Books, Etc.

Recent reading has included Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Reformation (splendid), Richard A. Peterson’s Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity (not bad at all), Charles Tripp’s history of Iraq (fairly solid, I thought, though he uses the word “narrative” almost as much as a bad journalist writing about David Davis), and two best-sellers that were kicking around in the flat we were staying in, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (great fun) and The Da Vinci Code (rubbish nonsense, and, oddly enough, far more childish that HP&tPoA, as well as much less well written), together with various other bits and pieces, and lots of copies of L’Equipe, of course. (Favourite headline: “Il est implacable”, with a picture of you-know-who.)

Since the launch of the new Harry Potter book was widely covered in the French media, I can report that French journalists say “‘Arry Pott-eur” when they are trying to say his name in English, and “‘Arry Pott-air” when they are trying to say his name in French.

New Stoa Serial!

Thanks to David, who’s just given me a copy of a splendid and comparatively unknown pamphlet from around 1950, which I’ll be serialising here at the Virtual Stoa over the next few days. It’s very fine, and not very long. Enjoy.

The menace of Communism


The Boy Scouts Association and the Girl Guides Association realise the dangers which their members face by the menace of the present world situation to the values in which they believe. This statement has accordingly been prepared by the two Associations for the use of Scouters and Guiders, but to avoid clumsy repetitions by the use of such phrases as “Scouters and Guiders”, “Scouts and Guides”, each Association is issuing its own statement, using expressions directly applicable to its own members.

The Purpose of the Statement

It is clear that the fundamental beliefs of Scouting are often challenged in the world of today. On all sides our minds are assailed by propaganda, and much of it is specious and clever. Unless we understand what our faith is, and our reasons for holding it, we can easily be taken in by some of this plausible argument.

It is therefore vital that all of us should know what we believe should carry it into practice in our lives, and should be ready to proclaim it to others. We must also realise by whom these beliefs are challenged, and what our answer must be when challenged.

In this statement we seek to remind Scouters of the fundamental beliefs of Scouting, over which there can be no compromise, and to ask them to ensure that their Scouts are well founded in these beliefs by the time that they go out to work, for it is then that the full challenge of the world may meet them for the first time.

We can deal with these great subjects in outline only, but those who feel the need of pursuing them at greater length are recommended to turn to the short list of books in the Appendix.


Our beliefs are summed up in the Scout Promise which we have take:

“On my honour I promise that I will do my best –
To do my duty to God, and the King,
To help other people at all times,
To obey the Scout Law.”

We believe also in the Scout method of training, which aims at the development of the character of each individual, through the Patrol System, the Badge System and Woodcraft.

Let us look at our beliefs more closely:

Duty to God

This comes first, because we believe that God is the Creator and the Preserver of all mankind, and has revealed Himself to us. The claims of God on our life and service are total, and are indeed the only total claims that can legitimately be made upon men. His love of us demands in return our love, devotion and duty.

It is not enough to say that we accept the teaching about God but that we are not prepared to take part in worship. It is the duty of every Scout to carry out the obligations of his faith.

Duty to the King

The King is the constitutional head of the State that gives us protection and safeguards our liberties. We are therefore pledged to be loyal and law-abiding citizens, to take our share in the good government of our country through our work and our votes, and to take no part in any subversive action.

Helping other people at all times

As citizens of a free country, we are free to keep ourselves to ourselves, or to be good neighbours, as may please us, but as Scouts we are pledged to be good citizens and to do good turns to our neighbours whenever we can. Our individual and corporate good turns are an expression of our religious faith, for loving our neighbours as ourselves is one of the great Commandments.

Obeying the Scout Law

The Scout Law lays down a high standard of behaviour, which we are proud to do our best to maintain. As all men are precious in God’s sight, it matters how we treat each other. So, whatever the standard in the world around us, we expect our Scouts (as we expect of ourselves) to be honourable, loyal, friendly, courteous and cheerful – in fact, to live the good life.

The Scout method of Training

Our method aims at producing good citizens who, through their training, think for themselves, display initiative, and are self-reliant. Each individual counts. But as none of us is good enough by our unaided efforts to live up to the highest that we know, we realise that it is only by asking God for His help and by faith in Him that we can be our best.

Next Instalment [coming soon!]: “By Whom Are We Challenged?”

Joyful and Triumphant

The new series of Doctor Who ends tonight. I know you don’t come here for Dr Who blogging (you go here, instead, and hasn’t he been doing a good job?), but it’s all been so much fun that I wanted to enthuse in this space ahead of this evening’s finale.

I missed the first episode, watched the second out of a sense of obligatory nostalgia and sort of enjoyed it, but didn’t think it was great; more or less ditto episode three; but the aliens taking over Downing Street were great fun, the first Dalek episode was one of the great TV programmes of all time, ever, and since those shows I’ve been quite uncritical about the whole thing and enjoyed every minute of it all (though I missed episode eight, alas).

It’s been splendid, and I hope there’s a lot more of it to come.

I think (though I may be forgetting something) that it’s also the first time in almost fifteen years that I’ve followed a TV show from week to week, so becoming a regular viewer feels like a very strange thing to be doing (though I think most people find this quite normal). Usually I only watch news and sports programmes on the telly, and when I watch episodes of things, it’s tended in recent years to be from the DVDs (Inspector Morse, Father Ted, Rising Damp, that kind of thing).

Set Up An Off-Shore Processing Centre For The Irish

I hadn’t seen the automatic Tory Policy Generator before. It’s very good, and in particular I like the pledge list that appears on the righthand side.

[via, who is a friend of Kirsty McNeill and is kind enough to put me on his blogroll, and so goes straight onto mine]

UPDATE [2 minutes later]: I’ve just had “Name and Shame Foreigners”, which is both very funny and also reminds me of Graham Chapman’s splendid suggestion from an old Monty Python episode to raise money for the government by “putting a tax on all foreigners living abroad”.


I’m back.

A group of us academic types were off in Libya last week, seeing things like this, this, this, this and this, seeing all kinds of images of Colonel Gaddafi, and eating lots and lots of Libyan Soup. (Recipe by Delia here.)

It was all splendid.

And we all seemed to manage to cope for eight or nine days without booze admirably, and with no funny and/or distressing side effects.


Recent additions to the blogroll include Actually Existing, which promises intelligent general-election-related discussion, Aufheben, Bloggers4Labour, Corridor of Uncertainty (good name for a cricket blog), MediaWatchWatch (which keeps an eye on ignorant bigots [googlebombers: note new URL]), No Concept of Liberty (blogging from Singapore, which may help to explain the name), and the splendid Where There Were No Doors, from Jim Bliss.

Oh, and in case anyone hadn’t already noticed, British Spin is back, after a period of quiescence.

Splendid Rubbish Nonsense

Mel P rises to the occasion (as ever) with praise for IDS and his insightful views about blogs [see below].

For IDS, apparently, “has understood that the web has the power finally to topple not just individual journalists caught with their hands in the ethical till, but the whole wretched hegemony of insidious and civilisation-threatening views that has driven Britsh society off the rails…”

UPDATE [3pm]: Tim Lambert has been thinking about Mel P’s thinking on science and global warming:

Next, we have Melanie Philips, who is sure that global warming is a scam because (quoting McIntyre and McKitrick):

[Mann et al�s method], when tested on persistent red noise, nearly always produces a hockey stick shaped first principal component (PC1) and overstates the first eigenvalue.

According to her biography Philips is a journalist with a degree in English. Back when I was an undergraduate learning about stuff like eigenvalues and mathematical physics, my friends studying English didn’t learn about eigenvalues. Maybe it was different for Philips, or maybe she’s done some postgrad course in advanced statistical analysis, so I emailed her, asking her if she knew what red noise, principal components, or eigenvalues were. No reply. My guess is that she doesn’t know what any of them are. (Oh, and M&M’s “always produces a hockey stick” argument is a red herring.)

More over here, at the ever-excellent Deltoid blog.

Health Checks for Immigrants

Splendid post from Andrew Bartlett on Mr Howard’s recent and rancid proposals to require migrants to the UK to undergo mandatory health checks.

People interested in the subject should look forward to the publication of James Hampshire’s book, Citizenship and Belonging: Immigration and the Politics of Demographic Governance in Postwar Britain, out from Palgrave Macmillan in May this year, which discusses the debates inside government the last time these issues were chewed over with any seriousness. From what I remember of the argument from when I was chatting to James about what was then his D.Phil thesis, ill-health among nonwhite immigrants often tended to owe to grotty living conditions in this country, rather than to illnesses brought in from outside, and that while Irish immigrants tended to be less healthy than non-white immigrants, the proposals to introduce compulsory health checks always dealt entirely with non-whites.

(In the end, compulsory medical testing was not introduced, and the random testing that was tried resulted in very few exclusions indeed. Since what Mr Howard announces today Mr Blair will probably pick up and run with tomorrow, it’s probably best to hope for a broadly similar outcome this time around.)