Contemplating the Dwight Watson affair, Naunihal suspects that double standards are operating in the war on terror — again — over at Ishbadiddle.
For two days in a row now, the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 seems to be dominated by stories of helicopter crashes which have killed quite a few people. The lengthy discussions of these incidents (about which there is, in fact, very little to say) annoy me, insofar as they tend to strengthen the impression that the major problems facing the US / UK troops are equipment failures of various kinds. I’m not sure that this is the case.
More interesting stories found online this morning include:
From Indymedia UK:
Students and residents in Oxford have continued the actions this morning and afternoon. On the Cornmarket shop-street, people dressed in black stood along the paved road, and at 12:30 many church bells rang in mourning. A discussion space was active under Carfax Tower. Subsequently some people chained all the gas pumps at the E$$O gas station in the south of the city. Others are now ocupying the offices of pro-war Labour MP Andrew Smith in East Oxford.
This follows on from an abortive attempt to occupy the town hall yesterday and a series of roadblocks. (Pictures, but not especially good ones, unfortunately, are here. The one at the bottom, in case you were wondering, is a pile of police-horse-shit).More activity promised later this evening.
As you can see, I’ve installed an Iraq Body Count counter at the top of this page: the site has full details about the methods being used in order to compile a database of reported incidents involving civilian fatalities at the hands of US/UK aggression in Iraq and a computation and running count of the number of well-documented deaths.
Ken Purchase can also join the roll of honour: being Robin Cook’s PPS, he automatically loses his post on the resignation of his boss. But since he has gone on to sign the rebel amendment currently being debated in the House of Commons, he deserves a place on the list.
The world gears up for war, and I am reading about masturbation…
(Via Arts and Letters) I enjoyed two reviews of Solitary Sex, the new book by the Berkeley historian Thomas Laqueur, here and here. I look forward to getting a copy of the book when it appears in UK bookshops.
Both reviews place a great deal of emphasis on the emerging ideologies of anti-masturbation which developed in eighteenth-century England, with the 1712 publication of Onania; or, The Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution and all its Frightful Consequences in both SEXES given pride of place. And these discussions reminded me, not for the first time this week, of one of the most intriguing eighteenth-century anti-masturbation essays: Jeremy Bentham on “Offences Against One’s Self” from around 1785.
It’s an intriguing piece, since the bulk of Bentham’s essay is given over to a slashing attack on Britain’s sex laws (which proscribed death for gay sex, etc.), up to and including the laws against bestiality (“Accidents of this sort will sometimes happen; for distress will force a man upon strange expedients”), much of which is splendidly humane.
But Bentham then turns to masturbation, concerning which he writes that “Of all irregularities of the venereal appetite, that which is the most incontestably pernicious is one which no legislator seems ever to have made an attempt to punish…” He doesn’t recommend legislation — since it “can always be committed without any danger or at least without any apparent danger of a discovery” — but he does disapprove…
Read the whole thing. It’s good stuff.
The BBC has a handy list of who’s resigning from the Government and when.
16:17GMT – Leader of the House of Commons Robin Cook resigns after a meeting with Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street. He said: “Neither the international community nor the British public are persuaded that there is an urgent and compelling reason for this action in Iraq.”
07:00GMT – Lord Hunt of Kings Heath announces his resignation as junior health minister on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, saying: “At the end of the day I don’t support this action and it would be hypocritical for me to stay in government.”
11:11GMT – Home Office Minister John Denham resigns saying: “I cannot support the government in tonight’s vote.”
11:39GMT – Bob Blizzard, Labour MP for Waveney, resigns as Private Parliamentary Secretary to work and pensions minister Nick Brown.
11:56GMT – Anne Campbell, Labour MP for Cambridge, resigns from her role as Private Parliamentary Secretary to Patricia Hewitt, secretary of state for trade and industry.
Any minister or PPS who resigns will be comemmorated on the Roll of Honour over on the right hand side of the Virtual Stoa, at least for a bit.
In Memoriam Karl Marx, died one hundred and twenty years ago in London, 14 March 1883. For Friedrich Engels’s graveside oration, click here.
Peering into the archives for the odd search strings which bring people to the shores of the Stoa…
josip broz car auction
domus aurea esquiline
anecdote about Kim Jong Il
daily mail mosley
bob marshall andrews [a few of these]
“ari fleischer” satan
essay on the leopard by visconti
Ben M’hidi Battle of Algiers
italian word for troll
historian Christopher Hill
J. K. Rowling address
read my lips George Bush Tony Blair
iraq german students against the war
coordinated readings Aristophanes Lysistrata
sealions war against terror
and, of course,
free zoo sex clip archive
So, all in all, a bit more highbrow than usual. It’s the first one which puzzles me the most. And I really don’t think the US military should be sending sealions into combat.