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!