Over the Sea to Where?

I’m glad I visited the Isle of Skye when I had the chance. Thursday it will be no more.

The jewel of the Hebrides will not sink beneath the waves, but rather under the weight of political correctness. The Highland Council has decreed that the island should shed it’s “Anglicised slave name” and now only be known as Eilean a’ Cheo.

This follows the Western Isles changing its name to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. I didn’t even know about this until I read about Skye. But then I’ve never been known to be one for political correctness.

If you think Eilean a’ Cheo is the ancient name for the island, you’d be wrong. Most Gaelic speakers call it An t-Eilean Sgitheanach. The latter means “Winged Isle” while the new adopted name means “Isle of Mists”, previously used as a poetic nickname for Skye.

Not everyone on Skye is happy about this. Less than half the island speaks Gaelic. It would be like everyone in Welsh-speaking West Wales telling the majority English speakers of Pembrokeshire they would no longer being able to refer to Pembroke or Milford Haven or Haverfordwest. It would even be like not calling them Penfro or Aberdaugleddau or Hwlffordd but rather giving them new names out of the Mabinogion or The Book of Taliesin.

The unhappiness is more practical as well. Each year 250,000 tourists bring in £90 million to Skye. This is what keeps Skye alive. Go changing the name and people may have just a little trouble finding their destination or even booking their holidays, especially since the council is changing the name on all of their documents and tourists inquiring about travelling to Skye will be encouraged to use the new name. Political correctness may come at a high price.

St Edelienta

When we stayed in Cornwall a couple of years ago, we stayed near the village of St Edellion. As with so many places named after local saints, the place becomes part of the local fabric whilst the story of the saint is lost to the modern or post-modern age. Thus even though we passed by repeatedly we never stopped to see the remains of the shrine of St Endelienta.

She was quite a lady. She was a daughter of St Brychan, King of Brycheiniog, namesake of the town of Brecon and the county of Brecknockshire (now absorbed into the county of Powys). St Brychan sired many saintly sons and daughter – the most common number given is 24.

St Edelienta chose to join a number of her siblings as missionaries from Wales to north Cornwall. She was very ascetical and lived on the milk of one cow and well water. The cow was killed by, or on the orders of a local chieftain, when it strayed onto his land. The chieftain was killed by others in retaliation, outraged at the injustice. Various stories connect this revenge King Arthur (either he sent someone to do it or did it himself), but this is extremely unlikely for reasons that would take too long here.

Was appears to be undisputed is that the local chieftain and the cow were both brought back to life by St Edelienta.

The site of the church bearing her name is also a result of her last wishes. She asked that her body be put on a cart, yoked to two unguided bulls and that they be left to take her wherever they liked. The church was built at the place where they stopped. Her shrine remained there until the Reformation, when the whole miracle thing was not popular with the Protestants and it was demolished.

A troparion in her honour:

O holy Endelienta,/ when thy cow, thine only source of sustenance, was cruelly killed,/ thy heart was filled with forgiveness for the slaughterer./ Pray to Christ our God/ that we may ever forgive our enemies/ and ourselves find mercy.

St Endelienta, pray to God for us.

Mistakes

If it wasn’t evident before that Tony Blair is leaving the premiership sooner than Watford Football Club, it is now. Tony’s actually admitting mistakes. No one in politics admits mistakes unless they have no future.

First he admitted that he failed on his pledge that everyone would have an NHS dentist by 2001, no matter where they lived. Six years later, less than half of adults are registered. This is fewer than when Labour came to power.

This week, commenting on a 10-year-old given an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) after committing 60 offenses (including assault, criminal damage, drinking in public and swearing at police), Blair admitted that money won’t solve all of the problems of this sort, or does it help to blame society.

A couple of days ago, there was a lot of publicity about a 10-year-old given an Asbo, with his father given a parenting order. Of course it’s shocking that a 10-year-old was causing such mayhem. But the answer, I’m afraid, is neither to give his father more benefit or for society to explain why such behaviour is wrong.

And go and ask the community if they would prefer the Asbo not to exist.

What I have learnt over these 10 years is that the original analysis I had was incomplete and therefore misguided, ie, guiding us to the wrong policy conclusion, not in the sense that investment in poorer neighbourhoods and regeneration was wrong – it has been absolutely right – but in the sense that it will not deal with this small and unrepresentative minority.

Reading this, it only seems logical that Tony should join the Old Tory party when he leaves office. Of course he’ll be the only one, because with David Cameron the Tories have all adopted New Labour policies.

More of the Ills of Socialised Medicine

Last week we learned there may be a lot less radiation around hospitals this summer. This is a bad thing, because if doctors want to know what is going on inside your body they may have to resort to more guesswork than usual. The Society of Radiographers has voted to consider industrial action if the government does not reverse its decision to stage a 2.5% pay rise.

This comes on the heels of the 22,300 NHS jobs that have been cut in the last 18 months. Because of what have been called “recruitment flaws” due to a computer selection process, there are more than 34,000 junior doctors are chasing 18,500 UK posts. The Government’s current plan is to ship some of them out in a deal with Voluntary Service Overseas. Over half of those surveyed, however, have said they will go abroad looking for work.

Now we know they’ve cut training places for a variety of skilled professions, even though these are needed to meet the needs of the health-care seeking population. Seems they don’t meet the needs of the NHS budget. In fact, the money that had already been allocated for training was needed elsewere, so those funds have been raided. Read more of this post

Who’s Who?

The Government has admitted that it has lost 9 million national insurance numbers. Just like a social security number in the States an NI number is a powerful thing.

Ocassionally frausters get caught. Recently Adesola Adelana, Stephen Ayankoya and Adetutu Olowe stole 37 numbers in total and used them to help open 11 bank accounts, obtain eight forged driving licences and access nine credit cards. They also attempted to obtain £357,000 in tax credits.

Often they don’t get caught and there is no telling how the numbers have been used in the same manner as Adelana, Ayankoya and Olowe.

The scariest thing was outlined by the Opposition.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said he was alarmed at the admission, primarily because the Home Office intends to use the NI database as the model for setting up Britain’s national identity card scheme in 2009.

“The Government cannot know who is in this country and who is entitled to what,” he said.

“How can they claim the integrity of their £20 billion ID card database, which will hold dozens of pieces of information on every citizen in the country, will be protected?”

 This follows on last month revelation that 10,000 false passport were issued by the Home Office last year. 10,000. A Government minister indicated that this is the number than slipped through out of the 16,500 fraudulent application.

Yet Another Scandal

Labour is expected to lose and lose big in the local elections this week. There has been much speculation about whether the Prime Minister would plan his depature from office for just before or after the elections to absorb some of the media attention away from the results.

And with Labour in bad shape, now is not the time to find out that The Sunday Times planted an undercover reporter amongst Labour campaigners in Leeds.

Keith Wakefield, the leader of the Labour group on Leeds city council, told party canvassers to help voters, many of whom were elderly, to complete their postal ballots. Student activists, including an undercover reporter, were then told by another councillor to take away the postal voting forms, hide them as they left people’s homes and only post them later if they were for Labour.

The councillor, Graham Hyde, admitted, in a secretly tape-recorded meeting, that he thought the instructions to collect the postal votes were “illegal”. Hyde, a parliamentary aide to a former Labour whip, warned the student activists that after collecting votes: “Don’t get caught with any on you. We are not supposed to collect them.” He even joked about flushing postal ballots down the lavatory if they were for the Liberal Democrats.

Scandals are not uncommon in any political party or political system. Why is it, however, that, Watergate – the notable exception – aside, electoral scandals seem to always involve the liberal end of the spectrum, whether Democrats in the US or Labour in the UK? This is even true historically. In 1888, when the Republicans were the liberals, they brought in voters to Indiana and paid them to vote Republican.

Why is it that parties that claim to be parties of the people never trust the people to do their job?

Wedded Bliss

My usual flurry of Saturday posting was not possible yesterday, as we were doing a wedding all day.

My H’s best friend from her school days tied the knot sometime between 12:30 and 1. The service itself, as is true of most weddings I’ve attending, was a reasonably perfunctory affair.  Then there were photos done in the church yard. I’d never seen this before, but it seems common over here.

We went from the church to the reception at a golf course. There was a sit down meal at 3:00. People then just sat around drinking all afternoon. There was a huge bouncy castle with a boucy slide and a mechanical bull for the amusement of various ages.  You would have thought the former would have entertained the children and the latter the adolescents and young adults, but you would have thought wrong. There were very big people bouncing down the slide and both tiny tots and old men riding the bull. A drunk Welshman on a bull can be quite a sight. Mrs H even had a go and she was completely sober.

Not long after the disco started, they provided a buffet. The big hit with the buffet was the chocolate fountain. Having had one of these at Papa’s party in Texas, the kids knew exactly what to do. Aidan was covered in chocolate. I’m glad his suit was much cheaper than Abby’s dress, because it is not the same colour it was 24 hours ago.

After the buffet, the groom’s brothers set off fireworks. I can’t imagine how much they spent on them, because it was like Bonfire Night. There was added excitement due to the fact that the pyrotechnicians were bladdered and there was no sign of health and safety.  The whole thing could have gone up at once. At one point they got up on a hill on the golf course and lauched the rockets horizontally at low altitude. It was a bit like an artillery bombardment.

The disco in the evening went on until 1:00 am. Abigail was quite fleet of foot on the dance floor, spinning around in her dress. (As expensive as it was, I’m glad she got some mileage out of it.) Mrs H went the distance, though I took Abby home at about 11:00.

Society Without Boundaries

The ladette culture is getting younger and younger. It has been revealed that girls 11-13 are drinking 83% more alcohol than they were six years ago. Alcohol Concern, a national voluntary agency on alcohol misuse funded by the Department of Health, has also released information showing that for boys in the same age group, the increase is 43.4%.

In my experience as a teacher, I find this unsurprising. My students in that age group as a whole are very conversant with the drinking culture. Some are open about their drinking. By the time they are 14 or 15, they find it absolutely incredible that someone would suggest to them that drinking to the point of drunkeness is in some way inappropriate. And just like the number indicate, it is girls who are more brazen about this.

Unfortunately, Alcohol Concern’s response to this is to urge the Government to make it illegal for anyone, including parents, to provide alcohol to anyone under 15. This takes away parental responsibility to teach the appropriate use of alcohol. This will especially impact Jewish families who may have their children partake of a bit of the Sabbat wine. It also affects children taking Communion. After all, in the Orthodox Church, infants are provided with wine from the time of their baptism. In the Roman Church, they are communing from about seven years old. It may be the Most Precious Blood, but to an unbelieving policeman and prosecutor, they may not be able to discern between the accidents and the true reality.

Existing laws are sufficient to tackle the problem. It is not the law, it is the enforcement. It is the 14 and 15 year olds drinking in pubs and clubs and buying from the off-license. It is those who informally supply young teens with drink.

It is no surprise a society that practices complete hedonism sees its children picking up the worst aspects of it. A binge drinking culture will have binge drinking children. A completely promiscuous society will have a huge teen pregnancy problem.

Morality knows no age restrictions. These are false barriers that a society erects when it wants to protect the innocent from its own decisions. They are used to justify bad behaviour and immorality. These arbitrary limits by their nature proclaim there is a time when it is appropriate for a person to do what is right in their own eyes. But just like in the book of Judges, everytime a society does what it right in its own eyes, it only brings the judgment of God.

In this country, it has given us a binge drinking culture with children suffering from alcohol-related diseases formerly only known in the aged after intemperate lives. It has led to 500 abortions in this country every day, about 20% of which are performed on teenagers. It has led to unprecedented levels of robbery and vandalism, almost all of which are attributed to youthful offenders.

In the end it costs the society itself in so many ways.

Warmth

I was going to write about this before I saw the data today. I was think just yesterday that the weather feels more like June than April. Aprils when I was in the UK in the early 90s were nothing like this. Even when I moved here at the turn of the millenium, they weren’t this warm.

In fact, this is going to be the warmest April since records began in 1659. It seems like the temperature has been more than the 3.4 degrees Celcius above normal indicated by the Met Office.

The downside to this warmth seems to be the sunshine associated with it. It’s been warm and dry all over Europe.  While this has been good for businesses like sidewalk cafes, it’s not been so good for crops. There are already signs of drought. It is already evident in Hungary, where April temperatures were 5-6 degrees above normal. We may even be headed for a repeat of last year’s summer heat wave.

The UK is not headed for the same drought conditions as the continent, because whilst the temperatures were quite moderate, we had a rather wet winter.

Of course news like this brings the global warming crowd out.  They want to attribute all of this to anthropogenic sources. What they don’t like to tell you is that even though this is the warmest April on record it’s not that much hotter than some other times on record. It may be 3.4 degrees above normal, but it is only 0.5 degrees above the average in 1865.

These this come and go in cycles. Rather than trying to place blame with whatever capitalist enterprise most irritates the left-wing loony ideology of the global warming activists, more should be invested in predicting the cycles and planning for them.

Crime Time

It’s crime stats time again, boys and girls.

The Home Office has released the information for the last three months of 2006. They compare that quarter to the same period in 2005. According to their figures, overall crime dropped by two percent. The only thing is I can’t figure out what crimes have declined.

Robberies rose by eight percent to their highest level in three years. Some places are worse than others. London is always the worst and can often account for half of the robberies in the country. However, they have risen by more than a third in Nottinghamshire and by more than 50% in Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

It wasn’t just robberies on the rise. Drugs offences were up by three percent. Somehow criminal damage rose by only one percent while vandalism was up by eleven percent.

With the number of truants from school and the number post-16s not in employment, education or training continuing to rise, I can predict this trend will continue over the next few years.

Settling for Intolerance

East Allen County is safe from free speech and kindness once again.

I’m dumbfounded. I would have thought that Amy Sorrell could have taken the East Allen County Schools to the cleaners.

She was suspended from her teaching post because in overseeing the student newspaper, she allowed a student-authored op/ed suggesting straight students should be tolerant of students who are gay. She has agreed to a settlement wherein she is transferred to another school in the northeast Indiana district. However, she can only teach English. She is barred from teaching journalism for three years.

That’ll teach her to allow students to be tolerant of others.

A Case for Cohabitation

The House of Lords, which in addition to being the upper house of the legislature is also the final court of appeal, has struck yet one more nail in the coffin of marriage in this country. In Stack v. Dowden, the law lords, whose decisions carry even more precedent in this country than the SCOTUS does in the US, have essentially given divorce rights to unmarried couples in the area of real property.

This affects a lot of people. As Baroness Hale of Richmond in her speech (opinion) wrote,

People embarking on their first serious relationship more commonly cohabit than marry. Many of these relationships may be quite short-lived and childless. But most people these days cohabit before marriage – in 2003, 78.7% of spouses gave identical addresses before marriage, and the figures are even higher for second marriages. So many couples are cohabiting with a view to marriage at some later date – as long ago as 1998 the British Household Panel Survey found that 75% of current cohabitants expected to marry, although only a third had firm plans.

One-sixth of couples in this country are cohabiting and 40 percent of children are born out of wedlock. The reason there aren’t more cohabiting couples is that after they have started having children, they often decide to get married, as they assume that because they have they will be staying together. As a matter of statistics, couple who have previously cohabited are much more likely to get divorced that couples who have not, but no one tells them this at the registry office.

Now it will be less messy to split up, so fewer may even bother to get married. Before this ruling, unmarried couples had to spend a great deal of time and money in court arguing for their share of property owned jointly.  The ruling in Stack, published yesterday, says there is a presumption of fifty-fifty ownership.

Because Parliament has chosen not to act to address and accomodate all the changes in social mores, Lady Hale also opined, “. . .the evolution of the law of property to take account of changing social and economic circumstances will have to come from the courts rather than Parliament.” Sounds like a bit of an activist judiciary to me.

The Cost of Conservatism

The conservative/liberal split in the Anglican church has become deadly.

A British missionary was fatally poisoned after helping to prevent a London vicar from becoming a bishop in Central Africa, The Times has learnt.

It appears that Canon Rodney Hunter was a little too conservative in his views. He had been in Malawi for many years and really considered himself Malawian rather than English. He was a mentor to the Archbishop of the very conservative Province of Central Africa and had taught him in seminary.

He opposed the election of the liberal Rev Nicholas Henderson as Bishop of Lake Malawi, because in contrast to Canon Hunter,

Mr Henderson, Vicar of St Martin’s Acton West and All Saints’ Ealing Common, was elected as Bishop of Lake Malawi last August. He had known the region for 18 years, raising funds for religious, social and humanitarian projects, and was learning the local language, Chichewe. At the time, few in Malawi knew of his record as a leading liberal theologian and that he had been chairman of the Modern Churchpeople’s Union. There was also concern in Africa at reports that he had a male lodger.

As a result, the Primate of Central Africa, the Most Rev Bernard Malango, wrote to Mr Henderson asking him to confirm that he subscribed to the Creeds, the Bible and the Thirty-Nine Articles and that he “fashions his own like and his household according to the doctrine of Christ”.

The diocese’s Court of Confirmation blocked Mr Henderson’s consecration, deeming him “a man of unsound faith”, and instead appointed the retired Bishop of Zambia, the Right Rev Leonard Mwenda.

The Province of Central Africa may be strongly conservative, but that isn’t to say Rev Henderson didn’t have his supporters. Vociferous supporters.

Even though he was living in retirement, appointed assistant priest at All Saints’ Cathedral, he had been physically attacked in the pulpit. Then,

In November Canon Hunter was found dead at his home in Nkhotakota, Malawi, with a strange black substance around his mouth. The day before his death he had complained of severe stomach pains, and postmortem examination has now shown that he was killed by three poisons.

Malawi police have charged his cook with murder and are investigating rumours that the poisoning was organised by supporters of Mr Henderson, who had no knowledge of the alleged plot.

Given the previous violence against him because of his views, I hope the rumours will lead to a trail of evidence.

1.5 Million Memories Eternal

Thanks to the young fogey for reminding me that yesterday marked the 92nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

I have written a number of times about this, including one of my Meanderings.

In an era when it had become a crime in some places to deny the historicity of certain genocides (a policy with which I disagree), in Turkey is it a crime to acknowledge this one.

Even though I’m a day late, may the memory be eternal of those who died by the hands of the Turks.

Another False Witness

It may not have all the glamour of the Duke lacrosse team case, but a 17-year-old girl who should be named, not given anonymity because of her age, destroyed the life of a Bradford taxi driver.

He lost his livelihood and his house and his reputation. She will spend two months in detention.

I’m afraid I have to go with Deuteronomy 19:16-19 again on this one.

Ham, Haram, and Hate Crime

H/T to the Grit and his irrespressive urge to get a fatwa for this story about a middle school student in Maine being investigated for a hate crime. The story is also covered in the local press here.

The reponse seems a bit over the top. In that the student intended to offend Somali students by putting a ham sandwich on their table, I think he should be punished. I don’t think it was appropriate to attack someone’s religious sensibilities regardless of how bizarre they are.

But how bizzare are they? Islam runs along rather broad spectrum when it come to beliefs. On one end of it, you can understand way the late Church Fathers saw Islam as just a really bad heresy rather than a new religion, sort of a Middle Eastern version of Mormonism or Oneness Pentecostalism. On the other end, it’s just plain crazy. That’s the official theological term for it.

One of the victims, whose mother didn’t want his name released, said “we didn’t know what was in this bag. One of my friends reached inside it. It was a big ham steak. There were five of us at the table, all Somali. Right then, I could feel allah condemning me to burn for eternity for being within a 6.2 meter radius of ham, so yeah, it was a hate crime.”

I think he missed the lessons at the madrassah about the Compassionate, Creator God. I mean, I teach Islam for a living – admittedly on a basic level – and I have never seen proximity to meat (or anything forbidden – called haram) as being an immediate ticket to hell. What is with the 6.2 meter thing? I’ve got to go check the Qur’an again.

It brings to mind the words of Melvin Udall in As Good as It Gets.

But here’s another thing: “we didn’t know what was in the bag” and from elsewhere in the article, “That ham sandwich in a bag where we couldn’t even see”. So what are you doing going in the bag? Come on people, put on your thinking caps. Someone leaves a brown bag on your table. He’s white. White people eat pork. The most popular sandwich meat? Ham. If you’re worried about touching something haram, it’s probably going to be in that lunch. I would just assume he didn’t get his sandwich filling from the local halal butcher.

But let’s look at the 6.2 meter thing again. That’s 20.3 feet in real money. They are in a public school cafeteria. Do they stay at least 20 feet away from the serving line and from any students eating pork? Why do I know this is a problem? I checked the menu for the Lewiston Middle School Cafeteria. Today they had Mini Corn Dogs (unclean meat by a lot of standards) and Ham Italian. In fact, whatever else they have, they have Ham Italian every day. So every day the Somalis are within 20 feet of a student eating off a plastic tray, they should feel Allah condemning them to burn for eternity.

And are the students carrying sandwiches from home required to store their food away from any Somalis? If they carry their lunch with them during the day, or if they put it in their locker located with 20 feet of a Somali’s locker and the Somali visits his locker between classes, once again he is condemned to burn for eternity.

This is a school that is both intentionally and negligently bringing Somali students into proximity with pork. Surely the Somalis can bring a lawsuit against the Lewiston Public Schools. If they are going to be politically correct – and wouldn’t we expect anything less from Maine – they must immediately ban all pork from the school. All other meat needs to be purchased only from halal butchers. Any meat not killed in the name of Allah is just as haram as pork.

Then they need to bring the Maine Revised Statutes into line with Sharia.

Did I mention Melvin Udall in As Good as It Gets?

Open Door Policy

When I was still a law student (acting as a certified legal intern) I successfully quashed two search warrants on the same apartment. Even though my client was guilty – the cops found his sizable stash of drugs both times – they didn’t bother to follow the protections of the law in obtaining their warrant. You may think it is a shame that my client went free – though knowing him, probably only temporarily – but Fourth Amendment protects you as well as him from unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant issued by a judge supported by sworn probable cause. Though it may have been compromised in various ways, the citizens of the US still enjoy the rights established under the Fourth Amendment.

There is no Fourth Amendment or any sort of equivalent in the UK. The Centre for Policy Studies has just released Crossing the Threshold a new 112-page report by barrister Harry Snook outlining the 266 powers the state has to enter a home in this country. I haven’t read the whole thing, but it is scary so far. (You can download it if you wish, but I should warn you that your computer may not realise it is a pdf file and you may need to tell it to open with Acrobat Reader.) I have included a few snippets below the fold. Read more of this post

Remembering the Truth About Turkey

The Damien McElroy of the Daily Telegraph has exposed the idea that the Christians martyred in Malatya, Turkey were killed by Islamic radicals like we see elsewhere in the Muslim world. If Malatya were in a area control by fundamentalists, he wouldn’t have been interviewing a woman in a bar drinking a beer.

Referring to the murders, she said, “I don’t think this has a religious root, it’s about nationality. To be Turkish is to be Muslim and so Christians are here working against Turkey.”

This is why I think that Turkey needs to be as secularist as possible, but it will never get away from Islam being the de facto state religion. Further, I don’t think it will ever get beyond Christians being persecuted.

As McElroy notes in his article,

In fact, Christians are a fraction of one per cent of Turkey’s 71 million people but it is common for Turks to complain that evangelical churches are proliferating at an alarming rate. Courts continue to prosecute converts for insulting “Turkishness”. Three members of the Turkish Protestant Church are currently standing trial.

Missionary activity, while not an offence, has been placed on the list of threats to the nation by the National Security Council.

Turkey has no room for religious freedom. On it’s official tourism site, it may try to woo dollars and pounds with statements like, “Turkey is a secular state that assures complete freedom of worship to non-Muslims.”

Why not just say, “Turkey is quasi-secular state that only protects the worship by Muslims, but we’ll leave a few ancient thing laying around for your amusement.” Or how about a slogan like, “Turkey – where Christianity is a thing of the past!” Another that comes to mind: “Turkey – keeping the tradition of Christian martyrdom alive.”

But then the Turkey has always had a thriving economy in truth.

Old Carpet Bag

Has it ever been the practice of US presidential candidates to change their accents whenever they travel to various parts of the country on the campaign trail?

I know candidates try to identify with the voters, so they might be found wearing head gear or casual shirts common to various areas of the country, as they meet cowboys or steelworkers. They address their regional concerns. But pretend to talk like them?

You would have thought that Hillary would have been embarrassed after the last time this was brought to light by the blogosphere. But no, the woman has no shame. No shame at all.

The sad thing is that any Southerner willing to vote for her might actually be impressed her fake accent. As much as it pains me to say it, there are a few idiots in the southland.

H/T to Grit.

For England, Palestine, and St George

Today is the Feast of St George, patron of England and pictured at the top of the right column on this blog.

It is very true that St George fought against a Dragon. St John calls him “the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan”. He received the martyr’s crown on this date in 303, having suffered various tortures before being decapitated.

St George is also the patron of Palestinian Christians, who must stuggle every day, pressed upon all sides – hated by the Jews for being Palestinian and hated by most Palestinians for not being Muslim.

May his example encourage us to fight the good fight.

St George, pray to God for us and for all who seek your intercession!

Some Things Never Change

As is oft mentioned, when Tony Blair came to power in 1997, he promised government than was “whiter than white”. Now in the closing days of his premiership it is more evident that ever before that what we have gotten is blacker than black.

His chief of staff is hours away from being charged in the cash-for-honours scandal. For those on the other side of the Pond still not clear on this, it goes like this, “Loan the Labour Party some money and then write it off as a gift and we will give you a seat in the House of Lords. If you don’t have quite enough millions to fork over, we can still get you a knighthood – no legislative seat, but really looks good on the company stationery.”

It looks like his chief fundraiser and his director of government relations are also still in the crosshairs of the Crown Prosecution Service.

But Tony still has one dirty trick up his sleeve. The Attorney-General (yes, a hyphenated term here) Lord Goldsmith, Tony Blair’s appointee, has the final say in the prosecutions. And the funny thing about Lord Goldsmith is that he is a former Labour donor who was given a peerage by Tony. And he is a member of the Cabinet. Some people think that’s just a bit of a conflict of interest. Unfortunately those people aren’t in power.

The best comment on this comes from Thomas Roderick Dew, who said, “Trace the history of all nations, from the Patriarchs down to present times, and you will find almost all governments to present one continued series of blunders and follies.” (from Lectures on the Restrictive System, Delivered to the Senior Class of William and Mary College, 1829)

The Sharia Exchequer

For 50 years, the Treasury in this country has sold Premium Bonds. They are similar to US Savings Bonds, but with a twist. As the official website notes:

Premium Bonds are an investment where, instead of interest payments, investors have the chance to win tax-free prizes. When someone invests in Premium Bonds they are allocated a series of numbers, one for each £1 invested. The minimum purchase is £100 (or £50 when you buy by monthly standing order), which provides 100 Bond numbers and, therefore, 100 chances of winning a prize. You can hold up to £30,000.

With 23 million bondholders holding £26 billion worth of Premium Bonds nationwide, Premium Bonds are one of Britain’s financial success stories. They are a fun, yet serious way of saving, combining the chance of winning tax-free prizes with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your capital is 100% secure.

As well as the two £1 million jackpots you can win anything from £50 to £100,000 for each Bond number you hold.

Now all this is going to change. Why? Because they don’t comply with Sharia law, according to the Economic Secretary to the Treasury Ed Balls. All other government-sponsored savings products will be similarly examined for compliance with Sharia. According to Balls, “Domestically, we will do everything we can to promote new ways for British Muslims to bank, save and borrow using Islamic finance products.”

Creatures Great and Small

We are only four episodes into the new series of Doctor Who and I can already anticipate the new toys that will shortly become available to Aidan.

So far we have rhinocerous bipeds called Judoon, the android Slabs, Carrionites, Cat People, Pig Men, and a Dalek-Human hybrid. I predict a new alien invasion will join the various creatures that descend from Aidan’s room and take over the floor, couch, and tables downstairs.

I have to wonder how the Doctor decides to wander off to various times and places and yet nearly every single time stumbles into world-threatening situations, only to save civilisation as we (or occasionally as the inhabitants of some other world) know it. The chance of this happening over and over and over again must be astronomical.

The place of Doctor Who in the world of science fiction is secure. With the third episode of this series, the franchise has, with a total of 727,  exceeded the number of episodes in the various incarnations of Star Trek.

Perspective

I am very sad about the massacre at Virginia Tech. I even teared up when reading in The Times about the solidarity as students on other college campuses wore VT colours.

However, I just have to wonder at calling this some sort of national tragedy. Sure, it is a tragedy for the families and friends of the victims. It is even a tragedy for the student body of VT. But it is hardly a national tragedy.

I wonder how much higher the murder count was in the US on that day as opposed to other days. According to the FBI in 2005 there was a murder every 31.5 minutes. There were 16,692 murders or nonnegligent homicides in 2005. The murder rate increased from 2005 to 2006. Seems to me that’s a national tragedy.

And that’s just the murders of the post-partum population. What about the murders of the unborn? There are approximately 3,700 of those each day in the US. Seems to me, that’s even more of a national tragedy. Where are the flags at half-staff for those? Where are the MySpace pages and the FaceBook pages for those victims?

And why do we have such national solidarity when it comes to tragedy? There is gun crime on a massacre scale in Iraq every day. As someone commented on one of Fr Dcn Steve’s blogs, 33 would have been a good day in Iraq. But most of them are Muslims, so I suppose we don’t really have to care.

Yes, it was a bad thing that happened at VT. We just need to get some perspective and care about life extinguished everywhere around us.

Erasing the Competition

How insecure must British Airways be?

As has been reported all over the news here, they have edited the in-flight version of the latest James Bond film. It wasn’t edited for sex or violence, but for the appearance of the owner of a rival airline.

In Casino Royale, Richard Branson has a brief non-speaking cameo as he walks through an airport security scanner. Not on the BA version. He’s only seen from behind.

And BA is very concerned about product placement in films, especially if that product is another airline. The tailfin of a Virgin Airlines plane is intentionally obscured in Casino Royale.

It seems to me that this is rather pointless. After all, if someone is watching the film while on a British Airways flight, they’ve already made their choice of airline. Of course, BA may be worried that if the cabin crew are not being particularly attentive or the food quality is poor, people will be aware there is an alternative next time.

Child’s Play Taleban Style

They may not be in the news much these days, what with everything going on in Iraq, but the Taleban are still around.

When Ghulam Nabi was accused of spying for the United States and providing information that led to an effective air strike, is comes as no surprise that he was executed. His father claims he was a loyal member of the Taleban, and I’m sure that there wasn’t the same care and concern given to matters of evidence and other aspects of a fair trial, but nevermind.

As things Taleban go, this wasn’t particularly remarkable. What did turn heads, if you’ll forgive the pun, was that they used a 12-year-old boy to do the job. Either they are getting short of available personnel or they invoked the Qur’anic equivalent of the Biblical proverb, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Who know, the boy might become a celebrity – something of a Taleban child star. Parts of a video of the beheading were broadcast on the Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV network.

More School Violence

It’s usually not a bad thing for girls to carry Mace for self-defense. It really depends on the kind of mace. This is from the Associated Press:

GARY, Ind. — A 15-year-old girl who allegedly swung a medieval-style weapon at a teacher, striking a student who intervened, told police she was tired of being picked on.

The Lew Wallace High School freshman swung the mace — a spiked ball and chain attached to a wooden stick — at a teacher Thursday morning, said Gary Police detective Sgt. Darlene Breitenstein. Read more of this post

What Not To Wear

These women were on their way to court as defendants. toddlerfight1.jpg

They are (from left to right) the mother, grandmother, and two aunts of two toddlers that were goaded to fight each other while being videotaped. The mother was convicted of child cruelty and the others of inciting child cruelty.

When the little boy, still in diapers, refused to hit his sister in the face, he was called a “wimp” and a “faggot”. At one point one of the women threw a hairbrush to the boy and encouraged him to pick it up and hit his sister.

The 7-minute film was shown in Plymouth Crown Court. The women were heard laughing and urging them to fight. The scenes were described as being “akin to a dog fight”. There were more than 50 shouts of “punch him” or “punch her” or “get him” or “get her”.

Their defense lawyer said the women came from disadvantaged backgrounds and had led difficult lives. “To varying degrees they believed what was happening was either normal or not abhorrent or in some perverted way it was of assistance to the children. This was not a deliberate attempt to harm the children and this offence was not motivated by wickedness. It was pathetic, depressing and sad but not deliberately wicked.”

Yes, this is how deranged some of the underclass is in this country. They though it was normal. I have said over and over that Britain is a much more violent country than the US. The rates of violent crime between the two countries is not even comparable. Is it any wonder?

Beyond that, they think it is appropriate to dress like this for court. With the contempt for authority in schools, it is surprising that they look like this when facing authority as adults? The one in red may be from a disadvantaged background, but surely she could find something to cover her belly.

Meet the Neets

Within three or four weeks (depending on the school) there will be a new influx of Neets flushed into society. That’s when the Year 11s across the country will begin study leave for their GCSEs.

Neet is an acronym for “not in education, employment or training”.

Many of the Year 11s will actually use some of the time to study. At my school, and I am sure at others, incentives have been put into place to get them to attend revision (that’s BritSpeak for “study” or “review in preparation for an exam”) sessions. Their exams are spread out over about a month from mid-May to mid-June.

However, a significant number will not pick up a book or study guide again. Most of them will stumble through exams based on the philosophy that all must have prizes. They will get what will generously be called a “qualification” in a few subjects. Then they will do nothing. Their financial support will be picked up by the state. The number of Neets is rapidly rising and according to the Sunday Telegraph:

More than 1.2 million 16- to 24-year-olds in England, Scotland and Wales – almost a fifth of the age group – are spending their time doing literally nothing, according to a study published last week. Among their ranks are the troubled, the badly educated, and the feckless and work-shy. In the 16 to 19 age bracket, 11 per cent are classed as Neets – double the proportion in Germany and France.

I suppose it is nice to find something where we outrank out main continental competitors besides teenage pregnancy, though clear the two are closely related.

The problem is only going to get worse. As reported today in the Telegraph, one child under six years old is expelled from school every week. In the 2004-05 school year (the latest for which stats are available, though each year continues to be worse than the one before) in primary schools there were:

43,720 suspensions

1,090 exclusions

960 reception year [4-5 years old] pupils suspended

60 reception year pupils excluded

330 pupils suspended for racism

310 suspended for sexual misconduct

150 suspended for drugs and alcohol related incidents

What Fred Said

With regard to the Virginia Tech massacre, we have an oppotunity to find out WWFTD.

Thank to wytammic at Sunflower Desert for reproducing a National Review article by future president Fred Thompson.

I just checked CafePress and it appears that all the WWFTD merchandise is gone. Anyone know what’s happened? I so wanted to get one of those mugs.