THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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January 2007

Which religion?

Given my view as stated in my previous post on religious belief (my second most popular item), i.e. that my values are derived from my Christian heritage, the results of this "pop quiz" are surprising. I can understand that it doesn't score me as an atheist. For it to do that, I would have to have faith in my own ability to know everything. If I had that amount of faith, I could have the false comforts of religion. The doubts it detects are so vanishingly small that "atheist" is still a more honest description.

But it makes no sense that it assesses me as being further from Christianity than Buddhism or Islam. Maybe I have firmer views against the doctrines with which I am familiar? Or maybe the quiz-setter is a Christian and is better at identifying his own brand of unbeliever? Please give the quiz a try and let me know what you think.

I still maintain that I am an atheist, but that the "theism" I am "a" is Christianity. H/T The Blogpower Headmaster

You are an agnostic. Though it is generally taken that agnostics neither believe nor disbelieve in God, it is possible to be a theist or atheist in addition to an agnostic. Agnostics don't believe it is possible to prove the existence of God (nor lack thereof).

Agnosticism is a philosophy that God's existence cannot be proven. Some say it is possible to be agnostic and follow a religion; however, one cannot be a devout believer if he or she does not truly believe.



















Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
created with


Link: Doonesbury@Slate - Daily Dose.

Quotidian attacks on President George W. Bush are usually humourless and easily ignored. Cheap anti-Americanism underlies most of them, at least outside the United States. Mr Bush's administration is just too easy a target, because of the "shock and awe" of its shocking, awesome incompetence.

I try not to join the chorus of critics. Firstly, they are so many they don't need help. Secondly because I believe the hapless President is a good man, doing his best. He had the misfortune to be in power on 9/11. He faced the responsibility of beginning a war of survival against - you choose - Islam or Islamism. The fight is justified and the prospect of defeat is unthinkable. President Bush has not yet lost, but nor has he advanced the cause of victory. It's hard to support him, but for me it's harder to side with the usual ragbag of idiots who would sell out to any barbarians, at whatever cost to their intellectual consistency.

Garry Trudeau is perhaps the most dangerous man in the chorus, because - unlike his fellow-singers - he hits the notes sweetly. The linked cartoon is a brilliant example. I love the punchline:

A belief tank?

It's like a think tank, only without the doubt.

I don't often think this of the enemies of Western civilisation, but I wish Trudeau was on our side.

BBC ON THIS DAY | 29 | 1976: Explosions rock London's West End

Link: BBC ON THIS DAY | 29 | 1976: Explosions rock London's West End.

Hardly breaking news, but sobering reading for those who tell us that everything has changed and that 19th Century notions of civil rights no longer make sense in 21st Century conditions. Terrorism is not new. There have always been political inadequates and posturing psychopaths for whom the bomb is more interesting than the ballot.

The men who planted 13 bombs on this day in 1976 walked away to plant more, and more. They were led by men shrewd enough to know that if they instilled fear, acted within bounds that would not lose all public sympathy and demonstrated sustained capacity to act, they could achieve a political victory. Under Tony Blair's weak leadership (and with support from the American Irish community which funded decades of terror) they did.

The men who planted the 7/7 bombs have planted their last. The approach of their political leadership is less subtle than that of the IRA. They give our society such a stark choice that, however pathetic our leaders, surrender is not an option. Only the insane death cult that is Islamism could reason that their actions are more threatening. Only a leadership as weak as ours, could reason that their plans justify the immediate surrender of our civil rights.

There are lies, damned lies, statistics and then there's ...

Link: BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Running the rule over Stern's numbers.

When even the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation's servile Government toadies journalists start to question New Labour's Holy Writ, we must surely wonder what is going on. Consider this report from BBC Online's Science pages;

Richard Tol is a professor at both Hamburg and Carnegie Mellon Universities, and is one of the world's leading environmental economists.

The Stern Review cites his work 63 times; but that does not mean he agrees with it.

"If a student of mine were to hand in this report as a Masters thesis, perhaps if I were in a good mood I would give him a 'D' for diligence; but more likely I would give him an 'F' for fail.

"There is a whole range of very basic economics mistakes that somebody who claims to be a Professor of Economics simply should not make," he told The Investigation on BBC Radio 4.

Call me a cynic. Call me a conspiracy theorist. Call me what you like but I will still pose the following questions.

Let's suppose you are a government so cash-strapped that you are closing hospitals, firing nurses and asking judges not to send criminals to jail for lack of space. Let's suppose you have already taxed your people so hard that (despite economic growth) their disposable incomes are down in real terms and they are sinking deeper into personal debt. Let's say you have already increased your official National Debt to above £500 billion for the first time. Let's say that you know (although you don't publish it) that the real debt is nearer £2 trillion including off-balance sheet PFI debt, or perhaps as much as £9 trillion including unfunded public sector pensions. Might you perhaps be tempted to encourage a tame academic on your payroll to massage his numbers? Might you want him, perhaps, consistently to pick (according to Professor Tol);

the most pessimistic for every choice that one can make
Might you be happy when your highly-paid and knighted employee (perhaps even in line for a peerage when the present unpleasantness dies down)
double counts, particularly the risks and ... underestimates what development and adaptation will do to impacts
Might you possibly be happy to use his "F" grade analysis to justify draconian "green taxes," Orwellian schemes for monitoring the vehicle movements of every citizen or vicious attacks on the lifestyles of your class enemies?

Heavens no. That would be ridiculous. Why, based on your record of 10 years of honest, "whiter than white" government, would any reasonable citizen possibly possibly ask such questions?

NHS Blog Doctor: Petition to sack Patricia Hewitt

Link: NHS Blog Doctor: Petition to sack Patricia Hewitt.

I can't personally see the point, as Labour doesn't exactly have a stable of great talent in reserve. Who would they replace her with? John Prescott? John Reid? Alan Johnson? Or some other tosser with no experience of the real world above the level of postman or waiter?

Still, Dr Crippen's word should carry some weight. And there is some slight satisfaction in clogging Number 10's server with complaints - even if you are probably registering your details with MI5.

Blogpower Testimonial 10: Ellee Seymour

Link: Ellee Seymour - Why me?.

Image021There is a sense in which Ellee Seymour is cheating. She is no"citizen journalist" blogger, but a professional PR person and former "dead tree" hack. She spins, no doubt guilefully, for her political PR clients, making politicians look better than they are (why else do they pay her?) Yet I have no sense that the warm and open style for which her blog is known is contrived. Having briefly met her, I think she writes pretty much as she speaks. If she spins for a living, then her blog is not obviously a busman's holiday - although I am sure it's a useful business card. She is making her readers like her, prospective clients must think, so why shouldn't she do the same for them?

Her first post was typical. She waded in with personal revelations, as if resuming an interrupted conversation with a friend. She revealed her reason for blogging; to record her experiences as she strove to overcome a fear of public speaking. Her blogging has now taken on a life of its own, but how very Ellee-ish that it began as part of a flurry of practical initiatives to address a problem.

The idea of a blog was suggested by a fellow member of Toastmasters. Ellee had joined to help resolve her public speaking issues. In the next two posts, she told us that she was also taking up salsa and charity work as part of the same self-improvement programme. There are no half measures with Ellee. This was a woman remaking herself.

Her open style makes Ellee a natural for blogging. In those first three posts, she revealed more than I have in two ponderous years. No wonder her readers were agog to know where this personal voyage would lead. Pretty soon however her journalistic and political instincts took over. While the relentless self-revelation continued, broader topics crept in. She rapidly became enthused with the idea of helping her clients to reach target audiences through blogging. Her enthusiasm shone through in posts about conversations with more-or-less bemused friends as her thinking developed.

Enthusiasm ought to be Ellee's middle name. Not long after her tsunami of self-improvement began, she was making her singing debut with the Stretham Players in yet another attempt to overcome a lack of confidence that I am damned if I can detect. I make public speeches regularly and am perfectly confident on a stage, but I am a shrinking violet by comparison with Ellee.

After just four months' blogging, Iain Dale placed her in 9th place among his top 20 Conservative blogs. By September 16th Ellee was ranked in the top 10 of 100 Conservative bloggers and in the top 10% of 400 blogs of all political persuasions. By November, the lady who couldn't bear the idea of public speaking was making her first appearance on TV, being interviewed about Jon Snow's refusal to wear a poppy when reading the news. 2006 ended on a high note with the award of a "blogging CBE" by Tory Radio.

Ellee's fame seems certain to grow further in 2007. On "Blue Monday" she appeared on 18 Doughty Street and by all accounts she did well. Ellee is an A List Blogger. Blogpower is lucky to have her - and would be even luckier if she would get around to displaying the banner and blogroll!

Why is she so successful? Instinctively, she understood from the outset that blogs are a social medium. A blog is not an electronic soapbox; it is about interaction. I have developed a new theory in the course of researching my Blogpower reviews. I think that commenters subconsciously match their style to the blogger's own, rather as people in meetings mimic the posture and gestures of people they would like to influence. It is noticeable that commenters who can be acerbic elsewhere, tend to be affable on Ellee's blog. People become nicer around her. In consequence her blog is no literary salon or debating arena, but a kitchen where friends chat over coffee and virtual biscuits.

Ellee's diverse interests lead naturally to an interesting balance of local, national and international subjects. She is direct and uncomplicated; saying what she thinks in such a gentle, commonsense way that it is impossible to take offence even when she is hopelessly wrong. She asks questions rather than offering opinions or rants. That's one key reason why her blog is a busy place with lots of views exchanged. The contrast with the smell of gunsmoke in the comment columns of some male blogs could not be more dramatic. That friendly atmosphere means it always a pleasure to visit, even if such cutesy words as "sparky" and "hubby" do occasionally make me cringe!

"Lady Ellee" is a treasure. Long may she adorn the British blogosphere in general, and Blogpower in particular.

[This, thank God, concludes my exhausting series of 10 reviews of Blogpower blogs. Normal political ranting will now resume!]

Poll Results: Which Blogpower Blog should be the subject of my final review?

Link: Poll Results: Which Blogpower Blog should be the subject of my final review?.

OK, the votes are in and my final review will be of Ellee Seymour's blog. I shall do the research over the next couple of days. Wish me luck. Better yet, email me your own thoughts on Ellee's writing and I shall reflect them in the final product.

How to make my child feel like a black sheep - Comment - Times Online

Link: How to make my child feel like a black sheep - Comment - Times Online.

I am so sick of Trevor Phillips. The man has never done an honest days work in his life, moving without pause from student politics to allegedly "grown-up" politics. He is a parasite, living on fears that he works tirelessly to promote. This article by Jamie Whyte at Times Online therefore, made me whoop with delight. Forgive me for quoting extensively. I can't take the risk that, having come this far, you won't click through (as you really should) to read the whole thing.

I am white, my wife is black and our daughter, unsurprisingly, is brown. I think she is lucky. Her skin is almost golden and her hair falls in beautiful black ringlets that, thanks to my Celtic ancestors, reveal copper undertones when caught by the sun.

But according to Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, my daughter may be in grave peril. In a recent speech he claimed that, as a person of mixed race, she is at risk of “identity stripping”. She may “grow up marooned between two communities”.

Like many others in the race industry, Mr Phillips is a racialist. He thinks that your race is the most important fact about you. It is so important that it determines your identity and your community. If you are mixed race, you will have neither.

Mr Phillips is mistaken. Despite her brown skin, my daughter is no harder to identify than her white father or her black mother. She is a no more vague, nebulous or otherwise indefinite creature than any other human being.

Nor is she marooned between two communities. For I do not live in the white community and my wife does not live in the black community. As far as I know, there are no such communities. Despite our different colours, all three members of the Whyte family live in the same community, a nice bourgeois suburb.

Hat tip to the indispensable Tim Worstall