Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Plod plays it safe

The following is based on a recent item in Yahoo News.
 An investigation has found that at least 1,400 children were exploited in the UK town of Rotherham*** between 1997 and 2013 and that there was a “collective failure” by authorities to stop the abuse. The Rotherham Borough Council published a report today which said that it is “hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered”.
“They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated.”
The inquiry was launched last September to look at how Rotherham Council’s children’s services department dealt with cases involving child exploitation.  The report gives examples of children who had been doused in petrol, threatened with guns and made to watch brutally violent rapes. The victims were told they “would be next if they told anyone”.
Girls as young as 11 were raped by large numbers of male perpetrators, the majority of whom were of Pakistani heritage.
The independent investigation concluded that this abuse is “not confined to the past but continues to this day”. The report says that over the first 12 years covered by the Inquiry, there were “blatant collective failures” of the political and officer leadership. The author, Professor Alexis Jay, also said the council underplayed the scale of the problem and that South Yorkshire Police failed to prioritise the issue.
This is the fourth report into the situation in Rotherham. 
Why, do you think, were the local authorities and the police so reluctant to investigate this situation? Careful with your answer or you might be accused of being racist.
If this is the FOURTH report, the chances are that still nothing will be done. In the meantime, let's all have fun following the prurient accounts of the Yewtree pursuit of Cliff Richard, Freddy Starr and other geriatric celebrities, against most of whom no evidence has been produced.

***Sadly this kind of abuse is happening in several other UK cities. More here.

Threatened species!

House Sparrow is on the Red List of serious conservation concern. My garden is full of them: at least forty feeding on ground-strewn seed at any time.
Starling is on the Red List of serious conservation concern. My garden is full of them: anything up to forty feeding wherever there is something to eat.
In fact, I realise that the only truly endangered species on my property is me. I am male, I am white, I am heterosexual, I am old, I am mildly conservative, I am a carnivore and I am a Catholic. How many of those do you know still walking around unthreatened?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Life is getting interesting again

A bruising performance last night from His Majesty Queen Alec Salmond, which is causing the chattering pundits to predict a YES vote in the Scottish Independence referendum next month.

There are always two equal and opposite forces at work in geopolitics. On the one hand, the centripetal force towards greater integration of elements: the USSR, the USA, the European Union, for example. And on the other the centrifugal force towards greater fragmentation of elements:
the balkanisation of the former Yugoslavia, Catalan, Galician and Basque separatism, a Kurdish state, for example. And, of course, an independent Scotland.

It is tempting to indulge in a reductio ad absurdum argument here. If Scotland becomes independent, then so should Wales. Then England will be an independent country too. But wait. Yorkshire folk have always seen themselves as different, separate. So why not an independent Yorkshire? But wait. In that case, why not an independent Cornwall, historically part of the Celtic fringe?

We are going Appalachian here. Queen Alec's wish to be independent is partly because he loves Scotland, but it's partly because he dislikes England. Only a matter of time before the Highlands demand to be separated from the Lowlands, which really do feel like two different countries. Soon, every valley will have its clan that wishes to be independent from all the other valley clans, and if there's any argument, they will fight to defend their freedom. Clan feuds r Us.

In fact, if the village of Haddenham where I live makes a UDI, I personally will ask for my particular road to become independent of the rest of the village, because some very weird folk live up there.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

France today, where tomorrow?

A Russian video about France which cannot be shown in France. It beggars belief.

Vidéo interdite en France... Mais pas en Russie ! Soon in Canada

Monday, June 02, 2014

I wish I'd said that

  A few gems from various well-known people. My favourite is the Chateaubriand anecdote. The same seems to be happening to me....

Plaisirs d'humour !
Un bon mot que j'aime à citer de Louis XVIII sur Chateaubriand "M. de Chateaubriand croit qu'il est devenu sourd depuis qu'il n'entend plus parler de lui" 

Au milieu d'un dîner bien arrosé, un invité assommant se vante auprès de Marcel Aymé :
- Moi, monsieur, je me suis fait tout seul !
 L'auteur rétorque :
- Ah, Monsieur, vous déchargez Dieu d'une bien grande responsabilité.
Au restaurant, Alphonse Allais examine avec soin la carte et le menu, puis finit par commander :
- Donnez-moi, pour commencer, une faute d'orthographe. 
Le garçon, imperturbable, répond :
- Il n'y en a pas, monsieur Allais.
- Alors, dans ce cas, pourquoi les mettez-vous sur le menu ?
En fin d'une conférence d'Agatha Christie, une jeune fille lui demande :
- N'est-ce pas un choix étrange, Madame, pour une romancière, d'avoir épousé un spécialiste des fouilles en Orient ?
- Au contraire ! Épousez un archéologue ! C'est le seul qui vous regardera avec de plus en plus d'intérêt, au fur et à mesure que vous vieillirez !

- Monsieur Guitry, comment voyez-vous la vie amoureuse ?
C'est très simple : on se veut et on s'enlace ; puis on se lasse et on s'en veut...

Anne-Catherine de Ligneville, encore très belle veuve d'Helvetius, ayant vainement attendu Benjamin Franklin, l'accueille ainsi à sa visite suivante, un peu piquée :
- N'auriez-vous pas oublié notre rendez-vous ?
- Certes non, Madame ! J'attendais simplement que les nuits fussent plus longues...
Ce n'est pas pour rien que Rossini laissera son nom à une fameuse recette de tournedos. A l'issue d'un repas trop frugal, il s'entend dire par son hôte :
 - Maître, j'espère que vous nous ferez bientôt l'honneur de dîner à nouveau ici.
 - Mais bien sûr ! Tout de suite si vous voulez .......
Isadora Duncan admirait sans réserve Bernard Shaw et lui murmura un jour:
 - Quel miracle ce serait d'avoir un enfant ensemble. Imaginez qu'il ait ma beauté et votre intelligence !
- Oui ... mais .... supposez que ce soit le contraire ..........
L'acteur et écrivain américain Dan Spencer regarde la télé avec un ami qui s'extasie devant les programmes du câble :
- Sais-tu qu'il existe maintenant des chaînes qui ne parlent que de météo 24 h sur 24?
 - Quand j'étais petit, on appelait ça une fenêtre !
On s'interrogeait sur l'âge exact d'une illustre sociétaire du Français.
 - Cinquante ans ? avança quelqu'un.
- Plus les matinées, précisa Robert Hirsch. 
Une suffragette interrompit un jour Churchill au milieu d'un discours pour lui lancer :
 - Si j'étais votre épouse, je mettrais du poison dans votre thé.
  - He bien, moi, madame, si j'étais votre mari, je le boirais !

 Pour finir ce mot d'Alexandre Dumas

 "J'aime mieux les méchants que les imbéciles, car parfois ils se reposent."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Is it that time already?

I had just wished everyone a Happy New Year when they announced the Summer Equinox. Time is speeding up and I wish it wouldn't.
My blog silence is occasioned by a huge - but enjoyable - amount of work on conservation-related matters, notably the Cambridge International Swift Conference, nearly 150 delegates from 24 different countries. I am now working on the Proceedings, and once that is finished, I will start the annual rounds of the Barn Owl boxes to see what's going on.
Family are also taking up a lot of my time, of which not millisecond is begrudged. I think I need to make a pact with myself to post to this blog at least once a week!
Thanks to Mike and Ann for prodding me to let them and the world know that the old scrote is still alive and banging the rocks.

Thursday, March 27, 2014