Sunday, October 01, 2006

Human Rights Fundamentalism, NGOistan and the Multicultural Industry

The Fjordman Report
The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files.

Respect for individuals and human rights are frequently — and rightfully — quoted as crucial factors separating Western civilization from Islam. Ohmyrus, one of the pundits at Iranian ex-Muslim Ali Sina’s website, explains important differences between the Western and the Islamic views of human rights:

“In August of 1990, representatives of 54 Muslim countries met in Cairo and signed the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. What then are Islamic Human Rights and how do they differ from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)?

The Cairo Declaration allows stoning as punishment, prohibits Muslims from changing their religion, prohibits usury, does not give women equal rights and divides the world between Muslims and infidels. It makes it clear that Muslims are the “best nation” whose duty it is to make you become like them. The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam is a harsh document that comes from a harsh faith.”
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Human rights are thus an important component of our defense against sharia. However, is it also possible that the concept of human rights can be pushed too far, and become a self-defeating idea? Is there such as thing as human rights fundamentalism?

In Britain, a West Yorkshire hospital has banned visitors from cooing at new-born babies over fears their human rights are being breached. Debbie Lawson, neo-natal manager at the hospital’s special care baby unit, said: “Cooing should be a thing of the past because these are little people with the same rights as you or me.”

Norwegian medical doctor Ståle Fredriksen thinks that giving homework to school children violates their human rights. He refers to article 24 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating that: “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours.” Dr. Fredriksen believes school children in Norway don’t have this right.

These examples are, admittedly, rather extreme, and look silly more than anything else. But this mentality may have less than funny consequences in other circumstances. Traditional Islamic law prescribes the death penalty for Muslims who want to leave Islam, as well as for persons who “insult” Muhammad or Islam with blasphemous statements. How will people who are afraid that cooing at babies or giving homework to children might violate their human rights fare against people who think that those who insult Muhammad should have their heads cut off?

In August 2006, Dennis Parker of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) told a news conference: “The price to pay for racial profiling is too high. All people should be treated in the same way regardless of their race, their ethnicity or their religion.” The news conference, convened by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, highlighted the case of an Iraqi-born U.S. family, whose members said they were held for six hours, questioned and searched at John F. Kennedy Airport, only days after Britain foiled a plot by Islamic terrorists to bomb multiple U.S.-bound planes.

In the old days, people used to talk about “death before dishonor.” In our age, this has become “death before discrimination.” Westerners would rather get killed by Islamic terrorists than do profiling of Muslims, because this would be “racism,” which has thus quite literally become a mortal sin, perhaps the only sin left in a world where there is no good or bad and everything is permissible and “equal.”

The ideological sickness of the West could be called Egalitarianism, of which Multiculturalism, but also radical Feminism and sometimes economic Marxism, is a part. Everybody should be equal, not just before the law, but their choices should be equally valid, too. If somebody has not achieved exactly the same level as everybody else, this constitutes “discrimination” and requires state intervention to correct.

The scary thing is that Egalitarianism is not just limited to the political Left anymore. It has made inroads into what used to be the political Right, too.

Bjørn Stærk is the Grand Old Man of Norwegian blogging. He’s also considered a right-winger by local standards. According to him, terrorism will end only if or when the terrorists grow tired of it:

Brave is sitting down calmly on a plane behind a row of suspicious-looking Arabs, ignoring your own fears, because you know those fears are irrational, and because even if there’s a chance that they are terrorists, it is more important to you to preserve an open and tolerant society than to survive this trip. Brave is insisting that Arabs not be searched more carefully in airport security than anyone else, because you believe that it is more important not to discriminate against people based on their race than to keep the occasional terrorist from getting on a plane.

Sir Andrew GreenNine Afghan asylum seekers who hijacked a plane at gunpoint to get to Britain should have been admitted to the country as genuine refugees and allowed to live and work there freely, the High Court stated in a ruling. Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migration Watch UK, said Britain should ditch the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Writer Robin Harris noted that “The traditional British view is that rights should be negative: we may do whatever the law does not forbid.” This is how Anglo-Saxon law has been shaped from the very beginning, all the way back to the Magna Carta in 1215, which placed limitations on the king’s power.

According to Harris, “We do not expect from the state a positive right to specific benefits a job, or a house, or a good education. Yet it is precisely these kinds of rights that continental Europeans have come to expect. Because of the European Convention (ECHR) it is now impossible to expel foreigners who pose a threat to the country’s security,” or to maintain immigration control.

In Norway, the Directorate of Immigration gave all Iranian asylum seekers residency if applicants claimed to be homosexual, even if the testimony often had little backing or appeared to be patently false. Homosexuality is punishable in Iran, but the demands of proof are extremely high, making punishment rare in practice. Protecting gays from persecution sounds nice in theory, but when this is combined with absolutely no amount of proof, it becomes a suicidal decision to abandon your own national borders.

Egalitarianism and human rights fundamentalism become especially lethal when combined with an entitlement mentality, notions of positive rights and ideas of group rights over individual rights.

It is possible for all members of a society to obtain their negative rights, such as freedom from oppression and tyranny, at the same time. These include the rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” as stated by Thomas Jefferson in the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence.

This becomes a lot more difficult once we introduce the idea of positive rights, such as the right to a job. These require others to actively do something to fulfill your rights for you.

Jeremy RabkinIn The Case for Sovereignty, Jeremy A. Rabkin describes how Jürgen Habermas, Germany’s most celebrated philosopher, has coined the term “global domestic policy.” Habermas talks about establishing a structure of international law and authority that will control and direct all governments in their governing duties.

However, an international authority able to secure universal peace would require the means of enforcing peace. It would require the authority to resolve every dispute that might otherwise lead to war and to resolve all conflicting claims about the distribution of resources, within and between nations.

As Rabkin timely asks: “Who could challenge or constrain a world authority with such immense power? Even if it were constrained by a formal constitution, who could possibly ensure that the world authority remained within its proper bounds? How could it be anything like a democracy? Would a hundred small nations outvote the half-dozen largest nations? Or would a billion Chinese, a billion Indians, and a half-billion Southeast Asians be allowed to form a permanent majority, dictating law and justice to the rest of the world?

It is not a bad thing for the world for independent countries to remain independent. It is not a bad thing even for small countries — or perhaps especially for small countries.”

Rabkin describes how the US Founding Fathers made federal law (and the federal Constitution) the “supreme law of the land.” He thinks the “Founders would have been appalled at the thought that the federal government, in turn, would be subordinate to some supranational or international entity, which could claim priority in this way over the American Constitution and American laws.”

Yet this is precisely what is happening in Europe: “All members of the EU have now bound themselves to a scheme in which the European Court of Justice treats mere treaties as superior to national constitutions — and national courts give priority to the rulings of this European Court, even against their own parliaments and their own national constitutions.”

The EU is always presuming some consensus that will — supposedly — be discovered by bureaucrats and judges. In the long run, “the American scheme is bound to be more alert to security threats,” since the EU scheme “always suggests that people can be protected by negotiations, since Europeans have ceded supreme power to a ‘construction’ that doesn’t have an army. The structure encourages Europeans to continually disregard actual threats to their security.”

Rabkin also talks about the possibility of the Unites States leaving the United Nations, “to remind ourselves what we are seeking at the U.N. — not a world government, but simply a tool for our diplomacy.”

An International Criminal Court (ICC) already exists. How is it going to function within a worldwide criminal justice system without a world state? And what other international courts will later be established? Will they be limited only to genocide and war crimes, or will they expand into much more sensitive areas? Will Islamic countries attempt to enforce sharia through these courts on a global basis? They are already trying to ban Islamophobia and defamation of Islam through the UN.

Following the Muhammad cartoons jihad in 2006, an op-ed in the Baltimore’s Jewish Times proposed the creation of an International Religious Court, composed of Christian, Muslim and Jewish clergymen: “Anyone feeling that his or her religion was insulted could appeal to the International Religious Court for a ruling on the matter, and the court would then determine whether a penalty should be invoked. It would be the responsibility of the government on whose territory the action took place to impose the penalty.”

In the business world, outsourcing or contracting out tasks to an external entity that specializes in a particular activity has become very common. However, not enough attention has been paid to the outsourcing of both freedom of speech and control over immigration in Western nations.

Internally in these countries, we have a maze of various organizations, sometimes supported by the state, sometimes not, that put together make up an important component of the machinery of power. Perhaps we can label them, collectively, as the Multicultural Industry, since many of them make their living off — and have their personal prestige tied to — the Multicultural project. And just like the oil industry will oppose anybody going against their interests, so the Multicultural Industry will oppose anybody criticizing the Multicultural project.

NGOnetIn addition to this, we have another, international network of non-governmental organizations, NGOs. Since many of them seem to have a decidedly anti-Western and pro-Islamic tilt, I will call them collectively, NGOistan.

Quite often, representatives of the Multicultural Industry, NGOistan and anti-racist organizations team up together, sometimes in collaboration with UN bureaucrats, to influence national immigration policies. Frequently, they also denounce advocates of stricter immigration policies as “anti-democratic forces,” which is quite ironic given the fact that most of these groups and individuals have not been elected by the people and do not represent them. Isn’t it the other way around? Shouldn’t the people of a nation state be allowed to decide who should be allowed to settle in their lands, not bureaucrats and self-appointed guardians of the truth with no popular mandate?

Alan DershowitzToo many NGOs have a political agenda that tends to be anti-Western and anti-capitalist. Alan Dershowitz, professor of law at Harvard University, responded to criticism by human rights NGO Amnesty International to Israeli military actions to prevent attacks from Jihadist organization Hizballah in Lebanon:

“Had the Allies been required to fight World War II under the rules of engagement selectively applied to Amnesty International to Israel, our “greatest generation” might have lost that war. If attacking the civilian infrastructure is a war crime, then modern warfare is entirely impermissible, and terrorists have a free hand in attacking democracies and hiding from retaliation among civilians. Terrorists become de facto immune from any consequences for their atrocities.”

Hizbullah flagThe International Committee of the Red Cross wanted to visit the Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizballah to ensure they were treated humanely. However, Hizballah has no obligations under international law. It is not a nation state. But at the same time, many people seem determined to ensure that Hizballah gets all the benefits of international law, without having to abide by it itself.

French philosopher and cultural critic Alain Finkielkraut thinks that Europe has made human rights its new gospel. Has human rights fundamentalism approached the status of quasi-religion? Have we acquired a new class of scribes, who claim the exclusive right to interpret their Holy Texts in order to reveal Absolute Truth, and scream “blasphemy” at the few heretics who dare question their authority? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a great document, but it is written by humans, and may thus contain human flaws. We shouldn’t treat as if it were a revelation from God, carved into stone. Far less should we deem as infallible the veritable maze of regulations and well-meaning human rights resolutions that have rendered democratic nations virtually unable to defend themselves.

Multiculturalists dismiss violent verses from the Koran and say that these should be read “within their historical context.” However, the same Multiculturalists get furious and call you “Fascist” if you question the UN Convention on Status of Refugees. But shouldn’t UN conventions also be read within their historical context? The UN Convention on Refugees was written in 1951, when communications were slower, when world population and migration was much less than it is now, when we had no Islamic terrorist groups operating within our countries, no Third World ghettos in our major cities and when nation states still managed to maintain their territorial integrity. Isn’t it then reasonable to have a second look at it now, as circumstances have changed?

If democratic nations are bogged down by suicidal human rights regulations while non-democratic states simply ignore any agreements they sign, doesn’t this mean that we run a risk that human rights and international law, instead of helping people in repressive countries, will weaken the democratic countries that actually respect them?

These are not easy questions, and we will have to grapple with them for a long time to come. But one thing is certain: Societies that have become too soft to protect their territories have become too soft to survive. The West may have strayed too far in the direction of signing well-meaning conventions removed from the realities of human life. Western civilization may need a correction soon.


unaha-closp said...

Good post.

A more positive variant on egalitarianism is offered by the Labour Party "third way" approach - equality of opportunity. As different from the socialist equality of outcome Fjordman correctly derides.

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Fjordman, I respectfully suggest that this essay was a little off base, and I think rather too unfocused*.

I would think that the west's primary disease is better described as liberalism**, the essential weakness of which has allowed/promoted speciously good-sounding cryptomarxist doctrine to be repackaged and integrated.

Equality of (economic) outcome was of course a plank of marxism, whereas the Frankfurt school has applied this to the cultural and social sphere. Their theory is disguised under the label "critical theory of society" or just "critical theory", but that may more accuratly be described as the "marxist theory hostile to and critical of western society". Critical theory is only negative, it only "proves" that western society is evil and oppressive, and calls for "liberation" to some unknown future utopia by destroying it. In it, while marxism values are assumed a priori good (that is subsumed in the theory, since "good" is by sleight of hand redefined as those marxist values), it has virtually nothing else constructive to suggest. It is inherantly deceptive, since its application in necessarily and deliberately constructed to be harmfull to society, while appealing to liberation, freedom and equality. Hence a host of offshoots, each of which is defined by opposition to modern western society. Thus along with radical environmentalism (as opposed to the ordinary and rational version), Radical Feminism is also largely a derivative of the Frankfurt school. While we're here - politically correct speech and one sided "tolerance", the derision of objectivity in favor of feeling or politically slanted "truth", are also Frankfurt school offshoots.
Incidentially Habermas just happens to be the last of the Frankfurt school (Adorno's and Horkheimer's grad student).

Multiculturalism, interesting, the Frankfurt School and Soviets had tendencies to this, but as far as can be ascertained multiculturalism is the bastard offspring of north american thinking on immigration issues (first seen in Canada, but its precedents are the US immigation policy debate melting pot vs cultural pluralism etc). The usual suspects have however placed it firmly both alongside the other products of critical theory.

In passing I would note that Internationalism and idealization of world government is a very very soviet ideological disease.

Yes, the west needs a rethink, and very soon. Ironically, in hindsight the weak liberalism of the west was only propped up by the discipline imposed by the cold war. As soon as the soviet enemy dissappeared, so did the last vestiges of resolve and the last defences against marxist inspired ideologies. Now evolved marxism rages uncontested through our governments, and there is no McCarthy to root it out.

"Marxism" is not just a generic label for evil : it has specific basic characteristics which are pernicious - equality of outcome is one as unaha-closp mentions. Furthermore, it is not just esoteric knowledge, the liberal (and that includes much of conservative politics, especially the neocons) and the left politics is rife with marxist economic concepts that have been inappropriately reapplied to social and cultural issues. The people peddling these issues are unaware of the roots of the theory they apply, and while they may do so out of misguided good intent, the intent of the people who framed those theories was nothing less than the wholesale destruction of western society. Multiculturalism is one example.

*If examining NGOs, some of which evade detailed scrutiny by being international and thus avoiding national oversight, I think a list of the prominent international NGOs (Amnesty, HRW, ICRC etc etc) compared with their roots and political leanings would be rather more instructive For instance : how many people realise that Amnesty international was founded by a self proclaimed socialist, Peter Benenson? That was during the height of the USSR, so make your own conclusions as to the roots of Amnesty. "Oddly", the Amnesty website doesn't mention illustrious founders Benensons biography much.

**The modern kind. See Lawrence Auster's blog View from the Right for many detailed, pointed and logical essays on the spread and consequences.

Yorkshireminer said...

A great read as usual, it is funny I did not know that the Muslim counties had signed an Islamic Declaration of Human Rights until I came across a reference a few months ago. I knew that a Universal Declaration of Human Rights had been signed in 1947 and Saudi Arabia had signed. The incongruity of it all then struck me. Universal means one size fits all, so why a special Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. I down loaded the relevant documents off the web and on reading them the reason was soon obvious. Here is the preamble for the Islamic version.

Since God is the absolute and the sole master of men and the
universe, and since He has given each man human dignity and honor,
and breathed into him of His own spirit, it follows that men are
essentially the same. In fact, the only differences between them are
such artificial ones as nationality, color, or race. Thus, all human
beings are equal and form one universal community that is united in
its submission and obedience to God. And at the center of this
universal brotherhood is the Islamic confession of the oneness of God
that, by extension, includes the oneness and brotherhood of humanity

They first declare that we are all ruled by one God. They then declare that the God in question is Allah, united in its SUBMISSION and obedience to God, being the operative phrase. Then they give themselves the right to decide for all of us. For Chutzpah it takes some beating. It seems in this world that all Humans have Universal human rights but muslim more Universal human rights.

X said...

Fjordman, another excellent article. I can't say more, because I agree eith the entire thing. :)

Unaha-Clospm, I agree that the "third way" sounds good on paper but the reality is that it's just old socialist redistributionism in a fancy coat. It uses new language, but it retains the essential properties of socialism: a bigger state, more regulation, more tax and fewer actual opportunities for people to improve their lot. Thatcherism was closer to giving everyone real opportunity, though her failure to reform the social security mess and her recidivism in facing the EEC prevented it from being properly realised.

David, it's interesting that you brought up the French revolution near the end of your comment. People often compare the French and American revolutions, bcause they were so close in time, and because the French were, for a long time, closely allied with the new United States (perhaps merely because it was oppoised to their hated enemy the English). I find the comparison very interesting myself, not because of the similarities, but because of the remarkable differenes between the two. What it boils down to is where the emphasis was placed in each of the revolutions.

THe French revolution was based on overturning everything that had previously existed, in order to institute a new system based on "enlightened" meritocracy. Very Voltaire. Unfortunately the problem with a meritocracy is that the people on top get to decide who's smart and who's stupid and, since those on top were the ones with the guns, it quickly descended in to a farce.

The American revolution, meanwhile, was based on preserving what they already had. It was a war of defence against a perceived enemy, and the end result was that the US retained the ideas of common law and individual rights that were somewhat submerged under franko-norman bureaucracy, so it wasn't so much a revolution as a fight for the status quo.

The national temprement created by these revolutions is what has driven France and the US ever since. The French have always had a fear of the general population, which has had a strange trust in the existing state; whereas the US goverment has always -0 until recently at least - trusted its people, who don't trust their government as far as they can conveniently spit it. The mistrust of self-appointed authority and explicit trust of the general population is probably the more successful of the two attitudes.

Yorkshirminer: it looks like they were trying to ape the preamble of the US declaration of independence.

They get it backwards, of course. The god mentioned in the declaration created all men equally noble and free, whereas their version would have us all equally under a despot's foot.

Demosthenes said...

Homosexuality is punishable in Iran, but the demands of proof are extremely high, making punishment rare in practice.

I agreed with the rest of your essay, but this simply is not true. It seems weird, perhaps even motivated by homophobia, for you to argue that the standards of proof are extremely high for any crime in Iran. You can't seriously have that much faith in Iranian justice. Is there any "crime" besides someone happening to be gay that you would trust the Iranian justice system to have a high standard? Human Rights Watch, which we may not like but probably is still correct here, says:

"The Code also offers a way of circumventing this titular high standard of evidence. Judges may lodge a conviction for sodomy based on the knowledge of the judge, in practice allowing a wide range of circumstantial evidence to be adduced as proof. Furthermore, the practice of torture is prevalent in Iran, and the practice of torturing prisoners to extract confessions is common. Forced confessions are openly accepted as evidence in criminal trials."

Anyway, Iran suppresses information on the number of people murdered for homosexuality, as it does other executions. I have also read that some people tried for drug charges are actually gay people that the Iranian state prefers to kill for the less controversial reason of drugs. Of course, that may or may not be true. But if you think that it is out of the question for Iranian government to do that, you have much more faith in the decency of the Ayatollahs than I do.

Anonymous said...

Islamic Human Rights.

Seems to violate the other, eh? Huge difference in UDHR, obviously. I see no purpose in such a declaration.

Beach Girl said...

David S - democracy is /can be self-destructive. That is why Founding Fathers went with a republic so that the small (population wise) states would not get trounced by the larger ones.

We have gone over-board in that we are plagued with "moral equivalency(sp)". All started to get out of whack when we went through the "non-judgementalism" phase. Now we can hardly decide which car to buy. just kidding but it seems that way.

It is one thing to respect others; it is quite another to let them ruin your way of life. I think I said that someplace, recently. Whoever said that the battle may be one of enlightenment could be on to something.

Always a great experience, here at the Gates.

Anonymous said...

"Rabkin describes how the US Founding Fathers made federal law (and the federal Constitution) the “supreme law of the land.” That's why I don't mind if we work with the UN but we shouldn't have to submit to their decisions. We're our own sovereign nation. As far as that proposed International Religious Court, I'd laugh if it wasn't so scary of an idea.

Cosmo said...

"In the old days, people used to talk about “death before dishonor.” In our age, this has become “death before discrimination.” "

I believe John Derbyshire coined the expression "better dead than rude" to describe our squeamishness about profiling at airports.

As you've detailed (most excellently, as always fjordman), human rights absolutism leads to absurdity. Such is the degradation of language brought to us by leftism.

Just as disturbing are the double standards for 'offense,' 'grievance,' 'hate crime' and 'incitement to violence' you've hinted at.

'Desecration' of the koran is discussed seriously as an 'incitement to violence,' yet calling for the beheading of those who 'insult the prophet' is somehow construed as an exercise of free speech worthy of police protection for those with -- all together now -- 'legitimate grievances,' but never as an 'incitement' to 'islamophobia'?

What a hall of mirrors. But when you have the absolute power statists crave, you get to run this particular circus amusement.

Dymphna said...

Oh. My. Heavens.

I have finally found a point of agreement with JCSupercop. What to do???

JC quoting a commenter--

So you support religious freedom, but at the same time you don't support religious freedom? Your position is not fundamentally different from what the Muslims do. You want to impose the same restrictions on religious minorities as they do.

You are *exactly* correct here, sir. And these "smelly little orthodoxies" are the most dangerous obstacles to liberty. Liberty, for those who believe in Something larger than ourselves* is simply a given. Some call it free will and consider this quality of man the fundamental basis of what makes us human. Skinner tried to prove that free will didn't exist, but he operated from a mechanistic world view and was essentially...well, boring.

I do wish we had a better word than "fundamentalists" for the scared ones, the ones demanding some secure orthodoxy to follow and to impose on others, thereby inducing a state of being in which they won't/don't have to make decisions for themselves. But such a theology flies in the face of what I understand about human freedom.

This blogger linked below may give you the language which helps to move past those pathetic arguments when you see them:
One Cosmos

And not only is he brilliant and lucid, but over there you can use anatomical phrases not permitted here. I think you would find him appealing. For example, from today's top post:

When I speak of the “culture war,” no one should be offended, because I am not speaking of this or that individual person, nor of this or that particular policy. There are many decent (although I believe misguided) people on the left, just as there are many a-holes on the right, especially among politicians, who, for a variety of reasons, are a special kind of a-hole.

As a brief aside, this is why I am never surprised when any politician, left or right, is involved in scandal or corruption. I expect it. As I may have mentioned last week, I see the world of “professions” in a very Darwinian manner, as a field of occupational “environments” that selects certain personality types. Politics, as much as any other field (including show business, which is merely politics for the attractive), attracts narcissistic, insecure, vain, and power-seeking individuals.

Therefore, I am hardly shocked at the sexual misconduct of a Mark Foley, Gary Condit, Bill Clinton, Gerry Studds, James McGreevey, Barney Frank, or JFK. Rather, I am shocked by a James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill or Ronald Reagan.


BTW, I didn't go back to see who you were answering in your comment, but I'd guess it's our very young theologian. He hasn't been tested enough by life yet. Which is worrying, in a way. If he's that rigid at such a young age, how will he acquire the resiliency that growing up demands? Sometimes he worries me because he seems merely the flip side of the rabidly devout atheist -- which is a more normal developmental stage at this point.


And now, JC, I must go lie down with a cool cloth on my head and consider the implications of this revelation that you and I have, finally, a point of agreement. But help me find a better word that "fundamentalism" to describe the pinched world view that lurks behind that tired, overcooked word. Like the term "God", it has been bandied about too much to be useful.

And it's an MSM word anyway. Yucky poo, as my daughter used to say.

Go ye, therefore, and consult One Cosmos, a very loose and lucid dude.
*I call It "the entity formerly known as God" since people have so multilated that word [God] -- and one another -- in attempting to "save" us from ourselves

M. Simon said...

You might find this of interest: