Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • The Mechitzah on the Street

    Simon Rocker
    Aug 12, 2009

    That redoubtable Orthodox blogger, Honestly Frum, has this tale from Jerusalem. It begins:

    “Last year the Satmar Rebbe visited Yerushalayim for the opening of the new Satmar Yeshiva. Due to the fact that men and women were standing on the same side of the street the procession was delayed until they separated, and there was a mechitza setup on the street to facilitate the separation. In Ramat Bet Shemesh there are areas where they already have separate street sides. (I wonder what took so long). On Friday the megaphone (the “vehaya machanecha kadosh”) people went around announcing men and women should walk on opposite sides of the road during the weekend.”

    More here.

  • Ignorant myths about US healthcare

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 12, 2009

    There's a fantastically (and unintentionally) ironic sentence in a piece on US attitudes to the NHS in today's Guardian:

    As myths and half-truths circulate, British diplomats in the US are treading a
    delicate line in correcting falsehoods while trying to stay out of a vicious
    domestic dogfight over the future of American health policy.

    For myths and half-truths one needs only look to most UK coverage of the US health system, which is full of half-baked notions, lies and distortion. Until I came to the JC, I was a health-care policy wonk. A few years ago I testified before the US Senate on healthcare in the UK and EU; I'd say that, overall, the level of knowledge of our systems amongst opinion-formers on the other side of the Atlantic is far greater than ours about theirs, so that even intelligent adults in the UK carry around with them bizarre ideas of how health care works in the US.

  • The NHS to my pregnant wife: we're not interested in you

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 12, 2009

    I've just seen my friend Shane Frith's post on Facebook yesterday:

    Andy Burnham is a liar! He just claimed on Sky that there are no NHS waiting lists. Having just been told by the "Book & Choose" people that I could do neither as there are no appointments for two months makes Burnham yet another lying Labour twat.

    I'll be writing more about the bigger story in a few weeks, but on Monday my 36 weeks pregnant wife went to see the midwife at UCH. We were told we needed to book in for another midwife appointment this coming Monday, because for various medical reasons the baby and Mrs P need close monitoring. We wandered over to the booking area. And guess what? There are no appointments available for the next week. None. So we'll have to do without. 

  • Bad day at the office

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 7, 2009

    I think this best sums up the cricket today, from the BBC text commentary:

    As bad days at the office go, this performance by England is the
    equivalent of strolling in four hours late, making a pass at the
    receptionist before accidentally headbutting the boss.

  • More on Kaminski

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 7, 2009

    Mehdi Hasan of the New Statesman just can't stop himself when it comes to discussing Michal Kaminski. Even in this post of his responding to my Telegraph piece he manages - surely deliberately - to miss the point:

    Stephen Pollard has a rather strange piece in the Daily Telegraph. In a surprising and misconceived attempt to defend (!) Polish MEP Michal Kaminski from accusations of anti-Semitism, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle ends up making this rather bizarre point in the very final paragraph:

    "Far from being an anti-Semite, Mr Kaminski is about as pro-Israeli an MEP as exists."

  • The Royal Mail - we don't need it

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 7, 2009

    Just been listening on my way in to some half-wit from the UCW blathering on about the postal strikes which are happening today.

    But there can be no clearer demonstration of the need for Royal Mail to modernise - a, euphemism, if ever there was one, for 'contract' - than the fact that I only discovered yesterday that there had been a series of strikes over the past few weeeks both where I live and where I work, and it hasn't affected me or the JC in the least. 

    The only times I ever send a letter from home now are to those few organisations who still require cheques, and to send formal documents of some kind which can't be emailed. As for receiving post: at home, it's just a few bills from those companies stuck in the twentieth century, which don't email bills, and a few magazines we subscribe to. Most deliveries are from private firms, which are so much more reliable than Parcel Force.