Daily archives: February 12, 2009

In Development Hell

Steve Coogan has just described the position of the film of Murder in Samarkand as “Stuck in development hell”.


Actually it is probably worse than that. Meantime, with no income from the putative film and my discovering just how near impossible it is to publish a book yourself and get bookshops to take it, my lack of funds is becoming positively terrifying, with a new baby due to arrive shortly. Do you know those moments when you feel like a checkmated king, with nothing to do but fall over?

Anyway, I shall boost my almost vanished store of feelings of self-worth by exhibiting some erudition you probably don’t know. Checkmate has nothing to do with the board being chequered, unless the word chequered comes from the game. Chess originated in Central Asia. Russian for chess is “Shakhmati” (normally in Cyrillic) which is perfectly straightforward everyday Uzbek meaning “The King is stuck”. Shakh of course being the same word as sheikh in other Muslim cultures.

So now I feel poorer than you yet in an obscure way slightly superior. But sadly still checkmated.

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Does Anybody Out There Still Believe in Liberty?

There is no doubt that New Labour gives not a fig for individual liberty, so the banning by the money-grabbing Jacqui Smith of Geert Wilders is run-of-the-mill – but it is still both wrong and dangerous, and has whipped up precisely the kind of frenzy about his Melanie Phillips like gibberings which Smith claimed to be trying to avoid.

It was equally wrong to ban Yusuf al-Qaradawi. I just heard the BBC World Service conduct some unusually good interviews with political figures, where those who opposed the banning of Wilders (eg Baroness Cox) supported the banning of al-Qaradwi, while those who opposed the banning of al-Qaradwi (eg Ken Livingstone) supported the banning of Wilders. Both sides argue, equally unconvincingly, that the man they dislike may incite to violence.

The BBC appeared unable to find any supporter of the principle of freedon of expression.

There was no reason to suppose that either Wilders or al-Qaradwi planned any unlawful activity in the UK, and had they done so they might properly have been arrested. But the gut instincts of New Labour are viciously authoritarian. Those of all views who value liberty should unite to resist them. The problem is, the number of people who really do believe in liberty for those with whom they disagree, appears to have grown exceedingly small.

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Some Good News, For a Change

A group believe that a God created the whole universe, then decided for some reason having the ability to make anything and anyone he wanted that he would father a child, just once, at a pretty random time some millions of years after he did all that creating, and from the whole universe chose a girl in Palestine, who God decided to make pregnant without impairing her virginity, resultant child being God too and later being killed before coming back to life again. Well, one of the heads of this group has announced that Darwinism is not incompatible with this belief.


This is a kind of improvement. That is in itself kind of strange because plainly they are actually incompatible, one being scientific fact, the other obvious tosh.

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Apologies for Absence

Sorry for protracted intermission – I forgot how very hard work moving house is, not to mention that it leaves you without an internet connection for weeks.

I am in any event so stunned by the monumental arrogance and incompetence of this government that I find myself at a loss where to start back. Anyone care to suggest a topic? The extraordinary reliance of Brown on merchant bankers as his advisers and ministers on the financial disaster is a possibility, but it is so appalling I dissolve into helpless giggles just thinking about it,

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