Peter Hitchens – intellectual acrobat

Right wing buffoon Peter Hitchens is on Newsnight on the topic of capital punishment. He has been talking for perhaps 4 minutes in all, and his arguments have been, in chronological order:

1. Capital punishment is humane and cheap, and therefore should be introduced for murder.

2. The Government aren’t really tough on crime, and won’t introduce the death penalty.

3. Even though the Government has put in new and draconian sentencing laws, they don’t really mean it.

4. The Government shouldn’t have anything to do with sentencing, they should leave it to the judges.

5. The Government is authoritarian and just wants to tell us what to do.

6. The Government might introduce the death penalty for crimes other than murder, and that would be very bad.

So, meet Peter Hitchens, the anti-death penalty supporter of capital punishment, who wants the Government to get tough with criminals as long as it doesn’t, and wants to interfere with sentencing powers without interfering with judges’ discretion. Is it any wonder the Mail is a byword for intellectual honesty and clarity?

Very intelligent design

The New Yorker riffs on “intelligent design”:

And the Lord God said, “Let there be light,” and lo, there was light. But then the Lord God said, “Wait, what if I make it a sort of rosy, sunset-at-the-beach, filtered half-light, so that everything else I design will look younger?”

“I’m loving that,” said Buddha. “It’s new.”

“You should design a restaurant,” added Allah.

Southern advert

Southern have started running a new TV ad (3Mb mpeg) about the benefits of commuting by their trains. It’s not too bad – though the slogan following your train of thought is dire.

I expect the advert’s glossy presentation will get a few bitter chuckles from regular commuters, but it does show off one of the really great advances in commuting in recent years – the new trains, with proper seats and tables. The first summer I lived in Wadhurst, the old slam-door trains were still running, and were unbelievably hot and stuffy. Now, I can work on the train, read the paper without assaulting the person sitting next to me, or even doze in a not-completely vertical position.

Percy Andreae takes on Prohibition

In this article, from a Prohibition-era history archive, Percy Andreae takes on the arguments of Prohibitionists. It was about alcohol, but its principles have wider application:

Somewhere in the Bible it is said: “If thy right hand offend
thee, cut it off.” I used to think the remedy somewhat radical.
But to-day, being imbued with the wisdom of the prohibitionist,
I have to acknowledge that, if the Bible in general, and that
passage in it in particular, has a fault, it lies in its ultra-conservativeness.
What? Merely cut off my own right hand if it offend me? What business
have my neighbors to keep their right hands if I am not able to
make mine behave itself ? Off with the lot of them! Let there
be no right hands; then I am certain that mine won’t land me in

Talking turkey

Le Figaro reports that Valéry Giscard-d’Estaing, the visionary statesman whose leadership of the constitution drafting process worked out so well for the EU last year, has plunged back into European debate. Showing himself to be every inch the washed-up former French President, VGE has been lambasting the Turks and calling for an immediate end to accession negotiations with them, on the grounds, essentially, that it’s better to tell them to get lost now in case France loses the argument on their entry in ten years time.

Oh, and he says that the Austrians agree with him – that’ll be the famous Franco-Austrian motor of the Union then.