Welcoming Australian troops back from southern Iraq, Kevin Rudd 'thanked them for a magnificent job':
Today the Australian nation says thank you to you the men and women of the Australian Defence Force... Freedom is not for free - freedom comes at a price and you are our front line in the defence of our freedom.
The UN covers itself in glory yet once more. Faced with an election that is so blatantly a piece of political theatre, orchestrated by violence, as to be recognized by any intelligent observer as null, the UN security council considers a statement that the result can have no legitimacy, but...
South Africa, backed by Russia and other countries, opposed it.
Talk about the ironies of history. That it should be South Africa of all nations that led the opposition to calling this charade - a brutal farce - what it really is, is a tragedy when you remember the solidarity that was mobilized across the world in support of the people of South Africa in their struggle against apartheid. Thabo Mbeki bears the major responsibility for that. It is often said that the reason for his stance is a sense of solidarity with a leader who also fought against a white supremacist regime, as well as gratitude for the support Zanu-PF extended to the ANC. One of Mbeki's brothers, Moeletsi Mbeki, suggests another factor may have been at work:
[He] says the alliance between the two men springs more from a political than a personal affinity: Both Mugabe and Mbeki view the trade union movement as a common threat.
Mugabe's nemesis, Tsvangirai, is a former trade union leader. And Thabo Mbeki, whose fiscally conservative economic policies alienated the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions, lost the leadership of the African National Congress last year to Jacob Zuma, who had the unions' backing.
Thabo Mbeki and Mugabe are both British-educated politicians who feel they were trained to govern, Moeletsi Mbeki said, arguing that Mugabe sees Tsvangirai, who never attended college, as "the riffraff."
"It's a class thing," he said. "The same with my brother: master's from Sussex."
Writing about plagiarism, Ian Jack cites the view of Jude Carroll...
that Britain should see it as a pedagogic rather than a moral problem, reflecting how students were taught and examined.
On the contrary. Whatever other kind of problem plagiarism is, it is at least a moral problem; or it is a moral problem as well. It may be that there are students (or others) who aren't fully clear on the difference between doing their own work and plagiarism, but if so, it should be a matter of only a tutorial session or two to clarify the distinction for them. Plagiarism is a form of deliberate dishonesty. It is cheating. If you say that plagiarism is a pedagogic rather than a moral problem, you lose the core reason why anyone should think to refrain from it. Pedagogy can be more and less effective: someone might have failed to see the point; they might have a different pedagogical idea from yours. A student once gave me as his reason for copying his entire essay word for word from a chapter of a book about Hobbes that he'd decided he couldn't improve on it. Yeah, right. Nought per cent.
A prisoner exchange between Israel and Hizbollah has led to the freeing of Samir Kuntar. If you want to know who Samir Kuntar is, you can read about him here and here: a man responsible for 'a murder of unimaginable cruelty', for smashing a child's skull against a rock with a rifle butt after shooting her father in front of her. This man, it would appear, is a hero to some.
Apologies for the radio silence at normblog over the weekend. You mustn't think, however, that it wasn't time well spent. We were staying (me and WotN) with friends in Kent, who kindly took us on a most enjoyable literary tour. Among other excellent places, the tour included: Dickens's house at Gad's Hill; the graveyard (scroll down) at St James' Church in Cooling, with the tombstones described at the beginning of Great Expectations; Restoration House in Rochester, the inspiration for Miss Havisham's house in the same book; the Church of St Lawrence the Martyr at Godmersham, where Jane Austen worshipped when visiting her brother Edward Knight and his family; and Henry James's house at Rye, at which Edith Wharton was an occasional visitor. We have been soaking up literary history, as you can see. There were also debates on the precise geographical location of Canterbury and the proper placing of commas, amongst many other interesting topics.
"... It's like one of the characters says: 'The human race is fundamentally insane. If you put two of us into a room together we're soon gonna start figuring out good reasons to kill one another.'
"And you know what? I've been saying that for years, and it felt great to finally be able to say it in a movie. That's what the movie's about and that's what compelled me to make it: it winds up being an enormously powerful metaphor sociologically and politically..."
It might or might not make a good movie, but as a general statement about humanity it's based on taking one feature and turning it into the truth. It's as sound as saying 'The human race is fundamentally caring. If you put two of us into a room together we're soon gonna start figuring out ways to look after one another.' Sometimes yes and sometimes no; some people yes, others no. You put seven people in a room together, and it would be good if one of them had a couple of packs of cards.