Monday, March 24, 2008

One Way to Ruin a Great Song

First of all, happy Easter everyone! I just got back to Madrid last night.

It´s no secret I like Mecano. They´re songs are very good, albeit old. They´re from the ´80s. Saying that they are old makes me feel old, although it´s somewhat true!

They seem to have commited the same error that every band does: make a great song and then make the weirdest video to accompany it.
Take this example from El 7 de sepetiembre (September 7th):

To me this video doesn´t resemeble the song at all. The video looks like a cross of the movie version of 1984 (of which I´ve seen little, the book is better (I´ve only read the book)), old Communist propaganda, and I don´t what else. Basically it ruins the song because every time you listen to it, you´ll think of this weird video (instead of a good song).

Here are the lyrics in Spanish.

Here´s a rough translation I did for you all:

It´s hard to believe after so much time that we still maintain the illusion of our broken bonds on our anniversary. The same little table that has seen our hands tied down takes care of the corner that always is "permanently reserved".

Even though the story is over, there´s something alive in this love and even though it compels it to be blow away, there are flames that aren´t in even in the sea.

The flowers of May bit by bit yield to the feet of the rooster and we´ll look with our eyes to see if there´s something left over.

September 7th is our anniversary and we don´t know if we´ll kiss each other on the face or on the lips.

Even though the story is over, there´s something alive in this love and even though it compels it to be blow away, there are flames that aren´t in even in the sea.

September 7th is our anniversary, our anniversary...

[camera obscura] beware the unattended

Don't think you need to know German but Sean does.

[mondayitis] posts to cheer you up

We have grey gloom and it's so depressing that the Brits have snow blizzards [which I adore] and we only have slushy, drizzly, yukky uggghness. So here's an ongoing post to cheer us up a little:

1. Haggiso on Heather Mills

2. Welshcakes on Simi in a bonnet

3. Calum Carr on the NHS

4. Liz on Hoover Heaven [I suck, therefore I am]

5. Ian Grey on strange shapes and big balls

6. Steve Green's Magical Mystery Blog tour.

[oppression] why - just tell me why

One of the major themes on this blog is [and is increasingly going to be] on mindless oppression, particularly of women.

It's in my nature as a man to do all I can to fight pernicious attempts to demean women and as a gender I love them. One lady and I were having a "gender war" the other night with a difference - she was vehemently arguing the reasons men were better and I was listing the reasons I love women.

But arguments such as that don't actually solve the problems and bloggers can do little more but still it must be attempted. One such is Jams O'Donnell who posted this:

The Afghan Olympic team has plenty of problems with run-down facilities and a woeful shortage of funds, but only Mehboba Andyar . the sole woman competitor, has had to prepare herself mentally for the biggest challenge of her life while dealing with sinister midnight telephone calls, the open derision of her neighbours and even police harassment.

When she competes against some of the finest runners in the world, with skills honed at the best facilities, Miss Andyar knows that she has little chance of a medal in either the 1,500m or 800m competitions.

Just getting to Beijing will be more of an achievement than most athletic stars will ever know, even if she will be noticed on the racetrack mainly for wearing traditional Islamic dress instead of skin-tight Lycra, and for the novelty of being an Afghan woman.

Please get over there to read the full thing if you haven't already done so. Another is Santi W who is fighting for women in her own language in Indonesia but from a traditional perspective [non-Feminist].

[blog debate] open letter to anonymous

Dear Anon

Some blogs have people come for an all in "debate" [brawl] and love that. This blog, not by my choice, tends to have people who just come in to read and seldom comment.

I know they do read from the occasional e-mail on some point or other and this blog seems to attract the shy rather than the opinionated. I know for a fact - STB and others - that people do follow these suggested links and so it is not wasted effort.

This can be turned to advantage - if the people visiting here are more mainstream, more of the mainstream way of thinking, then this blog serves a purpose in often [not always] drawing their attention to something they would not go to an Anon's political blog to see.

In other words - it reaches a wider readership than the purely political and this seems to me to be not wasted effort.

My comments policy is laid down - argument to the point e.g. on religion where the anons put something to me and I answered, still looking for their "evidence". By any reasonable definition of the word, that in itself is debate.

But ad hominem directed to another blogger is not on, not here. The exception is me and you can say what you like to me. That's why I haven't deleted this comment on the previous post. That's the only policy here on comments and I think I'm fairly free and easy - how many of yours have I deleted before?

Not only that but you are welcome yourself [I note Verlin's concern though] because you DO add greatly and provide good stepping off points to explore.

I write posts which are provocative to my reader base to challenge thinking, that's all. However, this sort of person really does not like being pushed around and told what to think and that's always in mind in the tone I adopt in a post.

For example, the girl who gave me the Islamic info is worried I should not have posted what I did. Look, I print what appears to be the truth and that is the sole criterion in posts, except to keep it within the bounds of taste.

What, would people have me post bland, formulaic pieces based on the MSM? My source material is generally other bloggers whom I know have taken the trouble to research, I link and hat tip and prefer them to the MSM.

That's about all I can say on it and will continue to try to steer a line down the centre and avoid outright mindless ad hominem war between fellow bloggers, directed, not to the issue but to the person, with the intent to hurt. Please stick to the issue.

We, Anon, are both trying to draw people's attention to iniquities so it's hardly right that we descend to the same level as the people we attack. You are welcome, as always, to tear this post apart.

I shall direct people from my "About" page to this page in future if they'd like to know the blog's comments policy. You might like to also check out these comments by Tiberius.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

[allies and axis] who was the enemy of whom

The Flying Rodent, he of the battle fatigues, opines or allows to be opined:

Obviously, this depends on whether you think the Russians could've fought off the Nazis without Stalin's ruthlessness, inhumanity and propaganda.

Well that's a moot point, you know. I mean, who was actually the enemy of whom? To start with:

Lend-Lease was the most visible sign of wartime cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union. About $11 billion in war matériel was sent to the Soviet Union under that program.

While this was occurring, on August 25, 1939, the Swiss periodical Revue de droit international published the text of a speech Stalin delivered on August 19 to a closed session of the Political Bureau in Moscow. He was quoted as follows:

It must be our objective that Germany wage war long enough to exhaust England and France so much that they cannot defeat Germany alone.... Should Germany win, it will itself be so weakened that it won't be able to wage war against us for 10 years.... It's paramount for us that this war continues as long as possible, until both sides are worn out.

Whether or not Stalin planned pre-emptive attacks in Europe, as Rezun claimed, war was certainly anticipated at the least:

In general, the Soviet media denied rumors of troop concentrations along the frontier. The defense committee had been secretly transferring combat divisions there since the summer of 1940. In April 1941, the Ural and Siberian military districts were ordered to release more formations.

And yet the massive negligence in preparing for the war is puzzling:

The Red Army had, for security reasons, opted for cable communications over wireless but in "something approaching criminal negligence, the telegraph lines had been left unprotected on the night of June 21." With their easy disablement by the German forces, intelligence could not be shared. Armies vanished. The Commissariat of Defense lost contact with 10 of 26 special trains that had been sent west. The slaughter was horrific.

Added to this was the British leadership's fuzzy attitude to "the enemy":

As early as 1934 British leaders of conservative party had adopted a policy of giving Germany a free hand in eastern Europe.In Nov1937, Lord Halifax met Hitler ,told Britain would not oppose if Germany carried out expansionist polices in eastern Europe.Later British ambassador in Berlin Neville Henderson gave similiar assurances to this effect.

... coupled with the role of Allied firms in Germany throughout the war:

GM and Ford, through their subsidiaries, controlled 70 percent of the German automobile market when war broke out in 1939. Those companies "rapidly retooled themselves to become suppliers of war materiel to the Germany army," writes Michael Dobbs in the Washington Post.

The Soviet Union had certainly been well involved with the allies more visibly and had been persuaded to attend the Bretton-Woods conference where Keynes and Harry Dexter White dominated, White accused of collusion with the Soviets:

Defecting Soviet spy Elizabeth Bentley, on July 31, 1948, told the House Committee on Un-American Activities that White had been involved in espionage activities on behalf of Soviet Union during World War II, and had passed sensitive Treasury documents to Soviet agents. Bentley said White's colleagues passed information to her from him.

So whatever was really going on and whoever was financing whom, over 20 million soviet people died, in an estimated overall toll of 48,231,700 during a fabulous time for wartime profiteering, which never seems to end, even today.

Lovely people, our leaders and financers.

[easter] and the path to islam

Catholicism meets Islam

Today is western Easter and the majority will either enjoy the long weekend or will be into the bunnies and eggs.

The key to Easter is not so much Good Friday, as any scholar knows and every child used to know three decades ago but Easter Sunday. That it was Sunday at all is a moot point and to me - an irrelevant one.

Just as the old arguments of consubstantiation v transubstantiation should never ever a be a basis for schism, just as the Great Schism was nothing but a power play of patriarchs, so divisions within Christendom are stupid - especially as we can't definitively know the finer details.

We know the main idea is that there is One G-d and go from there.

My bona fides. I was christened and baptised as a child into the Church of England. I am a WASP and one of the most pernicious kind - I was public school educated. So it's pretty clear where I'm coming from.

My father stood on the banks of the Jordan once with the Armed Forces and in later years told me that on one side was desert, with a few encampments of Arabs and on the other - fertile irrigated land. That had a profound effect on him and my views on Jews were not negative, although the Hassidic took some getting used to. I have seen fanaticism in both our camps.

Just like everyone else, my views on Muslims were of the 911 variety until I began to do some research and started putting aside the more vehement of my "colleagues" and trying to see it from the other side.

In the past few weeks I've been able to see another side and much of what the west alleges - I know, at least in a non-Sharia state, to be just not so. I live in a Muslim republic, speak with them every day, work for them and this last contact has been a real eye-opener.

We were discussing the ills of the world and found we agreed on virtually everything and both of us were arguing for a return to some sort of code you come back to by yourself which orders these things. I'll tell you now I'm in the process of learning all this and the reason for much of the daily ritual and so on.

When I said we have to do something to reverse this moral degradation we see around us, she answered, "That's called jihad, James."

Of course I countered that I don't see 911 jihad as such a good thing and she showed what it could also mean, shorn of its hypersensitivity. And also of course, I was dealing here with an educated speaker of English who was able to put what it was like at grass roots level.

The key problem, even if we're at one on the social issues, loosely described as "faith, hope and charity", is the question of the redemptive power of the resurrection from the dead.

If you are to say it is not possible to be resurrected, then you are denying an aspect of G-d's power. I mean, is he omnipotent or not? If he is - then such a thing is always going to be possible. With Him, if you are a believer, all things must be possible.

So why the problem of the Nazarene Carpenter's Son? Why couldn't He have been resurrected?

You can have multi-faith conferences, rapprochement, peace and mutual understanding till the cows come home but this assertion of the resurrection is always going to be the stumbling block.

It's dashed inconvenient and it doesn't go away.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

[1998] where were you in march

[Click to play - it goes with the post.]

It is to be fervently hoped that:

amantium irae amoris integratio est

... or to put it another way:

Perselisihan kekasih adalah memulai lagi cinta

The much underrated Nunyaa has inflicted upon this blog the question of where the Higham was ten years ago.

Now that's an interesting coincidence because last evening two former flames were seated at a huge bay window overlooking the teeming traffic, nibbling turkey and reflecting on where we were at that time when love was young and we were at each other's throats.

So let me consult the diary to doublecheck. Hmmm, Russian diary entries for March, 1998:

Grippe [flu epidemic] in the town

next day ...

She's sick

next day ...

Wild night

next day ...

Hot night

next day ...

I came down with grippe.

So, nothing too romantic in there, it seems. Snow was everywhere and those were the days when cold was cold and brass monkeys abounded. Just looking through the rest of that year - my mother died, I lost my girl, got her back, lost her again, sent her away, got her back and so on. Must have been crazy in those days.

I note that 10 years earlier I'd written a bit of doggerel:

Never so alone
When once we were not alone
Only then can we truly feel
The sad, severe nothing of loneliness

We also touched, last evening, on the utter pointlessness of hankering after someone you're never going to have or never going to regain, like Bill Yeats, for whom Maude was truly Gonne. On the other hand, Tennyson's words [In Memoriam: 27, 1850 are apt:

'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all

Truly nothing changes but we're due for an upcycle, of course, all misunderstandings cleared up and all things turning out to be well.

Tuhan rela, Inshalla.

[I pass this meme along to the Twelve Most Recent Visitors in MyBlogLog in the left sidebar. This post is dedicated to Nunyaa, Anya and one who knows who she is, peace be upon her.]

[teachers] imparting which values

Off topic but methodologically, this girl needs to be taken to one side and taught that:

1. the teacher has time to do all the board work before the lesson [which she may well have here], that shoddy board work is an invitation for children's shoddy work;

2. one never turns one's back on the class - if you need to write on the board, then you turn side on and keep the class in view through the 180 degree vision you've developed. This is as fundamental to teaching as to the acting profession.

This is also why OH projectors and powerpoints were developed but that's another matter.

However, that is not the point of the post of this post. There were some interesting statements made here:

[Megablogger] Welshcakes Limoncello posted:

"Yes, but if the teachers feel that the flag is being paraded for racist reasons, don't they have a point?"

I disagreed with this and you stated further,

"Anon, I have a right to express my opinion, just as you do. Despite a a life spent in education, I'm afraid I don't know any "pc communist maniac" teachers. I wish I did, as they might be rather refreshing!"

Teachers do not have a right to do anything other than teach what they are supposed to teach. If everyone did as they pleased what would result? Of course teachers often do not stick to their remit, i.e. they "innocently" throw in comments about English "racists" and the English empire (It was the British empire. That includes Scotland, Wales and Ireland too).

Teachers are NOT guardians of England's children. Teachers have no right to tell parents what to do either!

Seriously, your view that teachers "have a point", i.e. you mean the right to take action, if they "feel" that the cross of St George is being paraded for racist reasons is fascist! Why can't I also "take action" if I feel certain groups are not acting appropriately? Come on lets have a free for all.

So, in nutshell, Anon says that the teacher has no right to impart "values", an argument I feel he's just being devil's advocate for. On the other hand Welshcake's never having seen a Marxist teacher" - well one has to smile as she's surrounded with them at secondary level and this constitutes the majority political view of virtually all teacher training, from the selection of set texts to recommended booklists.

When I read Economics Politics, the required texts included Tawney, Sorel, Shaw and so on - evolutionists and revolutionist. The whole thrust was humanist/atheistic. Thus we have the keynote address [April 1972] to the Association for Childhood Education International, by Chester M. Pierce, Professor of Education and Psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University, proclaiming:

"Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances toward our founding fathers, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being. It's up to you, teachers, to make all of these sick children well by creating the international child of the future."

... or the quote [Feb. 10, 1973], by Catherine Barrett, former president of the National Education Association, who writes that:

"dramatic changes in the way we will raise our children in the year 2000 are indicated, particularly in terms of schooling. We will need to recognize that the so-called 'basic skills,' which currently represent nearly the total effort in elementary schools, will be taught in one-quarter of the present school day. When this happens - and it's near - the teacher can rise to his true calling. More than a dispenser of information, the teacher will be a conveyor of values, a philosopher. We will be agents of change."

These sorts of people are the ones who define the cognitive aspects of CurrR&D - the think tanks behind the textbooks and have you ever considere who the authors of these books, such as Headway, Cutting Edge and so on are?

Of course values are transmitted by teachers and of course it's all done politically with the naive girl in the pic above not even aware most of the time just how political she actually is being. As a former paid up Fabian, I can add to the body of opinion which recognizes the school curriculum as a key area in society for the propagation of "values".

They've always been the battleground for ideologies, schools. Here are some references supporting the notion that the dumbing down of education is a very real thing. But for what purpose?

‘There are really not enough words to describe the absurdity of so-called "liberal" educational theories that this blogger came across during his teacher training: false dichotomies between different forms of learning that I would expect one of my brighter senior pupils to spot within about four minutes; the ludicrous notion that telling a pupil they're wrong represents an "authoritarian theory of knowledge" - are just a couple of the symptoms of the other-worldly disconnection with reality that so disfigures our educational system.’

Portals for further reading here and here.

Which still leaves us with the question on whether values should be imparted at all in schools. Well, rather ask the question: "Is there any way values cannot be imparted or can be prevented form being imparted?"

So the issue then becomes which values? Well, the values of the deeply committed and organized, of course. As U.S. Senator William Jenner of Indiana, took to the Senate Floor, to speak in support of the Bricker Amendment [February 23, 1954], he addressed the nature of these people:

"The important point to remember about this group is not its ideology but its organization. It is a dynamic, aggressive, elite corps, forcing its way through every opening, to make a breach for a collectivist one-party state. It operates secretly, silently, continuously to transform our Government without our suspecting the change is under way... It conducts tactical retreats but only the more surely to advance its own goal."

Ron Paul estimated [August 2003] that there were about 25 000 of them in key positions in the U.S. alone. [O/T but interesting then that the neocons decry Ron Paul who is actually on the side of True Conservatism and Truth. :)

And as for pressure groups in and out of education, the great Tom Paine [blogger] once said:

Before their political and economic projects failed, by means of their iron grip on our educational institutions, the Left in Britain managed to socialise two or three generations to defer to certain allegedly oppressed groups. Just as our ancestors would have instinctively have tugged their forelocks at the aristocrats of old, so now do we at these new ones.

Therefore, those who would reassert the values of G-d, Queen and country need to get off their collective butts and counter the hatchet job done on us all in the last four decades alone, before absolutely everything has gone.

No small task.

[Post dedicated to Welshcakes Limoncello and Lord Nazh]

[the new chivalry] blueprint for the coming age

A woman upset at being made to feel inferior

The Great Anon refers to my "recent" sense of spirituality and idealism:

Now. I'd be the first to admit that what you are struggling to say has validity, and I equally have to say that while ever you try in the spiritual way to explain, you will fail, and maybe if you'd looked where I've looked, you'd realise the extent of that statement ... Your search, your dreams/praises, etc, all have validity. They were hijacked 2000 years ago, and this has perpetuated to this day. Your historical like thinkers were branded heretics and burned at the stake, or drowned at the ducking stool.

... and places a rationalist slant on it all:

The Magdalene companions, Mary Salome (Helena), and Mary Jacob, (wife of Cleophas), are said to be buried in the crypt of Les Saintes Maries in the Carmague. Long befor the ninth century church was built, its predecessor was called Sanctae Mariae de Ratis, and near the present main nave is the remains of a sculpture showing the Marys at sea.

I am the first to say that the presence of the eternal Anons on this blog raises the intellectual tone in many cases but there are other, more naive, young and idealistic words referring to the phenomenon of love, which is what Pascha is, after all, a testament to.

Narrowing the field to love itself and in particular, man woman love, a young Indonesian lady recently gave a unique perspective on today's My Rights relationships:

At the end, I'll be safe behind his shield. I will lay on his shoulder and took his helping hand.

Sigh. That's so sweet. When I read that, I was more than curious how the lovely and talented JMB, Welshcakes and Ruthie would respond. Ruthie has now put [not actually in response]:

I know I’ve mentioned this before—this pervasive idea that a woman needs to be redeemed by a man—but it drives me crazy. It isn’t as widespread as it once was, I’m sure, but it’s still there. There is a very urgent, very real pressure for a woman to validate her adulthood by marrying. That same pressure does not exist for a man.

Yes, Ruthie - indeed this pervasive idea that a woman needs to be redeemed by a man is just and fair, just as the parallel pervasive idea that a man needs to be redeemed by a woman is not only equally valid but both should underpin the correct ordering of human relations on this earth.

Both together, side by side, in balance and harmony.

An excellent young blogger called Febra responds to the Saya piece with this:

This is my story about woman.

In Yogyakarta, a lot of husbands didn't gave permission to their wife
for working. The reasons are :

1. They think thats already woman destiny to stay at home and serve them, wife must be at home when they arrive home from their activities.

2. They afraid if their wife fall in love again with her partner or others people if working in some places.

3. Worried if the wife more success then them. As the lead in family, some people didn't like if thier wife more rich than them.

For me, thats wrong attitude. Because If woman only at home, with no activities thats will make them bored. Also in yogyakarta or in another place, a lot of woman have good education untull they graduted from university.

So shame if they didn't working. They cann't developed their ability. Ofcourse a lot of people have own bisnis also.

If you already married. You have commitment with him/her. So why you scare if your wife will fall in live again to another people? did u marrried because you believe her will stay together with you? trust her and let them show their ability.

Thats it James. I hope you like it. This is my experience when some of my friends share with me about their life.

That was the perspective of a young modern male in a Muslim majority society. Another excellent blogger, Anastarsiarta, asks:

Did they really marry because of falling in love? Possibly, yes they were married because of sex or money. I was considered possibly a dreamer because I still trusted an everlasting love, hoped the marriage could happen because of the love, and the harmony in the family could continue to take place because of the love that was maintained...

I believe this is still possible, quite possible.

Speaking with my former love last evening about Ruthie's piece, whilst the focus of my dreams is off on an extended sabbatical, I said that I'd love both ladies to put here on this blog how "oppressed" they felt and feel in the relationship and how "their rights had been infringed".

She laughed and we got on to who had broken up with whom and called it line ball but when it came down to the generally accepted story that I had pursued her back to Russia, she smiled and said: "I was always in the driving seat. I seduced you though you thought it was the other way and wrote it up like that."

I didn't actually detect any sign of inequality here [but maybe that's me] or in my current rollercoaster ride which has for now come off the rails [I'm still mopping the tears up off the floor]. I rather think that the girl is most definitely in the driving seat - though I appear to set the agenda. Dirty words in the west such as "feminine wiles", when in full flight, are more than a match for any man's "oppression".

As she said: "When we spoke this morning, you seemed close to tears. So what came over you this evening?"

That's easy. As that blogger said in her piece above about loving men, so I love women and the way they operate - complex, yes, often viewing truth as a political tool, yes, skilled in the art of achieving their ends, yes - but irresistible all the same.

In the Islamic guidelines for making love, for example, did you know it is not permissible for a man to wham, bam, thank you maam? So in one stroke, rape and disrespect are made anthema and consideration of the woman is decreed? That many men do not is a testament more to them.

So if women can love and appreciate men and men can love and appreciate women, why all this talk of being made to feel inferior?

That seems sad to me.

So yes, let's get back to chivalry, not as an article of oppression of the female but rather as a celebration of the correct ordering of life. Referring to the man:

a. Prowess: that combination of courage, strength and skill that commanded respect.

b. Honor: having a strong sense of morality, integrity and deference before those in the offices of authority.

c. Loyalty: meaning the pledged word, was chivalry's fulcrum. The extreme emphasis given to it derived from the time when a pledge between lord and vassal was the only form of government.

d. Courtesy: respectful behavior not only towards one's betters*, but also for those below one's own cast as well. "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you."

e. Courtly love: Designed to make the knight more polite and to lift the tone of society, courtly love required required its disciple to be in a chronically armorous condition, on the theory that he would thus be rendered more courteous, gallant, and society in consequence more joyous.

Now, if we can eliminate all talk* of "one's betters" and "below one's own cast" and allow that a lady and a gentleman are made, not born and that anyone can join the "elite caste" if it is their will, then we potentially have a bunch of men charging around on their white steeds being gallant and a bunch of damsels gratefully accepting a spot of assistance and providing their own unique variety in return, sparing the time whilst not busily engaged in their own affairs.

Everyone ends up giving to others and thereby receiving it in full measure in return.

Sigh :)