June 29, 2007

Five articles

All at Bits- I've recently written on the question of rings to denote virginity and the case in the High Court about it in the UK, defections from the Conservative Party, the succeses of Dutch football, Tony Blair's mission to Israel, the new Brown cabinet and the managerial crises at Real Madrid and Manchester City.

Over at Nourishing obscurity- there is an article about why I can't spell and the costs to footballers of the second world war.

More will appear on this blog soon- apologies I've been very busy recently but I will try harder to get stuff up here as well!


ario said...

Being Dutch I really enjoyed your analysis of the success of Dutch football. Another thing that comes to mind is that - perhaps contrary to other rich countries, I am thinking about my current home country Germany here - there is still a lot of street football in the Netherlands. Kids don't just play in their clubs, they play outside on the street in their free time, whenever they can. Perhaps this has something to do with a relatively high level of social cohesion in Dutch society, which may or may not be more prevalent in smaller countries?

Your point about immigrants is also interesting. The national team has performed - in my eyes - worse (and far less attractive football) since Marco van Basten deselected most players of immigrant background.

Another interesting question is why the Dutch football team never wins anything. I've always felt that we somehow lack the psychological backbone to win the major trophies because we believe they are ours by right. When things then go wrong we get angry at the world and neglect to actually work for the victory.

Note of Dutch pedantry: the population of the Netherlands is nearly twice the size of Belgium though. And Belgium isn't a real country ;)

edmund said...

here's my provisonal argumetn on the virginity ring article

the notion that the problem with Brii8h schools is to much pressure to sexual chastity is one of the funniest i've ever heard

i think the case itself illustrates the problems of collectivised education. Something like this should surely be up to schools and the parnes who select those schools- it's the nature of the centralized nature of Uk schools that makes this a court matter.

However under the existing system it strikes me that it depends on the type of school if a Jewish school or even a catholic school (and definitely a secular humanist school when they come nto existence) then it's acceptable for them to enforce the religious environment they are base on.

However in the absence of school decentralizing it makes sense to make "neutral" British schools accept a reasonable degree of religious diversity- given that is the case with hijabs and turbans a sivler ring is obviously less of a disruption.

Discovering the reason for this suppression makes me much less sytmpathic to the school ( I acutaly had semi believed their lie they were genuinely doing this because of a consistent jewellery ban thanks for enlightening me that this was dishonest spin ) - it sounds like they were either hostile to the notion of thier school kids not engaging in sex ( worrying in a school!) or more likely were expressing their intolerance and hatred of to the girls religous views and seeking to suppress them. A non denominational school should not be that bigoted -and not seek to suppress heretical religious viewpoints (I'm assuming that's what it is)

As for the argumets- the fact is sexual behaviour among teenagers is massively based on social expectations- that is a key element in why it's sexula promiscuity is so high among English teenagers, even the likes of polly toynbee argue it's expectations "everyoen is doing it" that helps explains this phenomonea, a movement that seeks to counteract this and give people some pride in showing sexual restraints strikes me as almost unambiguously good-a huge % of adolescent girls say they reject the time they lost their virginity- a sing of the strength of such social pressures.

On the American experience- the evidence is virginity pledges work best precisely when there are a small group pri what this article seems to condemn and seeik to wipe out because it's somehow supposed to hurt the feelings of the casually promiscuous.

Socail experience and pressure are inevitable in teenager hood- to put some resistnace to the enormous social pressures among teenager to engage in early sex strike me as very sensible.

what's the danger these children are expanding themselves to as the article heading suggests? the danger of not having an abortion, the danger of not having illegal sex? what?

As for the unity article which seemed mainly enlivened by a picture of an attractive bra model ( which confusingly it seemed to disapprove of) it seemed to be a lot stuff and noise remiscent of the US blogs it appears modelled on without much substance- basically her parents are very keen on this ring momvent and involved with a not for profit organisation that promotes it- judging by previous press accounts this is barely a surprise.
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edmund said...


just to add unity also seems under hte views peoople without a sex drive are somehow inferiro i doubt gracchi would link to a set of articles that said the same thing about peole who like having sex with men -particularly ones that gave no reasonaiong but abuse.

edmund said...

some pointson the defector article

nteresing article

I thought the point about style is a good one- Davies has pitned out Brown's spin before-but undoubtably he is not a great practioner of it.good point aobut Blair and Brown too

It's also woht noting this defecion seems to show the negative side both of Camerou's EPP pledge-and of his waffle on the subject. One thing I would also say is be carefull about reading too much clearly into the waffle about spin- it's worthy noting just as Caerou is spinning himself as the ultimate good heri to Brown- brown is tyring to present him as the bad one - insubstani dishonest spin (i'm talking about Blari's reputation here)

I have three major points but first some questions about some of the langugage

firstly what aobut hte "mods" as you've styled it is "libertain" as opposed to liberitne in social values- hostity to catholic adoption agencies (admitely a very small number of tory mps juding b the figures) . Camerouns refusal to reverse the smoking ban is a clear sign of moral authorianism-not libertariansim.

"without the prescriptive moral baggage that often the nastier kind of Thatcherite came encumbered with. " what's the nastier kind? and cameroun seems to have a great deal of extra moral baggage "homophibia" , drininb the wickid kind of car ect ( in a sense this brings me to one of my three major points)

similalry "uncivilsed" was the UK in 1948 uncivilsed- if not in what ways are the "rockers"

i think the US point is very dubi0ous- for example Policy exchange a "rocker" insititon if ever there was one is very close to the Republicna party and its circles.

What's supposed to be "pitiless" about the "rockers" are they Pitless to small buisiness who might be stranggled by regulations , to poorer taxpayers crusehd by the weight of taxes, to married couples stuff by the tax and benefit systems, to bar oners who will lose thier living through the smoking ban ect ect

i think iraq is just one of Blair's many problems -albiet a big one obvioiusly.

edmund said...

the main points on the defector article

now for my three big points

a) I think the "mod" and "rocker" distinction is simplic to the point of not being very usefull. for example the environmentalism is itslef a new thing and where does soeone like Davies who loves aboion and dislikes gay rights fit in or Jerry Hayes whose the latter? How on earth does an indiffence to lifestyle go along with bossing working hours ect. And the ground has changed so often- eg

in particular policy exchange "rocker" if such a thing existed is very close to US republican/ republican party supporters. simiarly as I said environtmalism is a new division

b) Most significantly I think it's not relay a good way of summing up how Cameroun has changed tory policy (as opposed to mood music) the key facot is moving away form classi al liberalism , individual liberty , choice and property rights to a greater empasi on using government to solve social problems. This could be seen in his campaign for leader- as pointed out beforehand he was carefull to appeal to large secions of the right- on europe he made sure he wasn't outrighted, indeed more or less outrighted Davis, but also on family values, religion and war on terror hawkishness ( the last group i'm unconvied is necessarily on the right of the tory party).

ONly the smnall govenrment side got noting- and the changes in his leadership

This can be seen for exmaple in gay rights- camou did not introu the idea all such votes would be free votes for the toreis (that was Howard) nor was he the first leader to take liberationist postions (ditto) , rather what's dinig him is supporiong coceriv e govmetn action- closing down adoption agencies forcing chrin orgaison to hire homsoexuals ect- it's the bleifi nthe govemrnt imposing morality rather than the liberationising of morality that his dinstive

This can be seen in other polices, moving away from parentl choice on schools, massivly aay from patient choice on hospitals, bleowing cold on tax cuts . bekng moralitic and bossy on the enviont ect

in fact this is "compasionate conservatism" or "big governmetn conservatism" - reflein the fact that aisde from his more authorian views on gay rights Camou has basicaly a very similar viewpoint- and a similary statsit one (by the standards of the Anglo-saxon right)

c) on Davies I think the article slightly misunderstands him. He was not an old fashioned tory in his views ( his bakcoun is of course slightly paraodic). His basicaly a standard tory save on three issues

I) europe- his an extreme eurofederalist of the most extreme kind. This seems to me the biggest reason,

II) aborion-his increidly enthusiaics for that, obviously not a big factor given the nature of Britih politics-though the goverment has been very spathi insofar as they have a postion to his views-eg passing legisiaon to breed mixed animal/ humans they're passing at the moment so i imagine it made him more sympathetic.

III) his unsually neoconserviatve / pro American-which i actually think is heavily motivated by a combinion of his otherwise normal tory views and his arch eurofederalism.

Thus insofar asi t's ideological i think this has to be seen that. A disliek of thei mprotia 0of Blairtie spin (not that Brown is immune to it) may be a facot of course- I supsect perosnal religonas andn ot just wiht Cameroun may be importnat. Unusally for a eurofederalist his very friendldy with IDS and i'm sure dislied some of the more unpleasnet porillistas/ camerounistas as a result He clalry doens have much mood music wiht Cameroun

and it's worth rembmeing his background is no more parodic tory than Cameroun.

one thing i'd add I'm sure Gracchi would agree with is that it's very early days- look at margaret thathcer or john howard (or indeed tony blair ) at this stage caemou could go in some many direcions if sucessfull or indeed if not

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edmund said...

on Blair to Isreal

Re: Blair to Israel!

Written by: edmund, 2007-06-30 18:40:46
i actualy think in a sense Blair is acualy well suited to this. i'm not sure the critiicms , it de look like any peace deal will incluede hamas and there's not relaly anyone better suited to get them on board. His not wining a populiayt contest and i think in the case of the likes of the syrians it's thier respect rathe than liking for Blari tha's at issue.

The fact is though for all Blaris perosnal beliefi n himself what deteines these issues ithe fumndals and intentions of the parties. So nI owes most to the IRA's military defeat and infiltration and septmebember 11th -Blaris wilignes to give unbelivble conessions to terristists may have helped in a sense (whether the price was worht it is a difent matter ) obivous he ownt' be to surrender for the Isrealis though

The fact is I see no evidnce ther's a workabe peace deal on the cards- and blair willn ot have magical powers to produce one. the sides are simply too polarized and divided (particul in the Palestian case) to make a deal-the only way perhps might be if hamas would make one- and ther's as yet no evidnce of that.

edmund said...

on the new cabinet
Firstly you may be right on universites- but it may simply be an attempt to sepearte school and post school education-it's concieavable that's what it means- and a new emaps on vocational education would I think be welcome and not necessarily anti academic

I think it's unfar to say Kelly and Blears owe their jobs to bieng a women ( though i think a lot of the criticm may be unfair I think it's hard to deny with jacqui Smith). Blears i think is a sop to the ultra- Blarities particular as she'll be about the only one excpet perhpas milliband. Kelly I think is because she's got on well with Brown and Blair, is very able, is not really responsibe for most of her problems and is a treasusery person.

Nick Brown has received promotion because his deputy chief whip given his closeness to Big Brown i imange he will play a more importnat role than that suggests.

Gracchi's point on the Olympics is well taken-and incredibly depressing! AN even bigger wite elephant costing even more money - one of Blairs many awefull legacies.

What record of "sorting out problems" does Darling have- I would say he has a long history of rubber stamping Brown.

i agree the cult of the buisnesman is exaggerated-having said that many leading buisnessmen can be very able and well informed- and while one shoudn assume they would be a good appointment one shouldn't assume they wouldn't be either. I alos doubt they'd particularly warp govetnmet policy -sugar for all his faults used to be a small buienssmen , there are loads of other more obious bias -eg in favour of graduates or fomrer academics in the current government.

ON a factual note Woodward defenced under Hague not Major -it was under major he was seled for parliament by the conservatives-including support for Secion 28 and the death penatly

His appointment is a bit sickening- it's a shame the only tory defector to gain cabinet rank is clearly the most opportunistic and personaly conetemptible.

Clearly Brown is very keen to encourage more defectors to make him look less partisan...