Art, music, literature and thespianism

Not Rude, Just Funny

For those many of my Readers who don’t follow rugby, the “haka” is a Maori war dance performed before every kick-off by the New Zealand national team (known as the All Blacks because of their uniform color, not because they’re all Maoris, who aren’t “black” anyway). Here’s a pic of the haka:

Right now, the British Lions team has been touring New Zealand, and some of their fans (who’d come all the way over from BritishLionsLand) performed a satirical version of said haka — prompting some twerp to ask whether this might not be regarded as “insulting”. (Apparently not; most New Zealanders, who clearly have a sense of humor, find it funny.)

I once suggested to Mr. Free Market that England should come up with a suitable response to the haka, when the All Blacks tour the U.K. His response was a classic:

To the Perpetually Aggrieved, such a response would no doubt be classified as “hateful” because it reminds people of the horrifying imbalance between Evil White Militarism and Heroic Native Peoples’ Resistance or something.

Frankly, I think it’s an excellent reminder, and one which we in the U.S. should employ more often, e.g. in demonstrations such as this one:

Okay, that might be seen as overkill at a sports competition, but you get my point.

My suggestion for the proper response to the haka didn’t require muskets and bayonets, by the way:

No doubt some would find that offensive, too.

Not Quite Guilty As Charged

The whole discussion of being labeled a “White nationalist” over at Insty’s place makes me reflect about the thing a little.

Yes, I’m white (or White). Accident of birth, both parents and sets of grandparents, great-grandparents etc. were all White. So: White.

Nationalist: a little more difficult, this one. Having been born in one nation — also accidentally, by the way: my parents were going to emigrate from South Africa to Canada before I was born, then didn’t when Mom discovered she was pregnant with me — I changed my nationality when I in turn emigrated, and became an American. [goes off for a quick Happy Dance, then returns]

Now, as to that nationalism thing: unlike the “open borders” idiots, I think that nationalism is important when the nations are culturally distinct — and I mean really distinct: the difference between a Scot and an Irishman is far less than between, say, an Italian and an Austrian. We’re talking shared cultures and common backgrounds, albeit with a somewhat different language for the Scots/Irish, and a much greater difference for the Austrians/Italians. It’s even more complicated by the fact that the Scots and Irish, mostly, have different religions (an important cultural factor) while the Austrians and Italians mostly share Catholicism. So national separation can be linguistic, or religious, or both.

For all intents and purposes, there is practically no difference between, say, the peoples of the United States and Canada — they could merge tomorrow, and very little would change. [pause to let the Québeçois separatistes get over their vapors]

I would suggest that American nationalism — a fairly recent one, compared to, say, Britain’s Anglo-Saxon nationalism which has existed for millennia — is signified by a common language and a common Anglo-Judaic-Christian heritage. Unlike the British one, which stubbornly defies change despite Leftwing attempts to suppress it, the American one is fragile, as we have traditionally been a refuge for people who want to improve their lot in life. (Note that the same has become, lamentably, true as the combined efforts of the EU and NuLabour forced immigration of alien cultures into Britain.)

Both nations have traditionally welcomed immigrants who might not have shared the British or American heritage, but assimilated as quickly as they could into the dominant culture.

Which is where the post-Modernist (“pomo”) and anti-nationalists start getting their knickers twisted, because the idea of  “dominant” culture is toxic to their Utopian ideal of “we’re all the same people, really” — even though we absolutely are not.

I have said countless times that our American culture, with all its little flaws, is still the greatest culture which ever existed — it is found in our nation, and in no other. (There are similarities to others — notably, the Anglo-Saxon-Judeo-Christian societies of Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, for example — but our American version is slightly better: I think.) Certainly, our culture is better than anything ever devised or inherited on the African continent, and has been more robust and more congenial than, say, the baleful and repressive cultures of Islam and Communism (as practiced in Slavic cultures), and the rigidly-conformist cultures of the Far East.

Ours is a culture worth preserving — and it is best preserved in our nation, because we’ve seen over and over again, it fails when attempted in other nations, with their markedly-different cultures and heritages.

The fact that our culture has its roots in “White” (European) populations is frankly irrelevant. It’s an accident of both history and geography, just like the color of my own skin, and I’m not going to go into the tangent of why: it simply is.

So my “nationalism” (a culture created largely by White people) is not something to be feared or despised: it’s both accidental and meritocratic. It most certainly is not an insult, as the Left would attempt to make it these days, because quite frankly, I’m proud of my cultural heritage and my nationalism (and my skin color is irrelevant). We find a similarly-disjunct attitude when Europeans refer sneeringly to the “American cowboy” ethos, when we Americans cherish the cowboy values of independence, self-sufficiency, hard work and, yes, being armed to sustain all the above. To us, it’s a compliment, not an insult.

And ditto my nationalism. I’m proud to be an American, I’m proud of my Anglo-Judaic-Christian cultural heritage — and I couldn’t care less about either the color of my skin or the fact that our culture was created by mostly White people, all those years ago. And I’m immensely proud of the fact that so many immigrants of different skin colors have assimilated into the dominant American culture and ditched most of their deficient home cultures for the greater American one. Like I did.

No Frigging Rules, Except For

As much as I love my job Over Here, reporting from behind enemy lines, there are certain things which drive me nuts. Chief among them is pronunciation, because while there are some rules, there are almost as many exceptions. Should any of my Loyal Readers find themselves in Britishland, here are a few tips which may prevent you from sounding like a mawkish ‘Murkin. Most are place names.

The town of Cirencester is pronounced “Siren-sister”, but the town of Bicester is not Bye-sister, but “Bister”, like mister. Similarly, Worcester is pronounced “Wusster” (like wussy), which makes the almost unpronounceable Worcestershire (the county) quite simple: “Wusster-shirr” (and not Wor-sester-shyre, as most Americans mispronounce it).

Now pay careful attention. A “shire” (pronounced “shyre”) is a name for county*, but when it comes at the end of a word, e.g. Lincolnshire, it’s pronounced “Linconn-shirr”. The shire is named after the county seat, e.g. the aforementioned Worcester (“Wusster”) becomes Worcestershire (“Wuss-ter-shirr”) and Leicester (“Less-ter”) becomes Leicestershire (“Less-ter-shirr”). Unless it’s the town of Chester, where the county is named Cheshire (“Chesh-shirr”) and not Chester-shirr. Also Lancaster becomes Lancashire (“Lanca-shirr”), not Lancaster-shirr, and Wilton begat Wiltshire (“Wilt-shirr”). Wilton is not the county seat; Salisbury is. Got all that?

*Actually, “shire” is the term for a noble estate, e.g. the Duke of Bedford’s estate was called Bedfordshire, which later became a county; ditto Buckingham(-shire) and so on, except in southern England, where the Old Saxon term held sway, and the estate of the Earl of Essex became “Essex” and not Essex-shire, which would have been confusing, not to say unpronounceable. Ditto Sussex, Middlesex and Wessex. Also, the “-sexes” were once kingdoms and not estates. And in the northeast of England are places named East Anglia (after the Angles settled there) and Northumbria (ditto), which isn’t a county but an area (once a kingdom), now encompassing as it does Yorkshire and the Scottish county Lothian — which I’m not going to explain further because I’m starting to bore myself.

And all rules of pronunciation go out the window when it comes to Northumbrian accents like Geordie (in Newcastle-On-Tyne) anyway, because the Geordies are incomprehensible even to the Scots, which just goes to show you.

Now here’s where it gets really confusing.

Villages used to be called “hamlets” (still are, in some places), so a village might be called Chesham (pronounced “Chezz’m” and not Chesh-ham), unless it’s the town of Horsham, which is pronounced “Whore-sh’m” (not whore-sham). In fact, Chesham might be an anomaly, because most villages where the name ends with an “s” create an “sh” dipthong — e.g. the lady in Great Expectations who’s called, Miss “Haver-sham” and not Havers-ham. Also, the “-sham” is pronounced “-sh’m” (or “-shim”), but let me not confuse you here.

The letter “l” inside a word is almost always silent. Palm and calm are pronounced “pahm,” and “cahm”, so the village of Calne is pronounced “Cahn” and not Cal-nee or Cal-nuh — similarly, the village of Rowde is pronounced “Rowd” (like crowd) and not RoadieRowdee or Rowd-uh.

Oh, and to end this thing: people are often confused by Welsh place names such as:

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch

…but you needn’t worry. It’s just that the Welsh, like the Germans, run several words (and even phrases) together into a single word. The name of the above town, which is on the Isle of Anglesey, simply means “St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St Tysilio of the red cave”. It used to be called by a much shorter name, Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll (“The Mary church by the pool near the white hazels”), but that wasn’t confusing enough to the English and Scots, and the Welsh do love to take the mickey, so in 1850 the town was given its full name.

The rest of Britain got their revenge with the invention of computers, where the (English) programmers were not going to create a 50-character field just to accommodate the Welsh, so the place is now known as “Llanfair” (or “Llanfair PG”, to differentiate it from all the other places called “Llanfair” in Wales).

 

Too Many White Men

Apparently, some shitheads are getting upset because the new WWII movie Dunkirk features too many White men. I don’t know the exact racial composition of the actual event, of course, but I’m pretty sure that 99.99% of the participants (on both sides) were White.

Here’s another example of White Male Privilege, taken from an earlier conflict:

And yes, I know that there were hundreds of thousands of non-White combatants in WWI: Indians, Senegalese and various other colonial soldiers. But that doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things, because the overwhelming amount of suffering fell on the shoulders of White men, and indeed on the society which produced them.

Western European society was forever changed by those wars. The same cannot be said of the societies which participated, but were not.

The Old School Tie

This phenomenon doesn’t really occur in the United States because schoolboys don’t wear ties. Okay, I joke: it’s because school affiliation in the U.S. happens at university rather than in high school (but they still don’t wear ties).

Here’s how the thing works among the private school set, and it’s true in Britain and all its former colonies (in Britain, they’re called “public” schools, which is massively confusing to non-Britons so I’ll just use “private”, to be consistent). To be sent to an exclusive private school was a sign of both wealth and breeding (the latter more so in Britain than in the colonies, of course). The bonds one formed at school, in an age when a university degree was not a prerequisite for employment, would help one through life in no uncertain terms, because one always tried to help a fellow private schoolboy (called an “Old Boy”) where one could.

The reason for this was quite simple, and understandable. If a manager, an Old Boy from St. John’s, say, discovered that a prospective employee had been to Michaelhouse or Bishop’s, the applicant would automatically get a more favorable review than someone not wearing the old school tie: Old Boys were essentially a known quantity, having been through pretty much the same grinder that all the others had. As any employer will tell you, a known quantity is almost always better than an unknown one — a former U.S. Marine will favor another Marine for precisely the same reason, and it has to do with character rather than anything else. One of my former classmates owns a highly-successful tech company, for example. and it came as no surprise to me when I learned that his CFO was yet another of our classmates. No chance of financial skulduggery there, I bet. Unthinkable.

I once got a job because the H.R. manager saw my Old Boy’s tie and after chatting about the school for a while, she sent me off for a final interview with my future manager with barely a question. (She gave me a sealed envelope for him, and he showed it to me much later. It read simply, “Hire this man — he’s exactly what we’re looking for.”) It turned out that the H.R. manager’s young son was at St. John’s Preparatory, so she knew exactly what kind of man I was, because she wanted her son to become the same kind of man. My First from St. John’s College. along with a couple of other notable schoolboy achievements, were all she needed.

This causes all sorts of problems in today’s oh-so egalitarian society, but if we’ve learned nothing else over the years, it’s that when it comes to leadership, character matters. By the middle of the First World War, St. John’s had graduated just over one hundred and twenty boys in its history; twenty-two ended up killed on the Western Front, and one (Oswald Reid) won the Victoria Cross (posthumously). The death toll among Old Etonians, Old Harrovians and their like was equally appalling, because it was from the private schools that most of the officers were drawn. Yes, it was part of the class system; but it was also true that leadership was one of the virtues taught and encouraged — and it had been duly noted by the Duke of Wellington in a much earlier war, who said that “the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.”

And he was right. Character matters, and it seems to be that because of the harsh regimen of private school education in the past, it was inculcated as much as Latin, Greek or the Classics — and possibly even more so, because up to my time, one of the worst insults you could bestow in someone was that they were a “swot”, someone who worked hard at their studies. A “gentleman’s C” was highly regarded because it meant that one had achieved a passing grade without working too hard at it. (I should also point out that academic standards were far higher then than they are today, and a “C” back then would today equate to a B+ or even A-, depending on the subject.) I remember winning some award in a magazine for an essay I’d written, and there was considerable amusement when it was discovered that my English teacher had given me a grade of 68% (27/40) for that same essay. When he was asked about it, he shrugged and said, “His conclusion wasn’t that good.” Nobody got an A in his class, ever, so strict were his standards. What that meant was that we were forced to sweat blood to get a decent overall grade; but when we wrote our finals (graded by other teachers), most of us in his English class got distinctions for our essays.

I have mentioned that sports was a compulsory activity in all private boys’ schools of the time, and we produced our share of decent sportsmen. But when we were up against the local state (“government”) schools, we would usually get thrashed — much as, say, Harvard’s football team would fare against Michigan or Alabama — because our two senior classes of about a hundred boys stood no chance against the same pool of a thousand boys from the much-larger King Edward’s School down the road. It didn’t matter, though; as a cheer from St. Stithian’s College went, whenever they were beaten by a government school: “Your dads work for our dads!”

We at St. John’s would never have been so crass, but then St. Stithian’s was a Methodist school, after all.

But even being crap at sports against other schools was instructive: learning how to lose with grace meant that we won with equal grace; and in its turn, sportsmanship was not only welcomed, but treasured. Good sportsmanship, by the way, means following not just the letter but the spirit of the rules — which is why I’m always hammering on that something may be legal, but that doesn’t make it right. (A no-class boor like Bill Clinton would never understand that, which is why he and his equally-classless wife are such terrible people. Former BritPM and Old Etonian David Cameron, while an appalling politician, is actually quite a decent man, especially when compared to the horrible Gordon Brown. The same is true of the equally-inept but privately-schooled and very likeable George W. Bush when compared to the awful Bernie Sanders.)

The Old School Tie goes deeper than that. As a rule, our dating pool was the local girls’ private schools: Roedean, St. Andrew’s, Kingsmead and St. Mary’s Schools for Girls. (I think I first seriously dated a government-school girl when I was twenty-four, and my experience was not uncommon.) Once again, it was because the girls were a known quantity: of good / wealthy families, well brought up, with ladylike and genteel manners. (Yeah, they were bitchy and obnoxious because teenagers, but it was a very ladylike obnoxiousness.) It also worked for the good. One of the Old Boys date-raped one of the Old Girls one night; word got out, and he never dated in our circle again — he ended up marrying some tart from Cape Town who didn’t know his story. The last I heard, he was miserably unhappy because he was savagely cut from the group and lost all his friends. To be called “a nasty piece of work” was pretty much a death sentence, socially speaking, and he was. The very tightness of the circle thus gave security against nonsense like that, just as it would almost guarantee that my tech-company owner friend would be inured against financial impropriety by his CFO.

So there it is: the Old School Tie, the Old Boys’ Club; call it what you may, sneer at it all you like, but the fact of the matter is that without the efforts of this tiny group of men and women over the past few centuries, society and civilization would be much the poorer.

Your opinion may vary, of course, but we don’t really care.