Take It As Red

"Blogging is, by its very nature, erratic and irregular, feverish effort punctuated by random silence, a conundrum wrapped in a contradiction wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an unclosed em tag. " - The Poor Man

Thursday, January 27


Towards A Lesser Anglo-Dutch Understanding

No wonder Martin Wisse and I bicker like a pair of Tasmanian devils in a sack: here, shamelessly purloined and reformatted from expatica.com is the


What the British say: I hear what you say.
What the British mean: I disagree and do not want to discuss it
What the Dutch understand: He accepts my point of view.

What the British say: With the greatest respect...
What the British mean: I think you are wrong (or a fool).
What the Dutch understand: He is listening to me.

What the British say That's not bad.
What the British mean That's good or very good.
What the Dutch understand That's poor or mediocre.

What the British say: Quite good.
What the British mean: A bit disappointing.
What the Dutch understand: Quite good.

What the British say: Perhaps you would like to think about it
What the British mean: This is an order. Do it.
What the Dutch understand: Think about the idea, but do what you like.

What the British say: When appropriate locally...
What the British mean: Do what you like
What the Dutch understand: Do it if you can.

What the British say: Oh, by the way…Incidentally….
What the British mean: The primary purpose of our discussion is .....
What the Dutch understand: This is not very important.

What the British say: I was a bit disappointed that…It is a pity you
What the British mean: I am most upset and cross
What the Dutch understand: It doesn't really matter.

What the British say: Very interesting.
What the British mean: I don't agree / don't believe you.
What the Dutch understand: They are impressed.

What the British say: Could we consider some other options.
What the British mean: I don't like your idea.
What the Dutch understand: They have not yet decided.

What the British say: I'll bear it in mind.
IWhat the British mean: I will do nothing about it.
What the Dutch understand: They will probably do it.

What the British say: Please think about that some more.
What the British mean: It's a bad idea: don't do it.
What the Dutch understand: It's a good idea: keep developing it.

What the British say: I'm sure it's my fault.
What the British mean: It is your fault !
What the Dutch understand: It was their fault.

What the British say: That is an original point of view.
What the British mean: You must be crazy.
What the Dutch understand: They like my ideas!

What the British say: You must come for dinner sometime.
What the British mean: Not an invitation, just being polite.
What the Dutch understand: I will get an invitation soon.

What the British say: You'll get there eventually.
What the British mean: You don't stand a chance in hell.
What the Dutch understand: Keep on trying for they agree I'm heading in the right direction.

What the British say: I almost agree.
What the British mean: I don't agree at all.
What the Dutch understand: He's not far from agreement.

I can add another:

What I say Oh, so sorry, do excuse me.
What I mean: Get your great Dutch hooves off my foot, you freakish dairy-fed giant.
What they hear: I'm a tiny wimp. Jab me with your elbows too.

I could go on for days like with these- anyone would think I wasn't keen on the Dutch... make your own mind up whether I say what I mean.



Oppose Alberto Gonzales

Kos asks all bloggers of conscience to oppose the nomination of Alberto Gonzalez as Attorney General of the USA.

Consider it done.

Gonzales has consistently acted as Bush's consigliere, covering up his messes and providing spurious legal opinion to justify whatever the Chimperor has wanted to do, be that drunk-driving, executions in texas or torture at home and abroad.

Bush has been Gonzales' biggest booster since 1995, when Bush, then governor of Texas, hired Gonzales away from a Houston law firm to serve as his general counsel. Two years later, Bush made him Texas' secretary of state, the state's chief election official, with added responsibilities to serve as liaison to Mexico. In 1999, Bush appointed Gonzales to the Texas Supreme Court, a position he gave up to serve as White House counsel.

Rather than provide the necessary judicial oversight of executive action and protection of individual liberties that the office of AG requires of its nominees he will act as a mere rubber stamp, continuing his role as enabler-in-chief for the subversion of the US constitution, legal system and government apparatus by the Bush family. Just as he did in Texas, but on a national scale.

At Griffin Bell's swearing-in, Jimmy Carter noted:

"To the maximum degree possible, the Attorney General should personify what the President of the United States is--attitudes, philosophies, commitments--because here is an extension of the President's attempt to provide equality of opportunity and a sense of trust in the core of our American governmental institutions."

Well, Gonzales certainly does that. That's why any thinking human being would oppose his nomination. He is and always will be a Bush creature, they bought and paid for him to keep an eye on the boy emperor. Attorney General, and then the Supreme Court, is his reward for getting Georgie safely into the White House.

"I (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

Gonzales took that oath in Texas and betrayed it.

(Apologies to Jeanne at Body& Soul from whom I've borrowed this)

From today's Boston Globe

WASHINGTON -- When White House counsel Alberto Gonzales was a Texas Supreme Court justice running to stay in office in 2000, he took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from companies that had business before him and he did not recuse himself from voting on their cases.The practice is legal in Texas, and Gonzales was not the only judge to benefit from it. But his record in 2000 -- when he raised $539,000 for the Republican primary, outraising his opponent by a 1,047-to-1 ratio -- drew special criticism from an Austin-based group that tracks the influence of money on government.

In Texas he was corrupt, unqualified, and a callous placeseeking apologist for theocratic neofascism. He'll be the same in Washington. The world is already laughing at your country, don't make it even more of a joke.



US Army Recruiter Rebuffed By Kids

This is from last week's news but still cheering to the spirit:

Thu Jan 20, 5:24 PM ET

Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Due, right, a U.S. Army recruiter, is surrounded by protesters at Seattle Central Community College, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005, in Seattle. After about a 10-minute standoff during which protesters tore up U.S Army literature, the protesters were successful in getting Due and another recruiter to leave their table under escort by campus security officers. Several hundred students walked out of classes at several Seattle colleges and universities to protest the inauguration of President Bush (news - web sites). (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

However, judging from the responses to this picture on a certain rethug discussion I don't care to dignify with a mention, maybe it's best not to get too hopeful:

To: RepublicanMensan; Chieftain
That is disgusting! So much for their phony liberal "We love and support the troops, its the war we hate." I want my federal taxes refunded that went to this university! Those "students" should be arrested for threatening behavior and a HATE crime.
Free speech? Just for commies.
3 posted on 01/20/2005 7:34:48 PM PST by Recovering Ex-hippie (Let's begin the Barbara Boxer trial for treason!) [ Post Reply Private Reply To 1 View Replies ]

To: RepublicanMensan
He should come back with a platoon of troops, armed, locked, and loaded!
4 posted on 01/20/2005 7:34:51 PM PST by DTogo (U.S. out of the U.N. & U.N out of the U.S.) [ Post Reply Private Reply To 1 View Replies ]

I am sick and tired of the police walking on eggs with the hatefilled fascist protesters. They should all be maced and loaded into the paddy wagon to cool their heels for a good long time. The police's tolerance of this kind of action only goes to show their approval to the anarchists. Thus these episodes happen more often and get uglier. The police forget they are to serve the innocent - not the guilty!
33 posted on 01/20/2005 7:57:23 PM PST by Paperdoll [ Post Reply Private Reply To 1 View Replies ]



The Road To the Gulag Starts With A Single Step

"The power of the court of Star Chamber grew considerably under the Stuarts, and by the time of Charles I it had become a byword for misuse and abuse of power by the king and his circle. James I and his son Charles used the court to examine cases of sedition, which, in practice, meant that the court could be used to suppress opposition to royal policies. It became used to try nobles too powerful to be brought to trial in the lower courts. Court sessions were held in secret, with no right of appeal, and punishment was swift and severe to any enemy of the crown.Charles I used the Court of Star Chamber as a sort of Parliamentary substitute during the years 1628-40, when he refused to call Parliament. Finally, in 1641 the Long Parliament abolished the hated Star Chamber, though its name survives still to designate arbitrary, secretive proceedings in opposition to personal rights and liberty."

I haven't blogged for a couple of days, mostly as a a result of another bike accident, really accidental this time. We had snow, it melted and froze, and the bike path was covered with black ice, with the inevitable result that I went over. Such a a horrible feeling when your wheels start to slip, the sick inevitability of it... a set of ice tyres would be handy. I thought I was fine, if shaken, just a few bumps and bruises; until much later and the blinding headache, neckache and nausea. I didn't quite make it to the loo and cleaning vomit from the bathroom floor at 3am is no fun at all. Seems I may have had a minor concussion. D'oh.

By yesterday afternoon, having spent the morning doing soothingly domestic things and fixing my back tyre, I thought I had regained my equilibrium, more or less. Then I heard the UK radio news; I had been waiting to hear if the Guantanomo detainees, being held at Paddington Green following their return were to be released. What I actually heard was Charles Clarke, beefy and menacing David Blunkett replacement, in the Commons announcing he was to essentially re-institute the Star Chamber, or as he put it in his own special way, (the one that tells you that it's all decided anyway and there's no need to argue) 'a heirarchical range of options that will be proportionate and non-discriminatory.'

What he actually meant was this: I propose to give myself the power to imprison or restrict the liberty of any person for any period whom I deem to be a menace to the state. I do not need to show any evidence to anyone, and there is no appeal.

I am having trouble actually believing that is is happening. I can see it, I can hear it, I am actually not at all surprised; but there is something in me still idealistic enough to believe that something like this couldn't happen, could it? Not in England, surely? Under a Labour government? It's pathetic of me, knowing at least some British history, to even hope that it couldn't happen, but I must've absorbed some of the jingo about fair play and the rule of law to still be having this instinctive gut reaction.

The reasons why this is is so wrong legally are obvious; it's a civil order with criminal penalties ( like an ASBO), it has no judicial oversight, there is no evidence, no review; the list goes on and on. It's also wrong constitutionally, in ceding the the biggest power of all, that of depriving an individual of his liberty, to one party political placeman. Because Charles Clarke, despite the imposing and statesman-like persona his media advisors have taught him to project, is nothing but in essence a political apparatchik. He owes his position to political patronage, and any decision he makes is tainted by his political views and adherence to government policy. The same would apply to any Home Secretary, of whatever party. By abrogating such naked power to the executive he also by extension makes that power available for political ends, now or in the future.

It's not as if he doesn't know he's wrong. I listened to John Humphries interview him on Radio 4 this morning and he all but admitted it. But he's going to do it anyway; he knows things he couldn't possibly tell us, we're all it great danger, there are enemies all about us. He has access to secret information, so secret he can't tell us, but of course he would never, ever, heaven forbid! use the powers against anyone if he didn't really think they were dangerous. "Trust in me, just in meee...."

Well, Parliament; you trusted the government when they and the Prime Minister lied to you about WMD - thousands upon thousands have died since then. Why should you trust them on this, when they're proven liars? But Parliament will trust them, it always does. Labour has a majority in both Houses, Blair's best mate is Lord Chancellor in charge of the judiciary, the Commons backbenches are full of Blairite hacks - all the dice are loaded in their favour. Blair and Alistair Campbell learned well from Rove's operation.

I don't mind admitting that this proposal scares me horribly. Coming as it does in the week we commemorate the industrial human disposal machine that was Auschwitz, and the millions that died, it seems like bathos to make this comparison but we appear to be living in a time where such a thing could easily happen again; our efficiency and productivity in illegality and killing has improved immeasurably since, just as inversely our consciences seem to have shrunk, most particularly those consciences in the Labour Party, that were socialists once. For Labour, that can trace its history all the way back to the Levellers, to revert to the kind of abuse of state power that caused revolution and a bloody Civil War in England seems a somewhat retrograde step.

Tony Blair is defending these policies. 'Most people have nothing to fear', he says.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller


Monday, January 24


Opus Dei in Government - Update

Following on my occasional series about secretive religious organisations and their apparent ease of entry into political and public life, it was reported this weekend that Ruth Kelly, youngest ever British government minister (didn't they hear of Pitt the Younger?) and mother of 4, count 'em 4! children of school age ( Woohoo! Mother does important job- news at 11!) is a member of Opus Dei.

"The education secretary, [...], said of her involvement in the organisation: "I don't see why it should be an issue at all. I came here to do a job which is about raising standards in schools "I am in politics because I have a strong belief in the equal worth of every child," Ms Kelly said. "I have a private spiritual life and I have a faith. It is a private spiritual life and I don't think it is relevant to my job. I am here as a Catholic."

Ms Kelly has attended meetings of Opus Dei but has not revealed whether she was a member. She rejected a suggestion that her religious beliefs could affect the way she carries out her role in government in relation to sex education. "We have an established government policy on that. I came here to do a job which is about raising standards in schools," she insisted.

The Opus Dei organisation is relatively small with membership estimated by some at around 80,000 in 80 countries worldwide. It is founded on the principle that ordinary Catholics can achieve holiness in their everyday lives. Some members of the movement practise "self mortification" including fasting and flagellation as a way of reminding themselves of how Christ suffered."

Labour Party Membership rules:

1. (a) The member is the basic unit of the party. Irrespective of nationality, citizenship or of place of residence, but subject to paragraph (b) of this section, any person who -

(i) subscribes to the Party's Principles and Objects and accepts this

(ii) is not a member of another political party, and

(iii) is not a member of, or associated with, any organisation, publication or institution the objects or activities of which are declared by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Party to be injurious to the interests of the Party or inconsistent with its Principles and Objects,

is eligible for membership.

So, what does Parliament think of Opus Dei members as MP's? According to their
own Code of Conduct MP's are obliged to show:
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

In carrying out public business, including make public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.


Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions andactions
to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.


Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.


Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interesy.

Guy Fawkes' blog of parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy

"According to Rangers-supporting Scotsmen, Ruth Kelly has been confirmed as a member of Opus Dei by sources in the organisation. The Blessed One has "supernumerary" status within the Roman Catholic organisation. This means she is a lay member who contributes a significant proportion of her earnings to Opus Dei. This arguably makes her the most devout of the Roman Catholics in Blair's government - although Paul Murphy, the Northern Ireland Secretary, who is a Papal Knight of St Gregory might lay claim to that honour. The Divine Leader himself has slipped back into taking communion again from his (Catholic) family priest, despite in 1996 receiving an official written request from Cardinal Hume to desist and His Holiness the Pope in 2003 re-stating in an encyclical that only those in "full communion" with Rome should take communion. Cardinal Hume told Blair he was allowed to take communion in Tuscany where there was no Anglican church, but not in Westminster. Blair was however again spotted going into Westminster Cathedral alone in 1998 and used to take communion with his family regularly at the St Joan of Arc church in Islington. Guido understands that Father Timothy Russ, of the Immaculate Heart of Mary church in Great Missenden near Chequers, has continued to offer Blair communion. Guido is betting that after the premiership Blair will formally convert to the true faith.

Since her promotion to Education Secretary last month, The Blessed One has refused to confirm or deny that she is the first Cabinet minister to belong to Opus Dei. John Allen, Vatican correspondent of the National Catholic Reporter, says: "The fact that Opus Dei has been given a parish in Westminster and Ruth Kelly has been appointed Education Secretary are both signs of Opus Dei coming in from the cold." Opus Dei members are conservative on the major cultural issues - such as divorce, abortion and homosexuality. Guido has pointed out previously that she has somehow always managed to miss votes on these sensitive issues. All of this warms the heart of an old Catholic freedom fighter like Guido himself.

As a supernumerary and mother of four Mrs Kelly is not required to flagellate herself - unlike some celibate Opus Dei members - but is instead asked to observe a rigorous daily regime of prayer and is known to attend mass daily whenever possible. She also dresses in the house style of Opus Dei, black tailored modest feminine outfits. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!"

The current New Labour government is pushing faith schools as the answer to all our educational issues, and Ruth Kelly is the pointwoman for this policy. Doesn't the fact that she is such a rabid religionist, even cultist, depending on your view, who admits herself that her Catholicism informs all her daily actions, bother anyone?

An example of this go-ahead modern policy is Emanuel College, which stands apart from the education authorities ( yet receives public funding) and which is run by the evangelical businessman, Chairman of Directors/Governors Sir Peter Vardy. Emanuel College became notorious recently for telling its pupils that the Harry Potter books are satanic. This is the kind of religious crap this 'school' teaches:

"Moreover, it can now readily be shown that there exists both physical laws and a substantial body of empirical data, especially the intrinsic irreducible complexity possessed by all living organisms which are incompatible with, or else fundamentally defy, a doctrinaire naturalistic explanation. Johnson and others have fought hard academically and politically. Presently, his 'Intelligent Design (ID)' group are urging the US Government & Legislature to wake up and realise the social and moral implications of adopting unquestioningly naturalistic scientism in the classroom. It remains to be seen how successful they will be. The recent machinations of the Kansas Board of Education show clearly that there exists a powerful body of ideological proponents who are keen to retain the falsehoods inherent in the present status quo. Here in the UK the situation is regrettably worse."

I'm trying to find out what New Labour now thinks of its members
belonging to secret organisations, but the Labour Party Constitution and Rules appear no longer to be online, if they ever were... Time was, back when I was a member, that you had to declare any such membership - for example, to belong to the freemasons was anathema to the comrades, and rightly so. How can you be a party loyalist, let alone an adequate political representative of a religiously, ethnically and culturally diverse population when your primary allegiance is to a secret organisation?

There are 41,834 non-Christians in Bolton (according to Bolton's census
) and 58,789,194 non-Christians nationally. I fail to see how someone so beholden to religious dogma could possibly think that they represent those people with honesty, integrity or accountability. Imagine the outcry had she been Muslim and wore hijab- the tabloids would go crazy.

This is different. For a start, the hijab is worn openly and publicly states your religious views. You can't miss it: it's as clear as the day. Kelly's real error is not her religion but the secrecy that surrounds it, and its lack of a clear and open agenda. Freedom of religion for all: and that includes those with none. Don't try pushing evangelical catholic right-wing views in secret, do it openly and we'll have an open debate. That's what democracy is about (not that Opus Dei has a good track record in that respect, particularly in Franco's Spain).

Opus Dei itself is aware of this issue - from its own website:

"Do members tend to have a common view on political or social matters? "

"No. Opus Dei's role and aims are confined strictly to the spiritual and apostolic spheres. On any issue on which the Church has not defined a position (for example, on the vast majority of political, social and economic issues) members of Opus Dei, just like other Catholic citizens, make up their own minds with complete freedom and independence, adopting whatever views seem best to them. Opus Dei cannot, and does not, get involved, ever. "

Note the nice little get-out clause: 'On any issue on which the Church has not defined a position'. I can't think of many issues on which it hasn't. Education, for instance. A simple google brings up hundreds and hundreds of pages of catholic doctrine on just about every aspect of education, for example, 'The Presence of the Church in the University and in University Culture'-Congregation for Catholic Education (June 7, 1994), · 'Catholic Institutions Exist for One Reason Only: 'To Proclaim the Gospel'-John Paul II (L'Osservatore Romano, June 30, 2004) 'Spectata Fides' (On Christian Education) - Leo XIII (The Papal Encyclicals 1740-1881, November 27, 1885) 'Our Public Schools and Religion' - Curtiss, Elden Francis (The Catholic Voice, Unknown). Those are just a few represenative samples. ( More here.)

If Opus Dei and Kelly ( by extension) really believed and could prove that the outdated superstition they push is the truth, they'd be prepared to debate it openly. Kelly isn't prepared to do this: she prefers to do her deeds in the dark and to the time of writing has neither confirmed nor denied her membership. Lets shine a light; we've seen what untrammeled religiosity can do to a liberal democracy, and it's not pretty.



Spoiling the Ship For A Ha'porth of Tar

From today's Independent:

"According to reports in the United States this weekend, the White House and Nasa have agreed to stop all plans for a space mission to prolong the life of the (Hubble) telescope, which is in orbit, 380 miles above Earth.

The White House blames the escalating costs of maintenance - a mission to service the telescope would cost more than $1bn (£530m). Instead, Nasa is expected to focus its activities on George Bush's space priorities - the further exploration of the Moon and Mars. Hubble, meanwhile, will be allowed to gradually run down

One lousy billion. That's all. Look over to the left and you'll see the current cost of the war on Iraq, currently standing at well over 150 billion dollars and accelerating rapidly.

Which of these federal outlays does more good for the world's long-term knowledge and progress?


Or maybe This?

I can hardly bear to look at that first picture. That poor boy, covered in blood in his Man U hat, looks eerily like my son. Maybe that's a good thing: that day that we can look at these horrific images and say 'that's my son' or 'that's my daughter' maybe that feeling of utter horror and grief will impel us to stop this illegal and inhuman war.
But looking at this, somehow, I doubt it.

To Mars, Bitches! ( and don't forget the munitions)


Sunday, January 23


Occasional Ceph Blogging No 3

  1. Because it's a dull Dutch Sunday;
  2. because I've been painting the bedroom white all afternoon and am going snowblind;
  3. because there is no chocolate in the house;
  4. because I'm bored rigid;
  5. because I deserve a treat; and ah, fuck it, just
  6. because, OK?

Now STFU, and marvel at the

Vampyroteuthis Infernalis. Almost as Cool As
A Cuttlefish, But Not Quite As Cute As The Bobtail Squid.


Thanks go (yet again) to Rising Hegemon for this link to the Buffalo Beast and the 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2004:. Scroll down for many of the usual suspects, plus some yu'll go 'Who?' to - until you get to No. 3 -

"3. You

Crimes: You gaze idly at the carnage around you, sigh, and go calmly back to your coffee and your People magazine. You can’t stop buying useless crap, though you’re drowning in a deepening pool of debt. You think you’re an activist because you bitch all day on the internet, but you reelect the same gangsters at a 99% rate. You consider yourself informed because you waste a significant portion of your life watching the same three news stories cycle over and over again on your gargantuan, aerodynamic television set while you eat processed food. You really thought everything would be okay if Kerry won. Not only do you believe in an invisible man who magically farted out the universe, you also excoriate and marginalize those who disagree. You have a poorer understanding of your country’s foreign policy history than a third world peasant, but you can’t wait to see what Julia Roberts will be wearing at the Oscars. You cheer as Ukrainians challenge an election based on exit poll data, but keep waiting around for someone else to fix your problems. You can’t think, you can’t organize and you won’t act. This is all your fault.

Smoking Gun: You’re fat.

Punishment: You’re soaking in it. "



11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004  
12/05/2004 - 12/12/2004  
12/12/2004 - 12/19/2004  
12/19/2004 - 12/26/2004  
12/26/2004 - 01/02/2005  
01/02/2005 - 01/09/2005  
01/09/2005 - 01/16/2005  
01/16/2005 - 01/23/2005  
01/23/2005 - 01/30/2005  
01/30/2005 - 02/06/2005  
02/06/2005 - 02/13/2005  
02/13/2005 - 02/20/2005  
02/20/2005 - 02/27/2005  
02/27/2005 - 03/06/2005  
03/06/2005 - 03/13/2005  
05/08/2005 - 05/15/2005  
05/15/2005 - 05/22/2005  
05/29/2005 - 06/05/2005  
06/05/2005 - 06/12/2005  
06/12/2005 - 06/19/2005  
06/19/2005 - 06/26/2005  
10/30/2005 - 11/06/2005  

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