Natalie Solent

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

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

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

The Old Comrades:

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

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Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Breaking News... Hamas revealed as Bad Guys! Right Wing News is spot-on about Jesse Jackson cancelling a meeting with Hamas because of the Hebrew University bomb. Jesse Jackson pretending to be shocked to the core that Hamas kill people is, as RWN says,
" canceling a meeting with Britney Spears because she did a concert last night."

If this is a money-making scam it is one so beautiful and inventive that it deserves to succeed. The Time Travel Fund.

Chris Tame of the Libertarian Alliance Forum said he wished he'd thought of it. I told him he will, sometime after his second cryogenic revival twenty-odd thousand years from now.

Don't lets be beastly to the banks, sings the Telegraph's City Editor. Though he'll have to sing louder still if he wants to be heard over the chorus denouncing this week's popular hate figure. I vote evict Natwest! Natwest has been badmouthing the other housemates and does not know where Portugal is. No, you can't vote to evict Railtrack, that was last series.

Hebrew University bomb blast kills seven, the Guardian reports, more sympathetically than hitherto. The Guardian writer, Simon Jeffery, and his mysterious "agencies" neglected to insert a single reference to any of the murdered students being reservists or settlers or religious Jews, even though it's odds-on that some of them were. Either they are wising up - and this may be happening, as reporters spend more time close to the facts and watching corpses jump out of coffins - or it could be that academic victims get extra sympathy.

UPDATE: Alex Bensky suggests that the reason for the Guardian's sympathetic coverage was that, as it turns out, most of the victims were not Jews. Perhaps, but at the time the report was written none of the British papers had any information on the status of the victims. Nor is the Guardian known for its instinctive sympathy for Americans. I really do think I detect a change of line.

"As if increase of appetite had grown by what he feeds on". That's what this here blogging does to you. I started off in control. I didn't think it would hurt to add my personal perspective to flesh out this post in Joanne Jacob's site. My comment is #4. Reasonable, isn't it? You might think so at first. But as I wrote the madness came upon me once more and I ended up with a full scale Black Helicopter rant against the perfidy of the educational establishment over at Samizdata.

LATER: I've corrected the link. Now you really do get my Samizdata post and not the one on the sexual prowess of Englishmen. For the benefit of those readers who preferred the original situation, the sexy post the next one on.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Drafted. Chris Cooper, Pride of the Scabs, and genial host of Blogospherical - oops, sorry, Blogosophical Investigations has been impressed into the New Model Army.

Quite a few people have sent me http's with requests for comment in the last few days. That's fine by me, and I do try to look at them all, but I hope nobody is burning up for a quick response! And sometimes I forget. You all knew that, didn't you?

Seriously, my advice if you wish to publicize your blog is to find some post in someone else's blog that genuinely made you sit up. Demented out-loud ranting at the screen is a good test for a suitable target post. Then make some apt comment taking the subject further or disagreeing with vigour. Now your "look at this" e-mail is precisely targeted to that blog only, and stands a much higher chance of eliciting comment. Repeat as necessary.

This story has no political angle. I post it because it happened to a near neighbour of mine, and because it made my blood run cold.

My neighbour - we'll call her Anne - went out for the day, leaving her dog the run of the house as usual. Along came the window cleaner, by arrangement. When the dog saw the window cleaner's face looming through the glass it went a barking frenzy at this threat to its territory. Somehow the dog managed to bash itself against the edge of a radiator and cut off the end of its tail. Then the blood hit the fan. And the carpets, walls, curtains and ceilings as the maddened creature charged through the house hosing blood.

The window cleaner saw what was happening but was helpless to intervene. He ran to contact a neighbour who in turn phoned the grown up daughter of the house. She rushed home from work, and took the dog to the vet, leaving a note on the door for her mother to explain the state of the house. The dog was OK.

Anne was not. Home she came. Distracted with her own thoughts, she didn't see the note. Walked straight past it. She came into the house. No dog came to greet her. And every vertical and horizontal surface in every downstairs room was coated with fresh, red blood.

What would you have thought?

Skid marks of the week. The Government has dropped plans to censor technical discussion among academics. Good. If we want to fight terror we need technical progress. For that we need free exchange of ideas. Free peoples have a built-in lead when it comes to innovation.

I can't help noting that the academic community has not exerted itself to quite the same extent when defending free speech that wasn't theirs, but perhaps this experience will remind them of some eternal verities.

After the longest two minutes in history, Muslimpundit is back. He opens a window into the conflict of interpretations within the Muslim world on the meaning of Jihad.

Monday, July 29, 2002
I didn't know! Can you ****** believe that, I didn't know! Oaths in anguish count as prayers, the proverb says, but it ought to say oaths in joy do likewise.

What the blue ***** (sorry again, blame my school) am I singing and shouting about? Guys, Friday, Saturday and Sunday have seen me running about like a hyperactive squonk doing family visiting stuff, finally getting a man in to hack down the trees in the garden stuff, yadda yadda stuff, and stuff stuff. So I didn't see, hear or click any news all weekend. Except for a minute while I was turning over the children's travel songs cassette in the car, and heard that there had been silence from those nine trapped miners for 24 hours. Oh, sad, thought I, and filed it away in the great mental repository of Sad Things That It Doesn't Do To Think About Too Much. Only I did think about it too much, just as I thought about the Kursk too much when there seemed to be some hope that those men might be pulled up alive. I thought about the dark and the enroaching cold, and the air turning foul, and hope slowly leeching away for the families waiting above.

Anyway, first blog for nearly three days and I just went over to Hokiepundit out of curiosity to see if he had gone to one of Brian Micklethwait's Libertarian Fridays, like I suggested. And he had - which is cool, and I'd have loved to have been there, were it not for the family visiting stuff, man/tree stuff, yadda yadda stuff and stuff stuff, not to mention lack of sleep, time and money stuff. (Be sure to see me represent my country in the coming Solo Whinge event at the Commonwealth Games.) But even better than Hokie meeting up with the coming rulers of the planet was the post above. "Thank you, Lord" he says. Mildly curious, I clicked, and a minute later I am whooping and yelling and thanking the Lord too. In a paradoxically expletive fashion, true, but, like I said, that's the bad influence of the Fifth Form for you. They all got out alive and it was all such old news that nobody thought to tell me.

Forbidden to make daisy chains for fear of germs. Forbidden to run. Forbidden to climb. That's the modern litigation-friendly playground according to this BBC News 24 story. Can I add a couple not mentioned? Forbidden to compete. Forbidden to play war.

It's very little comfort to reflect that the children will grow up into fat, bovine, housebound hypochondriacs whose only exercise and outlet for pent-up aggression will be will walking their pudgy soap-scented fingers through to "Chasers, ambulance" in the Yellow Pages in order to sue their schools for training them in habits that led to obesity and making them allergic to everything by not exposing them to enough germs.

Howard Feinberg gives the hard numbers on non-combatant casualties in the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. He concludes that the Palestinians target non-combatants. The Israelis do not. "This she calls news," I hear you say. Not news to me, and not to you. The question is, will these results reach the people to whom it is news?

Friday, July 26, 2002
Gibraltar plans to hold a referendum whether or not the British government approve. We all know what the result will be, but is this wise? Eventually one can imagine Hain himself moving to the strategy of attrition by referendum, as practised on the Danes and Irish. "Wrong answer. Try again." "Wrong answer. Try again." "Wrong answer. Try again." "See, we knew you wanted to be good Europeans really."

Anyway, here's a link to 'Panorama', a Gibraltarian online paper, and one to "Infrequently Asked Questions about Gibraltar."

Do you ever ask yourself why Jack Straw is so keen to give Gibraltar to the Spanish? I don't suppose his constituents bombard him with letters demanding that he Surrender Now. There doesn't seem much of a clamour for it even from Spain. Perhaps he thinks about it while shaving. I see him pause, razor in hand. "Now, what do I have to do today? Clip nose hair, yes, but what else? Got it! Must ask Tony to tell me again why we have to give Gibraltar to the Spanish. I know it was something to do with being modern. I like modern things. I didn't like Europe when it was all old stuff but I like it now it's modern. Good thing I changed my mind just in time for Tony to make me Foreign Secretary, ha! ha! Old things are so snobby. That treaty from the seventeen-hundreds Dunks keeps going on about, sounds like a sneeze, it makes me sick the way they pretend that things like that could possibly matter. Still, really ought to read up on it all, I suppose. Gosh, it was a close one when I couldn't remember whether Gibraltar was in the EU or not. Good thing that Palacio chick was able to tell me. She gets up my nose a bit though. Talking of which, bzzzzzzzz, clip, gotcha! Hey ho, it's just one of those things a really hot Foreign Secretary like me has to do."

Thursday, July 25, 2002
Guess who else has an interest in The War To Save the Empire? History News Network reports that controversial anti-gun historian Michael Bellesiles has been teaching in the Emory at Oxford program this summer. His course: History 341, The American Revolution from the British Perspective.

None of the Samizdata guys would believe me when I said I felt sorry for Bellesiles. Every morning he must wake up and see the axe a little lower. Being sorry for him does not mean I would spare him. What he did was much worse than the plagiarism scandals that were in the news at about the same time, even taking a harsher view than I do of those particular plagiarists' guilt. A plagiarist steals the words and work of another. That's not nice, but it is a crime that can exist as a black mark in an otherwise worthwhile lifetime of achievement. But a historian who lies about history betrays his whole reason for professional existence. Worse, Bellesiles intended his distortions to affect the making of present day policy. Eventually a policy built on lies costs lives.

But I really do feel sorry for him. Even he must sometimes wish the axe would fall.

(Link via Instapundit. It's notable that Professor Reynolds, who presumably is well aware of the law of libel, does not seem worried about discussing the case in the plainest terms.)

Just booking my place in the bunker. Er, about this asteroid. This previously undetected asteroid. This previously undetected asteroid that's heading straight for Earth. It's not being... you know... piloted... is it?

I expect a place on the Threat Team for this.

Poetry in the modern world. An outraged e-mail has burned its way along the ether from Will Wilkinson. Yes, this time I really do mean Wilkinson. It says, I should inform you that I go in for poetry plenty. I read poetry. And yes, yes poems make me cry. And I'm a PRETTY DAMN GOOD POET, thank you very much. True, I do not write clunking light verse about the events of the day,

Do I detect a note of criticism? Two of a trade never agree.

...but we're all limited in our own way.

Here is an unromantic love poem for your enjoyment:

All of Creation Smiles

Had I gone four seconds later

I’d be a wrecked mess of car parts.

A thousand miles closer to the sun, we’d all be weeds.

Had Dad not offered that second drink,

You’d have ended, quite divided, on a tampax and a sock.

But here I am and here you are.

I do not trip. You do not belch.

The birds sing at a pleasing frequency.

Pianos fall, but not on us.

All of creation smiles.
Wow. And it is very nearly is epistemological. It's certainly ontological anyway

It's a pain to reach Iain MacWhirter's hard-hitting article on drugs policy in the Glasgow Herald. First you have to click "Opinion" among the blue options to the right. Then click the same word inside the frame. Then choose Mr MacWhirter's head from among the decapitated columnists offered.

INSERT UPDATE: No need to trouble yourselves. I can now offer no less than two separate direct links to the article: this one from Iain J Coleman of Why Do They Call Me Mr Happy and this one, from Patrick Crozier of This Blog Has No Title Just Words and a Loon. How Messrs Happy and Loon know these black arts I prefer not to enquire.

Persevere. It's worth it. Did you know that the prison authorities sometimes have to retox addicts who have succeeded in quitting drugs in prison, simply because their de-habituated bodies would be overwhelmed when they take the first dose the day after getting out, as they certainly will? I didn't know, and I am shocked.

I hate the way that the law on drugs is being changed. The authorities seem determined to simply declare the Lambeth experiment a success, irrespective of the complex actual results. The whole idea of treating the law as an experimental variable*, to be enforced or not at the whim of the government, is a debasement of our liberties, not to mention a standing invitation for citizens to take the same attitude. The "magnet" effect of a no-law zone on druggies for miles around is undoubtedly causing harm to local people.

Nonetheless Blunkett is right, albeit for the wrong reasons. The war on drugs was immoral to start with and disastrous in practice. It demanded a debasement of our laws and liberties that makes the Lambeth effect look puny. And of course the law on drugs will collapse in a chaotic and harmful manner. "Wars on drugs" are like drugs themselves: one of their major evils is that they can't be quit without a vast traumatic spasm, and they leave behind them harmful effects that go on long after you quit.
Same goes for welfare, socialism and a whole bunch of other dependencies.

*There are circumstances in which I would approve of treating the law as an experimental variable. If at some future time there were to arise many different, competing micro-societies, each of which allowed free migration, it would then be both permissible and fascinating to discover by experiment which laws work and which don't. Such laws would be contracts, freely entered into and honoured equally by all sides. That is very different from David Blunkett saying that he can suspend the universal status of British law whenever he fancies but we can't.

The War to Save the Empire. Take cover! It's Hessians again. John Costello writes:

Still refighting the American Revolution (WTSTE to my Tory ancestors), I see. Well, there was a lot more perfidity and nastiness during the period than the pointless battles in Rhode Island. I have in mind the Battle of Long Island, and its effects on the war in New Jersey that following winter. I would be curious to see how British sources deal with it. Alas, it involves Hessians again. When the British fleet arrived off Long Island (south of New York City) the British officers in charge of dealing with the Hessians informed their German mercenaries that George Washington, the enemy commander, had issued orders that all foreign mercenaries in the employ of the British were to be put to the sword. This outraged the Germans. They thought it very unprofessional, and determined to teach the Americans a lesson. So they did not take any prisoners. Our historians report that the British officers involved thought it was 'good sport.'

Of course, a few days later, when they marched into New York, the Germans found out they had been tricked. They did not consider it at all good sport. It meant they would have to fight to the death needlessly. They also, I presume, concluded that their British officers were 'not professional.'
George Washington was, shall we say, rather pissed off at having lost 500 men on Long Island. However, the brothels of New York were his spy dens, and he certainly learned who was responsible.

What happened thereafter is pretty much glossed over in American history books, but Walter Lord's account more or less hints at it.

The Americans took Hessians prisoner, and treated them very well. And made certain the rest of the mercenary army knew it.

The death rate in the fighting in New Jersey was, for British officers, the highest they experienced in the Revolutionary war, Lord reports proudly.

The Hessians surrendered at Trenton virtually without casualties (their commanding officer was killed) when the town was taken after Washington crossed the Delaware. Washington retreated across the Delaware with his prisoners, who went to work on American farms and in mines until the war was over, when most of them remained or later re-emigrated with their families.

As far as I know, no records either exist, or they are still 'top secret.' I know how I would plot it as an historical novel.

The summer holidays have begun, and blogging may become more sporadic. We have been reclaiming the trackless wastes of the garden for civilization, muttering "Pioneers! O pioneers!" all the while, except when I cut myself on a thorn and changed the words to "****! O ****!"

Jim Bennett points out that he described the trend towards no-big-deal Republican interracial marriage in an article for American Outlook last year. It doesn't seem to be on the web, alas, and I'm not sure whether I ought to quote from it without permission.

The subject is of particular interest to me since I am of mixed race myself. Now you may have seen pictures of me that show me as white, or more accurately and unfortunately, pink with freckles. But that's just the body I got by mistake. Inside I'm really a mixed race African / Chinese, and svelte as a Bond girl. Somewhere out there there's a milky coffee-coloured lady who has always yearned to blush easily and have a little round tummy. (I'm being funny, but I'm not entirely joking. Since childhood I've been running a sort of alternative self-image of a different race. When black kids run a white self-image program it is usually regarded as sad, but maybe some of it is just exploratory, like mine.)

The secret way to riches is revealed by me on Samizdata.

'Til the doctors' minds are changing. / Once again. The changeable views of health fascists get the treatment from Will Wilkinson. CORRECTION: Warren! Will Warren. As several people have observed, including Will Warren himself, Will Wilkinson does not seem to go in for poetry much. Pity.Think what treasures are lost to literature because of the lack of a decent rhyme for the word "epistemology."

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
The Gallipoli Order of Battle. Reader Akaky Akakyevich has kindly directed me to The Gallipoli Association website, where the complete Allied order of battle can be found.

Nail those terror-knitters! Decades ago the Telegraph's Way of the World column used to have a running joke about devoted female activists making balaclavas for SWAPO. It - was - a - joke, airport twits. I can't seem to link to this letter that a lady called Pam Weale wrote to the Telegraph, so here it is in full:

Sir - As a registered Frequent Flyer, I am pleased with the security system at Heathrow. However, as a knitter of nearly 50 years' unrelenting production, I was disappointed to find knitting needles on the list of dangerous items no longer permitted on commercial aircraft.

Knitters are not generally thought of as violent. By the very nature of their occupation, they are content and self-absorbed.

A knitting bag can be flown in the hold (along with scissors and crochet hooks), but a devoted knitter expects to be equipped in the airport lounge. A two hour check-in, topped up with a two-hour delay, could be a pleasant experience if the end result is a bobble hat or a woolly sock.

As for that seven-hour flight: that could mean a jumper as well as the other sock. Are knitting needles really dangerous - or is this another case of discrimination against a minority group?

Not exactly, Pam. It's another case of public and irrational discrimination against a completely harmless group so as to better pretend that rational discrimination against a sometimes-dangerous group is not taking place.

Ha'aretz reports on the rising death toll of innocents in Gaza. The report implicitly approves of this quote from a Labour MP:
"Democratic countries generally do not do things of this nature, and the price we are paying today among the best of our friends is very, very high, and is superfluous."
I have to say it: where is the equivalent in the Palestinian and Arab press when it is Israeli innocents who die?

The Hamas man needed killing. An F-16 was too indiscriminate a weapon to do it.

Gallipoli: fires still burning. A bunch of crisp bullet points from Patrick Crozier's This Blog Has No Title...

Some quick responses.

  • Yes, I did know that casualty does not mean dead. Quite a few sources don't. One often sees the 60,000 casualties of the first day of the Somme reported as deaths as if the 19,240 deaths were not bad enough.
  • On the question as to whether "Britain was running out of men", I assume it was true if recast as "running out of first grade soldiers." Although I don't subscribe to the theory that the British generals at Gallipoli were cynically happy to see New Zealanders and Australians die in preference to British soldiers, it's proably true that the generals knew perfectly well that the Anzacs were healthier and less war-weary than their British counterparts. (And, Patrick if you want to know where at least some of the other 4.25m were in 1918, 90,000 of them were in Ireland and quite a few of them were timber felling. Neither of these diversions was quite as weird as they sound.)
  • Was Gallipoli a good idea badly executed or a stupid notion from the start? Probably the latter, but ask me again in a few months time. I do know that much of the criticism of Gallipoli comes from the same people who think it was mere boneheadedness that made the generals concentrate on a war of attrition on the Western Front. The critics are being inconsistent. The poor sods in 1915 danced around every which way to try and break the logjam. One of those dances was Gallipoli. it showed all the qualities of imaginativeness and indirect approach that the "lions led by donkeys" school of thought could ask for. Didn't work that well, did it? John Terraine would say that even if it had, the most it could have done was moved the problem, not solved it. Moreover trying to move the problem favoured centrally positioned Germany over peripheral Britain. Trains go faster than ships.

Just yesterday my husband brought three books about World War I and one about World War II. (Guess what he's teaching next term.) They were John Terraine's To Win A War, Gary Sheffield's Forgotten Victory and two children's books, Terry Deary's Horrible Histories , one dealing with each World War. I was interested to see how the Horrible History jokey cartoon version of history would deal with more recent horrors than the Terrible Tudors. In fact the tone is not offensive and the jokes are relevant and revealing. It's a pity that the World War I book falls hook, line and sinker for the Blackadder picture of the war.

Which brings me to one of the grown-up books. The Oxford Times review of Forgotten Victory, quoted on the inside cover, states:

[Forgotten Victory] must be the first serious study of the Great War to begin with ... an analysis, not of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand or the Schlieffen Plan, but the impact of Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie and company in Blackadder Goes Forth.
There is an alternative universe quite close to ours where I wrote the first chapter of that book.

In other news, the end of the world will take place on February 1, 2019.

Giscard D'Estaing calls for a whole new layer of Euro-MPs. He says "democratic legitimacy of the Union will not be fully accepted by its citizens until there exists a forum that unites the two elements of legitimacy in the Union – the national and the European one". Be still my beating heart!

No one in their right minds would actually link to a D'Estaing story as boring as that. Here's a a much hotter story revealing how D'Estaing conspired with the Americans to kill British soldiers and sailors.

Monday, July 22, 2002
So you want news as well? OK. Here's some They finally got Van Hoogstraten.

I don't say that everyone who attempts to ingratiate himself with Comrade Mugabe is guilty of manslaughter.

On second thoughts, yes I do.

A word on my links policy.

The word is "inconsistent".

Truthful joking apart, I do want you all believing I operate some sort of filter, otherwise I can't be as lazy and lacksadaisical as I want to be. So what I try to do is notice when a site "just keeps coming up" in my blog. When typing out your name starts to bug me, then you get a permalink. Clearly chance plays a role as to whether this happens this week, this month or ever - but hopefully that very capriciousness casts down the proud and comforts the really bad spellers. It does give a peverse incentive to have your blog name difficult to type, but the easy names have compensating advantages. I hope that keeps everyone reasonably happy. If I keep quoting you but haven't linked it's because I'm stupid today. Just hit me round the side of the head with an e-mail.

Let us turn to examples. Jim Miller on Politics has a really fiddly and irritating web address. So if he keeps on coming up with this sort of interesting observation - which is original to him -

"One thing both he [Mickey Kaus] and the AJC miss: Republican politicians have been leading the way in interracial marriages. Among elected Republican white men who have married non-white women are Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, married to a Chinese-American, Senator Phil Gramm, married to a Korean-American, former Senator and Defense Secretary William Cohen, married to an African-American, and Governor Jeb Bush, married to a Hispanic-American. I don't know of any similar marriages among equally prominent white Democratic men. "
- then he's in double quick. But not today. Because I'm pretending I don't do that. Much the same goes for Post Politics. (The Turing dialogue was sublime.)

Yeah, and another thing. I have typed the stupid hyphen in yadda yadda Uncommon hyphen Sense blogspot for the last freaking time. And I've had it up to here with remembering that Jim Henley is called Unqualified Offerings but you have to type highclearing, whatever that's got to do with anything, too. There. Permalinks as punishment: how do you like that, malefactors! To pay yet more for your typographical crimes I'm putting you both in right at the bottom of the column. Serves you right for being alphabetically behindhand.

Mail round-up. You'd all given up on seeing your carefully composed missives on this blog, hadn't you? Some of you were quite right to give up. Your letter came sandwiched between a mortgage offer and a HOT TEEN (a terrible fate for an innocent young e-mail) and my deleting finger just couldn't break the rhythm. Or I meant to reply but didn't, and the moment passed. Guilty, guilty, guilty. But these happy few escaped the common fate:

First, Jim Miller, writing about quote marks, prowlers, and Gallipoli:

After I had sent my email on quotations to you, I noticed my mistake.
More than I did, mate!

Should have sent you a correction immediately. By way of penance, I have given a fuller explanation on my new site, at this web address:

According to Moorehead's "Gallipoli", there were also 79,000 French troops in the Gallipoli campaign. They suffered 47,000 casualties, which, proportionately, is a little worse than the British losses, 205,00 casualties of the 410,000 soldiers engaged.

Now for "prowler". In the US, the primary meaning is, indeed, criminal. But there is a secondary meaning attached to the word, often used with cats, and sometimes with people. For example: Your cat is quite a prowler, isn't he? Or: I think I'll just prowl around the neighborhood a bit. In the case you mentioned, the name comes from a column in the original American Spectator. It was anonmymous and devoted to political gossip, so "prowler" wasn't completely inapt.

"Curate's egg", on the other hand, has me baffled.

It's from a moderately famous Punch cartoon of about a century ago. An overawed young curate is having tea with his vicar. The curate obviously has been served an egg which has gone bad. When questioned, the poor man says, in a ridiculous attempt to be polite yet halfway truthful that the egg is "good in parts." So it ought to mean "something that is plainly bad yet people try to find something good to say about it out of politeness." Any BBC presenter under the age of thirty will serve as an example. In fact, though, the phrase is more commonly and generously used to mean a thing that really is good in parts.

Michael Kielsky of Uncommon Sense admits to not having come across the Kingdom of Mercia in his studies.

"I had no idea, but then, I had a mere one year of schooling in England. You might as well throw in a link, such as this one, to satisfy the curious readers.

Ben Sheriff of Layman's Logic (and also of Rugby Round-up for all you mud-wrestlers out there) took up the Gallipoli story:

The site you link to says the French were generally accepted to have lost circa 10,000 men. Another site says "Fighting bravely against the Turks the two French Divisions were reduced to 13,000 men by diseases and high casualty rates." So the French casualty rate was 43.4%. (From this link about winners of the "Simpson prize.")

Link to a homepage for the Dorreen family says "Of the 8,556 New Zealanders who served in Gallipoli 2,721 died", a 31.8% casualty rate

Several sites seem to suggest about 20,000 Australian troops made up the 1st Australian Division. 8520/20k = 42.6% casualty rate

To have the same casualty rate as the Aussies, Britain and Ireland would have had to send only 68,390 troops. There were probably many more. But the French seem to have suffered higher proportional losses. However, the real impact of Gallipoli on the Aussie mind-set is as a proportion of the population of only 5m at the time (and note that 23,000 Australians died around the Somme and other Western Front battles) .

More details from Ben came in a second e-mail:
Link to some lesson notes:
Total casualties for the campaign were: British and imperial forces, 205,000 out of a total of 410,000; French, 47,000 out of 79,000; and Turkish, about 250,000 out of 500,000. For Australia, the casualty rate was 27,594 (7,594 dead) out of a total of 50,000; for New Zealand 7,247 (2,701 dead) out of 8,556.

All injuries rates:
British 50%
French 59%
Turkish 50%
Australia 55%
NZ 85%

So France had more injuries than Australia, but staggeringly fewer than NZ.

And I bet Ram Ahluwalia of Post Politics really had given up on me ever getting back to him. Post Politics describes itsef as - a few guys (management consultant, econ PHD, aspiring English PHD) who have libertarian philosophies, good writing skills, and a sense of humor. Postpolitics is a good mix of political economy, philosophy, science, and contemporary political debate...

It's an accurate description.

Saturday, July 20, 2002
Hiya, Instapundies. If you've ended up here it means my permalinks are broken. The cryonics post you seek is headed "Not a sparrow falls..." and was released to a hushed and waiting world at 11.37am on Wednesday July 17. And here's a worthwhile trick that I learned from the Professor's FAQ page:
"While I'm at it, a surprisingly large number of people don't know how to use the "find in page" feature that most browsers have. Control-F, or clicking on "Edit" and selecting "find" will let you search for an individual word on a page. It's very useful, but I'm amazed how many people don't know about it."

History? No call for it in America either. Billy Beck of No Treason (the site that made a blogger of Libertarian Alliance Forum fighter ace Tim Starr, which is a bit like being the steam drill that, in a happier end to the old song, finally got John Henry's endorsement on TV) sent me this article by Christopher Hitchens about the decline in history teaching in the US.

I don't know exactly how far our Hitch had come in his progress from Left wing gadfly to whatever-he-is-now when he wrote it, and that ignorance adds to the interest. The usual stats documenting the awful void between modern ears are spiced up by facts I didn't know. How's this for a new take on an alternative world where the American Revolution had never happened:

"Anticipating the victorious outcome of the Seven Years' War, the British disputed about which French colony they should annex. The choice narrowed to Guadeloupe, rich in spices, and Canada, rich in space .... The pro-Canada forces were better organized and financed. But the pro-Guadeloupe lobby made a telling point on the eve of its defeat. If we take Canada, it argued in a finely written polemic, then the ambitious American colonists will no longer require our protection from France. Indeed, they already manifest the stirrings of an independence movement ... Within two decades of this debate, the Tory loyalists of His Majesty King George (Part III) were scuttling to sanctuary over the Canadian border."
Hitchens goes on to say that even indifferent students wake up when asked to consider what would have happened if the British had chosen Guadeloupe.

Canada French, America British, and English cuisine the best in the world?

Friday, July 19, 2002
And if you still can't get enough of me... I rant away some more over at Samizdata. Read this old post of mine if you want to know what's going on.

75k. I'm over the moon. Thank you Guardianoids and all other loyal fans of Na-ta-lee the Sabre-toothed Beast of the Blogs.

May I just mention to the former group of honoured visitors that the centre pages of the Guardian are graced today by an absolutely splendid column?

Stuff the £1,000, it's true. Look, I undertake to demonstrate my independence by making the effort to insult those few of the judges I haven't insulted already (Er, sorry Ev, I know I owe you everything), but seriously, every word of this Guardian column is pure gold. What Spain could teach us about island grabbing.

Y'know this is one cool blog I have here. Just admiring it. Still cool. Gotta check again, has it got any less cool while I wasn't looking. No, still doing fine.

No, it's up again. But the hit counter has disappeared.

I'm fifteen visits short of seventy five thousand. And Blogger is down.

Truth in advertising. James M. Capozzola, who runs The Rittenhouse Review also has a site called ||| trr ||| which he bills as being the humorous counterpart to the main site. (I just lost my vertical-line keyboard virginity.) With me so far? Now I like a bit of humour, so I take a look and I see this:
"English Bulldogs are friendly, kind, loving, loyal, strong, tenacious, and comical -- sources of endless entertainment.

"The Bulldog isn’t really a dog. It’s a mixture of a vast variety of species: part dog, part cat, part rabbit, part pig, part hippo, part seal, part monkey, and part human. The Bulldog is everything you could ever want -- and then some.

"They are great city/apartment dogs. They normally are very quiet, rarely bark, and they don’t need (actually, they don’t want) much exercise. They are, however, terrible watch/guard dogs. Unless you want intruders to be given a friendly and sloppy greeting, the Bulldog is not for you.

"It’s true that they snore (though I find this very comforting somehow), burp, and fart a fair amount, but it’s a worthy trade-off. I have owned three Bulldogs over the years and believe the “conventional wisdom” that they are afflicted by more than their fair share of health problems to be somewhat mythological."

The funny bit is that for a whole minute I thought it was a satirical comment on the English character, using our national emblem as an icon. The references to mixed ancestry, quietness, tubbiness, amiable dopiness, hypochondria, and, I am afraid, snoring, burping and farting are all spot-on. Only the bit about friendly and sloppy greetings being offered to intruders - our state-induced passivity towards criminals may be deplorable, but no one I know goes so far as to offer any visiting drug-crazed knifemen a welcoming snog - alerted me to the fact that it's talking about a real dog. I know, I know, I can't have been reading very carefully, but it's Mr Capozolla's own fault for putting a serious announcement in the humour section.

Anyway, she's for real, she's canine not human, she's housetrained and lovable, and she needs a home somewhere within reach of Texas. Take a look if you think you might be able to help.

UPDATE: Mr Capozolla charmingly adds, "It's too bad I didn't say anything about dentition. That would have fit in quite well. (I'm sure you know British teeth are often the subject of derision over here.)" Oh, really? I could go off this chap, you know. But the sweet picture of Mildred the bulldog very nearly mollified me. Then I got the next e-mail. "And the constant, relentless shedding. I don't know if that's a British trait." Sure, it is. You could knit a jumper from the stuff that Natalie the Gorilla Woman leaves behind wherever she goes. Any other nice comments, you railway-toothed Yank? "My question is why do almost all Bulldogs hate rain? I would have thought they would be used to it by now."

Expert Opinion. Constitutional Law professor Eugene Volokh is quoted by the seriously famous Larry Elder in a column about whether the words "under God" should or should not be included in the US Pledge of Allegiance. Yep, that Eugene Volokh.* A blogger. One of our boys. You know how Tim Blair is always saying that all the idiocies are coalescing into one vast ball of pus? Looks like all the righteous thinkers like Elder and Volokh are coalescing into one vast antibody.

*As opposed to all the thousands of other Eugene Volokhs you keep meeting everywhere.

Here's a sweet but pointless article by Simon Tisdall. He feels sad that it took the IRA thirty years to apologise. He wishes the Israelis and the Palestinians could be nicer to each other right now, but even if they can't manage that quite yet he just knows that one day we will all look back on this and laugh. Group hug! Group hug!

The crimes and folly of mankind. Hokiepundit, studying in Britain, was shocked at British ignorance of history. Earlier he said that his friends looked blank when he mentioned the Kingdom of Mercia. I'm saddened too, but not shocked. The history of Britain came close to being a forbidden subject in the schools over the last few years. First, they stirred up history, geography, economics and social studies (especially social studies) in a big undifferentiated stew called "humanities" and let it bubble away with a peppering of half-remembered Marxism. Any scrap of history still identifiable as such after that process was fished out and grilled to a frazzle under beams of white liberal self-hatred. (I think even Estelle Morris has spoken about going into a school and seeing displays on the walls celebrating every culture but the native one.) And if that wasn't enough, you had to pass a frigging exam on how the stew was cooked before you could eat a bite. History at GCSE level largely ignored facts and concentrated on getting the wee bairns to ape the methods of grown-up historians. A primary teacher once ran the multiple choice section of a GCSE history exam intended for 16 year-olds past her class of bright eleven year-olds. She coached them in logical inference, distinguishing primary from secondary sources, and so on, but taught them nothing whatsoever about the period they were meant to be studying. They did fine. Logic is a fine thing, but if you want an exam in it, call it "Logic" not "history".

Iain Murray is right to note that the public gobble up popular history on TV because they have been starved of it in school.

The Guardian includes me in its list of favourite weblogs. But "broadly right wing news and views"? Woweee, that got the hits coming. Not. Note to printer: delete and insert: "Insanely anarcho-capitalist, gun totin', drug liberalisin', no-decent-europhile-is-safe-in-bed news and views, plus sewing." Thank you.

Or they could employ the slogan I used to describe my blog when putting myself forward to the Guardian: "Greece to Peter Briffa's Rome." Which brings me rather neatly to the Guardian's weblog competition. Sorry Junius, sorry Kolkata Libertarian, sorry me, but it is the necessary and manifest destiny of Public Interest to win this one. The thought of the man who greeted Guardian readers with these inspiring words:

"So, to all the social workers, school teachers, trades unionists and child molesters who make up their readership, a big hello! Stop worrying about globalisation, the rising tide of racism in western society, and the vexed issue of everything, and just relax why don't you, it's the weekend."
- getting a grand of Guardian money has an appeal that surmounts all divisions of caste or opinion. Anita Roddick, a woman famously in touch with her inner shaman, has, I know, already set her heart on Briffa for the Big One.

Thursday, July 18, 2002
Calloo, callay, it finally published. Now I can get rid of the errors, omissions and duplicate paragraphs that have been bugging me all day.

If you type you get "Tanstaafl." But if you type you get "Tanstaafl." Clear?

Tanstaafl only appears to have one post, though. Sad. Never mind, Tanstaafl has loads!

I was stopped short by the reference to "the British Generals that used Australians as shock troops in World War One", with particular mention of Gallipoli. This isn't a campaign I know much about, but around six years ago I recall reading what turned out to be a very controversial article in either the Spectator or the Economist saying that this belief was an Australian nationalist myth. I have not found the article on Google, and, I repeat, I have read little else about the subject, and of course I am not impartial. Despite all these caveats, it is true that many readers will be surprised to learn that there were many more British soldiers killed at Gallipoli than Australian. I was.

This website gives the total figures for those killed, broken down by nationality as:

British (including Irish) 29, 134

Australian 8, 520

New Zealand 2, 806

Indian 1, 891

Newfoundland 45

Ceylon 4

Others* 29
I did not find any mention of comparative casualty rates. It may well be that the Australians and New Zealanders had a higher proportion killed than the British, but even so those 29,000 give the lie to the idea that the British sat back and did nothing.

The same website goes on to publish the following FAQ:

I wasn't aware that there were British soldiers at Gallipoli. Who were they? One of the saddest aspects of the history of the Gallipoli campaign is that, in Australia and New Zealand, there is almost never any acknowledgement made that other forces were present at Gallipoli other than the Anzacs, and that, in Britain, most people seem neither to know nor care about the part played by their own soldiers there. At the same time, though, it has also to be pointed out that the Anzac sector was separated from the British / French sector at Cape Helles (the southern tip of the peninsula), by some 13 miles, and that the two were never linked up, so in effect they can be treated as different battlefields completely.

That said, it must also be realised that some Anzac units served at Helles, and some British units served at Anzac. Later, in August, after the new landings at Suvla Bay, to the north of Anzac, the Anzac and Suvla (British) areas were linked, and there was a little more contact between the two.

Who were they? There were too many different units for me to answer that here. I'll work on putting up a list of all units present on a separate page (not possible yet because of memory restrictions on my site). Suffice to say that in total (including the Anzacs and Indians and French), approximately half a million men were sent to Gallipoli on the allied side, with total casualties (killed, wounded, sick and prisoners), of about 252,000 men.

Australians and New Zealanders pride themselves on giving everyone a 'fair go', but when it comes to Gallipoli, there has been so much misinformation taught that many people seem unwilling to even admit that other forces were present and become almost resentful when this is pointed out. The fact that others were there does not detract from what the Anzacs did, but it must be acknowledged that they also performed amazing acts of bravery, suffered and died, and some in greater numbers than even the Anzacs, and that therefore they also deserve a 'fair go'.

I don't think it diminishes the Anzacs' memory in any way to point this out. Their dauntless courage was acknowledged by all who saw it.

In Dante's Hell (Niven and Pournelle's version) flatterers were condemned to have excrement pour out of their mouths, and and the violent had to stand in a lake of boiling blood.

What crime would condemn one to forever press "publish" in Blogger, and watch that stupid page picture eternally form and reform, knowing all the time that it wouldn't work?

Whatever it is, I'M SORRY!

I can't seem to link to Jim Henley's "Unqualified Offerings." It can be found at:

Motives of Palestinian Collaborators/ Resisters. Jim Henley writes, "Indeed, money is NOT the sole motivation of a lot of Palestinian informers. They are also, in many cases, being blackmailed by Shin Bet. The hook can be anything from sex to petty crime. (See this, among other sources.)

Agent recruitment is not a gentlemen's game anywhere in the world."

True. I was going to add a similar note of realism to my earlier post, but the moment passed. I suspect that once one has been drawn in to a spy network for whatever reason (or mixture of reasons), the fact that death is the penalty for discovery will breed loyalty to the network itself, and perhaps eventually loyalty to its cause. Northern Ireland has given us examples in both directions.

A curate's egg of an article by Hugo Young concerning the proposed changes to the justice system. Gosh, he does like the word "libertarian", doesn't he? Pity he calls Roy Jenkins one. I'd say that Jenkins started the tilt to towards the poor, sad, misunderstood criminals that, inevitably, caused the reaction in favour of illiberal measures now. Jenkins wasn't above shameless manipulating of public fear of crime for his own ends, either. If you let me get started on him and the firearms laws you'd be here for a long session.

Getting back to Hugo Young, he describes the European Human Rights Act as "driven forward by the inescapable demands of history." Mistah Young he one foolish old Marxist. Don't he know that is mighty bad juju! The personifications of concepts such as History and Society really prefer to sleep unmolested on the Albert Memorial. The last time incautious mortals awoke the personification of History, she demonstrated that she had room in her capacious dustbin for them.

Even so, Young makes some good points about Labour's history and culture, and he is alert to the great danger facing British justice when he says, "But an insinuating needle can destroy the fabric of the system just as well."

Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio reprise. Captain Heinrichs speaks out on doctrine:
"From an Anabaptist point of view, such disagreement in doctrine should be discussed only after much personal prayer and meditation, and then only in private with other members of the congregation. Public expressions of doctrinal disagreement is to be reserved for genuinely serious matters of faith, (ala 95 Theses, which Mr Oneill's plaint falls far short of). His petulance should have remained under cover, perhaps to be discussed in the backroom, with his dearest friends, after several pints of Guinness (certified brewed in Dublin, of course). How can I sound more snarky? Please advise."
Don't worry. You're doing just fine. :-)

Wednesday, July 17, 2002
The "Palestinian Resistance" you don't hear about. Read about them in an article by Larry Henry in The American Prowler. (Weird name for a journal. "Prowler" round here means a criminal on the lookout for opportunities.) Link via The Corner.

Sigh. The direct link doesn't work. Click The Corner.

Larry Henry exaggerates. Surely most of these "collaborators" work for money rather than for their convictions. But I say that the man whose convictions allow him to take money in secret to prevent atrocities is better than the man whose convictions demand that he commit atrocities.

UPDATE: When I look at these pictures and reflect that these "collaborators" risk this kind of end, then I ask myself if money really is their sole motivation.

"Not a sparrow falls..." Serious discussion of whether cryonics is incompatible with Christianity, or belief in an immortal soul generally, from A Voyage to Arcturus and Rand Simberg (Thanks to England's Sword for the steer.)

No, I have no plans to go for the popsicle option myself; it's a bad bet and simply does not appeal to me. Yes, those contemplating cryo-storage should first make their peace with God - as all men should at all times, but particularly if you are rich, scared of death and terminally ill. But for all that I do not see that there is any logical incompatibility between life extension, which is just a bigger dose of the artificial means nearly all of us use to extend and protect life, and a belief in judgement after death. As Ecclesiastes says, however long you live you will be dead a lot longer.

Nor do I see a watertight moral dividing line between the hope for longer life and the hope of being physically brought back from the dead. The argument that electric shocks can restore to health those who would have been considered "dead" a few decades ago is true, but I shall ignore it as a distraction. Let's assume that you are dead dead, like hamburger. If you are destined to be non-supernaturally brought back to life (temporarily, before finally dying again), God knows about it. He sees it happening from His standpoint outside time in the same way as He sees you at your computer now. Rand Simberg's picture of there being a storage facility for the "pending" souls is amusingly literal, but has the right idea. Don't worry. God won't be caught napping.

A few cryonicists also entertain the hope of literal immortality perhaps in the form of stored information slipping through the Big Crunch wormhole into the next universe, and the one after that and so on. This is incompatible with Christianity, but since it is statistically certain (think about it) that something'll kill 'em before eternity ends, let's not get in a stew about it.

Only micro-blogging today. It's Sports Day. Oh, can I make a date with you all for about this time in the year 2012? By that time my offspring will be, I trust, all grown up, loaded with achievements and equipped with stratospheric levels of self-esteem. I will then feel free to tell some very funny stories about the egg and spoon race back in 2002.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Letter to Iran. I heartily wish that the Algerian fundamentalists had not had their election victory stolen from them by the army. Reports of the two-sided cruelty of the civil war raging there put me in mind of the Thirty Years War in Europe. Or of a cockfight.

The fundamentalists are not, to put it mildly, my favourite people, and the regime they would have instituted would have been as repressive and obscurantist as the Iranian regime has been. Such a regime would have itself murdered thousands, as Iran's did. It would have hedged and lied and manoeuvred to avoid being thrown out when its time was clearly up, as Iran's regime is doing now. Yet Iran's fate is likely to be happier than Algeria's. No ideas go in or out of Algeria. The Iranians are looking forward, and outwards.

This open letter expresses solidarity and hope without presuming to lay down the law to the Iranian people. I like that. Why not read it and pass it on? (Or don't, if you don't want to! John Weidner was the sort of kid who sometimes preferred to finish his book rather than be dragged off to participate, and has added a little note to the effect that no one need feel pressured. But hey, it's voluntary, so why not?)

Daniel Johnson says all that needs saying about the extra government cash for schools. I have a particular hatred for "initiatives". Anyone else remember the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) of ten years ago? I scarcely do, and I taught the thing. I hit my head against the wall a few times and some mental pictures swirled up from the murk: the swanky TVEI centre full of exciting electronic goodies, and the teachers' course on film editing - quite fun, that, though I never used it for teaching. I also remember that the pupils had to share textbooks in my science class. That's a real pain, especially if sharers work at different paces, and it means that you can't give them homework from the textbook. The cost of my film course would have paid for the textbooks many times over, but of course that wasn't allowed.

The Guardian's Zimbabwe correspondent was actually acquitted of false reporting. But he still has to leave the country.

Libertarian Samizdata has mutated into and is now to be found at

Monday, July 15, 2002
Okay, Hokiepundit, you're on my permalinks column. Now GO TO BED.

I shouldn't. I really shouldn't. Shouldn't what? Shouldn't quote the text of the Papal Bull Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio right next to Brendan O'Neill's trumpet blast against the monstrous regiment of bloggers. The juxtaposition is so unfair. So disproportionate. Such an ignoble fusion of the sacred and the profane. So trivial a use of a dreadful chapter of history. So - so - so irresistible...
"Since the duty of the Apostolic Office has been divinely entrusted to Us, although We are unworthy of it, the general care of the flock of the Lord is upon Us, and thence, for the sake of the faithful custody and healthy direction of it, in the manner of a vigilant pastor, to carefully watch and attentively provide so that those who in this age, sins demanding, relying upon their own prudence, rise up against the discipline of the orthodox faith, more knowledgeably and perniciously than usual, and by perverting the meaning of the Sacred Scriptures with superstitions and false innovations, contrive to tear the unity of the Catholic Church and the seamless robe of the Lord asunder, must be thrown out of the sheepfold of Christ, lest they continue a magisterium of error, who despise to be disciples of the truth."
It was that phrase error-prone that set me off. The voices made me do it.

(Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio was promulgated by Pope Paul IV in 1559 and provided for "The renewal of whatever judgments and punishments promulgated against heretics and schismatics in whatever manner whatsoever; and the imposition of other punishments on prelates and princes of whatever degree and dignity who are guilty of heretical or schismatic perversity.")

Bite the hand that funds you. Neil Dodds clarifies the status of the EU Observer:
The EU Observer isn't an official EU magazine, but is the organ of the EU parliament's Group for a Europe of Democracies and Diversities. The group includes a couple of members of the UK Independence Party (small anti-Euro grouping) and several members of France's Hunting, Fishing, Nature and Traditions party, along with a couple more I've never heard of. Members of the European Parliament often join loose groupings when they share common interests.

As both these parties formed to oppose specific EU policies - the single currency on one hand and laws limiting France's hunters' right to hunt on the other - they're not in any way spokesmen for official EU policy.

That said, the EU observer is well put-together and has a little more diversity of opinion than is usually the case with EU official reports. The EU itself may have an obligation to fund inhouse magazines produced by its various parliamentary groupings, but these publications can't be described as airing the official opinion of the EU.

Amid all the anti-Spanish schadenfreude about Morocco's invasion of the disputed island of Perejil I haven't seen anyone saying that it is probable that Morocco was specifically emboldened by Jack Straw. But it seems clear to me. What better time for them? Morocco sees the British government aching to surrender a British enclave on the tip of Spain. All parties, except those irritating Gibraltarians, seem to agree that this pimple on the smooth chin of a modern European state has to be sqeezed and quick. "Righty-ho," the Moroccans think, "just how het-up can the Spaniards get if we start a little tidying up of our own borders? Not quite ready to take Cueta yet, but let's just establish which way history's going."

Saturday, July 13, 2002
The fissile grammarians. Every other time I've posted a query about the correct use of English a wave of unanimous agreement has washed over me. Not for this question, though. Jim Miller's e-mail was typically tolerant:
I am not a grammarian, but here's what Fowler (in the second edition) says about problem of two stops at the end of a sentence. Logically, your sentence should end:
. . . Palestinians?"?
but this looks so funny that instead we write:
. . . Palestinians"?
and let one question mark stand in for two. The best solution, I think, would be to recast the sentence to avoid the problem. [Cop out! ;-) -NS]

By the way, Derbyshire's title is not a question and would be better without the question mark. [Hey, I knew that. Just considering a more interesting case. -NS]

Also, by the way, you can resolve the contradiction between the two Derbyshire articles by assuming he cares about one billion followers of Islam, but sees no reason to care much about a few million Palestinians, whose problems are not nearly as severe as those of other groups like the Iraqi Kurds or the Algerian Berbers.

David Farrer (of Freedom and Whisky, another product of that bloggers' spawning ground, the Libertarian Alliance) takes a slightly different line when he writes:
I quote from a useful little book “Write Right” by Jan Venolia:

Punctuation marks are placed outside the quotation marks unless they are part of the material being quoted. If the material quoted is itself a sentence, the period closing it can be included if the quoted sentence comes at the end of the larger sentence (and thus the period serves to close both). If this is not the case, but some kind of pause is still needed, the period closing the quoted sentence can be replaced by a comma within the quotation marks.

Who asked “Why?”
Have you seen “Gone with the Wind”?
“I insist on going, ”he said stubbornly.
He said stubbornly, “I insist on going.”

So, I think that option 1 is correct if you take “Why I don’t care about the Palestinians.” as being a complete sentence.

I also think that you need the comma after “wrote”.

To think that this sort of stuff was so boring at school!

"The 210 youths participating in the Youth Convention, which kicks off officially today on Wednesday, were given an ambitious task for the following days... "

Ah, takes you back doesn't it. Those sturdy Young Pioneers, the glorious Komosol. Actually it came from the EU Observer which I am told is an official EU magazine, despite containing the odd bit of token scepticism.

Gosh, nearly got distracted from telling you the HOT NEWS! Yes, "The participants in the Youth convention have to be between the ages of 18 and 25, and they come from 28 countries – the 15 EU member states and the 13 candidate countries."

Way cool! But - oh no, there's some scandal: "...the Secretariat of the Convention confirmed that one of the participants is over the age of 25. Because of this, Henrik Södermann had to withdraw his candidacy from the post of President."

How awful, but I trust you can rest easy. After all, "168 of the youths were chosen by the full and alternate members of the Convention representing national Parliaments or governments, 32 by the representatives of the European Parliament, 4 by Commission representatives and 6 by the Chairman and Vice-chairman."

Remember, you heard it here first.

Just because you're paranoid... Yep, just after getting in a pother about all that virus stuff, I then found that Blogger wouldn't let me post a warning. Best I could do was e-mail a few bloggers I knew and ask them to pass it on. Dawson did, and says the same has happened to him. Scary, or what? More Mulderesque ranting from me over at Samizdata.

UPDATE: I am advised it is probably something called the "Klez worm" or just "Klez".

Friday, July 12, 2002
The fearless blogger (it was John Braue of Rat's Nest) who alerted me to the potential virus mentioned below says he prefers to track down and eviscerate spammers rather than hide from them, so he leaves his e-mail address in clear. Me, I'm a coward. My e-mail address hasn't changed but I've now made some attempt to disguise it from hostile robots.

Just conceivably there is an innocent explanation. All I can say is, if you want to tell me about it, don't even think of doing so via an attachment.

Virus/Spam with my name on it? WARNING: I have not sent anyone an e-mail consisting of two attachments without accompanying text and headed "d*rling". If you get such an e-mail, delete it unopened.

The old, old story. The last line of this post was unbearably poignant. Who was it? What was the *******'s name? Elmo? Big Bird? Tell me!

UPDATE: Link bust. Sigh. Go to

There's more on Hitler compared to Stalin at Junius. Is it pointless? Among university educated people the subject has certainly been done to death, since it is the subject of so many late-night gabfests among undergraduates. I do not undervalue those discussions; there's something missing in the young person who does not seek to understand why and how the twentieth century was so bloody. But it does mean that it's difficult to say anything new.

Note that one of Chris Bertram's links to me goes to the trivial comment of 10 July rather than the longer one of 11 July. The fault is in the code, not Chris Bertram. I can't make it work either. Pressing "copy shortcut" on the longer piece seems to take you to the previous day. Try it.

John Costello writes:

I long ago came to the conclusion that arguing over which mass murderer was 'worse' was effectively pointless.

The Soviets, like the Nazis, also had a concept of 'objective' guilt. Guilt was not personal, it came about like Original Sin and inherred in those of the wrong social class (rather than 'race,'), or those who were needed as scapegoats. The father of the Russian SF
writers Boris and Arkady Struatsky surivived the purges only because he was out of town when his entire department was condemned. They never went looking for him. After a phone call to his wife, he just continued his business trip. His brother was not so lucky -- he was kicked to death by Komsomol members. If they had been in Germany, they would have been murdered as Jews.

The SF writer Kir Bulychev lost virtually everyone he was or might have been related to. His grandfather survived -- he was a military accountant. His father became a devout party member. The four great uncles were 'liquidated,' husbands were murdered, wives driven to suicide. His mother's family vanished, and she herself nearly bought it at the age of twelve when they came for all the children at the school where she was enrolled. They came at night, and she was a day student. The kids were put in boxcars headed south, and were 'disappeared.' He only found out he was a hereditary enemy of the people in his thirties when his mother showed him the few documents she had hidden away, at grave risk to herself, her husbands, and her children. If the Germans had taken Moscow, he might have been snatched by a Lebensborn unit and surivived, or not. His step father was Jewish, and so was his younger sister.

When I was in college as an undergraduate I remember talking to another student who was so pro Viet Cong she sounded like a propaganda broadcast from Hanoi. The Vietnamese hadn't yet had their falling out
with the Khmer Rouge and she was alternative dismissing the recent refugee reports of 'Year One' and justifing them if they were true,
which they were not, of course, just American propaganda... I can imagine her juistifing the murders of the Strugatskies and Bulychev's relatives, because they were merely abstractions. It goes with the verb
'to liquidate.' Or 'The People,. United, Will Never Be Defeated!" The 'people' here are an abstraction, defined by the revoluionaries. If they do something so they no longer fit the definition, like think for themselves...

The same way of thinking works for the Islamofascists. Also I am condemned to having relatives so 'Irish' (in-laws, fortunately) they would as soon as blow you up as talk to you. By 'you' I mean you personally (and me, since my mother is of English, Welsh, and Scots ancestry, I am of impure blood.)

Alas. this topic puts me into a blue funk, which reading your blong normally does not. I recommend "What is Socialist Realism" by Sinyavsky/Tertz if you haven't read it yet.

The little corporals. I have belatedly found This Kevin Myers article about Sean Mac Stiofain, aka John Stephenson, sometime leader of the Provisional IRA. Myers' view of his subject is well worth listening to. But I post the article now because of the wider applicability of this paragraph:

Gone! Expletive deleted!

Yeah, well, if you want to pay for premium content, "Beware the Enthusiast" made some good points about the motivations of fanatics. I seemed to slip beneath the Irish Times's financial radar first time I found it, but now their defences are up.

Random Jottings on Iran. Actually, far from random. John Weidner thinks this is an issue where concerted effort could help.

The Ninja of the blog-forest takes is pleased to sharpen her shuriken against the tyrants. Manga version coming soon.

They are chipping away at all the little things that defined Britain. Straw to cave in on Gibraltar. Of course, it's no little thing to the people of Gibraltar.

Christopher Pastel writes (providing another example of the way that scholarly readers use this humble blog as a message board, something like two professors discussing superstring theory at the laundrette):
One additional fact: the Supreme Court looked at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals case and decided not to review it. This usually means that they did not think that the constitutional issues were incorrectly decided. (Doesn't always mean this; could just mean that they didn't want to bother since there are no inconsistent Court of Appeals rulings on the issue. As soon as a different Court of Appeals rules contrary to the 5th Circuit, the Supremes are much more likely to hear an appeal.) Since it takes 4 Justices to decide to hear an appeal, we know that at least 6 justices did not see any reason to review the case.
The Supremes, now... weren't they a singing group?

Cuckoo. Funny, one of the new chicks in the links basket, The Rittenhouse Review seems somehow different from his brothers and sisters....

Come forth, ye grammarians. What is the correct punctuation for a question the last part of which consists of a quotation?

Can he be the same man as the one who wrote "Why I don't care about the Palestinians."?


Can he be the same man as the one who wrote "Why I don't care about the Palestinians"?
What if the title enclosed within the quote marks had itself ended with a question mark?

Come to think of it, should there be a comma after "wrote"?

Don't blame Islam, writes John Derbyshire. Can he be the same man as the one who wrote Why I don't care about the Palestinians? I suppose he's saying he's got a more of a downer on the Arabs as a race (er, as a culture and a mindset associated with a race. Phew! Skin of my teeth, there. Or do I mean his teeth?) than on Islam per se.

Thursday, July 11, 2002
Too big to blog? Blogger has finally condescended to show me Chris Bertram's reply on the Hitler/Stalin thing. And I feel a curious reluctance to get to grips with it. I know why, too. It's happened before. I think, this is a serious issue. I must make a response worthy of it. I think I'll just put another wash on while I think deep thoughts. And the deep thoughts dissipate while I fiddle away. Nor, when dealing with old crimes, however vast, am I fuelled by fury as I have been when blogging about crimes committed only days ago.

Not everyone pussyfoots around like I do. Robert Sendler writes:

The Left makes incredibly esoteric distinctions based on the motives of the social planners doing the killing. If you are on the road to an egalitarian paradise it’s okay to kill a few million people (as long as it brings about the "correct" outcome. But if the motives of the centralized experts differ from Leftist dogma, well, it’s evil Fascism.

The Right has mostly (except for a fringe of Kluckers and other white trash) moved past its monsters (or assigned monsters. Lose the nationalism and couple of other idiosyncrasies of the Nazis you're left with a conventional, centralized, socialistic approach to governing things.) while the Left still embraces them.

Castro gets treated like a rock star and Pinochet gets snatched by the Spanish.

The difference?

I do think that motive matters to some extent. When a Nazi imagined his future ideal it included, centrally, the Jews gone and the Poles and Slavs enslaved. When a Communist imagined his, it could, in principle, have included happy, reformed Kulaks and bourgeousie as well as the necessary happy peasants. But how much weight should we give this really? About a tenth of a second later our Communist moved his mind on to a much more pleasing subject: how he was going to make the lives of those rich bastards hell for not being reformed quick enough. As he did, though he never came anywhere near making the peasants happy. What good did that tenth of a second do? Very possibly it did harm: as Solzhenitsyn said,
'Ideology - that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others' eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors'.
That is why Stalin got such an easy ride. And he did, despite the honourable exceptions Chris Bertram quotes. Plenty of people are still surprised to be told that Hitler killed fewer than Stalin did.

For all that, there was a certain unique horror about the Nazis. No actions by the Jews could propitiate them. Was it Roger Scruton or Robert Conquest who, when asked why he thought the Nazis were worse than the communists, said "I feel so"? It was someone impeccably anti-communist, anyway, yet he felt so, and I can feel it too.

But, then again, in the depths of Cambodia in Year Zero or the great purges of the USSR, nothing you could do would save you either. Perhaps the agonized wondering whether some even greater effort at abasement might just save you (because you were in principle damned for sin rather than as a category) made the sufferings of their victims even worse.

Dark waters. I haven't kept to the point, and I haven't come to any conclusion. Best I can do for now.


Definition note: By "forced based ideals" I only meant that even at its most benign, the communist and socialist vision included redistributing wealth by force. If you resisted you would go to prison.


What a relief to scroll up a post or two and fail to choose between different flowers in liberty's garden. The relief is not all-encompassing, however. Fact is, I've got my troubles. On Sunday I have to go on some ghastly fun run that I foolishly signed up for in the distant days of spring. And I had the curtains at one end of the living room dry cleaned and I'd really like the other end set done too, only I'm running out of kidneys to sell. Until these difficulties are sorted out I am unable to announce my final judgement between Hayek and Nozick.

Amnesty International condemns Palestinian attacks against civilians Good. But as Instapundit says, "Took 'em long enough."

As someone who only knows what baseball is from the Charlie Brown cartoons of my youth, I don't know why this should make me so sad. But it did.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Quick, before I go. Check out Oxblog (back soon I trust), Paul Wright's Tanstaafl ("Journalists are unelected, self-selected, insular, unrepresentative, arrogant, untrustworthy, distant, biased, and many smell strange" - not that I'm trying to stir up trouble between him and Tim Blair) and The Rittenhouse Review (snuggled up nicely in alphabetical proximity to Right Wing News), three very different draftees to the New Model Army.

No, not here, in the column to your left. You can cope.

I know Junius has a reply to my comments in the Hitler vs Stalin debatette, because he wrote and told me so, and I saw it yesterday while feeling too peely-waly to write anything. Alas, today I'm getting "Web Site Not Responding", but maybe you will have better luck. I had two or three e-mails on this subject which I hope to quote from later, but today's blogging time is up and I gotta go do boring things.

Another well-educated reader keeps me up to the mark. Anton Sherwood of Plato's Cave writes (about the reference to the "Supreme Court saying the Second Amendment means what it says"):
In a couple of cases in the past decade or so, the Supreme Court has mentioned the individual right to arms in passing; but unless I'm more out of touch than usual, you're thinking of a decision at the next level down. The Federal Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissed on simple Second Amendment grounds. The Federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overruled, saying that, although the Second Amendment does indeed declare an individual right, the narrow restriction in question is not excessive - thereby sidestepping the broader issue.
This from a man who also dashes off "A few results from my explorations into Fullerene topologies." Cool.

1776 And All That. Jim Bennett writes:

The principal reason I considered a compromise the most likely scenario for alternative resolution of the Revolution was that the possibility of a complete military defeat of the colonists, followed by a forced imposition of Lord North's program, had such a low probability that it was not worth considering. If that *had* been the resolution, it would just have been a formula for another revolution in twenty or thirty years, until either independence or a compromise settlement eventuated. The only real possible outcomes were compromises.
Philosophical/SF digression: Interesting phrase there, "the only real possible outcomes." As in many sentences (e.g. "five bricks piled on top of one another") the actual words are philosophically indefensible while conveying their meaning perfectly well. Some counterfactuals strike us as less counterfactual than others even though there are no degrees of didn't-happen-ness. And if I had not read Godel, Escher, Bach I would not be writing this now. End of digression.
Of course, we forget that the actual outcome was a compromise as well. Congress had to forego their ambitions on Nova Scotia, Quebec, Florida (for a while) and the Caribbean, which were quite real. (See Kevin Phillips' The Cousins' Wars, which goes into this in some detail.) We think of Nova Scotia as not-American today, but that was not at all obvious in 1776. Southern Nova Scotia was heavily settled from New England and before 1783 was generally considered part of New England. America kept trying, too, and eventually it did bag Florida (after the British gave it back to Spain), and failed at the second attempt at Canada in 1812.

The outcome of the Revolution was a rather arbitrary carving-up of the Western Hemisphere Anglosphere, mostly due to military chance, which grew more and more comfortable and tradition-sanctioned over time. Population-sorting (Loyalist expulsion and emigration) after the Revolution helped turn British North America into two nations, Canada and the USA.

I agree that it's been more interesting having the Anglosphere divided up into several different states. That seems to be our nature. If you count Scotland as an English-speaking nation, (which John Knox certainly did) then the Anglosphere was only ever unified into a single political system from 1707 to 1776, (add a few more years if you count the Cromwellian Commonwealth) which is a small fraction of its total existence.

Next time you are making a bunny suit for your kid, reflect on the fact that you are far to big to try on the tabard yet the furry hood with sticky-out ears fits just fine. The adult brain has not outgrown a set of bunny ears. This, too, is a metaphor for life. The sight of a woman wearing bunny ears while trying to sew said tabard and read a serious political pamphlet also gives vast amusment to Belgian guys on ferries, although the allegorical meaning of this fact has not yet been revealed.

Don't get mean with fabric. How many times have you been put to endless trouble just because you wanted to save five centimetres of fabric? So what if it's jacquard-woven and £27 a metre - big deal, that's £1.35. Hey, I've even wasted time trying to save five centimetres of that white binding tape that's practically given away free.

Sometimes you just gotta face the facts and get out that unpicking tool. This is a metaphor for life.

A tiny bit more on profiling before I talk about sewing for three posts in a row. Here's another excerpt from that John Sullivan column mentioned below:
"...He was an educated middle-class Egyptian citizen with family connections to people in the national establishment. If the FBI were still allowed to profile, it would have noticed that he fit the profile of the September 11 hijackers with almost embarrassing exactitude."

Can your brain hold these two ideas? (1) Airport staff should look extra-hard at guys fitting this description. (2) It still isn't OK to assume that any educated middle-class Arab with family connections to people in the national establishment (a useful clause, that last) are terrorists. Mine can.

That wasn't the point I started out to make. This was. Islamofascist ideas are passively held by some Arabs of all classes. But the Arabs who act upon them by becoming terrorists tend to be educated and Westernised. Why? The Westernised Arabs of a hundred years ago did no such thing, despite the fact that their countries were actually run by Westerners which you would think would annoy them a good deal more than the wicked things we do to them now like, er, buying their oil and stopping them overrunning Israel. Could it be that the difference lies in the sort of Western ideas the educated Arabs hear?

Statistical analysis from David Janes:
"...So, they're willing to tell you that if you don't smoke, you massively reduce your odds of dying by heart or by lung cancer. However, they neglect to mention that if they don't randomly fuck people in the "at risk" population, the odds of a 55 year-old woman dying of AIDS is reduced by about one-zillion times."

Strongly put, but I get the point. The National Post writer quoted by Janes assumes that although he has a brain large enough to hold the following two ideas simultaneously -

(1) Your own behaviour massively changes the odds as to whether you catch AIDS. (2) It is good to work to cure AIDS and to show compassion for AIDS victims.
- no one else does.

The same lack of trust makes the authorities afraid to state the obvious fact that an Egyptian anti-semite who shoots up the El Al counter on the Fourth of July ain't doing it in support of the aims of the Victorian Society. It's well put in the John O'Sullivan column linked to by Instapundit:

But the American public is an unknown beast which the political and media elites long ago decided was racist, sexist and homophobic. Our betters fear us. If not guided and controlled, they believe, we will hit out in dangerous spasms of violence at minorities, immigrants and anyone who looks like "The Other." We cannot be trusted with inconvenient truths. In particular, we have to be prevented from launching discrimination and attacks on Muslims and Arabs in bigoted response to terrorist outrages. . .

Yeah, loads better, thanks. That old healing adrenalin was helped along by a Damianation-powered rollercoaster of reactions to his last half-dozen posts.
"...Here's the catch: they didn't send the invitation to Moellemann, but to Stefan Sharkansky, a pro-Israel Jewish blogger who runs a website tracking Moellemann's anti-Semitic utterances..."

"American Crusade 2001 Trading cards. The far left hits a new low. (Check out the Daniel Pearl and 'Canadian Troops' cards.)..."

"...considering this incident occurred on a day when a 15 year-old female softball player shot and killed two people at the LAX El Al counter."

" ...WarBlogger Watchers are at it again, with a parody of this legendary Lileks screed directed at college students who think Western culture is no better than Arab culture..."

Go there and follow the links.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002
No blogging today. I just had a (harmless) cyst removed under local anasthetic. They warned me I might feel lousy afterwards, and, by gum, I do.

Monday, July 08, 2002
About that little misunderstanding back in 1776... Jim Bennett speculates on what would have happened if the colonists had lost. Typically, though, he recasts it as "what would have happened if Britain and America had compromised?"

I also think that a politically unified Anglo-American bloc would have been too big for its boots. Still would be, as a matter of fact. America defines itself as the land of liberty. This has been of great benefit to the world. One of the benefits was Britain was motivated to say, "nyaah, we're the land of liberty - you own slaves, for God's sake." Eventually America sorted out that one, not without a little bother, and got back to the fun with "oh yeah? So what's the problem with universal suffrage then?" And a benevolent game of ping-pong has gone on ever since. France also gets to play on occasion...

A point of precedence between a louse and a flea. Unusually for him, Junius confuses several issues when talking about the perennial question of whether Hitler's Germany or Stalin's USSR was worse.
  • I disagree that that the left as a whole denounced Stalin early or often enough. But what people were saying about it does not affect how bad the Soviet regime was. The cause and effect goes the other way.
  • I disagree that the stated ideals of the Soviet Union, which were all based on force, were at all worthy. I agree that they were much less bad than the Nazi ideals. But whether they were or not, the nice-sounding professed ideals of the regime do not make its crimes any less bad (except in so far as to add lying to the indictment).
  • I agree that the suffering and heroism of the Russian people in World War II was very great. But once again, this does not affect how bad the Soviet regime was. The Russians fought because they were attacked.

I certainly did agree with the post above the Hitler/Stalin one. It describes the Observer as "beyond parody" and is a rich mine of fisking material. All in one issue you can read calls for state regulation of search engines, University entry and the end of the world. Oh sorry, force of habit. Correction: The Observer does not actually want the state to regulate the end of the world. It just announces, quoting the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace, that it will happen in 48 years because of George Bush.

Meandering, but right is how I'd describe this Barbara Amiel opinion piece on Ken Livingstone and David Blunkett. This line is rather odd:
Mr Livingstone's real crime is that he couldn't muster his fabled honesty to say that his domestic arguments are his own business and, if people don't like it, they can take the consequences."
What consequences? What bad thing happens to nosy people who don't like Mr Livingstone talking about his domestic arguments?

The consequences of folly, though, will be taken by those Londoners who thought it would be a laugh to give Tony Blair the ol' two fingers and vote for Ken. And, unfortunately, those who didn't. Both groups will end up paying £1,260 per annum as his new "congestion charge". How this squares with the desperate efforts to build cheap housing to attract policemen, nurses and other public service workers I don't know - as so often, one effort of statist interference is at war with another.

Meanwhile here is a picture of a rat sleeping on its own head. If that is the way that announces its new location, can you blame me for quoting?

Saturday, July 06, 2002
The World Turned Upside Down. Burglar wounded by Tony Martin sues him on legal aid.

John Weidner has finally flipped. The strain of having to process those Pythonesque remarks from Gray Davis was just too much. Cards to: Bide-A-Wee Nursing Home, Rue des fous étrangers, Lake Geneva, Switzerland.