Sunday, July 29, 2007

Some Thoughts On The Life Of Peter The Great

I've recently been reading a fair bit of Russian history; and the life and career of Peter the Great offer some interesting lessons.
If Peter were alive today, he would probably be living an undistinguished life in a routine job; but we would all know people like him. Peter's problem, which, by virtue of his status, was Russia's problem, was that he was born almost exactly 300 years too soon.
He would have been a fanatical DIY man, spending every weekend at the garden centre and giving the assistants hell for not having sun loungers to match his pot plants.
He would have been the first of your friends to have owned an iPod, a Blackberry and a Bluetooth, the first to have wired his house for wireless broadband, the first to have gone snowboarding, base jumping or potholing and probably the first to have taken a Thai bride. It is difficult not to believe that The Great Skipper was something of a novelty junkie.
Clever enough, Peter was not a great thinker - it might be fair to say that, although he was determined to 'westernise' Russia, the country suffered more than it had to as a consequence of him spending more time battering wood than reading books. Having stopped collecting stories concerning foreign criminals, I've taken up collecting 'powers behind the throne'; and Peter was most certainly neither a Richelieu nor a Bismarck, nor were there any other visionaries of that calibre in his court.
He tried, for sure. He left his land with at least a navy and a new capital; but by failing to effect significant political or economic reform, Peter's Russia was one of the largest slightly botched DIY jobs in history.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Quote Of The Day

"The widespread notion in America that Christopher Hitchens is a Major Thinker is a puzzling one. I have to imagine that much of the reception he gets on this side of the pond is due to the naiveté of us Colonials about British journalists. Hitchens has the Fleet Street knack for being able to churn out publishable prose fast and fluently despite spending a lot of time in fashionable watering holes getting well-watered, in which condition he conducts publicized feuds with other well-watered British personalities. Few American hacks can long function like that. But an ability to type while nursing a hangover does not make Hitchens the second coming of John Stuart Mill."

Steve.

Bravo!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An Apology To Regular Readers

Sorry, folks, but The Beast In Me is once again rearing its ugly head; and with a lot of other stuff going on, blogging is going to have to take a back seat for a few days.
Back soon.
Scotland Forever.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ah, The Good Olde English - Once Again Confusing 'Policy' With 'Morality'

I'm afraid I can't really work up the lather over the possibility of Iraqi translators not being permitted to settle in the UK in which Tim Worstall, Rachel in North London, Crooked Timber and Dan Hardie are collectively bathing.
Even their headlines ('An Englishman's Word', 'Time to do the right thing', 'We can't turn them away') are redolent of precisely the kind of pious, whinging, moralising English liberal internationalism that gave us the policy disaster that was the League of Nations - and ultimately the Second World War; the kind of drivel that John Maynard Keynes spouted when he complained of the harshness of the Versailles peace terms, when those on the receiving end of those terms has imposed vastly harsher terms on the Russians through the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk just months earlier; the kind of guff which kept loons like Lord Cecil off the streets for decades (oh how the Great Peacemaker screamed for re-armament when he realised that his appeasement had been entirely unapreciated!).
According to Hardie,
"Since British troops occupied Southern Iraq in the spring of 2003, thousands of Iraqi citizens have worked for the British Army, the Coalition Provisional Authority (South) and for contractors serving UK forces".
He makes it sound as if Operation Telic were a Sunday stroll, perhaps forgetting that we did not 'occupy' that country; we invaded it. We overthrew its lawful government at gunpoint.
We came to conquer and we botched the aftermath. We lost.
Were those Iraqis who aided the British not, ahem, paid to do whatever they did? Did they not understand that some of their countrymen might think ill of Iraqis who, for want of a better word, collaborate with foreign armies?
Hardie works himself into a frenzy, writing that,
"Iraqis are being targeted for murder because they have worked for British forces. "
And? British citizens serving in forces stationed in Northern Ireland, and serving in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, were routinely targeted for murder. Many of them are now denied pensions. Why should we fret about those who decide to abet foreign armies for gain when we do not even provide proper care for our own soldiers?
He produces the English liberal's Argument of Mass Destruction -
"It is morally unacceptable that Britain should abandon people who are at risk because they worked for British soldiers and diplomats."
That might be so, but stuff happens.
Whoever said statecraft was fair?
Never mind, folks - keep playing up and playing the game.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Gee! The BBC Finally Wakes Up To The UK's Foreign Criminal Problem!

BBC Scotland, July 22 2007 -

"At least one cannabis factory is being shut down by police in Scotland every week, one of the country's most senior officers has warned...

"It has gone from virtually no production just over a year ago to over 60 such productions being discovered by forces across Scotland in the last nine months.

"What we have got is these types of developments within houses, factories, garages and so forth.
"In a very high number of them we have got Chinese or Vietnamese people who are locked in the premises, kept sleeping on the floor amongst mattresses with no visible means of support.


They are virtually slaves within the production mechanism."

'Scotland on Sunday', July 22 2007 -

"It is estimated that around 60% of cannabis smoked in Britain these days is home-produced, compared with just 11% a decade ago. The UK trade is run by the 'Viet-Ching', an amalgamation of Vietnamese gangsters working alongside Chinese counterparts, the Triads. "

Oh look! Here's a couple of Vietnamese pot growing Foreign Criminals of the Day from June 16 2006!

And another from July 8 2006!

Those canny newshounds are really hot on the scent, aren't they?

Some Thoughts On The Teaching Of Economics

All economics classes should be taught twice; once from the left and once from the right.
And no student should be permitted to take an economics class without also taking an accompanying course in history, which would also be taught twice; again, once from the left and once from the right.

Some Thoughts On The Human Rights Act

The Human Rights Act 1998 is certainly one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in British history, right up there with the Acts of Union and the Corn Laws in the smallish pantheon of legislation that all relatively aware people can name.
There is little doubt that, when it was first passed, it was invoked frivolously, in litigations to which Parliament most likely did not intend it to have any application.
However, I have been making HRA's acquaintance for the last two months (for professional reasons); and while one would never condone its previously facetious citations, one can see where Parliament was coming from.
For example, if a creditor in Scotland wishes to make a debtor bankrupt then the hoops they have to jump through are few and quite large; it's not difficult for them at all. Article 8 to Schedule 1 of HRA might, however, make it just a little more difficult; and that might not be a bad thing, when the alternative is debtors being steamrollered into sequestration.
HRA seems to have been designed to be a scalpel, to make difficult cuts in awkward corners, when it's been used as a machete. That outcome's the fault of neither HRA nor Parliament, but the lawyers.
That legislation has been abused does not, by and of itself, make it bad; if you want a really bad law I give you The Carrying of Knives, etc (Scotland) Act 1993, possibly the only wholly unsuccessful legislation ever to come out of Parliament. But if we believe in justice, all the stuff about it being better for a hundred guilty men to go free than for an innocent man to be imprisoned, is it not also true that it's better that a hundred stupid cases about the 'right' to wear a jilbab to school be presented to the courts than for other, perhaps necessary, rights of relief afforded by HRA to be withdrawn?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Don't Understand This At All

In 'The Times', Stephen Pollard writes,
"Find a wealthy man or woman, and – inherited wealth apart – it’s a near-certainty that you have found someone with exceptional skills. Their money didn’t just turn up – they had to create a business, employ people and generate wealth. And in doing that, they do more for the common good than any politician. Indeed, find a modern politician and chances are you have found someone of, at best, mediocre calibre. So you might have thought that it makes sense to encourage men and women with exceptional skills to enter politics – to bring those skills to public service. "
Now I am no economist, but one had thought that the entire discipline was based on the concept of 'division of labour', pin factories and all that jazz; find out what you're good at, stick to it, keep doing it again and again and you'll lead a happy and productive life.
Pollard, who rather depressingly seems to be just another screaming neo, appears to be making the now threadbare case that our Kommerzvolk are somehow a breed apart, demigods, when they aren't really - they just happen to be very good at however they've divided their labour, whether it be manufacturing black bin liners, selling endowment policies or catching rats.
Without wishing to sound like an old fart, having had 14 jobs in 16 years exposes one to a wide range of industries at a number of levels, so I know of what I speak; the division of labour is as important today as it ever was.
But they create jobs! Well, yes - if only because by creating jobs they are able to expand their business or have performed those functions they do not care to perform themselves.
Show me a CEO who cleans his own executive bathroom and I'll show you a real flat management structure.
There are times when getting businesseople into public life is most certainly a good idea, such as Uncle Sam's drafting of Henry Kaiser; at that point in history, the skills which the division of labour had created in Kaiser were best employed in the public good. On the other hand, we should take heed from the cautionary tale of Joseph Chamberlain that some businessmen seeking to engage in public life should be approached with the same caution as one would apply to a pile of atomic waste on the lawn.
And I don't think Pollard's being ironic when he writes,
"Take Paul Drayson. A successful entrepreneur, he founded Powderject Pharmaceuticals and turned it into one of the leading vaccine companies in the world. In 2004 he took a peerage and in 2005 became a defence procurement minister. It’s difficult to think of a better candidate for such a job. Government is notoriously lousy at procurement deals with business. Who better than a poacher turned gamekeeper to sort these deals out. But instead of being welcomed, his appointment was greeted as an example of sleaze, because he had donated generously to Labour – and his company had been awarded a large government contract. Yes, it might well have been an example of “sleaze”. Equally not. But the media’s mind was not open. "
It seems that Pollard is unaware of Drayson's Law of Irony.

Friday, July 20, 2007

'A Saigon Ending'

Pat, as usual, tells it like it is.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Reasons To Stand Firm Against The Thug Oliver Kamm

He twists the murder of Anna Politkovskaya for his own ideological ends; yet note how very little he has to say on the murder of Paul Klebnikov.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Judge Of The Day

Sheriff Michael Fletcher.

Absolute discharge? No criminal record?

Result!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Resurrectionism A La Mode

Why can't they be honest and call this sort of crap what it is - grave robbing?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Some Thoughts On The Expulsion Of Russian Diplomats

Good show, what what!
According to the BBC,,
"Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he had "no apologies for the action we have taken" in expelling the diplomats.

Speaking on a visit to Berlin, he said he wanted good relations with Russia but also said people would understand that when a prosecuting authority made it clear what was in the interests of justice and there was no co-operation, "then action has to be taken."
Some thoughts -
Gunboat diplomacy is best not practiced on nations which possess nuclear submarines - stuffed to the gills with nukes.
The Russians don't extradite their own people, so they probably don't really care what action the Captain of the School says must be taken.
Brown is a slavish globalist, once writing that "(g)lobalisation desperately needs champions, statesmen and business leaders speaking together, to challenge the current descent into protectionism." Globalisation is not in Britain's interests, and the act of championing the interests of nations other than your own is known as 'treason'; yet now that the laurel wreath has finally been laid upon his august brow, Brown may just be feeling that he can now practice what he has vociferously preached.
For the biggest chicken bone sticking in the throat of the policy, not a process, known as 'globalisation' is Russia...
And I wonder if Brown even knows a working definition of what so-called 'globalisation' actually is? Thus far I've come across four...
Finally, when Brown entered Downing Street he said something which should have set alarm bells ringing very, very loudly. According to the 'Daily Telegraph' -
"In a short speech outside his new home Prime Minister Brown quoted his old school motto, "I will try my utmost".
Any man who is still living his life according to the demands of his school motto at the age of 56 is either exceptionally naive, probably without a very great deal of experience of humanity and its ways and thus grossly unsuited to being in charge of a government; or else he is absolutely bloody crackers.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Sorrow And The Pity

The news that the Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles will pay out at least $660m to abuse victims without stepping over the door of a courtroom provokes mixed responses - although it is to hoped that the settlements are not to be made without some admission of liability (we must all take responsibility for our actions), one obviously feels great sorrow for the victims; anger with their abusers; and pity for those faithful, innocent clergy who keep soldiering on doing the Lord's work to the best of their abilities. A hard job just got harder.
Remember them as well.

Right Again

Professor Niall Ferguson

In the past, I have sometimes been, well, scathing towards Professor Niall Ferguson (I'm not quite sure about the Casper David Friedrich thang you've got going on there, Niall, but all the same, well done for dumping the Tank).
A short course of quite intensive reading of economic history reveals that there are two kinds of economic historians - those who document production, such as Correlli Barnett, and those who document consumption. Ferguson is firmly in the latter category. You want to know the negative effects of free trade on the British toy industry c. 1914? Go to Barnett. Want to know how much sugar consumption increased during the 18th century? Go to Ferguson.
Having read his 'Colossus' already this year, I am nearing the end of 'Empire'. All of the usual Fergusonian foibles are there, yet it contains a paragraph which cannot pass without some congratulations.
In his introduction, Ferguson writes of growing up in a Scottish imperial family -
"To the Scots, the Empire stood for bright sunlight. Little may have been left of it on the map in the 1970's, but my family was so completely imbued with the imperial ethos that its importance went unquestioned. Indeed, the legacy of the Empire was so ubiquitous and omnipresent that we regarded it as part of the normal human condition. Holidays in Canada did nothing to alter this impression. Nor did that systemic defamation of Catholic Ireland which in those days was such an integral part of life on the south side of the Clyde".
It therefore appears to be the case that in making a conscious decision to reject some of the more stunted, scarred, deformed social attitudes prevalent in the west of Scotland from the other side of the fence, Professor Ferguson is something of a man after my own heart.
And credit must be given where it's due.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Greyfriars Bobby

God love Mark Steyn - loyal to the bitter, bitter end...

Infamy! Infamy! They've All Got It In For Me!

King Con's death by a myriad of cuts continues with this pungent critique by Jeff Randall -
"...as reality kicks in, the Canadian-born businessman who regarded just about everyone as a social inferior, must face up to the nightmare of spending years in a US jail, where the luxuries of life that he came to view as daily necessities will exist only as a fading memory. "
Et tu, Jeffrey?

Cherchez La Femme

The acrid smell of old scores being settled also hangs heavily over the profile of Barbara Amiel which appears in this morning's 'Daily Telegraph' -
"...if she is cooking her own chicken suppers and washing her smalls out in the sink, Lady Black has adapted to her drastically new circumstances with aplomb."

Russia's Conrad Black

Heeerrreeee's.....Boris!

Englishism Of The Day

Joshua Rozenberg in 'The Daily Telegraph', commenting on the conviction of Conrad Black -
"As a convicted criminal, Black will also be expected to resign from his London club."
One could read a million words on the subject of the class system and never even come close to the insight contained in that one sentence.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sundown For The Sun King Of The Sun Times

C'est fini.

Bien.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

This Time, I'd Have Liked To Have Been Wrong...

but when considers this, it looks like I wasn't.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Powers Behind The Throne

The thread running through history might be slender, but it's still worthy of mention.
At various times in their histories, usually either as their nation is consolidating or else in times of great political upheaval, both France and Germany have produced politicians of great subtlety and vision whose legacies have enhanced those countries' respective senses of national identity; clever men who never sought to be their nation's king but who were very effective powers behind the throne, determined to ensure that the national interest came first, all the same.
France produced Richelieu and Talleyrand, Germany Bismarck.
The relevance of this for us in Scotland now is that we, too, might soon be undergoing such a consolidation or upheaval; and for the life of me, I cannot see a Richelieu in the ranks of the SNP.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

He Is The Man, And We Are The People

John Smeaton, Esq., gets a profile in The New York Times.

Hat tip to Dennis.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Auster Unbound

In taking a typical pop at Sgt. Torquil Campbell, the hypocrital and bullying leftist Lawrence Auster describes him as "Half-hero, half-Inspector Clousseau".
It says much for the calibre of Auster's analysis that, in seeking to make a vicious punch below the belt at a cop who faced down and overpowered a suicide bomber, once again he falls down on his backside; for the correct spelling of the name of the comic character played by the late Peter Sellers can be found here.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Final Act Of Blair's Farewell Tour

Sorry For Lack Of Posts...

Been hammering it in a new job.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Who Let The Docs Out?

British petit bourgeois shock at learning that that one of the Glasgow Airport bombers might be (gulp!) a doctor(!) is absolutely incredible.
Why shouldn't doctors become suicide bombers, in the same way they become wife-killers or instruments of state terror?
And the more doctors you import in order to satisfy an irrational national habit of thinking that healthcare should be free at the point of use, the more likely it is you'll get a wacko among them.
Mind you, at least his arrest is likely to free up a training place.

Community

In this morning's 'Telegraph', Philip Johnston quotes the Tartanissimo as saying,
"Individuals are responsible for their actions, not communities".
Why, then, do so many members of the 'community' to which he refers continue to adhere to values and beliefs sufficiently ambiguous that they can be used justify the actions of the individuals? Why do they do this?
During the Cold War, weren't the Communist 'community' treated like cranks and apologists for slaughter? During World War Two, weren't prominent members of the Fascist 'community' like Oswald Mosley put behind bars?
The 'community' should...well, Nixon put it better than I ever could...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

And So It Begins

The BBC quotes Mohammed Sarwar MP as saying that,
"I have spoken to a number of people from the Muslim community and the Asian community who feel very angry...
"They're concerned about a backlash and that's why the emergency meeting has been called."
Given the absence of any anti-Muslim 'backlash' in Scotland in the aftermaths of 9/11, 7/7, the murder of Kriss Donald or indeed the killing of any Scottish serviceman in Iraq, it is quite hard to see just why Sarwar thinks there might be such a 'backlash' now.
If I didn't know better, I might think that his invocation of a 'backlash' is an attempt to demonise an entire community.
And that wouldn't be very nice at all.
The webpage linked to above begins,
"Scotland's only Muslim MP has said that threats have been made towards members of the Muslim community, following the Glasgow Airport attack.

Mohammad Sarwar told BBC Scotland that he had received calls from people who had been threatened or targeted by abusive graffiti."
Hopefully Sarwar has passed verifiable contact details for everyone who's been in touch with him to the police, so that they can take appropriate action. I might even contact his office in the next few days to confirm that this has been done.
And it would be very helpful if anyone could track down the Lanarkshire graffiti allegedly saying, "Kill all Pakis starting with Mohammad Sarwar". As most of the footage taken from bystanders at Glasgow Airport has proven, cameraphones are wonderful little geegaws, and their users never seem to go anywhere without them.
Yet such incidents as have occurred within the last forty-eight hours inevitably bring out the best, and the worst, in some people; people such as Scottish Nationalist MSP Kenny MacAskill.
The BBC reports that,
"Two men arrested in Scotland in connection with the Glasgow Airport attack are not "home-grown terrorists", Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said.

His comments followed searches of a number of homes in Neuk Crescent, Houston, Renfrewshire.

Mr MacAskill said the suspects were not "born or bred" here but had lived in Scotland for a "period of time".

"For any suggestion to be made that they are home-grown terrorists is just not true," he added."
Jihadists might be driving burning 4 x 4's full of gas tanks into the concourse of Glasgow Airport, throwing Molotov cocktails as they go; but as yet, Scottish civic nationalism's shibboleths remain undisturbed.
So all's still well with the world; and a man's a man, for a' that.

Rainbow Scotland's Priorities

The Sunday Herald, by habit and repute the advance guard of Scotland's eneuretic left, reports that, after what appears to be an attempt by Muslims to perpetrate the mass murder of non-Muslims at Glasgow Airport,
"The police chief leading the investigation into the terrorist attack at Glasgow Airport last night described it as a horrendous criminal act. Sir William Rae, chief constable of Strathclyde Police, said that the impact of the incident had been felt by all members of the community and warned that any harassment of members of ethnic minorities would be "robustly dealt with".
As indeed it should be; however, and I know this might be churlish, perhaps some members of the ethnic majority might have felt a little more secure had Rae given an equivalent assurance to the effect that he and his officers will deal 'robustly' with those members of ethnic minorities who seem to wish to kill us.
He's a busy man, I know...it was probably on the tip of his tongue...