Saturday 25 January 2020


"It’s not a coincidence that two of the institutions that not only inspire public affection but are seen to define British identity are bodies created in the last century, and are equally available to the millionaire and the pauper – the NHS and the BBC."
Jonathan Freedland today in the Guardian

I fully agree with him about how they (quite rightly) inspire public inspection but I hope they have no connection at all with national identity. I am not sure he understands national identity, and probably thinks it is linked to values.

"Oxford University professor given security guards for lectures after threats from transgender activists." Daily Telegraph headline yesterday

“All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.” Daniel Whyte

"As I prepare to take my leave of our shared home place, I find comfort in an old Greek proverb: A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they will never sit." 

Seamus Mallon, the former SDLP MP who died yesterday. They are the final lines of his autobiography, which came out last year.


  1. "It’s not a coincidence that two of the institutions that not only inspire public affection but are seen to define British identity are bodies created in the last century, and are equally available to the millionaire and the pauper – the NHS and the BBC."

    I think the BBC certainly does reflect current British identity - but not in a good way. It's a reflection of a society hurtling towards the abyss. A sick sad society.

  2. To swallow down our emotions is now regarded as a kind of treason to the self, where it is not merely comical or a subject for derision; for not to express oneself is to risk later psychological disaster. And while the Queen is fully aware that she owes her importance to an accident of birth, Prince Harry believes, or gives the impression of believing, that he owes an accident of birth to his importance. The first results in a sense of duty, the second to a sense of entitlement.

    Of course, Prince Harry is not being quite straightforward. He wants to destroy tradition and at the same time benefit from its continuation. He has no claim to the public’s attention except that he was born who he was in the very tradition that he wants to overthrow because he wants to be really, truly, just himself.

    He has rendered a service, however, by holding up a mirror to our modern egotism. He is, so to say, the selfie, the tweet, and the Facebook page made flesh.

    Theodore Dalrymple

    1. Now, on the level of gossip, that is, private things, we would have to say that this adventuress figured out how weak and gullible the prince was and has not only persuaded him to marry her, but to make a scandal of his own family, which the press is only too glad to retail to the public, which cannot decide whether it admires the glamorous royal family or wishes to see them humiliated, or both.

      What shall come of the dignified part of the British constitution, as Walter Bagehot called the monarchy? It would seem a mere accident, just another piece of bad luck, that an adventuress should add to the troubles of a family tree already about to collapse because of rot. But this is more fate than luck—the newly created Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has a vision of royalty—woke Instagramming and selling branded merchandise.

      Hence the announcement that these two pieces in the royalty chess set would like to give up some of their duties and the moralistic restraints imposed by the royal family in favor of a life of glamour and commerce. In a way, that’s the most American thing there is—exchanging the hallowed past for a profitable business in the present. Markle may be leading something of a hostile takeover, but it’s been done before.

      This is of course the epitome of vulgarity, but it is not implausible. It’s hardly a surprise that the Duke of Sussex would marry a tabloid princess. But moving from psychology to sociology, we can see a bigger picture. Advertising woke moralism as a path to survival is how our elites have reacted to the collapse of their glamour and, with it, their credibility. Far from idiosyncrasy, it is typical of the global elite in entertainment, business, and politics.

      In truth, woke concerns itself with controlling corporate HR as much as we experience it through courts of law, public hysterias, and Twitter mobs. Woke enforces class separations by declaring most people too morally reprehensible to be woke. Surely it offers enough prestige to make woke royalty rich and influential in a way monarchy hasn’t been since WWII.

      It is only natural for people to wish to be noble, for the few to want to distinguish themselves from the many by superior morality and greater splendor. But this can lead to madness—woke elites despising the rest of us as losers unfit to participate in the End of History. It’s unlikely that Instagram can power up a new version of monarchy, but it can surely humiliate and thus destroy what’s left of it.

      Titus Techera

  3. Word of the Day from the OED

    apocalyptician (dfordoom)
    clatfart (caroline)

    1. In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
      In the midst of his laughter and glee,
      He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
      For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

    2. You're a gentleman and a scholar.

    3. "There's an officer and a gentleman to see you, sir." "Send them both up". Punch cartoon

  4. Cockaigne I also know, of course, though I consider it a proper noun, and I vaguely was aware of ambergris. Scribophilist, I presume, means lover of writing? The others I do not know.

    1. scriPophilist

      Your word for Monday 20th January is: scripophilist, n.

      scripophilist, n.
      [‘A person who collects old bond and share certificates as a pursuit or hobby; = scripophile n.’]
      Pronunciation: Brit. /skrɪˈpɒfᵻlɪst/, U.S. /skrɪˈpɑfələst/
      Origin: Formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: scrip n.4, -o- connective, -philist comb. form.
      Etymology: < scrip n.4 + -o- connective + -philist comb. form, after scripophily n.

      Compare slightly earlier scripophile n.
      A person who collects old bond and share certificates as a pursuit or hobby; = scripophile n.
      1979 Illustr. London News Apr. 103/1 Prospective scripophilists will find..Collecting Old Bonds and Shares..a useful introduction to a fascinating and lucrative hobby.
      1998 Independent on Sunday 4 Jan. (Business section) 7/2 Some of the pre-revolutionary Russian issues or Chinese stocks are now highly prized among collectors—called scripophilists.
      2010 W. Martin City of Dreams 7 Ned is one of the nation's leading scripophilists and scholars of eighteenth-century American capital markets.

  5. "Why is Ambergris illegal?
    If a perfume house's "nose"—the person responsible for choosing scents—likes the aroma, the ambergris can be worth thousands an ounce. Though it is illegal to use ambergris in perfumes in the U.S. because of the sperm whale's endangered status, foreign markets, especially French, remain strong."

  6. I like 'bummock':

    Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

    †BUMMOCK, BUMMACK, n. Sometimes used in pl.

    1. (1) “A brewing of a large quantity of malt, as two bolls perhaps, appropriated for the purpose of being drunk at once at a merry meeting” (Cai. 1808 Jam., bummack).

    (2) The liquor itself so brewed.
    Ork. 1821 Scott Pirate (1822) xxxvi.:
    The mickle bicker of Scapa . . . was always offered to the Bishop of Orkney brimful of the best bummock that ever was brewed.

    2. “An entertainment anciently given at Christmas by tenants to their landlords” (Ork. 1808 Jam.).
    Ork. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 393–394, Note:
    These entertainments, called bummacks, strengthened . . . the bonds of mutual confidence. . . . The Christmas bummacks are almost universally discontinued.

    [Marw. says that it is prob. the same word as bummo (s.v. Bummie, n.2), the name of the receptacle being applied first by metonymy to its contents and thence to the whole feast. The word appears first in 1693 in Wallace's Acc. of Ork. 30.]

    Dictionary of the Scots Language
    Dictionar o the Scots Leid

  7. Seeing Jesus

    The sisters tried to see Jesus in every patient they cared for. This was, on the one hand, a statement of ethical obligation: a commitment, on the part of the sisters, to give every patient the same level of care that they would give to Christ himself. But it was also a quasi-meditative practice that made it possible for this obligation to be realized. Seeing Jesus meant to look at Christ on the cross. And there were images of him everywhere in Our Lady, in the front hall, in the chapel, in seemingly every one of the home’s rooms. But it meant also to find him—to visualize him as being present—in the patients who, on the surface, he least seemed to resemble the least. Patients who were “difficult,” and not just in a technical sense, but also an emotional one, even a moral one: the patients who you did not enjoy being around because they could be insensitive or mean. That was not Christ-like behavior! Yet, in them, there was still Christ. Seeing Jesus meant to find him there where you least expected, and to care for those who you were, in every other sense, predisposed to turn away.

    How a shocking family discovery and some time spent at a hospice run by nuns led one Jewish man to reconsider Christ

    By Harold Braswell
    January 22, 2020

  8. …ethnic differences in cognitive repertoires are neither to be doubted nor feared. They exist, and everyone who has seen anything of the world knows it. The mix of nature and nurture? That’s not the issue. The differences themselves are facts. People around the world are similar in the basics and different in the details. We connect through the basics. We live with and often enjoy the differences.

    Charles Murray quoted by Steve Sailer