Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Scottish National Party's Hatred Of The Liberties Enjoyed By Scots...

can be seen in its suggestion that the size of Scottish juries could be reduced.

This shows The Copfighter-General really wanting to stick the boot in, really wanting to kick the Scots in the ba-privates, really stamp on their heads until they're stunned and defenceless. The problem with the size of Scottish juries is not that they are too big, it is that those of all other jurisdictions are too small. The historic number sitting on a Scottish jury is 15; there is no reason to change it; and if it's proposed to reduce it on account of cost, that will show either that the SNP confirms that the national stereotype of Scots as being miserly and pennypinching is correct, or that they want to increase the "productivity" of the courts through shorter deliberation periods - and the liberties of Scotland and the Scots be damned. How did Scots become worth the consideration of only 12 of their fellows, when before they were entitled to that of 15? Has "Scottishness" somehow been devalued, and nobody's told us?
For donkey's years one has listened to the Scottish Nationalists tout the unique status of the Scots law as something about Scotland to be proud of - and yet once they get their hands on the levers of power, they talk of abolishing one of its most unique features. Wha's like you, eh, Kenny? Certainly not anyone who doesn't vote SNP, for sure...

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Teachers Strike (Again)

is now up on The Devil's Kitchen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Scotsman Reflects On St. George's Day

is now up on The Devil's Kitchen.

A Solution To The Grangemouth Oil Refinery Dispute

How about this - instead of Scotland possibly closing down because of a threatened strike at its only oil refinery, why doesn't the government nationalise it (without compensating the owners, of course) and put its staff on a no-strike agreement?
Their dispute is not our problem. If they want to make it our problem, we are entitled to propose solutions.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Short Reflection On The Career Of Alex Salmond

As the leader of a freedom and civil rights movement, The Tartanissimo doesn't seem to have done very much.
Unlike Gandhi, I don't ever recall him leading mass marches demanding independence.
Unlike Martin Luther King, I don't ever recall him doing things that might get him arrested in the cause of independence.
Unlike Aung San Suu Kyi, I don't ever recall him going on hunger strike to make himself a martyr for independence.
Of course, he may know full well that if he had tried any of that, the Scots would just laugh at him, and, if I have any measure of the man's character, if there's one thing he won't take from anyone it's being laughed on any terms other than his own; but it would be nice to think that he thought his vision for Scotland, and the Scots, worth a little bit of effort - like dying or going to jail. Even Tommy Sheridan's done a wee bit of stir in the pursuit of his beliefs.
The day may yet come when Scotland's Unionists will be called upon to follow the examples of these giants of humanity in pursuit of our principles. If it does, one hopes one has the courage to do as they did.

What History Can Teach The Scots About The Scottish National Party, Part I

"The Bulgarian intelligentsia turned into a class of alienated men who fell far short of developing lose and lasting ties with their people as a whole. As nationalists, these activists loved their people - but they loved it as an abstraction. When the people failed to measure up to their image of it, the intellectuals turned on it with disdain. Although such an attitude might serve as a legitimate way to cure societal defects, the social criticism of the Bulgarian intelligentsia had a negativism about it that bespoke something else - the rejection by a cultured elite of what it in its frustration came to regard as the uncouth masses" -
Thomas A. Meininger, 'The Formation of a Nationalist Bulgarian Intelligentsia 1835-1878', quoted in Glenny, 'The Balkans', Page 118.
Loving the people as an abstraction? Turning on them with disdain when they don't measure up? Regarding them as uncouth? Sounds just like Christopher Harvie MSP to me...

What History Can Teach the Scots About The Scottish National Party, Part II

"In a related way, the (Bulgarian) intelligentsia established hardly any relationship at all with that part of the population which by and large was the people - the peasantry. The nationalist idealized the peasantry as the simple but sturdy backbone of the nation. In practical terms, however, they overlooked the problems of the peasants and they did not train themselves in the things they needed to know. " -
Meininger, op.cit.
One wonders just how many members of the soi-disant, ersatz 'Scottish Government' would know how to complete a Housing Benefit application form, would be able to live on the derisory sums paid in contribution based Jobseekers' Allowance or would know how to work the touchscreens in the Job Centre. These may not be the grand constitutional issues, folks; but they are the peoples' concerns...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Keep On Walking

On a personal note, this morning I have been able to walk unassisted for the first time in three months.
The pins are, of course, as stiff as a four day old corpse, and, if previous form is anything to go by, will probably collapse at about three o'clock this afternoon, meaning I get to do it all again tomorrow. However, even for a short time, walking to the train station does not feel like taking The Silk Road by the long route, nor climbing stairs like mounting The Hillary Step; and for that, one has this stuff and this lady to thank.
Here's hoping the remission/improvement/whatever continues. Deo Gratias.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Is Boris Berezovsky Skint?

Today's 'Telegraph' reports that this blog's least favourite balding Armand Assante lookalike is suing Roman Abramovich for $2 billion.
Even by Boris Abramovich's unusually low corporate standards, as outlined by George Soros in 'The Crisis of Global Capitalism', this is cheeky - or else the caviar train is finally grinding to a halt.
Maybe's he's never been as rich as he liked to make out. Maybe he's just another sub-prime emigre with a bad dose of Black's Disease - a millionaire who thought he was a billionaire.
One wonders what Paul Klebnikov might have made of it all...God rest his soul...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Thoughts Of Timothy Garton Ash

is now up on The Devil's Kitchen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Foreigner Perpetrated Crime: Compare And Contrast

BBC News, 16th April 2008:
"The influx of migrant workers into England and Wales from eastern Europe has not led to the crime wave that some have suggested, a police report says.

Since 2004, about 800,000 people have registered for work in Britain from many eastern European countries.

The report by two chief constables has been sent to the home secretary ahead of a meeting with senior officers"
BBC News, 16th April 2008:
"A security guard has been convicted of sodomy against two men and indecently assaulting two others in Glasgow.

Hissein Atie prowled the city's streets looking for men to attack, the High Court in Glasgow heard.

The 30-year-old, who was caught by DNA evidence, committed the offences between January and June last year.

Sentence was deferred for reports and Atie, who arrived in the UK from Chad in 2000, was placed on the sex offenders' register.

Judge Ian Peebles QC said he would consider deporting Atie to the Central African country."
While one would hope that Mr. Atie keeps his back to the wall in the showers, if only to keep his own wee chads from hanging, this does perhaps indicate that, as with much else concerning immigration policy, it's the non-EU aspect that needs examination.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Professor Ferguson's Ready For His Close-Up, Mr. De Mille

I haven't commented on poor old Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard and self-described 'fully paid-up member of the neo-imperialist gang', for a while; but given Niall's penchant for having the portrait on his website showing him either posing in front of a tank or astride the Earth like a study by Caspar David Friedrich, the new one makes me wonder if he's trying to hide his identity; or developing a double chin.

The Final Irony In The Death Of Mark Speight

According to the The Daily Mail,
"Police were today due to perform a post mortem on his body, which was found by builders hanging from a steel beam just two floors above a police station. "
As I said yesterday, Mr. Speight's interests seem to have been ill-served by those in the police service whose wages he paid.
Oddly, Mr. Speight's death now raises a genuine question of national security; for if a depressed celebrity whose face has been in the papers for months, and was thus now much more familiar to a very much wider audience than that to which he was usually accustomed, can gain access to a remote area of one of the country's most important pieces of infrastructure and then commit suicide, it makes you wonder just what a Muslim suicide bomber could do.
Anyone head from Mansfield yet?

The Guardian's Open Letter On Inheritance Tax

Today's Guardian carries an open letter from assorted public sector workers, academics, think-tankers and other goddam pinkos entitltled 'Speaking up for inheritance tax'.
They write,
"The core mission that should underpin progressive politics is that we should not inherit our life chances at birth: our opportunities should depend on our efforts, not who our parents are."
Good, so hopefully none of Will Hutton's children, if he has any, will end up writing for The Guardian.
It continues,
"Inheritance tax matters because it is one of the few tools that directly reduces inherited inequalities"
They do not say how it does this; through the particularly mean method of taking a lump of cash from those who would inherit, and speading that lump very thinly amongst many others. The only type of mobility which it fosters is downward. The writers go on,
"Those arguing against it must know they will entrench social immobility."
No, this is not the case at all. Reform of the education system based on the recognition that not all children are capable of a university education, restoration of the country's manufacturing base and the root-and-branch, slash-and-burn reform of the welfare system would also enhance social mobility; do any of these Solons dare kill any of their own favourite mobility-limiting sacred cows?
It should be politely suggested to these re-probates that, should any of them engage in the avoidance of inheritance tax, they would be accused of hypocrisy; that a lot of them aren't as young as they used to be; and that some people still read the notices announcing the value of estates which are published in the 'Times' and the 'Daily Tlegraph'.
The motto of such progressives is, and always has been, 'Power To The People - All Others Pay Cash'.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gordon Brown Is Unfit To Be Prime Minister

I think the pressure's getting to him.
"Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he understands people's fears over the economy and insisted that keeping it on track was his "sole focus".
'We are on the side of home owners, business and individuals', he said".
Not only is this comment a complete repudiation of socialism, to all intents an apostasy of the beliefs Brown is alleged to have professed since his youth, but it doesn't make any sense.
One is either in favour of the individual or the corporate, but one cannot be in favour of both; and it's an extremely odd remark to make when the nation is engaged in two separate wars, both of which are bloody shambles.
James Maxton's sometime biographer is losing it, for sure. I suppose he's just another proof of the maxim that you should be careful what you wish case you get it...

The Death Of Mark Speight

The discovery of Mark Speight's body is an unnecessarily tragic end to a rather tragic series of events. One wonders what hopes Mr. Speight had for this year - by the time less than a third of it was over, he had lost his fiancee, his career and now his life.
Precisely how, and why, Miss Collins came to ingest such a massive quantity of intoxicants is now really neither here nor there. She did, and it killed her, God rest her soul; a tragedy in a string of tragedies.
Yet one can't help but think that Mr. Speight's death could have been avoided; after all, let's face it, he didn't really get much help from the authorities.
Mark Speight's career was over the moment it was announced he had been arrested on suspicion of murder. The fact that he was officially exonerated of all charges in relation to the death of Miss Collins so soon after the announcement was made would not matter - there would be no way that he would have been able to resume any role in broadcasting thereafter.
One has to wonder whether or not Mark Speight might be alive today if someone at the Metropolitan Police had kept their mouth shut about his arrest. One hopes that those representing his loved ones make this point at his inquest. They could also ask why there was what seemed to be an unseemly rush to arrest him when the speed with which he was exonerated might indicate that the evidence was thin; whether or not a promoted detective panicked and went gung-ho when faced with a dead celebrity; or whether or not some malicious bastard, a breed sadly over-represented within our police services, decided they might like their name in the papers at some point in the future.
These are precisely the sort of questions on which radical barristers thrive - I'm sure that Mr. Speights's family could get one to act for them for free. Come to think of it, now that the Diana inquest's over, Michael Mansfield might even be available...
Mark Speight and Natasha Collins - RIP.

'Scotland's First Lady'

Yesterday''s 'Sunday Times' reported that Moira Salmond, wife of the Tartanissimo, is "to take a higher-profile role as Scotland's first lady".
I'm sure that Mrs. Salmond is a perfectly nice old lady, but The Scotland Act 1998 created no provision for the country to have a 'first lady'; like the debate on the council tax rebate, like Trident, this is just another example of the Scottish Nationalists behaving hubristically. Scotland already has a first lady, and her name is Elizabeth II; that the SNP would seek to put a retired civil servant from Buchan in Her Majesty's place shows just how insincere they are when advancing the 'one monarch, two nations' policy, and just how republican they remain.
For Mrs. Salmond to assume the role and title of 'first lady' would be a very grave mistake, for she would then be subject to scrutiny. She might be faced with awkward questions, such as why she contracted a marriage to a politically ambitious man 17 years her junior at the age of 43, and one which a cynical observer might assume was intended to be childless. It must have been a phenomenal meeting of minds. She might be asked just how much influence she has wielded over her husband, for an age gap of 17 years is a big one to overcome. It can be done, goodness knows; one of my relations married a man 15 years her junior, and the marriage was happy and endured for many years.
But on top of that, the wife of an aspiring politician must be prepared to make sacrifices, the nature of which a professional woman, a career civil servant, on the cusp of middle age must be assumed to be capable of understanding. She must have been really dedicated to letting Alex pursue his career; indeed, so dedicated that a less generous observer might think that such a gap in experience could lead to him being very much more heavily influenced by his wife than many other leaders. One might be tempted to wonder just how much of the SNP's intellectual direction has come from her, and not him; indeed whether or not she's been working her husband from the back.
And other even less generous commentators might think that her becoming 'first lady' a few months after her husband's rise to, er, minority government is payback for all those years of support and encouragement in the shadows; Moira finally getting her place. Isn't that nice?
Mind you, given that they met when they were both civil servants, it might also lead to questions as to the quality and impartiality of the advice and support which was given by the staff of the Scottish Office to Unionist Ministers; and whether or not those civil servants who supported the SNP engaged in entryism, a Trojan Horse within the institutions of lawful government. Unless I'm gravely mistaken, we've got laws against that sort of thing; but of course, they're civil servants - they know the law.
If she is declared some kind of 'first lady', I, for one, will refuse to acknowledge the title, and will encourage everyone I know to do likewise. Moira Salmond is not a 'first lady'; she is just another politician's wife. That's all.
Come to think of it, I wonder just how keen Mrs. Salmond really is on that title...she might be better off sticking to the cakes and the muscovy ducks...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Terror Threat To The United Kingdom

Oops - can I still say that?

A Once In A Lifetime Experience

That would be, er, Margo MacDonald researching assisted suicide.

'One murder in five is committed by a foreigner'...

Demonising China

Fu Qi - sorry, Fu Ying, Chinese ambassador to London, complains that China is being 'demonised', saying that,

"I am concerned that mutual perceptions between the people of China and the West are quickly drifting in opposite directions."

No, no, the West's perception of China seems to be quite straightforward - the Chinese Government are a gang of thugs who give you a bullet in the back of the head if you don't do your maths homework.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Do It To Them...

before they do it to you.

And quite right as well.

Well done, Mrs. Reid.

Why Do Scottish Local Authorities Have a National Convention?

In narrating the pickle in which the over-promoted clerk who bears the designation 'Finance Secretary of Scotland' finds himself, Alan Cochrane writes in today's 'Telegraph' that,
"Earlier this week unions representing Scotland's 220,000 local council workers - read that again, by the way, 220,000 local council workers - threw out the 2.5?(sic)per cent three-year deal being offered them by Mr Swinney's pals in the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA)."
The entity known as CoSLA has hovered over my consciousness for as long as I can remember, its acronym eerily redolent of what one might expect from a totalitarian secret police force; yet what is it for?
Isn't it illogical for local authorities to have a national convention? Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of 'local government'?

Friday, April 11, 2008

London Calling

"The three leading contenders to be London mayor say they support an amnesty on illegal immigrants who have lived in the UK for four years or more.

Labour's Ken Livingstone, Tory Boris Johnson and Lib Dem Brian Paddick all back the London Citizens panel's idea. "
It continues,
"It says long-term illegal immigrants should be able to work for two years, subject to criminal checks, an English test and other requirements.

The mayoral election is on 1 May, with 10 candidates standing.

London Citizens - made up of 2,500 community leaders, faith groups and other organisations - says "earned regularisation" has been a success in the US, Spain and elsewhere and should be implemented in the UK. "
According to its website, London Citizens is "a diverse alliance (Muslim and ethnic-minority dominated?) of active citizens and community leaders (bullies and cranks?) organising for change (Why? Are things in London now so bad, the people so desperate, that they think Brian Paddick can fix it?). Members include faith groups, schools, student organisations, union branches and residents groups who share a commitment to action for the common good, and to nurturing leaders from all backgrounds."
Of course, it's part-funded by the Big Lottery Fund - so every time you put on a Lucky Dip, London's mayoral candidates get to prove their one-world credentials.
One could expect rubbish like this from Livingstone and Paddick, but Johnson?
The man's a clown. I hope he loses, because he's no conservative. It's doubtful whether he even qualifies as a Conservative, given that this plan will do nothing but encourage law-breaking.
No Protection For Natives, Please - We're British.

National Security

is now up on The Devil's Kitchen.

A Shambles From Which We Will Never Recover

Con Coughlin - yes, Con Coughlin - shouts 'Troops Out (of Iraq)!' in today's Telegraph.
Now bitterly regretting every word I ever wrote in support of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, it is impossible not to feel the taint of sanctimony hanging over every word written in opposition.
I agree with Coughlin - it's time to go. The Iraqi expedition turned from being an exercise in nation-building into one of nation-destroying; if Iraq is ever partitioned, neoconservatism's sick masterpiece will be complete, several daubs on the map replacing a nation that was once one and whole. Iraqi women were not veiled in 2003 - they are now. Yeah, dudes, that's progress.
If one thinks of such lofty ideals as 'freedom', it is hard to see how a people who have been subected to violence as thoroughly as the Iraqis have been for so many years can be considered somehow more free than they were under the regime of Saddam Hussein.
However, the most terrible consequence of this ahistoric fiasco is that Anthony Blair has made it virttually impossible for the United Kingdom ever to go to war again. By spinning and fabricating Saddam's destructive capabilities, Blair and his minions managed to undermine the gravest function of any government - determining where, when and why a nation should go to war. His insane ego drove him to stand at the vanguard of this mess - in so doing, he has weakened us almost irrevocably. He was the product of a lifetime of peace who wanted to act hard and throw his weight about - in so doing, he showed himslef to be nothing but a playground bully with a little polish. The psychiatrists of the future will feast on his biographies, trying to determine just how someone so utterly self-centered managed to reach the highest offices of state.
In five years, not a single nuclear, biological or chemical weapon of mass destruction has ever been found in Iraq. Instead foreigners have poured in to that country, with no aim other than to create weapons of mass destruction; from themselves.
The American dead are numbered in their thousands. From sea to shining sea, families have lost fathers, brothers, sons; and for what? For what? The exercise could not have failed more thoroughly even if its planners had wanted it to. Antiquities, the provenance of humanity, have either been looted and vanished. An entire way of life has been destroyed.
The invasion of Iraq has been a sort of French Revolution. The overthrow of the Saddam regime led to uncertainty and paralysis not dis-similar to that which marred the National Assembly between 1789 and 1791. If both we and the Americans withdraw, it might be possible that the long terror will finally end. If that does happen, then it's to be hoped thsat the situation will normalise - and that the Iraqis will not deem it necessary to have another dictator.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Losing Interest

The cut in the interest rate might provide a welcome boost for business, and maybe it's just my slightly crapulous mood, but as time passes one gets the impression that those in charge of economic policy spend all their time stumbling around in the dark for solutions to problems of their own creation.
The economy does not suffer from periodic crises - it is in a constant state of crisis. It's just that the natures of the crises change according to circumstances. Reading about the economy is like watching a car crashing into every obstacle it meets - sometimes it crashes head on, sometimes at right angles; and just when it looks like it's moving smoothly, that's when you hear the thud.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Back To Serfdom

At least twice in European history - the first time by the Romans in the 3rd Century AD, the second by the German and Prussian nobility in the wake of the Thirty Years' War - the leaders of nations have deliberately reduced the people to servitude in order to ease economic crises and promote growth.
The pre-Union Scottish landowner and politician Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun was an enthusiastic advocate of the same policy being applied to us.
It's difficult to read Joe Stiglitz's piece in today's 'Guardian' without that unhappy policy springing to mind.
Stiglitz writes,
"Dealing with the (credit/sub-prime) crisis demands a multi-faceted approach. At the -bottom, we need to help homeowners stay in their homes. Generous help is given to rich Americans -- through tax deductions, government absorbs up to 50% of the cost of owning a home for those in the upper-income bracket. But it provides little assistance to poor Americans striving to buy homes. Many of the foreclosures are concentrated in particular neighbourhoods; public programmes are needed to prevent that blight from spreading and deepening."
What better way is there to make serfs than to ensure they have nowhere to live, except where the lords tell them to?
He continues,
"It is outrageous for the government to say it is worried about moral hazard when it comes to poor homeowners, many of whom were taken advantage of by predatory lenders and are losing not only their houses but their life savings - and yet somehow to be unconcerned when it comes to the investment banks. Investment banks have prided themselves on their ability to manage risk. The global regulatory framework was premised on that ability. They did manage risk, but in a way that ensured that they were the winners and everyone else the losers. Now everyone else will have to pick up the pieces."
And having other people about to 'pick up your pieces' after you've made a mess, and what's even better, for them to walk away with nothing while you keep everything, is one of the classic definitions of a seigneur.
Stiglitz goes on,
"We should be clear, however, that monetary policy and these last-minute rescues can only prevent a meltdown of the economy; it can't resuscitate it."
Indeed. Desperate times need desperate measures - and Stiglitz's description of the measures taken so far as ' too little, too late, and badly designed' might be taken by some to a call for the kind of action which he might never contemplate.
He rounds off,
"Given where we are, the downturn is likely to be the worst in at least the last quarter century, probably since the Depression. But the US has more than just a trade and fiscal deficit; it has a leadership deficit. The result is likely to be a downturn longer and deeper than need be. And the whole world will suffer."
I agree with him that the downturn will be the worst since the Depression - indeed, I have been saying so for nearly four years; I agree with him that US has a leadership deficit, one not likely to be cured in the forseeable future, not matter how blinding Ba-rack Obama's rhetoric; and I agree that the whole world will suffer.
What I am afraid of is just how those responsible for fixing this mess will go about doing so. It will not result in greater liberty and freedom.
This is what happens when you worship false gods.

A Theory Of Tourette Syndrome

This post is entirely speculative - any properly qualified medic who wishes to shoot it down is free to do so.
However, I may be right - and I think it's important enough to post about.
The searh for historic Tourettists has three motivations - firstly, it's interesting; secondly, it may provide some insight into the condition; and thirdly, it may provide some insight into the motives of those who made the past.
Although Tourettes Syndrome is a spectrum disorder, my belief is that there are at least two identifiable sub-types of Tourettes within it. These are best described as 'Claudian Tourettes' and 'Petrine Tourettes'.
Claudian Tourettes, after Claudius I, exhibits the following pathology; tics of the whole head, pallilalia and weakness of the legs. Whether or not Claudius's stammer was palli-palli-palli-pallilalia-pallilalia-pallilalia, we will never know; but it is perfectly possible that the bursts of temper to which he was prone may have been classic 'rage attacks', so common in Tourettes; and a particular defining feature of Claudian Tourettes is suggestibility. He was partiuculalrly suggestible to the women of the court - Messalina had him round her wee finger.
What makes me believe that Claudius was a Tourettist and not, in the words of Robin Lane Fox, 'a cruel and susceptible spastic', was his admission that he could exaggerate his symptoms and also that they improved once he became Emperor. Unless I am greatly mistaken, a sufferer of cerebral palsy would be unable to exercise the limited control over their body of the type that Claudius seemed to have. Similarly, it makes perfect sense for Claudius's symptoms to improve once he got the top job - the incredible pressure of having to act the fool in order to survive the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula had been removed. Nobody dared call him a dope or a half-wit any more. For the first time in 50 years, he could breathe a bit more easily.
Petrine Tourettes, named after Peter the Great, is marked by violent facial tics and, it would seem, a disregard for those around the sufferer that borders on the sociopathic. Those who laud Peter must remember that this was a man who went partying immediately after his son was killed by his security goons. This man ordered every village in Russia to send a serf to help build St. Petersburg, and then taxed them to pay for their food. This was a person who had absolutely no concept of anyone, or anything, beyond himself. His son's only 'crime', such as it was, was to be suspected of being attached more to the old Orthodox Church than the one Peter set out to build.
There are a number of fascinating similarities between the lives of Peter the Great and Louis XIV. The paternal providence of neither ever seemed to be quite secure; Peter's physical dis-similarity to his relations was a source of constant gossip, while the balance of historical probabilities now suggests that Louis was fathered by Mazarin - the occasion of his alleged conception was the only time his 'parents' were believed to have slept with each other in 10 years, and Louis XIII was homosexual. Both experienced political violence while young, Peter in the 1682 rebellion of the streltsy, Louis in the Fronde. Both hated their capitals, and set out to build fantasiae, Peter on the Neva, Louis at Versailles, at horrible costs to their nations and peoples; and both, in Louis's words, 'made war too lightly'. While visiting France on his second tour of Europe, Peter was reported to have drunkenly burst into the bedchamber of Mme. de Maintenon, something he would never have dared to do while Louis was alive.
Yet it is the rule of another Frenchman, Robespierre, that bears the greater similarity to that of Peter; even down to the facial tics and the bloodlust. Neither could suffer living in a country that did not match their overly demanding criteria; and neither had the slightest qualm about shedding oceans of blood to get what they wanted.
As I say, this is speculative; if anyone has any better suggestions, let me know.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls...

I don't suppose that's a particularly tasteful comment to make... concerning the death of the leader of the NUT...

A Better Life

The news that the presumably stateless Vitas Plytnykas and Aleksandras Skirda have been charged with the murder of Jolanta Bledaite makes one wonder whether or not Baybasin's Disease has re-surfaced in the ranks of BBC Scotland.
However, the sad circumstances of Miss Bledaite's passing may have introduced a new expression into discussion of migration affairs - 'a better life'. So far it's appeared in, inter alia, 'The Times', the BBC, 'The Sun' and 'The Scotsman'.
Pity the poor soul. She never got it.

A Recap On The Shifting Opinions Of Oleg Gordievsky

"They murdered my friend Alexander Litvinenko. I have no doubt my sudden illness last November was a similar attempt on my life." -
Old Uncle Oleg, expressing his morbid fear of being served the polonium sandwich in today's 'Daily Telegraph'.
How his relationship with the late Sasha must have blossomed since he wrote in, ahem, 'The Daily Telegraph' on November 5 2000 that,
"...there are some strange elements in the story. Boris Berezovsky is a very odd target. Yes, he's rich and had made most of his billions by acquiring, legitimately or illegitimately, state assets - then exploiting them or selling them on at a huge profit. Yes, his ownership of media means he has, to his enemies, a disturbing power", and "It would be a major policy reversal for the KGB to go back to murdering people in the way it did in the Stalinist era".
A brief synopsis of Litvinenko's and Gordievsky's rather cack-handed joint attempt to lobby members of the European Parliament can be found here; an attempt at lobbying made at a time when Litvinenko's source was, like, dead.
How Gordievsky must pine for the days when he was never off the telly in his wig and false beard - at least in those days he still had some credibility...

The Olympic Torch Relay

The most disgusting aspect of the Olympic Torch Relay was the sight of British police officers acting as bodyguards for Communist Chinese security goons.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Lights Out In Christendom

In 'A History of Western Society', McKay, Hill and Buckler make the same case as that made by Norman Davies in 'Europe: A History', that the concept of Christendom, and thus later that of 'European-ness', arose directly from the area which assumed the name not being Islamic.
One can only wonder what the ancients would make of the Apple Juice for Allah 'terror' trial. I doubt if they would allow 'the purity of the macroeconomic case for migration' to influence their thinking.

Some Thoughts On The Abduction Of Shannon Matthews

If people close to her are being charged with offences, wouldn't it be appropriate for the press and media to stop printing pictures of the wee lassie?
If only to give her a little privacy?

In Search Of (Some More) Historic Tourettists

Oh, crap...
"Maximilien Robespierre was a small, thin, dogmatic man...with thick, carefully brushed and powdered hair and a slightly pock-marked skin of a deathly greenish was the shade he most often favoured in the choice of clothes he wore with such attention to their immaculate neatness and precision of cut. He seemed extremely nervous and highly strung; he walked very fast on high-heeled shoes: a convulsive tic occasionally distorted the livid, pitted skin between his prominent cheekbones and the corners of his long thin lips; he bit his nails; he had a habit of sharply pushing his tinted spectacles up fron his short-sighted eyes on to his bonily bulging brow"-
As with the subjects of my previous post, the question of whether or not Mad Max was a Tourettist is academic. He could apparently tic up quite a fuss, probably when under stress; the thing with the glasses could have been a unique complex tic; and he was quite clearly obsessive, particularly concerning his appearance.
However, it would be very unfortunate if those who died on his orders were the victims of a Tourettic obsession with blood. If he had simply been a bad man, then perhaps his misdeeds could be painted in the shades of black and white that make history's misdemeanours more palatable to the later reader; yet if he were both bad and physically unable to control his compulsions, that might be the sort of the hook upon which later admirers might try to hang justifications for his crimes.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Case Against Hypermobility



The Woeful Ways Of War

It seems that in Afghanistn NATO, with all its helicopters and all its smartbombs, must comply with one of warfare's oldest realities - the campaigning season.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Beautiful Case For A Pacific Policy Towards Russia...

Couldn't have put it better myself.
'Western' (ie UK/US/EU/NATO) policy towards Russia now seems to be analogous to a situation whereby, the UK having broken up, the English would have to live with American bases in Scotland, the Channel Islands, the Scilly Isles and the Isle of Man - with every gun pointing at them.
If we think that would be nuts, how on Earth do they feel?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I Was On The BBC World Service Last Night!