Saturday, 12 July 2014

Liddle Cream

I cannot commend Rod Liddle's paedo piece in the Speccie highly enough. If you have time, please do read it. A sample:
And this sexual abuse is so fundamentally evil, so beyond comprehension, that it is by itself responsible for every single misery which has befallen them in the 20 or 30 or 40 years hence — failed relationships, aspirations not achieved, mental breakdown, poverty, unhappiness, alcoholism, drug addiction. All of that the consequence of someone having behaved badly towards them several decades before. Maybe put a hand on their thigh. Maybe worse. And you dare not gainsay these furious litanies of complaint, because if you do then you are in some way complicit.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Islam: Reformation or Enlightenment?

An excellent piece in the Guardian today from Simon Jenkins, a man who would make a first rate new Chairman for the BBC. In suggesting that Islam is in desperate need of a Reformation, Jenkins quotes both Malise Ruthven and the theologian Hans Kung;
"while most religions tend to mature out of textual literalism, the idea of the Qur'an as a handbook of pluralism and democracy is fanciful. It is permeated with the language of struggle (jihad) and victory over unbelievers. It insists on the oneness of the political and the religious realm" (Ruthven)

Another writer in the same vein, Hans K√ľng, points out that jihad was never just a defensive concept but "a struggle to advance God's cause among the unbelievers". To make it accord with western pluralism would require a theological upheaval, a "total paradigm shift". Yet even to suggest this "can still be as dangerous for a Muslim as a heterodox view was for a Catholic at the height of the Inquisition or for a liberal Protestant in Calvin's Geneva".
Post-reformation Christian Europe didn't produce a smaller role for religion in the State but a greater one; never before had the identities of State and Church been so congruent. It took the bloodshed and destruction of the Thirty Years War to prepare the ground for the transformation that really advanced European civilisation; the Enlightenment. Pluralism, and the separation of church from state, only developed when faith was tempered with science, rationality and humanism. Sadly, the prospects of an endogenous Enlightenment for the Islamic world are slight, and it remains condemned to a future of barbarism, blood and fratricide. And Jenkins' conclusion, that we must leave them to it, is undoubtedly correct;
The people of the Muslim world clearly need the west's humanitarian aid and sanctuary in distress. Britain must accept that there will be echoes of their conflicts in its domestic communities. But the glint in the eye of Washington and London that Islam's tribal tribulations might be relieved with more guns, more missiles and more soldiers is cynical warmongering. We have done more damage to the Muslim world than it has ever done to us. We should leave it alone. We have weed enough in our own garden.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

BBC GoT - How to Get The Look

The BBC's new 'authentic historical drama' based on Bernard Cornwell's books (and a friend insists on pronouncing his forename with the stress on the second syllable, like a French hairdresser, rather than on the first, like the dog) is set to launch - and Raedwald, no stranger to eighth century Britain, shows you how to get that 'authentic' BBC tenth century soiled 'n studded battle look;
Telegraph publicity photo for 'The Last Kingdom'

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

We've lost our way over child protection

The paedo has evolved. A decade or more ago the archetype was the scoutmaster, vicar or choirmaster - men whose professions or vocations brought them into the necessary contact with kids. Then there was the rise of the 'nonce' - sad, inadequate individuals, unemployed or in low-skill service jobs, dirty and opportunistic in their pursuit of children. Now we have the Paedo as a powerful and famous person, reliant on position and influence to provide immunity. 

And as far as children are concerned, there is no response too excessive to be considered rational; sending teams of trained anus-inspectors from the mainland to the Orkneys in the wake of a satanic ritual abuse claim to examine the bottoms of every child on the islands, the mass-seizure of all children suspected of having an 'abusive' family member, a whole generation of kids prohibited from playing outdoors for fear of the kiddie-fiddlers, pensioners arrested for watching children play in a school playground. And now under the proposed new law if you see a mother slap her kid on the bus, you'd better report it - or face prosecution yourself. As far more informed and capable commentators such as Anna Raccoon and Christopher Booker have documented, we haven't moved on that far from Salem and the 17th century. 

Look at any local government budget for the current year. The old services that used to dominate expenditure - refuse, street maintenance, parks, libraries, swimming pools, planning - are dwarfed by the money spent on 'children's services', a sector growing so fast and so voraciously that before long councils will do little else. Construction contractors now need to have every labourer and plant operator CRB checked if they're working anywhere near children. Many under-12s now have the same sort of close protection as a 70s Supergrass. And still the little buggers are being fiddled with.

Personally, I believe Hell has a malbolge of an unimaginable nastiness reserved for kiddie-fiddlers, and Christ's advice to Paedos - tie a rock around your neck and throw yourself into a lake - is their only redemption. But it's not an answer for a secular age. I don't know what the answer is, I really don't - but I know we've lost our way.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Uber and Airbnb challenge State regulation

With news today that the Catalan authorities have fined Airbnb €30,000 for proving too popular with holidaymakers, taxi app Uber also faces further legal challenges from states throughout Europe. What both have in common is that they cut out state regulation - of taxis and of hotel and tourist accommodation. Their joint demographic is likely to be young and on a budget; us oldies are less concerned with saving a few quid for a bed with no fire safety or a cab with no MOT.

Anyone who has ever used Barcelona airport will be familiar with the scene below; one in ten of the local population seems to be a cab driver, but with only a dozen fares every hour it can't possibly be a paying occupation. It is, I suspect, the local version of a Keynesian solution to unemployment.

Uber undermines the ability of the State to intervene economically by using control and regulation - and that's why States are so opposed to these apps. 

Together with the computer code behind Bitcoin - NOT Bitcoin itself, but the code for secure distributed ledger systems behind it that is set to revolutionise the traditional role of the State in economic management - these evolutions will cause changes beyond the ability of governments to control. 

We're just seeing the start of it.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Is *Anyone* surprised at State cover-ups?

I doubt that there's just about anyone who is surprised that politicians and civil servants collude to cover up crimes committed by their own, up to and including murder. Our expectations of the probity of the State are so low that we have ceased to regard such things as remarkable. Can you name any exposure of misdeeds by a member of the political class in recent years that was a result of being dobbed by his own? All those I can think of have been exposed by the press and the public. 

Nor, I think, should we be too hung-up on some old cases from the 1980s. The real scandal is that it is undoubtedly still going on; that there will be MPs, peers and senior civil servants known to each other to be paedophiles, rapists. thieves, fraudsters and sundry crims, and that it's still the job of the Home Secretary and the Met Commissioner to quietly and in an unattributable manner sweep the muck under the carpet, lose the files and have juniors tell complainants "He's a powerful man; all you'll do is make trouble for yourself". 

Twas ever thus.