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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Jane's Blogosphere: blogtrack for Natalie Solent.
( '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
Thursday, November 30, 2006
The rescue of two British subjects, 1840. I found this while
Sir Richard Doherty, the Governor of Sierra Leone discovered that Prince Mauna, the son of the King of the Gallinas, Seacca, was holding two British subjects: the black woman Fry Norman and her child. Denman was ordered to rescue them. Thanks to his close blockade, the eight Spanish-owned barracoons (slave factories) were all full when, in the boats of Wanderer, Rolla and Saracen, he crossed the river bar, and initially freed 90 slaves who the owners were trying to evacuate to the mainland. Denman set a guard over the barracoons, and demanded that the King not only freed Fry Norman and her child, but also sign a treaty abolishing the slave trade throughout his dominions. After some prevarication, and helped by Denman's threats of violence, he freed the Normans and agreed to the treaty, allowing the destruction of the barracoons, the liberation of the slaves, and the expulsion of all the slave traders in his dominions.How usual would it have been to go to such efforts to rescue a black British subject? Not very, I suspect. After initially supporting Denman's robust action, the authorities seem to have got cold feet. But it happened on this occasion.
This extract came from admirable website centred on the life of a Victorian naval surgeon, William Loney R.N., an ancestor of the stepfather of the compiler.
Two other pages that caught my eye:
I realised I'd been seeing quotes from this post in various blogs for several days. Some of the language "Freeborn John" uses is not pretty - but nor is the phenomenon he describes.
Not just [Polly] Toynbee, of course, but she has made a particular fetish of "social exclusion". And she claims that
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
WH Auden was not quite as concise as Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, a correspondent called PGA tells me, but even such a lefty as he once advised:
"Guard, Civility, with guns, your modes and your declensions.I am doubly grateful to PGA in that the only other mention of these lines I can find on the net is in the title block of this entertaining blog. Usually I can google up fifteen versions of a poem in an instant.
What apology, if any, should Mr Blair make for Britain's role in the slave trade?
There are several ways of assessing whether one should be ashamed of the acts of a group to which one belongs.
To illustrate point (1), my pride in the role of Britain in putting down slavery must be accompanied by shame for the role of Britain in the slave trade. A pride that cannot encompass shame is a dead thing.
To illustrate point (2), I feel neither pride nor shame for the acts of whites or women. I had no choice about being born white or female and the utility of undergoing surgical procedures to demonstrate lack of solidarity with either condition is not obvious. In contrast, a member of a political party who resigns on a point of principle is acting meaningfully. Midway between the two extremes just mentioned comes the nation. Changing nationality on a point of principle is a major disruption but it can be done, at least for some of us.
To illustrate point (3) it would be crazy to re-spray your blue car because a serial killer was found to have a blue car; but if blue cars became known as a symbol denoting membership in some vicious gang it would not be crazy. (Added later: I was thinking of a gang in your area, one to which you could reasonably be supposed to belong.)
Point (4) refers to continuity of identity over time. Britain 2006 does have some continuity of identity with the Britain that carried out the slave trade. Although I would argue (and have argued, possibly at tedious length) that slavery is inefficient and does not enrich the societies that practice it, there seems little doubt that Africa is poorer because of slavery, even if Britain is not richer. Of course Britain in 2006 has more continuity with the Britain that abolished slavery and flung its ships and men to Zanzibar, West Africa and Brazil in order to stop the slave trade.
Nonetheless, all my four points seem to apply. It is certainly right for Tony Blair (and not only him) to feel patriotic regret for Britain's role in the slave trade. For Tony Blair as Prime Minister to make an official statement of regret about the slave trade is not an outrage to common sense. (Even though it is mostly an opportunity to display virtue, and to make party political points about lottery funds and immunisation programmes.) Who knows, perhaps his action will serve as a model for the coming statements of deep personal sorrow about the slave trade from various Arab and African rulers? At any rate it may make some people, black and white, feel more at peace with their history, and there are many worse uses of his time.But among all this acknowledgement let us acknowledge one more thing. The slaves are all dead, the masters are all dead, and pride, shame and a sense of injury are all among the things that the living sometimes steal from the dead.
"Pacifism causes wars." JEM writes:
What the Islamists have learned. What our media has taught them.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Commission for Racial Equality versus Red Ken. They ought to sell tickets.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Imagine if more of the extremely rich songsters in this world put in just a little more effort not to talk. Then there would be less need for articles like this one by Mike Rosen. He takes a swipe at Sir Elton John's call to ban organised religion. Less a call, more a burble really, with a hiccup at the end. Sir Elton's burblution to world problems is to hold a conclave of all the leaders of the world's religions, having presumably let them out of jail for the day. And if the religious leaders don't cut the mustard? He has a truly blood-chilling burble in reserve: "it's left to musicians or to someone else to deal with it."
Having dealt with Sir Elton rather charitably ("He's just venting"), Mr Rosen moves on to that mighty burbler of the previous generation, John Lennon.
Now I was very upset when John Lennon was murdered. So this might as well be the point where I say that his music has given me even more pleasure than Elton John's, and that has given me plenty.
And though obviously I disagree with it, there is nothing intrinsically silly about the atheism Lennon expresses in Imagine. The intrinsically silly bit is the naive burblo-communism at the end:
Imagine no possessions
Pope John Paul II visited Britain in 1982. He spoke in Wembley stadium and I was there. (Got a commemorative coin to prove it.) During the wait for him to appear the crowd was led in community singing. Astoundingly, Imagine with its "Imagine there's no religion" was one of the songs on the songsheet.
Imagine there's no HeavenThe fact that eighty thousand British Catholics could sing those lyrics and remain unstruck by lightning must have been enough to covert some of the weaker brethren to atheism on the spot. Mind you, British Catholic singing of any lyrics at all often has that effect.
While the massed voices of Catholic Britain were sending their orison to Lennon's unheeding sky, the fleet was on the way to retake the Falklands, so maybe whichever earnest young guitar-playing nun was in charge of selecting the songs hoped to send a karmic boost to the forces of peace. (And if you think that there is something unlikely about a Catholic nun hoping for a karmic boost, then you have not seen what awful things can happen when a nun picks up a guitar.) Whatever her intentions, it could have only one result. When people sing of peace it is never long before war, bloody war, is loosed upon the world.
That's always the way. Pacifism causes wars.
A pack not a herd. Of cats. The Libertarian Alliance has a blog.
London 2006: Lord of the flies Jackie Danicki was assaulted on the tube yesterday. Fifteen minutes before anyone spoke up to help her. Two hours before a policeman arrived to interview her. She took a picture of the person who assaulted her and it's on her blog.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Essex 1944: Lord of the Flies. A fascinating article by Jolyon Jenkins, the producer of a BBC radio documentary on a wartime camp for delinquent boys run on ideals of radical democracy and unconditional love by conscientious objectors. This Utopian project ended up with the boys living in squalor and split into two groups labelled "masters" and "slaves".
But in its determination to move away from the authoritarian model of the approved schools, it anticipated many of the ideas on residential childcare that became common in later decades.You don't say.
This would be a better blog post if I just stopped there. The funny thing is, though, that I can see something in the idea of leaving the smashed windows unfixed because "it was better to leave the jobs until the boys responsible agreed to do them." But how did that square with buying the horse-thief his own horse?
AFTERTHOUGHT: one of the comments to the BBC article asks, "Was William Golding ever there?" The literal answer is no - far from being a conscientious objector, he took part in the sinking of the Bismark and was at D-Day. However I shared the first thought of "Mike from East Lothian" that he might have heard of it. I also wonder whether C.S. Lewis knew of the place. Quest Camp becomes Experiment House?
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Oliver Kamm vs Neil Clark. Ever wonder how that was going? Now you know. It was nice of Oliver Kamm to take pity on the lad.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Milking allergy for all its worth. I accidentally posted a Biased BBC post over here. You can still read it over there.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Ed Thomas on recent US politics:
It's been one long fillibuster, and its effectiveness in lulling the Right has been taken as evidence of political know-how. In the sense that the political vacuum has made idle hands of Republicans, the Devil has made use of them.
Owe my soul to the company store... Hugo Chavez wants to force people to use local scrip in Venezuela. Not only would these tokens only be valid in one valley, they would lose their value over time. (Via No Pasaran's Joe Noory, who describes the proposal as, "making currency into a kind of neighborhood food-stamp that expire, and useless outside of your own ghetto. What this accomplishes is to make financial self-improvement impossible through savings [or] anything.")
Britblog roundup - here within about a minute of it being posted.
Had time to read a few now. Try Stroppyblog for a telling criticism of the much-quoted Matthew Taylor that does not even mention the famous line about the citizenry being "not yet ready for self-government" that so riled everyone else.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Burqa bans. If you want my take, it's here on the comments to this Samizdata post.
The burqa is obviously bad. Where it is not oppressive it is arrogant. The situation ought to beEr, when I said "I very much agree", I trust the bit about the buckshot was rhetorical.
Friday, November 17, 2006
The guilty man. JEM writes, regarding Milton Friedman:
Natalie,Whenever I get back from holiday and discover that a war, disaster or atrocious crime has stained the earth while I was not paying attention to the news I know in my heart that if I had been looking after things properly it would never have happened.
Odd creatures, humans. But most of them are quite nice once one gets to know them.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
EU Warning: this barometer is not to be eaten. Cleanthes of Select Society fisks an MEP called Linda McCavan. Little Linda does not appear to have paid attention in her physics lessons. Or her counting lessons.
This page from her website, "What Does an MEP Do?", tells us:
Labour's European Members of Parliament ensure that Brtian's voice is heard at the heart of the European Union.Brtians never never will be slaves...
You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Brussels.
Is democracy like sex? asks Glenn Reynolds, master of the teasing headline.
Cold war winners. Dunno why something this intriguing was buried in the Times business section:
Spy who soaked up London life with his KGB mates
Radio Solent hates the old! Andrew at Biased BBC explains.
So long as we tick the box marked input who cares about the output? Alex Singleton of the Globalisation Institute criticises the Millenium Goals view of foreign aid.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The divine right to free speech. JEM writes:
I hold the BNP in contempt.I wrote in this Samizdata post:
The conclusion that free speech promotes racial harmony is not obvious at first sight. Words lead to deeds, one might think, and so, obviously, harsh words will lead to harsh deeds. Nonetheless you may make some headway among sceptics if you ask them whether in their own lives they think it better to bottle up resentments or to voice them before they become explosive.
"Kind of a weird combination." Mark Steyn has said some nice things about this blog in the past, but that won't stop me saying that the most piercing quote in his interview with John Hawkins was from John Hawkins:
Europeans, from what I've seen, have a generally more dim view of the Middle East than Americans - like they think it's futile to try to build democracy in Iraq. You know, everywhere that you talk about -- well, democracy in the Muslim world just won't work. Yet, they're bringing in all the Muslims you could possibly imagine into their own home countries, and they're building them up to such a percentage that....if you get up to where 20%, 30%, 40% of your population is Muslim and you don't think Islam is compatible with democracy, that's kind of a weird combination. How's that happening?
Ask the experts. I don't know who wrote this piece appearing on "Sokwanele", a Zimbabwean opposition website. If the author still lives in Zimbabwe he or she is probably happier to forgo the pleasure of a byline. The seventeen months that have gone by since it was written have not, unfortunately, made it any less relevant. I don't necessarily think Chinese economic influence in Zimbabwe or Africa generally is a bad thing. Perhaps - never thought I'd write this - the voice of the People's Republic of China speaks with the nearest approach to economic wisdom that the government of Zimbabwe is willing to hear. But if you'd ever wondered why Mugabe should seek advice from the nominal Marxists who rule China, wonder no longer:
On becoming a Chinese colonyAnd
They will assist ZANU PF to gain total control of all information that circulates in the country so that people may remain in ignorance. They even know how to depopulate cities and send "unwanted elements" to the countryside for hard labour.Yes, the Chinese would know about that.
Coming soon: Tesco Value bustles. The November/December edition of Tesco magazine contains an article by Dr Miriam Stoppard called "12 health-hazards of Christmas."
The advice for the Ninth Hazard begins ...
If the sheer stress of Christmas causes someone to faint:I don't think Tesco has sold smelling salts since Jack Cohen "decided to invest his service man's gratuity of L30 in NAAFI surplus groceries to sell from a stall in the East End of London." (My browser is seeing it as "L30" anyway. Given that the business has grown a little since then, I think the Tesco website could afford proper pound signs.)
Mind you, I'm sure someone still makes 'em. Yes, they do. Perhaps they've come back in since I last had cause to swoon. In a world where there is, they tell me, a good remake of Battlestar Galactica no reinvention is too strange to be possible.
Monday, November 13, 2006
But only right wingers could sink so low as to share a talking point with the BNP, as my correspondent does below and my Biased BBC colleague Laban Tall does here? Not so.
Horrified because not horrified. ARC writes:
...waiting in a Heathrow flight gate late on Friday I could not avoid catching a long session of BBC news that was showing on a huge screen. But (while their coverage balance could have been better) this is not material for a biased BBC post (their coverage balance could also have been worse).UPDATE: After I posted this, my correspondent contacted me to say that he had misremembered the name of the BNP leader. I didn't spot that at the time but I have now corrected the post.
Mythbusting all round. Whittle on the right, Wardytron of Harry's Place on the left. (Scroll down to "we armed him".)
Someone in the comments nails another one. This was started by "resistor", who says:
For those who still deny that the Americans supplied SaddamResistor quotes more of the article - including the bit where Senator Robert Byrd, whose opinions have moved on since he was in the Klan without ever stopping anywhere near sense, questions Rumsfeld on the matter.
Stonking good reply from "DocMartyn":
No [I think this is a typo for "Not"-NS] the "American Type Culture Collection" again. Look, the American Type Culture Collection, is a not-for-profit organisation that holds and supplies micro-organisms to researchers all over the world. In the early mid-80's when I started my M. Sc. in biochemistry/microbiology I used to flick through their catalogue and lokk [look] at all the nasties you could order. It would supply pathogens to ANY RESEARCHER in any INSTITUTION in ANY NATION.
Crib sheet for the argumentative warmonger, courtesy of Bill Whittle, who argues against some of the commoner bumber-sticker slogans. Here's one of his replies:
There are millions of people – actually, probably billions now – who genuinely believe that the wealth of the US was stolen from third world countries. This is one of the great perks of living a life free of the ability to think critically and do a little research. I have heard this slander repeated so many times I decided to look into some actual numbers to see if there is anything to this charge. This is a perfect example of how critical thinking allows you to see the unseen. That attitude, Google and ten minutes is all you need to shoot lies like this down in flames.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
If you kill, tell me. Casting around on Google News I have just doubled what I know about the Gambia. It seems the country's president, Yahya Jammeh, was recently reelected.
And this was a speech he made to his assembled ministers, chiefs of the civil service and members of the press:
This one thing that I cannot forgive is hypocrisy and pretending. If you are sincere and honest I will be a friend to you. Even if you kill a person, tell me that you have killed a person, I will understand. I am a human being.An editorial in The Gambia Echo says,
In sum, sitting Cabinet Ministers and their hirelings are at liberty to kill innocent citizens as long as they inform President Jammeh later.It could be that Yahya Jammeh's enemies are worse than he is. The sort of points that one could make in his favour are that the Gambian press seems uncowed enough to dare call him a murderer, and journalists are killed in mysterious circumstances so rarely that the casual Googler soon learns one name, Deyda Hydara. It could be that his "kill but tell me" is a metaphor (for the President, as for the leader-writer of the Gambia Echo, English is obviously not a first language) or a rhetorical exaggeration, and that his political enemies are affecting to take it literally in order to slander him. Or it could be that he is as flagrantly ruthless as his words suggest.
I was struck by how small is the fraction of the events in the world that any one person can ever understand.
"By democratic decision, thank goodness!"
Tim Blair quotes joyful advocate of democratic values Simon Jenkins of the Guardian rejoicing that -
At this point the insurgency knows it has won, however long it takes the occupying power to go. Retreat in good order is the best hope. An era of ill-conceived, belligerent interventionism has come to an end - by democratic decision, thank goodness.
The guardian of our liberties. Our next Prime Minister speaks.
In the wake of the BNP pair's acquittals, Chancellor Mr Brown said: "Any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country.(Cross-posted at Samizdata.)
But what about the trains?
"For all his faults Saddam Hussein’s Iraq imposed order. The water, the electricity, the oil wells faltered but largely kept going. The roads and streets were safe."- Kevin Toolis writing in The Times.
Friday, November 10, 2006
The stuff you really need to know. If you search for "the" on Google you get five billion three hundred million results and the top result is The Onion. That's because it's The Onion.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Washed in the blood of the Lamb. The BBC reports:
A Christian lobby group says the wearing of red poppies is "politically correct" and stifles debate."Not a value-free position." When I heard that the director of a Christian lobby group had said that, I was taken aback. "Take up thy cross and follow me" is not an invitation to take up a value-free position.
Having read Ekklesia's statement it now seems to me that the value-free bit was stunningly inept phrasing rather than what it first sounded like. I can go with "If you believe that those who serve in the armed forces are defending freedom, then freedom to consider alternative perspectives is surely part of what you stand for". Fine, sure, apple pie. I can also go with a consistent opposition to having any specific political position smuggled into Christianity. Or vice versa.
Such consistent opposition is not what Ekklesia offers. If you had signed up for the Ekklesia news feed for the 8th November the three stories you would have got are "New style Sandinistas regain power in hopeful Nicaragua", "Bush panics as US religious right fails to stem Democrat tide" and "Church support for report condemning Government policy in Nicaragua." The Ekklesia website is full of deeply political statements such as "the language and imagery about ‘fighting for freedom’ and ‘the glorious dead’ which often accompanies war remembrance reinforces a belief that violence is redemptive."
The red poppy has never claimed to be a Christian symbol. Many Christians wear it proudly, but it is also worn by people of all faiths and none to honour the dead of all faiths and none. The facts that we have Remembrance Day services in Britain that are primarily Christian (other faiths do also hold them) and that our prime means of commemorating the dead is a Christian service is in a sense accidental; a result of our history and culture. No one thinks for a moment that all those laying wreaths or observing the silence are necessarily Christian.
What they overwhelmingly do believe is the part Ekklesia don't like: that the glorious dead died for freedom.
Tired of talking about American stuff. Yet reluctant to talk about anything else. I'll put off posting your emails about the history of the dollar until I'm in a better mood.
So much for my prediction that there would be scarcely any change in the US Senate! I gave too much weight to all those claims that it was getting harder and harder to unseat an incumbent. Pollster Jay Cost, in an article engagingly entitled "Why I jumped the shark" says,
Theoretically, the mistake I made here was to presume that the incumbency advantage that obviously exists (this year's incumbency reelection rate is still about 95.2%) is automatic. Incumbents are in a good position to insulate themselves. But they are not automatically insulated. They must actually do the insulating.For America, that's cool. While the specific policies the Democrats will now foster over there are mostly bad, incumbents ought to run scared.
For the rest of the world, Iraq in particular... pity.
Pity is both a noun and a verb in the imperative mood.
The disaster that would follow an American pullout--collaborators would be tortured/murdered on a massive scale and no one would ever cooperate with Americans again--would be a tremendous benefit to al-Qaeda. America would never again be taken seriously in the Middle East or elsewhere as more than a tornado: we can temporarily pass through and smash anything that's out in the open, but in short order we're gone.I don't despair. Perhaps the horse will learn to sing. But I can't help remembering that the irrepressible thief who said that was under a suspended sentence of death.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I got troubles. Too much work, too little time to blog, VRWC Central won't answer the phone for some reason and a mysterious and lrming stickiness on my keyboard's letter "A".
But here is a fine new blog:
This blog's title needs some explaining: I am a British expat living in the Netherlands, and all things considered, I rather prefer it to the land of my birth. I try very hard to integrate, speak the language, and not be identified as an expat: as such, I consider myself a "nep Nederlander", a "fake Dutchman". Aside from when it is being congratulated in the press for being trendy and right-on in a way that it just isn't, Holland is largely ignored. Since I am now able to follow Dutch language news to a good degree, I intend to discuss it on here in English, in amongst other topics of interest.
Also via Nep Nederland, I came across a headline on The People's Cube (look on the top right of the screen):
Dems take house. Also car, salary, portfolio, and whatever else you got they can tax.
Republicans, cheer yourselves up with this one from Scrappleface.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Busy day today. Thanks to all those who sent replies to my question about the dollar. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. Don't even think about trying to escape.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Tomorrow's headlines today.
If the Democrats win:
Bush pays the price for the Iraq War.
If the Democrats lose:
America has a long tradition of local issues dominating mid-term elections.
A pictoral reminder. Saddam Hussein did not order 9/11 - true. Saddam Hussein had no links with Al Qaeda - untrue. Saddam Hussein was very happy that 9/11 occurred - true.
This mural glorifying 9/11 was found by invading US marines in an Iraqi army headquarters in Nasiriya. I think it's safe to say that an army headquarters was not a place where you would find art displeasing to the leader.
The caption does not say where soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division found this mural of a smiling Saddam next to a picture of the plane hitting the twin towers, but I think it's safe to say that anywhere in Saddam's Iraq was not a place where you would find art displeasing to the leader.
Delayed dollars. Following this post in which I asked, "Wasn't it the case that it took decades for the same dollar to be in use all over the US?" I had an email from JEM on the subject of the dollar, which after touching on its European origins as the joachimsthaler said,
In the form of the Spanish colonial 8 real coin it was once also known as the 'piece of eight'--a lovely detail, don't you think?His main point was, "Pounds, euros, dollars, pieces of eight... they are all just units of account. Tools."
I'm not necessarily disagreeing, but in fact the point I wanted to make was more relevant to the troubles of the euro, although I concede I did not make myself clear. Second go: I think I read somewhere that for decades different US states had different dollars, presumably issued by local mints, and the exchange rate between these different dollars was not 1:1. Anyone know if I am right?
Take a break, catch a spy According to the Korea Times,
A yearly event for school children in the 1970s was learning how to distinguish North Korean spies from ordinary people and memorizing the phone number they had to dial when they found people behaving suspiciously.The Korea Times article talks as if all this were long-gone Cold War arcana, but this article about the Korean subway system says that similar posters are still up on the trains. Future Perfect has a picture. The number to ring is 111, in case you ever need to know. How quaint - er, wait a minute. North Korea really was inserting spies and assassins into the South. It really was kidnapping both Japanese and South Korean citizens to train their spies.
There are times when one must reassert that "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you" is an impeccably logical statement.
I meant to post something worthy about how South Korea, in a less well-publicised way than China, is increasing its economic links with Africa. But I was distracted by the the thought that those vending machine cups ought to be collectable.
Laughter is not a panacea. In 2003 I laughed at the way that the Charity Commissioners were trying to "modernise" the Panacea Society. The Society believe that if a box allegedly left in their keeping by seventeenth century prophetess Joanna Southcott is opened in the presence of 24 bishops of the Church of England the apocalypse will arrive (in a good way), remaking all of Earth except Bedford, that being the site of the Garden of Eden. I thought it terribly amusing that "Commission staff had been concerned for some time that this unusual religious charity was not putting its assets to effective use."
I laughed too soon. It seems that the Charities Commission is no longer content to just be "concerned" when a charity is not putting its assets to what the Commissioners think is effective use. Read Tim Worstall about the Charities Bill.
We've really come to this? That a bureaucracy can confiscate the assets of a charity? Think of this for a moment. There are those who think that SPUC (or whatever it is called now) is actively evil because it campaigns for what some think of as a restriction of women's rights. There are other charities (Marie Stopes for example?) who actively campaign on the other side of the same question, insisting that, as some would have it, children are being killed to maintain those same women's rights.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Offspring #1 said that this incredibly irritating little video about a unicorn called Charlie was the funniest thing she had seen in her life. I'm waiting for her to deduce from that that she was hatched from a cloning-vat last Wednesday.
Friday, November 03, 2006
We r stuk hear n Irak - but our message isn't. Jim Miller posts about the routes by which the image of the now famous banner reached several million screens.
I am rather sorry for Mr Kerry in that it was a gaffe, not a deliberate insult. However they that live by the sword will die by the sword: the media has feasted well on George Bush's slips of the tongue, and I didn't hear John Kerry complaining about it then.
The story also was given extra oomph by the fact that Mr Kerry made a big deal about his own military service in Vietnam. One example: he started his acceptance address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention by saluting and saying, "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty," and finished up that speech with a reference to his Vietnam service too. The previous day he had made a river trip with his "band of brothers", former comrades from his Swift boat days, a major feature of his campaign.
There are many things about US politics that I don't get. One of them is how anyone ever convinced themselves that was a good idea.
I'm not talking about the counter-claims made by his less brotherly former brothers in arms, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I haven't looked into all that. Leave them out of the equation. Assume that his service in Vietnam was as admirable as it is possible to be. Kerry was still only in Vietnam for four months. Afterwards he joined the anti-war movement, chucked his military decorations over the Capitol fence and said that loads of American soldiers had committed atrocities. Maybe he had defensible reasons for doing all of these things - but given that he did, all that "reporting for duty" stuff looks most odd.
What a low opinion of Republicans Democrats must have if they thought that throwing them this little crumb would be enough to gain their votes. Look, he's a soldier. You like soldiers.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
An ASBO for the Archbishop. Not quite, but not so far off, either: Cathedral bans Carey as a 'divisive force'
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, has been banned from one of the oldest cathedrals in Britain after accusations that he has become an “instrument of disunity”.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Means of control or delusion of control? JEM writes:
Your correspondent (whom I shall call 'C' for convenience if I may) who writes...Wasn't it the case that it took decades for the same dollar to be in use all over the US? I don't know what this proves, if anything.
The king is (not quite) dead. Long live the king! There are times when it is more proper to vomit than to debate:
Fidel announced that because of an intestinal operation, he was signing power over to his brother, who would be acting president. In Miami, there were celebrations in the streets, with shouted assurances that this meant the end of the Cuban Revolution. As one celebrant put it: "We'll all be home within a month. The Cuban people will never accept Raul!"- written by Wayne S. Smith in the Guardian. Emphasis added by me. Also spotted by Tim Worstall.