Saturday, April 21, 2007

"Who are you going to vote for, mummy?" asked my eldest today.
"No one," I had to reply, "I can't vote."

He was quite stunned and well he might be. I might be able to vote in European elections (big deal, I'm sure that's just because the voting numbers are so dismal that they are desperate to involve the bottom of the pilers - foreigners) but I cannot vote in the one that counts. The election to choose the President of the Republic is not for me. I am not French. End of story.

However, the Republic is perfectly happy for me to pay my taxes and social contributions; they insist, in fact, but prevent me from adding my voice to how all my tax euros are to be spent, despite my being part of the happy, inclusive Euro family, as a Brit.

There's been some debate about who votes where. Can French nationals domiciled here vote in our General Election ?

Election Roundups

Briffa gives us the latest on what the commentators are saying in England.

Kirk Elder reports from Scotland on Labour's woes.

As I understand it, the logic is as follows: devolution has been a failure, because it has not been able to stop the American-led invasion of Iraq, Mr McConnell's kilt, or the entertaining humiliation of the suntanned firebrand, Mr Tommy Sheridan. In it's early months, the Executive was powerless to stop the decline of the Scottish football team under the command of the German, Herr Berti Vogts. The broadcasts of Mr Fred Macaulay have continued unabashed on Radio Scotland. The manufacture of Hillman Imps has not resumed at Linwood.

The jobs that we won't do ...

Two "footsoldiers" in a gang from Eastern Europe that has stolen more than £2.5 million from London parking meters were each jailed for nine months yesterday at Southwark Crown Court.

Antonio Mia, 22, and Shpetim Bujaj, 25, who are both refugees, were arrested after members of the public saw them unlocking machines and helping themselves to the contents. The pair were said to be part of a massive operation run in the City of Westminster by crime bosses from Eastern Europe.

And the new EU accession countries make their contribution.

A gang of thieves proved they were as light-fingered as they were light-footed when they stole thousands of pounds' worth of family jewellery after distracting a shop owner with a display of traditional dancing.

The 12-strong troupe, who claimed to be Spanish but who police believe are Romanian, put on displays in two stores in Nelson, Lancashire, but as the dancing was taking place their accomplices were plundering nearby living quarters.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Two Brave and Righteous Men

One acted instinctively.

Librescu's family said his last moments were recounted in numerous e-mails from students after the attack.

''My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee,'' Joe Librescu told The Associated Press after the massacre. ''Students started opening windows and jumping out.''

As the students jumped, Librescu was shot dead, one of the 32 victims in the worst shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

One deliberately and with aforethought puts himself on the line.

Outspoken Zimbabwean Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube said in an interview published on Tuesday that he understood that he may lose his life over his continued critical stance against President Robert Mugabe's regime.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph while on a visit to London, Ncube also criticised the leaders of Zimbabwe's neighbours for not doing more to avert the ongoing crisis there.

"The Church has a prophetic role to speak the truth when no one else dares to," the Archbishop of Bulaweyo told the paper.

"I accept that it may mean that I lose my life."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A few cracks in the Curate's Lawn

It's not grown much at all this year ...

After the lunatic idea of Greg Dyke for Mayor, I started reading this Mary Sieghart piece on the Hammersmith Tory 'open selection' procedure with a sinking feeling.

The shortlist could not have been more diverse. There were two women and two men; two whites (one from a gypsy family), one mixed-race and one black. There was only one traditional Tory candidate: a white merchant banker, the classic perfect son-in-law who usually prevails at these occasions. But, despite the presence of a claque cheering him on, there was also a strong desire that Hammersmith should do something different. After all, ours is a gritty Inner London seat, not a genteel Home Counties affair.

There was genuine enthusiasm, too, from those of us who are neither party members nor tribal Tory voters. We were pleased to have the chance to vote in an open primary.

So far so bad. But it turns out the black candidate is one Shaun Bailey, of whom I have blogged before. And he won.

Polly Toynbee wants Britain to become more like Sweden. Looks like it's the other way round. Brussels Journal also comments.

RosengÄrd, an area with a very high immigrant population, is yet again on the frontpage as the riots from Saturday continue. On Sunday, several storage facilities were set ablaze.

I think this woman may have issues. Not professional conduct.

Three people sought after 89-year old woman conned out of £100,000 ? I try to fight my prejudiced stereotyping, but for some reason the headline made me wonder if they could possibly be from the travelling community ?

Ethnic Population change 1971-2001, David Owen, University of Warwick. Uses official census figures FWTW.

Ruth Gledhill puffs more Ekklesia lunacy.

Out must go the dragon, the crusades and the associations with patriotism and Empire. Instead St George's Day should become a 'day of dissent' when England celebrates its noble, alternative tradition of rebellion against the abuse of power, Ekklesia says.

What these idiots don't grasp is that 'alternative dissent' is now establishment orthodoxy, and that today it's far more subversive and radical to praise Empire or to regret the failure of the Crusades (perhaps looting Constantinople en route wasn't the brightest idea) than to beat ourselves up, the default ruling class position. They still think they're rebels, where Ms Gledhill and Ekklesia are total conformists.

The unveiling in the presence of Labour MP Gerald Kauffman of a bust of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, to go alongside Gladstone and other Victorian greats at Manchester Town Hall, reminded me of something.

Jinnah believed that Muslims could not live peacefully as a minority in Hindu-majority India. At a Muslim League conference in Lahore in 1940, Jinnah said:

"Hindus and the Muslims belong to two different religions, philosophies, social customs and literature... It is quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes and different episodes... To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state."

The 1947 Labour Government agreed with this Two-Nation Theory and partitioned India.

What I can't understand is this. A Labour government agreed in 1947 that it was impossible for an Indian state to survive with a large Muslim minority. Let sixty years later anyone who questions whether a British state can survive with a large Muslim minority is declared by a Labour government to be a swivel-eyed Nazi.

Can anyone explain this historical conundrum ?

Low Intensity Warfare

Accrington, Oldham, Stockport.

Grooming in Oldham, Bin Laden in Accrington Market.

Mythical beast spotted in Shawclough. I suppose it could be real, but seems more likely to be the bright idea of some 'antifascist' student types.

Here's a genuine native bad hat. And some other bad hats.

That 'Muslims More Loyal' Poll

As reported by the BBC.

"Muslims in the UK are more likely to identify strongly with Britain and have confidence in its institutions than the population as a whole, a poll suggests.

The survey says they are also more likely to take a positive view of living side-by-side with people of different races and religions.

Fifty-seven per cent of the Muslims polled said they identified strongly with their country, compared with 48% of the general public.

Muslims were also more likely to express confidence in the police (78% to 69%), national government (64% to 36%), the justice system (67% to 55%) and elections (73% to 60%).

Nearly three-quarters of the Muslims said they felt loyal to the UK, and 82% said they respected other religions.

But just 45% of the wider population said Muslims living in the UK were loyal to the nation, and only 55% said they were respectful."

Huzzah ! These guys are more British than the Brits ! As Sunny at Pickled Politics put it "that should shut up some of the usual racists". The Times sub-editors titled Michael Binyon's piece "Muslim, British and just like the rest of us".

Call me an old cynic, but this seemed a little too good to be true. Just before elections, too. I wondered if that poll, (if reported accurately), may have been telling a different, deeper story. We have three slightly ambiguous sentences in the BBC report.

"Muslims in the UK are more likely to identify strongly with Britain" is upfront - no figures given. But fewer and fewer native Brits identify with the UK, instead identifying with England, Scotland or Wales (Northern Ireland is an exception, half identifying as British, half Irish). An unintended consequence of devolution.

"Fifty-seven per cent of the Muslims polled said they identified strongly with their country, compared with 48% of the general public."

Hang on - what's "their country" ? Britain, England, what ? People of recent immigrant stock, the overwhelming majority of whom live in England, have tended to identify as British rather than English.

It turns out that, as reported by Foreign Policy, which seems to have the fullest coverage, it is indeed Britain we're talking about.

"Nearly three-quarters of the Muslims said they felt loyal to the UK, and 82% said they respected other religions.

But just 45% of the wider population said Muslims living in the UK were loyal to the nation, and only 55% said they were respectful."

Hold on a minute. Where are the comparison figures for 'the wider population' ? We don't get them. Instead we get what the wider population think of Muslim loyalty. So we don't know how the BBC derives its 'more loyal than most' headline. Alas the FP report doesn't feature the 'loyalty' figures - but if the BBC are reporting correctly, and we're talking UK, the poll may be telling us as much about the fracture lines within Britain, expressed as an increased loyalty to the constituent nations, as it does about Muslim loyalty.

(The report was apparently due to be released Wednesday, but I can't find it on the Gallup site. Anyone know where it is, or who commissioned the poll ?)

UPDATE - thanks to commenters who point out this David Conway post at Civitas :

I think there is very good reason to doubt the impartiality of those responsible for devising and for interpreting the poll, and hence to mistrust any claims about what it supposedly has revealed about the opinions of Muslims.

The reason to mistrust the impartiality of some of those connected with the poll is that, as stated on its own website, in developing and analysing data from the World Poll, the Gallup Organisation has relied 'on a panel of world–renowned scientists … [who] include John Esposito'. Now, John Esposito, as I explained in a related posting about the Gallup poll in February, is the founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin-Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington DC which changed its name to its present one, after his university where it is based received a gift of $20 million from the man to whose name his centre changed its own.

As I reported in my posting about the Times' encomium of Ken Livingstone last week, this Saudi benefactor is known to be someone who is prepared to use his fabulous wealth and great influence to shape world-opinion in a way favourable to Muslims in general and to the Saudi Wahhabi regime in particular. He also happens to be the single largest share-holder in the holding company that owns, among many other news-media, ... the Times.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Autumn Follows Summer

"If I should mention, as a matter of course, that autumn follows summer, that does not mean that I am all for getting a ladder and pulling the leaves off the trees". - John Wyndham, The Kraken Wakes

This blog, 2005 :

As the Native Brit population declines, and natives become the minority in more and more areas, politics will almost inevitably become split on ethnic lines. The demographics are still pointing all one way, the Tories are unlikely to win this year and less likely to make major changes if and when they do ever win.

So in 20 years or so there'll be a nativist British party, representing a substantial proportion, if not a majority, of the native English. The only question is what the name of that party will be.

It may not be the BNP. It may be Veritas, or UKIP, or English Nationalist. It may even be the Tories, but it's unlikely. By the time they wake up to the fact that, with 80% of ethnic minorities voting Labour, natives being the minority in the major cities, and inward migration unchecked, they may never recapture urban seats, they may have been fatally compromised in the eyes of native voters.

The Times, today :

About 70 people are packed into a back room of the Golden Lion pub, with not a skinhead or pair of Doc Martens in sight and more tweeds than T-shirts. They are male and female, young and old, working class and middle class, ex-Labour and ex-Tory, several of them Daily Telegraph readers. They are mostly solid Yorkshire folk who have watched immigrants transform areas in which they grew up and believe — rightly or wrongly — that their way of life is under threat. They are bewildered more than hate-filled. They are fearful more than fear-inspiring, and feel gagged by political correctness. They do not come from sink estates. They are stakeholders, people with something to lose. "We’re being overwhelmed," laments a retired Latin teacher. "I've nothing against other races. It's just that they keep flooding into the country to breaking point," says a lorry driver. "We can't invite the whole world to live in England," says a former merchant marine officer. Few will give their names.


He urged people to turn their backs on racists in communities and at the ballot box and showed his contempt for the British National Party by saying they should be treated as "less than human".

Trevor Phillips is chairman of the Commission of Equality and less than Human Rights.

Ruling Class Hypocrisy

In the Indie, one public school ex-editor (Piers Morgan) skewers a public school current editor (the Grauniad's Alan Rusbridger). God, what a bunch of hypocrites they are at the Graun ! Do any of them send their kids to the local comp ?

PM: What's your current salary?

AR: It's, er, about £350,000.

PM: What bonus did you receive last year?

AR: About £170,000, which was a way of addressing my pension.

PM: That means that you earned £520,000 last year alone. That's more than the editor of The Sun by a long way.

AR: I'll talk to you off the record about this, but not on the record.

PM: Why? In The Guardian, you never stop banging on about fat cats. Do you think that your readers would be pleased to hear that you earned £520,000 last year? Are you worth it?

AR: That's for others to say.

PM: Wouldn't it be more Guardian-like, more socialist, to take a bit less and spread the pot around a bit? We have this quaint idea that you guys are into that "all men are equal" nonsense, but you're not really, are you? You seem a lot more "equal" than others on your paper.

AR: Er... [silence].

PM: Do you ever get awkward moments when your bonus gets published? Do you wince and think, "Oh dear, Polly Toynbee's not going to like this one."

AR: Er... [silence].

PM: Or is Polly raking in so much herself that she wouldn't mind?

AR: Er... [silence].

PM: Are you embarrassed by it?

AR: No. I didn't ask for the money. And I do declare it, too.

PM: But if you earned £520,000 last year, then that must make you a multimillionaire.

AR: You say I'm a millionaire?

PM: You must be - unless you're giving it all away to charity...

AR: Er...

PM: What's your house worth?

AR: I don't want to talk about these aspects of my life.

PM: You think it's all private?

AR: I do really, yes.

PM: Did you think that about Peter Mandelson's house? I mean, you broke that story.

AR: I, er... it was a story about an elected politician.

PM: And you're not as accountable. You just reserve the right to expose his private life.

AR: We all make distinctions about this kind of thing. The line between private and public is a fine one, and you've taken up most of the interview with it.

PM: Well, only because you seem so embarrassed and confused about it.

AR: I'm not embarrassed about it. But nor do I feel I have to talk about it.

PM: Do you like money?

AR: I remember JK Galbraith saying to me once: "I've been rich and I've been poor, and rich is better." You can have an easier life if you have money.

PM: I heard you bought a grand piano for £50,000.

AR: £30,000 - the most extravagant thing I've ever bought ...

PM: Any other cars?

AR: A company Volvo estate.

PM: A big gas-guzzler.

AR: Yes.

PM: Bit of a culture clash with your G-Wiz, then?

AR: Let me think about that. The problem is that I also have a big dog, and it doesn't fit into the G-Wiz.

PM: I'm sure the environment will understand. Any others?

AR: My wife has a Corsa.

PM: Quite an expansive...

AR: Fleet...

PM: Yes, fleet.

AR: But I've got children as well.

PM: They're privately educated?

AR: Er... [pause].

PM: Is that a valid question?

AR: I don't... think so... no.

PM: And you went to Cranleigh, a top public school.

AR: I did, yes.

PM: Do you feel uncomfortable answering that question?

AR: It falls into the category of something I don't feel embarrassed about, but you get on to a slippery slope about what else you talk about, don't you?

PM: It's not really about your private life though, is it? It's just a fact. And I assume by your reluctance to answer the question that they are privately educated.

AR: [Pause] Again, I am trying to make a distinction between...

PM: You often run stories about Labour politicians sending their kids to private schools, and you are quite censorious about it. Are you worried that it makes you look a hypocrite again?

AR: No. I think there are boundaries. It goes back to this question of whether editors are public figures or not.

PM: And you don't think they are?

AR: Well, again, I've tried to draw a distinction between making my journalism accountable, but I have never tried to go around talking about my private life and therefore making myself into a public figure.

Great stuff. As Harry Phibbs says at the SAU blog, Morgan may also be a hypocrite - but at leat he's honest about it.

Churchill On Demography

"There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies" - radio broadcast, 1943.

"You must have four children. One for Mother, one for Father, one for Accidents, one for Increase".

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

She's Back

'Twas eighteen months ago that AL Kennedy announced to a stunned world that her next novel would be "a historical novel set in World War II but it will reflect the other war. It would have been about Iraq even if it had nothing to with war".

Well if 'Day' is about Iraq, both Guardian (Ursula le Guin, no less) and Indie reviewers seem to have missed it. Maybe she changed her mind.

Her Observer book-plug interview is another of those bleak, self-deprecating jobbies in which she specialises and which make you think she really ought to find some chap into hillwalking, move to a small Borders town, go to church on Sundays and have a couple of weans before it's too late for her. Maybe she just needs someone to love like the rest of us.

Still mad as a fish though. The revamped website features a host of links to lefty 'Bush conspiracy' sites, some no longer in business like ('Auto Insurance Quotes, Ringtones'), the overwhelming majority American. What's wrong with good old British paranoia ? Strangely, for someone who rails against capitalism, she thinks the idea that artists should pay less tax is 'sensible'.

And she's really gorn and done it now (hat-tip - Norm).

"When I look at the UK, it reminds me of the Nazi era. Blair is a deranged war criminal, and I have little hope that Brown is any better.

"And again, we are stigmatising one individual religious group, this time it is the Muslims. A section of our society is being marked out as criminals. That makes me angry."

After various politicians and Muslim and Jewish writers described her views as 'a lot of rubbish', 'absurd, repulsive and dangerous', 'childish, silly and over the top' and 'a bit extreme, to say the least' Ms Kennedy came back with a cracking one-liner.

"Did I say these things? I think I probably did but in the context of a much longer conversation. And I am not in any way comparing the situation to the Shoah. Of course there are no gas chambers or concentration camps. What we have right now, is not the way the Jews were being treated in 1940 or 1941, but maybe where they were around 1936."

If her stand-up comedy can match this she should be on TV.

UPDATE - Edinburgh blogger Rosie Bell isn't too impressed with the 1936 comparison either. Hard but fair methinks.

Your great pal Al
Is a stupid gal
Reason's enemy.
The Guardian prints
Her words of mince
A waste of any tree.
Her frothing rants,
Are total pants,
Count how many flee
From the loony dribbles
And paranoid scribbles
Of A L Kennedy.

Here We Go ...

Following the Virginia Tech massacre, Gerard Baker (for whose opinions I've usually got a lot of time) in the Times :

In Virginia, scene of yesterday’s shootings, they passed a law a few years ago that did indeed restrict gun purchases – to a maximum of one per week. In the neighbouring District of Columbia, on the other hand, the law bans the possession of all guns.

Unfortunate choice, that. The District of Columbia has one of the highest murder rates in the whole of the US. How so ? As the San Francisco lawyer and criminologist Don Kates writes :

The difficulty of enforcement crucially undercuts the violence-reductive potential of gun laws. Unfortunately, an almost perfect inverse correlation exists between those who are affected by gun laws, particularly bans, and those whom enforcement should affect. Those easiest to disarm are the responsible and law abiding citizens whose guns represent no meaningful social problem. Irresponsible and criminal owners, whose gun possession creates or exacerbates so many social ills, are the ones most difficult to disarm.

This applies in spades to the UK, where a total handgun ban has been accompanied by year-on-year increases in handgun crime.

States in the US where so-called concealed carry is allowed have seen falls in crime, as criminals take into account the possibility that their potential victims may be armed.

In Florida, which first introduced "shall-issue" concealed carry laws, crimes committed against residents dropped markedly upon the general issuance of concealed-carry licenses, which had the unintended consequence of putting tourists in Florida driving marked rental cars at risk from criminals (since tourists may be readily presumed unarmed.) Florida responded by enacting laws prohibiting the obvious marking of rental cars.

Perhaps if any law-abiding VT students had been allowed to carry their own weapons on campus the killer would not have been able to slaughter them in such numbers. But a Virginia Bill (House Bill 1572) allowing students the right to carry handguns on campus was recently defeated - prompting Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker to make the unfortunate declaration :

"I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."

Last June, VT's governing board approved a violence prevention policy reiterating its ban on students or employees carrying guns and prohibiting visitors from bringing them into campus facilities.

Unfortunately the 'violence prevention policy' doesn't seem to have taken into account the possibility that someone intent on breaking the murder statutes may not be too worried about a college ban. The killer didn't obey the college rules. Those who died did.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Do These ...

... look like the sort of people to put fear into the criminal classes ?

Judge John Samuels and Judy McKnight of the National Association of Probation Officers.

Plenty more pictures at the NAPO blog, where you can see Frances Crook of the Howard League for the Abolition of Punishment quaffing the taxpayer-funded Zinfandel at a bash to celebrate 55 years of honest endeavour followed by 45 years of protecting the interests of the criminal rather than those of the law-abiding. I wonder how many advocates of victims rights were invited ?

Second Amendment

One for Mr Free Market methinks ...

Safety lessons with a Colt .357. It's not loaded or the ear defenders would be on.

Fearsome beastie ... a Mossberg 300 12 gauge. When loaded with 00 buckshot you grip firmly - and still move back a foot with the recoil.

(Of course this sort of thing could never be allowed in a civilised country like Britain.)

American Catholic Churches

El Christo Rey, Grand Canyon

The Mission, San Luis Obispo

The Silent Service

The Iran hostages crisis was the only UK story which registered on US television or in newpapers. The decision to allow the sale of the stories got a poor press - when the LA Times and SF Examiner are aghast you wonder what Fox News will say. A lot of the US coverage focused on how they could have been captured in the beginning, a subject EU Referendum won't let go of.

Mick Hartley isn't impressed with the abuse being handed out to the "frightened fifteen", on the not unreasonable grounds that those handing out the stick haven't walked in their shoes. But it's impossible not to compare the hostages behaviour with that documented in a thousand WW2 tales. Whatever happened to name, rank, number and the stiff upper lip ? As the Dumb One says, take a look at the hostages and tell me we don’t have a Navy that 'looks like modern Britain'.

Iran has done us over neatly, humiliating our armed forces in the eyes of the world and making further attacks more likely - while the First Sea Lord tells us they are 'not an enemy'. We've then added to the humiliation with the decision to allow the hostages to sell their stories.

British sailors and Marines were previously kidnapped a few years ago by Iran - and our response was non-existent. Mark Steyn's Telegraph piece from 2004 strikes a puzzled note.

The curious thing is the lion that didn't roar. Tony Blair has views on everything and is usually happy to expound on them at length - if you'd just arrived from Planet Zongo and were plunked down at a joint Blair/Bush press conference on Iraq or Afghanistan or most of the rest of the world, you'd be forgiven for coming away with the impression that the Prime Minister's doing 90 per cent of the heavy lifting and the President's just there for emergency back-up. Yet, on an act of war and/or piracy perpetrated directly against British forces, Mister Chatty is mum.

Likewise, Jack Straw. The Foreign Secretary goes to Teheran the way other Labour grandees go to Tuscany. He's got a Rolodex full of A-list imams. When in the Islamic Republic, he does that "peace be upon him" thing whenever he mentions the Prophet Mohammed, just to show he's cool with Islam, not like certain arrogant redneck cowboys we could mention. And where did all the ayatollah outreach get him? "We have diplomatic relations with Iran, we work hard on those relationships and sometimes the relationships are complicated," he twittered, "but I'm in no doubt that our policy of engagement with the Government of Iran... is the best approach."

Even odder has been the acquiescence of the press. If pictures had been unearthed of some over-zealous Guantanamo guards doing to our plucky young West Midlands jihadi what the Iranian government did on TV to those Royal Marines, two thirds of Fleet Street (including many of my Spectator and Telegraph colleagues) would be frothing non-stop.

Instead, they seem to have accepted the British spin that there's been no breach of the Geneva Conventions because the Marines and sailors weren't official prisoners of war, just freelance kidnap victims you can have what sport you wish with.

Why didn't Bush think of that one?

We're seeing here the Blair phenomenon noted by Libby Purves in the early days of his premiership.
She was discussing Blair with "a friend, a retired military man of mild and amiable disposition", who told her "you see, the trouble with Tony Blair is that he's terribly good when it isn't his problem". The more Libby pondered this, the truer it seemed. She thought of his support for GWB after Sept 11, his Labour Conference speech when he abolished world poverty, saved Africa, built the New Jerusalem and caused the lion to lie down with the lamb, the graceful way he dealt with Prescott's pugilism - when the problem wasn't his he was assured and competent. She thought then of the fuel protests and his dealings with Sinn Fein/IRA over decommissioning, concluding that the only time he dithers is exactly when he shouldn't - when the buck stops on his desk.

UPDATE - Rod Dreher has a thoughtful post.

What does the apparent fact that so many today look upon traditional notions of honor as quaint customs from the past say about our collective moral imagination? The relative ease with which those soldiers violated the taboo against participating in propaganda broadcasts of the enemy -- and the decision of the Royal Navy to ignore the violation -- strikes me as a "canary in the coal mine" moment.

UPDATE2 - Max Hastings writes of "a world we have lost - of unreasoning, lifelong devotion, of love for an institution above self. If you don't have that, it is only a matter of time before you don't have a navy." I'm reminded of the comment of the WW2 Admiral Cunningham, when told of the risks attending the further evacuation of British and New Zealand troops from Crete in the face of German air superiority. As Churchill wrote, to abandon the Army went against all the Navy's traditions. Cunningham's reply was :

"It takes the Navy three years to build a new ship. It will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. The evacuation will continue."


Jetlagged and awake - after all, it's just after 6 pm on the West Coast. But also too tired to blog much, so a couple of holiday snaps.

Greenland from 4 miles up - glaciers and peaks on a beautiful sunny morning. The plane flew across the centre of Greenland (the interior icecap is completely flat - very dull), over pack ice to Baffin Island and even passed over Queen Elizabeth Land before coming southwest over the Northern Territory to the Rockies.

Guns and Lace - purveyors of firearms and undergarments to the good men and women of Placer County, California.