Health and safety warning

Professors at prestigious American universities and members of other vulnerable groups may experience vomiting and fainting fits as a result of exposure to other people's opinions. If you think you may be affected, you should click on the Back button and seek medical advice before returning to this site.

Mr Grumpy can now be found posting at

Monday, May 22, 2006

O brave new world

'On the first date or two, Julie’s obsession can be easy to hide; often it’s under the guise of being concerned about appearing “too forward”. But soon she has to use a variety of techniques to avoid sex: pretending to have her period; claiming to suffer headaches; to being physically sick; and orchestrating a row to make her partner leave her alone.'

- psychotherapist Lucy Beresford, writing in the Times about 'sexual anorexia'.

I don't want to dispute the claim that compulsive avoidance of sex can be a medical problem. I'm interested in what is revealed about our brave new world by the writer's assumption, evidently shared by 'Julie' and her dates, that postponing sex beyond the second date is conclusive evidence of pathology. Surely Aldous Huxley would have been astounded at his own prophetic powers.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Secular Bigots of the Independent no. 2

'Sir: Bono is right: people are tired of messianic rock stars. The Bono-edited Independent was none the less fascinating. Bono's editorial alone was incredible. Blatantly conspicuous by its absence was any mention of the one organisation who could at a stroke revolutionise the whole way Aids and HIV is viewed and treated in Africa - and whose heinous medieval dogma has helped cause this disaster in the first place. I of course refer to the Catholic Church .' (from)

Well, of course you do. The Vatican has an iron grip on every heart and mind across the continent, so when Ratzi propounds the heinous medieval dogma 'don't shag people you're not married to' he may not cut much ice with progressive Europeans and Americans, but in Africa he gets his way without a murmur of dissent.

And I bet Opus Dei's behind the whole business, did we but know.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Number crunching

“I don’t believe that I have to justify everything I write, line by line and word by word.

“It may offend people sometimes but I will speak from the heart and speak the truth. And if speaking the truth is upsetting community relations, then I hold my hands up to that."

The fighting words of Sayeeda Warsi, in response to the charge that she has been upsetting community relations by feeding her fellow Muslims with inflammatory, er, lies about the detention of terror subjects.

Who she? Someone whom Dave Cameron is very keen to get into Parliament.

'She had believed that her detention statistics were correct at the time she wrote the Awaaz article, she said'.

And let's face it, getting 'nine hundred' confused with 'zero' is the kind of mistake anyone can make. This lady has a glittering political career ahead of her.

(hat tip: Stephen Pollard)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Loving the stranger

As a postscript to the last-but-one post, a little scriptural wisdom for any Christians who did succumb to the blandishments of the BNP on Thursday:-

[The LORD] doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

(Deuteronomy ch. 10, vv. 18-19)

And here's how Grumpy's padre has been tackling the sometimes challenging business of loving the stranger; I can reveal that the final score was Priests 12, Imams 1. Not exactly a nail-biter, but the captain of the imams says 'we are all winners'.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

On the edge of language

A fascinating read from the Indie: the Amazonian tribe who speak (or, more precisely, hum and whistle) a language with no numbers or colours - and thereby look like proving Chomsky wrong and Benjamin Whorf right.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Nazis, happy clappies and the chaplain to the Grauniad

If you had the job of picking a tame vicar for the Grauniad, you really couldn't improve on Giles Fraser. And here he is excelling by his own high standards...

'Over the past few months there has been growing evidence of a developing alliance between the British National party and fundamentalist evangelicals.'

Well, I don't think much of conservative evangelicals' theology, and I quite understand that Dr Fraser is aggrieved by their attitude to his sexuality. But if he's going to go around effectively calling people Nazis, he really ought to have a bit of evidence.

And what, in fact, is the story here? Apparently as follows. BNP sets up 'Christian' front organization. Grand total of persons in dog collars signing up: one. Collapse of BNP stunt. Good news for everyone who agrees that the BNP stinks.

So what is ostensibly a story about other people's bigotry turns out to be a revelation of Dr Fraser's own bigotry. He can produce no evidence of any Christian organization, evangelical or otherwise, or even any significant number of individual Christians, responding to BNP overtures. But he evidently dislikes evangelicals so much that he is happy to smear them with a crude exercise in guilt-by-association.

And what is one of the unappealing characteristics that the Nazis and the happy clappies have in common? Love of publicity, says the retiring Dr Fraser. To resort to an already overused phrase, you couldn't make it up. Any more than you could his magnificently patronizing tone here:-

Rarely have I been as proud of churchgoers as I was of those wonderful old dears who would shuffle along to mass, clutching their Bibles, in open defiance of the skinheads.

But that's enough, or I might start getting personal.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

AIDS and received wisdom

So it looks as if the Vatican is about to soften its line on condoms. About time too, eh?

A small piece of news from Pope Benedict's native land (here in German): 2005 was a bumper year for the rubber goods industry. In response to the huge "mach's mit" (literally "do it with") public health campaign (featuring posters with multi-coloured condoms arranged into pictures of teddy bears, sheep, etc. - I pity parents of inquisitive seven-year-olds) the number of singles under 45 using condoms rose from 70% to 75%. Congratulations all round. And new cases of HIV infection? Well, now you mention it, they were up 13% on 2004.

My entirely redundant advice to the Pope: humane pragmatism, yes, but not at the expense of the home truths that a sick sexual culture needs to be told.

The things they do with our money

From Saturday's Indie...

Cornish language is alive and healthy

Sir: Tristram Penna calls Cornish a dead language (letter, 22 April). I have returned from a few days in Cornwall, and one of the people I met there is a fluent Cornish language speaker. Today, I have renewed my annual subscription to Agan Tavas (The Society for the Promotion of the Cornish Language). The society has recently been involved in the appointment of a Cornish language development manager. There were 29 applicants from all over the world.

I am doing a PhD on Henry Jenner, whose Handbook of the Cornish Language of 1904 started the revival of the language. It is now, in the 21st century, in a far more healthy state than it was at the end of the 18th century and the time of Dolly Pentraeth



Well, it's jolly nice that there's at least one fluent speaker of the language (I'm just intrigued to know who he/she talks to) and jolly nice too about the language development manager. Mr Everett omits to mention that this exotic career opportunity has been made possible by the munificence of the taxpayer. As Agan Tavas reported last year...

Government funding to support the Cornish language was confirmed today, to the tune of up to £80,000 a year for three years. This provides the match funding needed to support an application by Cornwall Council for EU Objective 1 funding, and demonstrates the Government's commitment to the principles of recognition and support, under Part II of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Announcing the handout, Local Government Minister Phil Woolas said:-

“Languages are part of our history, our culture, and our identity. It is right that we should nurture the Cornish language. The Cornish Language Strategy provides a realistic and reasonable vision for the development of the language over the next 25 years, commensurate with the capacity of the language movement to grow. I am pleased to endorse the strategy as providing the framework for implementation of the Charter, and to be able to confirm funding to support the application for EU Objective 1 funding.

"I believe that today's announcement demonstrates the Government's commitment to the resolute action to protect and promote the Cornish language that the Charter seeks. We look forward to working with the local authorities and the Cornish language organisations, through the Government Office for the South West and in line with our Charter commitments, to take the Strategy forward."

What you need to know about Cornish at this point is simply this:- round about 250 years ago, people living in a handful of villages in the 'toe' of Cornwall finally decided that there was no point in bringing up their children speaking Cornish rather than English. And so in due course the language died with its last native speakers. Like Manx Gaelic died, and Latin died, and Gothic died, and Etruscan died, and Hittite died, and... It happens, and it's sad.

So what we have here is the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages being invoked on behalf of a minority of zero. The beneficiaries are actually, as it happens, people who have the considerable good fortune to be native speakers of the language of globalization.

The case of Israel shows that it is possible to revive a dead language. It also shows how much this depends on special circumstances creating a high level of motivation in the prospective linguistic community. The situation in Cornwall is that a few hundred people have taken up Cornish as a hobby. Nothing in the least wrong with that, though it does seem a shame to put so much effort into learning a language that is not only dead but also scarcely has any literature to speak of. But why should this hobby be subsidized?

OK, of course the answer is obvious. Mr Woolas sees a good excuse to claw back some cash from the EU and channel it to the poorest county in England, and the Eurocrats, used to dishing out other people's money as if it grew on trees, are happy to play along with the charade. But where, in this bureaucratic labyrinth, is there anything remotely resembling accountability?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The complications of modern life

Spotted in a brochure from Portmeirion Potteries...


For burning instructions, please see label at base of candle.