Some recent Google rankings for this site

Cambridge University excellence stupidity
1 / 12,400,000

farms gardens water collecting composting
1 / 30,800,000


ethical depth
3 / 177,000,000


Christian religion remembrance redemption
1 / 7,470,000
[The material is emphatically counter-Christian]


aphorisms religion ideology honesty
1 / 4,140,000
[The aphorisms are my own]

bullfighting arguments action against
4 / 1,380,000
[The page is wide ranging, with material on aesthetics, including Aristotle's 'Poetics,' comparative studies of courage in fields as diverse as war, mining, mountaineering, and more]


poetry line length
3 / 64,100,000


poetry modulation
1 / 9,550,000


poetry composite
1 / 42,600,000


poem metre generative metrics
3 / 1,260,000


Seamus Heaney poetry success failure
1 / 2,690,000


Seamus Heaney poem criticism

 1 / 4,030,000


metaphor theme
3 / 54,600,000

Sheffield University modern architecture: crown jewels

This is 'The Diamond,' the Sheffield University building which houses engineering specialities. My own MP, Paul Blomfield, claimed that the building would be  'the jewel in the crown not only for the University itself, but also for the city.'  It's detractors, and I'm one of many, think otherwise. I've reason to think that Paul Blomfield is mistaken about many things and reason to think that Paul Blomfield is mistaken about this building.

From a page on 'the ugliest University buildings in the UK

Any Sheffield students laughing at Hallam's inclusion [for the Sheffield Hallam University Student Union building] can stop now. This red brick uni boasts one of the country's strangest modern buildings in The Diamond. The £81m monster hosts Sheffield's engineering department and was nominated for the 2016 Carbuncle cup, the prestigious prize for the worst new building in the country.


Sadly, the Diamond wasn't thought as bad as the building which did win the award for worst new building in the country in 2016. 'Twelve Architects,' the architects who designed the Diamond, came away with nothing on this occasion. They weren't 'award-winning' architects.


The page


has more on the matter. The reference to 'carbuncle' in the name of the award refers to a comment made by Charles, then Prince of Wales, an opponent of some modernist styles, who described the proposed extension of the National Gallery in London as 'a monstrous carbuncle of a much-loved and elegant friend.' His phrasing was surely faulty, but I won't explain why I think this here.


I think that the corner view shown in the image above isn't the best side of the building - any view of the building reveals its flaws, I think - but this corner view is significant. It gave an opportunity for a bold use of chevrons, an opportunity which could have led to an outstanding example of modern architecture.


Chevron, a dictionary definition: 'chevron  a figure, pattern, or object having the shape of a V or an inverted V,  worn on the sleeve by noncommissioned officers including police officers, as an indication of rank, service etc.

A towering, soaring succession of chevrons at the corner - only a few, not so many as to appear cluttered - would have given a focal point, would have formed a welcome contrast with the facades of the building, which aren't completely unsuccessful -  the projecting diamond shapes, made of anodised aluminium, give three dimensional interest to the building, or would do, if the diamond shapes hadn't been chosen incompetently.


As it is, only traces of a bold arrangement of chevrons are visible. The chevrons are broken up, partly submerged by an incoherent mass of detail smeared over the corner.


The facades too are ruined by an incoherent mass of detail, an excessive number of small diamonds. By some remarkable oversight, this time to do with materials not the organization of shapes, the exterior glass cladding resembles nothing so much as plastic, and not plastic of the best quality.


This is another carbuncle in the crown of Sheffield University Modern Architecture, the Students' Union building.



The colour clash, the refusal of brown to integrate with the dominant colour of the building, is one obvious flaw, as I see it. In the case of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the tilt is due to soft ground which could not properly support the weight of the structure. Since then, the tilt worsened but remedial work between 1993 and 2001 reduced it.


The tilt all too obvious in two of the components in the Students' Union Building isn't due to soft ground or a Sheffield earthquake but was a deliberate act of the architect or architects, deliberate instability with no aesthetic advantages.  It's surely a defective design. Would remedial work improve the aesthetics? It would, but is out of the question.


Does Sheffield University have a School of Architecture? It does. Do the academics who teach and do research there have a grasp of aesthetics as well as the practical bits of this demanding field? I hope they do.



The Sheffield Hallam University Students' Union building shown above is far more impressive - and it's clad in Sheffield steel. Its history isn't so impressive. It was originally built to house the Centre for Popular Music and the centre failed. There's a very good article on the building. I don't care for the name of the site where the article appears but the article is a very good piece of work:


A disadvantage of the  building, perhaps, is that it's plain.  Plainness is a recurring problem with modernist buildings but isn't to be solved by copying the decorative details of the architecture of the past. Its radial symmetry is compensation.


Another disadvantage, to me at least, is that the feature on the roof looks like a spout and the bulk of the structure looks like a very large stainless steel device for boiling water. If it suggested something from the chemical industry it wouldn't be so much of a disadvantage but to me, it has domestic associations, as if it were something in a giant's kitchen. Perhaps all this is fanciful, but associations can be hard to ignore. I still like the building very much. For people in the area, for people who use it, this is, I would think, a building that people can get fond of. It's big, but not on an inhuman scale: a calm and gentle giant, not in the least an alienating building.


Below: Jessop West, here showing its best face, I think, or rather face, with a building that has a significant history but not an illustrious history, the old  Henderson's Relish factory. I never had the least interest in the product.   Here, at least it provides contrast.



The slim rectangles are interconnected quite successfully, I think, but the colours of the plastic materials draw attention to themselves and it's impossible to find the colours in any way pleasing, anything but arbitrary. Surely the architects realized that this was a mess in the making? Evidently they didn't. I've no knowledge of the thought processes and feelings of architects, particularly when the building is finished and they can see the finished result. Do they ever feel embarrassment, shame, even?


A face view gives a very different impression from this corner view - a view of off-putting blandness combined with pale-but-putrid colour. Who decides to go ahead with such schemes? Did the School of Architecture have any say?


But the building above is a delight to the eyes compared with this nearby monstrosity, a feeble,  strangulated, unredeemable plastic pile of clashing colours. The architect was Sauerbruch Hutton, now based in Berlin. Couldn't Sheffield University have used a local architect? Surely a first year Sheffield University architecture student could have done just as good a job - at least for the externals? I'm quite prepared to believe that the interior is markedly superior to the exterior. It could hardly be worse.



The modern buildings of Sheffield University are largely dross but  this is a much more successful building, the Information Commons, with its distinctive, expanses of copper sheeting.



The contrasts of form between the four taller structures on the left and the lower, much broader structure on the right, are very successful. The contrast between the regularity of the openings in the four taller structures and the pleasing variation of size and placement of the openings in the structure to the right seems to me very successful. Those enthralling expanses of light green give a satisfying unity to the whole.



Above, construction of yet more student accommodation. Universities have become bloated. Universities employ far too many people - but not in such faculties as science, engineering, law and medicine who in a rational world should be almost unemployable, at least in the university system. I write from long immersion in the dull, deadening, lifeless writings emanating from so many of these places. Plagiarism is not just discouraged but subject to sanctions where students are concerned, rightly so, but these academics are big, big copiers, adding nothing to the half-baked theories and theoreticians so many of them follow - and so many students lap it up, knowing nothing better. So many students are perfectly happy to be assessed by these academic automatons. Vast numbers of students require accommodation - and it had better be stylish accommodation, to meet the needs of many of their number. All this is with the recognition that this is the part, not the whole.


More on architecture and the university:

30 March, 2012 

Procurement reform campaigners have blasted the University of Sheffield for abandoning its £25 million ‘Pearl’ music centre contest and wasting up to £1 million of bidders’ resources

From a Sheffield University statement on the matter:

We recognise that this is disappointing for those architecture firms that have submitted bids. However, we will keep interested architecture firms informed about future opportunities with the university.’

In response, Project Compass director Russell Curtis said: ‘This tender process raised some serious concerns from the outset, with interested architects expected to prepare sketch proposals for free for a building seemingly without a brief. The late cancellation of the project just adds insult to injury. If the best that the university can guarantee is that they “endeavour to only advertise opportunities where there is a strong likelihood of proceeding” then they really should take a long, hard look at how they go about it.’

‘Such a laissez-faire approach really does demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of how much time and effort goes into responding to these things. The university claimed they had around 150 expressions of interest, which could well have resulted in over a million pounds’ worth of wasted work.’

Commenting on the lack of a detailed brief, Curtis said: ‘Questions raised during the tender process do nothing to dispel the impression of an inept and exploitative exercise. There’s no sign of even a rudimentary feasibility study to establish the suitability of the site for a project of this scale, nor to set out a basic accommodation schedule on which to base the concept proposals.

‘We sincerely hope that Sheffield University undertakes fundamental reform of its practices before embarking upon the procurement of any future projects.’

One bidder – who preferred to remain anonymous – commented: ‘It’s quite symptomatic of what is going on at the moment with clients who do not have any sense of the burden of wasted time and cost they place on the architectural profession when they have either not organised the project or the selection process adequately or are not realistic about their aspirations. It seems to me no other profession has to go through the hurdles architects are being asked to jump over at the moment when the competition is very intense.’

The bidder continued: ‘A large number of frameworks produce no work and, even when an architect gets on one, they have to go through a selection process again. For even small projects, submissions are either very extensive and unnecessary or compounded by 15-plus architects being approached for the work. I don’t think contractors accept being on a list any bigger than four or five, so why do architects have to be put through this?

‘In reality the site they picked would have been very difficult to make work for the concert hall they wanted, so I think this may have contributed to why they are not going ahead with it.’











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Please see also the pages Cambridge University: excellence, mediocrity, stupidity and  Academics against armaments and academics and migration


List of academics criticized here. List to be extended, profiles to be revised and extended.


Sheffield University
Umberto Albarella  (Professor of Zooarchaelogy) ,
Abdel Takriti (Lecturer in International History)


Umberto Albarella, Professor of Zooarchaeology


This section provides images of the genocide carried out by the Nazis to make clear that the 'genocide' claimed to be Israeli policy and practice - Professor Albarella and countless others make the claim - is nothing like the genocide carried out by the Nazis. What these people do, again and again and again, is to use civilians killed by Israeli military action as 'proof' of 'genocide.' The images come from my page on Israel - most of the images are larger on that page, in the third column. In this column, the images are followed by a few images and comment on civilian casualties caused by British and other allied action during the Second World War, for example this: when the city of Caen were liberated by the allies, it was only after 3,000 French civilians had been killed by allied military action. In the course of liberating France, allied military action killed 60,000 French civilians, mainly by bombing and bombardment.


A selection of Professor Albarella's writing, none of it in extended form - just slogan after slogan after slogan - none of it providing argument and evidence, none of his grotesque generalizations allowing exceptions, appears on his page


After 'We will ALWAYS support freedom of movement (freedom of movement includes freedom for ISIS supporters and terrorists to enter this country, does it?)  there's a picture of a white poppy and this, and 'STOP THE GENOCIDE), and a list: 'archaeologist, green-anarchist, pacifist ... ' and then this: 'national borders are a crime against humanity.' In his deluded state he might believe it's actually possible for the countries of the world to abolish their borders and allow freedom of movement but in practice, as a matter of strict fact, these things are no more possibly than allowing anyone who wants to become a student at Sheffield University to become a student at Sheffield University. Such considerations as gross overcrowding in lecture theatres and gross overcrowding in student accommodation are relevant.



This quotation from the (left of centre) publication 'New Statesman' gives a crushing verdict on his views on borders - not just completely open borders but no borders at all - and on his view of the Palestinians andof  Israel.


'The Hamas attack was driven by a brutal ideology

The atrocities committed against Israeli civilians have roots in the same fanaticism activists face in Iran.


'The videos Hamas posted on social media, showing them gloating about defiling women’s bodies and taking children hostage made clear this wave of violence was not a desperate “act of self-defence” or “breaking free from prison” as some sympathisers have tried to portray it. If anything, these horrors might make those who have been critical of Israel’s policing of its borders think again, now the world can see exactly what the Israelis have been trying to keep out. (Emphasis added by me.)

'Palestinian militant groups have been lavishly funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran with sums in excess of $100m annually.

'Those who seek to excuse or “contextualise” the rapes, kidnappings, public humiliations and executions of Israelis by citing Palestinian suffering must answer this question: why do the paymasters of Hamas in Tehran habitually commit the same crimes against their own female population? Iranian women who offend against Islamist dogma are beaten, separated from their children, imprisoned and raped by brainwashed thugs, some of whom have been involved in training Hamas.'

A few basic facts which Professor Albarella could mention and discuss in one of his future addresses. The ones I've seen could easily have been churned out by a computer program supplied with a few basic slogans. They show no sign of intelligent awareness at all.

I would think that the Department of Archaelogy  encourages - requires - undergraduate and graduate students to have a respect for evidence, the responsible use of evidence, the avoidance of wild generalization, the use of responsible language, to be ready to have views challenged - but only, it seems, in the field of archaeology. Are these virtues to be disregarded when it comes to the wider world, the supremely important world which includes ethical choice, ethical dilemmas, the avoidance of war, the conduct of war?
 Professor Albarella has views on thise matters which are addressed in great detail in the pages of my site, including this one.

 I can't, of course. demand that he enters into debate, I can't demand that he should defend his views on Israel, on war, those wider issues, but I intend at least to record his responses and reactions (if any) and to record his answers to objections (if any.) Readers of the material can then make their own mind up about the results.

On the Sheffield Green Party page

there's a picture of Professor Albarella making the clenched fist salute. This is a smaller version, modified so as not to infringe copyright. The red block conceals his face. Some of the people on the Home Page of the site are blocked out - Professor Albarella is one of them.  A dictionary definition of 'blockhead' is 'stupid person.' He's stupid but much more than that - harmful, I'd contend.

The clenched fist salute represents some political ideologies, including communism and anarchism, and supposedly expresses strength and resistance.

Making a touch guy gesture is one thing, showing that he's tough is quite another. I think it's likely, overwhelmingly likely, that he'll prefer not to make a fuss over the criticisms here, that he'll complacently choose the path of least resistance, that his ideology isn't robust but fragile and weak. In the picture, he's posing. My view is that when he meets real  resistance to his idiotic views, he gives up, or simply shouts more slogans.

An academic in the field of archaeology who flagrantly disregards evidence or distorts evidence which concerns the wider matters montioned  (my view of things in the case of Professor Albarella) is someone who doesn't enhance the reputation of archaeology as a subject which prospective undergraduates can choose or a subject which deserves to be part of the curriculum of Sheffield University. 

Sheffield University intends to remove archaeology from the curriculum. He uses the slogan 'cultural vandalism.' There are arguments against archaeology as part of this university's curriculum. Any arguments for archaeology aren't helped in the least by the hideous ignorance of this man.

I take into account the fact that the academics in the Department of Archaeology will have very varied views, including views very unlike the  ones held by Professor Albarella. 


The Einsatzgruppen were Nazi extermination squads. The role of the Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps is well known, the role of the Einsatzgruppen far less so. Unlike the camps, where the mass killing was carried out in conditions of relative secrecy, the Einsatzgruppen killed in public, very often with the active support of the regular Nazi army, the Wehrmacht. They exterminated Jews and others in the territories captured by the German forces as they advanced Eastwards.


The Einsatzgruppen killed about 2 million people, including about 1.3 million Jews. After the war ended, there were many trials of Nazis, including the 'Einsatzgruppen Trial, in which commanders of these units faced charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.


The Einsatzgruppen Trial marked the first use of the term "genocide" in a legal context.

Some of the killings carried out by  Einsatzgruppen




Above, the killing of Jews in Ivanhorod, Ukraine, 1942. A woman attempts to protect a child with her own body just before they are shot by a member of an Einsatzgruppe.



Above, 'The Last Jew in Vinnitsa,' Ukraine. Member of Einstatzgruppe D about to shoot the victim.



Above, outside Mizocs.  Nazi officer executes women who survived shooting at mass execution



Above, Einsatzgruppe shooting Jews by a mass grave


Above, scene at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, liberated by British troops, but too late for so many victims.



On arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau, there was a 'selection.' Some were able to live a little longer, if able to work. The rest were sent to be gassed. Here, Jewish children walk towards a gas chamber.



Above, Jews forced to dig their own graves before being executed, Storow, Ukraine, 5 July, 1941.



Above, a boy standing by the bodies of his family before being executed himself, Zboriv, Ukraine, 5 July, 1941.



Above, Ernst Biberstein, who studied theology from 1919 to 1921. He became a Protestant pastor in 1924. During the war, he was the commanding officer of Einsatzkommando 6, which executed between 2000 and 3000 people. The Einsatzkommandos were a sub-group of the Einsatzgruppen,. . After the war, he was tried and sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted. He was released in 1958 and returned to the clergy.




This is Fritz Klein, a doctor who worked at Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, sometimes taking part is selections for the gas chamber, before moving to Bergen-Belsen. Here, he's shown moving bodies after the camp had been liberated by British forces.



Above, scene at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Below, crematorium at Dachau concentration camp




Above, Adolf Eichmann, one of the main organisers of the Holocaust. He claimed,

'I will leap into my grave laughing because the feeling that I have five million human beings on my conscience is for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction.'

From 1944, he supervised and actively promoted the deportation of Hungarian Jews to the extermination camps. He is the only person to have been executed by the state of Israel in its modern history.

From the Wikipedia article:

Germany invaded Hungary  on 19 March 1944. Eichmann arrived the same day, and was soon joined by top members of his staff and five or six hundred members of the SD, SS, and SiPo.[ Hitler's appointment of a Hungarian government more amenable to the Nazis meant that the Hungarian Jews, who had remained essentially unharmed until that point, would now be deported to Auschwitz concentration camp  to serve as forced labour or be gassed ...  Round-ups began on 16 April, and from 14 May, four trains of 3,000 Jews per day left Hungary and travelled to the camp at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, arriving along a newly built spur line that terminated a few hundred metres aw the gas chambers.] Between 10–25 per cent of the people on each train were chosen as forced labourers; the rest were killed within hours of arrival.[Under international pressure, the Hungarian government halted deportations on 6 July 1944, by which time over 437,000 of Hungary's 725,000 Jews had died. 

Above, Hungarian Jews on arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau. There followed the 'selection' of those sent to work and those sent to be gassed immediately.

Above, Jewish women and children from Hungary walking toward the gas chamber, Auschwitz II, May/June 1944.

Senator Alben W. Barkley was a member of a congressional committee investigating Nazi atrocities. He is shown here  at Buchenwald concentration camp. Weimar, Germany


Above, images showing women at Auschwitz after the liberation of the camp


Killing of civilians

Above, a British soldier carries a little girl through the devastation of Caen, France, July 10, 1944, after the D-day landings. The devastation had been caused by British bombing.

Above, Caen, after the bombing

Human values, humane values can sometimes only be safeguarded by harsh action, including harsh military action. This was the case during the Second World War, a conflict which was obviously more wide ranging by far. But the savagery displayed in the recent terrorist attack on Israel was as bad as any of the atrocities which took place during the Second World War. Allied forces defeated genocidal Nazi Germany not by displays of naive, utopian, superficial thinking but by tactical and strategic thinking which resulted in hard military action, including the use of bombardment.


 After D day, villages, towns and cities in France, Belgium and the Netherlands were liberated by British and other allied forces. Very often, they were liberated by military action which included bombing and artillery fire and very often with civilian casualties. For example, Caen in Normandy was liberated only after being heavily bombed. About 80% of the town was devastated and 3000 civilians were killed. Around 60,000 French civilians had been killed by allied bombing by the time France was liberated. To use only ground forces was out of the question. Nazi occupied Europe could never have been liberated in this way. Anyone who claims that allied forces were 'no better than Nazis' for frequent killing of civilians is failing to take into account Nazi killings of civilians, which belonged to a different order of reality - reprisal executions, the mass executions of the Einsatzgruppen and, of course, the Holocaust, the worst set of war crimes in human history.


In extreme circumstances, to overcome fanatical opposition, the armed forces of democratic states often have no alternative but to use extreme force – but not ‘extremist force,’ the methods used by fanatics. To use slight force would be to guarantee defeat. Although technological advances have vastly increased the precision of bombing, these cannot overcome all difficulties, for example those arising in very densely populated neighbourhoods such as Gaza.

Dr A. Takriti, historian, censor, slogan-shouter



Film of Shimon Peres speaking at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford University. At 4:00 Abdel Razzaq Takriti begins to shout slogans and is removed.


This noisy and chaotic episode, described below, dates from his time at Wadham College, Oxford, when he was a doctoral student. 



Dr Abdel Takriti  is now a lecturer in International History at the University of Sheffield. Although elimination of all bias in the teaching of history is obviously impossible, the avoidance of gross ideological bias and outright propaganda in the teaching of history isn't an impossible objective. If Wikipedia can make strenuous efforts to be fair-minded, no less should be expected of a department of history in a British university. He  teaches, or did teach, a module  'Palestine and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Whether his teaching of the topic is partisan, or propagandist I've no way of knowing. I'm receptive to any evidence.


  One principle he was certainly  attacking, a principle under relentless attack now, not least in so many universities, and a principle which it's essential to defend, is the enlightenment principle of freedom of speech, expressed memorably in the credo 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.' (often attributed to Voltaire, but in fact the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in her  book 'The Friends of Voltaire' of 1906. She summarized Voltaire's attitude towards Helvétius, not the words of Voltaire.)



A report on Dr Takriti, in action. I find it very disturbing. It was published by the pro-Palestinian site 'Electronic Intifada' (20 November, 2008.)

  'Text messages came from student protestors who had managed to get inside the lecture hall. They let the their  fellow demonstrators outside know that their chanting could be heard inside over the voice of Israeli President Shimon Peres. There was clapping and stamping of feet and placards banged on the railings to make as much noise as possible, along with the constant “Free, free Palestine” which did not stop for a moment of the hour-long lecture.


Silent women in black, shouting students, small babies in prams, university lecturers and a local elected official were just some of the crowd gathered to voice their protest against an Oxford college’s decision to honor Peres on Tuesday, 18 November as he gave the inaugural lecture in a series to be named after him. Some handed out leaflets and many were carrying signs, one of which read “Globalization of Apartheid,” a pun on the title of the lecture, “Globalization of Peace.”

'After the Master of Balliol College, Dr. Andrew Graham, refused to cancel the series  the Oxford University Student Palestine Society in conjunction with the city’s branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) called for the people of Oxford to protest outside the hall as students interrupted the lecture inside.



'Halfway through the lecture, Abdel Razzaq Takriti, a Palestinian graduate student at Oxford’s Wadham College, Oxford was ejected from the hall. “Shimon Peres was making a particularly offensive remark claiming that ‘you [Palestinians] could have had a state if it wasn’t for your own mistakes’ and that Israelis fought for their state,” he told this writer, who was also participating in the protest. He then stated “We don’t need your permission to exist” and got support from other students for it. Takriti explained: “So I stood up and walked towards [Peres], saying, ‘how dare you say this at a time when you are besieging 1.5 million people in Gaza? 1.5 million people are starving to death! Shimon Peres, you’re a war criminal. You are responsible for the massacre of hundreds of people in Qana [southern Lebanon]. You’re responsible for an apartheid state. Shame on you.’ so I was dragged out.” '


Some comments, with background information. First of all, Shimon Peres was a 'dove' not a 'hawk,' or at least became a dove early in his career - but Israeli 'hawks,' like the 'doves,' deserve to be listened to without any attempts to shout the speaker down if they come to speak at a British university.



Some extracts from 'Israel: A History,' by Martin Gilbert on Shimon Peres. The estimate of other historians may be different, possibly very different, but Abdel Takriti's description is a travesty. Perhaps he would like to give a much fuller, carefully considered estimate of Shimon Peres, with evidence. If he still regards him as a war criminal, what does he think about the use of rockets by Hamas against Israeli civilians: a war crime or not?


Martin Gilbert writes,

'Turning to Shimon Peres, Leah Rabin urged him 'to lead the people of Israel to peace', and to do so 'in the spirit of Kitzhak [Rabin]' who had spoken in these terms:

'I want this government to exhaust every opening, every possibility, to promote and achieve a comprehensive peace. Even with Syria, it will be possible to make peace.'

'Shimon Peres continued with the peace process. The Oslo Accords had been his creation: he now had the full authority as Prime Minister to pursue their timetable.'

' ... on February 25 [1996] a suicide bomber, entering a bus in Jerusalem, killed twenty-five people, most of them Israeli soldiers. A Muslim Arab, Wael Kawasmeh, who was waiting for a bus, was also killed. That same day a suicide bomber in Ashkelon blew himself up at a bus stop. One Israeli was killed, twenty-year old Hofit Ayash, who had recently chosen a wedding gown for her marriage in four months' time.

'Arafat's adviser, Ahmed Tibi, condemned the bus bombs. 'The circle of violence must be broken and stopped,' he said. 'There is no place for revenge attacks.' But on March 13, thirteen more Israelis were killed by a suicide bomber in the heart of Jerusalem on the same bus route, No. 18, as the previous bomb. One of those killed, nineteen-year-old Chaim Amedi, had unintentionally missed the bus that had been destroyed in the last attack. Another of those killed, thirty-eight-year-old George Yonan, was a Christian Arab who had been deaf from birth.

'On the following day a suicide bomber struck in Tel Aviv, in a crowded shopping street in the centre of the city, killing eighteen. These were enormous explosions that ripped the buses apart, mutilating many of the dead beyond recognition. The mood inside Israel was of near despair. It seemed impossible that the peace process could go on while such terrorist killings, on a far larger scale than before, went on.

'Immediately after the March 3 bus bomb, Peres had warned Arafat that the future of the peace process 'hangs in the balance' unless the Palestinian Authority took immediate action against Hamas. Israel could not be the only party to the agreements to keep its commitments. 'It cannot be unilateral.' ...

'The continuation of the Oslo Accords was under great strain. The Government of Israel, first under Rabin and then under Peres, repeatedly declared that it would not allow terror to derail the peace process, and negotiations with the Palestinians continued on the many issues relating to Palestinian autonomy and Israeli withdrawal ...

'Peres, the architect of Oslo, was himself under enormous public pressure to react  to the killings. But he declined to suspend the timetable of the Oslo Accords. Instead, in agreement with the Palestinians, he postponed the redeployment on Hebron, and called an election. In doing so, and thus inviting the Israeli public to express its opinion through the ballot box, he hoped to win and endorsement for continuing the peace negotiations. These included negotiations with Syria, to which Peres, like Rabin before him, was prepared to return most, and even all, of the Golan Heights in return for a full peace between the two countries.'


'The election was held on May 29 ... Labour emerged with the largest number of seats in the Knesset: 34 seats as against Likud's 32. But in the separate vote for Prime Minister the former leader of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, won, by the narrowest of margins ...


'Following his defeat in the 1996 election, Shimon Peres [described as a 'war criminal' by the demonstrators in Oxford who tried to stop him speaking, including the would-be censor Abdel Takriti] had refused to give up his vision. 'We shall continue to dream together,' he wrote, 'of a Middle East of light and hope.' In pursuit of that dream, he continued to advance the cause of economic cross-border activities, and to 'tutor' his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, in what could be achieved for the region through mutually acceptable agreements with all its neighbours.'

In a speech in the Knesset on October 7, Shimon Peres said,

'I want to say what real peace is in my experience. True peace is the way of agony. I remember what my comrades and I have gone through over the past year, seeing that man, the great military leader and the courageous statesman Yitzhak Rabin murdered before my eyes.' [He was assassinated by a Jew, not a Palestinian.]


'And afterwards I saw - I, a man who pursues peace - the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. I know what it is to leave one's office and be told that a bus has exploded. You also showed it on television. Thank you. I went there and I saw the blood and the flesh and the murder and the killing, and I saw the people screaming at me: 'You are guilty'.'


Sheffield Hallam University



From the Sheffield Hallam University page


Our vision is to be the world's leading applied university; showing what a university genuinely focused on transforming lives can achieve.

This is a remarkable claim, not just an inflated claim but one which shows a complete failure to recognize realities. A massive number of other universities could make the same visionary claim, with just as much - or just as little - chance of becoming 'the world's leading applied university.' Sheffield Hallam University has made an elementary, ridiculous mistake.  Putting words together to make a claim is  one thing - almost effortless. It belongs to a  world very different from the world of effort, disappointment, chance, the concrete world we live in, which can be an incomparably harsher place.


Universities are large, complex organizations. Like much smaller, simpler organizations, the degree of success which would be needed to attain the unattainable objective of being the world's best would have to be success which is very wide ranging. In the real world, even very successful institutions of any size typically have areas of weakness, outstanding achievement in some areas together with  less impressive achievement in others. And how is success to be measured? In largely subjective terms? Surely not. In terms of number of research publications, taking no account of quality, or taking quality into account? Quality is surely relevant. Considerations like this are only the starting point. The objections multiply as soon as thought is given to the potential difficulties.


There are no difficulties in arriving at this conclusion, though, no need to consider many, many pieces of evidence before arriving at this conclusion: Sheffield Hallam University will never be considered the world's best applied university. No applied university will ever be considered the world's best. It would not even be possible for an applied university to have one department considered the world's best, such as mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineering is a vast and complex discipline and even if there were to be general agreement that one university was the best in one or a number of fields, it's unlikely that it would be the best in most fields or all fields.


The claim that 'Sheffield Hallam University transforms lives' - in the wording of the actual claim, 'showing what a university genuinely focused on transforming lives can achieve' is just as stupid. 'Transforming lives' is a very big claim, much more so than any claim to 'improve' lives. But 'transforming lives' sounds much more impressive than 'improving lives,' until the claim is subjected to fair-minded examination. When that is done, the ridiculousness of the claim is apparent, surely.


Again, the claim is almost effortless, just a matter of arranging a few words. The achievement is a completely different matter. There are universities with a conservative evangelical or Roman Catholic or other Christian basis which make the same claims - the claim to transform lives. Again and again, the same dismal realities intrude. They have achieved nothing of the sort. Again and again, they have sent out into the world lacklustre, backward dogmatists, on the evidence I have. Sheffield Hallam University is immeasurably superior to such universities, but it would be better to avoid completely their kind of self-publicity.


Professor A. Macaskill


This  material on Professor Macaskill of Sheffield Hallam University is also published on my page South Yorkshire Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Police and Crime Panel, the Independent Ethics Panel: documenting.  Professor Macaskill is Chair of the Independent Ethics Panel.

 I only comment on one publication of Professor Macaskill and the comment is very brief - but my provisional judgement is that, on the evidence of this piece at least, Professor Macaskill isn't a writer who goes beyond platitudes - academic platitudes and platitudes of the more general kind. I'd have to examine much more of her writing to see if this tentative judgement is confirmed.


MACASKILL, A. (2005). Defining forgiveness: Christian clergy and general population perspectives. Journal of personality, 73 (5), 1237-1267.


The present research contributes to the search for conceptual clarity by exploring the definitions and parameters of forgiveness employed by Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy in England and then comparing these to data collected from a general population sample. Clergy provide moral and spiritual leadership within their communities and deal with issues of both Divine and human forgiveness on a regular basis, so a logical starting point is to explore the conceptions of forgiveness that they themselves hold.


'Definitions and parameters' is a pretentious phrase which is surely inserted for show, or the result of the process of 'reflex thought.' 'Reflex muscle action is familiar enough, the process initiated by a stimulus. No conscious processes are involved. Reflex action which produces such phrases bypasses thought almost as completely.


A much more prominent example of 'reflex action' from the article. Some thought was needed to come up with the phrase, but not very much:

 'Clergy provide moral and spiritual leadership within their communities and deal with issues of both Divine and human forgiveness on a regular basis ... '

Routine semi-mathematical equipment suitable for the manipulation of statistical data is visible on the page but what is lacking is any relevant concrete evidence.   These are pious phrases. To have included concrete evidence would have been to mix genres, to insert material which would almost certainly not have been to the liking of the editor or editors and the readership.


Clergy don't provide moral and spiritual l(M and S) leadership within their communities. They only provide a form of M and S leadership within their churches, and not everyone in their churches will have respect for them or pay any attention to their pious phrases.


Recommended to Professor Macaskill -
Factsheet: Abuse and the Church of England


on my page

She received a copy of the Factsheet, with other material, so if she's read it, she will have a better understanding of the massive - insuperable - difficulties of automatically assuming that people she assumes are 'moral and spiritual leaders' are anything of the kind.


Her unargued assumption that there is such a thing as 'Divine forgiveness' (the capital letter in 'Divine' is provided by the Professor) is surely an aberration in a journal not published by some Conservative Evangelical or Roman Catholic publishing outfit.


All this has implications, not so much  for the progress of my complaint against the Police and Crime Commissioner - The Independent Ethics Panel will not be holding the Police and Crime Commissioner to account, that is not their role - but for the role of the Independent Ethics Panel. The only further comment I will make for the time being is that the title, the 'Independent Ethics Panel' is yet another instance of the distinction outlined above, the distinction between claim and reality. To give a name to the panel which includes the word 'independent' doesn't guarantee in the least a panel which is genuinely independent. I'll be including  evidence that the panel has nothing like the independence needed to do its work adequately.











  {} Sheffield (and Sheffield Hallam) University: excellence, mediocrity, stupidity