Saturday, February 06, 2010

Saturday Night Luurrve

What was the name of the record shop in Bradford's John Street Market ? I remember almost crying with laughter when they played this - and it's still pretty good now. Bill Cosby in Walrus of Love mode - a touching tale of domestic violence :

(And he doesn't do a bad line in political rhetoric, either)

UPDATE - I grow old. The record stall which I can't recall the name of (Jumbo ? Discovery ?) was in the late Rawson Market, a small market of mostly butchers/fruit&veg between the (then) new Kirkgate monstrosity and John Street Market - John Street being a fine market with a pie and peas stand, Baltic food shop and the very wonderful Doris and Roy's Furniture, where house-clearance treasures were to be found.

Like so much else of beauty in Bradford, Rawson Market no longer exists.

Old Bromsgrovian Dies

When I mentioned the few notable alumni of my alma mater and the fee-paying place up the road, I completely forgot to mention Bromsgrove School's most famous OB - the actor Ian Carmichael, who made a career playing silly-ass public school types, and has just died at 89.

Excellent Guardian obituary here.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday Night Is Music Night (Global NeoCon Special)

Come on. When did Polly Toynbee or George Monbiot last step into the studio to do a Christmas single ?

Mark Steyn may not be God's gift to performing music (as opposed to his brilliant writing on the subject), but Jessica Martin keeps him comfortably afloat here.

"I'm in the global justice squad, and we've been working on human rights in Burma"

I suppose the only surprise is that it's taken so long to get there. Perhaps "citizenship" had to be made compulsory first.

"It is easy to become complacent about equality and diversity, just ticking the boxes," he says. "The Stephen Lawrence Standard takes monitoring very seriously, constantly checking on students' involvement, the work going on and its results."

The original award was quick off the mark after the 1999 Macpherson report recommended such strategies in all education authorities, but Edwards points out: "Quick is a relative term. Remember Stephen Lawrence was murdered in 1993."

There are 12 criteria in the toolkit all schools are now being urged by Balls to adopt, including mandatory anti-racist training for staff and governors, a written equality policy, and individual checks on successes and setbacks for minority pupils. The system has three levels, from standard 1 to the top, standard 3.

There'll always be room for initiatives like this in schools, but don't expect to see any like this over here, btw :

The study appears in the February edition of Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. It was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and involved 662 black children in Philadelphia. The students were assigned to one of four options: eight hour-long abstinence-only classes; safe-sex classes; classes incorporating both approaches; or classes in general healthy behaviour. Results for the first three classes were compared with the control group that had only the general health classes.

Two years later, about one-third of abstinence-only students said they had had sex since the classes ended, compared with about 49%of the control group. Sexual activity rates in the other two groups did not differ from the control group.

Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Programme, said she hoped the study would revive government interest in abstinence-only sex education. The research was led by psychologist John Jemmott III, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who has long studied ways to reduce risky behaviour among inner-city youngsters.

(My views on the undoubted evil of racist murder are here. I need to post this for the benefit of any readers who might presume, quite reasonably, that the MacPherson enquiry had good cause to declare the Met 'institutionally racist'.

In fact, no credible evidence of police racism was brought before the MacPherson enquiry, which was precisely why they invented the hitherto unknown concept of "unconscious or unwitting" institutional racism.

The MacPherson report was the high-water mark of liberal white idiocy in relation to race. Never before have so many educated English breasts been beaten for so much non-existent racism. It's not as if there's a shortage of the real thing.

I'd recommend people to take a look at the paper "Racist Murder and Pressure Group Politics" by Norman Dennis, George Erdos and Ahmed Al-Shahi, available as a pdf download from Civitas.

It's top stuff, well-written and an easy read. I'll just quote the summary.

The public inquiry set up under the chairmanship of Sir William Macpherson sometimes had the appearance of a judicial proceeding, but in many crucial respects it departed from practices which have traditionally been regarded as essential in English law. Rules of evidence were modified and witnesses were harassed, both by the members of the inquiry team and by the crowd in the public gallery. Representatives of the Metropolitan Police were asked to ‘confess’ to charges of racism, even if only in their private thoughts. They were even asked to testify to the existence of the racist thoughts of other people. It is part neither of the English judicial process nor of English public inquiries to put people on trial for their thoughts. The proceedings bore some resemblance to the Stalinist show trials of the 1930s.

However, no evidence of racism on the part of the police was ever produced. There was no attempt to show that the Metropolitan Police Service was racist in the sense of being formally structured to put members of ethnic minorities at a disadvantage. Nor was any evidence produced that individual officers dealing with the murder of Stephen Lawrence had displayed racism, unless one includes the use of words like ‘coloured’ which are currently out of favour with professional race relations lobbyists. No evidence was produced to indicate that the police would have handled the investigation differently had the victim been white.

In spite of this, the Macpherson report found the Metropolitan Police, and British society generally, guilty of ‘institutional’ or ‘unwitting’ racism. This claim was justified by referring to ‘other bodies of evidence’ to that collected at the public inquiry, including a list of publications consulted which in many cases had nothing to do with the Lawrence case, and sometimes nothing to do with the UK at all.

Some of the Macpherson report’s proofs of racism were circular and self-reinforcing. To question whether the murder of Stephen Lawrence was a purely racist crime was, in itself, adduced as evidence of racism. This was despite the fact that the suspects had been accused of violent offences against white people and were heard, in tape recordings made of their private conversations, to express violent hatred against white people. The tape recordings were quoted selectively, and this crucial fact does not appear in the Macpherson report.

The Macpherson inquiry, unable to find evidence of racism, produced a definition of racism that at first glance absolved it from producing any. It switched attention, in one direction, away from racist conduct and towards organisational failure. The ineffectiveness of the police had (purportedly) been demonstrated. That ineffectiveness concerned a racist crime. Therefore the ineffectiveness was due to police racism. It switched attention, in the other direction, away from observable conduct, words or gestures and towards the police officer’s ‘unwitting’ thoughts and conduct. But how could the Macpherson inquiry know what was in an officer’s unconscious mind—except through the failure of the police to be effective in the investigation of a racist crime? This definition puts charges of racism outside the boundaries of proof or rebuttal.

The Macpherson report has had a detrimental impact on policing and crime, particularly in London. Police morale has been undermined. Certain procedures which impact disproportionately on ethnic groups, like stop and search, have been scaled down. The crime rate has risen. Nevertheless, the Macpherson report has been received with almost uncritical approval by pundits, politicians and academics. It is still routinely described as having ‘proved’ that the police and British society are racist.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Labour MP - "British workers for all major construction contracts"

Interesting report at leftie blog The Commune on a construction workers demo today :

The protests at the Alsthom office, Peter Mandelson’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Houses of Parliament’s Old Palace Yard were attended by about 100 people, most of whom were unemployed construction workers from power stations in the Midlands and the North. The demo was organised by the GMB after an audit proving that at the Staythorpe power station site in Nottinghamshire, migrant workers were being paid only 500 euros a month – i.e. 1300 euros a month below the industry rate.
This doesn't sound kosher - or indeed halal to me. 500 euros a month is way below UK minimum wage - or does it not apply to people under the Posted Workers Directive ( Wikipedia says it does apply, but gives no citation) ?

I digress.

The union’s placards demanded equal pay for all, and attacked undercutting which meant the subcontractor Somi preferred to use foreign labour rather than local unemployed workers, since it could do so more cheaply and undermine the industry agreement. Speakers at the closing rally repeatedly and clearly expressed solidarity with the Portuguese, Italian, Polish and Greek workers who were being underpaid and demanded that they be paid the industry rate.
Blogger David Broder has a problem here. As a good Marxist internationalist the idea of a nation having interests of its own is self-evidently ridiculous. There is only class and class struggle.

Doesn't make a lot of sense to me. As others far to the left of me have said, a glut of labour lowers wages, and a glut of imported labour lowers indigenous wages. In another Labour MP, Jon Cruddas' words :

“the government tacitly used immigration to help forge the preferred flexible North American labour market. In the service sector, construction and civil engineering, for example, immigration has been used as an informal reserve army of cheap labour. People see this at their workplace, feel it in their pocket and see it in their community - and therefore perceive it as a critical component of their own relative impoverishment.

Objectively, the social wage of many of my constituents is in decline. House prices rise inexorably, and public service improvements fail to match local population expansion. At work, their conditions, in real terms, are in decline through the unregulated use of cheap migrant labour.

Migrant labour is the axis of our whole domestic agenda.

Now there's a lot of PC self-deception here - or possibly cynicism, in the demo speakers' "solidarity with the Portuguese, Italian, Polish and Greek workers who were being underpaid".

"whereas the Daily Star had quoted an Amicus/Unite shop steward to the effect that “All we want for Brit workers is a fair crack of the whip to have first preference on jobs”, and at yesterday’s Cadbury demo Unite’s Jack Dromey had commented that “Our fear is that the Kraft takeover is not in the national interest”, most speakers at the Old Palace Yard rally steered well clear of such sentiments."

Because the speakers - and the workers - know quite well that if the imported workers were paid UK wages, there would no longer be any incentive to import them, cheapness being their USP. In effect, if not in form, the call for "the industry rate" is the call of 'British Jobs For British Workers'. It's just the call that dare not speak its name.

Save for one champion. I know little about John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, a solidly working class constituency covering what was once the Nottinghamshire coalfield. Emboldening is mine.

However, while most speakers stressed that the struggle was over the industry agreement and agencies’ monopoly of recruitment, the New Labour MP John Mann injected his own special venom into proceedings. Mann “had no problem” with ‘British jobs for British workers’ and stressed that there was plenty of land in his constituency to build more power stations. He argued against employing migrant workers who supposedly “don’t pay tax towards the NHS” and put British workers on Jobseekers’ Allowance, decrying this as ‘bad economics’ for Britain.
What ? Here we have the grotesque sight of a Labour MP - a Labour MP, mind you, suggesting that it's bad for Brits to be unemployed while migrants work ? What is the world coming to ?

With an eye on the upcoming General Election, Mann announced that he would be tabling a motion in Parliament to the effect that all major construction projects are carried out by British workers: if anyone had a problem with that, he assured us, he had the “100% backing of all 79,000 men women and children” in his constituency.
I'll keep an eye open for that. He's got an enormous majority - are the BNP giving him a hard time, or his constituents, or both ? Could it be that he's sincere ? Seems to have taken him a long time - he's been an MP for nine years.

While what Mann had said was at odds with the general themes of the rally, he received enthusiastic applause, more than anyone except Hicks’ militant class struggle speech. Whitehurst and Kenny’s speeches were several times interrupted by unemployed workers asking what precisely the union was going to do about the situation, which has left many without work for as long as 9 months. Quite. It seemed as though, just like Hicks’ call for solidarity action and fighting rather than lying down, Mann’s overt and defiant nationalism might also perhaps have appealed to a sense of frustration at the lack of progress made by the GMB and Unite over the last year.
In other words, the workers are noticing that the boilerplate union rhetoric is long on words, short on jobs and wages. They're noticing that :

"the moral and political objections to undercutting "our own people" (a phrase which immediately brands the utterer with the indelible scar of racism) have been totally marginalised and discredited (in this context, rendered almost unsayable - LT). The trades unions, which instinctively understood the objections to cheap 'scab' (non-unionised) labour, now welcome the undercutting of an entire working class."

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I'll be keeping an interested eye on Mr Mann.

Cognitive Dissonance Alert Part 492

Lawrie Penny takes issue with Simon Jenkins on the vexed issue of whether in a liberal democracy Christians can be allowed to self-organise, brilliantly parodying those who accuse secularists of 'liberal fascism' :

"Because she's an eeeeevil feminazi, OMG"

"All liberals R Nazis!!*$!"

"This whiny attempt to curry favour with the chain-smoking wingnut libertarian contingent of Guardian readers just makes me want to stub out a fag in your face, Simon."
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a cigarette being stubbed out in Simon Jenkins' face - forever.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Decline of the West

1959 - Western clothes. Blouse and skirt, at the front a few floral dresses of the sort my mother was wearing at the time. Formal jacket and tie for chaps.

1978 - looks like 1973 at an English university, with maybe slightly longer skirts. Even the hairstyles are familiar. The chaps have loosened up, too - more hair and far fewer jackets and ties.

1995 - Blimey. 50% hijab ? Where'd they all come from ? And I think I'm in love with front centre, pale face and pre-Raphaelite hair.

2004 - now it's spot the girls without hijab. Half-a dozen maybe ? Eight ? Not more than 10% max.

Cairo University Class Photos. It would be interesting to see some from the 1980s.

As Mr Steyn puts it, "the idea that social progress is like the wheel or the internal combustion engine — once invented, it can never be uninvented — is one of the laziest assumptions of the Western Left".

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance Alert (Part 637)

Dave Osler on Tibet :

"China has since then systematically exploited Tibet’s natural resources, and has resettled Han Chinese colonists there to the point where Tibetans are at risk of becoming a minority in their own homeland"

Dave Osler on the UK :

"further mass immigration obviously has the potential to rejuvenate the population of this island once the politicians can get their head round the idea"

LA's Fine, The Sun Shines Most The Time

... and the feeling is laid back ?

All depends on where you live.

And your age.


and ethnicity.

I must give 'props' to the LA Times for the Homicide Report, a terrific resource started as a blog by a lone LA Times journalist, Jill Leovy, and now put together in conjunction with the Annenberg School of Journalism- would that such a resource existed for the UK, which has around the same number of murders per annum as LA. Someone did start this, and the UK police have created this, but I've failed in two days of trying (with a 750K ADSL connection) to get any of the maps to actually load - after about ten minutes I give up. Looks like the work of Rock Kitchen Harris is in the best tradition of state-funded computer projects.

Interesting Homicide Report FAQ here.

Mind, the Annenberg School either need a new Managing Editor or a decent subeditor, judging by their announcement.

Alan Mittelstaedt, managing editor of Annenberg Digital News, which publishes Neon Tommy, said Khouri’s recent article in The Times is a prime example of how this partnership can work.

It was as good of a story as a 15-year veteran at a newspaper could have done,” Mittelstaedt said.

While we're on the subject of homicide rates, Harry Hutton pointed out a while back that they'd be much higher were it not for medical advances. This New England Journal of Medicine piece looks at military survival rates (30% of WW2 wounded die as against 10% Iraq wounded).

And this Wayback-retrieved Canberra Times article quotes a British Medical Journal piece (it gives the reference) :

"The latest British Medical Journal draws a different link between medicine and murder, arguing medical advances mask an epedemic of violence by cutting the homicide rate. In the September issue Roger Dodson says murder rates would be up to five times higher without medical developments during the past 40 years"

Medical advances mask epidemic of violence by cutting murder rate

Roger Dobson

BMJ September 2002; 325: 615.

There's also this at the delightfully named Killology site, which does exactly what it says on the tin.

Since 1957 in the US, the per capita aggravated assault rate (which is, essentially, the rate of attempted murder) has gone up nearly sevenfold, while the per capita murder rate has less than doubled. Vast progress in medical technology since 1957 to include everything from mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, to the national "9-1-1" emergency telephone system, to medical technology advances is the reason for this disparity.