Quotulatiousness

July 28, 2014

Britain’s “Trojan Horse” schools

Filed under: Britain, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:26

In The Spectator, Douglas Murray wonders when the moderate Muslims are going to speak out over the “Trojan Horse” scandal:

The Trojan Horse reports are in, and they make for damning reading. ‘An aggressive Islamist agenda… a coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos’. Teachers who claimed that the Boston marathon bombing and the murder of Lee Rigby were in fact hoaxes and an ‘Attack on Islam’. And so on. The grim details are out. But there is a story behind this story which has not been thought about, though it ought to be. That is the response of Britain’s Muslim communities to these awful revelations.

Ever since 9/11 a considerable appeal from the non-Muslim majority in the West has been ‘where are the moderates? Where are the moderate voices who are willing not just to excuse or remain silent in the face of their religion’s extremists, but to actually stand up and say ‘these people are bringing our faith into disrepute, we recognise it, we hate it, and we are going to actually push them out of the faith.’ The unwillingness of more than a tiny number of Muslims to actually stand up and speak out as well as push out the extremists is very noticeable to non-Muslims. Indeed, I would suggest that it is one of the largest contributing factors to the hardening of attitudes across Europe towards Islam in general (see here for some interesting polling on this).

So when the story of Birmingham schools emerged – with stories of the most appalling racism against white people and disgusting bigotry against Christians, gay people and others – it should have provided a fine opportunity for what is generally termed the ‘moderate majority’ to make their voices heard. Granted, the ‘Trojan Horse’ story started strangely and plenty of us were uncomfortable about writing or speaking about it until we knew what the facts were behind the allegations in the original document. But, once the press and then the official investigations got underway, it became clear that, whatever the origin of the document, what it alleged was true. It has now been repeatedly found to be true.

Yet the response of Muslim communities has not been to accept this and to do something about tackling it. Far from it. The official responses have almost to a man and woman been denial, evasion and a fall-back onto claims of ‘Islamophobia’ and racism.

US government department to be replaced by Google

Filed under: Business, Government, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:18

The National Journal‘s Alex Brown talks about a federal government department facing the end of the line thanks to search engines like Google:

A little-known branch of the Commerce Department faces elimination, thanks to advances in technology and a snarkily named bill from Sens. Tom Coburn and Claire McCaskill.

The National Technical Information Service compiles federal reports, serving as a clearinghouse for the government’s scientific, technical, and business documents. The NTIS then sells copies of the documents to other agencies and the public upon request. It’s done so since 1950.

But Coburn and McCaskill say it’s hard to justify 150 employees and $66 million in taxpayer dollars when almost all of those documents are now available online for free.

Enter the Let Me Google That for You Act.

“Our goal is to eliminate you as an agency,” the famously grumpy Coburn told NTIS Director Bruce Borzino at a Wednesday hearing. Pulling no punches, Coburn suggested that any NTIS documents not already available to the public be put “in a small closet in the Department of Commerce.”

H/T to Jim Geraghty for the link. He assures us that despite any similarities to situations portrayed in his recent political novel The Weed Agency, he didn’t make this one up.

Mark Knopfler – Brothers in arms

Filed under: Media — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:36

Uploaded on 28 May 2008

Mark Knopfler from his promo tour for Kill to Get Crimson, live in Berlin 2007.

QotD: Absinthe

Filed under: Health, History, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

True absinthe (the name is from a Greek word meaning “undrinkable”) has been illegal in most places for a long time. It is, or was, flavoured with the herb wormwood, which, as the French authorities noticed after years of using absinthe in their army to combat fever, “acts powerfully on the nerve-centres, and causes delirium and hallucinations, followed in some cases by idiocy” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). The perfectly wholesome successors to absinthe are flavoured with anise, or aniseed. The result always reminds me, not unpleasantly, of those paregoric cough-sweets children ate before the war, and I see that paregoric does contain aniseed, but throws in opium, camphor and benzoic acid as well, so I am probably just being nostalgic. Anyway, when recipes call for absinthe, as they can still do if their compilers and revisers have been too ignorant or lazy to make the change, use Pernod or Ricard instead.

Kingsley Amis, Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis, 2008.

July 27, 2014

Teddy Bridgewater as the “anti-Manziel”

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:49

The Vikings traded back into the bottom of the first round of the 2014 NFL draft to take Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as their second pick in the first round (after linebacker Anthony Barr). Many Vikings fans wanted the team to take Johnny Manziel as the team’s quarterback of the future (I wasn’t among them … I thought Manziel would be too much of a media circus attraction for the Vikings). 1500ESPN‘s Judd Zulgad says that Bridgewater has been almost the exact opposite of the ongoing media extravaganza that is Johnny Manziel:

Johnny Manziel has spent much of his time since being selected in the first round of the NFL draft this spring fetching himself as many drinks as possible and calling attention to himself at every turn.

Teddy Bridgewater, meanwhile, has done everything in his power to maintain a low profile and hasn’t been photographed once with an alcoholic beverage near him. But Bridgewater might have left himself open for a photo op at one point Friday when he did have a drink in hand, although it was not of the alcoholic variety.

“He actually got me a Gatorade today, which I was really thankful for,” veteran quarterback Matt Cassel said of his rookie teammate.

Bridgewater would qualify as the anti-Manziel.

Manziel is cocky to a fault and before he’s even neared NFL stardom, or played in a regular-season game, he’s allowed his celebrity to continue to go to his head. It sounds as if this has left the Cleveland Browns wondering exactly what they have gotten themselves into.

Bridgewater, whom the Vikings took with the final pick in the first round of the May draft after making a trade with Seattle, not only doesn’t come across as brash, he’s getting sports drinks for the guy he ultimately would like to beat out of a spot for the starting job.

“Right now, my main focus is just getting better each and every day,” Bridgewater said Friday after completing the first training camp practice of his NFL career. “I’m going to continue to just push Matt and Coach Zim (Mike Zimmer) is going to make the best decision for the team. If the coaching staff feels that (I’m ready), that’s when my number will be called. But until then my role is just to continue to push Matt and make the quarterback room a better room.”

(more…)

Al Stewart (finally) goes back to Bournemouth

Filed under: Britain, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:03

A long time ago, in an English town most of you have never heard of…

He has achieved huge success as a singer-songwriter and has – by his own reckoning – made and lost a million dollars three times.

But although he long ago moved to California, Al Stewart remembers in vivid detail his life as a pop-obsessed teenager in Wimborne.

He will be back in the town on Friday, August 1, for a sold-out concert at the Tivoli – and to visit his old home at Canford Bottom.

“I got a very nice message from the person who now lives in the house I grew up in,” he told the Daily Echo from California.

“This lady invited me to look at my old bedroom.

[...]

After leaving school, Stewart went to work at Beales in Bournemouth – not in the record department, but in the linen department.

He also played guitar with The Tappers, who later backed a young Tony Blackburn as he attempted to become a pop star.

When Stewart joined Dave La Kaz and the G-Men, Jon presented the band to the Echo, claiming hyperbolically that the guitarist had written 40-50 songs.

Bournemouth’s music scene was thriving at the time.

Manfred Mann were a weekly attraction throughout 1963.

Stewart knew Andy Summers, later of the Police, and remembers sitting in Fortes coffee shop off Bournemouth Square with star-to-be Greg Lake and Lee Kerslake, who would later become drummer with Uriah Heep.

He took 10 guitar lessons from Robert Fripp.

But the biggest star of the local scene, he recalls, was Zoot Money, whose walk he would mimic behind the singer’s back.

In August 1963, The Beatles played six nights at the Gaumont cinema in Westover Road.

Not only were Al Stewart and Jon Kremer there on the first night, but afterwards, they contrived a ruse to meet the band. Stewart tells the story on stage, while Jon Kremer set it down in his memoir Bournemouth A Go! Go!

Wearing suits, the pair managed to get backstage by telling the manager that they were from the Rickenbacker guitar company.

Before long, they found themselves outside the band’s dressing room.

Having dropped the Rickenbacker pretence, they spent a few minutes chatting with John Lennon and trying his guitar.

“People tend to forget that we weren’t living in an age of mega-security,” Stewart recalled.

“You can’t just walk backstage and talk to Justin Timberlake. In those days it was very lax.”

Not directly related to the story, but one of my favourite arrangements of “Year of the Cat”, in a live performance from 1979:

Floating HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time

Filed under: Britain, Military — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:02

Three hours of careful work compressed into a short video:

QotD: Qui veut tout défendre ne sauve rien (Who defends everything defends nothing)

Filed under: Military, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

This is an elementary and self-evident Principle. Indeed, it is so axiomatic that few examples of it will be given in these pages. The only point to stress is that it is useless to hope to obtain complete security in passive defense. It is also unsound. “He who tries to defend everything saves nothing.” declared Marshal Foch, echoing Frederick the Great. It should be noted that the very act of assuming the offensive imparts a certain degree of security. Make as if to strike a man, and he instinctively assumes a defensive attitude. As General Rowan Robinson expresses it in his Imperial Defence, “The highest form of strategic security is that obtained through the imposition of our will upon the enemy, through seizing the initiative and maintaining it by offensive action.” There may sometimes be an element of risk in this, but, as we have seen, war in its nature involves risk.

Lt. Colonel Alfred H. Burne, The Art of War on Land, 1947.

July 26, 2014

Summer – one of the last cultural strongholds of the Patriarchy

Filed under: Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 15:30

It seems so innocent, but as Brian Willett warns us, it’s the Patriarchy and we’re soaking in it:

Take baseball and fireworks. A symbol of phallic expression and a symbol of phallic completion. Ever wonder why so many teams have fireworks after games or home run?

Grilling out seems like a relatively benign activity (except for the cow that gave its life). But really examine it. A man using yet another extension of himself to poke and prod at something that never even had the opportunity to say no.

Of course, he can only grill out after he’s placated his troglodyte need to smother his lawn in bee colony-destroying pesticides and then destroy it with an emissions-spewing mower. All for the sake of satisfying his id.

Or perhaps we can talk about the beauty of marriage. Or, as some call it, a contract with man and his property. Or do you really still believe that an engagement ring is steeped in loving, Christian tradition?

Royal Navy commander may have had affair with crew member

Filed under: Britain, Military — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:04

From the Guardian, a report on a current investigation into a Royal Navy officer who may have had an affair with a subordinate:

The first female commander of a major Royal Navy warship has left her vessel after claims she had an affair with a shipmate.

Commander Sarah West, 42, took charge of Type 23 frigate HMS Portland in May 2012.

It is understood she has left the ship while the navy investigates the claims. Her second-in-command has taken over the running of the vessel, but West is still the commanding officer.

The navy inquiry will consider whether West breached the armed forces’ code of social conduct, which governs personal relationships within the military. Possible punishments for a breach include a formal warning, reassignment and even termination of service.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: “We are aware of an allegation of a breach of the code of social conduct on board HMS Portland, which we are treating seriously.

“Anyone who is found to fall short of the Royal Navy’s high standards can expect to face appropriate action. It would be inappropriate to comment further.”

West made headlines when she became the first female commander of a frontline warship in the 500-year history of the service.

But earlier this year she explained how work commitments made it difficult to have a relationship.

First day of Vikings training camp

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:06

By the rules of the current collective bargaining agreement, NFL teams are not allowed to put on the pads and run contact drills until after the first two days of training camp. This is probably intended to allow players to come up to speed in those two days and reduce the chances of early injuries. Despite that, the first day of Vikings training camp saw three players added to the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, two players cut between morning and afternoon sessions (WR Josh Cooper and T Matt Hall), and two new wide receivers added to the roster (Ty Walker and Andy Cruse).

Arriving on Thursday, reporters saw that tight end Chase Ford was in a walking boot and discovered that he’d had foot surgery earlier this month and may not be fit to play until the start of the regular season. Ford also announced this on social media, which got him into some hot water with coach Mike Zimmer. Free agent pickup Captain Munnerlyn is on PUP with a hamstring issue and safety Andrew Sendejo is on PUP with a back issue. More disturbing to the fans at training camp was the news that Cordarrelle Patterson is also hobbled with a minor injury and won’t be cleared to practice for a while.

And that was just the first day of camp, with no contact.

(more…)

A hit, a palpable hit!

Filed under: Cancon, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:02

Canadian lit’rit’cher. An easy target for parody. Too easy:

Every Canadian Novel Ever
Nicole Cliffe

1. Will the Cod Return, Or Must We Move to Toronto?

2. Only the Jews Know Montreal

3. The Next Three Chapters Are Set in the 1830s Bush For No Reason But Then We’ll Be Back to This 1970s University Women’s Studies Department

4. She Briefly Considers Moving to the States For Her Career But Then Realizes She Must Stay With Her People

5. O Cabbagetown!

6. I Remember When There Was LOADS of Cod and We Played Scottish Reels to Entertain Ourselves

7. In Which Blondes From Westmount Fail to Sleep With You

8. This Children’s Toy That Holds Great Meaning For You Will Be Broken Like Your Spirit

9. You Thought It Was Me Talking To You, But It’s Been My Sister All Along, I Am Dead Because of a Man

10. Magical Realism But It’s Just Gothic Southern Ontario Having, Like, Two Magical Elements

Actually, some of these sound more interesting than the actual not-technically-mandatory-but-seems-that-way Canadian Content.

QotD: French “ultra-liberalism”

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Europe, Government, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

The French press, media and intellectuals castigate ad nauseam what they call the ‘ultra-liberalism’ of the present-day western world: and their characterization, as intellectually lazy as it is inaccurate, now goes virtually by default. Very few are the commentators who see through its inaccuracy. That a country whose public sector accounts for more than half of economic activity, and which is as highly-administered as France (and, it must be said, often well-administered, for who would not rather go on the Paris Metro than the New York Subway?), cannot plausibly be described as ‘ultra-liberal,’ ought to be perfectly obvious even on the most casual reflection, but alas it is not. If France is ultra-anything it is ultra-corporatist, but even that would be an exaggeration. And so present discontents are laid at the door of ultra-liberalism, though in fact a considerable proportion of the resentments and discontents of the young who approve of M’Bala M’Bala are attributable to the rigidity of the French labor market, which is caused precisely by an illiberal nexus of protections and restrictions.

The problem, then, is not ultra-liberalism but insufficient liberalism. The difference between France and other western countries, incidentally, is one of degree and not of type, though even degree can be important: illiberalism in the French labor market has in a matter of a few years turned London into one of the largest French-speaking cities in the world.

Theodore Dalrymple, “Illusions of Control in the Omnicompetent French State”, Library of Law and Liberty, 2014-01-07

July 25, 2014

A glimpse of Firefly Online

Filed under: Gaming, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:59

Published on 24 Jul 2014

Firefly Online (FFO) is an online strategic roleplaying game set in the universe of Joss Whedon’s cult classic TV show – Firefly.

Players take on the role of a ship captain as they hire a crew and lead missions, while trading with and competing against millions of other players like themselves. Much like the crew of Serenity, the Firefly-class transport ship featured in the original show, players must do whatever it takes to survive in the Verse: find a crew, find a job and keep flying.

Currently in development for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. For more info or to register go to www.keepflying.com.

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:29

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The next chapter of the Living Story will be The Dragon’s Reach, Part 1 and the teaser video for it set off mass speculation among the lore fans. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

GuildMag logo

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