Archive for April, 2007

David Hume on Edwards I and II

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Item Edward I’s firm line on multiculturalism:

The king, sensible that nothing kept alive the ideas of military valour and of ancient glory so much as the traditional poetry of the people, which, assisted by the power of music and the jollity of festivals, made deep impression on the minds of the youth, gathered together all the Welsh bards, and, from a barbarous though not absurd policy, ordered them to be put to death.

Item He honoured his father, if not his mother:

Prince Edward had reached Sicily in his return from the Holy Land, when he received intelligence of the death of his father; and he discovered a deep concern on the occasion. At the same time he learned the death of an infant son, John, whom his princess, Eleanor of Castile, had born him at Acre in Palestine; and as he appeared much less affected with that misfortune, the king of Sicily expressed a surprise at this difference of sentiment: but was told by Edward, that the death of a son was a loss which he might hope to repair; the death of a father was a loss irreparable.

Item Edward’s son, Edward II of course, came to a sad end — not for being gay, but for being a wimp. Isn’t this just the character of (no, I’ve promised not to be nasty to him) .. But, anyway, it’s a lovely epitaph:

Of all men, nature seemed least to have fitted him for being a tyrant … greater abilities with his good dispositions, would have prevented him from falling into his faults; or, with worse dispositions, would have enabled him to maintain and defend them.

Assorted Sunday evening links

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

And now back to the last — the very last chapter.

Gone, not fishing

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

I am going to cut off all access to the web from this computer until I finish the last chapter of the Swedish book. But, before I vanish, a link found by John Naughton, which I didn’t think would be funny, because it comes from Youtube. You may not think it is funny, because it is in (subtitled) Danish. Other people might not think it’s funny because it’s about monks.

We’d all be wrong. Enjoy!

Another body part missing in Småland

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

From Svenska Dagbladet I learn that two young men had a fight on the dance floor in Jönköping, the spiritual home of the Christian Democratic Party. The younger of the two bit off the older one’s thumb: the older one, with commendable self-possession, knocked out his assailant’s teeth. These were collected from the floor. But when doctors tried to sew the thumb back on, it was nowhere to be found. Police suspect it may have been swallowed, but there is as yet no evidence of this.

See also

A very brief thought

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

Parked here for later use (I have to write and record a half-hour radio programme on children’s happiness by Wednesday afternoon; it will be Thursday evening’s Analysis for anyone who is interested.)

There are two huge problems facing Europe, and the West generally. One is the threat of “Islam” — not, that is to say, the religion so much as the appearance of an unemployed, unemployable, underclass, racially or socially distinct from the rest of us, and hostile. The other is climate change.

The third problem is that the cure for each threatens to make the other worse.

The only way to absorb and integrate all these people is through economic growth. Useful, productive employment is the motor from which all else is driven. But it is precisely this growth which makes worse the problem of global warming, something which will in the end make economic contraction inevitable. I suspect that a sustainable society will have a lot less paid employment — or a very much smaller population. We know that our present model of exploiting the earth is unsustainable.

I suspect that the answer will involve the rediscovery of nation states, and a fresh interest in war as a means of policy.

Mechanical mindlesness.

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

There is of course a more sinister interpretation of the kind of drivel referenced in the post before this. The abstract nouns — framework, integration, hallmark, strategy, etc. — may not all mean meetings or may not just mean that.

If one take Henry Porter seriously — and why not? — they will also refer to government databases. I think this is a much more helpful way of thinking about the seemingly inexorable totalitarian creep of British and American government than supposing that they are all power-mad and want to control everything. It is that they fear they don’t control anything, and that outside of the world of ritual meetings and spreadsheet voodoo, all is chaos.

There is nothing like a database to give the illusion of control. The government is faffing around with IT for the same reason that I have wasted years of my life thinking about software and faffing around with it: because it supplies a little world where it can feel in control.

In some ways, I find the fact that this control is quite illusory just as frightening as the fact that quite a lot of it is real.