Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Miriam Makeba and the African song

Malaika, nakupenda Malaika ….

This kiswahili folk song was a part of my childhood. Strange, then, that I only properly learnt the words a few years ago when I made friends with a real life Swahili speaker. (She also provided the translation.) Even stranger that I have only this morning discovered that the song was performed by that African diva, Miriam Makeba.

Mama Africa, as she is also known, has announced her retirement from performing on the world stage. With all the class and dignity that marks this greatest of African greats, she has thanked all those who have appreciated her music and her struggle. That includes me. Miriam Makeba was the very first performer of whom I had ever heard. I still remember watching her on stage in her long flowing dresses. At that time, I was too young to realise the import of her message. I didn’t know then that as a baby, she had tasted South Africa’s prisons at their very worst, spending six months of her first year jailed alongside her mother. Hardly an ideal introduction to this world, but one that Makeba managed, in later life, to put to the very best use.

After she testified before the United Nations about apartheid, her citizenship was revoked by the South African government. She was even refused a visa to return for her mother’s burial. Cast out into the wilderness by the nation of her birth, she made her home in the United States, and under the wing of Harry Belafonte, continued to speak out against apartheid. (On a flippant note, Makeba’s performance at one of John F. Kennedy’s birthday parties has been eclipsed by that of a notorious model sharing the same initials.) Even as an exile from her nation, she continued to preach the message of peace, freedom and tolerance, receiving the Dag Hammarskjold Peace Prize in 1986.

Makeba returned to South Africa in 1990, following the release of Nelson Mandela. Her return was celebrated with all the pomp and pageantry befitting an exiled queen. She had for a long time been the voice of many, and a thorn in the side of Apartheid South Africa. Her records had been banned in South Africa during her exile, and the Police were known to have locked up people found in possession of her work.

Makeba’s hardly used first name is ‘Zenzile’, which can be translated to mean ‘you have no one to blame but yourself’. I do not know what history informed the choice of that name, but looking back on Makeba’s life, while there were times of regret and blame, there is plenty to praise and emulate.

So Zenzile Miriam Makeba is retiring from the world stage. She has done well. If her work had amounted to entertainment alone, she would still have been deserving of the highest accolade. Her work, however, has done more than entertain. It has preached, warned, comforted, liberated, and enlightened.

Asante sana, Miriam Makeba. Ome fanya vizuri.
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Monday, September 26, 2005

Feel free to offend

Sometimes I don't even want to watch the evening news because of the annoying things I am bound to hear.

Some examples from today. Local councils are to be given cash to help them promote bicycle use among the public (is this the best use of public money?). The Cabinet has endorsed one Gordon Brown as the successor to Tony Blair (obviously no need to ask the electorate first). Ms Dynamite, an 'urban' artiste, has called for more help for single mothers (I don't really quarrel with some of her message, just the fact that we should be required to debate it simply because of the identity of the messenger).

All of the above is as nothing compared to the news that the Tate Gallery has been forced to take down a work of art for fear that it may cause offence.

One of my first questions was, how ever did a work of art entitled 'God is great' end up causing offence? Well, the work consists of a Bible, Koran and Talmud that have been cut apart. The pieces are mounted on either side of a piece of glass so as to make them appear embedded in the glass.

Of the three religions featured in this work of art, can anyone guess the one to which the Tate fears causing offence?


Not many people care about offending the Jews anymore. As to offending Christians, that would appear to be a public duty these days, as even a disinterested BBC-watcher would have observed. Yes, my dear readers, it is the muslims whose wrath we must not incur. Offending Jews or Christians will give rise to more than a few grumbles in certain sections of the media. If the matter is serious enough, that mad ultra-right wing group, the Christian Voice may get involved, but that is the absolute worst that would happen. Offend muslims, however, and the repercussions will be felt everywhere, from the highest buildings in New York, to the depths of London's Underground system.

The BBC London news programme included an interview from a representative of Liberty, the civil rights group, and a man who was described as something or other from the Lambeth Islamic something or other. Lambeth, did they say? Is this the same Lambeth that housed many of the 21 July terrorism suspects and their alleged accomplices? So what was the Lambeth Islamic forum or whatever it's called, and its representative, doing when many of their 'flock' were trooping out of their council properties to plan atrocities against the rest of the public? Perhaps I am not allowed to say this, as the case is still ongoing, and they haven't been found guilty yet, but frankly I feel there are some questions here. If he is in charge of the Lambeth muslims, then he cannot have been doing a good job. Perhaps he is more interested in any perceived insult to muslims, however slight.

Anyway, the interviewer asked him what would be the result of offending muslims that would have made the Tate so scared that they had to take down the artwork. I would have thought that this foolish man would have at least made an attempt to paint his 'flock' in a civilised way. A response along the lines of 'oh no, there won't be any adverse reaction, we are not that barbaric', while not exactly the truth, would at least have been acceptable. No. He instead took the chance to paint us an accurate portrait of the sort of people he represents. His reply to this question was something like, 'well, you have seen how they have reacted in the past to Iraq and Afghanistan ....' At this point, his voice trailed off.

Heavens! So we should all be in fear of offending muslims, as even the slightest thing like an artwork can lead to consequences akin to those visited on us for invading Iraq? I was shocked that this man did not even appear to realise the significance of what he was saying. However, I must report that the interviewer and the Liberty man, to their eternal credit, did not keel over at the warning.

I know the Tate has featured a lot of rubbish in the past, but this does not warrant it being bombed, or targeted by a ragtag band of illiterate bigots. Strangely though, I believe that the artwork should not be shown. However, my reasons for this are hardly as inflammatory. Having seen the work of art in question, I think it is plain crap, and devoid of artistic merit.
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Friday, September 23, 2005

Young people, look away now.

I return to Kate Moss.

I have to report that things have not improved since my last entry. Now our dear Metropolitan Police chief, Sir Ian Blair, has solemnly pronounced that he has 'personally' instructed one of his officers to investigate the matter. Given recent events in London, one would think that this man had better things to do with his time. Sure, the Police can investigate her if they think a crime has been committed, but why do we need the Met Commissioner to pronounce gravely on it as if it were a matter of national importance?

Even worse, he has announced that any decision to prosecute Ms Moss will take into account the impact of her behaviour on young people. Hold on, but that is manifestly unfair. Is this man saying that just because she is a famous supermodel whose behaviour is bound to make the papers, she should be judged more harshly than, say, a single mother on a sink estate of whom no-one has ever heard? I would have thought the criminal law, like the law in general, applied equally to everyone. I would expect the authorities to apply to Kate Moss the same standards they would use in deciding to prosecute anyone else who had committed a similar crime.

The argument that Ms Moss is a 'role model', and so should be judged more harshly, does not stand up. I am unaware that anyone looks up to Kate Moss with the intention of copying her behaviour. In any case, I don't think anyone was shocked to hear that she took drugs. We should all have assumed that, anyway, not least from the fact that her boyfriend is Pete Doherty. More importantly, it wasn't as if Ms Moss was seen out in public snorting cocaine. Those pictures were surreptitiously taken while she was out of the public view. Why should she be held accountable for what she does in private on the off-chance that some impressionable young person somewhere might somehow get to know about it?

Kate Moss has now publicly apologised for her actions. True, the apology was to her family and friends, but the fact that is was made public reveals two things. First, Ms Moss understands that some sort of damage limitation is in order. Second, she realises that the British public possess the power to make or break her. By indirectly appealing to the public in this way, she will be hoping to take the sting out of the story. It is sad that someone's career can so depend on the public judgement. I would think that not even the glitz and trappings of celebrity can compensate for that hard truth.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Kate from Croydon, come out with your hands on your head.

There is a rule among English tabloid editors that at any one time, there must be a female upon whom the venom of the public must be unleashed. At the moment, that dubious honour has been bestowed on one Kate Moss. Ms Moss is a supermodel whose latest boyfriend is an androgynous-looking high-living character called Pete Doherty. Kate Moss also enjoys (if that be the term) a cocaine habit. She also has a 'friend' with a camera phone who passed on to a tabloid some photos of our Kate indulging said habit.

Cue a torrent of hypocritical invective on the head of Ms Moss. Journalists who, we are led to believe, cannot function without a drug of some sort, all weighed in to cast their stones at 'Cocaine Kate', as she is now to be known.

We are now told that Ms Moss from Croydon (now that is so low!) has indulged in 'lesbian orgies' with one other well-known person. Exactly what part of that is the public's business, one may ask. Anyway, it's now open season on the old bird, so I suppose anything goes.

Yesterday, a leading fashion store cancelled a promotions contract with the beleaguered Ms Moss. Today, Chanel announced it would not be renewing her contract. The tabloids, meanwhile, are sounding all preachy as if to say that 'justice has been done'. Meanwhile, our wonderful Police force, which had all along stayed out of the matter, have now announced that they are 'investigating'.

Enough, I say! Leave the girl alone. She has broken the law, and no doubt, there will be consequences of some sort. She has lost two lucrative contracts, not to mention the fact that she now knows that one of her friends is a traitor. While I do not excuse her drug use, I feel she is being unfairly targeted by a vindictive press and an envious public. The treatment being meted out to Kate Moss would never be given to a man. Sure, he would be villified in the tabloids, but the story would not even last the weekend. In Kate's case, we are in week 2, and the story is still running.

Kate's story reminds me forcibly of TB Macaulay's remark: we know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality. I have even heard people express 'concern' that she has a little daughter. That's right, take her child away and put her into care. No doubt she will have a better life in whatever abuse-riddled hellhole of a hostel the State can provide, than anything 'Cocaine Kate' has to offer.

I think I have said enough about this. I hope Kate keeps her remaining contracts. I hope she gets a caution from the Police, and makes an effort to mend her ways. However, faced with the choice of a repentant ex-druggie Kate and a self-righteous British public, I know whom I'd rather have to dinner.
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Sunday, September 18, 2005

What next? Set the Nicene Creed to hip hop music?

Sunday, and off I go to a Roman Catholic mass. Totally new experience for me, having been brought up as an Anglican/Evangelical. The only time I had been in a RC church was to attend a funeral mass over ten years ago. Anyway, I was invited to church today by a dear friend, so off I went.

What was I expecting? For starters, I was looking forward to the Latin, but not a bit of it. I shrugged that off. I suppose the Church has to be inclusive, moreso nowadays when it is possible to undergo formal education without learning a single Latin phrase.

Nor was that all. Time came for the Nicene creed. I had learnt it about 20 years ago in my boarding school days, and I had no problem recalling it. I was however brought up short when I discovered that this most poetic of creeds had been 'simplified'.

Some examples: 'very God of very God' has become 'true God of true God'.
'... begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father' has become 'begotten, not made, of one being with the Father'.

No, I am not just making a fuss over nothing. The new wording has not removed anything from the meaning, but I am not happy about the fact that as a society, we feel the need to revise, or 'modernise', everything. I am sure that the modern version of the Creed is being explained as a way to make religion 'accessible' to all. I have no quarrel with that. My response is simply this: instead of simplifying the language and upsetting the beauty of these ancient writings, why not teach people to read and appreciate them for what they are?

As for the Latin, I will rejoice when once again every schoolchild in the land is compelled to learn it. Learn even the most rudimentary Latin, and the building blocks for English grammar fall easily into place. I don't expect this to happen, though. I hear the Latin uptake from school pupils has dropped, even in the independent schools. Will the Government do anything about it for pupils educated by the State? No. And why should it? New Labour is about 'equality', and most of the time, this means levelling down.

That notwithstanding, the mass was great. Short, and to the point. Scripted, but with enough spontaneity to keep one awake. Contrary to what I had heard about RC masses, the Virgin Mary was mentioned only once. I would have liked to take part in the Communion, but unsure of the rules regarding Anglicans etc, I declined.

I learnt something else. The Catholic Missionary Society (CMS) has been 'rebranded'. It is now known as the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation (CASE). One wonders what it was about the word 'Missionary' that someone must have found objectionable. Is this a rewriting of that good society's aims, or is it that the word is simply too hard for our nation's children to spell?
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Friday, September 16, 2005

European jails

Well well, what can I say? After a four day absence, I am back.

I have not already tired of this blog; far from it. My absence is partly explained by the fact that I was away in good old rural Gloucestershire. I was a guest of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, Severn Valley branch, at 'celebrations' to mark the 75th anniversary of that body. And what a celebration! Sandwiches, wine, and laughs aplenty. OK one must not exaggerate. I somehow acquired a Ramonet Bâtard-Montrachet 1992, but being a non-imbiber, it wasn't of any use to me.

Autumn is upon us. I suppose this is another reason for my four-day silence. I have been so laid back all week, I can hardly summon up the feeling with which to respond to recent events in the news. For instance, I received lying down the news of the latest lunacy from the trades unions. Even the news that the European Union may use criminal sanctions to enforce its laws failed to shake me out of my torpor.


I have just re-read that sentence, and I am now awake. Allow me one second to express my outrage.

Some background: the European Commission brought a test case before the European Court of Justice. At issue was a Council Framework Decision on the protection of the environment through criminal law. To cut a long story short, the question was basically whether they had to get unanimous agreement from all member states before using criminal sanctions to enforce the law. The court said no; qualified majority voting was sufficient. This means that that criminal sanctions could be imposed even if some states refuse to back this.

What does this mean in practical terms? It means that the EU can pass a law with criminal sanctions with direct impact on the UK, even without the approval of the government. All that is required is that the law be passed by a majority vote. There is therefore the possibility of criminal laws applying in the UK that were not approved by the government. We must be concerned about this threat of exposure to criminal sanctions in respect of laws that may be made even in the face of opposition from the government.

The most absurd thing is that this decision has been hailed by the Commission's president as a watershed decision that would lead to 'more democratic and more efficient lawmaking at EU level'. How?

We are 'assured' that in real terms, there is no prospect of the UK agreeing to such a loss of sovereignty. But who are we to believe? Ministers here always say that the 'national interest' will always be protected. Call me a cynic, but whenever I see a UK government minister draping himself in the Union flag, I know that a further surrender of sovereignty is on the cards.

*Exhales deeply*

Bel is back!
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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Order a curry or predict a tsunami

We are informed today that al Qaeda had hatched a plan to gun down both Tony and Cherie Blair during the Queen's golden jubilee celebrations a few years ago. Reader, I am ashamed to report that on hearing the news, my immediate reaction was to exclaim 'Oh my God, poor Cherie!'. It's not that I do not care about the safety of ole King Tone, but maybe I think he is big enough to take care of himself.

Other news. A young girl has been given an award by the Marine Society. This is interesting news, and I'll tell you why. While on holiday in Phuket with her parents over Christmas, she observed the sea behaving rather strangely and recalled from a geography lesson that such signs adumbrated a tsunami. She raised the alarm, and was able, together with her parents and many other tourists, to escape the deluge. She received her award with good grace, crediting her geography teacher for imparting that knowledge to her in the first place.

According to the story, our hero is being educated at a private school. I could not help wondering what would have happened if she were instead a student at the local comp. My guess is that the tsunami death toll would probably have been higher. To make my point, here are sample questions from a recent GCSE examination:

In a Leisure and Tourism examination (yes, yes, there is such a thing), students were asked: 'Other than Indian food, name one type of food provided by take-away restaurants.' (3 marks).

Next question: 'Describe what customers need to do to receive a delivery service from an Indian take-away restaurant.'

Here are some more questions from this intriguing subject:

Describe your own Saturday leisure activities and the time you spend on them (4 marks).

What is meant by a short-break holiday? (2 marks).

The Health and Social Care paper (heavens!) is equally obliging, requiring students to 'identify two different family relationships'.

Also, according to examiners, three-quarters of the brightest GCSE students are unable to convert fractions to decimals.

Little wonder statistics indicate that the number of students electing for the 'harder' academic subjects (eg mathematics, physics) has fallen, as many students now prefer the 'applied' subjects, such as Leisure and Tourism (hear, hear) and Health and Social Care. A lot of fun, no doubt, but of no use in a tsunami situation.
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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Just wondering

Is it true that everything lovely is 'but a brief, dreamy, kind delight'?
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Friday, September 09, 2005

The marriageability of Charlie and other stories

OK new day, and strangely enough I don't feel like ranting. I am in one of those rare moods where I actually believe that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds. Hmm. Who knows how long this will last?

Panglossian delusion aside, it has been a very quiet day. A quick glance at the papers reveals that Cherie Blair (wife of Tone) has been quoted criticising Islam for its subjugation of women. Good on her, I say. Although I'm not sure quite how that squares with the fact that she represented that teenage girl who sued her local authority for not allowing her wear a jilbab to class. I suppose for her, the 'distinction' was that the young girl was exercising her free choice to wear said attire, and not being coerced into it by some mad mullah.

I note with alarm that our Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, is threatening to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights. I must say something about this fellow. Charles Clarke is a very interesting-looking man. Whenever I see a picture of him, I am reminded of an old Nigerian saying that no matter what a man looks like, he will always find a woman to marry him. Very true words. Anyway, he is threatening that the Convention may be in danger if he does not get his way on certain anti-terror legislation he wants to push through. I am not in a very talkative mood today, so you have all been spared the lecture on why this would be a Very Bad Thing.

The whole nation (me excepted) is engulfed in cricket fever. England are playing Australia, and all of a sudden, even people who know nothing about cricket are waving the flag. This must be really annoying for genuine cricket supporters who follow the sport through thick and thin. Someone described their feelings as akin to those of devoted churchgoers at Christmas Eve midnight service when the drunken revellers from the Dog and Duck turn up to bellow Good King Wenceslas.

Above many things I love the onset of Autumn. It is the most awesome season. It appears to be the only time of year that I can unearth my latent creativity. Plus it's so beautiful outside. As I walked up the hill yesterday, I found myself reciting Yeats' The falling of the leaves. It's such a sad poem, but it always cheers me up.
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Thursday, September 08, 2005

The whirlwind and the underdog

I find myself having, yet again, to return to Katrina. I have read many comments in the past few days from people who believe that America, being a rich country, should not be given any help from other countries. Even more upsetting is the view that George Bush’s spending priorities have led to the problem, and he should therefore revise them, and use the money to help the Katrina victims. Even if we accept that American money being used in Iraq be diverted to New Orleans, how long do we think it will take for this to happen? And in the meantime, the residents of New Orleans are doing what? Sipping brackish water as they await their salvation? This is a rather selfish way to think. We sometimes accuse America of valuing the lives of their citizens more than those of other countries, but views such as this are no better. In effect they are saying, ‘sorry, you poor of America. We are not going to give you any money. Wait for your war-mongering president to divert money to you.’ Can you imagine the outrage from the Left if America refused to send aid to alleviate the famine in Zimbabwe because of the policies of Robert Mugabe? We would be told, and rightly too, that Mugabe’s sins should not be visited on his people; why should the poor suffer because of the policies of their leader? These are all valid points, so I wonder why these arguments are not used for the poor of America.

As to the argument that America is rich, so should not be helped, all I will say is this: it is interesting how means testing, normally branded offensive when advocated by the welfare state, is readily deployed in order to deny America any help.

What I find most disturbing is not whether or not these people will give anything to America. Rather, it is the fact that such views are widespread. Whenever there is a disaster anywhere on this planet, America is normally expected to wade in and help. It is quite clear that all the help given by America will not foster the slightest bit of compassion in some people, leave alone gratitude. The human thing would be for America to think long and hard about its standing in the world. Perhaps this may lead her to conclude that there is really nothing to be gained from rushing forward to help other nations in need, but that is not the Christian way.

America will always be America. It will learn lessons from the handling of Katrina. Perhaps one day, Black America will forgive the government. Right now, America is shining the torch of introspection. It isn’t really helping that those who have never wished her well have chosen this opportunity to bare their fangs.

Football. Last night, England played Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifier. The match was billed as three easy points for England, so much so that it appeared that all England had to do was turn up at Windsor Park in Belfast. Snag was, no-one had bothered to inform Norn Iron of this. So they came and played football. You should have seen the look on the face of Wayne Rooney, the England striker. He was astounded by the impudence of those boys. Why were they not moving out of the way so he could score? Even the commentators were making comments like: Wayne Rooney/David Beckham/Frank Lampard is frustrated because (insert N.I player name) is getting in the way of the ball, or some such crap. Well, what did they think the game was about? Anyway, the game ended, as such games must, with England losing one-nil. I have no further comment, but I feel a Bible verse coming on. It is Proverbs 11.2. And no, I am not going to spell it out. I think it’s time you made some effort. Why do I have to do everything round here?
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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Katrina and the way we view ourselves

I suppose I should say something about Katrina.

What astounds me is the incredulity with which people are viewing the activities of the New Orleans ‘criminal element’. Why is anyone surprised? Did you think that being American means that you do not possess those qualities found in human beings all over the world? Hello? Where there is a break down of law and order, with the attendant severing of the link between action and consequence, people will resort to whatever they can get away with. Why do we shrug our shoulders when we hear of rapes, murders and looting in disaster areas like Darfur, Rwanda and Baghdad, but react with shock when the same happens in America? Human beings are the same everywhere, and will act in the same way when confronted with the same set of circumstances. Also, interesting how the people shooting up the town and looting in New Orleans are referred to as ‘bandits’ and such like, but in Baghdad and elsewhere, they go by the more evocative title of ‘militiamen’.

Some countries have offered assistance to the US. I was touched to see Sri Lanka among their number. This is a country that suffered during the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, and benefited from US help. I was annoyed to discover that no other developing nation had put its hand in its pocket. Yes, Mother Africa, I am talking to you. It is all very well to say that America does not need the money, but what about the American poor? You can donate that money to the American Red Cross. Even if you can only afford $10,000, it is still worth something. It is not OK to just sit there, hand outstretched to take, take, take. When are you going to learn to give? Far from impoverishing you, giving will actually help you, as it can do wonders for your self-esteem. I will not hold my breath, though.

Notice I did not begin this Katrina article by expressing sympathy, and directing ‘thoughts and prayers’ towards all those affected. I take the view that one should expect that of any right-thinking human, and that there is therefore no need to express it. I take against this idea that one must recite out a pre-determined preamble before one can express a view on a particular issue. Eg if you are an imam and there has been a terrorist outrage, Heaven help you if you do not begin your public statement by condemning the bombers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they should not be condemned. I am saying that it is not for society to choose what words we should speak in any given situation. Such words are little more than ritual genuflection to the sensibilities of our listeners. Perhaps for this reason some may argue that they are necessary.

This brings me to another point. If you have looked up my profile, you will have discovered that I live in England. Over the last eight years, I have noticed a few things in this community. What I want to talk about now is the way we as a society respond to crime. In England, little children go missing every summer. This also happens at other times of the year, but we hear more about it in the summer. Anyway, a child goes missing for a few days, and then the Police find a body. The public then flock there and place bouquets of flowers and ‘soft toys’ at the scene, almost turning it into a shrine. What I have noticed is that there is always a bouquet on which someone has pinned a note with the word ‘Why???’. It always amazes me. What do they mean 'why'? I’ll tell them 'why'. It is because there are evil people in this world who will think nothing of doing something that bad. It is also because as a society we have failed to look out for one another. Perhaps it is also because the Police spend so much time faffing about on issues that have nothing to do with crime prevention and detection.

Crime is the result of a failure in society; in most cases, it is a failure on the part of the individual (ie the criminal), and in addition, there are cases in which the larger society is to blame. Don’t get it twisted, I am not absolving the individual perpetrator of any blame; remember I am no leftie. I am just saying maybe we should look at society and see if we are not in some way failing the victims of crime. Perhaps, rather than ‘why’, the appropriate word to be left at the scene of a tragedy should be that left at the Pont De L’Alma where Diana died: désolée*.

Back to Katrina, some words I am already fed up of hearing: ‘Big Easy’, levee, breach, ‘Third World’, FEMA, and ‘Category 5’.

*For my non-French speaking readers, this word can be translated ‘sorry’.
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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Here we go ...

OK this is my first ever post, blog, whatever it's called. Bear with me a little.

Some minor things to get out of the way.

First, why am I doing this?

I need somewhere to rant, and I do not want to use my new foiled leather journal for that purpose.

On a slightly related matter, I happened upon someone's blog today (I hesitate to call her a 'friend'), and would you believe it, she was 'cussing me on the internet', as Beyonce would put it. Well, I suppose that's what you get for reading other people's mail. The Bible does say that you shouldn't listen too closely to other people's conversations 'lest thou hear thy servant curse thee' (Ecclesiastes 7.21, since you ask!). I was thinking whether to retaliate in this blog, but to quote Destiny's Child yet again, 'I'm better than that'.

Second, what do I intend to write about?

Everything. Well, not really. I mean, if there's an interesting debate by the IAEA on North Korea, you can come here safe in the knowledge that I will not be talking about it. Anything remotely 'science', I will not touch. I still haven't recovered from all those mind-numbing discussions about WMD. Although whether the whole WMD thing is 'science' or 'fiction' (or both), we will leave for the moment.

Expect politics. Expect rantings about taxation, over-regulation and crime. Expect a bit of the Bible thrown in to buttress my points (as in the eavesdropping example above). There may be humour, but I wouldn't make any heavy promises just yet.

NOTE if you like Michael Moore, do not come anywhere near here.

I suppose this is OK, as welcomes go.
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