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October 31, 2007

Making a bold statement

The King of Saudi Arabia visited Britain yesterday, and the guard of honour played an interesting musical selection to announce his arrival to meet the queen...

October 10, 2007

The United States of Fear

It's a pretty lazy blogger that just cuts and pastes something he read somewhere else. But then again, all the kids are doing it, so here goes. I got quite a chuckle out of this, from Best of the Web Today:

Tales of terror from the New York Times (penultimate letter):
To the Editor:

The United States, once a close ally, is now a country to be feared. The interrogation methods President Bush acknowledges to exist are undoubtedly torture, no matter how often he repeats that they are not.

As a European, I am now afraid to visit the United States and will not do so unless I have to for my work for fear of doing something wrong at the airport and being detained for a prolonged if not indefinite period of time. I also do not to dare express critical views in e-mail messages to American colleagues and friends, for fear they will get in trouble with authorities. This is how my contacts with the United States, a once friendly nation, have evolved.

Kees Schepers
Antwerp, Belgium, Oct. 6, 2007

Kees Schepers is afraid. He is very afraid. Then again, he's not afraid to denounce America on the pages of America's third most widely read newspaper. That may make him the bravest man in Belgium.

September 07, 2007

Marvel Premiere! Featuring... Rollerman!

Finding the world's true superheroes has been what this blog has been about since its inception in 2003. Well okay, I've found one: the Perplexing Polarman, currently making Iqaluit a safer place. But now word comes of the arrival of... Rollerman!

But is he really a superhero? He does have a cool costume and name, but in the entirety of this video he does not once apprehend a bad guy. However, it looks like he has violated many traffic laws. It's just a matter of time until he flattens some poor innocent bystander. So he must be a supervillain.

Luckily for him he lives in Paris, far from the forces of justice that might put an end to his evil ways. But he shouldn't get too comfortable, evil will always be defeated in the end.

December 28, 2006

Just how blinkered can you get?

Not too many can beat London's nutty mayor, Ken Livingstone. He plans to turn the city upside-down in 2009 to celebrate the worst autocracy in the Americas:

Ken Livingstone is planning a "massive festival" across London to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution.

The event, to be staged in 2009, will involve street parties, sports venues and some of London's leading museums as well as the closure of Trafalgar Square.

...

Speaking at a recent public meeting at Central Hall, Westminster, Mr Livingstone said: "We've got the backing of the Cuban government for a massive festival to celebrate 50 years of justice in Cuba."

What a repulsive idea. What a repulsive man.

October 24, 2006

News from Fwance

I have to give thanks to those crazy kids over at ¡No Pasarán! for keeping me up to date on the death spiral of modern France in such amusing style:

Looks like this year's riots will be in broad daylight. On Sunday at 2PM, French youths boarded a city bus in Grigny (shithole Paris suburb), forced the passengers to get out, and torched it. At 6:30PM, police were still at the scene in an attempt to "secure the area". French cop and evident super-sleuth Jean-François Papineau (you can't make up a name like that) declared that the attack "was deliberate". Firemen arriving at the scene were pelted with rocks and other objects.

April 26, 2006

Now there's a metaphor!

I've always thought it was unnatural, perhaps even impossible, for governments to shrink in size rather than grow. As the money flows in, politicians and bureaucrats look for self-aggrandizing ways to spend it, which creates more little fiefdoms full of ambitious people looking to make their mark. And then one day someone looks at the figures and -- whoops! They need some more money! Then they raise taxes and the cycle continues. But of course it can't go on forever.

Maverick Finnish politician is an EU skeptic and provides the perfect visual metaphor for this process:

It may be good if the EU gets so big that it can no longer function -- it will be like a rat with its hypothalamus removed, who keeps eating until it explodes.

January 02, 2006

Quote of the day

Perry de Havilland at Samizdata:

Russia needs to be treated with respect, but only the sort of respect you give a drunk with a knife as he staggers down the street.

November 06, 2005

Some childcare tips for M. de Villepin

As usual, No Pasarn! has the evening's damage report for France under seige:

29 cops injured by gunfire in Grigny (2 CRS riot police seriously hurt).

In the Tarterts housing project in Corbeil-Essonnes, 50 masked rioters attempted to rollover a vehicle onto riot police situated on a highway below them. A school was torched in Savigny-sur-Orge. The Public Treasury in Trappes was targeted by an arson (Trappe is the home of French comic Jamel Debbouze -- young punk who has already had run-ins with French police due to his gangsta lifestyle -- he likes to make believe he is Moroccan even though he's just a stinking French). Bus service is irregular throughout the northern Parisian suburbs.

Other regions of the country are seeing increased violence. Numerous vehicles were torched in Nantes, Rouen, and Le Havre. A police station was smashed by a vehicle in a suburb of Rouen. In Toulouse, 30 French youths squared off against police in the area of Mirail. A pre-school was torched in Saint-Etienne and 8 18-wheelers were burned in Roanne. In Blois and Tours, torched cars and arson attacks of building basements were reported early in the evening.

As an experienced Executive Family Manager, I have learned how to act when faced with unreasoning rage from people that have never had to deal with the real world and always expect to get their own way. I also have some insight into what causes the 'little emperor' syndrome that makes these outbursts more frequent, and how it can be avoided. It all seems very obvious to me, but too often I see other parents falling into the same traps as the French government has. Here is my advice:

First, when faced with a tantrum: ignore the cause. They may even have a good reason. You may find that you regret doing or not doing whatever was the trigger for the episode and wish you had done things differently. It doesn't matter. The child must learn that this kind of behavior doesn't get results. You must express disapproval and refuse to discuss anything until the shrieking stops. So long as the child isn't damaging anything or anyone, you can let him go on as long as he likes, but if he is you must restrain him until he calms down. After the incident is over, you should demand the child apologize before any discussion can begin on addressing the concern the tantrum was about. But then you must listen to him and deal with him fairly -- which does not generally mean giving him what he wants, but finding a compromise or explaining why things are as they are.

This teaches the child that he is not the center of the universe, and teaches him that following his rage is not going to get him anywhere. But it also teaches him that he can gain some control over his situation without it. Children can be pretty passionate, however, so it may take many 'lessons' before it starts to sink in.

Tantrums are more frequent in children who have never had to do much for themselves and are accustomed to having their needs met quickly. To prevent this, it's important for parents to teach their children at an early age to do things for themselves. Things such as putting their toys away, eating food with a spoon by themselves, and hanging up their coats when they come in from outside. It's not much and it's largely symbolic -- but it creates the foundations for their sense of responsibility. The difficult part is that it's always easier for the parent to do these tasks for the child or let lapses slip. But for the child's benefit, the parent has to be steadfast.

I'm not suggesting that I always follow my own advice. I try to, but sometimes it's just to easy to give in or look the other way. But making no attempt to control bad behavior just makes more it more likely to recur. And if you let it go on too long you run the risk of losing any influence over the child at all. Then you're screwed...

November 03, 2005

A penetrating look into what's happening in France

The endless riots in the citiés that ring Paris are finally starting to be covered in the mainstream media. Via Lileks, I found an eye-opening City Journal article from a couple of years ago that looks at the background to this violence and the offensive statist philosophies that led to it.

The state, while concerning itself with the details of their housing, their education, their medical care, and the payment of subsidies for them to do nothing, abrogates its responsibility completely in the one area in which the states responsibility is absolutely inalienable: law and order. In order to placate, or at least not to inflame, disaffected youth, the ministry of the interior has instructed the police to tread softly (that is to say, virtually not at all, except by occasional raiding parties when inaction is impossible) in the more than 800 zones sensiblessensitive areasthat surround French cities and that are known collectively as la Zone.

But human society, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and so authority of a kind, with its own set of values, occupies the space where law and order should bethe authority and brutal values of psychopathic criminals and drug dealers. The absence of a real economy and of law means, in practice, an economy and an informal legal system based on theft and drug-trafficking.

It's a long article, but all of it is well worth reading. My wife and I love France, and have been there many times, but something ugly is happening and there are no easy solutions to stop it.

July 21, 2005

News from London

It looks like there's been another series of attacks on the London Underground. I haven't seen much coverage of them yet, but so far things look much less disastrous. Unlike the previous attacks, there have been no casualties reported. In fact it looks like things may have gone very wrong for the terrorists. Here's a second-hand report of what happened on one train:

"He said that a man was carrying a rucksack and the rucksack suddenly exploded. It was a minor explosion but enough to blow open the rucksack. The man then made an exclamation as if something had gone wrong. At that point everyone rushed from the carriage."
Perhaps the intelligence services have allowed some faulty detonators get into the terrorist supply chains. It'll be interesting to see what comes out of this...

May 31, 2005

The big machine is rattling apart

If you can only read one column on the French 'non' vote and where Europe is going, make it Mark Steyn's in the Telegraph. It seems few other writers are willing to notice the contempt with which the political elites hold their subjects, and the danger of that contempt.