15 September, 2007


A curious thing, listening to the news; it can give you odd feelings, even when you think what they say really shouldn't be going to affect you in any way. Two examples.

Yesterday i heard the head of BBC news say words to the effect that every normal person is eager for every scrap of information about Madeline McCann, which is the only reason that they have been covering it so completely, following every twist and turn of suspicion and horror. So, if i believe him, the only conclusion i can come to is that i am not normal, because i am heartily sick and tired of hearing about her parents, whether the Portuguese police think they are suspects, if the children were sedated while the parents left them alone, how many people have been question, and for just long ~ almost to the hour ~ it has been since the last break in the case.

Maybe i'm wrong, it has happened before, but it seems to me that, along with a concern for the missing child, much of the public's fascination with this case, as with any of this nature, is the very likely unconscious thought, Thank God it's not my child, not me that's suffering! We are taught today that we live in such an overwhelmingly dangerous world, especially towards children, that we are led to feel that since someone is going to be abducted, inevitably, then it's just as well that this time it's someone else's child. A horrible reaction, but not unreasonable given the falsity of the premise (the world is far fuller of danger today than ever before). And thus the continual news which plays to that feeling and reaction.

The second odd reaction i have had from the news recently is over the current crisis in the financial markets, leading to great difficulties for at least one British bank, among other institutions. The curious part about it is that, on many occasions, the blame has been laid at the door of defaulting Americans who are not paying their mortgages. What the media are trying to say, loosely, is that many banks lent much money to people who were poor credit risks, then sold the loans to groups, funds, or institutions which did not do due diligence in checking what they were buying, and the unpaid loans have then reverberated around a much larger segment of the economy than would otherwise have been expected. By phrasing it as they do, however, they make it appear that we are personally responsible for all the economic dislocation currently occurring; after all, as you know, we walked out on our mortgage. In America, too boot!

Nevertheless, i decline the honour, thank you very much.

13 September, 2007

Current Review

A review of a book i have read recently, for the school-work. Just to show what kind of thing's going on here.

Edward I
Michael Prestwich

     I attended a seminar given by Michael Prestwich at UWA on an entirely different subject, that of pictures and illustrated books of hours; it was very interesting, he spoke well. He also writes well.
     This is a fairly simple, but by no means unlearned, history of one of England’s more popular kings ~ within England: The Scots and the Welsh probably don’t have so much good to say about the “Hammer of the Scots”! That duality of vision about Edward made for quite curious reading here; Prestwich is obviously intrigued by his subject, and enjoyed writing about him, and there is evidently an enormous body of material about the King and his activities, but i find it awkward reading about him because i find so many of his actions of a lower quality than i would have hoped for from such a great man.
     I suppose that i am disappointed that Edward was as human as he was: I would rather that he had been the man of honour and quality and courage and chivalry and impeccable behaviour that he would have wanted to be remembered as. But, the truth is, he was proud, and greedy, and dishonourable, and selfish, just as other men, in addition to having, just as other men, flashes of brilliance, moments of wisdom, episodes of chivalry. And all intertwined around and through each other. Thus, it is hard to reconcile the man who hung his enemy’s sister and supporter in cages, exposed to view in towns, with the man who loved his own wife so much that he built a series of crosses where her dead body rested on its way to London; just as hard to reconcile the man who so desired to return to the East as a crusader with the one who built an Eastern-influenced castle in Caernarfon to intimidate and oppress a newly subject people. In the end, i am saddened by the reminder that even the greatest (among whom Edward must be numbered) of England’s sovereigns are and have been fully human, not semi-divine.