Friday, September 29, 2006

Making apologies

Interesting debate prompted by Ben MacIntyre's article about the modern propensity for politicians to apologies for historical actions - or failures to act - that they were not personally implicated in.

Norm doesn't agree with MacIntyre's dismissal of the whole idea:
"Not only individuals but also collectivities can bear responsibility for wrongs. And since collectivities - firms, universities, political parties, nations - are represented by persons, and it is only persons who can speak for them, it can happen that an individual who wasn't a member of the collectivity in question at the time the putative wrong was committed can - perfectly meaningfully and sincerely - be the one to apologize for it."
He goes on to argue that even if members of the collective responsible for wrongs committed are no longer alive, it does not follow that someone who represents said collective cannot meaningfully apologise.

David T disagrees to the extent that in as far as to apologise denotes an admission of personal responsibility, this is not a meaningful act since collectives are in reality heterogeneous and do not really have personalities of their own. He goes on:
"This is not to say that there is no point in an institution offering an apology for a wrong committed (or permitted) in the name of a "collectivity" a generation ago, by persons who are no longer associated with that institution. To do so is not entirely pointless. A political leader might "apologise" for slavery or genocide committed by a nation in the past, because it wants to make it clear that the society he leads it is no longer the sort that would tolerate or promote either of those two practices. The "apology" may be symbolic: but it won't be empty. The act of "apology" may be, in effect, a defining moment for the society. However, because collectivities are not persons, that "apology" can never be an admission of guilt."
It's a tricky one this. The first thing to get out of the way is that while MacIntyre has a point about the potential for cheap sentiment being doled out with this sort of thing, Norm's acceptance that this form of apologizing may be valid does not preclude this very possibility.

More problematic though is this notion of collectives having a personality of their own that stretches across generations. The notion of collective identity - and by extension, collective guilt - is a dodgy concept and there is no doubt that historically it has been misused, to say the least - having been extended beyond even the Old Testament limit of the third and fourth generations. In this sense I'm more inclined to agree with MacIntyre and David T.

However, only an ultra-individualistic approach would forbid people from identifying with their history in some sense and here some shadow of the notion of responsibility might be appropriate. It depends on the extent to which people identify with their history. It isn't, I don't think, realistic to imagine oneself as a completely pristine being in this world unencumbered by the past. On the other hand, notions of pride and guilt over the actions of one's forebears should be held lightly. Or let me put it another way: if you feel it is unjust to be held responsible for the misdeeds of your ancestors, then there must be a limit to the extent to which you can identify with their successes and their glories. And since the people we are talking about often self-consciously do just that, it is not perhaps inappropriate for them to share also a sense of guilt for the misdeeds of the institutions they represent. Not guilt in a personal sense, of course - just an awareness that things could have, and should have, been otherwise. For what is guilt except the understanding that there was a better alternative?

I think we often subconsciously recognise the failure to take this sort of balance as extremism. The jingoist chauvinist recognises only triumphs and glory in the past; the self-loathing 'internationalist' sees only crime and adopts an ultra-individualistic stance under the misconception that only they and their co-believers who are pure of faith have somehow miraculously live and move and have their being in this world untainted by the human stain. The reasonable person, I think, senses the balance between shame and pride but also between the past, the present and the future. The present should not be annihilated for some future that can't be known. Neither should it be suffocated with a sense of history worn like a cage. Because while awareness is good, a too vivid memory of past wrongs - whether by the children of victims or those who were perpetrators - ends up enslaving everyone. So if 'apologies' help to avoid this fate - are they not worth doing after all?

Reid vs Brown

Labour voters - which grim Scottish control-freak would you like to lead your party?

Because whereas previously John Reid declared himself to have no such ambitions, his conference speech would be inexplicable unless he does now.

We know he wants to be leader because he has spoken here and on other occasions about the need to be tough on Muslims and tough on the causes of Muslims.

This, perhaps, explains his friendship with Radovan Karadzic.

I'd have to agree with Polly Toynbee - if the Labour party went for Reid, they really do have a death-wish - or at least a desire to be smacked in the face with a half-brick.

"Sic 'im, John".

Update: Marcus has a different view here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Citizenship lessons 'inadequate'

From the beeb:

"One in four secondary schools in England is failing to offer pupils adequate lessons in citizenship, the education watchdog has warned.
Citizenship became compulsory for pupils aged 11 to 16 in September 2002, but inspectors said only a minority of schools taught it "with enthusiasm"."
Now, the Scottish curriculum is different from Engerland so we don't have this. Or rather we do but we call it something different. Or is it different and we call it the same thing? Dunno - don't care. The point is, despite my ignorance of the English system I immediately thought on reading this, "Betcha there's no GCSE on citizenship." Lo - I was right:

"[I]nspectors called on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to offer a full GCSE course in citizenship, as well as A-level courses.

Ofsted's director of education Miriam Rosen said: "Citizenship is still seen as the poor relation of more established subjects but it requires teachers to be highly skilled and able to deal with contentious and sometimes difficult issues.""
Oh I dare say it does - but here's a bit of history to chew on. Keith Joseph, monetarist ideologue and one of Thatcher's first education ministers, was once asked to define education. His response? "That which is measured by exams" - or something equally barbarian.

Ever since that day, education in this country has been dominated and controlled by Thatcherites and now by this present bunch of Thatcherites in drag who think precisely like this. It's all quantitative measures, centrally-controlled curricula and testing - and a supermarket of competition is to be built on the results of these.

I don't know but if the English 'citizenship' curriculum even resembles the sort of pish that's churned out here, it'll be full of vapid shite about 'shared values' and other assorted platitudinous tosh of that nature.

This in and of itself enough to put any self-respecting teacher off it - but that isn't the key issue because it isn't primarily a matter of taste and choice. We live with a system where what is valued is what can be measured by instruments of assessment. People's pay depends on it. The careers of teachers depends on it. Whether a school stays open or is closed can depend on it.

This system is supported by know-nothing journalists who will consign you to pre-history if you fail to agree with this intellectually impoverished managerial hell.

Aspiring PMs or depute PMs or whateverthefuck they want to be will seriously argue that the problem with education in this country is that there hasn't been enough of this slavish conformity to the edicts of the soulless quantifiers.

Then they wonder why schools don't throw themselves heart and mind into delivering this? Duh!

Here's one of the 'architects of citizenship' in schools:
"Sir Bernard Crick...said the subject should educate children in how to be politically literate using real issues.

"Being taught to respect the law without learning how bad laws can be changed and better ones promoted tends to create apathetic subjects rather than active citizens," he said."
So our job isn't to teach a subject, it is to treat the pupils as so much material to be worked on, to mould them into 'active citizens'?

I've got a better idea: why don't all these Blairite managerialists stick to something they are good at - like writing meaningless 'mission statements' or shit articles for the Times about being 'progressive' or something and leave those who understand what the vocation of a teacher actually is to get on with it? Fat chance of that happening, of course.

Tests to reveal ASBO babies

From the Scotsman:
"The tests, developed by the Family and Personal Relationships Laboratory at Heriot-Watt University and funded by the Scottish Executive's Centre for Integrated Healthcare Research, come amid increasing pressure on ministers to tackle antisocial behaviour.

The research is broadly in line with an announcement by Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, stating families in deprived areas who are more likely to face problems should be identified earlier and given support - a move quickly labelled as "baby ASBOs".

The Scottish researchers are to pilot the tests with 70 mothers in deprived areas in Fife in November. The next step in the research is to look at the most successful interventions for mothers with problems."
They won't, of course, be subjecting mothers in prosperous areas of Fife to this test.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On republicanism

Tom Nairn has a review of Stephen Frears's drama about the Queen over at openDemocracy. I'm technically a republican but wonder sometimes when confronted with the likes of Nairn. For example, he compares the British monarchy to republican Ireland thus:
"One need only look across to Ireland and observe how the population of a republic enjoys voting for a symbolic president. And in a way, that's what the enormous mourning crowds were doing in 1997, and why they had to be stopped: they were as good as "voting" with feet and flowers for something hopefully better, more humane, sweeter and more meaningful.

But shortly thereafter, in 2001 and 2005, about half of them wouldn't bother to vote at all, for anything on offer from the post-funereal, living-dead regime. They were not to be allowed a Mary Robinson, or a President Mary McAleese. Like an elected second chamber, a president might have interfered with the preserved and sacred essence: prime-ministerial and party authority, the old pantomime that has "served us so well"."
Where to begin? You'd think to hold the idea that the 'Queen of Hearts' tabloid cult of celebrity, replete with public appearances to the strains of Chris De Burgh, represented something more meaningful than the British monarchy might be something he'd be too embarrassed to admit to now. But this isn't the substantive issue. Rather, amongst the problems I have with the republicanism of people like Nairn, Hitchens and his imitator Johann Hari is the complete lack of historical context.

For example, can anyone think of a monarchy becoming a republic without a regime-change? Because the examples that are so frequently cited - Ireland, the United States, France and Germany - obviously did. Now, in many ways I envy republican France and America - but that 18th century window has closed and I'm not sure other examples, or even these, provide a particularly good template. Germany is a republic - but does anyone envy their path to modernity? And I'm not sure I'm not glad we didn't share anything like the experience of the French or the Irish - and the American example isn't applicable for obvious reasons.

And don't they recall that Britain had a brief history of being a republic itself? Hitchens, for one, is too intelligent to ignore this but beyond an amusing if obvious remark about having sympathy with Cromwell's abolition of Christmas, I don't recall him ever having anything particularly sensible to say about this historical episode, nor the impact that this might have on people's consciousness to this day.

Finally, one can't help noticing that when the supposedly moribund British monarchial state is compared unfavourably to the dynamism of other examples, the choice of republics is rather selective, to say the least. What, for example, has Tom Nairn to say about republican China, or the USSR, or those states in Latin America or the Middle East?

Not a lot - he's too busy watching telly and humming 'Candle in the Wind', it seems. I wish the advocates of republicanism would make better arguments because as it stands I'm often rather embarrassed to be associated with this particular political disposition.

Teacher's committees

Every school has them and while they are voluntary, to show one is keen one is expected to participate in at least one of them.

It should go without saying that I'm not a member of any.

You may say I'm lazy and cynical, which I am. But allow me to explain why. There's one called 'the Ethos Committe'. I don't know what they discuss at the Ethos Committe but I shudder to think.

At this place there's also one called the 'Journey to Excellence Committee'. When I learned of this I don't mind telling you I wept.

I prefer to see myself as a conscientious objector.

Focus group blues for Brown

The US pollster Frank Luntz has conducted a focus group where he asked thirty potential Labour supporters* who they would prefer to lead the Labour party. It seems it isn't Gordon Brown.

What was interesting was that a third of them objected to Brown being Scottish. This, I think, tends to show that the nationality question is going to be an issue in the next General Election in a way it has never been in this country before.

If this is so, the English will be importing a dimension into their politics that has been operating here for years.

I regret this very much. The problem with notions of national identity is that they become repositories for other ideas that are, or at least should be, more relevant. Playing the nationalist card is too tempting because it links policy preferences to deep emotions. So much easier to argue against monetarism, the poll tax, unemployment or whatever when you can claim all of these are the product of an essentially English government.

For those of us who don't believe in nationalism this was a mistake. You could argue that what is happening here is a case of nationalist chickens coming home to roost - although I'd have to say I don't think many people up here objected to Thatcher solely because of her national identity. Yet given the profile of the group, this seems to be precisely what is happening to Gordon Brown.

Still, maybe it shouldn't be taken too seriously; this focus group with its ten members who object to Scottishness chose, erm, John Reid as their preferred candidate.

*One third were loyal Labourites, one third were Labour leaners. One third were floating voters who cast ballots for the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats but would consider switching to Labour if it chose the right leader.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Unlevel playing fields

Chris Dillow is good on this very silly story about Scottish ministers insisting that sports clubs practice positive discrimination in favour of the disabled:
"SCOTTISH sports clubs have been told to recruit disabled players and guarantee them a weekly game under a controversial equality drive ordered by ministers.

The advice could see able-bodied players in a range of team sports - from football to bowls and athletics - sidelined in favour of the handicapped.

Last night, critics branded the online publication "control freakery" and even Scotland's major body for disabled sport appeared to distance itself from the comments."
As well they might. What Chris correctly identifies is the tendency to take a concept like equality and apply their conception of it to public policy without thinking what this means:
"Take an example everyone should agree upon. Everyone is equally entitled to a fair trial - that is, everyone should be treated as an equal in the provision of criminal justice. But no-one thinks there should be equality of treatment, with everyone getting the same verdict."
Related to this is the way the notion of 'discrimination' is used in a similarly unthinking way. It shouldn't require much subtlety of thought to add to one's concept of discrimination being a Bad Thing the caveat that it's only wrong to discriminate when the difference in question is irrelevant to the matter in hand - but for the Scottish Executive at least even this elementary reasoning seems too much of a stretch.

I could tell you what this has meant for education in this country but I'll spare you the rant.

Chavez boosts Chomsky book sales

From the beeb:
"A speech by Mr Chavez cited Chomsky's 2003 critique of US policy, Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance, as an "excellent book".

Mr Chavez also said US President George W Bush was the "devil" who had left the UN podium smelling of "sulphur".

Chomsky's book spent the weekend at the top of's bestseller list."
It's a sort of lefty micro-version of the phenomenon that is Oprah recommending books and them subsequently hitting the bestseller list.

If there's anyone out there who has bought a copy as a result of Mr Chavez's recommendation, could you kindly pop into the comments boxes and explain yourself please?

"There's also a pop-up version..."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Jeremy Clarkson

Johann Hari and now Brownie of HP have decided to take on the evil that is Jeremy Clarkson.

But both pieces are philosphically flawed. If, for example, it could be shown that Jeremy Clarkson's "snarling contempt" for speed-limits, cameras, pedestrians, people who drive diesel cars etc. made absolutely no impact at all on Britain's road death-toll, does this mean he should be allowed to live?

You see the problems you get into when you use utilitarian reasoning.

Surely in a civilised society aesthetic reasons alone should be enough to justify his execution?

Speaking of Johann Hari, in a piece about London he wrote this:
"In human history, a mixture of peoples this drastic and this cacophonous has never been tried before. London now is a teeming planetary test, where globalisation is made flesh and we really are the whole world in one city."
Surely in a civilised society aesthetic reasons alone should be enough...

Plumbers doing poetry

From the Scotsman:
Jack McConnell signalled his determination yesterday to take on Scotland's teaching unions when he announced plans for vocational trades academies in every region.

Despite fierce opposition from Scotland's biggest teaching unions, the First Minister used his speech to the Labour Party conference in Manchester to unveil proposals for 100 "skills academies" across Scotland.

Under these plans, non-academic pupils would be diverted at the age of 14 into special units to learn more traditional manual trades like plumbing and joinery."
Hmmm - we don't know the details yet but unlike our union representatives I think you'd probably find that most teachers would think something like this is a good idea. Vocational education is famously neglected in this country and most teachers will tell you tales of the misery that is imposing a one size fits all academic curriculum on pupils who simply aren't interested. The unions don't agree. David Eaglesham of the SSTA said,
"This is all about election posturing and not about education. It is the worst form of selection. It is an arbitrary process. You are doing these kids down in a big sense. There is no reason why plumbers shouldn't do poetry."
I don't understand this - why would this form of selection be worse than selection by ability or income? There is indeed no reason why plumbers can't do poetry but is there any compelling reason why they should have to do it if they don't want to? No doubt in theory there is - but in practice we can see none.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Win a weekend in Glasgow

This can be yours if you do this quiz, courtesy of the Guardian.

Second prize? Two weekends in Glasgow.

Glasgow on a radiant summer's afternoon. (The rain's warmer.)

Sheridan: spanking new party gets off to a swinging start

Further evidence, as if it were needed, that only credulous London Trots think Tommy wus framed. Because his spin doctor certainly doesn't:
"In the latest twist, leaked emails from 7 August, three days after the verdict, report Monaghan saying: 'I belive (sic) that some of the stories about Tommy are true but they are overstated and have added sleaze like drinking and spanking.'"
Then he changed his mind:
"Last night, Monaghan, who is working for the party in on a voluntary basis, said he had been 'playing devil's advocate' during the email discussion.

'My position now is that it was all lies. Everything that was printed about him was lies."
So he's gone from being a swinger that doesn't particularly care to be spanked back to the Scrabble player that likes neither swinging or spanking? Whatever. Anyway, none of this is as embarrassing as the revelation that Gordon Brown likes Coldplay. Pervert!

Friday, September 22, 2006

The path to the apocalypse

The world is beset by increasing violence. The death toll mounts as international conflicts, civil wars and terrorism have all increased. In the terms of the debate as it is routinely conducted in the MSM and the blogosphere, there are essentially two main strands of thought.

One has it that the collapse of the Soviet Union has brought with it failed states and a rise in reactionary political movements based around nationalism and/or religion while the successor institution to the League of Nations stands impotent in the face of an unprecedented global threat.

The other that the end of the Cold War has left the United States as the sole rapacious superpower, who is now at liberty to impose its will on weak states left vulnerable by the dissolution of the Warsaw nuclear umbrella. This at least ensured a 'multipolar' world, which as every Guardian-reader knows - is at least preferable to this 'unipolar' world of American domination and 'war without end'.

Regular readers will know I'm more likely to lean towards the former rather than the latter analysis but for at least some of the representatives of both camps, there's a rather inconvenient fact. Because according to the Human Security Report (pdf file), the world has become significantly less violent since 1946 and particularly since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In fact it argues that the reduction in conflict - drawing from as far back as 1812 - is 'unprecedented'.

So what are the causes of peace? There's a wealth of information, which you can find from the index here. I'll restrict myself to a few observations:

1) The major sources of conflict postwar appeared to be rooted in anti-colonial struggles and the hot and cold war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. It seems the latter has had the most significant impact, with civil wars declining significantly since 1989. Much as people might wish it to be otherwise, and regardless of who people would like to blame for all the bloodshed of the latter-half of the twentieth century, it seems that if one accepts imperialism as the cause of both international and intra-state conflict - the data would then seem to suggest that imperialism ain't what it used to be.

2) Terrorism has indeed increased - particularly since around 1982 - but here too there are inconvenient facts for both sides. The first is, whilst Western policy makers may talk up the threat posed by international terrorism - it is domestic terrorism that is unquestionably more deadly - and this to the civilians in these countries, not to Western capitalists or even the armed and security forces of the countries in question. Being partisan, I'm bound to say I think those currently supporting the various 'resistance' movements throughout the world ought to take this on board - but so should those who 'sell', if I can use this term, the War on Terror on the basis of the threat it poses to us or our 'way of life'. It doesn't diminish the atrocities experienced on Western soil to point out that the actual loss of empirical life has been far greater in those Muslim countries that routinely experience domestic Islamist terrorism.

3) A related point is that the growth of terrorism is not inconsistent with a general decline in violence throughout the world simply because more 'conventional' forms of conflict as found in civil and international wars simply produce more casualties. Again I can't resist reading from this conformation of my own partiality and preferences: those currently justifying more stringent restrictions on our liberty in this country than those that were ever in place during times of greater international conflict are doing so on the basis of anticipation. There are plausible arguments that can be made for this but at the very least one might hope the advocates of ever-more draconian security measures could at least acknowledge that this is so, rather than assuming they are self-evidently desirable responses to a historical pattern of terrorism.

4) Civil war and terrorism decrease in countries where wealth and democracy have increased. There are obviously a number of reasons why this should be so but wealth allows the state to effectively oppose internal terrorism and rebel movements whilst wealth and democracy equips it with the means to address grievances. Poverty and tyranny have the opposite effect. The decline in violence since the collapse of the Cold War would seem then to have something to with rising prosperity and the advance of democracy. This causes obvious problems for various people on all sorts of different levels.

5) Those, including myself, who are sceptical of the role of the UN may have to reconsider our view because the general decline in world violence has coincided with an increase in the number of peacekeeping missions throughout the world. A correlation isn't causation but it seems unlikely that it is completely irrelevant.

Partial though my reading of this obviously is, I found in this report reasons to be optimistic. Yet the fact that the question posed by the report - what are the causes of peace? - is so seldom asked reflects on the way most of us apparently view the world and this may be indicative of something less positive. Those harking back to the certainties of the Cold War in a variety of different ways are nostalgic for an age that was in reality more violent. And is it not a melancholy thought that there are not a few who would be disappointed by this realisation?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Maddy fisks the Pope

Well, she tries anyway. On the reasons behind the Pope's speech, she speculates:
"[There] is a...disturbing possibility: namely, that the Catholic church could be failing - yet again - to deal with the challenge of modernity."
You don't say. This, however, isn't what caught my attention but rather the following remark that jolted a piece of social history from my long-term memory archive:
"In the 19th and 20th centuries, it struggled to adapt to an increasingly educated and questioning faithful, now in the 21st century, it's in danger of failing the great challenge of how we forge new ways of accommodating difference in a crowded, mobile world."
It was the mobility thing. As if this is new. I think she'd find that social mobility played a rather larger part in the demise of the church in the 19th and twentieth century than she thinks - and rather less weight should be given to the faithful becoming more educated and questioning.

It's not her fault, really. It's a sort of Dawkinesque middle-class myth that the poor plebs had their intellectual shackles broken by Darwin. What did for the church as much as anything else was the rapid process of urbanisation in the 19th century. That and the rise of other entertainments. The impact of evolution and advances in Biblical criticism was not as great as these.

This reminded me of one interesting feature of Catholicism: in Scotland, anyway, the Catholic church did much better, and still does, in holding on to its working class communicants than the Church of Scotland. One controversial suggestion I came across was that priestly celibacy may have been a significant factor here. Presbyterian ministers can marry and those that did tended to keep a certain bourgeois distance from their parishioners compared to their Roman Catholic counterparts.

So maybe history will show it was the sexual revolution, rather than the industrial revolution that proceeded it, that robbed the Catholic church of this institution that once gave it an advantage? Because - and if you'll pardon the expression - it seems these days the Catholic church can't find priests for love nor money.

Youse are all Celts too

The sassenach amongst the readership, that is. A research team from Oxford University finds that the English are nearly as Celtic as the Scots, who in turn aren't as Celtic as the Welsh:
"[T]he majority of Britons are Celts descended from Spanish tribes who began arriving about 7,000 years ago.

Even in England, about 64 per cent of people are descended from these Celts, outnumbering the descendants of Anglo- Saxons by about three to one.

The proportion of Celts is only slightly higher in Scotland, at 73 per cent. Wales is the most Celtic part of mainland Britain, with 83 per cent.

Previously it was thought that ancient Britons were Celts who came from central Europe, but the genetic connection to populations in Spain provides a scientific basis for part of the ancient Scots' origin myth."
"Who cares?" is one not unreasonable question in the comments below the Scotsman piece. But the answer is a depressingly large number of people both sides of the border who latch onto some supposed genetic difference to make a point about the inferiority or superiority of a supposedly "Celtic nation", as Prof Sykes points out:
"In the 19th century, the idea of Anglo-Saxon superiority was very widespread. At the moment, there is a resurgence of Celtic identity, which had been trampled on. It's very vibrant and obvious at the moment."
In other words, the racists on both sides of the nationalist fence have no scientific basis for their argument. But we knew that already.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Steele bollocks

Will drew my attention to this appalling piece of crap by Jonathan Steele.

Read it if you must but I warn you I tried at lunchtime today and only got half-way through before I nearly puked-up my sandwiches. And this wan't because my sandwiches weren't nice - they were. Made them myself.

As Norm puts it:
"It wasn't rape, it was a domestic conflict."
It's a fair summary, in my view.

Hitchens talks Papal bull

I couldn't help being amused by Christopher Hitchens' non-defence of the Pope in this Slate piece. What to do when the representatives of two monotheisms you despise are at each other's throats? Adopt a 'plague on both your houses' approach, it would seem:
"Yet of all the words he could have chosen, to suggest that religion might wish to break its old connection with conquest, intolerance, and subjugation, Ratzinger had to select an example that was designed to remind his hearers of the crudest excesses of the medieval period. His mention of Manuel II was evidently not accidental or anecdotal. He refers to him repeatedly and returns to him again in the closing paragraph, as if to rub it in."
Hitchens has clearly come down on the side of those who think the Pope's words were calibrated to offend. This may well be so. But I think it's also worth considering the possibility that the Pope doesn't spend quite as much time as Christopher Hitchens does thinking about the most effective way to piss people off. Because I doubt many people do.

Hitchens also points out the hypocrisy of linking Islam to violence whilst glossing over the medieval Church's history of violence and oppression. A reasonable yet rather obvious point. Behind this, though, is another obvious observation: Hitchens' problem is that the Pope - as has been remarked upon before - is indeed a Catholic. I can't see any other reason for Hitchens' attitude here. Was the Pope's linking of Islam to violence in some way less subtle than the Danish cartoons? I don't see why. Yet Hitchens felt the need to 'defend Demark' and was, as I understand it, instrumental in organising demonstrations for 'free expression' to this end.

But the motivations of Jyllands-Posten seem somewhat less pristinely secular when one considers they apparently refused to publish cartoons that lampooned Jesus Christ. Fundametally, I can't see why what the Pope said was instrinsically more offensive than the cartoons, which had the added factor of breeching the Islamic taboo on iconography.

Anyway, the Pope's speech was rather more subtle than Hitchens gives it credit for. For example, he writes that:

"He pretends that the word Logos can mean either "the word" or "reason," which it can in Greek but never does in the Bible, where it is presented as heavenly truth."
I'm assuming that Hitchens, being an intelligent chap, knows that the New Testament was written in Greek and that the Gospel in question - St John - was specifically written for a Greek audience, so I'm wondering what he's at here. It is certainly true that the Logos in John doesn't mean quite the same as it does in the everyday Greek but it does not simply mean "heavenly truth". Rather, it is taken to mean the unifying principle of the universe, which is to say God.

The Pope's point, in making reference to the "Logos becoming flesh", I think, was to defend the idea that this Principle was revealed progressively within history and was capable of being apprehended by reason. Conservative? Certainly. Intellectually disingenuous? Quite possibly. But it is not quite the same idea as the notion of sola scriptura - an idea inherited by scripturalist branches of Islam.

Ratzinger's airbrushing of history notwithstanding - and at the risk of courting controversy - I don't think his idea that this mode of interpreting holy books is intrinsically less flexible and less amenable to compromise is by any means absurd.

And as one commentator said below Hitchens' piece, making the charge of hypocrisy is besides the point. The Pope may well have deliberately avoided any discussion of Hume and Spinoza to give the impression that his version of "revealed truth" is in some way compatible with the Enlightenment. But the observation that fundamentalists of all confessional stripes never feel the need even to do this, is a valid one.

But there's a more basic political issue here, which is much more simple and obvious: would it have killed Hitchens to make a defence of the Pope, not because of what he said, nor on the grounds of what he represents, but on the basis of freedom of speech? He has done so in the past for less deserving expressions, in my view.

The point of all this? None of us are free from prejudice; not this blogger and certainly not Mr Christopher Hitchens.

On being confrontational

Just had 2A and 2H in succession. Collectively they are 2 aaaaaaahhhhhh!


Anyway, Mr Chalk's* remarks on the confrontational qualities of red ink reminded me of these helpful pupil notes some teachers leave when you inherit their classes.

Things like, "Jordan McAsshole (Jordan: always a bad sign, in my experience) - shouldn't be allowed access to glue or scissors under any circumstances."

This sort of thing is helpful.

Less so are things like, "Jamie McFuckwit - doesn't like confrontation."

Oh really? Well, he's got a funny way of showing it, is all I can say.

September weekend coming up.

Teaching is like hitting your head against a wall; it feels really good when you stop.

*"We read to know we are not alone" - cheesy but true line from an Anthony Hopkins movie.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pope is Catholic theologian scandal

From The Age:
"The pontiff appeared to risk causing fresh controversy during his speech on Sunday when he cited a passage from St Paul that risked being interpreted as hostile - not by Muslims, but by Jews. It described the crucifixion of Jesus as a "scandal for the Jews".

He said he wanted to comment on two recent Roman Catholic festivals relating to the crucifixion. What, the Pope asked, was the point of exalting the cross, a tool of execution?

In reply to his rhetorical question, he quoted a verse from St Paul, the New Testament author most often accused of anti-Semitism. In the Italian translation, used by the Pope, it runs as follows: "We preach the crucified Christ - a scandal for the Jews, a folly for the pagans.""
The Greek word is skandalon and is normally translated in English versions as 'stumbling block' and pagans as 'Greeks' (see I Corinthians 1:23). Paul says this because the notion that the maschiach should enter into History to be executed as a common criminal was indeed scandalous to the orthodox Jewish eschatology of the time.

But was the artist formerly-known as Saul of Tarsus anti-Semitic? At Glasgow University I was privileged to hear Professor Joel Marcus lecture and if I remember rightly, he thought so. I'm hardly competent to form judgment of my own. Some of his remarks certainly seem so - although I can't help feeling that this may be because we view them through a long historical telescope with a lens smeared by centuries of Christian anti-Semitism.

Are Jews incensed by the Pope's remarks? It's difficult to tell - they haven't burned anything yet, neither have they called for the Pope to be cursed by God. And that's what to do if you wish to draw attention to the fact that you're offended by the pronouncements of a rather reactionary and other-wordly Catholic theologian.

I wouldn't bother because like Howard Jacobson, I don't really buy this idea that the thin-skinned have an extra layer of human rights.

Pope comment 'linked to crusade'

By Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who said the background to the controversy was a, "wish of powers whose survival depends on creating crises".

Just in case you didn't know, Ali Khamenei is the Supreme leader of Iran.

He doesn't do irony, obviously.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Somali cleric calls for pope's death

According to The Age, anyway:
"A HARDLINE cleric linked to Somalia's powerful Islamist movement has called for Muslims to "hunt down" and kill Pope Benedict XVI for his controversial comments about Islam.

Sheikh Abubukar Hassan Malin urged Muslims to find the pontiff and punish him for insulting the Prophet Mohammed and Allah in a speech that he said was as offensive as author Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses."
Bet he hasn't bothered to read that either. Is it just me or does calling for people to be killed strike anyone else as being a slightly eccentric way of protesting about having your religion associated with violence?

Anyway, the Pope wasn't available so a gunman improvised and shot an elderly nun instead.

So who's the victim here? Those on the receiving end of words, which they have interpreted as hurtful? Or the elderly nun who was on the receiving end of bullets to the back, which she interpreted as fatal?

Saturday, September 16, 2006


How could I have possibly missed this?

Found it here.

Read and believe, people.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Iraq conversions

Norm links to a New Statesman piece from Lindsay Hilsum who supported the war, now thinks she was wrong and finds both the anti and the pro-war debate shrill and tired:
"Their refusal to acknowledge the truth is as sickening as the cynical reasoning of the anti-war lobby, which opposed the war because its members hate America, not because they thought it would harm Iraqis. Most Iraqis I know agreed with Mohammed that there was no other way to get rid of Saddam, and that, however rough it was, war would in the long run bring a better life. They have been proved wrong, but the anti-war mob infantilises Iraqis, allowing them no responsibility for their own fate."
Her ambiguity I recognise - and share, I think, to a greater extent than most of the "pro-war left", many of whom have a certainty that I find it impossible to identify with.

However, despite everything, unlike her I have not - much to my own surprise - changed my mind. This has nothing whatsoever to do with a failure to recognise the disaster that has unfolded in Iraq since the invasion, as we who supported it are often accused. I have a number of reason for this but for now I'll restrict myself to this: I simply don't understand the tendency Hilsum identifies whereby those who took entrenched positions on either side draw a sense of moral satisfaction from saying, "I wus right" - as if political morality is a function of an ability to predict the future.

I can't speak for anyone else but I did not take the position I did and still take because I thought the outcome was certain. And I think I have the answer to Norm's question as to where the righteousness of those who acknowledge their wrongness comes from. It is the same as that which animated many, but not all, of those who opposed the war in the first place - a desire to keep their garments unspotted and unblemished by this world. How it has manifested in this situation has been the tendency for some to believe the position they have taken and how they felt about it are more important than the actual events themselves. It's so painfully protestant. For those who have done this - and especially those who have done both: get over yourselves, darlings, you're not that important.

Glaswegian protestant defends Pope

To paraphrase the comedian Frankie Boyle, "I'm not up on my Nostradamus but is that not one of the signs of the apocalypse, or something? Who knows? But defended he should be. The beeb reports it thus:
"Speaking in Germany, the Pope quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things."
I suppose it's futile to point out that the Pope has been quoted out of context - because for the Islamists, quoting things out of context is their stock and trade. Ratzinger described the emperor's remarks as 'startlingly brusque' in the context of a section about violence in religion, which in turn was a small part of a wider discourse about religion and rationality.

The Guardian reports that an "influential Iranian cleric" has described the Pope's remarks as "absurd" and that it showed he knew little about religion. While I've no doubt these are a true reflection of his heart-felt views, if he thought otherwise he wouldn't be able to say so, would he?

Those that are burning things tonight are behaving like spoilt children. From a secular point of view I didn't agree with everything the Pope said myself, although his reflections on the philosophical implications of the notion of sola scriptura made me think - a rare thing in Legoland.

And it's this quality in what the Pope said that should be defended. At the close of his speech he said:
"It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university."
It wouldn't be this task of the university - to join the general conversation of mankind - that the Islamists are afraid of, would it?

No doubt the usual 'liberals' will, in that special pained sort of way they have, 'regret' the insensitivity of the Pope's remarks. In anticipation of this I can only insist on the following. We are not talking about a few infantile cartoons being published in a provincial European newspaper now, this shifts it to fundamentals: you either believe in free speech or you do not; you either believe in academic and intellectual freedom or you do not; and you either believe in the freedom of religion or you do not. And if you chose the censorious path, let's hear a respectable intellectual argument that does not rest solely on accusations of racism. Oh, and don't call yourself a liberal - don't you dare.

[Cross-posted on DSTPFW]

Healthy eating

Been doing a bit of that lately. Nothing insane like a vegetarian diet or anything but lots of foliage, the sort of bread that has field-mouse bones in it, rolls that are covered in bird-seed, white meat - that sort of shit.

I don't think it's natural. I'm fucking starving. And bad-tempered - on account of the fact that I'm fucking starving! I'm losing weight - and if I say so myself, I didn't really need to lose any in the first place.

Dunno of this will make me live longer - but it certainly feels like it.

I need a pizza.

And chocolate.

Because if you eat healthily, to stave off the hunger-pangs you must have to eat 24/7.

And I can't work a shift with a goddam nose-bag on.

Healthy people out there - any advice?

N.B. Interesting fact: Frosties have less sugar and fat per serving than that healthy shit that tastes like it's made out of cardboard and chicken-feed. So there.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Education and economic growth

Contrary to the received wisdom, Chris Dillow refers to some evidence that suggests education isn't nearly as important to economic growth as is often supposed. If I may, I'll paraphrase a couple of the points he includes in his piece as follows:
1. Rather than economic growth being a function of a good education system, mass education and particularly higher education are things countries can spend money on because they are comparatively wealthy. And having done this, it's by no means obvious these educated individuals contribute much or anything to economic growth. I'd cite myself as evidence to support this claim - being as I am reasonably well-educated but almost entirely unproductive.

2. It is enormously difficult to disaggregate the contribution education makes. With economically-successful countries, is it their school system that is the key variable - or is this merely a sign that a country that has enough rule of law that allows the government to collect taxes and stuff like that?
I don't know the answer to these questions but my prejudices incline me to believe that the role of education has indeed been over-rated. This for two reasons: I come from a long line of people who think education should be an end in itself. That this may be due to the fact I am personally economically useless is of course a possibility I take seriously. The other is, if our future economic prospects depends on the quality of our education system, we're up shit-creek without the proverbial paddle.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Heads back call for school drug tests

Teachers, don't worry - they mean for the pupils. From the Scotsman:
"People say it's unethical, but if testing proves to be effective, we should ask ourselves whether it then becomes acceptable. If we are to have success in tackling drug abuse in Scotland, we need to be bold enough to explore initiatives that are unpopular".
So said Professor Neil McKeganey, who reckons "the time had come" to consider widespread drug-testing in Scottish schools in an attempt to challenge the "culture of acceptance" of drug abuse among young people. People say it's unethical because it is unethical. And I don't know if he is, but if Prof. McKeganey is a New Labour sort of guy, he will make a virtue of 'exploring initiatives' because they are unpopular.

How, exactly, this is supposed to counter the widespread acceptance of drug-taking amongst the young, we are not told - and in the absence of an explanation, I've got a better idea. Here's an observation from the chalk-face: regardless of how mental the class is before you, in my experience its members never imagine they know more about history than you do.

Not so with drugs - or other aspects of 'personal and social education'. Though often they are not, they can be wrong about this but the necessity of professional distance means you can never disabuse them of their prior misconceptions. So why not get people in who know what they are talking about and are recognised as knowing what they're talking about? Beats the present arrangement where those who are paid for their 'pastoral care' duties do everything in their power to palm-off soc ed classes to those of us who would rather be teaching our subject and who reject the notion that it is our vocation to be the pupil's friend.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sorry, still don't get it

Norm allows David Aaronovitch to respond to a question I posed to those who wish Blair to stay on as leader of the Labour party and Prime Minister:
"Shuggy's question assumed that support from the left for Blair's continuation in office on the basis of his foreign policy record made no sense. But that wasn't the only issue at stake in the recent goings-on. David Aaronovitch's article spells out what else."
And the "what else" that is at issue for Aaronovitch is the damage done to the Labour party by Brown's inept intervention:
"And for what was this all done? Mr Blair was going in 2007 anyway, and just about everybody knew it. So the consequence of the Watson attempted coup has been to pull the date forward by about three months, while wreaking fabulous damage on the Labour Party. It's like having your car crushed so that you can fit into the one available parking space; maybe it's better to wait a little."
Couple of things. First of all, while I can see this is an important strategic consideration, I can't see how this is a response to anything I wrote because the pieces I was responding to didn't mention this at all. HP, for example - as this rather clumsy and emotive piece shows - collapses all opposition to Blair into opposition to democracy in Iraq. You want Blair to go? You are John Pilger. To say I didn't particularly appreciate this involves no understatement.

Norm himself mentioned support for Blair's foreign policy and that his continuation in office annoys the sort of people he likes to see annoyed. Now, the foreign policy question remains the same and while I understand the other point, I don't think this is a very good reason to support Blair. The sort of people who I too like to see getting pissed off also oppose ID cards and detention without trial. Am I to drop my opposition to these because of this? This would be a rather narrow reason - to say no more than that. So we're left with this strategic consideration - which, if it's so important, why wasn't it mentioned earlier?

Not being in the loop like Mr Aaronovitch, I wouldn't know if Blair was certain to stand down next year but that wasn't my point. I'm not a Brown groupie, I don't give a shit about what Blair and Brown agreed over a plate of pasta in some London restaurant because that had nothing to do with democracy, so I don't endorse Brown's obvious sense of grievance - nor even understand it.

Rather, I was simply expressing my view that Blair's departure from office is welcome. That it should come under these circumstances is unfortunate but I think Blair's fans should take seriously the possibility that he has brought much of this on himself. Blair doesn't like the party he leads very much - and the feeling is obviously mutual.

This is a pretty fundamental relationship problem but it could be overlooked as long as Blair could deliver electoral success. But since this is obviously no longer the case, I can't see the point of these appeals to loyalty. I'm still left with the question: what do his supporters want him to stay on for? There'll be no more foreign policy initiates that he has any chance of following through. Domestically, one of the imperatives seems to be the desire to press ahead with the 'reform' agenda in education, which I believe to be fundamentally misguided.

So we're thrown back to this strategic consideration again - and I have to repeat the question, if this was so important, why wasn't it mentioned earlier? Because what I was hearing was not the language of pragmatism but that of faith. And as far as Blair is concerned, this I do not have.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Islamism and the left

This piece by Fred Halliday, which has already been linked elsewhere, repays careful reading. Not the main thrust of the piece but this passage caught my attention:
"The trend culminated in the 1990s with a campaign to silence left and independent liberal voices: [...]the writer and philosopher Nasser Abu Zeid, who had dared to apply to the Qur’an and other classical Islamic texts the techniques of historical and literary criticism practised elsewhere in the world, was sent death-threats before being driven into exile in 1995."
This is why the academic discipline known as form criticism, which has been applied to the Bible for many years, essentially does not exist in Koranic scholarship. This, I think, is a more important example of Islamism limiting intellectual freedom than the non-publication of a few stupid cartoons in the British press.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

For the virtues of faithlessness

Blair's long goodbye looks finally to be drawing to a close. Yet there still remain, and will perhaps for ages yet, caves in which his shadow may still be seen. For some loyal souls are keeping the faith; they enjoin others to do so. Should you decline, these do not understand you for your faithlessness, your lack of loyalty.

I don't understand them. Theirs is the politics of faith but with regards Blair I am both unclear about what it is they believe and why they believe it.

One facet of this belief seems to be the idea that Blair should be rewarded for his foreign policy. Naturally this would be impossible for someone who opposed the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq but even for someone like myself who supported both I find this inexplicable. The left has always been obsessed with foreign policy in general, and with the Middle East and Latin America in particular. It is because it is felt that it is here that political conflicts are played out in primary colours - in a way that demands that no-one can remain neutral.

The former I recognise in myself; the latter less so. Those who are insisting that Blair be rewarded for his stance against what some of us have no hesitation in calling fascism should, I believe, ask themselves the following questions. In the admittedly unlikely event that Ian Duncan Smith had been Prime Minister, should he have been rewarded for supporting the American foreign policy? Because there can be no doubt that he would have followed the same course as Blair. Or historically, were the working class voters of Britain wrong to turn their backs on Winston Churchill in 1945? And if so, would there be a Labour tradition for them to claim to be the true heirs of?

If the answer to any of these is yes, declare yourself to belong to the right and be done with this appeal to the legacy of British socialism and social democracy. If it is yes, it is because you believe Blair - independently of his foreign policy - represents in some way the incarnation of these traditions.

If you believe this, you are wrong. For Blair, in the position he has taken on the twin pillars of liberty and equality, has been on the wrong side. Blair, as both his public utterances and his policies show, believes in neither. Do we have to demonstrate this? Blair has explicitly said he does not believe in greater 'equality of outcome' preferring instead the spurious notion of 'meritocracy'.

One of the key mechanisms by which British citizens are to gain this equal right to pass by on the other side is through education, education, education. Fortunately I don't have to work in the English system but the means by which this to be achieved under New Labour has been to renew the Thatcherite war on teachers. The notion that one might possibly improve educational standards in this country by enlisting the support of people who actually work in it is dismissed as 'unreconstructed', wankerish and so, like, yesterday man.

Instead we have a brave new world where the Thatcherite micro-management of the classroom pursued by a remorseless diet of continuous assessment has been embraced with great gusto, replete with the fear and loathing of that mythical creature, the 'trendy-teacher'.

The only criticism that many of the true bearers of the left tradition can find to make of Blair's project to turn our education system into a supermarket is that it simply doesn't go far enough. More should be done to allow people to escape the contamination of the 'bog-standard comprehensive'. Of those left behind? These are the undeserving poor. And if you like me should be unfortunate enough to feel it your vocation to teach such as these, understand that these new 'progressives' despise you for it.

So much, so personal - but is it really so difficult for the Blairistas to grasp that his limited improvements notwithstanding, what has disappointed so many of us is the sheer waste of it all - the squandering of two colossal Parliamentary majorities behaving as if to all intents and purposes like the election campaign was still on? Were they never squeamish at the way in which this regime sought to ingratiate themselves to the proud and the powerful? Did they not share a sense that these Labour governments have achieved less in the way of redistribution that one might expect of a Christian Democrat administration on the Continent? One anecdote had it that Blair and Chirac, during a conversation where they failed to agree on reform of the EU, had the latter saying, "You see, the basic problem is that whereas I am a man of the left, you are one of the right". What has been said of George Bush in a different context can be applied here: just because it is Chirac saying something, it doesn't mean it isn't true.

But it is on liberty that Blair's failure has been the greatest. This is because he clearly does not believe in it. That the Freedom of Information Bill is a genuine advance in liberty, I would concede - we know this because of the negative way in which successive Labour Home Secretaries have responded to revelations made under the auspices of this Act. And there is no point in holding the equalisation of the age of homosexual consent as an example of New Labour 'tolerance' because there is no need for tolerance for things you approve of. In contrast, wherever there is something this government disapproves of - they have never failed to attempt to circumscribe the autonomy of British subjects. Like with jury trials; like with the right to protest and demonstrate; like with the right for the accused to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and to hear the evidence that the state holds against them; like with the right to live and move and have your being without being watched and recorded by the state; like with the right to express one's contempt for organised religion without the fear that in doing so one is committing a criminal offence.

Disgreement with one or any of these points on a rational basis you could cope with. What is insufferable is the notion that to do so is in some way a betrayal of the working class - who, we are reliably informed by people who I suspect are acquainted with these only through descriptions - are only too happy to have their liberty sold for around a fiver an hour. Because they have this - or possibly the benefit of tax credits, if they can negotiate the Byzantine world of mean-testing - the dumb proles are blissfully unconcerned about issues such as religion in schools. I would like to take this opportunity to cordially invite the Blairite blogger who suggested this contemptuous and fatuous idea to me to a guided tour of the city of Glasgow. Re-acquaint yourself with the place, y'know?

Behind this whole thing is TINA - the notion that there is no alternative. It's better than the Tories, don't you know? So Blair's illiberalism is beyond criticism because, well, he's lifted all these families out of poverty, he's done as much as he can. Leaving aside the impossibility of the Blairistas ever crediting the hard-pressed working families of lifting themselves out of poverty (which is odd, since they are obviously fans of Samuel Smiles) there's a slight philosophical problem I have: even if this were so, since when are we obliged to welcome something simply because there is no alternative to it? And even within the narrow confines of what is believed to be inevitable by the Blairistas, why so little imagination? They believe 'globalisation' has forever limited the range of fiscal options open to the state. Very well - so why not advocate a smaller state that taxes less but redistributes more? Because as it is just now the least wealthy are paying a disproportionate share of their income towards the Treasury. And this might actually bring some reality to the cant spouted by the government about 'empowering communities'. Has it never occurred to them that this would require them to do less?

It hasn't - because the extent to which the Blair regime seeks to manage the lives of British citizens knows no bounds, for it extends even unto the womb. I'd like the Blairistas to consider this: as the Labour party under Blair has lurched to the right, British politics has increasingly resembled the American situation where ever-smaller differences in economic policy has been accompanied by a partisanship that is increasingly shrill, hollow and personal. But if the Blairistas insist, I'll play the politics of personality too. Blair once said, with his usual air of exasperated righteousness, "I mean, I can't bring up people's children for them", as if this was obviously the ideal solution. If for no other reason, I am glad this sanctimonious twerp who has never understood that he is not our President but merely the Queen's first minister is leaving office. Blairistas may accuse me of being irrational about this but to date I've yet to read an argument of theirs that could be considered rational. All I can see is the politics of blind faith. Here's Hitchens on Blair's departure:
"When I first interviewed Blair, as newly elected Labour leader in 1994, he answered my question about the role of his Christianity in his politics by saying, "I can't stand politicians who go on about religion." If I had to date the moment when my own misgivings about him began, it would be the time - starting after September 11, 2001 - when he began to emphasize his own "faith" as a motivating factor in his moral stand.

A saving element in British politics is that such appeals are usually considered embarrassing. They may also suggest a slight tendency, on the part of those uttering them, to believe in some kind of supernatural endorsement.

So Blair's concession that he must leave office, a decision so long postponed and so disastrously protracted, represents among other things a triumph of the mundane over the permanent temptation to believe that politics is about anything else."
Quite so. And not for the first time, I find I'm chronologically ahead of Christopher Hitchens in my thinking: I cannot point to a date on which I started to have doubts about Mr Blair because I never had any faith in him in the first place.

[Cross-posted at DSPTFW]

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Against liberal and secular lecturers in Iran.

A bad thing, in my view.

Against Tony Blair.

No bad thing, in my view.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cream crackered

Apologies for light posting...[judicious editing. The walls have ears the council has an IT department]

Still, got broadband, which was very exciting - although had to move a whole lot of shit to accommodate the wiring. Is it just me that fears social work intervention is justified on account of the mess that is exposed when you shift your furniture? You know - fossilised bits of toast, putrifying socks, the general sense that your living space is a theatre of evolution.

Other news: 20% of recent search engine referrals appeared to be looking for this. Look, I'm sorry but I'm afraid it's true; U2 are shite and Bono's a wank. It's not my fault - if you're a fan, look within thyself.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere there are philosophical pearls being cast before swine. For example:
"People make mistakes: that’s why they put rubbers on pencils."
Exactly. Back later.

Friday, September 01, 2006

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