I recently visited Camber Sands on the South Coast at the height of the heat wave. It looked like a grand old English beach, just as I remembered them, buzzing with families with children, but there were also an extraordinary number of dogs of many breeds so that it looked like an outing from Battersea Dog’s Home. Once in the sea, which was crowded with people and dogs, I swam into a black Labrador; for a moment it was all fur, paws and ears. I stood up, half apologised as you do when you crash with another swimmer, but the dog just swam diligently on.
It was fun to see the canine swimmers with their owners. A small Pomeranian with two men looked very nervous. When lifted out of the water it carried on swimming in the air for some time, as if stoically resolved to endure something quite stressful. Apparently there were so many dogs with us in the water because they are now only allowed on half the beach. I don't have a dog, but obviously one of the joys of owning one is walking it. Taking it to a beach must be particularly exciting.
My friend with me at Camber explained that dogs are now restricted on beaches because one child in a thousand every year is affected by toxocariasis, caused by dog faeces, which can cause blindness. Foxes and cats also act as hosts to the Toxocara worm. When information about this condition first got into the press it caused hysteria and there were cases of health visitors telling pregnant women to get rid of their cats. In fact as the eggs of the Toxocara worm take over two weeks to hatch and become active, so there are no health risks to anyone clearing up fresh dog mess to read more subscribe
A Cure for Love
‘How can you tell the sex of a chromosome? Take down its genes,’ goes the joke. Is the same true of romantic love? US scientists noticed that the North American prairie vole Microtus montanus is a true libertine. It copulates randomly. On the other hand a close cousin, Microtus ochrogaster, remains monogamous throughout life. The reason is a sequence of chemicals in one of its genes, which, if inserted into its rakish cousin, Microtus montanus, causes the latter to become as continent as a Pilgrim Father.
The MRI scanner allows us to watch the chemical dance of love inside the human head. Confirming the Rolling Stones' song 'I can't get no satisfaction', love lights up the same pleasure reward areas as cocaine. The switch is a chemical called dopamine, a form of natural opiate released by the same tiny nerve fibrils which, whenever you gain a reward - be it a night of love, a deep drag on a longed for cigarette, or the relief of the obsessive compulsive when she successfully closes the front door of her house fifty times in sequences of five, creates a surge of well being. We are pleasure-reward machines ascending a chemical escalator. The more cocaine you snort the more you desire it, the more you see of the loved one the more you fall in love. to read more subscribe
A Geriatric Tribute to Modern Babylon
With its emphasis on outcomes over process, the post-Savile witch-hunting of ageing celebs echoes the Soviet Union.
I do not support the persecution of old men. The manipulation of the rule of law by the Savile Inquisition - otherwise known as Operation Yewtree - and its attendant zealots poses a far graver threat to society than anything Jimmy Savile ever did.
Now even a deputy speaker of the House of Commons is accused of male rape. This is an unfortunate consequence of the present mania for policing all aspects of personal life under the mantra of 'child protection'.
We have been here before. England has a long history of do-gooders seeking to stamp out their version of sexual misconduct by force of the criminal law. In the eighteenth century, the quaintly named Society for the Reformation of Manners funded prosecutions of brothels, playwrights and gay men....
The Leveson Press Enquiry
‘Free Speech dies in the Land where it was Born’
AMANDA KNOX, the young American who spent four years in an Italian jail for the alleged murder of her British flatmate, Meredith Kercher, recently published her memoirs. You may or may not think much of Knox, who was eventually acquitted of the murder charge, but you might like to know what could happen to your daughter if, when she was on holiday in Italy, she knocked somebody down in an accident and had to face time on remand in one of the country’s prisons. What it has to say about the Italian penal system is shocking. British readers, however, will not be able to read Knox’s book. It is to be published worldwide with the exception of the United Kingdom...read more in the American Spectator
Britain has a long history of press censorship - often vicious. In June 1719 John Matthews, a 19 year old printer's assistant, was hanged for having in his pocket a seditious libel Ex Ore Tuo Te Judico, Vox Populi ,Vox Dei supporting the claims of the Pretender, the contents of which, not having Latin, he had no idea.*
Since the trial of the publishers of Lady's Chatterley's Lover we have been free of the censor, but the authorities are about to ask him to take up his pen again.The same arguments, the case for public decency, we are now told it is called privacy, are being invoked. Behind it all sorts of wrong doing will ensue.
The most famous seditious libel trial was that of William Hone in 1817 who published the following satires: The Political Litany and The Sinecurist’s Creed from John Wilkes' Catechism of a Ministerial Member.
At the trial the Attorney General read out the first libel
’Question. What is your name?
Q. Who gave you this name?
A. My sureties to the Ministry, in my political change, wherein I was made a Member of the Majority, the Child of Corruption and a Locust to devour the good Things of this Kingdom.....
Q. Rehearse the Articles of Thy belief.
A. I believe in GEORGE, the Regent Almighty, Maker of New Streets and Knight of the Bath....and in the present Ministry, his only choice, who were conceived of Toryism, brought forth under WILLIAM PITT, suffered loss of place under CHARLES JAMES FOX, were execrated, dead and buried. In a few months they rose again from their minority; they re-ascended to the Treasury Benches, and sit at the right hand of a little man in a large wig; from whence they laugh at the petitions of the People, who Pray for Reform, and that the sweat of their brow may procure them Bread.’
The jury took 15 minutes to aquit.
The First Trial of William Hone London 1818. Extracted From A Long Time Burning by Donald Thomas 1969 SBN 7100 6301 6
* pps 41 A Long Time Burning
From Private Eye, No 1351,18th October
UPDATING MPS on the progress of press self-regulation in the Commons last week, culture secretary Maria Miller dismissed conspiracy theories that the issue was being kicked into the long grass. ’We have already made provisions on damages in the Crime and Courts Act 2013... That shows a very clear intention.’
Indeed, a quick glance at the Crime and Courts Act. passed in April and mostly devoted to the framework for the National Crime Agency which came into being this month, reveals that some of the most contentious of Brian Leveson’s resommendations have already been passed.
Clauses 34-42 allow courts not just to impose exemplary damages on ‘publishers of news-related material’ who are not members of ’an approved regulator’, but also declares that under most circumstances ’the court must award costs against the defendant.’
Thus if a publication that declines to join a press-run regulator ~ like, say, Private Eye, which as Leveson conceded in his report has always been understandably unwilling to submit to judgement ‘from those so often held to account by that publication’ - were sued for libel, even if we won the case we would still have to pay for both sides, which could run into millions.
The law may not actually kick in until ‘such time as a body is first recognised as an approved regulator’ - but as the Privy Council, the press industry and Hacked Off continue to wrangle over how much statutory control of the press is too much, it is already sitting ready for use on the, er, statute book. (copyright Private Eye)
Theodore DalrympleTakes pessimism about human nature to a new level.... ‘once you get past the initial shock of reading about battered wives, petty crooks and junkies from a non-Left perspective, you find humanity and pathos’
Jane Kelly‘These acerbic, direct, and often funny blogs, reflect Jane’s clear eyed view of our silly, sentimental, shopping obsessed, left wing society as it stumbles toward self-annihilation.’
Christie Davies John Kenneth Galbraith was the Paul M Warburg Professor of Economics at Harvard University but he was not an economist. No reputable economist ever took him seriously. As soon as he was able, he gave up economics and chose rather to use his prestigious title and secure position to write leftist propaganda. Galbraith was a very good writer, clear, urbane, persuasive and witty. He was the greatest master of the clever epigram since Oscar Wilde, though Wilde was arguably the better economist....