Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Nucking Futter

The President of Iran claimed today that the Holocaust was a myth put about by Europeans to justify creating a Jewish state in the heart of the Islamic world.

"He hated the black boys, big and muscular, who beat him up, who scared him."

hat tip Marto.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

'I miss the old days when people would say that the reductio of consequentialism was that is could be used to justify torture.'

Update: Title taken from Clayton Littlejohn's comment here.

the appropriately named Krauthammer :

Question: If you have the slightest belief that hanging this man by his thumbs will get you the information to save a million people, are you permitted to do it?

Now, on most issues regarding torture, I confess tentativeness and uncertainty. But on this issue, there can be no uncertainty: Not only is it permissible to hang this miscreant by his thumbs. It is a moral duty.

Sullivan's response.
What does it mean to "break" an individual? As the French essayist Michel de Montaigne once commented, and Shakespeare echoed, even the greatest philosophers have difficulty thinking clearly when they have a toothache. These wise men were describing the inescapable frailty of the human experience, mocking the claims of some seers to be above basic human feelings and bodily needs. If that frailty is exposed by a toothache, it is beyond dispute in the case of torture. The infliction of physical pain on a person with no means of defending himself is designed to render that person completely subservient to his torturers. It is designed to extirpate his autonomy as a human being, to render his control as an individual beyond his own reach. That is why the term "break" is instructive. Something broken can be put back together, but it will never regain the status of being unbroken--of having integrity. When you break a human being, you turn him into something subhuman. You enslave him. This is why the Romans reserved torture for slaves, not citizens, and why slavery and torture were inextricably linked in the antebellum South.

Friday, December 09, 2005

There is only one Master, Aristotle, and Kripke is his prophet.

Gyula Klima's Really Interesting Article, which suggests one way the Kripkean revolution should go:

...So it should be clear that, contrary to the apparent practice of "essentialists", to find out what is essential to a given kind of thing is not a matter of personal intuitions, but rather a matter of experience, indeed, of scientific experiments, putting the thing in "abnormal" circumstances, making it interact with other things (after all, as St. Thomas says, the nature of the thing is the principle of its proper operation), precisely the way modern science investigates the nature of things.[38] So modern science in no way needs to undermine Aristotelian essentialism. On the contrary, if we manage to recover the adequate conceptual framework of traditional essentialism in the broadest, formal semantical terms, modern science can in principle just as well be integrated into the project of the traditional metaphysical enterprise, studying the first principles of being qua being, as Aristotelian science could. All in all, it seems that the time is ripe for a radical recovery of our lost metaphysical tradition, yet this is possible only through recovering the language in which it is properly conveyed, uniting the formal rigor of contemporary logical techniques with the metaphysical vigor of the pre-modern tradition.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Hiphop's worst nightmare, Mr. Gangsta Rap is back in black Nike Airs

Which is to say I've rediscovered gangsta rap after some years. I'd forgotten how good it felt to be full of adolescent anger.

But it's not quite the same as the first time round. Take The Game's album; The Documentary. It's got all the west coast trademarks - vaguely menacing beats, superb production, all the nihilism you could want etc. But The Game is very aware of himself as the latest tradition of west coast gangstas and he just won't shut up about it. So on the one hand, this give the album some sort of, I don't know, dramatic weight. On the other hand, this vitiates the immediacy of the whole business - after all, one of the attractions of the genre was that it was a sort of direct expression of what a particularly unattractive way of life was like.

Anyhow, it's worth a listen.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

'From it I learned something about human beings which I should be sorry not to know; perhaps something about Europe, also'.

Messina's defender Marco Zoro threatened to bring a Serie A game to a halt yesterday after enduring racial abuse from travelling Internazionale supporters. The Ivory Coast international picked up the ball during the second half and walked off the pitch towards the fourth official before other players, including Inter's Brazilian forward Adriano and the Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins, persuaded him to continue.

Previous iterations of this routine.

Friday, November 25, 2005

A sentence of beauty...

Their accents when they speak Arabic - heavy with Farsi, or English - reflect their financial backers

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It's an Orange Win

Kibaki concedes:

"My government will respect the will of the people"

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hanfling passes on

From the Times obituary:

His first book, Logical Positivism (1981), remains the best non-partisan introduction to the 20th century’s most important philosophical school, in some respects the equivalent in philosophy of high modernism in architecture and design. The book was written a decade or so after logical positivism had been authoritatively declared “as dead as any philosophical movement ever becomes”, and Hanfling did not try to revive it. But he did justice to the freshness and intellectual courage of the movement, as well as exploring the weaknesses and inconsistencies in its main ideas.


Sadly, Yusuf M King'ala has passed away.

The Starehe community was thrown into mourning yesterday when the centre's deputy director died after an illness.

Mr Yusuf Mutuku King'ala, the deputy director in charge of academics, succumbed to prostrate cancer at Nairobi Hospital yesterday, four months after the death of the centre's co-founder and director, Dr Geoffrey Griffin.

Mr King'ala, who was 51, is survived by his wife, Delila, and four children. The Starehe old boy will be buried today at the Kariokor Muslim cemetery.

Besides being a Kiswahili teacher, Mr King'ala was the author of numerous books, including Anasa, Nguzo za Kiswahili, Majuto and Likizo. He also wrote many guide books for Kiswahili setbooks.

The acting director of the centre and school, Mr Joseph Gikubu, said Mr King'ala fell sick in January. His condition worsened in August when he was readmitted to hospital.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

genial sophistry ...

“Any given part of the world is in darkness half of the time; half of eternity is still eternity (as per rules of dividing infinite qualities), therefore, the world is in eternal darkness. That’s one of the most beautiful logical proofs I’ve ever seen.”
- squid314

found here. (LeoPetr)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Ad Geachem

Peter Geach has argued that :

[A] "Ad hominem arguments. …you start from something he believes as a premise, and infer a conclusion he won't admit to be true. If you have not been cheating in your reasoning, you will have shown that your opponent's body of beliefs is inconsistent, and it's up to him to modify it somewhere. ...But an ad hominem argument may be perfectly fair play. ...A logically sound ad hominem argument does a service, even if an unwelcome one, to its victim - it shows him that his present position is untenable and must be modified. Peter Geach (Reason and Argument: pp. 26 - 27)

[B] Because men are fallible, overall consistency is probably never achieved; and even large scale consistency is difficult to achieve. (Reason and Argument: pp. 6)

Given these two premisses, we have good reason not to believe Geach when he asserts that the ad hominem is an acceptable form of argument.

The Rejoinder

People’s beliefs are either consistent or not consistent. (with all proper restrictions to those capable of having beliefs etc.)

Probably, no individual man ever achieves complete consistency in his beliefs.


Probably: For all x, if x is a man, then x has inconsistent beliefs. (that is, given his beliefs, a contradiction can be derived from them by accepted rules of inference)

For all x, if x is a man, then x either has consistent or onconsistent beliefs.


Probably: No x is such that x is a man and x has consistent beliefs.

So, in the individual case, then:

Probably: Peter Geach is not immune from contradictory beliefs.

So, probably, Geach believes both P and ~ P; where P is the thesis that ad hominem arguments are instances of valid forms of argumentation.

(maybe at this point we could add a stipulation that probably means more likely than not.)

Given this, then by his own criteria , [A] and [B]; we ought not to accept Geach’s story about ad hominem arguments.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

maudlin stuff


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vest the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breath were life. Life piled on life
Were all to little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle-
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me-
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads- you and I are old;
Old age had yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Catholics & Torture

Rev Harrison suggests that Tradition does not, after all, show that torture is intrinsically evil. The letter is a reply to Mark Shea's column.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

back to philosophy

After 4 weeks of Law School, I've had enough. It's back to Philosophy!
My expected lifetime earnings graph now makes for truly dismal viewing...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Argumentum ad Geachem

I'm preparing a very short (c. 500 word) article. The argument is that Geach's endorsement of some ad hominem arguments is problematic given his epistemological views. I may put up a draft as a post for comments soon.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


I forgot to mention that, yes, I've finally succumbed - I've gone over to the dark side. I am doing a Law degree...

I'm going to keep up the Philosophy though (how could I not), though the details are a bit hazy at the moment.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Oh Dear...

Hi everyone, I'm back.

Apologies for the meetup fiasco... Let's hope things work out better next time.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Kenyan blogger meetup.

The Horseman in Karen at 3 o'clock, Saturday 27 August anyone?
Email me if you're coming, the more the merrier- we may be able to get money off drinks.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Kenyan Blogger Meetup.

First, let me acknowledge that Mato has beaten me to this.

All the same, I'd like to propose a Kenyan blogger meetup. I'm thinking Nairobi in late July/early August. It'd be a wonderful chance to get to know each other better, and to compare barbecue skills.

You'll notice that I haven't got a venue, but I have some ideas...

I'd be delighted to hear from people regarding how/when/where to meet up, and would also be happy to combine efforts with anyone who wants to do the same, or has experience with it. (I'm thinking of you Nicholas Gichu& Martin Kimani)

What say you?

I'm it, apparently.

I've been tagged by WM, so here goes:

Total number of films I own on DVD/Video.

7 or so, including such gems as The Treble Season Review, and Au revoir Cantona.

Last film I watched.

So memorable I don't remember it...

Five films I watch often or that mean a lot to me.

Batman Forever: I know, I know. In my defence: I was particularly impressionable at the time, and I have been unable to unimpress myself since. All style and no substance, but what style.

Clerks: Kevin Smith peaked early. Great dialogue, bizarre and bizzarely believable situations, and the petit-bourgeois-analyis-of- Star-Wars scene is magic.

The Life of O-Haru: Ever wondered what it was like being a woman in medieval Japan?

LOTR. For immensely obvious reasons.

Cry Freedom: Great story; and because when I went to see it with my Dad, some loud guy three rows from the front gave away the final twist half an hour from the end.

The Matrix: Because it made philosophers (and dream skepticism) cool (if only very briefly). And because Colin McGinn was moved to write this, and David Chalmers was moved to write that.

the Sqatsi trilogy. Awesome Imagery + Philip Glass Score + Romanticisation Of Poverty = Puzzling and Strangely Satisfying Experience.

Five people I'd like to do this:

Exlaodiceans, Migz, Medusa, Rob Jubb, Kimani, MadKenyanWoman and Memoire.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

that old anglo-saxon sense of fair play II

The backlash begins. Christine Nicholls' Red Strangers: The White Tribe of Kenya is, she admits, written from the colonist's perspective. Her explicit intention is to justify the ways of the mzungu. This may even be a worthy aim, but one expects some respect for the historical record. However, if the reviews here and here are to be believed, she makes some insupportable claims and disregards various inconvenient vilenesses.

A quick going-over of some of the claims:
Whites also, the book argues, enabled Kenyan farming to move onwards from a
subsistence level towards lucrative cash crops. "The whites made an enormous
contribution to the economic development and wellbeing of Kenya,"

This is at complete variance with well-established fact. Africans were, for most of the colonial period prohibited from growing cash-crops, in order to ensure a supply of cheap labour for large-scale white production. Harry Thuku, anyone?

"(But) much of what they had done was good. Kenya under African rule was
economically and politically viable in 1964, it was a democracy, Africans had
embraced 20th century ambitions and attitudes and advanced farming methods had
been introduced."

This is sheer mendacity. Let's review some salient facts.
Black Kenyans, all 7 million or so of them, were prohibited from participating directly in politics until 1944, and even then were allowed only a single (appointed) representative. White colonials, a population of 60, 000 or so, had 14. The first direct elections in which Africans could participate on anything like equal terms were in 1957, after sixty-odd years of colonial rule, and only six years before independence.
African property rights were disrespected, there were different codes of law for different races, and black kenyans could not enforce legal judgements against white colonials.
It would appear that black kenyans adopted democracy despite , rather than because of, the example of the mzungu.

The Spectator reviewer has managed to dig out a quote from Meinertzhagen's diary illustrating the plans that Charles Eliot (then our governor) had for Kenya (and Meinertzhagen's misgivings):

to confine the natives to reserves and use them as cheap labour on farms. I
suggested that the country belonged to Africans, that their interests must
prevail over the interests of strangers. [Eliot] would not have it; he kept on
using the word ‘paramount’ with reference to the claims of Europeans. I said
that some day the Africans would be educated and armed; that would lead to a

How is it that a man of blood like Meinertzhagen could see the problem with the colonial project yet Nicholls cannot?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

mea culpa, mea maxima culpa...

...or why the Kenyan middle classes are not fit to live. Mato purges.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Fr. Tom Reese...

Fr. Thomas Reese has resigned as editor-in-chief of America. Most reports suggest that he was pushed by the CDF. See the Washington Post, NYT.

The National Catholic Reporter's take on the reasons for his dismissal:

Over the course of a five-year exchange between the doctrinal congregation and the Jesuits, the Vatican congregation had raised objections to various editorial choices at America under Reese's leadership, including:

  • An essay exploring moral arguments for the approval of condoms in the context of HIV/AIDS;
  • Several critical analyses of the doctrinal congregation's September 2000 document Dominus Iesus, on religious pluralism;
  • An editorial criticizing what America called a lack of due process in the congregation's procedures for the investigation of theologians;
  • An essay about homosexual priests;
  • A guest essay from U.S. Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, challenging suggestions that the church should refuse Communion to Catholic politicians who do not vote as a number of bishops believe they should vote.

attack of the racist ice-cream!! (Northern European edition)

Via Start here, then try here, and if you haven't had enough..try this.

UPDATE: some responses here.

UPDATE II: and here's how to say it auf deutsch.

UPDATE III: More embarrassing product names!! Plopp chocolate, Basterd sugar, and (in a wholly different class) Zyklon boots.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Habemus Papam.


19 April 2005

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum;
habemus Papam:

Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum Josephum
Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzinger
qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedictum XVI

Thursday, April 07, 2005

a somewhat incongruous successor.

cross-posted here.

Rob Jubb has handed me the baton.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451; which book do you want to be?
- Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savanna, ('worshipping a dictator is such a pain in the ass ...')
- Saul Kripke's Naming and Necessity.
- Owen Chadwick's translation of Augustine's Confessions.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Definitely. Longest lasting: Julia from 1984, and Ihuoma from Elechi Amadi's The Concubine.

The last book you bought is:
David Chalmers' The Conscious Mind.

The last book you read is:
I'm still reading Alvin Plantinga's The Nature of Necessity.

Five books you would take to a desert island:
Descartes' Discourse on Method, Kripke's Naming and Necessity, Orwell's 1984, the Philosophical Investigations, the Douay-Rheims Bible, and Summa Contra Gentiles.
And yes, I've noticed that's one more than I'm allowed.

What are you currently reading?
David Braine's paper 'Aquinas, God and Being' and Anthony Kenny's Five Ways.

Who are you going to pass this stick to, and why?
The Exlaodicea crew, seeing as they're all massively erudite. Everyone at the Kenyan blog ring, now KenyaUnlimited. Ory Okolloh at Kenyan Pundit, as she's sensible, and Bee at things that go bump in the night because I can.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Karol Josef Wojtyla, lately Pope John Paul II.

Image hosted by

May 18 1920 - April 2 2005

Official press release.

Obituaries and Memorials.
Guardian.BBC. NYT. Globe and Mail [Ca]. National Catholic Reporter . Times. Telegraph. Tablet. Vatican memorial. Archbishop Ndingi's tribute. Sandro Magister (via berenike). Commonweal. George Weigel. Times again. Economist.

Vatican. Zenit. Catholicnews. the Popeblog. Wikipedia.

There will be a requiem Mass in St. Mary's Cathedral in Aberdeen on Wednesday 6th April at 7pm.

feet of clay.

Over at Crooked timber, there's an interesting post marking the 25th anniversary of the St. Paul's riots. There's a link in the post to this paper [pdf!], which discusses race and policing in urban areas. The author of the paper gives, in illustration, Lord Denning's infamous quote from What next in the Law, which I'd quite forgotten about. My Dad thought Denning instantiated the ideal of the liberal judge, and bought every book of his that he could find. This hero-worship passed naturally to me, and so it was quite disappointing, when I came to England, to discover that Denning was capable of saying, publicly, such rubbish. Ah well.

il Papa

It would seem that the end is near. Please pray that he might have a 'quiet night and a perfect end'.
Here's a nice little picture from his first vist to Kenya. [from the Archdiocese of Sydney website]

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Friday, April 01, 2005


THEODOLUS is the saint of the day.

Ok, here's the plan. From now on, my philosophical posts will go there. Everything else will be put up here. I look forward to seeing you at philosophical investigations.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

skeptical slumber over.

Sorry everyone, I've been away far too long. My dissertation is just about ready for despatch, so normal service ought to resume shortly.

Yes, the dialetheism post is still on its way...

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Prof. Elkins on tour

ELKINS gave a lecture yesterday at UoN, describing the methods used by the colonial administration to suppress MauMau. The Standard report is here.

Locke in the style of Immortal Technique

Crooked Timber called for hiphop renderings of philosophers; Lenin (duly added to the blogroll) responded with an absolute stonker- Locke in the style of Immortal Technique:

You betta watch what tha fuck flies outa ya mouth
Or I'ma burn your house down with ya tied to ya couch
Cos reward and punishment’s the only rational way
To make a fuckin man do whatever the fuck I say
I gotta viewa human nature that’s tabula rasa
Cos you don’t know shit til I make you my masta.

Separation a powers, got my checks and balances
And the Glorious Revolution got me in the palaces
And you mystical muthafuckas just look like some phalluses
Locke down and cold, murdering all yo fallacies.

Empirical truth, mutha, don’t ever try to diss me
Cos I got rhymes that’s colder than Walt Disney
My lyrics are like syphallus but harder to catch
An if you don’t obey my law, then you gettin yo ass capped
You gettin locked in the pen fo ten to fifty
Monopoly a violence boy, cos you lookin shifty.

You Hobbesian people swallow like Bambi Woods
And you’d never live a day in the projects or the hoods
Cos you ignorant about what keeps men from they selfish ways
Private property, boy, helps the people get paid.

Etc etc etc.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

an absent-minded imperialist comes round

BERNARD PORTER has a surprisingly humane review of the Elkins and Anderson books in the LRB.

Dialetheism post will be up shortly.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


I'lll put up a monster post about this shortly.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

some contradictions are true...

SAINT of the day (some days ago) is Onesimus, ex-slave of Philemon.

CONTRADICTIONS. I can't believe I haven't seen any of Graham Priest's stuff before, well, except for his Logic: A Very Short Introduction. Only recently, I discovered his 'What's So Bad About Contradictions?’ (The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 95, No. 8, Aug. 1998), a sustained and substantial brutalization of the Law of NonContradiction (LNC).

These are my reading notes thereof.

There are five reasons to abhor contradictions:
(1) Contradictions entail everything.
(2) Contradictions cannot be true.
(3) Contradictions cannot be believed rationally.
(4) If contradictions were acceptable, no one could ever be rationally criticized.
(5) If contradictions were acceptable, no one could deny anything.

GP considers (2) to boil down to an appeal to the Law of Noncontradiction (LNC).
G.P. accuses Aristotle of equivocation – (E) the slide between some contradictions are false and all contradictions are false. There's some further discussion of the problems with the Aristotelian arguments here.

Now there are 4 further arguments for (2),

A - Contradictions lack meaning.
1. Contradictions have no content, because they have no meaning.
2. therefore they have no true content.
Note that the classical logician is unable to support this argument; he believes that a contradiction implies everything, rather than nothing. So the contradiction has ‘total’ content.

But contradictions are meaningful utterances, else how could they be seen to be contradictions (and so, supposedly, always false) at all?

B - If contradictions are true, nothing could be meaningful.
1. Some claim is meaningful only if it rules out some other claim.
2. If A doesn’t rule out not-A, then A isn’t meaningful. (The minimum condition that A has to fulfill to be meaningful is to rule out not-A)
So, if claims of the form [A & not-A] are admitted to be meaningful, nothing at all is meaningful.

This suffers from the same fault pointed out in (E) above, viz. sliding between some X and all X.
The LNC requires only that some statements do not rule out their negations. Consider: the negation of 'nothing can be asserted to be and not to be at the same time and in the same repect' is 'something can be asserted to be and not to be at the same time and in the same repect'. However, It seems to be widely held that the proper negation is 'everything can be asserted to be ...etc.'

Also, the argument above relies on the claim that all statements rule out their own negations.
But then consider also: ‘Everything is true’. This rules nothing out and is clearly meaningful. Its negation, ‘something is false’, is also true.

There's more to follow, but this looks very interesting.

the EXPERIENTIALIST is back. Here.

the ENGAGEMENT is announced of a dear, loud, and quite mad friend. Congratulations!

Saturday, February 12, 2005


ANTHONY KAULEAS, 829, Patriarch of Constantinople, is the Saint of the day.

THE KENYAN HIERARCHY issue a statement calling on the president to sack corrupt officials. It seems all 29 of them signed.

ABOLITION Adams Hochschild's Bury the Chains apparently deals quite well with the British abolition movement, but if reports are to be believed, not so well with the economic consequences of slavery and abolition. Joseph inikori has a big, fat book on the subject...Eric Williams' Capitalism and Slavery is also worth reading.

THE PRINCE OF WALES finally makes a (semi) - honest woman of Camilla. Steve Bell draws it best.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Githongo resigns

JOHN GITHONGO, P.S. in charge of ethics and governance in the Office of the President has resigned. Resignation apparently tendered earlier today. More to follow.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Ball and the Cross - style

St. BRIGID, abbess, patron of Ireland, is the saint of the day.

POVERTY reduction by reducing the number of poor people. Berenike explains.

The KENYATTA - MOI dynasty entrenches itself further.

WSF ends. Another world is possible...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

it's friendly up north

St. APOLLO is today's friendly canonizee. Floreat 395ish, hermit and founder of a monastery.

MBEKI. The Economist dishes out an entertaining going-over.

AFRICA REMIX. It's the giant new exhibition of contemporary African art at the Hayward Gallery. More here. And here. The Hayward Gallery says it's the biggest exhibition of modern African art ever to hit Europe...All the big name(s) (at least the ones I've heard of) are represented. It's on from February 10th to April 17th. Go!

ICELANDERS! OK, let's try another way of putting it. Could you ever use a proper name without a link, direct or indirect, to its causal chain?
Well, apparently, relative to its population, Iceland has a quite small pool of surnames. And first names. And quite rigid rules about how to derive children's names from parents'. So, it seems that given knowledge that your new acquaintance was Icelandic, and a little knowledge of relevant naming rules , you'd have a not-zero chance of guessing their proper name. Hmm

Saturday, January 22, 2005

postcards from the occupation

HER parents were shot in front of her. More pictures here. [they will trouble you]

Thursday, January 20, 2005

that old anglo-saxon instinct for fair play ...

THIS is the first flat-out stupid review of the Elkins and Anderson books. He sets the scene with a loving description of the mobile gallows, tries to spread the muck around evenly, trivialises the seriousness of the charges and then says some unpleasant things about Elkins' style. Best then closes with an appeal to incredulity, and not to his, but that of the colonial professional classes!
I've just got my copy of the Anderson book and I have to say it's just as good as promised. Gulag (the Elkins one) will be here soon.
The L.A. Times Review is here. Meisler is sympathetic and well-informed. These two paras should serve:
In "Histories of the Hanged," Anderson tells the full story of the rise of Mau Mau and the brutal British suppression that followed. He insists that "no one in authority" — from the prime minister in London to the district officers in Kenya — "could claim that they didn't know" about the British abuses, including torture and wanton killing of detainees. "Their reaction," he writes, " … was to deflect and deny, disparaging the accusers or making light of the accusations." Anderson's narrative — bolstered by realistic descriptions of life in Kenya and informed analysis of the causes of the Mau Mau insurrection — is ample, judicious and elegant.
Elkins' "Imperial Reckoning" complements Anderson's book. Although she includes an analysis of the causes and politics of the insurgency, she is more concerned with documenting the full extent of the British brutality. Writing with white heat, she details the unsavory story of summary executions, rapes, sodomy with bottles, castration, flogging with chains and rhino whips, attacks by dogs, humiliation by nakedness and a host of torture techniques including electric shock, near drowning and sleep deprivation. The detail is sometimes numbing but always vital. Her thorough documentation is necessary to prove her case that the British, while suppressing the Mau Mau, were guilty of "creating one of the most restrictive police states in the history of the empire and deploying unspeakable terror and violence."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

One man he resist

SAINT of the day is Pope St. Fabian, , martyred c.250.

MAX HASTINGS' joint review of Caroline Elkins' and David Anderson's books is a festival of sophistries. Admire in particular the suggestio falsi accomplished by referring to Kenyatta's alleged views on female circumcision.

MENTALACROBATICS is back, and he has tales to tell. Here.

MLK day, so here's the Letter from Birmingham Jail in pdf. (Some of) the juicy bits:

... You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department...
It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrations. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends...

Saturday, January 15, 2005

sunday randoms

SAINT of the day is Honoratus, 350 - 429. Archbishop of Arles and founder of Lerins Abbey in 400.

MAUMAU, I've mentioned the new Elkins book, which is out on the 26th. David Anderson's Histories of the Hanged is out at roughly the same time. There's a joint review in today's Observer, by Peter Preston:

'In the midst of the war, draconian anti-terrorist laws were introduced, suspending the human rights of subjects, imposing collective punishments, facilitating detention without trial, permitting the seizure of property of convicts and vastly extending the death penalty to a wide range of offences... the Kikuyu districts of Kenya became a police state in the very fullest sense of that term.'

EUTHANASIA, towards which the C of E desires to 'signal a new approach.' According to Canon Professor Robin Gill, an adviser to Rowan Williams:

'There is a very strong compassionate case for voluntary euthanasia,' Gill told The Observer . 'In certain cases, such as that which involved Diane Pretty [the woman who was terminally ill with motor neurone disease and who campaigned for the right to be helped to die], there is an overwhelming case for it.'

PRINCE HARRY; selections from various editorials here. Clearly the guy isn't terribly bright. But, in mitigation, he's young, it was in private and charity demands we assume non-fascist motives. Still, an apology in person would, I'm sure, be well-received.

Der Spiegel's online English site here has an entertaining take... [Via Abiola Lapite]

SCOUSERS get beat, again. Keane was absolutely immense, it's been some while since he ran a game so well.

VISIT the Gay-O-Meter. I'm on 26% ...

Thursday, January 13, 2005


SAINT of the day is Hilary of Poitiers, bishop and doctor of the Church.

YES, I noticed the template change too. New Year and all that. What do you think?

BERENIKE has been joined by Boeciana and Aelianus at exlaodicea. She's always been sharp and funny, and the new additions will keep up the standard.

GORDON Brown's tour diary is here!!

WATERSTONE'S sacks blogging employee. Joe Gordon of the Wollamaloo Gazette was sacked, ostensibly for 'bringing the company into disrepute'. Crooked Timber has a very full set of comments. I admit to only a passing acquaintance with the facts, but it looks like a simple freedom of speech issue. I won't be going into a Waterstone's any time soon.

POO flavoured chocolate or chocolate-flavoured poo? A deep philosophical justification of the preference for chocolate-flavoured poo over poo-flavoured chocolate; or the price of being an essentialist. Here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


WOULD it be awfully cynical to hope that Kenyan business will benefit now that the Sudan treaty has been signed?

NAUSEATINGLY, Gen. Sumbeiywo is the hero of the hour...

DAVID CHALMERS, probably the most important philosopher of mind now writing, has a new blog here.

BONO admits that the 'City of Blinding Lights' is New York.
Bad things first - some of the lyrics are just shocking - surely 'Freedom has a scent/ Like the top of a new born baby’s head' is the worst thing Bono's ever written. As usual, there is some truly horrible over- emoting, especially on Vertigo. Some of the riffs are recycled U2 standards, or sound like it. And the attempted grandness of the whole thing can be off-putting in itself, while magnifying the ridiculousness when things go wrong. In short, this album will not give those U2 fans who closed the Canon in 1991 reason to reopen it.

All that said, there simply is not a better band at 'making a joyful noise' - at expressing joy and hope - at celebrating. All that old U2 uplift is everywhere on this album, and it's all the more moving, as we know that its accompanied by midlife crises, parental departures and ongoing attempts to save the world. Songs? well, Crumbs from your table is truly beautiful, and it shows how effectively Bono has learnt the wisdom of restraint. Even Vertigo is so fun that you forget to be annoyed at yourself for enjoying the designated single. HTDAAB is also more unified than some of their previous work - the themes are more starkly evident. This will, or should, prevent (some of) the exegetical debates that tend to break out about lyrics. One of Bono's obiter dicta is that it's easy to make a good sad song, but the hardest thing in the world to create a good happy song. U2 have done the hardest thing in the world at least three times on How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

GORDON BROWN is in Kenya. Surreal, the sight of him planting a tree with Wangari Maathai.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

in which we discover an american angel

NICHANOR , martyr and Deacon, is the saint of the day.

CAROLINE ELKINS' Imperial Reckoning:The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya is out in a couple of weeks in the UK and about the same time in the US. Read it! Reviews in the Sunday Times, the Times again, and in the Economist.

BEE now has her own blog here. Visit and see what mischief she's up to.

Friday, January 07, 2005


is not quite the Saint of the Day today, but his feast and my birthday coincide, so I'm remembering him today. Happy Epiphany all.

DEC: You can donate money towards tsunami relief here.

P.O.E: There has been a lot of talk about whether the tsunami(s) raised a version of the problem of evil for believers in an all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing God. Brian Weatherson's post at Crooked Timber, and at his own blog, is the best consideration of the issues I've seen yet.

UPDATE: You've really got to read 'The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience' here. Amongst other very interesting titbits:

In 1989 George Gallup Jr. and James Castelli published the results of a survey to determine which groups in the U.S. were least and most likely to object to having black neighbors—surely a good measure of racism. Catholics and nonevangelical Christians ranked least likely to object to black neighbors; 11 percent objected. Mainline Protestants came next at 16 percent. At 17 percent, Baptists and evangelicals were among the most likely groups to object to black neighbors, and 20 percent of Southern Baptists objected to black neighbors.


happy birthday to me!