Sunday, July 29, 2007

For Art's sake

For Art's Sake

And I walked beneath the grass
Into a cavern beside the sea.
And the sound was that of brass,
As I went upon one knee.

I cried out in tones of grief,
With a catch upon my breath
`I am come to seek relief,
For we are troubled near to death.'

And arose a mighty clamour
And a bearded face looked forth
Amid the clash of armour
(And the sound of one who snored).

`Had you come when William's knights
Landed on pebbled Pevensey's shore
And Harold's bold, sad wights
Charged wildly down once more;

Had you come when Europe's forces
Answered to the call of one small man,
When the hussars' brave, swift horses
Were the Grande Armee's van;

Had you come in 1940,
With a tyrant at your gate-
A madman shrill and haughty
Filled with dreams of blood and hate-

Then, then we might have helped you,
In your trouble and distress.
As it is, we who whelped you
Contemplate a sorry mess.

What is it, this your trouble?
It is not a few bad men.
Sad though the slaughter, double
Would not bring us back again.

We have seen in dreams unending
The many turning from their lives.
They pursue their hobbies: spending
And the deception of their wives.

We have heard in slumbers tortured
The screaming of their youth;
The abandonment of nurture;
The infanticide of truth.

We have heard your wise men braying
(In our sleep we see them cower)
It's not to God that they are praying
And all they ever want is power.

Alas, your journey's wasted,
And your efforts all for naught.
`Tis a bitter cup you've tasted,
But we'll leave you with a thought.

When means are fair, not outcomes fudged,
When all are responsible, even fools,
When effort's rewarded, ability judged,
When truth's supreme and justice rules:

Then, if you still want us, we will come
And beard your monsters in their den
And vanquish dark, like the heavenly sun.
But I somehow doubt you'll need us then.'

UPDATE: minor edits 2.50p.m. BST 31 July.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Now I understand why Callimachus at Done With Mirrors was so exercised about snark:
There's the snark - a horrific snake/shark incarnation that not only swims, but chases you up the beach when you try to flee the water. And the worst one? The tird - a slimy, burpy, warty toad crossed with a bird - which combines my two worst fears into one huge flying, pecking amphibious wretch. Hitchcock could've had a field day if he'd introduced a few of those to the set of The Birds.

Bless Auntie, and all who sail in her.

It seems that Mark Thomson (the BBC DG) is frantically rearranging deckchairs on the deck of HMS BBC:

He said the "very significant plan of action" would affect all BBC staff.

He's just come out with a guilty plea statement to the BBC Trust about defrauding misleading the public on Blue Peter and libeling misrepresenting the Queen. He asked for nineteen other offences to be taken into account `said further "serious editorial breaches" had been uncovered in a recent audit of the corporation'.

The story on the BBC website makes no mention of the Paddington Bear Brown press-officer incident.

UPDATE 5.29pm
The Beeb has produced a new lead on their website entitled: BBC to suspend phone competitions

The BBC is to suspend all competitions after an inquiry unearthed a fresh batch of faked phone-ins.

Serious editorial breaches were found in six shows, including Comic Relief. Director general Mark Thompson said the incidents were "totally unacceptable".

Mr Thompson has outlined a "zero tolerance" approach to any future lapses in editorial judgement.

He also ordered an independent inquiry into footage that wrongly implied the Queen walked out of a photo session.
They're still spinning though:
He has also called for a workshop involving other broadcasters to discuss issues surrounding editorial standards and training.
That translates as `it's everyone, not just us'.
The horrifying bit is that he then felt it necessary to say:

"There is no excuse for deception. I know the idea of deceiving the public would simply never occur to most people in the BBC.

"If you have a choice between deception and a programme going off air, let the programme go. It is far better to accept a production problem and make a clean breast to the public than to deceive," he added.

UPDATE 19:47 pm
OK, make that six more programmes.
We're talking about an admission of endemic lying.
How do they expect us to take their much-vaunted impartiality at face value now?

Monday, July 16, 2007

The blessings of a closed mind

These comments by Anthony Jay make me want to weep with a mixture of frustration and relief:

Jay says:

I think I am beginning to see the answer to a question that has puzzled me for the past 40 years. The question is simple - much simpler than the answer: what is behind the opinions and attitudes of what are called the chattering classes? ...Let's call it "media liberalism".

Frustration because this sort of thing goes on (and on and on and on) and relief that someone on the side of the (in modern UK terms) big battalions has actually owned up to this peculiar closed-minded attitude/world-view/social milieu.
We met over coffee, lunch, drinks and dinner to reinforce our views on the evils of apartheid, nuclear deterrence, capital punishment, the British Empire, big business, advertising, public relations, the Royal Family, the defense budget - it's a wonder we ever got home. We so rarely encountered any coherent opposing arguments that we took our group-think as the views of all right-thinking people.

Part of what frustrates me so deeply about this is that it's like some Fantasy novel. All you have to do to step outside this closed and airless setting is to take an unexpected quarter turn, a half-pace out of step, a dive when the others duck and you're somewhere (very) else. Somewhere where you can talk to a plumber, a policeman, a farmer , a dustman, a labourer, a factory worker, and see them as a human being with opinions and desires and standards and moral positions just like, or (how much more revealing and liberating, much more liberating than organic yoghurt or free-range meat or sun-dried tomatoes) not like yours.

I have a younger colleague who thinks like this. He's extremely intelligent, one of the deepest mathematicians I've ever met, but he can lay down the law from a left-leaning position like some philosopher king without ever, ever having met anybody (apart, perhaps, from me) who challenges his assumptions. In a fit of irritation at some particularly naive political pronouncement, I once asked him- `Jim, surely you must have talked to people like this? Didn't you have any vacation jobs as a student?' His answer simultaneously appalled and enlightened me. He explained that he'd only ever had one vacation job, and it was helping a statistician.

Now that's not his fault, really. However, he lives in the cocoon. Father an academic, mother a pillar of the (old) Labour party. No historical knowledge, no ability to see the enormous, ghastly, evil, vicious, vileness perpetrated by the Left-in-power in so many places for so much of the 20th century for what it was - a giant failed experiment. No context provided by those around him, no one asking him whether, as an avowed empiricist, he might do well to think twice about socialism as a practical means for achieving Man's happiness.

To conclude, I am delighted that Anthony Jay has seen a little bit of the light, but perhaps he could go back and shine some more on the staff of the BBC and The Independent, for a start, as they're some of his spiritual descendants who continue to perpetuate evil by suppressing knowledge of its history.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tagged-but no ankle bracelet

I've been electronically tagged by Joshuapundit. No electronic bracelet, but I have to reveal eight things about myself (I would say random, but as a probabilist I can't use that word in the vernacular sense) then I have to tag eight others (there's the hard bit).
The rules (courtesy of Joshuapundit):
  1. I have to let you know who tagged me.
  2. I'll need to list 8 facts or habits about myself that you might not otherwise know.
  3. I have to tag another 8 people and leave comments on their sites letting them know that they've been tagged, so they can likewise make the requisite revelations.
  4. I have to reproduce these rules.

OK, the facts:
  1. I practise Tae Kwon Do (ITF version). I'm currently training for my second dan and it hurts.
  2. I'm not a citizen of the UK - although I am a long-term, resident Anglophile.
  3. I gave up smoking two years ago and that hurts, too.
  4. I like cooking, but have not the slightest interest in writing about it.
  5. I never liked team sports. But I'm perfectly happy for you to like them.
  6. Nevertheless, I love collaborating. I'd much rather write a paper with a colleague than the same one on my own.
  7. I find the world a very frightening place without the protection of tobacco (does that count, or is it merely a repetition of (3)?).
  8. I don't have a television, as I really didn't want my children to be enslaved by it.

Now for the others:
  1. The Dissident Frogman
  2. One Hand Clapping
  3. The Unoriginal Muse
  4. Dodgeblogium
  5. New Nationalist
  6. The Jawa Report
  7. Classical Values
  8. Spiced Sass
That was hard, and now I have to ask them all!

Here's a list of antecedents from the co-tagged Kobayashi Maru.

Don't be surprised that people don't care.

Joshuapundit is more on the ball than me. Here's a link to his post on the decision to drop Winston Churchill from the History curriculum:
Sir Winston Churchill has been dropped from a list of key historical figures recommended for teaching in English secondary schools.

Apparently, this is part of a radical `overhaul' of secondary school curriculum for 11- to 14-year-olds, supposedly to make it more `relevant' and `up to date'.

Sir Winston's grandson Nicholas Soames, a Conservative Member of Parliament, described the move as "madness."

"It is absurd. I expect he wasn't New Labour enough for them ... this is a Government that is very careless of British history and always has been...if you're surprised that people do not seem to care that much about the country in which they live, the reason is that they don't know much about it."

Have you thought of a career as a doctor?

How are you feeling?

How are you feeling today?

Fast car, DVD,
Good education, good degree.

Little struggle, less love,
Bird is flown, heavenly dove.

Where did it come from, all this glitz?
Newton, Weishaupt, Hume, Leibnitz

Broadband connection, MP3
Gangsta rappin', MTV

Food is provided, day by day,
Your life's purpose taken away.

You got it, that whole ball of wax,
Go on, smash it, use an axe.

God-shaped hole in your life,
Fill it with death and blood and strife.

Good grievance and good hate,
Who's here to obliterate?

Man is an animal, sure enough,
You be a tiger, really rough.

There's some pain, in your head.
World's impure, s'better dead

Meaning lost, mystery gone,
Suicide belt and nail bomb.

If your life feels empty, have you thought
Of a career as a doctor?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The blessed NHS

This is a snippet from an old James Bartholomew article I just came across:

Incidentally, all sorts of American hospitals - especially the not-for-profit ones - receive large sums of cash from charitable benefactors. And if you think all the above is confusing, that is hardly even the beginning of the bewildering diversity and contradictions of American healthcare. It is a muddle.

Actually, the British system was a muddle, too, until Aneurin Bevan came along in 1945. As Secretary of State for Health he set about un-muddling it. We, too, used to have local government ("municipal") hospitals like America until he took them over. He took over the charitable hospitals too - like St Mary's and Moorfield's and many other famous ones. He made it not confusing at all. What could be simpler than the central government being in charge of everything? Over time, the government put itself in charge of all the doctors, too. So all was made simple and clear.

But the curious thing is, the new, improved, simple state system of Britain does not work as well as the American muddle. You have a better chance of living to see another day in the American, mish-mash non-system with its sweet pills of charity, its dose of municipal care and large injection of rampant capitalist supply (even despite the blanket of over-regulation) than in the British system where the state does everything. It is not that America is good at running healthcare. It is just that British state-run healthcare is so amazingly, achingly, miserably and mortally incompetent.

`EU - an empire' says Barroso

This is all covered by the inestimable EU Referendum:
Like a tsunami, Barroso's surprise claim that the EU was an "empire" is spreading out from its epicentre at Strasbourg, to crash against the shores of the British print media.

First in line is The Times which is running a lengthy piece today – and many more are to follow.

David Charter does the business for The Times, focusing on the British perspective, writing that, "Britain was told yesterday that it was part of a new European empire", styling Barroso as, "the Brussels bureaucrat who would be emperor".

I can't resist the description, though. The EU is the Empire of the Senseless.

Added later:
I just noticed this from a post of Stephen Pollard's:
...a very senior - EU official ... told me, that Britain has now 'crossed the line' and 'will not be allowed to block further progress'. The view is, he said (and he was talking about other Member States rather than just Eurocrats) that the UK has 'blackmailed the rest of us for too long, and we have lost patience.' If we don't agree to the development of a deeper, full on political entity then 'they can go away and link up with the Faroe Islands'.

Here was the really chilling aspect of it: 'Look at what nearly happened on Friday to Poland. Who the hell do they think they are, threatening to disrupt everything. They should be grateful we let them in in the first place. Well, we taught them a lesson on Friday. If you don't sign up, we'll go ahead anyway and build a new structure without you. And guess what - they signed up.' That, I was told, was how the UK would be treated from now on, not least because while there was room for doubt over Tony Blair, who was felt to be 'a good European', there was no doubt about Gordon Brown, 'who makes clear what he thinks of the EU every time he comes to ECOFIN - he issues a press release and does his paperwork for two hours then goes home'. So he won't be allowed to impede further deepening.

It's not the war

This (from Augean Stables) rather explains what I meant in my post about Pilger:
When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network, a series of semi-autonomous British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology, I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.
By blaming the government for our actions, those who pushed the ‘Blair’s bombs’ line did our propaganda work for us. More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A son of the manse or a son of a ...?

Did I say Brown was a liar?
I did!

Here's a quote which might help (Christopher Booker's column in the Telegraph):
One of Mr Brown's excuses for not having a referendum was that the new treaty doesn't give away as many powers as Maastricht, on which there was no referendum, But up then pops his new Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, to blurt out that it in fact gives away much more power than Maastricht...

As the think-tank Open Europe and others have pointed out, it is truly astonishing that Mr Brown should begin his premiership, while promising to be "open" with the British people, with a deceit so shameless as to make his predecessor look like an honest man.

When one reads this sort of thing, I suppose one should learn not to be surprised by all the lying about AGW, but I still am.

Brown's bombs

John Pilger used to be an interesting left-wing journalist. It's instructive to see what he has become. Here's a sample:

Just as the London bombs in the summer of 2005 were Blair's bombs, the inevitable consequence of his government's lawless attack on Iraq, so the potential bombs in the summer of 2007 are Brown's bombs. Gordon Brown has been an unerring supporter of the unprovoked bloodbath whose victims now equal those of the Rwandan genocide, according to the American scientist who led the 2006 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health survey of civilian dead in Iraq. While Tony Blair sought to discredit this study, British government scientists secretly praised it as "tried and tested" and an "underestimation of mortality". The "underestimation" was 655,000 men, women and children. That is now approaching a million. It is the crime of the century.

In his first day's address outside 10 Downing Street and his statement to parliament on 3 July, Brown paid not even lip service to those who would be alive today had his government - and it was his government as much as Blair's - not joined Bush in a slaughter justified with demonstrable lies. He said nothing, not a word.

It's rather a pity to see The New Statesman publishing this stuff as journalism, though. I leave the fisking as an exercise for the interested reader.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A gnat's chuff of difference

I just logged in with some trepidation to see the popular comments on the BBC's website on the Live Earth concerts.
I was pleasantly surprised. People are not as stupid as politicians like to believe.
Here are the first few (most recommended) comments:

I have serious doubts as to whether man (and women !) are having such am impact on the environment through carbon emissions as we are led to believe.

The Earth goes through natural climatic cycles - that's why we've had ice ages in the past and we don't have one now. How else do we explain things like isostatic readjustment ? (increasing obesity causing the over populated south to dip ? Maybe !)

I'd like to see a more balanced debate, rather than bandwagons. And global initiatives.

[CeeofGee], Oxford, United Kingdom

Recommended by 332 people

If global warming is a natural phenomenon, does that still make it okay to pollute the planet? If the scientists are wrong, does that mean we should stop recycling? I think we all have a responsibility to make positive changes whether global warming is our fault or not.

Darren, Leicester

Recommended by 290 people

The main problem with the climate change debate is there is no data older than 250 years to compare the current "warming" with, however polar ice samples suggest warming and cooling has been going on for thousands of years, which would suggest that climate change is a more natural occurance than the greens and the Government want us to believe. "Climate Change" cannot be blamed on humans alone on only 250 years of data.

Chris E, Norwich, United Kingdom

Recommended by 270 people

I will not be changing my lifestyle one iota, it won't make a difference as the whole Global Warming thing is a scam dreamed up by enviro-fascists and the government. If they want to live in a cave, fine, but don't expect me to adopt their holier-than-thou attitudes. It's called the SUN, and piddling about on this dirtball is not going to make a gnats chuff of difference to the climate.

Steven Thompson, Ayr

Recommended by 249 people

This is less of a distrust of Climate change in particular but more a general distrust of Government. People believe that the Government are simply using Climate Change as a way to impose more stealth taxes. The Govt also seem to allow big business to sell products that are clearly damaging to the environment, whilst criticising and taxing the public for buying them (witness the debate around "chelsea Tractors"). Until such issues are resolved the public will remain sceptical

Jon G, Nottingham, United Kingdom

Recommended by 217 people

The BBC has closed down all significant debate with regards to Global Warming - this forum is just window dressing.

I would like to see some of the worlds leading MMGW Heretics given the same prominence as the High Priests of MMGW on the BBC.

What are you afraid of?

The debate or the actual truth?

Righty Rightwing

Recommended by 213 people

Friday, July 06, 2007


The Speaking Clock

On the third stroke,
It will be 1789,

Robespierre and Danton will preside,
As the Bastille falls
And seven old men are released.

Citizen Capet will be taken
To the Place de la Revolution.
And on the third stroke
God will be created
In man's own image,

On the third stroke,
It will be 2001,

Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri will preside,
As the twin towers fall
And three thousand are `released'.

Ateqeh Rajabi will be taken
To the place with the crane.
And on the third stroke,
Death will be created
In religion's image,

On the third stroke,
Your head should come off,

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Brown's dilemma

I missed this one.
Rather a nice article by Stephen Pollard on Brown (El Gordo) and the EU constitution treaty:

There is no constitutional requirement in Britain for a referendum. Mr. Blair's promise of one on the earlier treaty was unprecedented, and Mr. Brown could argue that this year's version is not as extensive and thus doesn't require a popular vote.

He could do that. If he did, however, he would confirm at the very outset of his premiership all the electorate's worst images of him as a Stalinist control freak, as a man contemptuous of opposing views, and as a politician unworthy of the country's highest office.


A referendum defeat -- the certain outcome -- is, after all, a defeat. Even if his support for the treaty is lukewarm, Mr. Brown will not want to begin his time in office with a humiliating loss at the polls. He could not, after all, call a referendum seeking support for a treaty and then distance himself from it. If his support were anything other than wholehearted he would look vacillating and weak. And the opposition would run rings around him, accusing him of foisting on the country a treaty which he did not back.

New possibilities

According to Augean Stables, new possibilities are appearing in the Middle East and the Arab world. Here's the concluding paragraph:

I’m not sure what the author meant, nor what his readers derive from this. On one level (my hopeful projection?) this is a call to get on with life and start dealing with things like Israelis and Kurds in a positive-sum way. The obscure and allusive language may reflect the inability of Arabs to say such things explicitly… yet, and this excursion in exploring the Arab world when it’s free of the standard excuse for not growing up, is already huge. Sophisticated Arab readers, accustomed to reading between the lines, may well see this; while others, accustomed to screaming bloody murder when they are offended, may not have enough to seize upon here so that they can take it to “the street.”

Who knows what this all means?

Melanie Phillips-as usual

Just read this. It's a bit of a rant, as Melanie Phillips' articles usually are, but with great justification:

The most fundamental failing of all, however, is the Government's counter-terrorist strategy itself. Known as Project Contest, this refuses to acknowledge that the true driver of Islamist terror is religious fanaticism.

Instead, it attributes its causes to Muslim poverty, discrimination and grievances over foreign policy. In other words, it blames us.

The analysis is demonstrably absurd. Many of these terrorists are prosperous, middle class and well-educated. Indeed, two of the suspects who have been arrested are doctors. Muslims are being murdered in vast numbers in Iraq not by us, but by other Muslims.

And as Mr Brown said yesterday, the first attempt to blow up the Twin Towers occurred as long ago as 1993; Islamist terrorism is taking place all over the world and in countries where there is no connection with Iraq or the Middle East at all.

The fact is that the Islamists have always used any and every grievance - Bosnia, Kashmir, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Palestine, Salman Rushdie (twice) - to recruit to their cause.

But the real source of this terror, as former extremists have told us, is the aim to conquer the West and Islamise the world.

Hat tip: Joshuapundit.

Two interesting posts

The ever-reliable EU Referendum has two interesting posts.
First is "futuritis" in which Dr North discusses the weird attitude of the E U and most of the UK's senior military to the current war(s).
Here's the peroration (which neatly sums up the terrible danger of this attitude):
Thus there seems to be a collective determination to avoid thinking about what is, ignoring the real and present danger, in order to focus on the much more entertaining and rewarding task of writing "Capability Development Plans", to deal with hypothetical wars of the future, against mythical foes in far off lands which, as yet, do not exist.

So we lose this war, but hey! We can always win the next one!

Next up is a post about Ed Husain: who has recently published The Islamist.
Here'sa quote from his article from which Helen Szamuely quotes:
Second, we need to realise that Muslim communities recognise the extremists in their midst long before they show up on the radar of our intelligence services. We observe their condemnatory rhetoric, rejection of mainstream mosques, sudden change in dress code. Yet whenmoderate Muslims seek to complain, they are told that nothing can be done because of "freedom of speech". It's time we got real about ho libearl we're prepared to be. Preventing terrorism is a civic duty, just as preventing murder and rape is, but we need to facilitate that process.

Where is Tommy Atkins when you need him?

Some cheerful news from the Commons public accounts committee:
There are not enough servicemen and women to meet the demands placed on the UK armed forces by the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, MPs have said.

The Commons public accounts committee said the overall shortfall in personnel stood at 5,850, or 3.2%, of full strength in April.

Now that's bad enough, but then read some of the comments:
I don't think operations in the Middle East are a major factor in people leaving, people join up to put into practice what they train to do, the problem is the length of deployments, the lack of correct equipment, the lack of working equipment, and most importantly pay. For the job they do, members of the armed forces, particularly amoung junior ranks are not very well paid.


Well they shouldn't have sacked us all in the mid 1990s should they. They knew there was a demographic trough comming but did nothing. Now we are wrapped up in two wars and they are still closing RAF units and mothballing Navy ships. Prehaps if we went back to the same proportion of national income being spent on defence as we did at the beginning of the 1990s we wouldn't be in this awful mess right now.

Simon, Farnham

As a former infantry officer, consider how the military is structured versus the tasks its carries out. Out of 100,000 soldiers, there are 30,000 infantry. About 1 third are immediate support staff - leaving 20,000 fighting troops; of which a fifth will be sick/downgraged/training; leaving about 16,000 fighting troops. The army is used as HMG's reserve not only for war but other emergencies (eg Foot and Mouth/fire strikes) So that's 16,000 fighting soldiers for Iraq, Afghanistan and very very little left over. The result is that soldiers are usually multi-roled; multi toured; immensely busy and hugely underpaid for the hours they work. No suprise that they are leaving in droves.

GTL, London

Perhaps if Gordon Brown didn't take most of our money in taxes already, we wouldn't mind spending some more on our armed forces.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Blood and treasure

Richard North at EU Referendum, has it about right, as usual. If we can't care enough about winning we shouldn't be there:
...that the military – no less than the nation in general (each for their own different reasons) – is not committed to the current wars. As we listened to the RAF commentator coo and gasp at the performance of the Eurofighter, delivering a torrent of propaganda in favour of the new "toy" as it went though its paces (admittedly impressive), one's impression was somewhat reinforced that fighting wars in distant fields were regarded as an irrelevance at best, and a distraction, from the real business of constructing that mythical beast, the "balanced force".

Frankly, if neither the military nor the population – to say nothing of the media and the political establishment – are committed to winning these wars then (no matter how vital it is that we do win them) we have no business sending out troops there, some of them to die and many more to suffer horrific injuries. We might just as well bring them home to play with their "balanced" force and forget all about the untidiness and inconveniences of real fighting.

Read it all here.