Monday, August 11, 2008

British "safety" nonsense never stops

Organ grinder and his toy monkey 'banned'

An organ grinder and his monkey were banned from the streets on health and safety grounds. Paddy Cooke, 64, from Matlock in Derbyshire, and his stuffed toy Simon cannot perform until they complete a risk assessment. Ripley Town Council in Derbyshire decided to cancel the act who were due to perform in the town centre during the summer holidays. The decision was made by licensing bosses at Amber Valley Borough Council. It comes after a Punch and Judy show and a dance act were also shelved in the past three weeks.

Paddy, of Crich, near Matlock, Derbys, wears Victorian costume as he walks around playing his organ, a copy of an instrument used more than 150 years ago. The former fireman has been grinding organs for 15 years. He said: 'It's not as if I have a live monkey which might jump at people. Mine is a battery-operated interactive toy and the best I have ever had. He says things like "I want a banana" and even once offered to tell me the sum of pi squared. 'Simon is sometimes quiet and sometimes chatty. He's very realistic but is no danger to anyone. 'I suppose someone might trip over a paving slab when listening to the music and blame me but I have been doing this for years without a problem.'

Paddy, whose two sons are also organ grinders, was hired as part of the summer entertainment provided by the town council and has $20m public liability insurance cover. He is also a member of the actors' union, Equity. But before his act hit the streets the authority received orders from Amber Valley Borough Council which demanded to see a general risk assessment before letting street acts go ahead. It wanted to study a list of hazards and know how they could be made safe, and even how many people might watch the shows.

Ripley Mayor Lynn Joyes said: 'The risks are very low and how do performers know how big an audience they'll get? 'That depends on the weather. If it's raining you might get five, but if the weather is nice, there'll be 105.' Labour group leader Geoff Carlile said: 'This is typical of bureaucracy gone mad. This was sprung on us at the last minute and left us in a difficult situation.' The council was told the ruling also applies to dance groups, clowns and brass bands, including the Salvation Army. Steve Freeborn, who represents Butterley ward, said: 'What is the risk - it's absolutely potty.'

But last night the borough council defended its decision. Simon Gladwin, head of landscape services, said: 'We always require that anyone organising a public event or entertainment on land managed by the borough council completes a risk assessment. 'In cases such as this, where performers are unable to supply a personal risk assessment of their activities, it is the responsibility of the organiser to provide the risk assessment. 'These are not required for every performer. We simply require an assessment that takes into account the different activities taking place in each location,' he said.

The town council's summer entertainments programme has now been suspended until further notice. It is hoped that a risk assessment can be completed within the next seven days then sent to the borough council for approval.


Feminism fading?

Cambridge University study suggests growing numbers of people are concerned about working mums' impact on family life

Support for gender equality in Britain and the US appears to have peaked and could now be going into decline, research at Cambridge University has revealed. The study, by Professor Jacqueline Scott from the University's Department of Sociology, found evidence of "mounting concern" that women who play a full and equal role in the workforce do so at the expense of family life. Although there are no signs of a full-scale gender-role backlash, there does appear to be growing sympathy for the old-fashioned view that a woman's place is in the home, rather than in the office.

The study appears in a new book, Women And Employment; Changing Lives And New Challenges, which Professor Scott also edited. "The notion that there has been a steady increase in favour of women taking an equal role in the workplace and away from their traditional role in the home is clearly a myth," she said. "Instead, there is clear evidence that women's changing role is viewed as having costs both for the woman and the family. "It is conceivable that opinions are shifting as the shine of the 'super-mum' syndrome wears off, and the idea of women juggling high-powered careers while also baking cookies and reading bedtime stories is increasingly seen to be unrealisable by ordinary mortals."

The survey compared the results of social attitude surveys from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s - using recent data from the International Social Survey Programme as well as older polls. Professor Scott focused on the results from Britain, the United States and - because the earlier surveys pre-dated the fall of the Berlin Wall - the former Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).

In each survey, samples of between 1,000 and 5,000 people were asked to say whether they agreed or disagreed with a number of statements. Statements such as "A husband's job is to earn income; a wife's to take care of the children," were designed to test their overall views on gender equality. Others, such as "Family life suffers if a woman works full time," examined whether they considered maternal employment as harmful to children or families.

The study shows that while British attitudes are more egalitarian than in the 1980s, there are signs that support for gender equality may have hit a high point some time during the 1990s. When it comes to the clash between work and family life, doubts about whether a woman should be doing both are starting to creep in. In the 1990s, for example, more than 50% of women and 51% of men said they believed that family life would not suffer if a woman went to work. Since then, the figure has fallen - to 46% of women and 42% of men. Fewer people (54.9% of women and 54.1% of men) now take the view that a job is the best way for a woman to be independent than in 1991.

The results are even more extreme in the United States, where the percentage of people arguing that family life does not suffer if a woman works has plummeted, from 51% in 1994 to 38% in 2002. About the same number of West Germans (37%) agree; but the number there has risen, having been just 24% in the mid-1990s.

Professor Scott argues that each country is at a different stage in a cycle of sympathy for gender equality. In West Germany, where up until the 1990s a large majority of people still believed that men should be the family breadwinners while women stayed at home, acceptance for the notion of working mums is now increasing.

In Britain and the US, however, where support for equal opportunities for both sexes is much longer-standing, some people are now starting to have second thoughts. In most cases, this appears to revolve around concerns that the welfare of children and of the family are being compromised the more women spend their time at work and find themselves lumbered with the double burden of employment and family care.

The report adds that there should now be further investigation into whether the attitude shift is occurring because caring for the family is seen as predominantly women's work, or because people feel there is no practical alternative to a woman fulfilling the role. "A change in attitude is not the same thing as a change in behaviour, but attitudes do matter," Professor Scott added. "Women - particularly mothers - can experience considerable strain when attitudes reinforce the notion that employment and family interests conflict. "If we are to make progress in devising policies that encourage equal working opportunities for women, we need to know more about what gender roles people view as practical, as possible and as fair."


Don't you want somebody to love?

Jane Gross's NYT blog describes the fears of those who are Single, Childless and `Downright Terrified'. They have made plans for geriatric care, stored up their retirement funds and readied their insurance. The future holds no great material terrors. If that's all you want.
Having witnessed the "new old age'' from a front-row seat, I'm haunted by the knowledge that there is no one who will care about me in the deepest and most loving sense of the word at the end of my life. No one who will advocate for me, not simply for adequate care but for the small and arguably inessential things that can make life worth living even in compromised health.
The "new old age" may have had its beginnings in the "new youth", a period no longer defined as the interregnum between childhood and adulthood but a condition to be preserved forever. Whether the phenomenon of a solitary and childless old age is in some respects a choice that logically arose from a dread of developing attachments is a question for cultural historians. The 1960 movie The Magnificent Seven provides an interesting prequel to Easy Rider. The famous dialogue between the character played by Charles Bronson and a Mexican boy examines the tradeoffs between being born to be wild and taking your place in the human family.
Boy: Our fathers are cowards.

Gunman: Don't ever say that again about your fathers. They are not cowards! You think I am brave because I carry a gun? Your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility. For you, your brothers, your sisters and your mothers. This responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. lt bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. Nobody says they have to do it. They do it because they love you and they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule, with no guarantee what will become of it - this is bravery. That's why I never even started anything like that. That's why I never will.
And never is a long time.


Quebec Mayor Vows to Continue City Hall Prayer Despite Legal Threats

The mayor of the Quebec city of Saguenay, Jean Tremblay, says those seeking to take him to court for praying before City Hall meetings are not acting democratically. Despite criticisms, including a Human Rights Commission (HRC) ruling and further possible legal action, Tremblay has expressed his intention to hold fast to his religious convictions, reaffirming that he will continue to pray before monthly City Hall meetings. He has said he will defend his position in court if called upon. "My religion has always been more important than my career. I go to Mass every day. I have no intention of betraying my faith, I'd be too ashamed to show up 'on the other side' in front of side in front of God," said Tremblay, as reported by Cyberpresse.

On May 15, Tremblay was ordered by the Human Rights Commission to stop praying before the meetings after citizen Christian Joncas filed a complaint. "I don't know why we would stop. Prayers are what we have that's most precious. To subject ourselves to the whim of some people, very few of them, just two ... is to kneel down rapidly, and we don't have the intention to stop," was his May response after learning of the HRC's order. Alain Simoneau has since filed a second complaint on behalf of the Mouvement laic quebecois, which may involve a $100,000 lawsuit.

Tremblay says he has been praying for the two men. "I pray for Mr. Simoneau, to reflect a little on what he is doing. I also pray for Christian Joncas, and I'm convinced that it has helped. "In a democratic system, it is the majority that imposes its law. I am in politics and a politician, who rules his case in the elections. I will not fold for one individual," explained Tremblay, after confirming he would stop reciting a prayer before meetings if that was the will of the majority he represented.

When asked about potential court costs, which would come out of taxpayer's money, the Mayor alluded to other costs that are incurred for the sake of justice. "To ensure the triumph of justice, we pay a fortune. We are building a brand new prison at Roberval, new Courthouse across Quebec. Why religion is less important, why should we be shocked? So far, this issue did not cost a penny to the municipality. I have always defended alone," said Tremblay.

Tremblay compared any possible court issued punishment regarding his religious convictions to something one would see in a communist country. "You could see it in China or Russia, not here. It is currently exceeding the limits with that case," he said.

Mayor Tremblay is an outspoken defender of Quebec's traditional Catholic Christian heritage. In 2007, he denounced the landslide of secularism that has overwhelmed Quebec since the 1960s and told a government commission that Quebec must revive moral values and needs to retain its Catholic heritage.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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