Wednesday, May 21, 2008

After centuries, Cornish agree how to speak their language

Simon de Bruxelles

For hundreds of years the dwindling band of surviving Cornish-speakers have been so divided that they could not even agree what their language should be called.

Now after protracted and delicate neogtiations, Cornwall’s hardy linguistic scholars have set aside their differences to settle a standard written form for the language they treasure.

Since the early 20th century there has been a successful campaign to revive spoken Cornish, but the use of sources from different eras meant there were several versions of how it should be written. The result was a rivalry between proponents of Unified Cornish, Kernewek Kemmyn, Modern Cornish, Unified Cornish Revised, Kernowak Standard, Kernewek Dasunys and other variants that would have left speakers of the original language utterly bemused.

As a measure of the differences Cornish-speakers could not even agree whether the language should be called Kernowek, Kernewek or Curnoack.

Now after two years of negotiation, scholars from all the different factions have reached agreement on a Standard Written Form which will be used in future in education, in pamphlets and brochures, and on public signs.

A thousand years ago, Cornish, which is closely related to Breton and Welsh, was spoken by most of the population in southwest England. Its decline began in 1549 when the Latin prayer book was replaced by an English version, provoking a revolt by people who spoke only Cornish. The repression that followed culminated in the massacre of 4,000 rebels and left a bitterness that lingers to this day.

Cornish retreated down the peninsula. The last monoglot Cornish speaker is believed to have been a man called Chesten Marchant who died at Gwithian in 1676. Dorothy Pentreath, the last native speaker, died in 1777 at Mousehole. The last living link with the language was broken in 1891 with the death of John Davey, of Zennor, who took to the grave the Cornish phrases his grandfather had taught him.

By 1900 Cornish was a dead language that survived only in a few manuscripts and the notes of 18th and 19th-century linguistic scholars who had recorded what they could before it vanished completely.

Its reconstruction and revival began in the early 1900s with renewed interest in Cornish heritage and there are now about 300 people who can speak it fluently, with several thousand more who have at least a rudimentary grasp.

Cornish is unique among minority European languages because it was revived after having died out. A team of scholars led by a Norwegian linguist, Trond Trosterud, devised the standard written form under the auspices of the Cornish Language Partnership.

Its development officer Jenefer Lowe, who has been speaking Cornish since she was a girl, said: “There were scholastic disagreements and some pretty firmly held opinions but we managed to reach agreement in the end. The standard form draws on the forms already in existence. This means that users of any form will find much that is familiar, alongside some differences.”

Benjamin Bruch, a former lecturer in Celtic studies at Harvard University who helped to draw up the SWF, said: “It is a critical and extremely exciting time in the history of the language. There has been a huge change in perception and awareness of the language over the past ten years.”

He added that he hopes the move will encourage a stronger sense of Cornish identity. “If you have no language you have no land. A lot of people feel it is part of their identity, part of their heritage. Cornwall is lucky because people are working hard to use it more and more. It gives it a fighting chance when others are going.”

Cornwall County Council is now asking that Cornish be recognised by the EU as an official regional or minority language, like Welsh or Gaelic. That could ease the way for EU funding for teaching – which at present is restricted to DVDs in three secondary schools. Frances Bennett, a teacher of Modern Cornish, said: “Young children are really keen to learn the language. It’s like a secret code to them.”

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dutch cartoonist in trouble

We read:
"The Dutch authorities have arrested the cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot (a pseudonym. Nekschot means deathblow, litt: “shot in the back of the neck” [An interview with Nekschot here]). The judicial authorities in Amsterdam said yesterday that the cartoonist was arrested as a suspect for the criminal offense of “publishing cartoons which are discriminating for Muslims and people with dark skin.”

The cartoonist was arrested on Tuesday, while the police searched his house for “discriminating evidence.” His computer, backups, usb sticks, mobile phone and a number of drawings were confiscated.

Nekschot was released two days later but it is possible that he will be charged following a complaint in 2005 by the Dutch imam Abdul Jabbar van de Ven, an indigenous Dutchman who converted to Islam.


The guy is a hero, considering the Muslim-loving Dutch authorities and the lack of protection for free speech there.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Freedom of expression has a win in Sweden

You do normally have to go to a higher court to get such freedom in Sweden:

"A local politician from the Malmo suburb of Burlov has been acquitted of charges of agitation against an ethnic group. Dahn Pettersson of the local Allianspartiet had previously been convicted by the Malmo District Court and fined the equivalent of 100 days' pay after he submitted a legislative proposal to the Burlov town council connecting heroin smuggling with Kosovo Albanians residing permanently in Sweden.

But the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court's decision and ruled instead that the proposal didn't prove Pettersson intended to disrespect Kosovo Albanians as a group....

According to the Court of Appeals, the text of the proposal could be read as saying that Kosovo Albanians are especially inclined to be involved with the heroin trade and therefore cause homelessness and other societal problems.

Ultimately, the court choose to release Pettersson, arguing that freedom of expression and the right to criticize current policy is important, especially when it comes to political debate.


Albanians are Muslims and you must not speak any evil of those wonderful people in Sweden.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Queen and I: relations with the royals

The Queen liked us - but her sister and Princess Anne didn't

Cherie Blair

While the Queen is very approachable, I can't say the same about Princess Margaret, whom I met several times at Balmoral. One evening I was at the Royal Opera House for some gala performance and was talking to her about what we'd seen, when Chris Smith came over.

“Have you met Chris Smith, our Culture Secretary, Ma'am?” I asked.

She peered at him.

“And this is his partner,” I continued.

“Partner for what?”

I took a breath. “Sex, Ma'am.”

She stalked off. She knew exactly what kind of partner I meant. She was just trying to catch me out.

At one point in that first year, Princess Anne came over and said something that included “Mrs Blair”.

“Oh. Please call me Cherie,” I said.

“I'd rather not,” she replied. “It's not the way I've been brought up.”

“What a shame,” I said.

My relationship with the Queen's only daughter went rapidly downhill and never recovered ... the reason, I think, was less our slightly awkward first meeting than her perception that it was me who was egging Tony on with the ban on foxhunting, Anne having very strong feelings about the matter. She made it very clear to me when Tony and I attended a state banquet at Windsor Castle while the Bill was going through Parliament. Prince Charles and Prince Andrew, on the other hand, who also had strong views on the subject, were extremely civilised about it.

As for me and foxhunting, animals have never really been a passion of mine, so what happens to the ruddy fox completely passes me by. It's people I'm interested in.

After the Queen Mother's death in the spring, that September I asked the Queen whether she would mind if we had a picture of Leo with her, so we did. She is very good with small children, she liked Leo and Leo loved the dogs. I remember when he was about 18 months old, the Queen was showing him how to throw a biscuit to one of the corgis. She told him that now they all had to have one, so he took a handful and flung them across the room and the corgis went wild.

“Oh,” she said. “That wasn't quite what I meant.” But she wasn't remotely cross at the ensuing mayhem. By the time he was two-and-a-half he had learnt the words of God Save the Queen, and at the end of our stay he sang it to her on his own. Her Majesty was very gracious and congratulated him. All praise to Jackie, who had taken a lot of trouble over it. Leo was really the person who broke the ice at Balmoral, and once he came along the whole atmosphere changed completely.

That first visit I was on edge the whole time, thinking, Oh my God, what faux pas am I going to make next? But over the years we had got used to one another. She was clearly very fond of Tony, and the last time we went I was really sad to think that we would never go there again.

Friday, May 9, 2008

England a not so green and pleasant land

England, famous across the world as the country of Shakespeare, royalty, fair play and manners, is a nation of "overweight, sex-and-celebrity-obsessed TV addicts", according to a new tourist guide.

The "Rough Guide to England", which was written by four British travel writers, says that there is nowhere "so fascinating, beautiful and culturally diverse, yet as insular, self-important and irritating, as England".

The country has been scarred by the 2005 London bombings and the Iraq war, making it a "querulous, quarrelsome country" that could be in the grip of an identity crisis, it says.

English people may hold forth on politics, law and order and immigration, but also lap up "celebrity chit-chat".

"As a glance at the tabloid newspapers will confirm, England is a nation of overweight, binge-drinking reality TV addicts," it says.

Reserve is still a key national trait -- attempting a conversation with a stranger "can be seen as tantamount to physical assault", the guide says -- and a person's accent is the equivalent of a consumer brand.

Social inequality is rife, too, as "a tiny aristocracy, who in some cases trace their roots to the Norman Conquest of the eleventh century, still own most of the land" and there is an attack on creeping materialism.

The guide also rails against "identikit" provincial towns and "overpriced, under-funded public transport".

Foreign tourists are also warned that the English are "the most contradictory people imaginable".

"However long you spend in the country you'll never figure them out," it adds.

But the guide is not entirely negative, reserving a soft spot for the country's love of animals, generosity to charities, irony, its openness to refugees, thriving arts and culture and the soothing quality of BBC Radio 4.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Tuskegee experiment on black syphilitics was the result of the “Progressive” wisdom of the day

Initial comment below by Jonah Goldberg. Follow the various links for more info:

People who've read my book know that one of its major themes is how liberals never take ownership of their errors. Rather, they ascribe their errors to the long bill of indictment of America's sins. They then use these sins to justify - what else? - more liberalism. Conservatism is wrong. America is wrong when it is conservative. But liberalism endures blameless, sinless and pointing ever upward toward goodness, truth and light.

There are few better examples of this tendency than the use and abuse of the Tuskegee experiments. I cannot begin to count the number of conversations with liberals I've had where they've used Tuskegee in just this way. Anyway, that's what my column is about today. An excerpt:
The infamous Tuskegee experiment is the Medusa's head of black left-wing paranoia. Whenever someone laments the fact that anywhere from 10 percent to 33 percent of African Americans believe the U.S. government invented AIDS to kill blacks, someone will say, "That's not so crazy when you consider what happened at Tuskegee."

But it is crazy. And it's dishonest. Wright says the U.S. government "purposely infected African-American men with syphilis." This is a lie, and no knowledgeable historian says otherwise.

And yet, this untruth pops up routinely. In March, CNN commentator Roland Martin defended Wright, saying, "That actually did, indeed, happen." On Fox News, the allegation has gone unchallenged on Hannity & Colmes and The O'Reilly Factor. Obery Hendricks, a prominent author and visiting scholar at Princeton University, told O'Reilly "I do know that the government injected syphilis into black men at the Tuskegee Institute. Now we know that the government is capable of doing those things."

To which O'Reilly responded: "All right. All governments have done bad things in every country."

True enough. And what the U.S. did at Tuskegee was indeed bad, very bad. But it didn't do what these people say it did.

Jonah follows up some points above here and here

Something else that is seldom mentioned about the Tuskegee experiment:
It takes little imagination to ascribe racist attitudes to the white government officials who ran the experiment, but what can one make of the numerous African Americans who collaborated with them? The experiment's name comes from the Tuskegee Institute, the black university founded by Booker T. Washington. Its affiliated hospital lent the PHS its medical facilities for the study, and other predominantly black institutions as well as local black doctors also participated. A black nurse, Eunice Rivers, was a central figure in the experiment for most of its forty years.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dear Mr Hitler forgeries fool Brits for years

By David Leppard in London

IT began with a letter, uncovered nine years ago, addressed by a duke to "Dear Mr Hitler".

One of the most extraordinary academic detective stories of modern times ended yesterday, when the National Archives, the official custodian of Britain's history, admitted it had been the victim of a master forger

The public records office, which holds the written record of the British state going back 800 years, said its reputation had been compromised by the discovery that 29 documents from 12 separate files were all forgeries inserted into its records.

The forged documents all relate to alleged British perfidy in World War II.

The archive says the papers had supported sensational allegations by Martin Allen, a self-styled "eminent" historian, in three recent books.

These include claims that the Duke of Windsor was a traitor and that British agents had murdered Hitler's SS boss, Heinrich Himmler, on Winston Churchill's orders.

The archive also released witness statements given by senior officials to the police.

In one of them, archivist Louise Atherton is particularly critical of Allen, saying he "relied heavily" on forged files and accusing him of "significant" exaggeration and inaccurate quotation in his use of the contents of genuine ones.

Allen was unavailable for comment. One of his former literary agents, Robert Smith, said Allen had previously denied any involvement in the forgeries.

Suspicions about the authenticity of documents used by Allen were first raised by The Sunday Times newspaper nine years ago in relation to his book Hidden Agenda: How the Duke of Windsor Betrayed the Allies.

It accused the Queen's uncle of helping the Germans to conquer France and defeat the British army in the early stages of World War II.

Allen's scoop was based largely on what he said was a handwritten letter from the duke to Adolf Hitler dated November 1939.

It begins, "Dear Mr Hitler", and is signed, "EP", for Edward Prince, an abbreviation the duke occasionally used.

The letter makes veiled references to a tour of the French frontline defences that the dukehad just made.

It asks Hitler to pay close attention to the information the letters to him has memorised.

The courier was a German spy, and Allen argues that through him the duke gave Hitler top-secret strategic information that enabled the Germans to attack France at the weakest points in its defences.

France fell in six weeks and British forces were routed.

The letter appears to suggest that the duke, who abdicated in 1936, was willing to resume the throne once Britain had been bullied into a peace settlement.

The Sunday Times commissioned experts to examine the document.

Robert Radley, a forensic documents examiner, found "many discrepancies" that made him "highly suspicious".

Leslie Dicks, another expert, concluded that the letter was "most probably a forgery".

A paper analyst, Leslie Bowyer, found evidence the letter had been written on a blank page from an old book, a classic forger's trick.

This and other evidence, Bowyer said, "all combine to suggest that this letter is a forgery and probably done relatively recently".

Allen insisted the letter was genuine.

He said it had been given to his late father, also a writer on the Nazi era, by Albert Speer, Hitler's former munitions minister. He said he had found it in his attic.

The Sunday Times declined to serialise the book but it was published nonetheless.

There the matter might have lain as an unresolved mystery but in 2003 Allen published The Hitler/Hess Deception, which argued that the flight of Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, in 1941 was part of a plot to oust Churchill.

Once again, Allen was challenging the standard version of events, and using documents to prove his thesis.

His next book, Himmler's Secret War, published two years later, reinforced the forgery concerns.

It cited documents from the National Archives that purported to show that British agents acting on Churchill's orders murdered Himmler, the head of the SS, in 1945 to cover up British peace feelers towards him.

This contradicted accepted accounts that Himmler killed himself. Alarm bells soon rang.

Letterheads on the correspondence supposedly written in 1945 had been created on a high-resolution laser printer.

Signatures were found to be written over pencil tracings.

Handwriting of different officials was suspiciously similar.

Diplomatic titles and key dates were wrong. Once more Allen denied culpability. He told The Sunday Times: "I think I have been set up ... I am devastated."

The National Archives conducted an investigation which confirmed that five documents used in the book had been forged.

The inquiry also discovered more forged documents. Once 17 documents had been identified as likely forgeries, Scotland Yard was called in. Allen was interviewed by police. Again he denied forgery.

Last year, Mike O'Brien, then solicitor-general, said in a parliamentary answer that Crown prosecutors had decided there was enough evidence against Allen "to provide a realistic prospect of conviction".

The prosecutors had decided, however, that it was not in the public interest to proceed.

Mr O'Brien said Allen's "health and the surrounding circumstances" had contributed to the decision. There was no further explanation.

John Fox, a historian specialising in Nazi Germany, said the National Archives' statement cast doubt on the veracity of documents in other collections.

"How on earth were these documents slipped in? This is something that the National Archives has to answer."

The National Archives said new security procedures had been put in place.,23599,23644656-38200,00.html


Media frauds trip themselves up

North Pole fables: "On the NBC nightly news there was a heart-throb report of an attractive British teen-ager who had skied across the North Pole with her father to demonstrate how the Arctic ice pack is receding in the face of global warming. Oh, horror. Oh, how terrible. The pictures were beautiful: Her pretty face, her gentle smile, her soft voice, her snow-crusted parka, the blue skies, the brilliant white ice, the cascading chunks of ice calving from glaciers, the two penguins standing on an ice floe.... Wait a minute. Penguins? At the North Pole? Not that we ever heard of. So much for science, as reported by NBC News. [See the video concerned here]

A commenter on the above adds: "Actual photo below from my journey to the lowland rainforests of Nepal, where the penguins have all been killed for their ivory tusks"

[For any products of a modern education reading here, the South Pole has penguins but no bears and the North pole has bears but no penguins]


Sunday, May 4, 2008

No respect for free speech or intellectual diversity at Smith College

Smith college is an elite Massachusetts liberal arts college for women. We read:

"Last night Ryan Sorba, an "anti-homosexual activist" spoke at Smith College. Sorba, the author of the upcoming book, "The Born Gay Hoax," (yes, seriously) can been seen in action here. The awesome feminists of Smith forced Sorba out after a mere twenty minutes of speaking, when he was drowned out by protesters.


The above quote is from a feminist site. Their silence over the treatment of women in Muslim countries has long ago revealed that feminism is just a mask for far Leftism these days and the above certainly confirms that. Christians who are critical of homosexuality are fair game and must be shouted down. Muslims (as in Iran) who actually kill homosexuals are just "misunderstood".

A commenter here reasonably asks how the feminists would feel if they were denied the right to be heard in a similar way. The shrieks and squeals would resound to high Heaven.

Fuller details of what actually happened here

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The vast hypocrisy of “There’s no such thing as right and wrong” — again

When Leftists say, "There's no such thing as right and wrong", they are normally referring to moral judgments. They use that formula when confronted with something as uncomfortable as their unwavering support for murderous Communists and Muslims. And, as such, it is a transparent fraud. They themselves reveal that such talk is at best a tantrum by going on themselves to use the language of right and wrong to condemn "intolerance", "Zionists" or the Iraq war etc. Talk of right and wrong is meaningless when conservatives use it but highly meaningful when Leftists use it, apparently. To call such reasoning "sophomoric" is to praise it too highly.

Under the rubric of "postmoderninsm", they also however extend their condemnation of "right and wrong" to statements of fact. If anyone presents facts that conflict with Leftist beliefs they evade it in various ways. One stratagem is to say that that is just "your reality" etc. Or if some fact upsets some theory that they are wedded to, they simply deny the fact in some way -- often by ad hominem arguments such as saying that the person presenting the pesky fact is "in the pay of big oil" -- or some other totally discreditable stratagem that tells you no more than that the Leftist does not want to believe the fact concerned.

And the latest example of convenience as a criterion for truth is the amazing spectacle of Pastor Wright claiming that blacks and whites have inherently different brains. He has famously said that:
"Africans have a different meter, and Africans have a different tonality," he said. Europeans have seven tones, Africans have five. White people clap differently than black people. "Africans and African-Americans are right-brained, subject-oriented in their learning style, ....They have a different way of learning."

or as Heather Macdonald summarizes:
At the NAACP meeting, Wright proudly propounded the racist contention that blacks have inherently different "learning styles," correctly citing as authority for this view Janice Hale of Wayne State University. Pursuing a Ph.D. by logging long hours in the dusty stacks of a library, Wright announced, is "white." Blacks, by contrast, cannot sit still in class or learn from quiet study, and they have difficulty learning from "objects"-books, for example-but instead learn from "subjects," such as rap lyrics on the radio. These differences are neurological, according to Hale and Wright: whites use what Wright referred to as the "left-wing, logical, and analytical" side of their brains, whereas blacks use their "right brain," which is "creative and intuitive."

Most people have reacted very adversely to these utterances -- recognizing how far outside the mainstream they are. But I think that there may be something in what he has said. The behavioural differences between blacks and whites are plain to any honest observer and that the differences might have a genetic basis is entirely in accord with what the scientific literature keeps telling us about the vast influence of genetics.

I myself have also been saying for decades that black and white brains are different -- but I have been rewarded for that by being figuratively cast into outer darkness -- even by other conservatives. Anybody who mentions the plain psychometric fact that blacks are on average of much lower intelligence and that the difference is hereditary is completely outside the pale of civilization. To accept the lie that there are NO important genetic differences between the races is not just the conventional wisdom: It is a necessary passport to being acceptable and respectable in polite society. And rejecting that lie is even worse than rejecting global warming!

As Dr Goebbels knew, a big lie is often more plausible than the plain scientific facts and those of us who draw attention to the facts can easily be marginalized. Perhaps fortunately, most of the lies, deceptions and legends that I campaign against are in the medical field -- where the fate of the skeptic is mostly to be ignored rather than being stigmatized. But all the lies, deceptions and accepted myths concerned are very harmful to people. I would not bother about them otherwise.

So how come Pastor Wright can say the opposite of what is normally regarded as correct about race to thunderous applause at a NAACP convention? Simple: To a Leftist, the truth of a statement depends entirely on the use to which it is put. If a statement about an inborn difference seems to be derogatory to a favoured group (Leftists are so mentally limited that they think almost entirely in terms of groups) then that statement is WRONG. But if it defends the deviant actions of the same group it is RIGHT.

Leftists really do mean it when they say that there is no such thing as right and wrong -- absurd though that it. I guess that they do know deep down that there are real truth differences but truth is very subordinate to their political convenience. It just does not matter. They have no regard for truth at all. Truth is what is expedient. Manipulating people has priority over all else.

Ed Morrissey has also noted the hypocrisy in the response to Pastor Wright's claims.