Around, but not around the blogs

On holiday in Crete last week, lovely, thanks, so not much in the way of blog comments. A few observations:

1. Gynaecomastia is absolutely rampant among North European males. I know what it�s like to have a pot belly, even a beer gut. But there are chaps walking along beaches these days who have what I can only describe as a bust. In particular, there are plenty of retired Germans who have a figure not that dissimilar to that of Demi Moore on the famous Vanity Fair cover, a figure which Ms. Moore was only able to achieve in the first place through plastic surgery. What gives? I suspect too much use of gym equipment to develop the pectoral muscles, without doing similar amounts of cardiovascular exercise to burn off the actual fat.

2. Once you have referred in your mind to beach volleyball as monkey tennis, it is impossible to ever after regard this sport with the seriousness its Olympic status merits.

3. Six hours stopover in Athens airport with a three-year-old and a baby will not kill you, though you might wish it could.

and anyway, on with the “Too Hot For CT” miniseries, an opinion on the State of Israel.

As I see it, the reason why Israel is singled out for criticism relative to, say, Burma, Zimbabwe, etc has nothing to do with hunman rights. Anti-Semites, Palestinian apologists and associated bores do bang on endlessly about exaggerated claims of human rights abuses, it is true, but this is actually not at the centre of what people object to with respect to the State of Israel (by the way, that is the name of the country; I have no idea what Mr Ben Stein thinks he is talking about when he writes about a place he blieves to be called “Eretz Israel” but I would appreciate it if you lot did your best to ensure the appellation did not catch on).

In general, people do not give much of a fuck about human rights abuses happening to foreigners overseas, viz the fact that there are no very large protests against Burma, Zimbabwe etc, and there were no large protests about Iraq before it was decided that they were an enemy of ours (or indeed after).

What people do care about is the illegal occupation of territory; as Jamie put it, most of us are Westphalians at heart. There is something about the fact that the Palestinians have to live on ground that is controlled by a foreign power which seems not just wrong, but an appropriate thing to have an opinion about and demand action on. Whereas much worse offences against individual human beings, apparently, do not have this property. There are lots of liberal internationalists who think that the majority of the population is dead wrong to think this way, but I’m reporting the sociological facts here, I think.

So Eve Garrard’s “plagiarism” analogy is disanalogous. There are lots of nations which commit human rights abuses, of which Israel is in the greater scheme of things a Second Division offender at most. However there aren’t lots of nations which are illegally occupying territory; I can only think of Israel; one might make a case for Syria in Lebanon but I think one would struggle to say it was the same sort of situation. So we are not in a situation where boys and girls are both plagiarising but the university only punishes the girls. We’re in a situation where the boys are committing public order offences, driving drunk and vandalising property and the girls are committing plagiarism. In that sort of situation it seems to me that it is much less inconsistent for the university to concentrate on the particular transgression that is within the sphere of its legitimate action, rather than the more serious offences which are not.


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