Tuesday, 28 November 2017

This England

I was fascinated when at a newspaper party yesterday evening, someone I used to know years ago and got on fine with, embraced me, discovered from the conversation he had come in on that I had voted for Brexit, and said: "I'd rather spend an evening with a child molester than with a Brexiteer."

Ruth Dudley Edwards

I thought I would dip my toe in the political waters once again. It has been an interesting and educational process. And I am struck, not for the first time by the unique degree of self-loathing that a certain kind of middle-class Briton has for their own country.

Monday, 27 November 2017

President Hillary would have been a disaster

Susan Sarandon: ‘I thought Hillary was very dangerous. If she'd won, we'd be at war.’
The worst thing about a victory for Hillary Clinton, apart from her being President, a position for which she is clearly not fit and which would have led to tragic and unnecessary wars (she destroyed Libya, remember), is the empowerment her victory would have given to the Republican and Democratic party establishments - and to the American establishment generally. 

Does the sleep of reason bring forth monsters?

“It is not the slumber of reason that engenders monsters, but vigilant and insomniac rationality” Gilles Deleuze
Is this true? It is true that intellectuals and their ideas engender most of the monsters, but monsters are engendered all the time, whether or not reason slumbers, and reason can mean different things. The rationality of Communism and the Nazis is not probably not rational as Goya's generation understood the word. 

Yet yes - it is usually seeking to organise the world on rational principles that engenders monsters.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

How the brown bear became public enemy number one in rural Romania

A year ago the technocrat environmental minister, Cristiana Pașca Palmer, brought in a law to make hunting bears illegal in Romania. She said that under European law “hunting for money was already illegal”, which seems to me undemocratic - why should countries not decide for themselves? 
The idea that hunting was acting to protect citizens from bears was, she claimed, just a cover for money making. 

Foreign conservationists across the world applauded. Romanians who lived in the countryside did not. A lot of Romanians have been killed or maimed by bears.

As a result a movement have sprung up, centring on the Szecklerland, the ethnic Hungarian region in the Carpathians, to make killing bears legal again. This article in the Guardian has the story (seen from the NGO, not the peasant, point of view).

In the 12 months since the ban, a movement calling for the widespread culling of bears has grown and gathered momentum, tipping the bear question over

Why do people applaud mass murderers (sometimes)?

Charles Manson has died in gaol. He was a cult leader who, in 1971, was found guilty of nine first-degree murders including the murder of actress Sharon Tate, murders which were carried out at his instruction by members of his cult.

Paul Berman writes interestingly about Manson here.

"'There were crazy discussions at Flint over whether killing white babies was inherently revolutionary, since all white people are the enemy. Out of this bizarre thinking came Bernardine’s infamous speech praising Charles Manson and his gang’s murder of actress Sharon Tate, her unborn child, and the LaBiancas. “Dig it!” she exclaimed. “First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach. Wild!” We instantly adopted as Weather’s salute four fingers held up in the air, invoking the fork left in Sharon Tate’s belly. The message was that we shit on all your conventional values, you murderers of black revolutionaries and Vietnamese babies. There were no limits now to our politics of transgression.'

Quotations from Hegel

An idea is always a generalization, and generalization is a property of thinking. To generalize means to think.

To be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great.

We learn from history that we do not learn from history.

Education is the art of making man ethical.


Friendship, “the wine of life,” should, like a well-stocked cellar, be continually renewed; and it is consolatory to think, that although we can seldom add what will equal the generous first growths of our youth, yet friendship becomes insensibly old in much less time than is commonly imagined, and not many years are required to make it mellow and pleasant.
James Boswell's Life of Johnson
When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Starving children in Eastern Ghouta

The Guardian has a harrowing story today about suffering in the siege of Eastern Ghouta in Syria.

The region suffered in the deadly 2013 sarin gas attack that nearly provoked a US intervention in the war, an intervention that might have led to the end, in the long run, of Assad. Ed Miliband's decision to oppose British intervention led to it being defeated in the House of Commons, which led Mr Obama to back down. Things have grown steadily worse since then. Siege Watch, a project that tracks blockades in Syria, has said the area is “on the brink of disaster”.

A story of terrible suffering and I have no wish to defend the Assad regime, but have some questions. Amnesty International says starve or surrender sieges are war crimes, but are they? And why don't rebel troops surrender? I presume inhabitants are being held captive by rebels but Guardian doesn't say a word about this. It reminds me of coverage of Eastern Aleppo.

Russia produces fake news but so does the Guardian, CNN etc.

The Guardian story make no sense. 

Sleeping Beauty ‘fuels culture of sexual assault’

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text

Inspired by the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment, Mrs Sarah Hall, a 40 year-old British PR consultant, was reading a version of Sleeping Beauty to her six-year-old son and decided that it promoted unacceptable non-consensual kissing, reports The Times. She is reported to have said: 

“I think it’s a specific issue in the Sleeping Beauty story about sexual behaviour and consent. It’s about saying, is this still relevant, is it appropriate? In today’s society, it isn’t appropriate — my son is only six, he absorbs everything he sees, and it isn’t as if I can turn it into a constructive conversation."

In the original version of the story the Prince awakened the Sleeping Beauty with something much stronger than a kiss. He impregnated her and she woke during childbirth. The brothers Grimm bowdlerised the story. 

The Prince was committing several crimes at once, in fact. He was a white man, in a position of unfair power in an utterly unjust, unmeritocratic, undemocratic, patriarchal system, first objectifying and then sexually assaulting a woman in a coma.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Laura Perrins: The Tories are the enemy within

Laura Perrins is right to call the British Conservative Party the enemy within. It's now a deeply unconservative party.

As she says in this article:

'The Tories have interfered with the childcare market, causing the costs to rise year in, year out. They want more mothers in work, whether they want to be there or not. They lecture us on what to eat and drink; no detail of our life is beyond government note-taking. Now they have instructed GPs to ask what your sexuality is. This is Nanny turned Nurse Ratched.

Of course Angela Merkel is not finished

Of course that wily fox Angela Merkel is not finished.

She said she'll hold another election in order to get the Social Democrats to return to their alliance with her to save the Republic from AfD.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Brexit is a silly word

A man said to me yesterday, 'We should stop talking about Brexit - Brexit is a silly word - and start talking about independence'.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Today is the Queen's and the Duke of Edinburgh's 70th wedding anniversary

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II's and the Duke of Edinburgh's 70th wedding anniversary. King Michael of Romania attended the wedding, met his future Queen there and surprised the Communists by bravely returning to Bucharest. He was forced to abdicated a few weeks later.

The Queen, the King and the Duke are all with us today but the the King's life is moving peacefully towards its close, in the words that Lord Dawson of Penn, his doctor, used of King George V in 1936. Princess Elizabeth, his granddaughter, was ten then and had no idea that she would one day be queen.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Is the Pope Catholic? Or a liberal Protestant?

A clever, wise, well-known and nice English priest speaking of Pope Francis told me
Don't let him rent space in your head
and I have followed this advice in order not to find myself disagreeing with the successor to St. Peter. 

It hasn't always been possible. I disagree with him passionately when he instructed

Four quotations

"From Bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Many things will die out with my generation

Many things will die out with my generation, which is to say people born in the 1960s. European ethnic states, Christendom, or at least the idea that Europe is Christian, cash, cheque books, land lines and telephone kiosks, much of the English countryside, high streets, masculine dominance. Free speech is already restricted, except in the USA and Eastern Europe. Mothers who cook each evening. Lard. Smoking, I hope. Newspapers made of paper. Privacy. 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Kids are great, you can teach them to hate everything you hate

To quote Homer (Simpson)
"Kids are great. You can teach them to hate everything you hate."
This applies to parents but also to teachers and academics, to nationalistic late 19th century German teachers and left-wing modern British ones.

Romania is lucky that here teachers, like poets and priests, are conservatives, not as in England left-wing.

'We Romanians are individualists'

A Romanian friend of mine said to me 

'We Romanians are individualists but not in the way the Irish are individualists. The Irish are a race of geniuses - we just can't stand one another'. 

Good advice for life

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

J.R.R. Tolkien

When the jail sentence comes, it is best to face it with wintry realism, devoid of bitterness or self-pity. 

Jonathan Aitken

It's awf'lly bad luck

It's awf'lly bad luck on Diana 

Her ponies have swallowed their bits

 She fished down their throats with a spanner 

And frightened them all into fits.

Sir John Betjeman

'Awful', 'frightful' and 'terrible' used 
to be emphatic, or in other words as what grammarians call gradable adverbs, were slang invented by British upper class young people (I was going to write youth but that conjured up an image of inner city gangs) in the 1870s. I know this from Trollope's deservedly forgotten novel Is He Popenjoy? Now it seems those words are going out of fashion, along with 'rather' and 'fairly'. If this professor is right. 

He thinks this may be because they sound middle or upper class. I wonder why it's undesirable to sound middle or upper class.

Saul Bellow disliked Romanians using British words like 'frightful' and I even taught one anti-American Romanian friend to say 'frightfully' in order to annoy Americans. But 'frightfully' is very old fashioned and upper class. It went out a long time ago.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Gordon Brown's memoirs sound unpickupable

From Lord Mandelson's review of Gordon Brown's memoirs. 
Modernisation is too often caricatured as privatisation in this book, and fails to grasp that New Labour’s reform agenda was not in opposition to social justice, but the only way in a changing world to achieve it.
I agree with his lordship on this . This is what the people who think Mr Blair was not left-wing fail to understand. He was hugely successful at transforming Britain in a left wing direction because he presided over economic growth and won three landslide election victories. His two great mistakes, from a Labour point of view, were announcing that he

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Three quotations

You must eat life or it will eat you.  Proverb - but from which country?

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. Albert Schweitzer

To the liberalism they profess, I prefer the liberties we enjoy; to the Rights of Man, the rights of Englishmen. Benjamin Disraeli

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Bridget Jones was Labour

I only know Bridget Jones' Diary in the film version and had no idea till today that Bridget voted Labour.  In this diary entry from four months before Labour took power in 1997, tweeted by someone, she is horrified to find her boyfriend is a Tory. She summarises her political views in a way that seems a little bit topical this week:

Labour stands for sharing, kindness, gays, single mothers and Nelson Mandela as opposed to braying bossy men having affairs with everyone shag shag shag left right and centre and going to the Ritz in Paris then telling all the presenters off on the Today programme.

Many happy returns of the day, Mihaelas, Mihais and Gabis

Image result for mihai gavril lemn icoana

Today is St. Michael and St. Gabriel's Day and people in Romania named after the two archangels receive calls from their friends. Saints' days function pretty much exactly like birthdays. 

King Michael of Romania celebrates his saint's day today. 'O good old man, how well in thee appears the constant service of the antique world.' Many happy returns of SS Michael and Gabriel's Day to His Majesty and all Mihaelas, Mihailas, Mihais, Gabriels and Gabrielas. 1.3 million Romanians out of about 20 million are named after the two archangels.

St Michael's and St Gabriel's day is traditionally the last warm day of the year but this year it doesn't feel warm. 

How nice to live in a country suffused with folk Christianity, where saints' days are universally celebrated, even by atheists. Romania is in many ways more civilised than England.

Shepherds bake a special kind cake today, named “turta arieților” (“the cake of the rams"), today rams are let loose among the sheep and one shepherd – usually the youngest – throws the cake high in the air. If it falls down face-up, many lambs will be born in the spring. If face down, the sheep will have few lambs.

Archangels and angels are not given very much attention these days by the devout in post-Protestant countries like England or America (one exception is this book by Dr. Martin Israel), but in late antiquity they were very much venerated and still are by Romanians, who understand that religion is about the supernatural.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Chaos theory and sexual harassment

Mr. Obama became president because a TV actor wanted sex with his wife outdoors. His own wife, not Mrs. Obama. John Rentoul examines in this article the butterfly effect and the British sexual harassment scandal.

Do not be deceived by Dame Judi Dench exposing herself to Kenneth Branagh and all the other odd disclosures. This witch hunt seems to be about sex but it's really about Theresa May's powerlessness and Brexit.

The British newspapers make no sense today

Press standards in England are abysmal. It seems the information stolen from Appleby, as far as I can see, reveals perfectly respectable tax avoidance not culpable and illegal tax evasion.The papers talk about the need for gun control in America after the latest massacre, but the killer was shot by a brave, armed bystander. There is no intelligent analysis of the Russia-Trump story or the sexual harassment allegations. The Telegraph is almost as bad as the left wing press.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Chancellor of Oxford: Safe spaces at universities are 'fundamentally offensive'

Another story about lack of free speech and Oxford University.

The Chancellor, Lord ('Chris') Patten, addressing the Oxford Union on Thursday afternoon said:

"I was in Hong Kong three or four weeks ago, talking to young men and women who face going to prison because they argue for free speech, and I come back to Britain and I find that people want universities to be full of safe spaces where you can't speak your mind.
"There is a huge difference between having an argument with someone and having a quarrel with them. It's one of the reasons that I find safe spaces at universities or no-platforming so fundamentally offensive.
"It's nothing to do with my view of what university should be like. University should be regarded as liberal, with liberal values of free speech."

The left is the enemy of free speech in China, England and Europe.

But the left includes supposed conservatives like Angela Merkel, who is anxious to prevent free speech on Facebook and Twitter. There are many English equivalents of Mrs. Merkel.

I was shouted down for 40 minutes at Oxford University

Pro-choice students screamed to prevent anti-abortion speakers being heard

Another depressing story. A small meeting of people opposed to abortion in a room at St. John's College, Oxford was in effect prevented from taking place by left-wing yahoos.

Universities should delight in hearing and debating every point of view including fascist and communist ones.

Instead views that were pretty universally held fifty or sixty years ago are shouted down or banned.

Gentle reader, you know all this. What is to be done?

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Why I side with the Spanish government

Various readers have taken issue with my congratulating the Spanish government for its manliness in dealing with the illegal Catalan referendum and half hearted attempt to secede.

After General Franco's long drawn out death King Juan Carlos (why do we not call him John Charles in English?) brokered a settlement whereby the Civil War divisions were put aside. Since the Islamist bombings catapulted Zapatero's socialists to power the left has sought to reopen the settlement and achieve the goals of the Republicans at the expense of Catholic Spain. 

The Brexit referendum did not lead to hate crimes or to murder

This story might interest Romanian and East European readers who have been led to believe that the outcome of the Brexit referendum was the product of anti-East European racism.

As the Daily Mail showed a year ago, there was no rise in "hate crimes" in Great Britain after the Brexit referendum. None at all. Nor was the killing of a Pole, shortly after the referendum, in Harlow, Essex a hate crime. 

Shockingly the verdict in the manslaughter trial did not receive much coverage, very unlike the killing itself. 

Friday, 3 November 2017


Men can only be highly civilised while other men, inevitably less civilised, are there to guard and feed them. George Orwell

Good wood, bad wood - the same smoke but not the same flames. Nicolae Iorga

What we are heading towards is some awful world where everyone is expected to be completely asexual. This is actually inhumane. Laura Perrins

Thursday, 2 November 2017

People who have sex change operations can end up 'badly damaged'

Transgender people can end up 'badly damaged' says Lord Robert Winston

Speaking on Today on Radio 4, he said that 

"Results are horrendous in such a big proportion of cases"


"What I've been seeing in a fertility clinic are the long-term results of often very unhappy people who now feel quite badly damaged."

What Lord Winston is reported as saying about sex change operations is very shocking indeed, except it's not because it is not a surprise. It's shocking too that the Telegraph doesn't know how to refer to peers, but this very much pales in comparison to the horrible consequences of botched or misconceived sex change operations.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Homage to Spain: I love the manliness shown by Spain over Catalonia

I love the manliness shown by the Spanish government over Catalonia. If only David Cameron hadn't given Scotland a referendum on independence Britain could take the same line with Scotland but now a precedent has been created. I wish Mr Blair and Sir John Major had been equally manly with the IRA rather than making peace with them. They were on the point of being largely defeated when the peace process started.

Massacre in New York: Never let a crisis go to waste

I am very sorry about the killings in New York. 

The alleged killer ran down his eight victims with a lorry (The Daily Telegraph oddly uses the Americanism truck). America is at least spared the gun restrictions conversation and might have an immigration conversation instead. Donald Trump, if he is clever, will not let a crisis go to waste.

The suspect was named as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, who moved to America from Uzbekistan in 2010. He is said to have left a note in the lorry claiming he committed the attack on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Theresa May, who always speaks in clichés, condemned the attacks as cowardly, when of course it requires courage to kill people and risk being killed oneself.