Monday, October 08, 2012

Don't sell jam in recycled jars... by order of Europe: Tradition of selling home-made preserves 'breaches health and safety rules'

They are the backbone of church fetes, village fairs and jumble sales all around the country.

But the thousands who regularly sell their home-made jam, marmalade or chutney in re-used jars may have to abandon their traditions after a warning that they are breaching European health and safety regulations.

Legal advisers to Britain’s Churches have sent out a circular saying that while people can use jars for jam at home or to give to family and friends, they cannot sell them or even give them away as raffle prizes at a public event.

The circular from the Churches’ Legislation Advisory Service, which is chaired by the Bishop of Exeter, is pointedly headed: ‘Please take note: this looks like a spoof but it’s not.’

The advisers say the rules that are being breached are the snappily-titled EC Regulations 1935/2004 and 2023/2006, which prevent containers being re-used unless they are specifically designed for that purpose.

The Women’s Institute said it was offering similar advice on the re-use of jam jars to its 210,000 members. A spokesman said the news could send ‘a tremor through middle-England’ and the organisation was braced for a flurry of inquiries.

The Food Standards Agency said the rules had been introduced because there was a risk of chemicals leaching out of old containers and contaminating food, though it added that  it was not aware that  re-used jam jars were a safety hazard.

The agency said it was up to local authority environmental health officers to enforce the regulations, and penalties can reach a maximum of a £5,000  fine, six months’ imprisonment, or both.

The news will alarm the growing number of jam-makers inspired by model Kate Moss, who makes damson jam out of fruit from her Cotswolds estate, and the Duchess of Cambridge, who keeps pots to give away  to friends.

Mary Berry, the star of the BBC’s The Great British Bake Off, said: ‘This is absolutely stupid. It is just going too far.  ‘We are encouraging people to save money by using fruits  to make chutneys and jam, and if they have to buy new jars it will become much too expensive. It’s daft.’

The rules are also causing consternation in churches that rely on the hundreds of thousands of pounds raised from fetes and bazaars.

The Rev Derek  Williams, a spokesman for the diocese of Peterborough, said enforcing the rule ‘would be a blow to fundraising events for all sorts of voluntary organisations’.

He added: ‘It’s quite ridiculous, as selling home-made jams and chutneys has always been a traditional and important part of fundraising for church groups and others.  ‘Older people in particular, or those not terribly well-off, have never been shy of making a few pots and giving that away.  ‘People will offer their home-made jam when perhaps they can’t give anything else.’

Mr Williams said he had never heard of anyone falling ill from eating jam from a re-used jar, adding: ‘There must be a sensible balance between health and safety and something that has happened without incident for centuries.’

Canon Michael Tristran, of Portsmouth Cathedral, said: ‘On realising this was not a belated April Fool’s joke, I was very anxious, not only from the fundraising point of view for all our churches, but also because it goes against the green agenda of recycling.’

The WI said anyone using old jars should sterilise them by washing them and drying them in an oven on a low heat.


A guide to post-modernism and political-correctness


Once many years ago in the past century the post-modernists and the post-structuralists talked about there no longer being a need for a single Big Narrative,  a monolithic explanation for everything, usually meaning a Eurocentric, colonialist, imperialist, Orientalist, Judeo-Christian or female-hating male or homophobic discourse.  Everyone else had their own positions, or positionalities, and everyone else had the right to their own opinions, except, of course, white, male, Jews, middle-class, Christian, Europeans, straight people and so forth.  Now, however, everyone has their own narratives, and everything in life is a journey that one takes on their own-since we cannot say his or her, but only some de-sexed pronoun in the soul-less pseudo-plural of them and their-and in a quest for the supreme happiness of all existence, chosen victimhood.  Once they have achieved this coveted position in the world of politically-correct values where everything is determined by gender, race and ideology, they can claim their entitlements.  That goal recognized as the ultimate in human rights, then all means are permissible through acts of mass terrorism, glorious suicide-murders and sustained street-rage.  The narrative is perfected and completed once it is on U-tube.


With this word, instead of debate, dialogue, argument or negotiation, the selected and completed victims can approach the politically incorrect remnants of civilization and tell them they are wrong, superseded, and about to be exterminated.  The ideal form of conversation in this sense occurs when one person talks to themselves, that is, when they are absorbed into their own identity, and thus what once distinguished each individual from all others now becomes the collective self of a deterministic unintelligent biological or socially-constructed self (or selfish gene).  All differences of opinion also disappear because, since there is no single truth-the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth-there is only the voice of victimhood crying out from the wilderness of what used to be history.  The present is the ever-renewed and repeated instant of opinion, attitude and positionality.  The conversation is also the explosive moment of mass destruction when he and she, they and us, now and forever more meet in one big bang of purification and martyrdom.  After that, only the vast nothingness of reality television.


Where ever you look in academia and the media, everything that people do is a project, on the surface of thing, merely an organized programme or undertaking, but in many, and soon perhaps most instances, it means an ideologically-driven attempt to occupy the space in which the last remnants of civilization can be found.  The project is the projection into areas of scholarly debate and scientific inquiry the essential truisms of post-modernist practice (another word to examine  soon), these dogmatic, unquestioned and authoritative statements include the plurality and fissuring of truth, the rejection of rational paradigms for measuring the truth-content of archival documents and public monuments, the standards by which artistic merit can be assessed (not accessed, another buzz word), and the role of individual responsibility in the application of truth and justice in the world.  The projectile is a weapon of mass destruction, a radioactive time bomb set to destroy all concepts of time and space by scattering coherent thoughts into a chaos of incoherent instants of feeling and attitude.  Political rhetoric at the Untied Nations Genial Assembly now consists mainly of projectile vomiting.


This seems to be the post-modern dumbed-down version of Marxist praxis.  While a musician used to prepare his or her performance piece through repeated playing or a dentist carry out his or her technical treatments, it is now possible for each artist, in whatever medium chosen, to speak of what they do as a practice, and for scholars to carry out their projects with the ideological tools of their practice.  There is no sense left in the word of repetition for improvement and refinement of skills and understanding, no qualitative demonstration of art and intuition, only a mechanical performance (which by the way is also a buzz word).  No one need do anything to be recognized as an artist or a human rights lawyer or a civil servant: just say you are practicing.


As a noun, research is what one uses to discover facts and test them against contexts of viability.  The search is carried out in the field-or the wild nature of unexplored space-or in the laboratory where clinical controls and measurements can be repeated by objective means, or even in archives, libraries and private collections of written and orally recorded data can be read, analysed and interpreted.  However, to research, as a verb in  itself without a subject or an object, but merely a free-standing and yet ideologically determined event, means to be thrust into a swirl of on-going projects and practices merely to confirm and valorize what is already known.  That is why on research grant forms the applicant is asked to state the expected results and social benefits of the pre-ordained results: the value of curiosity to know, the possibility of negative findings, and the excitement of entering the unknown are dismissed from serious attention.


Now that truth and identity have been relegated to the category of social-constructs, the term construct no longer means something built by deliberate plans, executed by skilful hands according to previous directions, or held in memory as a model of excellence and imitation.  Just as the normative structure of sentences has become an incomplete passive voice or the replacement of active persons by vague feelings and attitudes floating in the middle of empty space, the active intellect disappears from time and place, its milieu, and is silent in the mental arena of thought and passion, its mentality, so the world is filled up with indeterminate, amorphous and ephemeral constructions.


Long, long ago, when scholarship was taught and composition was a course in universities, students learned how to make footnotes, construct bibliographies, and tell the difference between hints, allusions, references and citations in direct and indirect discourse. Today there is only a blur called referencing, which can mean anything from to point towards something out beyond the immediate range of sight or the page one is examining to listing sources or indicating a particular passage cited. 

Footnotes-so much better than end notes-served several purposes, the primary one being the description of the precise text cited in the body of an essay or book, so that a reader could go to that same article or book, open to such a page, and find the point indicated; therefore the annotation gives all the information needed to find the original text-the author, editor, translator; as well as the edition, printing, and first publication date. 

Today, since we have obliterated the past and denied the relevance of contexts, it is important to find, stuck in the middle of a sentence, a parenthetical name of an author and a date, but the name is incomplete, the date only signalling the edition or translation cited, so that superficial readers will think that Freud wrote in 1962 or Shakespeare lived in 2007, and chronological order, comparison of different schools of interpretation are elided.  Allusion by part of a sentence or a single word becomes confounded with distant echoes of ideas and concepts, while parodies, pastiches and burlesques cease to exist as distinct modes of responding to other times and places.  Hints, clues and oblique traces lose their specificity, and all intellectual subtlety and nuance sinks into a slough of despond.


For those who have studied the history of religions and are familiar with various Eastern Churches, there is no difficulty in understanding the term icon from ikonia, a religious image that focuses attention on and can act as a transmission point of spiritual things. Then along comes the home computer and people start to see icons on their screens, so much so that every image is or picture is an icon.  But then there is a leakage between these two uses of the term, and an icon becomes the most important, the most illuminating and the most identifying of pictures possible, a sign, emblem or signature image of whatever it is you wish to celebrate.  It has come to be a synonym or a substitute for brand, symbol, and trademark.  As so often, then, when a word can mean anything and everything, it soon means nothing; and when that happens, there are no longer other words available to use for the subtle shadings of meaning you wish to have, for the different kinds of experiences in life one passes through on the long journey from birth to death and beyond.  Notice that I do not reference any particular person who is  researching this topic.


In ordinary parlance, a performance is an enactment, a spectacle, a show, a dramatic or musical performance.  Yes, but now, alas, nothing is what it seems, and the performative means something that through its embodiment in action and its recognisability as image, undercuts its own reality.  The sense of a practiced, perfected public showing of what was created in private and honed into shape by the individual human mind or a small group of experts, now has become everything that everybody does at any time.


Libraries used to have accession departments that searched about, found books, purchased them, and then sent them on to the cataloguing department.  One could also gain access to someone or something that was difficult to find and approach.  Access, in those far off days of civilization, connoted a process and a deliberate attempt to come into contact with something or someone through the use of skills, knowledge and influence.  Now in a world of computer models for everything, everything is accessed because it only means to have, to hold and to use.  Moreover, people no longer use the word for a process or a thing but for an abstract or ephemeral quality, as when you access health care (whereas you used to visit the doctor) or access information (where once you looked information up in a book) or access your identity (meaning somehow that you look in the mirror of your chosen ideology and recognize the socially-constructed self you lost because of your victim status).


"The Guardian's" struggle with antisemitism

History embarrasses them but they cannot help themselves

The Guardian made an unusual admission this week. In a piece titled “On averting accusations of anti-Semitism,” the paper’s Readers’ Editor, Chris Elliott, acknowledged (or at least partly acknowledged) that The Guardian had a problem with anti-Semitism.

The paper likes to think of itself as a bastion of liberalism, fairness and anti-racism, and most Guardian staff would probably acknowledge that anti-Semitism is one of, if not the, most deadly forms of racism in history.

“Guardian reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant about the language they use when writing about Jews or Israel,” wrote Elliott.

He added that Guardian writers should have avoided “references [this year] to Israel/US ‘global domination' and the term ‘slavish’ to describe the US relationship with Israel; and, in an article on a lost tribe of Mallorcan Jews, what I regarded as a gratuitous reference to ‘the island’s wealthier families’.”

However, Elliot added, “I don’t believe their appearance in The Guardian was the result of deliberate acts of anti-Semitism: they were inadvertent.”

I worked with Elliot in another context earlier this year and found him to be a fair-minded editor. But, being very much a “Guardian man,” he may not fully realise that the examples he cites in his piece are only the tip of the iceberg. The coverage of Israel in The Guardian and other British and European newspapers is all too often tinged with anti-Semitism.

Perhaps more damaging than the overt examples of The Guardian’s anti-Semitism that Elliot provides, is the paper’s long track record of being at or near the forefront of efforts to demonize the Jewish state: its decades’ long policy of greatly exaggerating any wrongdoing by Israel while ignoring, downplaying or even romanticizing attacks on her.

So, for example, while The Guardian has run highly provocative and unfair headlines such as “Netanyahu turns to Nazi language,” (July 10, 2009) or “Israel simply has no right to exist” (Jan. 3, 2001) and while its writers have used very insulting terms such as “proto-fascist” (Feb. 12, 2009) to describe the Israeli cabinet, the paper takes a very different approach to those who have murdered Israelis.

It ran a front page article, for instance, describing Yasser Arafat (known to many as the “father of international airline terrorism”) as “cuddly” and “erotic,” adding that “the stubble on his cheeks was silky not prickly. It smelt of Johnson's Baby Powder” (Nov. 12, 2004).

Hamas master terrorist Nizar Rayan, who directed suicide bombers (including his own son) to murder and injure dozens of Israeli civilians, and who described Jews as a "cursed people" whom Allah changed into “apes and pigs,” was portrayed in The Guardian  as someone who was “highly regarded” and “considered a hero” (Jan. 3, 2009).

The paper’s deputy editor Katharine Viner (best-known for co-writing the propaganda play “My Name Is Rachel Corrie,” and twice named as British Newspaper Magazine Editor of the Year), wrote in The Guardian about Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled, who hijacked and then blew up TWA Flight 840:

“The gun held in fragile hands, the shiny hair wrapped in a keffiah, the delicate Audrey Hepburn face refusing to meet your eye.”

I don’t think the families of Khaled’s many victims would have compared her to Audrey Hepburn.

When The Guardian does report on anti-Semitism, it often “balances” this with coverage that is highly insensitive to Jews. For example, when marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, The Guardian published a lead editorial, titled “Holocaust Memorial Day: Eternal memory” with an accompanying commentary by former Oxford University professor Terry Eagleton, in which he justified suicide bombing “in Israel” and likened suicide bombers to their victims. (Unsurprisingly, the piece was reprinted the following day in the Saudi paper Arab News and appeared on radical Moslem websites.)

Taken singly these examples may not denote anti-Semitism, but collectively they amount to a pattern that comes close to doing so.

Indeed it is not surprising that, with its skewered, often inflammatory reporting on Israel, The Guardian has become the paper of choice not just for liberals, but for anti-Semites to leave comments at the foot of articles on its website.

Israel should by all means be criticised. Indeed Israel as a democracy welcomes criticism.

The Israeli media is one of the most self-critical in the world. It scrutinizes Israeli society, including its security forces, to a much greater extent than any British paper has scrutinized the conduct of the British military in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere; or the New York Times has scrutinized the conduct of America’s armed forces in Afghanistan.

The Guardian should not hold Israel up to impossibly high standards. It is no good publishing blatantly untrue headlines replete with historic anti-Semitic motifs (such as “Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs”) even when the paper later changed the headline online, citing “a serious editing error.” (“Corrections and Clarifications,” The Guardian, December 22, 2009.)

Such headlines and reporting should never have appeared in the first place.


Do Democrats Own The Terms 'Racism" and "Lying"?

Democrats have run a number on Republicans.  They have skillfully captured certain words in the American lexicon and redefined them, applying Democrat-themed meanings for the specific purpose of cowing Republicans into silence and submission. I have watched the escalation of this vocabulary abuse for almost a decade, and I am sorry to say, this particular Democrat scheme is working.

Republicans seem afraid to speak the unvarnished truth about Democrat party leaders for fear of reprisals in the mainstream media, an organization that has repeatedly proved that it is indisputably in the tank for Barack Obama.

What are Republicans afraid to say?

Republicans seem afraid to say that Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States, seems to be a racist and a liar whose clumsy, inexperienced efforts at leadership have put our nation's economy and our citizens' safety in jeopardy and has proven incompetent and unfit for office.

Meanwhile, Democrats seem quite comfortable throwing labels of "racism" and "lying" about freely when they attack Republicans, comfortable in the knowledge that no Republican dare do the same. With full support and acquiescence from a compromised media that long ago lost its objectivity, charges of "racism" and "lying" have morphed into an Orwellian fog, becoming purely political terms to browbeat Republicans, allowing Democrat leaders to dodge the discussion of tough issues.

Americans have seen "racist" tendencies from Democrats who reflexively jump to the assumption that any white Republican who disagrees with Obama's failed policies is doing so because Obama is a Black man. Meanwhile, many Democrats openly support Obama for the simple reason that he is Black. Furthermore, Obama's surrogates are quick to circle the wagons and level accusations of "racism" should anyone point out their obvious, raced-based prejudices.

When Obama was elected president by a majority of Americans, it sure seemed that the race-baiting which went on during the 2008 campaign would finally have to be put to rest. But, in the past three years since Obama's election, the "racist" moniker seems to be flung about with even more frequency than before the election.

In addition, too many Democrats have shown that they do not understand the definition of racism and, instead, seems to think that racism is a one-way street-that it only exists as a White against Black issue. In reality, any person who immediately assumes that a person's actions towards them are solely based on one's ethnic origin may be exhibiting symptoms of racism.

Still, almost anyone who criticizes Obama and the Democrats' failed policies is labeled as a "racist". When Black Republicans, such as me, criticize the president's failed policies, Democrats know that the "racist" moniker won't work, so instead, we are attacked as "traitors to our race", or the media tries to portray us as stupid or corrupt.

But if a president's policies are bad, if they fail to achieve their objectives (such as Cash for Clunkers, Cash for Caulkers, green energy investment initiatives, the "summer of recovery" or the Stimulus) is it really "racist" to criticize the policy or to think that the American people deserve better-even if the policy is advocated by a Black man? Is it "racist" to criticize the president because he has failed to submit a viable budget to congress for the past four years, or just incompetence on the part of the president?

The president also seems to be a liar. According to Webster, a liar is "a person who tells lies", who deliberately "makes an untrue statement with the intent to deceive; to create a false or misleading impression."

Isn't that exactly what Obama has done when he says: he didn't really know or hear the Rev. Jeremiah Wright preach anti-American sentiments, or when he writes about events that are patently untrue in his autobiography, Dreams of My Father, or when Obama deliberately tells lies about Romney and Bain Capital, or when Obama deliberately lies about the debt ceiling, or when Obama tries to claim the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya was not terrorism?

What about other Democrat leaders? Such as when Harry Reid claims that Mitt Romney didn't pay his taxes? Or whenEric Holder says he knew nothing about Fast and Furious? Or when Elizabeth Warren claims she is part Native American so she can game a hiring system which is tilted in favor of quotas and minorities?

In the past three and a half years, Republicans have worn out the pages of the thesaurus looking for euphemisms for lying. Republican punditry, speeches and writings are chock full of alternatives: mislead, mischaracterize, misrepresent, untruth, misspeak, prevaricate, fabricate, story, taradiddle, fairy tale, inaccurate, falsehoods, dishonest, distortion, whopper, canard, deceit, stretching the truth.

Supposedly, according to Republican "strategists", using the word "lie" is too direct, too brutal, too hostile and might coarsen the dialogue between political parties. Using the word "liar", they contend, would lead to vicious attacks from the mainstream media and would cause Republicans to lose respect or votes or the moral high ground. But, I would hate to hear what these Republican pundits think is too coarse or too harsh, if they think that the attacks from Democrat leaders over the past few years have been friendly banter.

When did our country slip so far, fall so low, that we have become so handcuffed by political correctness that we are unable to call a thing by its true name? Socrates understood that watering down one's language does not change the truth or make it more palatable, just more confusing.

Our founding fathers understood that too. Our founding fathers were some of the most courageous and least politically correct folks of their century (think Ben Franklin).

Their willingness to speak the truth as they saw it may be one of the reasons why they had the courage to attack tyranny and hypocrisy and hold up the flawed policies of a greedy and ignorant king for the world to see, and in doing so, lay the foundations for the greatest free government in the history of the world.

Republicans need to stop being cowed by rants of "racism" and they need to stop trying to find ways to soften the reality of Obama's widespread and repeated deceptions.

Perhaps Wednesday's debate might be a great place to start.



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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