Saturday, April 24, 2004

Brazilian Gothic ?

More voodoo priestess than pale virgin in the attic, methinks. The culture gets everywhere.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Happy St. George's Day

For the last three years the BBC has celebrated St. George's Day with the help of patriotic Englishman Billy Bragg - you know, the chap who thinks that people with the wrong politics should be beaten up in the streets to prevent Britain becoming a fascist country. In order to save freedom we had to destroy it.

This year it's all gone quiet on the BBC front - no essays from historians worried about the impact of the Crusades, no worries about lumpen racists, no feature on the Today website.

Just a couple of stories about an East Anglian pub and a factory that's giving the staff the day off. Alas the pub website (link from the BBC story) doesn't seem to be up.

Google UK has a lovely graphic though.

Inshallah we'll make it up to the top end of Gloucestershire tonight, where the beautiful town of Tewkesbury will be flag-decked and a dragon may be slain in a riverside meadow come 7.15 or so. Maybe followed by an English beer ..

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Euro-Afghans ?

I wondered in a comments box a week or two back what had happened to the Spectator expedition to Afghanistan, which aimed to collect genetic samples in an attempt to determine whether the blond-haired, blue-eyed Afghans are the descendants of Alexander the Great's army.

Image copyright Matthew Leeming. Used without permission.

Well we don't know the results yet, but the expedition site is here. Hopefully Matthew Leeming will be updating the site soon with some results. At present he's probably crossing the Oxus on an oil-drum raft. Thanks to Hugo Willliams for the link.

JFD at Way Of The Intercepting Fisk (to be known henceforth as WOTIF) shares my fascination (and surpasses my knowledge as Sirius does Proxima Centauri) with the links between modern and ancient peoples and cultures.

I'd seen an old map of Central Asia a while back, showing the North-East of Afghanistan, above Hazara and west of Kashmir, as Kafiristan ('land of infidels'), but more modern maps showed it as Nuristan ('land of the enlightened' or 'land of light' - obviously good Muslims). I'd wondered what happend to the Kafirs (the derogatory South African word used to describe black people came from the Muslim slave traders' word for unbelievers).

Well they were all converted to Islam at end of the nineteenth century , though I imagine those who didn't were killed. The previous religions were polytheistic or animistic. But in a few remote valleys the Kafirs survived and are there to this day. You can trek there with Walji - or you could in 1996, and some of their culture was recorded in 1929 by the late Professor Georg Morgenstierne. Videos of Goat Sacrifice, anyone ?
BBC Bias - the Today Programme

Michael Gove in the Times

On the Iraq war, Humphrys is a more than vigorous partisan. Critics of the action such as Menzies Campbell are treated with all the politeness of a vicar dropping in for tea. Defenders of the coalition, such as Jack Straw, are treated as though they were, at best, dupes led astray by the wicked Americans or, more likely, knaves whom no sane listener could properly trust.

Christians Infiltrating Church Of England Shock

Mary Ann Sieghart takes time out from cheerleading for New Labour to cheerlead for Rasputin's New C of E in its struggle against those hopeless conservatives who follow the Bible.

In Sydney, Australia "hardline fundamentalists are using all the tools of entryism familiar to students of the Labour Party in the 1980s. The diocese of Sydney — and its outposts abroad — can now be seen as the Church of England’s Militant Tendency".

And they're here in our midst !

"Moore College has exported its New Testament lecturer, David Peterson, to become principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London, which is now producing fundamentalist clergy clones for conservative evangelical churches here. For English conservative evangelicals, Jensen has talismanic status. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that it was Jensen’s people who managed eventually to block the appointment of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading. If the Anglican Church were to split over homosexuality, the hardliners would follow him as leader of the conservative wing."

Gosh - Christians who disapprove of homosexuality ! Who are these wadical wevolutionaries, diverting the church fwom its 2,000-year-old stwuggle for gay wights in favour of obedience to Biblical pwecepts ?

"We all worry about extreme, fundamentalist Islam. But we fail to notice that extreme, fundamentalist Christianity is taking root right under our feet. "

I begin to see a pattern here. When Christians objected to Canon Elton John's appointment as a Bishop, they were "the Taleban wing of the Church".

Tell you what, Mary. When these extremists slaughter people in industrial quantities - I'll start worrying. OK ? And in the meantime you and Times Religious Affairs Correspondent Ruth Gledhill can worry for me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

If You Think Jerry Springer Is Trashy ...

Harry Stein in City Journal on US daytime TV and the morality (or not) of the shows :

Maury Povich

A woman, usually very young and very often black or Hispanic, comes onstage and declares, either angrily or tearfully, that she knows a given man fathered her child. After a couple of minutes of this drama, the accused male walks out—often, depending on how he’s just been characterized, to audience jeers—and just as vigorously denies that he is the father. The denial routinely involves the guy pointing toward a large picture of the kid in question, which is displayed at the back of the set, and emphasizing how dramatically the child’s features differ from his own. He’ll often cast aspersions on the mother’s character, too, peppering them with variations of the words “slut” and “whore.”

At this point, Maury says something along the lines of, “Well, let’s find out.” Ripping open a large manila envelope, he withdraws a sheet of paper and solemnly pronounces, “When it comes to two-year-old Jadiem, Corey, you are the father,” or, just as often, “When it comes to ten-month-old Treasure, Earnell, you are not the father.”

If the woman finds herself vindicated, she is apt to leap to her feet, exultant, and berate the man. One mother I saw spun around, thrust her backside to the camera and, pointing, screamed at the newly established dad, “Kiss my ass!” When the man is victorious, he is likely to strut, or throw up his hands in triumph like an athlete, while the woman, bursting into tears, runs backstage, Maury trailing—and both followed by a cameraman who records the host consoling her.

And the 'real Justice' shows - US courts are routinely screened and some judges are big stars, like Marylin Milian :

One show I saw involved a woman who’d stiffed an appliance store on a refrigerator and then had the gall to sue it for harassment when it tried to collect. Milian’s patience with the woman, already thin, evaporated entirely when the woman refused to stop talking out of turn. “Get her out of here,” Milian tersely instructed her bailiff. Moments later, after finding for the store owner, Milian addressed the woman’s counter-suit: “and you, madam,” she shouted, loud enough to be heard in the adjacent room, to which the woman had been banished, “get a big, fat zero.”

Or Judge Joe Brown :

Judge Brown’s manner is laconic, and usually he hears a fair bit of evidence before passing judgment. But this time he couldn’t contain himself. “She didn’t do too well, did she?” he countered. “You turned into a junkie.”

“But I got back on track,” the women retorted. “I don’t think I owe her money. I think she owes me money,” she continued, returning to the case at hand. “I spent thousands of dollars raisin’ her, so I opened up a couple of credit cards in her name to reimburse myself.” Anyway, she added in yet further self-exoneration, she and her daughter fought quite a bit, and “I was very angry with her when I did this.”

This spiel proved the final straw for the judge, who lashed out at the mother like an avenging angel. “Do you know the worst adversity she’s had to face in her life?” he asked rhetorically, nodding toward the daughter in the plaintiff’s box. “It’s you! You are one of the reasons the inner cities have gone straight to hell,” he thundered. “It’s kinda hard to come up with language, lady, to describe your despicable conduct. You are a disgrace and a bloody shame to the human race. You ought to be in jail. . . . You might run into some of your old junkie friends.”

Couldn't we swap Judge Brown for Lord Justice Woolf ?
More HIV News

At Conservative Commentary debate rages as to whether infected porn actress Lara Roxx is a tragic victim or Darwin Award nominee. Perhaps as so often the truth's somewhere in between.

If Peter's a tad short on sympathy for Lara, what would he make of this - the practice in some homosexual subcultures of 'gifting' or 'bug-chasing' - where people deliberately try to become infected with HIV ?

Even the gay-friendly Indie can't quite believe it.

"Practices such as "gifting" and "bug chasing" - in which men without HIV willingly seek to become infected - are being promoted on the internet.
Some sites are used specifically to arrange unprotected - or "bareback" - encounters between groups of men. Such encounters include "conversion" parties where men with and without HIV have unprotected sex.
The internet is helping to foster "sexual micro-cultures" where dangerous sex is actively sought."

I think they must be talking about sites like this.

Dr Mark Pakianathan, spokesman for the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV, said that sites should do more to encourage safe sex.
"There is no doubt that there has been an increase in the amount of unprotected sex and new infections including hepatitis C and syphilis.
"It may be that these sites should, at the least, be required to carry health promotion messages."

What ? Suggest limitations of any kind on people's uphill gardening ? Fascist !

Will Nutland of the Terrence Higgins Trust rejected the demand that gay dating sites should carry health promotion messages.
"These sites are commercial operations and we wouldn't expect them to take our adverts for free."
He said that the internet had "liberated" men who would otherwise be isolated because of their HIV status.
"The internet has been demonised ..."

After all, if Aids went away where would the Terence Higgins Trust get all that money from ?

The Kids Are Alright ?

It's been a long time since police lived in the communities they serve. Most policemen commute, at last partly to avoid hassle from anti-social elements. Looks like teachers may be following.

"A teacher from Wiltshire has moved home twice to escape pupils abusing her in the street and attacking her house.

David Michel from the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, said: "There is no other option for teachers faced with this than to live outside the catchment area.

"It has been going on in cities and towns for a long time, but the fact that it is spreading to the countryside is very worrying."

If only young people had the vote they'd be so much more responsible.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Brilliant Post

At Biased-BBC where one Andrew Bowman, armed only with the sword of righteousness and Google, deconstructs this BBC News item on the Aldermaston marchers.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Discrimination - A One-Way Street

So the Met is considering the formal adoption of institutional racism.

"The idea was put forward by the Metropolitan Black Police Association (MBPA), to make the force more representative of London's racial mix.

Such a plan would mean changing the 1976 Race Relations Act.

In 2002-03, 9.8% of recruits were from ethnic minorities, but by 2009 this must be 25.9% under government targets. "

Put aside the idea of a trade association open only to those with the right ethnic background - imagine a White Police Officers Association ? I can't, either.

What ever happened to the colour of a man's skin being of no more significance than the colour of his eyes ?

The idea that any given body of people - say teachers, policemen, soap stars or criminals - should reflect the community from which they're drawn can be argued one way or the other. I think it's an idiotic idea because it fails to relect cultural realities (and in some sporting instances physical ones). A third of males have a criminal record - should a third of policemen ? Judges ?

But whether it's a good idea or not, in a nation where the elite consists of guilty white liberals, the ratchet only works one way.

Ethnic minorities grossly underrepresented in an advertisements ? Bad. Asians underrepresented in professional football ? Bad.

Black people grossly overrepresented in Premiership football ? No comment. In presenting BBC children's programmes ? Reading the News ? In medicine, IT and the law ? No comment.

No, stop - it's bad. This BBC report on admissions to medical school showed the idiocy of head-counting

"While one third of all applications for medical school places are from Asians, they represent only one fifth of those accepted."

Now this figure for applicants is so mind-bogglingly large that it should surely be the main story. Young Asians apply to medical school at a rate five of six times higher than the general population. Yet apparently it's a problem that acceptances are only at a level four times higher than the general population.

I hate to say it, but couldn't there be a cultural component to this ? Could it not be that Asian parents see young Daljit as a doctor or accountant rather than a Premiership striker ?

Another area in which the idiocy of head-counting is exposed is education. If differing results are evidence of discrimination, State education is biased against Muslim (Pakistani/Bangladeshi) and Afro-Caribbean pupils, but in favour of Chinese, Indians and Irish.

Given that the stereotypical British racist 'can't tell them apart', British teachers, those well-known racists, must be making a real effort to teach their Indian pupils so much better than their Pakistani ones.

Thank God for people like Tony Sewell. Of course, if he were white, he'd be a racist.