All My Little Words

Genocide Denial

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on July 27, 2011

James Wizye has written a fine counter to Edward Herman and David Peterson’s despicable attempt to deny the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide.

The point, and this is crucial, is that even if Kagame was responsible for the missile which downed the Hutu President’s plane, then it was an excuse, not a reason, for the genocide. I read extensively on this subject back in 2007 and, for what it’s worth, I don’t believe the Tutsis were responsible for the deaths of Habyarimana and the Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira.  Nonetheless, as Herman and Peterson point out, this has never been conclusively proven one way or another.

What is certain, whether you’re reading Romeo Dallaire or anyone else who saw what happened with their own eyes, is that the mass killings would have happened even if that plane had landed safely: as a huge number of the machetes responsible for many thousands of deaths had been purchased and hidden far in advance, the infrastructure for genocide had been prepared, the international political temperature had been taken.

Paul Kagame is and was, certainly no saint, but the genocide of 1994 was the most horrific crime of the late 20th century and he was not responsible for it.

Ay Ducane – Old Souls

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on July 24, 2011

An old version of a new song. I prefer this, the much simpler original, to the more upbeat and bigger version this band currently play out. Give it a listen.

Somebody’s Baking Brownies

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on July 16, 2011

Yah I rilly did. I’m not gonna post the recipe because I just went with the first one I found following a search for “brownies recipe”. Do the same or, as the old saying goes, get it here.

It’s a good recipe – whether it’s the “best ever” is another matter – but probably unnecessarily fiddly in places. As you can see from the slideshow, I don’t have an electric beater* and it took three men – admittedly three men with fairly weak arms – to make up for it. If you’ve got one, don’t be a hero.

This was my first attempt, and I’m pretty pleased with the results. I’m not sure the three types of chocolate chunks made much difference but you could pretty much throw in whatever you want. I reckon mini marshmallows might give it a chewiness that I was somehow hoping for but that was absent. Jorj thinks you should cram it with halves, ugly.

*No, I’m not going to make a joke here.**

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** Seriously, do it your f’ing self.

Don’t you know there’s a war on?

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on July 13, 2011

I know I’ve already posted an essay from the term just passed but there was another and, having received a much better grade than anticipated, I considered that it might be of interest to some. I’m only posting the conclusion because I can’t believe anyone has the stomach for the full 4,000 words but if you’re really that much of a keen bean bored, drop me a line and I’ll forward it on.

Can Foreign Policy Ever Be Moral?

Derrida wrote that “justice exceeds law and calculation”[1] which is to say that morality, and judgements about morality, are beyond scientific evaluation and must be made with the uncertainty of human reason. If we ask, is it possible for the state itself to be moral then we must find that it is probably not. Is it possible for a state’s foreign policy to be consistently moral? I equally think it is probably very difficult. However, is it conceivable that a state could conduct itself in a moral fashion or in accordance with a moral consensus or common moral principles, even those common only to a state’s only citizenry? I think it is. I do not agree that for a state’s foreign policy to be considered moral it must conform to externally established moral standards but instead must try to live up those it sets for itself. Whether the state has the right to a moral foreign policy, as Kennan calls into question, we must distinguish between a state conducting itself morally in the society of states and conducting interventions that violate the right to sovereignty of another state. The former takes exceptional circumstances into account the latter does not.

One of the problems with morality in foreign policy is that we need it to be consistent and this we see as necessitating codification. To write morality into law purports to contradict an intrinsic characteristic of the common understanding of what constitutes morality, which is to say the freedom to choose. However, Just War aspires towards a codified moral sphere that the state can inhabit and a regular if not exactly regulated code of conduct that states can practically adopt.

While true morality may be beyond the capacity of the state, as we understand the state to be a function  of statesmen, it can nonetheless serve to further morality as a determinant of behaviour, both by example and by didactics. To say, as George Kennan did, that it is not the business of the state to concern itself with morality is not only outmoded, it also demonstrates a very narrow view of the state’s purpose and what constitutes “interests”. Kennan, speaking as a veteran actor of the Cold War at a time when it was far from over and the threats were still very real, can be forgiven for subscribing to this perspective. The Cold War and the perpetual threat of nuclear annihilation did make greater demands of states and require an approach to statesmanship that was perhaps much colder in character, if not cruel.

While for the individual and even societies morality may be considered to be a non-negotiable, an imperative force in the determination of behaviour to the state, morality and its exercise might reasonably be regarded as a luxury. Thucydides’ Melian dialogue, in particular the line that “the strong do what they can while the weak suffer what they must”[2] may have been intended to serve as a lesson in the inevitable amorality of states it can also be read in a more encouraging light. As the human is an evolved creature, so is the state. If we believe that the state under strain will be motivated  by reptilian instinct, the state liberated from that strain and existing in a state of relative comfort will have at least the political capacity to exercise its limbic system, to act out of regard for a sense of right. Whether or not it will avail itself of this capacity is not enough to render it either moral or amoral but the freedom of choice is enough to provide for that possibility and to which states should aspire.

[1]    Derrida quoted in Willy Maley ‘Beyond the Law?: The Justice of Deconstruction’, Law and Critique

[2]    Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, CHAPTER XVII. Sixteenth Year of the War – The Melian Conference – Fate of Melos as found at

From One Editor to Another…

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on July 10, 2011

Was phone tapping really necessary? As several of the individuals involved have claimed, the dirty tricks employed by News of the World staff to get stories were a product of the culture of the paper and the pressure placed on them to beat the competition. Colin Myler, the paper’s last editor, has been at pains to state that these tactics departed with his predecessor and that, under him, the newspaper was a very different place and that the conduct of his reporters was far cleaner than it had been before. I wanted to know if there was any data to support either of these claims. The graphs below track the News of the World’s circulation, by month, under its last three editors, two of whom are up to their necks in the current scandal.

Apart from for Colin Myler I can’t seem to find the exact dates of the respective editors’ stewardship of the NOTW. I’ve therefore taken the start dates of Rebekah Wade and Andy Coulson as January of the year they began editing the paper. There’s not enough evidence to suggest that it was phone tapping and police bribery that made the difference, but we can reasonably deduce from the data a distinct difference in editorial approaches.

From the start of her tenure to its end, The NOTW’s circulation under Wade remained about the same, but did experience massive month on month deviation. Under Coulson we can see the same erratic peaks and troughs but the trend is distinctly downward, with circulation falling about 17% over his five years at the helm.

Myler’s graph is very different. The paper continues to lose readers (29% over four and a half years), there’s much more consistency from one month to the next. See for yourself:




I haven’t had a chance to read around the various circulation spikes and assign stories to them, so if anyone would like to help me with that, I’d be very grateful and would update the post accordingly.

Figures courtesy of The Guardian

Homemade Cream Pie

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on July 7, 2011

Finding myself at a bit of a loose end in the few days at the start of this week I was between jobs, I made an attempt at interpreting this Nigella Lawson recipe for lemon meringue ice cream. And photographed the shit out of it.

Some greek yoghurt
Some more double cream
2 Lemons – pith and juice
A few big blobs of good curd (lemon or other)
Several meringue nests

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1. Beat your cream until stiff – if you use a lot, this will take a while. Electric beaters are desirable.
2. Stir  in the  yoghurt, curd and ephemera of lemon
3. Crumble and then stir the meringue nests into the goo.
4.  Pour into a container and allow to
5. Serve in spangly vessel and adorn with the 80s. Avoid silver balls as they are shit.

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