This runs against my normal narrative, which might be all the more reason to mention it.
I was chatting earlier today with a partner in a criminal forensics consultancy. This firm (of ex-Met personnel, mainly) is employed by solicitors in complicated cases to perform forensic analysis of things like telephone records, which form a large part of most serious trials. The work just isn’t there at the moment. That’s because large complicated investigations have been scaled back, leaving the simpler ones to keep crime stats respectable.
So it sounds like the cuts really are having an impact on the investigation of serious crime. Ironically, they’re all waiting for the News International hacking cases to come through. Lots of telephone analysis there!
A German job centre has apologised for an ‘oversight’ after ordering a young woman to work in a brothel.
According to a report in the local Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper, Christine Hirmer, 19, received a letter from the German Labour Office in Augsburg suggesting she apply for a position at an establishment called the ‘Colosseum.’
That’s the opening of this Independent piece. What do you think she was being asked to do? Become a prostitute?
Nope. To be a barmaid. Brothels are legal in Germany, as are their bars.
It’s a grossly misleading headline start to the story. Brothels are legal. Brothels should be legal. At stake are the lives of the women who would otherwise be haunting street corners. This story is motivated by puritanism.
Despite David Thompson’s very generous welcome back, I haven’t been posting as much as I would like. Much work, little time.
I’ll be posting, briefly, about this again soon, but I stopped blogging because I have a stalker, Darius Guppy. Nobody seems to know who he is any more, but at one time he was notorious, if only as a villainous friend of a famous person. It’s not very nice to be stalked, especially for people close to the subject who did nothing to deserve it – I did have a sordid involvement with this grubby little man more than twenty years ago so, to that extent, made my own bed. I made a promise in my private life not to mention Guppy in my posts and found, subsequently, that I couldn’t write at all. If something was off-limits, if I couldn’t be honest in one area, I didn’t want to do it at all.
Now Delerious (as he was nicknamed by the police who arrested him twenty-odd years ago) has issued a libel writ against me in South Africa. It’s an extraordinary thing. Of the three grounds, one involves comments made by someone else on someone else’s blog. Another is a matter of fair comment, the third concerns a conversation I had with Guppy in the Hilton Hotel on Bayswater Road, when he showed me some shipping documents. I suspect this latter is the main issue and find it hard to understand why he would make sure this episode reaches the largest possible audience.
But there we are: he is an idiot, after all, so I shouldn’t be surprised. The great thing is, I can blog again. After all, if silence doesn’t make him lose interest and wander off, there’s no point being silent. Instead, I’m reporting him to the police.
And work is getting under control, with some exciting product launches coming up later this month so I’ll have more time for posting.
President François Hollande’s 47-year old partner was slammed for eschewing her Left-wing principles in favour of unabashed champagne Socialism despite the threat of “thousands of job losses in the coming weeks” in companies ranging from Renault to Air France.
They haven’t been paying attention. This is what always happens. It’s not so much socialist hypocrisy (though that’s not unknown), it’s the effect of power and proxy wealth, the wealth of the state. Almost everybody is affected by it, John Prescott being a prime UK example.
It’s why socialist experiments invariably turn out to be as stratified as any seventeenth-century monarchy.
Edmund Standing is a conservative blogger and retired anti-fascist activist who also wrote from an atheist perspective. After a few months of quiet, he has revived his blog because he has re-found God. In one post, he linked to some of William Lane Craig’s arguments or, as Lane Craig would put it, proofs of the existence of God. One of these contains five proofs that God exists.
Lane Craig is a formidable Christian apologist who has debated with most of the new atheists, Hitchens, Dawkins and the others. In live debate he tends to throw out about five such arguments in a Gish Gallop, but here we have them on the page to think about at more leisure.
The first runs as follows:
- Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
- If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
- The universe exists.
- Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1, 3).
- Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God (from 2, 4).
Obviously, the first thing an atheist can say, to the very first point, is “no it doesn’t”. An atheist could say “stuff pops in and out of existence in quantum foam – what causes that?”. An atheist could say “the idea of cause depends on the arrow of time, cause precedes effect, and the idea of the Big Bang is that time, as well as space, is curled up into a tiny point at the origin. There isn’t a ‘before’. It doesn’t even make sense”.
There’s quite a lot of following argument, but none addresses the simple: “no, it doesn’t”. The closest he comes is in response to a putative atheist argument that the universe is all there is so there couldn’t be anything to cause it. There’s nothing else. This is similar to something I said above about the Big Bang:
This line of reasoning is, however, obviously fallacious because it assumes that the universe is all there is, that if there were no universe there would be nothing. In other words, the objection assumes that atheism is true. The objector is thus begging the question in favor of atheism, arguing in a circle. The theist will agree that the explanation of the universe must be some (explanatorily) prior state of affairs in which the universe did not exist. But that state of affairs is God and his will, not nothingness.
What he misses is that both sides are begging the question, because of the way the question is phrased. Point 1 above might as well be re-worded to read “God exists”. Atheism plainly includes the idea that the universe might not have a cause.
And what of ’the necessity of its own nature’? What does that mean?
Things that exist necessarily exist by a necessity of their own nature. It’s impossible for them not to exist. Many mathematicians think that numbers, sets, and other mathematical entities exist in this way. They’re not caused to exist by something else; they just exist necessarily.
God’s like that:
Now if God exists, the explanation of God’s existence lies in the necessity of his own nature, since, as even the atheist recognizes, it’s impossible for God to have a cause.
This is from someone who is supposed to be reading and understanding atheist arguments. Not only does the atheist not recognise that, the atheist actually asks how come, if everything has to have a cause, God doesn’t? Doesn’t the idea of God just displace the problem of origin?
But consider the argument. God is like numbers or sets. They all exist because their own natures make it necessary. That’s something that can just be declared, without any substantiation. Are numbers not just a by-product of our brains’ aptitude for categorisation? Perhaps we categorise things that are on their own as 1 and have built on that? Since complex numbers have no physical analogue, like three sheep for 3, yet work with practical things like engineering, maybe we’re just catching glimpses of a completely unimagined reality. We don’t know.
Lane Craig doesn’t grok “I don’t know”. The basic atheist view is “I don’t know, but it’s not something that’s been revealed to anyone. We have to tease it out by looking at nature herself.”
I wish Standing every happiness in his newly re-found faith but, really, this is drivel.
Started by Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, Artists Against Fracking is a group of artists, musicians, and filmmakers dedicated to bringing attention to the damages and environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing.
“Right now, some people are trying to make easy money, and meanwhile ruin this country’s future, by a thing called ‘fracking.” – Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono and her son Sean Lennon were compelled into action by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that fracking might soon begin in New York – directly impacting their home in upstate New York. In less than 10 days, they gathered nearly 150 fellow artists to join them in the founding of Artists Against Fracking in August 2012.
Today, at nearly 200 members Artists Against Fracking works to expose and stop the harmful and contaminating practice of fracking for natural gas and oil through mass awareness and peaceful democratic action. At its core, we believe that fracking for shale gas is a danger to New Yorkers. Inevitably, the process leads to the release of toxic chemicals — many of which are unknown and unreported — into our air and water.
I particularly commend the final sentence to you. Fracking releases ‘unknown’ chemicals.
Clement Attlee famously remarked:
Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.
This gets bandied about a lot by many on the tax-hard left, so there’s a dull inevitability about the fact that the Clement Attlee Foundation is a registered charity and, as they point out:
… if you’re a UK taxpayer GiftAid increases the value to us of your donation by 28p in every £1 at no cost to you.
That is, the UK tax man loses the income tax you paid on the money earned and donated.
It continues. I’ve added emphasis to parts of the following quote which is, I think, from the same 1920 Attlee book as the first:
In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways – they may be neglected, they may be cared for by the organised community as of right, or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community. The first way is intolerable, and as for the third: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice.
Attlee had a point. But he had a very different welfare state in mind than the one we’re facing now. His intention was for a safety net for people fallen temporarily (“at some period in their lives”) on hard times in a “civilised community” of “self-reliant individuals”.
UKIP would be happy with that. It’s not what the people who quote Attlee today have in mind. They seem to leave this bit out when picking their citations.
The Attlee Foundation does seem to be a good thing, though:
Our past projects include:
- Housing for teenagers in London’s East End, similar to today’s foyer projects, and a halfway those leaving the housing
- Opening a community centre and day care for drug users at a time when there was no government funded support for drug users. This was funded initially by the Leverhulme Trust and later a London borough. This project led to development of a drug-free hostel for the next stage of rehabilitation which became the first of many Phoenix Houses across the UK.
- Providing eye camps in India and funding for an Indian doctor to study at Moorfields, in association with the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind.
- Developing an adventure playground in the heart of London’s East End. After many years of successful operation we redeveloped the site to add the youth and community centre and sports pitches.
- Attlee Means Business is an exciting project to develop entrepreneurial skills in young people in Tower Hamlets with support from City businesses. A programme of support over six workshops covering business basics and planning will be provided by City business volunteers with inspirational talks from successful business people and entrepreneurs. This project is funded jointly by City businesses and London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Cold? Loveless? And even if you have paid all your taxes gladly, is it a bad thing to want to do more?
Attlee can’t have thought so. The Foundation was established before his death, to carry on his work. By then, more than 40 years after he wrote his famous sentence, he had, presumably, changed his mind.