayor , he said, proposed multiculturalism. But he – Pipes – wanted to win what he termed a War against barbarism. The UK had become a safe haven for terrorists. David Blunkett had noted that British based terrorists had carried out incidents in 15 countries. President Mubarak of Egypt had denounced the UK for protecting terrorists.

And for some more excellent commentary read Sharon Chadha.

Denmark - who's behind the arras?

Here's another interesting post at Gates of Vienna:
Naïvists and Human Nature

Kai Sørlander, Author and Philosopher

When democracy let the optimists succeed in classifying the pessimists as xenophobes and Islamophobes, it embarked upon a catastrophic course. And the media who have aided to maintain the illusion bear a particular part of the blame, says the writer...

Zero will be emphasised


Ironically, I came across this at Gates of Vienna:

Children will be taught race relations and multiculturalism with every subject they study -from Spanish to science - under controversial changes to the school curriculum announced by the Government.

In music and art, they could have to learn Indian and Chinese songs and instruments, and West African drumming .

In maths and science, key Muslim contributions such algebra and the number zero will be emphasised to counter Islamophobia.

...

Tory MP Douglas Carswell, a member of the Commons education select committee, said schools will be vehicles for multicultural propaganda and classrooms turned into 'laboratories for politically-correct thought'.

One thought: when you control the education of the young, you control everything. How did we let the government take this much control of education?

I have just checked, and there seems to be a comprehensive trashing in the article in Wikipedia of the idea that zero (and, yes, it is very important) was invented within Islam.


Truth doesn't matter in the education of the young either, then. Just so long as they think the right thoughts.

Here's some interesting musings from the Beeb's education correspondent on the topic.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Denial of Service

I shall be away until Sunday evening. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thought control? Yes, please!


A nice article by Niall Ferguson on the devastating effects of the `no child left unturned' policies of the last twenty five years in the UK. Having commented on the 18% needed for a C grade at GCSE Maths (and only about 40% get it) he goes on:
Sir Digby described the British secondary school system as having been "dumbed down to the lowest common denominator" (a term which I don't suppose you need to know to get a C in Maths these days).

...The more that has been spent on British secondary education, the worse the outcomes have been. According to an OECD study published in 2005, fully a quarter of the UK population aged between 25 and 34 are "low-skilled" in terms of their educational attainment — five times the proportion in Japan.
...
This, then, is the single biggest problem that Gordon Brown is going to inherit when he finally becomes prime minister: an uneducated and unemployable underclass, whose only hope of upward mobility is one day, like Jade Goody, to make it onto Big Brother. If Mr Brown has a credible answer to this problem, it is strange that he has kept it secret for — just count them, if you can — 10 wasted years.

It's well-written, but what's stunning is the comments. Please read them. Here are just a few:

One of the sad things, to this former working
class grammar school boy, is that I have had
cognitive dissonance thrust upon me by
successive governments. They have robbed me
of the ability to match my firm advocacy of
quality state education with a decision to put my
children where my beliefs lie.

State education in the UK is clearly for those who
either do not understand the stakes in life -
whether vocational or cultural - or do not care.

Having been educated via a comprehensive school system, the real reason for failure are the children and their ignorant parents. In my experience, any hint of wanting to study was sneered at and the ability to disrupt the class and disrespect the teacher was a sign of honour. In turn, parents of disruptive pupils would always support their offspring (sometimes violently -always aggressively). the school then degenerates into a holding pen for juveniles. It is an unforgivable crime of government that they mix those who want to study with those who will not in the name of social justice.

Since the last war there has been a cultural revolution in the UK, nearly as extensive as in China. In both cases its aim was to overthrow the old class-ridden society and establish a dumbed- down all pervasive mediocrity.
China has since recognized its errors, but unfortunately Britain still continues blindly to eradicate so many wonderful aspects of British traditions life including its schooling and family life.Hence, a nation of Jade Goody ignoramuses!

Neo-imperialist backlash against the BBC

I commented before on the repulsively one-sided briefing by Jeremy Bowen.

In a witty and stylish brief article in The Times, Daniel Finkelstein demonstrates effortlessly how the BBC fails its audience in its reportage on the Middle East (and the GWOT):

...I explain that for most people the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians is like that between the Cypriots. It’s a complicated row between two sets of foreigners making competing claims that are hard for anyone except an expert or a participant to evaluate.

For years that didn’t matter much. A few overexcited people (mark me down as one) arguing about a country the size of a pocket handkerchief somewhere miles away. Israel, Shmisrael. Who cares?

...A few days after 9/11 I watched a television reporter wandering through a street in the Israeli capital. He was telling viewers: “I am here in Jerusalem where it all began and where it will all have to end.” That remark, hotly though I might dispute it (9/11 did not start there and won’t end there), has become the consensus — the road to peace in the world runs through Jerusalem.

And for that reason all those obscure little arguments, all those tit-or-tat arguments between indistinguishable groups that used to seem so boring, are now of first-rate political importance. It really matters whether people understand enough to form a view of their own.

...I think its [the BBC's] staff does genuinely wish to be politically unbiased. If only they always knew how. For on Israel, they (not everyone, of course, but too many reporters and too often) sadly get it wrong over and over again. They mistake reporting equal numbers of deaths from both sides with giving people a complete appreciation of the arguments involved.


He goes on to give some alternative arguments and then finishes with:

You may regard these alternatives as absurd, even offensive. I don’t, but that’s not my point. If you want to report the Middle East in an unbiased fashion, then these arguments must be put before the BBC audience. And how can they be if the Middle East editor doesn’t even acknowledge them?


This will never do!

There seems to be a rash of modern iconoclasm at the moment. Multiculturalism attacked, the Pope repeating criticism of Islam and now some absolute bastards have made a film that is negative about environmental campaigners. It really is beyond the pale!

The film is Mine Your Own Business.


In Mine Your Own Business, McAleer -- described by the Wall Street Journal as "Michael Moore..[but] without the smug liberal hypocrisy” -- travels the world as he investigates the consequences of environmental movements for poor communities in Europe, Africa and South America. On his journey he meets Gheorghe Lucian, an unemployed miner from a small village in Romania that has been gripped by poverty and unemployment ever since a government-owned mine shut down. The film shows how some environmentalists will stop at nothing to block construction of a new mine– a mine that will bring jobs, better living conditions, and an overall better live to Gheorghe and his family.

Mine Your Own Business also examines other anti-development movements by environmental extremists to block mine construction in Madagascar and Chile. Gheorghe and Phelim travel to these impoverished communities, and along the way meet people who are desperately waiting for these large mining projects that they know will bring a decent job, a house and an education and better life for their children – only to be stymied by outside activists who claim they know what’s best.

Signs of ill-health in Oz


I was going to comment on the flag-banning issue in Australia, but JOSHUAPUNDIT has done the job for me!

It seems to me that there's a bit of problem with a nation where people brand the national flag as a `gang colour' [not that this problem is not present in the UK, of course].

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The commodification of children

There are times when I really don't understand the modern world, and this is one of them.

We're shaping up for a real showdown between the Catholic Church and the government here in the UK about adoption by homosexuals. Let me paint the situation with a few quotations:
A Department of Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "We are absolutely committed to bringing forward proposals that provide effective protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
...
He said there were strong views on all sides but no decisions had been taken and there was "no question of preferential treatment for an individual faith".

The Equality Act bans discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services [my emphasis] on the basis of sexual orientation in a similar way to rules on sex and race discrimination.

Lord Falconer told BBC One's Sunday AM: ..."We do take the view in this country that you shouldn't be discriminated against on that basis [their sexual orientation] and think that applies to everybody, whatever your religion."

Now some response from the head of the Catholic Church in the UK:
Catholic Church adoption agencies will close if they are not allowed to opt out of new gay rights laws, the head of the church in England and Wales says.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has written to the Cabinet to say church teaching prevented its agencies placing children with homosexual couples...

The cardinal said the closure of the seven agencies would represent a wholly avoidable "tragedy".

Its agencies are said to handle 4% or about 200 of all adoptions a year but about a third of those children judged difficult to place.


It appears that the position that the British state is advocating here is that the provision of children for adoption is a service [or children constitute goods or facilities]. This is why it cannot legitimately be refused to homosexual couples under the new legislation.

I do not propose to go into the recent history of this proposition. It's been coming for a while now. For the past few years, people who sit on adoption panels and object to such adoptions (for principled or pragmatic reasons) have been required to recuse themselves from considering applications for adoption by homosexual couples.

I do not intend to discuss whether I think it's a coherent moral position. I simply want to say that it is of a piece with the `abortion-on-demand' position which subsists in practice (although not in principle) in this country. Together they seem to merit the description in the title of this post.

2 terrorist suspects arrested in Halifax

The title says it all: more details here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Should we construct a new `us'?

From Fragmented Future by Steve Sailer:
In the presence of [ethnic] diversity, we hunker down. We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.

—Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam


Harvard’s Robert D. Putnam, a former Carter administration official who made his reputation writing about the decline of social trust in America in his bestseller Bowling Alone, confessed to Financial Times columnist John Lloyd that his latest research discovery—that ethnic diversity decreases trust and co-operation in communities—was so explosive that for the last half decade he hadn’t dared announce it “until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity, saying it ‘would have been irresponsible to publish without that.’”

In a column headlined “Harvard study paints bleak picture of ethnic diversity,” Lloyd summarized the results of the largest study ever of “civic engagement,” a survey of 26,200 people in 40 American communities:

When the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, they showed that the more people of different races lived in the same community, the greater the loss of trust. ‘They don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions,’ said Prof Putnam. ‘The only thing there’s more of is protest marches and TV watching.’

...

As if to prove his own point that diversity creates minefields of mistrust, Putnam later protested to the Harvard Crimson that the Financial Times essay left him feeling betrayed, calling it “by two degrees of magnitude, the worst experience I have ever had with the media.” To Putnam’s horror, hundreds of “racists and anti-immigrant activists” sent him e-mails congratulating him for finally coming clean about his findings.

Lloyd stoutly stood by his reporting, and Putnam couldn’t cite any mistakes of fact, just a failure to accentuate the positive. It was “almost criminal,” Putnam grumbled, that Lloyd had not sufficiently emphasized the spin that he had spent five years concocting. Yet considering the quality of Putnam’s talking points that Lloyd did pass on, perhaps the journalist was being merciful in not giving the professor more rope with which to hang himself. For example, Putnam’s line—“What we shouldn’t do is to say that they [immigrants] should be more like us. We should construct a new us”—sounds like a weak parody of Bertolt Brecht’s parody of Communist propaganda after the failed 1953 uprising against the East German puppet regime: “Would it not be easier for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?”


...


Because policymakers almost certainly won’t do what it would take to alleviate the harms caused by diversity—indeed, they won’t even talk honestly about what would have to be done—it’s crazy to exacerbate the problem through more mass immigration. As the issue of co-operation becomes ever more pressing, the quality of intellectual discourse on the topic declines—as Putnam’s self-censorship revealed—precisely because of a lack of trust due to the mounting political power of “the diverse” to punish frank discussion.

Comments

Since I receive so few comments, I have decided to remove `comment moderation'. If comments become unpleasant or off-topic I will resume moderation/delete said comments.

We, the Iranian people...


are a trifle upset according to The Sunday Torygraph.
The thing is, what do you when you're an autocrat and your people are discontented? You look for an external enemy to focus their discontent upon. You know, like the Jews. Then you attack them.

I wish our troops were...Estonian

As EU Referendum has it:
In today's Sunday Telegraph, Sean Rayment reports an officer in Afghanistan complaining that troops from Estonia … who were working alongside the Royal Marines were better equipped and had more reliable armoured vehicles than did British troops.

Er… would that be because the Estonians are operating ex-British Mambas, as reported by this blog on 8 January and The Booker column last week?

It would be too much to ask Rayment to read this blog but one might have thought that, at the every least, he could read his own newspaper – from which he might have learnt something.

A visit to Haret Hreik

Here is a fine article by Micheal Totten, a blogger and independent jounalist on his latest visit to Lebabnon. Here's the opening:
HARET HREIK, LEBANON – I have been to Haret Hreik, Hezbollah’s dahiyeh and de-facto “capital” south of Beirut, many times. But I didn’t expect to see it on my most recent trip. Every Lebanese person I know warned me to stay out of there. The destruction from the summer war is severe and Hezbollah’s fear and loathing of visitors, especially Americans, is even more so. The most paranoid party in Lebanon is more paranoid than ever before. Best to steer clear of their base.

That was before I met the resident moderate Shia cleric Sayyed Mohammad Ali El Husseini, an outspoken enemy of Hezbollah from within the community. I interviewed him in his modest apartment, and afterward he showed me around the bombed out parts of his neighborhood.

“You can take pictures,” he said. “Don’t worry. No one will do anything or say anything to you if you are with me.”


Some sources of enlightenment?

I was pointed to this website by a friend:
Postmodernism is not so much a theory as an attitude. It is an attitude of suspicion – suspicion about claims of truth. So if postmodernists are asked “Aren’t the claims of science just true, and some things objectively right and wrong?” the reaction is not so much “No, because…” but “They’re always doubtful, or relative to our paradigms, or just true for dominant groups in our society; and anyway, in whose interest is it to think science is true?”

Of course, it would appeal to me as it's written by a mathematician (James Franklin).
Here's some more:
Postmodernism in not only an attitude of suspicion, but one of unteachable suspicion. If one tries to give good arguments for some truth claim, the postmodernist will be ready to “deconstruct” the concept of good argument, as itself a historically-conditioned paradigm of patriarchal Enlightenment rationality.

Finally, the postmodernist congratulates her/himself morally on having unteachable suspicion. Being “transgressive” of established standards is taken to be good in itself and to position the transgressor as a fighter against “oppression”, prior to giving any reasons why established standards are wrong. In asking how to respond to postmodernism, it is especially important to understand that its motivation does not lie in argument but in the more primitive moral responses, resentment and indignation.


From further down the article:

(Let me make it clear that I have nothing against German transvestites. It is just the way they are being used as an excuse for bullshit that is a problem.)

and
The relentless assault of postmodernism on truth and its replacement of rational debate with resentful “deconstruction” has, so to speak, given permission for public intellectuals to lead with denunciations and rancour prior to getting their facts straight. The “History Wars” began when Keith Windschuttle wrote a book, The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, claiming on the basis of his archival research that the Tasmanian aboriginals were not massacred but mostly died of diseases. It is astounding how few of the replies to him bothered to examine his factual claims and the evidence he provided. Almost all of the ferocious attacks on him consisted of denunciations of his alleged racism, abuse about his supposed lack of imagination, comparisons with the Holocaust denier David Irving, and snide remarks about his not having a PhD. Though only one of his major opponents descended to any explicit postmodernist claims about the relativism of truth, the standard of the debate was extremely low, in a way that I believe would not have been tolerated forty years ago before the advent of postmodernism. Something of the same shallow moralism infects the debate on economic rationalism. According to its supporters, a free market is the best method of delivering prosperity to both rich and poor. That may or may not be so, but the way to debate it is to look at economic evidence. It is not to the point to try to short-circuit that difficult economic debate by abusing economic rationalists for “reducing humans to mere consumers” or for approving of “obscene” inequalities of income. Arguments on matters of fact need to be sorted out before moral judgments are made, not, as postmodernism would have it, the reverse.

The author moves on to methods to combat PoMo:

If it is agreed that postmodernism is a problem, what should be done about it?

There are four possible plans:
Plan A: Do nothing and hope it goes away

Plan B: Take political action in an effort to have postmodernists sacked and deprived of grants

Plan C: Refute postmodernism with arguments

Plan D: Provide a more exciting, positive alternative

Of course, it is plan D that Franklin eventually advocates, but not before he's taken a detour past David Stove:

How to rewrite the sentence: Cook discovered Cook Strait.

Lakatos:
Cook `discovered' Cook Strait.

Popper:
Among an infinity of equally impossible alternatives, one hypothesis which has been especially fruitful in suggesting problems for further research and critical discussion is the conjecture (first `confirmed' by the work of Cook) that a strait separates northern from southern New Zealand.

Kuhn:
It would of course be a gross anachronism to call the flat-earth paradigm in geography mistaken. It is simply incommensurable with later paradigms: as is evident from the fact that, for example, problems of antipodean geography could not even be posed under it. Under the Magellanic paradigm, however, one of the problems posed, and solved in the negative, was that of whether New Zealand is a single land mass. That this problem was solved by Cook is, however, a vulgar error of whig historians, utterly discredited by recent historiography. Discovery of the Strait would have been impossible, or at least would not have been science, but for the presence of the Royal Society on board, in the person of Sir Joseph Banks. Much more research by my graduate students into the current sociology of the geographical profession will be needed, however, before it will be known whether, under present paradigms, the problem of the existence of Cook Strait remains solved, or has become unsolved again, or an un-problem.

and Raymond Tallis, who was featured in the Guardian:

Tallis says he wrote these books - Not Saussure and Theorrhoea and After - fuelled by rage: "I found it sickening that quite a lot of literary critics loathed literature, and saw it as their primary job to convey this loathing to their students. One of the most disgusting things I have ever read was the phrase 'reading literature against the grain'. In a sense the students were being robbed even before they had the chance to encounter these writers. In addition, students were exposed to totally opaque writers like Lacan, though I loathed him because I thought he was a wicked doctor as well."

And here's what Franklin says:
In the longer term, the answer to postmodernism, especially to its ethical appeal, must rely on Plan D: presenting a better alternative. If the youth are being corrupted by postmodernism through its appeal to their indignation and to their sense that there must be more to life than the pursuit of material gain, then they can only be rescued by presenting a more credible alternative moral vision.

So what vision? Unfortunately, there are a number of fundamentalisms available – Islamic, Sydney Anglican, Hillsong, Environmentalist and so on – which play well in the market. (I use “fundamentalism” here somewhat loosely, for any position that hands down a complete scripture and simply urges “have faith, take it or leave it”.) Fundamentalist leaders are always encouraged by the number of fourteen-year-olds joining up. What do you expect? It is fortunate that an Australian teenager who signs up is not as badly off as one in the Gaza strip who will soon find himself strapping on a bomb, but blind commitment is no way to find the meaning of life...

I have a plan. It is based on presenting the absolute basics of ethics in a way that shows their objectivity, but free from any religious commitment. I have come to that view from a perspective of Catholic natural law ethics, but there are other ways of seeing it – my closest collaborator in this area is Jean Curthoys, author of an excellent book attacking postmodernist feminist theory, Feminist Amnesia. She has a Marxist background and sees what we are doing as a continuation of the “liberation theory of the Sixties”.

The idea is that ethics is not fundamentally about what actions ought to be done, or about rights, or virtues, or divine commands. Ethics does indeed have something to say about those matters, but they are not basic. Where ethics should start is well explained in a page of Rai Gaita’s Good and Evil: An Absolute Conception. He asks us to consider a tutorial in which one of its members had suffered serious torture and that was known to all the others in the group. If the tutor then asked the group to consider whether our sense of good and evil might be an illusion, “everyone would be outraged if their tutor was not serious and struck by unbelieving horror if he was”. Scepticism about the objectivity of good and evil, Gaita says, is not only false but a moral offence against those who have suffered real evil.

Ethics should start, then, with a direct sense of what is good and what is evil. To what things can good and evil happen? The death of a human is a tragedy but the explosion of a lifeless galaxy is just a firework. Why the difference? There is something about humans, an irreducible worth or equal moral value, that means that what happens to them matters a great deal. That equal worth of persons, ..., is what ethics is fundamentally about. Other aspects of ethics follow from that. Why is murder wrong? Because it destroys a human life, something of immense intrinsic value. (And why is it arguable that capital punishment might nevertheless be possible in some extreme circumstances, although it takes a human life? – because there is a possibility that it might deter someone from taking many valuable lives.) Other rules ... follow from the worth of persons similarly ...
Rights? They follow in the same way as rules: the right to life is just the prohibition on murder... Virtues? The virtue of restraint or temperance, for example, is a disposition to act so as not to harm oneself and others, so it too is directly explicable in terms of the harm done (by drugs, for example) to humans. Divine commands? They must be in accordance with what is inherently right. In the Christian vision, God does support the value of all humans. “Look at the birds of the air”, says Jesus. “They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Any god or purported god who issues commands contrary to human worth, such as edicts to make war on unbelievers, must be resisted in the interests of humanity.

... It does not follow from the fact that the principles of ethics are simple that it is easy to decide on ethical questions. On the contrary, the fundamental equal worth of persons itself creates conflicts when there is tension between what different people need. Some of the issues are discussed further in my new book, Catholic Values and Australian Realities. But I hope enough has been said to indicate where to find an alternative, and more optimistic, vision of human life than the simplistic travesties foisted on the long-suffering youth of the world these past forty years by postmodernism.


Good stuff. Can I recommend reading it all and then getting the book?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dog ownerships shows dramatic fall

In unsubstantiated speculation a recent study people who haven''t read How To Lie With Statistics statisticians who read the newspapers have revealed that for the first time since records began, dog ownership has fallen below 50% in the UK.

Let me put that another way:
isn't it weird that more people don't have a dog than do?

Some follow-up analysis by pettifogging bastards with too much time on their hands and the bad-taste to ruin a good story some other people revealed that this was true only if you included in the count (of potential dog-owners in the UK) infants, toddlers, those who died within the last decade, hobbits and the population of mainland China . These bastards The other people also pointed out that the original survey only included whippets, pit bulls and dogs with three or less legs.

The young devil speaks

It's taken me a while to spot this, but it has a certain humour:
QUESTION: What is the most depressing thing about Britain you have observed in recent times? And the best?

Amis: The most depressing thing was the sight of middle-class white demonstrators, last August, waddling around under placards saying, We Are All Hezbollah Now. Well, make the most of being Hezbollah while you can. As its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, famously advised the West: "We don't want anything from you. We just want to eliminate you."

Similarly, when I went on (BBC television program) Question Time the other week, a woman in the audience, her voice quavering with self-righteousness, presented the following argument: since it was America that supported Osama bin Laden when he was fighting the Russians, the US armed forces, in response to September 11, "should be dropping bombs on themselves". And the audience applauded. It is quite an achievement.

People of liberal sympathies, stupefied by relativism, have become the apologists for a creedal wave that is racist, misogynist, homophobic, imperialist and genocidal. To put it another way, they are up the arse of those that want them dead.

The best thing has been to find myself living in what, despite its faults (despite a million ills), is an extraordinarily successful multiracial society. This is a beautiful idea, with a good chance of becoming a beautiful reality, too.

Where I think he's mistaken is in characterising UK multiracial society as extraodinarily successful. It could easily be, but multiculturalism, a poor and increasingly politicised education for most, a relentless and self-destructive egalitarianism (in the form of a total denial of excellence and ability except in sport and hotel management) guarantees that it isn't.

Chavez's good news...


is
Fatherland, socialism or death—I swear it. I swear by Christ—the greatest socialist in history.”


Critics have accused him of doing the bidding of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, whom Mr. Chavez admires. Rather than denying the charge, Mr. Chavez responded, “The important thing is that the people will make the decision.”

Friday, January 19, 2007

Brown-a misstep?


Chancellor Gordon Brown has provoked a storm by appearing to back England to host and win the football World Cup in 2018 - and not his native Scotland.


SNP leader Alex Salmond said the comments made Mr Brown look "ridiculous in Scotland and insincere in England".


Of course what this means is that the Union will split and the Prime and First Ministers will be decided on the basis of their knowledge of `the beautiful game'.

Shame about golf, tennis and cricket. Perhaps they could be used to decide the occupants of lesser posts: golf could be f
or the Treasury, tennis for the FO, cricket for DEFRA. Clearly the Home office should be tiddlywinks.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fishing expedition


It's too hard to keep a straight face. The question is whether to laugh or cry though.

Question: what's serious crime?

Answer: well, you know, murder, money laundering, fishing for trout with a line left unattended in the water, depositing controlled waste without a licence.
Question: so we shouldn't do that?

Answer: no, because otherwise a judge, sitting without a jury, might make an order which, if breached, would put you in prison for five years. Oh, and you don't have to do anything, you just have to conduct yourself in a way that was likely to make it easier for someone to commit a serious offence, whether or not it was committed.

More seriously, it seems to me that the UK government has jettisoned all principles of English law, leaving executive diktat behind. What price an elective dictatorship?

Observation versus theory: climate change.

Listen to Mark Lynas attacking Denis Avery. Listen to Denis Avery fight back. It's on the Today programme on Radio 4 (Thursday, 18th January) at 08.36. The science is all on Avery's side (quoting peer-reviewed studies of ice cores , pollen samples, stalagmites etc. which establish a 1500 year global warming cycle), yet Lynas asserts that Avery has no science to back what he's saying. Avery's key quote:
`if you have an observation it outranks a theory'.

Lynas:
`I'm very familiar with the scientific literature, and you won't find any of this stuff about 1500 year solar cycles in it, because it's simply not publishable';

Avery:
`in the book I cite a 100 different scientific studies: most of them published in the journals Nature, or Science or [Quarterly Science Review]...For you to say there is no science simply beggars the imagination'.
Of course it doesn't. This is the standard tactic of the left, of the `outraged', of the `deeply-concerned': when confronted with evidence which contradicts your tenuous theories, deny it.

I note the deployment (twice) of the phrase `global warming denier' with exactly the same emotional overtones as `holocaust denier'.

UPDATE; thanks to John Carroll, I have corrected the spelling of Lynas' surname (23.30 GMT 17 Jan 2007)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Islamic theology

Having had a post nominated for the latest Watcher's Council thingy, I've been reading the other nominations.

This one, from Classical Vaues, is marvellous. It shows, by quoting from various sources, the deception indulged in even by Tariq Ramadan, and helps to explain the fundamental divergence between Western thought and Islam.
Here's a nice bit:
The kinds of unlawful knowledge include philosophy and the sciences of the materialists. Why are they unlawful? Because anything that is a means to create doubts is unlawful. This was the position of the Catholic Church for a long time.

The Jews of course have had no problem with doubts. Their answer was always debate and reason. Put so well by a very modern Jewish scholar Milton Friedman "You cannot be sure you are right unless you understand the arguments against your views better than your opponents do." Jews as part of their religious training are taught to take any side of any question and argue it to the best of their ability. Which may explain why there are so many Jewish lawyers.



Read this if you want to have any chance of understanding where we are in relation to Islam.

Now go and read the Pope's Regensburg address: here's a quotation, just after the infamous one:
The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: "For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality." Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry.


Done that? Now go and read the history essays at wayofthewest; particularly numbers 7 (The Light of Reason), 8 (The Two Questions) and 9 (The Search For Truth).

When you've finished you'll know ten times as much about Islam and five times as much about Western civilisation as the average left-leaning intellectual.

Safe!

To see how safe we are in the UK compared to those gun-toting, knife-wielding crazies in the USA, you might check out this little article at TFS Magnum which gives some comparative statistics:
the violent crime rate in the UK is five times higher than the rate in the US.

Labouring under a misapprehension?

It seems that I am by no means the only cynic about Labour's sudden concern for the Union . There is a nice post at Dodgeblogium by G Fawkes (he of Guido Fawkes fame?) which covers some historical context for the Act of Union as well as more recent hyper-gerrymandering by New Labour. Here's the peroration:
Now Mr Brown says he will not agree to the English having a Parliament of their own. Of course not, because Labour would be the minority party in it - and it would deprive him and the other seventy odd Scottish MP’s of their power to dominate the English. Such a shame the English saw through his Party’s crooked attempt as splitting us into “Regions” each with an Assembly. A really interesting piece of gerrymandering that would be - since it would give Labour control in four of the eight, with the LibDems in control in one, the Conservatives three and Red Ken in control of the London Region. Real jobs for the boys stuff!

Oh, but we already have Regional Boards don’t we. I wonder who elected their membership? Or actually asked if we wanted them? Surely not that nice Mr Brown, the Defender of the Union?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The BBC: at it again.


Stephen Pollard has a post on an email from the Beeb's Middle East editor (Jeremy Bowen). It's the sort of depressing fare you'd expect:

What is new in the last year, and will be one of the big stories in the coming twelve months, is the way that Palestinian society, which used to draw strength from resistance to the occupation, is now fragmenting.

The reason is the death of hope, caused by a cocktail of Israel's military activities, land expropriation and settlement building – and the financial sanctions imposed on the Hamas led government which are destroying Palestinian institutions that were anyway flawed and fragile.

Here's a quotation from the comments:

Professor Karsh, Head of Mediterranean Studies at King's College London, and a leading expert on the modern history of the Middle East, has described Jeremy Bowen's book "Six Days: How the 1967 War changed the Middle East" as "superficial, derivative and rife with standard anti-Israel prejudice, namely, the portrayal of Israel as the source of the ME conflict and the whitewashing of Arab-Palestinian rejection of Israel’s legitimacy and decades of relentless violence against the Jewish state".

C4 program

This is now on You Tube. I've put up the links at the bottom of the previous post. It's well worth watching if you haven't seen this sort of blatant preaching of hate before.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Islamists on C4

If you have the time, this might be worth watching:
A Dispatches reporter attends mosques run by organisations whose public faces are presented as moderate and finds preachers condemning integration into British society, condemning democracy and praising the Taliban for killing British soldiers.

It's a program on C4 at 8pm today (Monday, 16th Jan).

The `woe is me, we are traduced' taqqiya comments on the website are good value too; here's one:
It is becoming fashionable in the West to attack the Islamic beliefs and teaching. One year ago, our prophet was depicted and mocked. However, we as Muslims should see this as another opportunity to reform themselves and to spread the word of Allah, after all our aim and objective is to give Dawah. Gradually by the will of Allah, we shall conquer every country, be it the USA or others.

Hat tip: Gates of Vienna

UPDATE:
Currently, it's on You Tube in six parts:
Part1
Part2
Part3
Part4
Part5
Part6

Designs on the Union


Further to my previous posts, Peter Hain is the latest New Labour potentate to proclaim the importance of the Union to Labour hacks the UK (or is it just to Wales?):

Speaking after Chancellor Gordon Brown also warned of a threat, Mr Hain called for the end of the UK a "one-way street to irrelevance for Wales".

"The contribution of Wales to the industrial development of Britain was enormous, helping to create prosperity and to turn us into a world power."

He also said:
"In return, Wales has long benefited from support from the Treasury, with Welsh public spending almost £1,000 per head higher than in England."

Therein lies the rub: the English are increasingly hacked-off with the Celtic tails wagging the English dog. Linked in the public's minds (and in reality) with the increasingly loathed excesses of multi-culturalism, this issue is really hotting up on the street. Polls reveal that the English would be happy to see the back of the Scots (and I'm guessing they'd feel the same about the Welsh)

The feeling in England (outside the chattering classes) will be that he's warning the Welsh not to climb off the gravy train simply because he's a Welsh Labour MP fearing the loss of his position in the UK parliament.

An analysis of Bush's Iraq speech


It's taken me a while to link to this; partly because I've been trying to digest it. `This' is a savage and deeply informed post on Bush's speech by Freedom Fighter at JOSHUAPUNDIT. Here are two quotations which give a quick feel for what Freedom Fighter has to say:

`my emotions quickly went from skepticism to open mouthed disbelief and progressed to feelings that required me to take some time to relax a bit'

and
`speaking of Iran - they've been committing acts of war against us and killing our men for almost thirty years now, and we've known about their nuclear weapons program now for over 3 years. If anything is `emboldening Iran', it's the Bush Administration's lack of a forceful response.'


It's taken time because my heart says one thing: go with supporting democracy in Iraq, give whatever it takes because, in the long run, it'll be worth it in terms of the fight against Islamism: establishing a functioning Islamic democracy in the heart of the Middle East and benefitting both Western civilization and the vast majority of Iraqis;
and my head says another: the only part of Iraq which stands any chance of achieving this is the Kurdish part; supporting the Kurds as a separate entity is the only way to hold off Iran's militant and aggressive aims in Iraq and the mullocracy will not tolerate a multi-sectarian democracy on their border.

Give you three guesses which part of me is in agreement with JOSHUAPUNDIT!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

EU and the German constitution

According to EU Referendum,
Roman Herzog, former judge and German president between 1994 and 1999 ... says... in the newspaper Welt am Sonntag today, ... "EU policies suffer to an alarming degree from a lack of democracy and a de facto suspension of the separation of powers."

What is more, Herzog has a co-author, the director of the Centre for European Policy (CEP) in Freiburg, who goes by the name of Lueder Gerken. And among their criticisms is that the German parliament was not involved in European Union legislation as required by the German constitution.

The arts go west


John Lloyd, always a sensible columnist, has a very nice article in the FT weekend magazine, also available if you subscribe to FT.com. It starts as follows:

"At Paris’s Theatre du Chatelet, Leonard Bernstein’s version of Voltaire’s Candide has just finished a run. It featured, in one scene, actors wearing masks to represent five world leaders. These were Tony Blair of the UK, George Bush of the US, Jacques Chirac of France, Vladimir Putin of Russia and - the one former leader - Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. The five are dressed in underpants, in the colours of their national flags",


and goes on to ridicule the unthinking acceptance of the radicalism of the modern left by polite society in Britain. We really are at the level of `two legs bad, Michael Moore good' and Lloyd pins the phenomenon down quite nicely. Read the whole thing if you can.


Two quotes and a book recommendation from the article:

`[the left] has become shrilly undiscriminating, thus threatening to make its tradition unfit for governance.';
`It has destroyed discriminating political thought in a large section of the allegedly thinking part of the west' [try most universities, for a start: ed.];
and the book is
What's Left: How Liberals Lost Their Way
by Nick Cohen. It sounds promising.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Gordon Browned off


In a gesture to the spiritual heirs of Bernard Shaw, H G Wells, and Sydney and Beatrice Webb* (admirers of Stalin and Soviet Russia), Gordon Brown appealed to the shared values of the nations of the United Kingdom in a speech to the Fabian Society. The society, founded by anti-semitic, "bourgeois manipulators" (to quote Wells about the Webbs), has always been the wellspring for the ideology of the Labour Party and clearly is Gordon Brown's spiritual home. Nevertheless the Scottish nationalists, avid for power, suggest that Mr Brown is
thinking only of his "self-interest as a prime minister designate".

Their leader, Alex Salmond, put it more bluntly:
"He cannot tolerate the idea of Scotland slipping out of Labour's control just at the point he wants to move into No 10".

The Scottish Nationalists of course have their hundred day plan for removing Scotland from the Union and, as I remarked before, New Labour grandees are getting a little perturbed, not to say shrill:

"It is very important to recognise that Britishness and Britain itself is not based on ethnicity and race," he said.

"It is founded on shared values that we hold in common: a commitment to liberty for all, a commitment to social responsibility shown by all, and a commitment to fairness to all."


There is, in fact, an enormous divide between the English and the Scots. The English alone would have voted in the Tories at the last election, are in favour of low taxes and a `smaller state' and are rabidly anti-EU. The Scots are...well, to put it simply, they' re the opposite at the moment. Gordon Brown's real `shared values' look very much to me like the shared values of Scotland and I'm sure he'll make them a very fine First Minister in due course.




---------------------------------------------------------------------

*Some quotations from founders of the Fabian Society:

[Beatrice Webb] stated that "the love of profit as distinct from other forms of money-earning is the strongest impelling motive of the Jewish race," and that they were deficient in "social morality."

In a treatise entitled Industrial Democracy written by Beatrice and her husband, they refer to the Jews in England as "a constant influence for degradation."

George Bernard Shaw, meanwhile, characterized the Jews as "the real enemy, the invader from the East, the Druze, the ruffian, the oriental parasite, in a word the Jew" (Morning Post 13 December 1925).

In his book The Outline of History (1920) H. G. Wells stated: "The Jews looked for a special saviour, a messiah, who was to redeem mankind by the agreeable process of restoring the fabulous glories of David and Solomon, and bringing the whole world at last under the benevolent but firm Jewish heel."

The Beeb: wanton or woeful?

Here's the Beeb's version of recent history. Stalinist in approach, they just rewrite it:
Whilst Reagan was not directly implicated, the impression that he was not aware of what subordinates were doing tarnished his standing with the public to an extent. In 1989, Reagan resigned and Vice President George Bush took his place.
Hat tip: Done with Mirrors.

UPDATE: I did e-mail them about the error. As of now (10.30 GMT, 15 January 2007), no correction has been made.

Sad blow to peanut farmer

Showing how traitorous and omnipresent is the cursed Zionist lobby, 14 members of the Carter Center’s Board of Councilors resigned, sending him a snippy letter about his recent book:
In your book, which portrays the conflict between Israel and her neighbors as a purely one-sided affair with Israel holding all of the responsibility for resolving the conflict, you have clearly abandoned your historic role of broker in favor of becoming an advocate for one side.

The facts in dealing with the conflict are these: There are two national narratives contesting one piece of land. The Israelis, through deed and public comment, have consistently spoken of a desire to live in peace and make territorial compromise to achieve this status. The Palestinian side has consistently resorted to acts of terror as a national expression and elected parties endorsing the use of terror, the rejection of territorial compromise and of Israel’s right to exist. Palestinian leaders have had chances since 1947 to have their own state, including during your own presidency when they snubbed your efforts. Your book has confused opinion with fact, subjectivity with objectivity and force for change with partisan advocacy.

Furthermore the comments you have made the past few weeks insinuating that there is a monolith of Jewish power in America are most disturbing and must be addressed by us. In our great country where freedom of expression is basic bedrock you have suddenly proclaimed that Americans cannot express their opinion on matters in the Middle East for fear of retribution from the “Jewish Lobby” In condemning the Jews of America you also condemn Christians and others for their support of Israel. Is any interest group to be penalized for participating in the free and open political process that is America? Your book and recent comments suggest you seem to think so.


Hat tip: The Rosett Report.