Friday, March 09, 2007

The Churchill Series - Mar. 9, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Readers have asked for a post or two concerning Churchill and Australia, where I'm visiting now. I'll keep my eye out for something, but no promises.

Meanwhile, let's end the week smiling.

Churchill was very fond of his first regimental colonel, John Brabazon. He was a war hero and by all accounts a fine officer. Churchill described his as "very strict but fair." He also said what many of Brabazon's friends said about him: he was strong-willed, charming when he wished to be, and a bit of a dandy with a sense of entitlement.

In later years Churchill enjoyed telling stories about Brabazon. Here, from memory, are two of them.

Brabazon arrived late for a train. The stationmaster told him:” The train is gone, Sir."

"Gone? Then order another one."

In Queen Victoria's army the common practice was to appoint as regimental colonels officers who had served most of their careers in the regiments they were selected to head. Bringing in an "outsider" was considered a slap at the regiment, especially at its senior officers.

When Brabazon was appointed colonel of Churchill's regiment, the Fourth Hussars, he was an "outsider," having spent most of his career in the Tenth Hussars.

Usually "outsider" colonels did their best to win over the officers and men.

Brabazon did that in the cases of the enlisted men and the junior officers, but he gave the senior officers no quarter and, if anything, went out of his way to let them know that.

One evening in the midst of a formal regimental dinner shortly after he'd joined the Fourth Hussars, Brabazon turned to the officer who was president of the regimental mess and asked: "Tell me, which local chemist did you have make this champagne?"

Churchill and Brabazon remained friends until Brabazon's death in 1922.

I hope you have nice weekends and are all back on Monday which will be Tuesday here.

Changing an NY Times Headline

Under the headline:

Democrats Rally Behind a Pullout From Iraq in ’08
The NY Times told its faithful readers a story that began:
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate began a new legislative push on Thursday for the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq in 2008, coalescing behind a fixed timetable to end the war. […]
When I finished the story, I looked back at the headline:
Democrats Rally Behind a Pullout From Iraq in ’08
and thought of a more accurate one:
Times Rallies Behind Dems’ Iraq’08 Pullout Plan
The Times’ story is here.

Hat tip: Betsy Newmark

A word about the "Addison Series"

This post is for those of you who've followed the JinC Addison Series.

I've just about finished with the background work I needed to do for the last series post, "Sue who?"

I'll post it before Sunday, Mar. 11.

Meanwhile, if you're new to the series or just want to take "a second look" at the previous posts, here they are in chronicle order:

“The Cpl. Addison Series.”

“Addison Series #1" - "This horrific crime”

"Addison Series #2" - "CrimeStoppers will pay cash"

"Addison Series #3" - "Not my poster"

“Addison Series #4 – “They call it ‘squeezing.’”

I hope you come back on Mar. 11 and take a look at "Sue who?"


Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Churchill Series – Mar. 8, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In 1955 the historian A. L. Rowse spent a day at Chartwell with the then eighty year old Churchill. Rowse later said:

It was revealing to an historian how he spoke of party politics — he didn’t speak as a party-man at all: above all that. He spoke of the Conservative Party as "they"; it brought home how many years he had been a Liberal, and how loosely he sat to mere party, really a man of the centre, in many ways, who never saw things through party blinkers. (Chamberlain was the good party-man.)

Churchill spoke with no feeling whatever against the Labour Party; all that had drossed away. He wondered what would happen to them now they were finding out that nationalization wasn’t a solution. "You don’t create wealth by just taking it away from other people. There should be minimum standards for people, and beyond that —free run."
“Minimum standards for people, and beyond that – free run” IMO captures in a few words Churchill’s belief throughout his political career of the proper function of government social services within a largely free market economic system.

Rowse, who lived into his nineties, said his day with Churchill was: “Quite the most wonderful day l have spent in my life.”

You can read more about that day here.

A hat tip goes to the Churchill Centre for providing Rowse’s account of that “most wonderful day.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Churchill Series - Mar. 7, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

I’m now safe and sound in Australia, and glad to be back in touch with you.

Churchill’s early difficulties with reading are legend. Not so well known are the difficulties he had with arithmetic. He tells us something about it in My Early Life, his account of his first thirty years. Churchill was almost five when, as he put it, “I was first menaced with Education.” And as between letters and numbers, he leaves no doubt as to which he found more menacing:

Letters after all had only got to be known, and when they stood together in a certain way one recognized their formation and that it meant a certain sound or word which one uttered when pressed sufficiently.

But the figures were tied into all sorts of tangles and did things to one another which it was extremely difficult to forecast with complete accuracy. You had to say what they did each time they were tied up together, and the Governess apparently attached enormous importance to the answer being exact.

If it was not right, it was wrong. It was not any use being “nearly right.”

In some cases these figures got into debt with one another: you had to borrow one or carry one, and afterwards you had to pay back the one you had borrowed.

These complications cast a steadily gathering shadow over my daily life. They took away from all the interesting things one wanted to do in the nursery or in the garden. They made increasing inroads upon one’s leisure. One could hardly get time to do any of the things one wanted to do. They became a general worry and preoccupation.

More especially was this true when we descended into a dismal bog called “sums.” There appeared to be no limit to these. When one sum was done, there was always another. Just as soon as I managed to tackle a particular class of these afflictions, some other much more variegated type was thrust upon me.

My mother took no part in these impositions, but she gave me to understand that she approved of them and she sided with the Governess almost always.
While Churchill was a very good reader by age nine, he struggled with math throughout his school days. He failed his first two admissions tests to Sandhurst primarily because of them; and had to take a math tutorial with a “crammer” before he passed on his third try.

BTW – The “Governess” Churchill refers to is not his beloved nanny, Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Everest.

Beyond parody

Duke senior and Chronicle columnist Shadee Malaklou today offers Chronicle readers: "Let's talk about sex, baby. Va-va-voom."

Malaklou confides to her faithful readers and the greater Duke community:

"I'd like to think that most of the time, a woman initiates sex because she really, truly is aroused and because that sexual encounter is going to somehow scratch the itch."
Malaklou also wants us to know:
"Four years into the hookup culture, I'm still a woman who loves her stiletto heels and at least the notion of sexual liberation. I'm just not convinced it works. And I'm not convinced that, upon graduation, I will be able to say that I've had many fulfilling sexual experiences or that my sexual agency was as strong as I claimed it to be."

Notes from Australia – Post 1

Readers Note: My father told me a little bit of knowledge wasn’t a dangerous thing so long as I remembered it was only a little bit of knowledge.

With his words in mind, this first-time visitor to Australia offers “Notes from Australia – Post 1.”


We flew to Australia via Qantas.

I’ve flown trans-Atlantic more than 70 times, but this was my first trans-Pacific flight.

Based only on that flight (LA to Brisbane direct) Qantas coach “beat” any trans-Atlantic airline coach I’ve flown the past 20 years, including American, BA, and Delta often, and Aer Lingus, KLM, Air France and Lufthansa less frequently.

Qantas’ seating wasn’t, IMO, that much better than that of the trans-Atlantics carriers I’ve flown, but the food and service definitely were.

We arrived at a very busy time on a Monday morning when many international flights coming in were “stacked-up” after delays due to turbulent weather.

Brisbane’s airport has a passenger-friendly reputation; and that’s how we experienced it that Monday morning.
Two "passenger friendly” examples:

Even at a busy arrival time, luggage trolleys were easily available, and they were free.

And you could take the trolley literally to the door of your cab or to the escalator head that would take you down to the train platform where you’d ride into the city center.

More about transportation in another post.


Wonderful, so far, and as with transportation, more about them in another post.

Three short items:

1) In the last three days, I’ve been to various parts of Brisbane as early as 5:30 am and as late as 11:00 pm.

I’ve yet to see a person who in America would be called “homeless,” or in many parts of Western Europe would be called a “rough sleeper.”

I’ve not asked our son or daughter-in-law about why I haven’t seen “homeless people” because our time together has been grandkids, and family and friends, and “what to see tomorrow” talk.

And I haven't brought the matter up with Brisbaners.

But I’ll “stay on it” and keep you posted.

2) Australia’s money units are in decimal form.


No pennies: the five cent piece is their smallest value coin.

So what about $6.22 and $6.23?

You guessed it.

The Aussies round up or down on the nickel.

3) Do kids in Brisbane play tick-tack-tow?

Yes, but they call it “noughts and crosses.”

More soon.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Chronicle editor doesn’t “understand”

Readers Note:

This is a 1,2,3, post.

ITEM 1) - Provides background and an email I sent Duke Chronicle editor-in-chief Ryan McCartney after a Chronicle editorial, when discussing the start of the Men’s lacrosse team’s 2007 season, referred to “the now-notorious (sic) rape scandal.”

I told McCartney that while many last Spring, including DA Mike Nifong, had used the phrase “notorious rape scandal,” fair-minded people had always been reluctant to use it. I said that now even people like President Brodhead, who for nine months was one of Nifong’s chief enablers, won’t use the phrase. So why was The Chronicle using it?

ITEM 2) – Editor McCartney responded promptly in an email you’ll read in Item 2. He says his email is off the record, but I hadn’t agreed to that. I reminded him via email of that and he subsequently acknowledged I hadn’t agreed it would be off the record.

During the current academic year, McCartney and I have had both on and off the record exchanges.

McCartney has asked that I treat as off the record his comments principally concerning: first, my urging The Chronicle to editorialize support for Reade Seligmann and his family regarding the threats, including death threats, they endured from hateful individuals and the New Black Panthers on May 18 outside the Durham County Courthouse, and later within the courtroom; and second, I often told McCartney why I thought it was important for Duke that The Chronicle raise questions regarding President Brodhead’s many failures, including his failure to condemn the hate filled people who came on campus the night of March 29 to circulate the “Vigilante” poster, make threats concerning the players and deface their photos on the “Vigilante” posters. All those actions happened literally right outside Brodhead’s office windows.

I encouraged McCartney and the editorial board to either editorially question Brodhead on his silence regarding the threats directed at Seligmann and his parents, or explain to Chronicle readers why it wasn’t doing that.

In all those exchanges, I’ve respected McCartney’s requests that his responses be off the record.

ITEM 3) – Is my email reply to McCartney’s email.


ITEM 1) -- On Friday, Feb. 23, Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, ran an editorial that began:

This Saturday, the Duke men's lacrosse team will retake the field and play for the first time since the advent of the now-notorious (sic) rape scandal.
I decided to send the following electronic letter to The Chronicle’s editor-in-chief, Ryan McCartney.


Dear Editor McCartney:

Re: Your Feb. 12 editorial beginning: “This Saturday, the Duke men's lacrosse team will retake the field and play for the first time since the advent of the now-notorious (sic) rape scandal.”

”Notorious rape scandal?”


What “notorious rape scandal?”

Sure, some of Duke’s Arts & Sciences professors who fill the University’s most highly endowed chairs were loud last Spring in their demands for the expulsion of students those professors and others said were involved in the “notorious rape scandal.”

We all remember then Professor Houston Baker telling us about “male athletes, veritably given license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech, and feel proud of themselves in the bargain.”

Durham DA Mike Nifong agreed with the faculty about the “notorious rape scandal.”

But sensible people last Spring were turned off by Nifong and those Duke faculty members. The agreed with the Women’s lacrosse team: Innocent. Or they suspended judgment.

Even President Brodhead, for so many months Nifong’s most prominent enabler, doesn’t talk about the “notorious rape scandal.”

Brodhead now tells people he’s “one of the biggest critics of the way the players have been treated.”

But The Chronicle is still telling the Duke community and everyone else about “the now-notorious (sic) rape scandal.”


Editor McCartney, you owe your readers an explanation.


John in Carolina

ITEM 2) -- Dear John,

Off the record, I really don't understand the point you're trying to make here. This case, and everything that surrounds it, has been considered by many to be a "scandal." We've used that term in the past, and you never picked up on it then. Other papers have used that term in the past, and you don't criticize them.

I might be missing something. If that's the case, please let me know. But I simply don't understand what you're trying to argue.


(Here’s the second email McCartney sent after I told him I hadn’t agreed to an off the record exchange - John)

I say "off the record" so that the two of us can have a more frank discussion of the issue you raise. Technically, both parties have to agree to that, yes. In spirit, though, and in the interest of having frank conversations with others usually it's not an issue.

ITEM 3) - Dear Editor McCartney:

I thought my point regarding what The Chronicle editorial board called “the now-notorious rape scandal.” was obvious. But I’ll give it a second go, and try to make it more obvious.

Last Spring we heard a lot of “notorious rape scandal” talk. But that quickly began to change as fair-minded people realized what was going on.

NY Times columnist David Brooks referred to what was happening as “a witch hunt.” The Jonesville News began calling the events “The Hoax.”

Even the Raleigh News & Observer, which led the media part of the frame-up, decided to title its archive of Duke lax stories “The Duke lacrosse controversy.”

Here’s part of a response I received last August from Associate Vice President for News & Communications David Jarmul when I noted Duke News was using tags asserting items were about “Sexual Assault” when in fact no one had established a sexual assault had occurred:
[excerpts]The words that appeared after the colon, i.e., "Information on Sexual Assault," were part of a longer phrase that comprised the "title tag" in the page's underlying code. However, as you saw, the rest of the phrase got cut off on the search result.

The title tag was written in the days immediately after this incident became public, when the focus was squarely on the alleged sexual assault. We've now updated it to read: "Duke Lacrosse: Information on the March 13 Incident and Related Events."

Thanks again for alerting us to this.
Last August Jarmul understood that what we learned about the Hoax should influence how we describe the events that followed the initial false witness of Crystal Mangum in the early hours of March 14, 2006.

I wish you and your fellow editorial board members understood that as well.

As you point out, Editor McCartney, some people still use the phrase “notorious rape scandal.”

I’ve seen it recently at the website of the New Black Panthers. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn some, maybe even most, of Duke’s discredited A&S faculty Group of 88 use the phrase. And, of course, The Chronicle editorial board uses it.

I’m not surprised to see the phrase embraced and used by the New Black Panthers and Group of 88 members. But I was surprised and bothered to see it in The Chronicle.

I think my point was obvious and valid in the first place; and surely you understand it now, even if you don’t agree it’s valid.

Here's a link to a post concerning our exchange.

I'll place whatever you write in response on the main page, with links to the previous two posts concerning The Chronicle's "notorious rape scandal."



Monday, March 05, 2007

Anderson: H-S "simply enables" Nifong

Professor and pundit William "Bill" Anderson has often graced JinC posts with informed analysis and wise words concerning the Hoax and frame-up.

Today, Monday, Mar. 5, Bill provides more sound analysis and wise words, this time in a letter today to Bob Ashley’s Durham Herald Sun.

[Excerpts]In your March 2 editorial, "N.C. Bar also faces scrutiny," The Herald-Sun once again defends Michael Nifong as though his actions simply were "mistakes," something akin to putting down the wrong answer on a math quiz. Then you say: "Nifong certainly made mistakes, as he concedes, but no one has been wrongly convicted, and no trial has been held." [...]

No harm? What about the millions of dollars the families have had to spend to defend their sons, with the charges being transparently false? What about the damage to the reputations of individuals and to Duke University? [...]

Now Nifong tells the N.C. Bar in a letter that he did not attend any April 10 meeting, and in the same letter mentions the April 10 meeting. Does The Herald-Sun see no problem there? No, once again The Herald-Sun simply enables Nifong and continues to try to sweep the dirt under the rug. You should be ashamed.

Cumberland, Md.
Bill's right: the H-S should be ashamed. But it won't be.

Since coming to the H-S in Jan. 2005 Editor Ashely has been the driving force behind three dramatic, recent changes at the H-S. Two of them are large drops in ad revenue and circulation.

The third? Ashley’s "moved" the paper to the point where noone there will publicly acknowledge shame for the H-S's shilling for Nifong and those who’ve conspired and enabled the frame-up and continue to do so.

We need to keep at Ashley as Anderson does so well in his letter which you can read here.

If we don’t keep at Ashley and those like him, things will get worse. If we do keep at them, things can get better.

Let’s stay at it.

Thank you, Bill.

Awake in Australia

Thank you for all the good trip wishes. I really appreciated them.

Things are working out splendidly here. I slept a lot more on the plane than I thought I would.

So late Monday, Mar. 5, EST and again, Tuesday, Mar. 6, I’ll try some light blogging.

While I’m in Australia, the times and dates I’ll use, unless otherwise noted, will be those of the US Eastern time zone, which is JinC's "regular hours."

On a point of interest – there’s an 18 hour time difference between the lovely city of Brisbane and the Eastern U.S. Since Brisbane’s on the West side of the international date line, it’s now 9:15 am Tues. here and 6:15 pm Mon. EST.

Full blogging with the Churchill Series resumes Wed., Mar. 7.

It’s good to be back in touch with you all.