Saturday, March 03, 2007

It's Not What You Know ...

Sam Tarran ponders meritocracy with reference to the selection of prefects. A dark tale of corruption and revenge ... while the increasingly amusing Jingoistic affects never to have had any illusions to lose ...

A Soggy Night In Newport Town

Well, the Dragons beat Glasgow 13-3, but it was easily the worst I've seen them play this season. None of the usual fire - maybe the pools of water all over the pitch and the non-stop downpour had something to do with it. Despite the water, the pitch was in tremendous nick and cut up very little. But it was comedy rugby, with handling difficult and both teams kicking and hoping for a defensive error. There were plenty of those, but no-one could take advantage as time and again the ball held up in the lakes (you could have drowned at the bottom of some rucks) or slipped from hands.

3 up for half the game, Glasgow battled superbly against subdued Dragons and deserved a draw, with their forwards more than matching the Dragons pack, even when Beattie was sinbinned. It must have been a heartbreaker when they conceded a penalty with a minute left, Ceri Sweeney kicked it and then played a cross-kick to the left corner for Aled Brew to score unopposed with the clock on 81 minutes. 13-3 didn't really reflect the game.

I've noted before the wonderful prices for children (I took six last night) at Rodney Parade - £3 each. Noting that pretty much every male on the terraces had pint glued to hand, I thought maybe a Guinness would ward off winter chills and keep the rain out. £2.20 a pint ! Has earth anything to show more fair ?

Friday, March 02, 2007

“We have been extremely tolerant and patient”

Educated, liberal English culture is not so much a supertanker as a series of them, one behind the other. Just because the one at the front has stopped doesn't mean that all the others have noticed. Since 7/11 I've noted the changes at the top - the volte-face on multiculturalism, the sudden interest in cohesion and social solidarity - the kind of things that an older Britain (Ulster excepting) took pretty much for granted, despite the odd IRA collector rattling his tin in the pubs of Stockwell or Sparkbrook.

Yet it takes a long time for everyone to get with the new programme. Educationists are still planning to teach the evils of Empire. I'm sure there are lots of bright young teachers and deputy heads just itching to implement their new diversity strategies as soon as they get the chance. And so forth.

But you do have to wonder what kind of idiot thought this, reported by the Pub Philosopher, was a good idea.

A row is brewing in Corby after the Prison Service announced that it was closing its office in the town and moving to nearby Leicester. The Tory parliamentary candidate wrote to the Prison Service to ask why and received a letter from the Director of Finance stating that one of key influencing factors was:

Our ability to attract a more diverse workforce - 93.7 per cent of the population of Corby are white British, compared to 59.6 per cent in Leicester.

Talk about 'it was worse than a crime, it was a blunder'. That's a few thousand BNP votes IMHO. I guess that against stupidity the gods themselves battle in vain.

In the heart of the Black Country, depending on your viewpoint, there's either been an outbreak of people power or racist Islamophobia. Maybe even both.

An £18 million mosque and community centre for Dudley has been thrown out against the advice of planning experts – but the battle will almost certainly continue with an appeal.

One man was arrested during scuffles outside the meeting to consider the plan which prompted the biggest protest campaign in memory.

Anti-mosque campaigners cheered after proposals for a £6 million mosque with 65ft minaret and £12 million community centre were rejected by all nine members of the planning committee.

But chairman of Dudley Muslim Association Khurshid Ahmed today said the bid to build the mosque would almost certainly continue.

“We have been extremely tolerant and patient”

There's a video here. Evening Mail coverage also. And the BBC, with a slightly different focus.

Something seems to have happened. A few weeks ago, with only 1,000 signatures against it, the mosque was set to go ahead. But the numbers, like Topsy, just grew and grew. Eventually there were 20,000 signatures - a campaign seemingly organised by a UKIP councillor, Malcolm Davis. Whether you agree with his campaign or not, this is the first known instance of an elected UKIP representative actually doing anything outside the EU parliament.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hideous BBC Lies

Never have such falsehoods been published by the BBC. I am outraged.

One of the world's earliest locomotives has made its final journey - by road - from Manchester to Liverpool.

The 170-year-old locomotive, called Lion, ran between the two cities on the world's first passenger railway line.

The swine. Satan has ordered two tons of extra 'Coalite' and a carbon-fibre reinforced toasting fork especially for the person who wrote that.

Any fule kno that the world's first passenger railway, the Mumbles train, would have been 200 years old this year. It was scrapped in 1960 by the local council, all of whose members are now being toasted here. Ever since I can remember, Swansea councils have been corrupt, incompetent or both - and according to this blog the tradition lives on.

Had it survived it would have been a World Heritage site and the biggest tourist attraction in Wales.

Picture by John Davies of Swansea Camera Club. I think he's photoshopped the red onto a black and white photo.

I'm just old enough to have ridden the beastie. The terminus was at the back end of the long-gone Victoria Station, in what used to be a fascinating hinterland between station and docks. Railway lines ran in the roads between the warehouses and docksides - the Swansea of Kingsley Amis' novel 'That Uncertain Feeling'. Alas all gone, replaced by dual carriageway, retail sheds and a sanitised marina. What wonderful yuppie flats Weavers Warehouse - an early 20th-century brute concrete monstrosity, built over the river like a bridge, would have made !

The journey - along the sea front past the prison, the Vetch, the Slip (with its station, floral gardens, bridge and beach funfair), Patti Pavilion and St Helens, to Blackpill (where the accompanying main railway line turned off towards Gowerton), Oystermouth and the Pier - is still pleasant now, as a walk or bike ride on the path where the line ran. But it doesn't compare with a pasteboard ticket, a box of Paynes Poppets from the machine at the terminus, and a gloriously rackety journey. In winter the ride could be scary. The train always rocked a bit, but in a gale it would move disconcertingly. Upstairs, where the motion was accentuated, you'd wonder if it was about to fall over into the sea. Downstairs, with a stormy high tide the spray of breaking waves would slap against the windows - if you left them open you could get wet. We loved it.

Perhaps This'll Work

Immigrants should carry out community work before being granted UK citizenship, Gordon Brown will say. The chancellor is expected to tell a seminar on Britishness that the move would help new arrivals settle. Mr Brown's comments follow his earlier call for all incomers to learn English, and for the UK to have its own day to celebrate its national identity.

Of course he's always believed this. I well recall his many speeches on the subject in years past.

The chancellor will tell his audience in London that obliging migrants to carry out community work would help introduce them to the people they will be living alongside. It would also demonstrate to the host community that new immigrants will contribute to society as a whole.

Community work is what criminals are sentenced to do - I'm not sure what that says. It looks as though we're going to hear of lots of 'tough' tests and lots more 'Britishness', as he cozens and gammons the Native Brits. It's worked so far, so whu shouldn't it work again ? There's nothing he won't consider - except of course turning the flow of incomers off. After all, there's no upper limit to migration - and we don't have a population policy (the current default being that the natives are replaced).

Bwown's attitude to high levels of immigration is a bit like his attitude to high levels of taxation.

"I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lefty Luvvie Royalist Shock

When I saw the 800-odd hits for 'Helen Mirren' this morning I thought that Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov had probably won her Oscar.

"For 50 years and more, Elizabeth Windsor has maintained her dignity, her sense of duty - and her hairstyle," Dame Helen said.

"She has had her feet planted firmly on the ground, her hat on her head and her handbag on her arm. She has weathered many, many storms. And I salute her courage and her consistency and I thank her because if it wasn't for her I most certainly would not be here."

She ended her speech by holding up the Oscar statuette and saying: "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Queen."

UPDATE - 2,500 hits makes it another Mirrstalanche. And the Dumb One ponders the Oscars.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

"For Future Generations"

Natalie Bennett's Philobiblon is an interesting read. She writes on history, theatre, politics, feminism, "cyberspace" - pretty much everything - and she writes well, which is why she does it for a living (and why I don't). Her politics are red/green.

Via her blog, this piece on the end of privacy - food for the thoughts of a parent with three avid bebo/msn users aged 9 to 17.

Ms Bennett is yet another intelligent, talented woman who's childless.

Finally, as a single, childless woman, with an active social and professional life, entirely happy in that status, she's pleased to write about that, as an antidote to the inevitable Bridget Jones stereotypes.

Maybe I read the wrong blogs, but I don't see many - if any - Bridget Jones stereotypes on the web.

So what, anyway ? She has no children. Big deal. Neither have a lot of other people. Are you going to trawl the web for childless bloggers to tag ?

No. I only mention it because of this piece on using the internet to resurrect women's lost history. In among the quotes from Barthes and concepts like "the stuffedness of the body" there's stuff that's relevant to all historians (and that applies to both sexes). She (correctly IMHO) identifies the enormous potential of the web in gathering together snippets from disparate sources to begin 'the reconstruction of a life' - something I think is happening above all in the world of geneaology, where a post on a local bulletin board, forgotten for a year, suddenly brings an email from Canada with information about your great-great grandfather. (If only this site had the source texts as well !)

I digress. When Lionel Shriver wrote her magnificent essay on childless boomers she generalised that they weren't very historically-minded.

We give little thought to the perpetuation of lineage, culture or nation; we take our heritage for granted. We are ahistorical. We measure the value of our lives within the brackets of our own births and deaths, and don't especially care what happens once we're dead.

You couldn't say that about Ms Bennett.

The second reason why silicon immortality is important to feminists is that it offers many women the opportunity to contribute to the resurrection of women of their own and other ages, when other avenues are closed to them. Norma Clarke in The Rise and Fall of the Woman of Letters asks why Jane Barker, Sarah Fielding, Eliza Heywood, Delavrier Manley, innovative, popular, admired writers, were almost forgotten, while the men who were their compatriots – Milton, Pope, Steele, Swift – have got as close to immortality as any person who spends their life laying pen to paper could reasonably expect. I’m angry, sometimes, that these, my foremothers, like so many of their compatriots, did not do enough to ensure their own survival into the future (my emboldening - LT), and I have to ask: why ?

Trouble is, the 'survival into the future' not only depends upon the preservation of these women's stories, but on the continued existence of people who'll want to read about these women. As Ms Bennett writes :

If a memory of, or knowledge of, a person exists within a single human body/mind, then the person remembered has an existence, albeit a tenuous, wraithlike one ...
This alternative, embodied view of immortality chimes with a longstanding 'commonsense', pre-silicon-age view, which also holds that a person lives on whilesoever their memory is retained in that of another
(my emboldening - LT). Making this “life” possible is often, consciously or not, the aim of historians, as Lerner says in explaining "why history matters … the dead continue to live by way of the resurrection we give them in telling their stories".

In this context a look at the demographics is instructive. As the ONS 2005 Poulation Trends summary (pdf) tells us :

As many as two in five secondary or medium educated women born in England and Wales in the mid-to-late 1960s were still childless going into their 30s, and almost half (46 per cent) of higher educated women were still childless at age 33. Among the generation of women born in the 1960s in France and Norway, fewer than one in three women of secondary and higher educational attainment were respectively childless entering their 30s and at age 33.

This isn't only a UK phenomenon. "Expected family size varies inversely with wife’s education" says this US presentation. The same's true in Japan and in Latin America (though in the non-welfare Latin American states both "the least educated and the best educated women share the small family norm").

The UK population is going up. Not all the new Britons will have the same attitudes to historical inquiry. The number of natives is going down - and they're ageing. And perhaps the natives producing the most children aren't rearing so many who'll read about seventeenth century lady jailers for pleasure and profit.

What have you done today to preserve a woman’s life – even your own – for future generations ?

A good question. Another good question is 'what future generations ?'