Saturday, July 17, 2004

Rod Liddle - La Lotta Continua

Usually a Saturday just means the new Weekly Worker. But there's a super new slew of Rod Liddle links around, from his foul-mouthed wife bemoaning her "pathetically paid" HTV job to his Telegraph apologia. The more I read the sorrier I am about the breakup - people who can call their kids Tyler and Wilder were made for each other. Will any children by Alicia Monckton be called Harder, Faster and Deeper ?
And as for the horse, Strummer - that is perfect. Naming your horse - your horse ! - after the public school webel who sang the urban warrior but lived and died in rural Somerset. Show me a Clash fan and I'll show you some idiot politics.
But he's unfairly treated in the London News Review, in a story obviously written by a woman. A real misreading of the male psyche.
"It’s one thing for Liddle to say that he fancies Keira Knightley. That would be an understandable, if predictable, statement. But what his ex-secretary and girlfriend doesn’t want to read is that her lovely Rod is likening her to a 19-year-old film star. She wants to hear that he thinks she’s beautiful, not that she looks like Keira Knightley. And she certainly doesn’t want to hear him endorse the sad ladsmag sentiment: “Men always want other women.”
It’s all so horribly uncool, and – for such a lady’s man – a real misreading of the female psyche. At the core of Liddle likening Monckton to Knightley is plain old lust. Lust for Keira Knightley."
Missing the point. Of course he shouldn't let her know that. But that it's lust for the (doubtless) lovely Alicia, with the added bonus that she has some filmstar resemblances, I have little doubt.
UPDATE - despite my remarks about the Clash, I do have fond memories of the 12-inch Magnificent Seven dance mix (aka Magnificent Dance), as heard in 1981 in the Lampione - a pub with (in those days) a tiny dance floor and only two records to play. Fortunately one was the Clash and the other was a James Brown live album. People danced every night to the same nine songs - but what songs !

Friday, July 16, 2004

Nice Story ...

What's your seat number, soldier?

It's 23-B, sir, the soldier told the businessman.

No, son, that's my seat. Yours is in first class.

As more soldiers boarded, similar offers quickly came from the other first-class passengers.

And eight soldiers heading home from Iraq for two weeks of R&R found themselves with their officers in the big seats up front instead of the center seats in coach.

U.S soldiers fresh from Iraq were surprised but grateful for the first-class seats on Flight 866 from Atlanta to Chicago.

That spontaneous act of good will transformed American Airlines Flight 866, from Atlanta to Chicago, on June 29.

 Via Michelle Malkin from the Dallas Morning News. Registration required ? Just another chance to try this.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Caves of a Thousand Buddhas

BBC news Department of the Bleeding Obvious tells us that some BNP members are racist or that there's corruption in Kenya (great speech though). Thank heavens, yet again, for the wondrous Mirabilis, with its tales of fat monks, chess and now the Dunhuang caves.

These of course are the caves described in Capt. W.E. Johns scholarly work 'Biggles In The Gobi'.

"Did you ever hear of the Caves of a Thousand Buddhas ?"
"No. That's a new one for me."
"Well, the place is pretty well known, although as it is practically inaccessible, few Europeans have seen it. It consists of a cliff honeycombed with innumerable caves, most of them interconnected and all wonderfully painted or decorated with images of Buddha. The whole place is artificial and of great age. It is believed that there are still secret recesses that no white man has ever seen. These particular caves, for there are many similar shrines in Central Asia, were first made known by the explorer Sir Aurel Stein in 1908 ..."

Capt. Johns seemed to be fond of that part of the world, as I pointed out here.

Mirabilis also links to this useful site, for people tired of registering for US news content. With its aid you can read the whole NYT story on the caves.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Polly Toynbee ....

Defends parental rights in the great smacking debate.

"How dare the state force them? How dare anyone judge them?"

Oops - sorry. She's not talking about the right to smack children.

She's talking about the right to kill them.

MRSA Update

Hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA are still rising. But they only kill about 5,000 patients a year, and our rulers are full of bright ideas on what to do about it.

Let's get some experts from abroad. When in doubt - hire a consultant.

Another good managerial solution - appoint a Director Of Infection Control at each hospital. Doubtless to be followed by an Assistant Director and a project team, monitors, facilitators and co-ordinators. And some secretarial support. And a PA or two. But there may be problems. Are there enough reserved car parking spaces ? And are there enough good quality hotels for all those away days, conferences and team-building exercises ?

The Guardian reports that the patients can do the monitoring of the wards. After all, they just lie around in bed all day, except those who are still on trolleys. Or in wheelchairs.

The Guardian also reports that the cause may be full occupancy of beds or (surprise surprise) shortage of funding (after all, we know how expensive soap is these days) or staff. Apparently when bed occupancy rises above 85%, so do infections. Simple solution then - buy some more beds and leave them empty !

On the other hand hospital staff could just wash their hands and clean the f*****g wards properly.

But apparently that sort of thing takes months or years. The Kent and Sussex hospital, which will be cleaner by Christmas, was killing patients with MRSA (and apologising for it) in 1996.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Hell Hath No Fury ....

One should not take pleasure in another's misfortune. Tee hee. But his fellow columnists have found plenty of copy in the Rod Liddle brouhaha. They're round him like flies round a cow's bottom, as we say in these parts.

The Spectator contributing editor and ex-editor of the BBC's Today programme seems to have been unable to resist the lure of all that posh Doughty Street totty, leaving his 40something wife for the 20something Alicia Monckton. I can't work out if she's related to Christopher (who sounds a thoroughly decent chap) and Di's mate Rosa. It's a long way from that field in Yarm or wherever, though I don't think our Rod ever kept whippets in the bath.

Spurned wifie, following the iron laws of retribution, sells story to Mail, the paper of contempt for the Today-editing classes. The Mail links are pay-for, but the Indie has the details.

Zoe Williams in the Guardian manages her usual thousand words of instantly forgettable drivel, but yet again it's Yazza who hits hardest. The Mail is your natural destiny, Yasmin. Don't fight it.

"Treacherous, and physically not unlike a malodorous mop in need of chucking out" - steady on, old girl. I always thought he had a touch of the Howard Marks myself.

UPDATE - 15/7
Even Mr Liddle himself is trying to get a few inches out of it. I like the bit about the Mail being a 'down-market tabloid'. There speaks the true voice of the middle-class Left.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Portaloo ....

Gets the wet fish treatment from Oliver Kamm and Dumb Jon after his Sunday Times 'Vote Kerry' piece.

As usual, Oliver is Olympian, measured, full of historical references, lovely style. If that guy went to a State school I'll eat my copy of 'Adventures of Aeneas'. Jon's style is more like the guy who discovers that both pint AND girl have been pinched in the pub.

Yet he hits some parts that Oliver doesn't reach. Here's Oliver on Portillo on Abu Ghraib and its meaning.

"Michael Portillo maintains: “For America to brush away its recent disgraces, the electorate will have to bin this Administration.”

Yet that is frivolous reasoning. The tortures and deaths in US custody require expiation, not just symbolically but practically, to the people of Iraq, in the form of due process and the rule of law. Those values, so traduced by American jailers, are exemplified in the arraignment before an Iraqi court of a despot whose regime was founded on torture and killing."

Absolutely. Correct. But Jon picks up on a point just as important and of more general application - the way in which the whole of the USA can apparently be tarred by what a couple of dozen of people in US uniform did at Abu Ghraib - yet a couple of dozen people slaughtering thousands in the name of Islam doesn't tell us anything about that religion. Some logical inconsistency in the thought processes of Portillo and many others. Apparently that kind of stereotyping is OK for them, but not for us.

"Look at the first few 'graphs, the faux-agony as Mikey finds himself forced - forced! - to criticise America. He doesn't want to, but now he's found out about the behaviour of a half-dozen trailer trash on a single day in November 2003, why, there's no choice. I'll give him that if he accepts that the events of a whole 19 Muslims on a certain day in 2001 say all we need to know about Islam. Oops no - that would be bigoted, whereas spinning the behaviour of six perverted 'tards into a broadbrush condemnation of the US is tres sophisticated."

And On The Twelfth I Love To Update The Blog My Father Wrote

Where's the biggest folk festival in Europe ? Sidmouth ? Cambridge ? Dranouter ?

Try again. Think (assuming you grew up with the Guardian and BBC) bone-headed bigots in bowler hats. Think flute and drum. Think the 12th July in Ulster.

I can't recommend highly enough Ruth Dudley Edwards' book on the Orangemen of Ulster The Faithful Tribe, a book which (combined with talking to Ulster exiles, very few of whom had two heads) changed my views on subjects like Drumcree.

Read it. Visit the Orange Net and see the Grand Masters of Togo and Ghana.

And on the 12th raise a glass of Black Bush to an epoch-making event - the first known Observer column to have a good word for the Rev. Ian Paisley.

"Observing the mayor of London greeting the Qatar-based Imam, I wondered if Livingstone would ever extend the same warm welcome to the UK capital for, say, the Reverend Ian Paisley. Isn't it funny that sections of the British left regard Christian fundamentalists such as Dr Paisley with total contempt but will open the doors to a man who describes suicide bombings of men, women and children as 'martyrdom in the name of God'?

Because for all Dr Paisley's faults and for all his church's illiberalism towards the gay community, the head of the Free Presbyterian Church does not implore his followers to, for instance, go out and murder homosexuals and lesbians."

For years even the 'moderate' left talked of Adams and Paisley as being more or less interchangeable, the 'two extremes' of Ulster politics. It's a travesty of the truth. Paisley has never supported, directly or indirectly, the murders and mutilations carried out by paramilitaries, let alone organising them as Adams and co. have done.

And he's one of the few great speakers left in politics. Read this Hansard debate and you can hear those rolling, judgemental, thunderous tones.

Rev. Ian Paisley: I am sorry, but I am not giving way. The hon. Gentleman will have to contain himself for once.

Let me tell the House that this matter is not about postponing the election. I noticed that many speakers used the word that I used in the first part of the debate—cancelling. This is a cancellation. If it were a postponement, we could have autumn defined. I ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who comes from Wales, a beautiful Principality that I dearly love, when autumn starts and ends in Wales. Perhaps at the end of the debate he will do so through the mouth of the Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office, who comes from Scotland. Then, I, an ignorant man from Ulster, will know when autumn starts and ends.

Blogger Appears To Be Crumbling Away ...

Judging by the sweets and radioactive squirrels appearing below, Blogger's servers have a hardware problem. More later ...

UPDATE - fixed. I gained an extra post full of Blogger HTML from God knows where. Found and deleted. Wonder if someone's got one of my posts on their blog ?

To Every Little Action ....

The anti-parent - sorry, anti-smacking campaign has long found greatest support in the most politically correct part of Britain - the Central Belt (sorry) of Scotland. Not that the inhabitants are particularly PC (far from it in my experience), but total left dominance has enabled the Scottish Parliament to host some particularly idiotic debates.

Already Dad's slipper and the clip round the ear have been consigned to the dustbin of history, and Scotland has an unenviable record on jailing tourists ('French children are so well-behaved') and sacking teachers for the grave offence of disciplining their own children.

I can't understand then why discipline in Scottish schools seems to be deteriorating so much. Look at the links from a report of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association conference last year.

This year the conference of the largest Scots teaching union, the EIS, is reported as follows :

"The issue of increasingly violent pupils dominated much of this morning’s session at the EIS conference in Dundee’s Caird Hall.

Against a background of rocketing attacks, despite “massive under-reporting” of such incidents, repeated calls were made for teachers to be able to go about their work without fear of assault.

Some estimates show an increase in assaults by pupils on teachers over the last year of 20%. These concern reported incidents only with no figures available on the actual number of incidents.

Larry Flanagan, of the union’s Glasgow branch, told delegates that thousands of attacks were being made on teachers every year across Scotland and they were now in real need of protection. South Lanarkshire teacher Linzi Moore movingly described how violence in school had affected her entire life. She said it had shattered her confidence, reduced her to tears and reached a stage where she could not face going to work.

She said, “There must be effective sanctions against people committing these incidents.”

EIS executive council member Willie Hart said education authorities had to face up to the problem and not just sweep it under the carpet."

I don't understand. If violence breeds violence, surely Scottish school discipline should be a marvel, given that the dominie's tawse went out in the 1970s (I was talking at the weekend to a native of Fife, who remembered abolition and the worst behaved boy in the school asking for (and being given) the headmaster's tawse as a souvenir).

PS - I've written before about the reluctance of anti-family organisations to provide evidence to support their campaigns, but here's one small and idiotic piece of research from the NSPCC.

"Discussions with more than 70 children aged four to seven indicated that children felt smacking reinforced cycles of violent behaviour and did little to help build up a positive relationship between parent and child."

I like that 'indicated'. Our old mate the cycle of violence comes out for a pedal, too. And apparently children had 'negative feelings' on the subject. I think that's the whole idea, actually, without getting too B.F. Skinner about it all. The research boils down to 'children don't like being smacked'. I'd be worried if the results were anything else.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Here's A Health Unto Her Majesty

Who is this erudite blogger at God Save The Queen ? Posts about the Saxon kingdoms, the differences twixt empire and colony - and he doesn't seem to be a Robert Fisk fan.

If s/he keeps up the opening standard none shall be happier than I.

On Liberty and Liberals

Neat post by Expat Yank, who's posting lots of good stuff at present. Like John Lee's Boogie Chillun, 'it's in him, and it got to come out'.

" ... it was liberals who, post-September 11, were devoid of vision, and who were by far the more sour-faced. Most remarkably, it was conservatives who seemed more bent on defending "liberalism" than did liberals themselves.

What the heck had happened?! I wanted answers, and found liberals offering me none but "Bush is evil", or "Bush stole the election". Incredible."

(I was going to call this post 'Let that boy bloggie-woggie', but changed it after reading about the guy who said 'niggardly').

Cash For Access

Remember good old Tory sleaze ? Archer, Hamilton, cash for questions - and an assortment of sex scandals, from the Alan Clarks and David Mellors to the guy with the orange in his mouth and the MP with the eighteen year old hostess as his researcher ?

The second issue's no problem for Labour - just front it out. So the foreign secretary felt able to house his mistress in Carlton House Gardens at the taxpayer's expense, Ben Bradshaw's significant other travels abroad with him (while we pick up the tab), and an MP who posts snaps of himself in his Calvins on a contact website, advertising for a good hard ****, reacts to questions with 'so what ?'.

And quite right too, you may think. Though Labour still seem to think sex is a problem when Tories are involved.

But in the real sleaze department Labour are making the Tories look like rank amateurs - which in a sense they were. Tory sleaze was a series of isolated acts carried out by individuals, which people like the Guardian replay again and again (for example, 11 Archer stories in the Guardian in one month last year).

According to Scotland on Sunday, Labour are more professional. Not only that, but they've managed to coopt one very senior Tory as well.

"It appears that if you want to have dinner with the likes of Mrs Tony Blair these days, £16,000 is the price tag.

That is the annual sum being charged by a remarkable new venture about to be launched in Scotland, which promises a unique chance for the elite of the business world to mix it with Britain’s most powerful political names.

Meet the stiff entry requirements, stump up the cash and you gain entry to regular lunches and dinners with a veritable A-list of stars, including Cherie Blair, Gordon Brown, Alastair Campbell, Michael Howard, Lord Robertson and Douglas Alexander.

Is the Tory chairman happy for the party leader to be on this list ?

Those behind the new club believe it will be the perfect opportunity for elite business-types in Edinburgh and Glasgow to glad-hand with the influential."

The cash-for-access venture has been created by Baroness Mary Goudie, vice-chair of the Labour peers in the House of Lords.

Goudie herself rose to prominence in 1998 after being given access to another exclusive club by Prime Minister Tony Blair - the House of Lords.

The Labour donor had already become a key networker in London and Scotland as a public affairs consultant and as a major player in the voluntary sector.

Do we forget our friends in the media ?

BBC political editor Andrew Marr and world affairs editor John Simpson are lined up to speak, as is comic Clive Anderson and new BBC chairman Michael Grade.

What benefits will these people get for their 16K ?

"Not only will your network multiply overnight, but you will also have unique access to, and interface with, some of the most powerful figures in today’s national and international arenas who will be guest speakers at our monthly events," she writes.

"These world-class speakers will share their views and briefings on current topics and give members access to a sphere of influence that is normally restricted and, we believe, unavailable anywhere else."

"The idea, in a nutshell, is to give you the most informed view of what’s happening in today’s business world in order to help share exponential success tomorrow."

Nothing, it seems, is too much for her clients. Greeting them for lunches or dinners - to be held in Edinburgh and Glasgow - will be Michael Shea, former press secretary to HM the Queen. Members will be able to request that they sit next to particular people in order to make the right inroads.

"We can also set up one-to-one meetings between most speakers and members," Aeolus’ promotional material adds. And what’s more, the group "can advise on making formal approaches to the public sector, regulators and politicians".

Although there is no suggestion of illegality, the revelation that Scottish business people are being offered the chance to pay to have access to some of the most influential people in Britain is bound to raise questions about elitism and cronyism.

You coul say that. Just a bit.