Friday, September 30, 2005

Hurry Up And Come Back

The eponymous founder of group blog Harry's Place is suspending blogging (another long and thoughtful post with no less than 276 comments as I write) due to work and family commitments (probably Mrs H wants to use the laptop), though the site continues. Harry's was one of the first blogs I ever read, and it's still one of the first I read each day. I may disagree with some of what they write, but they're decent people.

Thank you Harry - and come back whenever you like.

Call Me Old Fashioned ...

But I'd assumed that pretty much anyone with a knowledge of British history (note - that doesn't mean a GCSE at O or A level, alas) would have heard of the Barbary Coast Pirates, Muslim sea-rovers who operated off the coats of Britain in much the same way that the Vikings had 800 years previously.

Seems to have come as quite a shock to the Divine Ms M.

The Dumb One calls it Four Hundred Years Of Dhimmitude, but it ain't really. It's just what they did. It was the culture, man. And the Knights Hospitaller of St John (yes, the forebears of those nice First Aid people) and other Christian corsairs took their share of slaves when intercepting the ships of the Ottoman Empire.

Perhaps it might stop liberals beating themselves up about slavery to be reminded that it had been an integral part of most Islamic economies for seven hundred years before John Hawkins started sailing West African waters, continued into modern times in Arabia, and continues today in places like Sudan.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Aussie Uni Appoints Heterosexuality Officer

I must say the University of New England, logically enough situated in New South Wales, sounds an entertaining place.

While many of Australia's 38 universities have a queer officer to represent gay students, Dave Allen, 22, is the only heterosexuality officer in the country.

Last night, as he loaded his Holden ute for a night of roo-shooting near his home town of Narrabri, Mr Allen said he did not give "a rat's arse" about homosexuals as long as they were not being given special treatment.

"It doesn't matter whether you're straight, gay, black, white or brindle, but when it starts getting 'Oh, we need a space for us to hang out', it's crap; just come down the pub and have a few beers with us," he said.

He had not seen or heard of any harassment of gays at UNE that would necessitate a queer safe space.

"I'm a country redneck bloke and I seem to mix all right with city people without having to find my own little country space," Mr Allen said.

Dangly-cork hat-tip - iFeminists newsfeed.

Shocking Court Revelation

A social worker said Mr Gray appeared "disinterested in attending the police station and court with your son".

The social worker described this as "concerning".

I'm concerned, too, that our social workers can't tell the difference between 'disinterested' (unbiased, impartial) and 'uninterested'.

Real Life Makes Satire Redundant Part 412

Boy, 11, banned from driving

Top Comedian At Labour Conference

Charles Clarke has vowed to "eliminate" anti-social behaviour and disrespect in society by the time of the next general election "whenever it comes".

Meanwhile in the real world ...

The Old Bailey heard how the youth and his 14-year-old friend, who was found guilty of blackmail, waged a campaign of intimidation against the victim's 13-year-old son. The pair, who denied the charges, hung round the boy's home last December, demanding he give them £20 and a copy of the computer game, Grand Theft Auto. The 14-year-old warned him to hand over the game and the cash or he would kill his father.

Neither of the defendants, both from Brixton, south London, can be named because they are juveniles. Judge James Stewart QC also ordered that the bullied boy, who gave evidence against the defendants, should not be identified, meaning his father cannot be named. The court heard the boy told his 35-year-old father about the threats and on December 16, the defendants were again cycling around the boy's home.
The father tried to phone police but was put on hold, and, ignoring his wife's and son's pleas, went outside to remonstrate with the pair. The older boy stabbed him with a single wound to the heart. He managed to stagger home, where his family called an ambulance to rush him to hospital, but he died within a couple of hours.

The Guardian's crime correspondent, Rosie Cowan, is a bit of a comedienne too. She thinks the killer is 'facing life imprisonment'.

Evens he's out by age 20, 100-1 against him being still inside at 25.

And the 14 year old, who told the boy his father would be killed ? Out by 16 for sure, in the unlikely event he goes away. After all, you shouldn't put children in prison, should you ?

Another Terrorist Victory

Perhaps the police interviewing Mr Wolfgang could spare a bit of time to check out these people.

A chain of children's nurseries has become the target of animal rights activists who are attempting to close down the chemicals testing company Huntingdon Life Sciences, it emerged yesterday.

The directors of Leapfrog Day Nurseries, the biggest provider of childcare in the UK, received letters warning them to sever all links with HLS, which has been the subject of sustained protests over its use of animals, including experiments for pharmaceutical research.

Leapfrog, which runs 102 nurseries and was offering childcare vouchers to HLS employees, yesterday said it had received threats of physical force and that it had cut its ties to HLS.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What's That ?

Blogging ?

New Labour - New Freedoms

Not content with jailing pensioners for council tax arrears, they're being questioned under terrorism legislation for shouting 'nonsense' at Jack Straw.

According to a Radio Four PM report, when 82 year old Walter Wolfgang, a party mermber since 1948, was manhandled by stewards, the chairman of his constituency party tried to stop them, only to be himself assaulted and thrown out. Outside the hall his pass was taken.

When Mr Wolfgang attempted to use his pass to re-enter the conference, he was stopped by police, who said they needed to question him under anti-terror laws.

UPDATE - the excellent Wardyblog tells us all to calm down.

Light Blogging Alert

Due to upcoming change of employer.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Here We Go Again

I don't think this work of art has been withdrawn to spare the feelings of Christians or Jews, do you ?

Tate Britain "misunderstood" a piece of art it took out of a show to avoid religious offence, its creator said.
The gallery cancelled plans to display John Latham's God Is Great, concerned in particular that it could upset Muslims after London's 7 July bombings.

An Academic Writes

Dr Martyn Amos of Exeter University was incensed by the BBC report on the pensioner jailed for non-payment of council tax.

The BBC's John Kay said: "One of the pensioners I've talked to described her as the council tax equivalent of Emily Pankhurst or the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

"That is how she is being perceived by people down here, where her plight has been recognised for some time."

I was pretty furious when I read that, too. Don't the BBC know that it was Emmeline Pankhurst, not Emily, who led the WSPU before the First World War. Emily Davison was the one who chucked herself under the favourite in a well-organised betting coup which made £23,000 for Emmeline's daughter Christabel.

Dr Amos has other concerns.

"Her stance is a purely political gesture, not that of an impoverished pensioner scraping by on a tiny pension. To compare her to Emily Pankhurst is (a) wildly inaccurate, and (b) offensive."

He's right. Quite apart from Emily/Emmeline, unlike Mrs Pankhurst, Sylvia Hardy has organised no campaigns of vandalism or arson. And it is certainly offensive to compare a harmless retired lady to the woman who in 1917 founded the Womens Party, successor to the WSPU, on a platform of abolishing trade unions and eliminating all persons of non-British descent from government departments and essential industries.

Names From Hell ?

It all started with a wee post on the Times Educational supplement forums.

"Jordan, Liam, Ryan, Conner, Callum, Declan, Kyle, Arren, Shane and Ashley .... Do you think this would be a nice little group to teach ?"

The thread is now 24 pages long and has hit the papers.

Haven't scanned every page, but I note that there are parents who call their kids Holly Wood and Tia Maria, Pocohontas, Paige Three, Denim, Calico, Gucci and Versace, although "Duane Pipe" may be an urban myth.

"An 8 letter christian name and a double barrelled surname of any kid in an unsalubrious place is a dead cert for special needs ... " on the other hand "Kwesi, Kwadjo, Kwabena, Kwaku, Yaw, Kofi and Kwame (all Ghanaian names- the most polite and respectful society I know)"

Oh dear.

Recently, at the school where my mother teaches, a mother took her child to be registered. When asked the child's name she said SHLORE (apparently she had found the name in a baby book). When asked to spell the name as it was unusual, she replied 'C H L O E'.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Inappropriate Religious Metaphor Watch

There can't be that many forms of employment which could survive being shown in a Sunday newspaper with a rolled up fiver in your nose and a line of white powder on the table. Few train drivers, machine operators or helpdesk assistants would find the paycheck unaffected and the police uninterested.

Yet for the Indie's Tim Luckhurst, 'Kate's crucifixion' is a tale of fashion labels 'buckling' under the pressure of the hideous tabloids. One in particular. You'll never guess.

At the Daily Mail the former Cosmopolitan editor Marcelle D'Argy Smith focused on Moss's commercial interests. Calling the fashion houses that refused to sack Moss "greedy profiteers", she said. Do I think companies are cynical for not firing her? ... Of course." It was too much for the grey men at H&M.

What a bunch of dull old squares, eh ?

H&M rejected the compassionate option of asking Moss to clean up her act. But it knows that cocaine use is rife among models.

Your point being ? In the Catholic Church it is known that child abuse is rife among some priests.

But that doesn't stop us, when we find out about it, breaking all their fingers - before nailing them to their own front doors.

Bash That Bishop One More Time

There is one thing to be said for the Church of England. It is an exceedingly broad church. Having moved in a generation from 'The Tory Party At Prayer' to 'Guardian Readers interfacing with each other over a broad range of problematic contemporary issues", it has not expelled the traditionalists, with their old fashioned views on sin and redemption. They are still free to speak their mind.

In the New Criterion, the Reverend Peter Mullen has certanly spoken his.

At the Wedding, for instance, the new official book for every parish, Common Worship, makes the priest pray, “Let them be tender with each other’s dreams.” I think there should be a rubric in the margin saying, “At this point the congregation shall throw up".

Read the whole thing (hat-tip: Face Right), who also recommends this essay, a restatement of Peter Hitchens' thesis in "The Abolition Of Britain".

"Over the last fifty or sixty years decline and change in a sometimes indistinguishable combination have shredded its tradition and its spirit, even its identity. The revolution has been accomplished by peaceful and often imperceptible degrees, but it is a revolution all the same. "