Saturday, 29 September 2012

What's your tipple?

Very cool!  Photos of different alcohol at 1000 x magnification..... More here.

White Russian

Tequila
H/t SCMP

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Swell Times...

 Click to enlarge.... Photo: Reuters
Great photo in today's South China Morning Post, with the caption: "Surfers and dolphins at play in the waves off Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.  Dolphins are a common sight along Sydney's beaches, as they hunt for small fish, and waves suitable for surfing add to the attraction of venturing close to shore.  Surfers like their presence, too, as they are thought to keep the sharks away.  Australia tops the world in terms of shark-attack fatalities, with more than 200 deaths based on latest figures by a local conservation society."

Sweet Gigi marries her girlfriend. Dad offers 500 mill to break it up...

Gigi Chao (right), and her girlfriend, Sean Eav. Photo: SCMP pictures
What a honey, what a story!
Daddy Chao boasted that he'd bedded 10,000 women and that was by 2000.  How many more since?....
From today's South China Morning Post...

It's a story for a TVB soap opera - but it's happening in real life. Hong Kong's pre-eminent playboy tycoon has gone public to denounce his eldest daughter's plan to settle down with her - female - long-time lover.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Muslim group in US presses for restrictions on freedom of speech

On thing that all sides seem to agree on, about "that video" -- The Innocence of Muslims -- is that it's an astonishingly poor production.  It's been variously described as "crappy", "shitty", "incompetent", "risible", "incoherent", "silly", "crude", "disgusting", "tawdry" and so on.  One charge not levelled at it -- at least that I've seen -- is that it has "incited violence".  Sure lots of violence has resulted from it. But not because the video has incited it (indeed, kind of ironically, one of the messages in the confused mess was that Islam is violent...).
Rather, to Muslims in particular -- as to Obama and Clinton -- it's been seen as "denigrating", or "insulting" to their prophet, and for that they feel "humiliated".  And it's in reaction to that perceived slight and humiliation that Muslim outrage has spread throughout the world.
Now we have a petition by a Muslim Group in the US seeking to criminalise free speech and reported at "Leaders of Kansas City Muslim group petition Obama to limit free speech of American citizens".
Note a key line in the petition:
"... but when the allowance of "free" speech incites violence it should be banned".
Given that the crappy video did most emphatically not incite violence, what this line really means is:
 "You, the United States, must criminalise any speech which may lead we pious Muslims to murder innocent people and go on uncontrolled rampages".  
In short, you, the US, must limit your speech according to the agenda of we Islamists.

Note, btw, the quotes around "free". What does that mean?  That they don't really believe it's free? or what?

LATER: more pressure to restrict freedom of speech, from the most senior levels of Islamic representatives, here.

H/T: JW.

Monday, 24 September 2012

"The Satanic Video"

Oh Dear.
There are some reasonable points in Keller's piece.  But even more moral equivalence and nonsense.
The worst para:
Like the fanatics in the Middle East and North Africa, our homegrown hatemongers have an interest in making this out to be a great clash of faiths. The Islamophobes — the fringe demagogues behind the Koran-burning parties and that tawdry video, the more numerous (mainly right-wing Republican) defenders against the imaginary encroachment of Islamic law on our domestic freedom — are easily debunked. But this is the closest thing we have to a socially acceptable form of bigotry. And their rants feed the anti-American opportunists.
 "...fringe demagogues": refers to Terry Jones and the makers of "that tawdry video".  Terry Jones is not a demagogue by its definition ("a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument"), since he's not a political leader and in fact some of his arguments are indeed rational.  But I'll grant he's a bit of a loony and as much of a homophobe as the most pious Islamists, because of his fundamentalist Christian religion.  And the makers of the "tawdry video" (agree with that), are even less "demagogues".
As for the "imaginary encroachment of Islamic law", what of the Muslim Brotherhood in America's mission statement which is "eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers..."?
And the representatives of this MB in America include the go-to representative of Muslims in America, the Council of American Muslim Relations. (Learn about CAIR)
In the UK, we have the latest news of UK Sharia courts marrying girls as young as five....
Or what about the calls to criminalize "Insults to Islam"?
And meantime, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, in a broad-brush ad hominem, calls all (but one: Daniel Pipes) critics of Islam "pseudo-experts", when all the ones I know on the list -- and I've read most -- are very knowledgeable indeed.
None of this seems imaginary to me....

Sunday, 23 September 2012

"Suppressing criticism not the answer"

Well, somewhat to my surprise, the South China Morning Post ran my letter today in full, and at the top...

Suppressing criticism not the answer
Your editorial ("Outrage at video was predictable", September 16) proposes a moral equivalence: that the video Innocence of Muslims bears equal responsibility for deaths as do those who did the killing.
What you are saying in effect is that a video, made legally in the United States, is the same as the illegal killing of embassy personnel - that video producers are the same as murderous mobs.
In defence of this moral equivalence you say that there are limits to free speech "such as the sensibilities of the audience, that must be taken into account".
But what a slippery slope that is.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

"The innocence of White People"

Even this picture, which fronts Knight's article, gainsays his point, that
there is nothing in Islam that's not replicated in other religions.
In fact, of course, there is: violence.
I came across this article by one Michael Muhammad Knight, who was a guest on BBC radio that I listen to here in Hong Kong.
He's a convert to Islam, and that always gets me wondering.  How could you read the core documents of Islam, the Trinity of the Koran, Hadith and Sirah, and convert?  I mean, it's like the only document in Christianity was the Old Testament (not the New), and it was made clear that you could not question it and that you had to abide by it fully:  stonings, crucifixions and all; and you said "yup, that's the religion for me".  I don't get it.
This fellow Muhammad Knight is a charlatan and a dope.
Below are my comments on his article.

"A 21st Century Islam"

Ibrahim Alaguri/AP
Grrrr... that Roger Cohen! A maddening columnist in the New York Times.
One week he writes something like "Our Man in Benghazi", that makes your teeth hurt.
And the next week an eminently sensible one, like "A 21st Century Islam".
In the first he attacks  "...the worst of an American bigotry whose central tenet is that Islam is evil, a religion bent on the takeover of the world and followed by people who are all violent extremists, Jew-haters and sexual predators.  As if these were not indeed central tenets of Islam, voiced on a daily basis by leaders and imams in the Islamic world, and in the west. (e.g. on child marriage in the UK; MB "Mastership of the world").
In the latter he starts off with "The Muslim world cannot have it both ways".  Says an Islamic republic as an oxymoron. And that freedom of speech cannot be compromised: supporting even the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.  There's bits of the usual moral equivalence -- the blame lying equally on the makers of a film as on the murderers -- but on the whole, given it's Cohen, it's not too bad.
As for his thoughts about that parts of Islam are "malleable and debatable" implying that it might be reformed, well good luck with that.  I'm not holding my breath.  In some parts of the Islamic world, like Pakistan and Iran, debating "prescriptions of Islam" can end you up very dead.


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Islam über alles? Nein; but better get cracking....

In China's Taoism, there's a saying: "Wu Wei" (無爲) which means "do nothing" and things will sort themselves out.  Well, here's another case of it: I was going to write a piece about the video-rage in the Muslim world, something along the lines that it didn't matter what the video was about, how crappy its production; what mattered was the right to say it, offensive and all that it might be.  And that Obama ought to state that principle forcefully. That with the many religious and government leaders in the Muslim world calling for the arrest (or killing) of the makers, calling for banning any "disparagement" of their "prophet", now was the time to face down those thuggish threats, forcefully and robustly.  To reiterate the basic values of free speech in the US (and the west).
Anyway, I didn't get around to it, and now Sam Harris has done it.   In a much more felicitous way than I could have, as the man has an elegant and incicive pen.  Sharp, cogent, and -- one might add -- courageous, for there are not many on the secular Left who have the insight and knowledge and guts to say what he does....
So, once again, Wu Wei helps out: I do nothing and Sam nails it.  Here he is on the VideoRage issue:
The latest wave of Muslim hysteria and violence has now spread to over twenty countries. The walls of our embassies and consulates have been breached, their precincts abandoned to triumphant mobs, and many people have been murdered—all in response to an unwatchable Internet video titled “Innocence of Muslims.” Whether over a film, a cartoon, a novel, a beauty pageant, or an inauspiciously named teddy bear, the coming eruption of pious rage is now as predictable as the dawn. This is already an old and boring story about old, boring, and deadly ideas. And I fear it will be with us for the rest of our lives. [Read on...]

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

An Open Letter to Aussie Muslims: SMH

Screenshot from the Sydney Morning Herald story here.
Or click on picture to go to video and story
The Open Letter's not bad.  But as one observer suggests: not even close to strong enough.
And it's true that there's some prevarication in the Open Letter.  Still, the SMH is a reliably lefty member of the MSM and this counts as pretty strong rebuttal of the shenanigans by followers of the Religion of Peace....

Monday, 17 September 2012

What's going on here? Censorship of pictures from the Muslim demo in Sydney on 15th September.

This picture was here in the Herald Sun.


And this picture was here, in the Sydney Morning Herald
Question: why does the SMH feel the need to blank out the face of the kid, when it's freely available online?  Does the fact that it's a paper of the Left have anything to do with it?  That their buttocks tighten at the prospect of revealing the full horror of young Aussie Muslim kids calling for murder of innocents ("insulting" the "prophet" is not even a crime in Oz, let alone a capital one...)

Later: reader PS sends link of Ray Hadley on 2GB radio, discussing the issue, here.

Ghosh and Logan on Charlie Rose

Bobby Ghosh on Charlie Rose
Lara Logan


I thought this interview on Charlie Rose was quite good, considering [it's the very liberal Charlie Rose].... Bobby Ghosh, editor-at-large of Time Magazine and Lara Logan of "60 Minutes".
Ghosh says the riots in the Middle East were not about the video, but were "anger stored up", not spontaneous responses to a video, but "provoked outrage", provoked by the likes of Al Qaeda and Ansar al Sharia.  Logan talked of the mosques doing the provoking; that the riots are part of jihad, not simply reactions to a dopey video; in Afghanistan of the Taliban being the same as Al Qaeda, the same ideology, tactics and aims. Of the Taliban and Al Qaeda being as strong as ever (cf US military views that progress continues; shades of Vietnam disinformation).  These views are pretty much grist for the mill on counter jihad sites, but straight and true talk like this is a bit rarer in the mainstream media.
Mind you, Ghosh does get a touch "moral-equivalence-y" in his article "The Agents of Outrage"...

Billy Connolly - A laugh at Islam


I wonder if Billy would still do this piece today?  I hope so...
H/T: PS.

"Outrage at video was predictable"

My letter to the South China Morning Post, in response to its editorial on 16th Sept:

Your leader “Outrage at video was predictable” (16 Sept) proposes a moral equivalence: that the video “The innocence of Muslims” bears equal responsibility for deaths as do those that did the killing. 
What you are saying in effect is that a video, made legally in the US, is the same as the illegal killing of Embassy personnel.  That video producers are the same as murderous mobs.
In defence of this moral equivalence you state: “there are limits [to free speech], such as the sensibilities of the audience, that must be taken into account.”
But what a slippery slope that is!  For the “sensibilities” which you say ought to be taken into account are those of the more extreme fringes of the Muslim world.  The attacks in Libya were well planned by Al-Qaeda and affiliates Ansar Al Sharia.  The video was just an excuse.  And 9/11 was a “nice” time to do it.
Bobby Ghosh the Editor-in-Chief of Time Magazine has said  that the attacks were not spontaneous, but were “provoked outrage”.
Moderate Muslims have been saying that no matter what the video “offence”, there is no excuse for random killings.
Yet your Editorial takes the side of those radical elements. If you support the “limits” to free speech for the “sensibilities” of Islamists, do you imagine that censoring a silly video will be enough? Surely not. There will always be something on the Internet to which they can take offence, should it suit their agenda.  By contrast, while this video is lambasted for “denigrating” Islam, there was nowhere in the world criticisms of productions such as “The Book or Mormon”, “The Passion of the Christ” and the like. 
Suppressing incompetent criticism of Islam will only encourage further demands for censorship of any criticism of Islam as being “offensive” or “blasphemous”.   That will lead to the suppression of fair critique of the more troublesome elements of Islamic doctrine.  Already we have seen self-censorship of a scholarly documentary  “Islam the Untold Story”.
Making a moral equivalence between an Internet video and murderous Islamists renders us mute to discuss Islam in any form at all. 
We must not come to this end, for Islam must surely be subject to the same examination and debate as all other religions in the world.

Aussie Muslim kids indoctrinated at a young age....

Hyde Park, Sydney, 15 Sept. From here.  Is this "child abuse"?
My mother, who is 91 and lives in Canberra, saw the above picture on TV and was rather shocked: so much so that she raised the issue with me, rather than what happens usually, which is me raising my "favourite topic" with her....  If she's being shocked by this, there must be many in Oz who are shocked as well at what went on last Saturday in the centre of Sydney.  All over a really crappy, really poor, really bad, really silly, really stupid, poorly produced and should-be-ignored video. Of course, there's more to it than that; the video is just an excuse. The aim to shut down any discussion of Islam, to take account of the brittle sensitivities of our Muslim brethren.  Then we are rendered mute in the face of Islamic supremacism.

Another Aussie mate, an old Leftie like me, sends email: I saw today's papers and the violent Muslim demo in Sydney with the 'beheading' signs.
A lot of people there must be very pissed off. Today, Australia has a Muslim problem.
Let's hope that in the months ahead Muslims have an Australia problem - big time.

But in the left-of-centre Sydney Morning Herald, the criticism was of the police!  And the mate goes on to say:
I see today that this outrage in Sydney is being handled 'sensitively'. Big mistake. Leaders referring to Oz's successful 'multiculturalism'. I don't see any Greeks, Poles and Italians calling for beheading..The police have thousands of close up shots of all these pricks, and if a big number are not sent down (or if not yet Oz Citizens and deported) then it's a sad day the the country. 

And yet:
... And numerous fuckwit comments in the SMH. They just don't get it.

I agree with all that.  A little learning of the tenets of Islam, of its core doctrine, is needed. I submit that it's impossible to read the Koran, the Hadith, et al and not be seriously disturbed about what we're dealing with here.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

"What is your feeling about 9/11 today, 11 years after the event?"

11 September 2012
That was the question asked of Mark Tilman, who was the pilot of Air Force One on that horrible day. His answer: he thought about the victims, their families, and the bravery and patriotism of the First Responders.
Fair enough. As far as it goes.  That seemed to sum up the rest of the coverage of the memorial services on that day: much talk of bravery and patriotism (eg, General Jack Keane).  People at the memorial were quoted saying the we must "never forget" and "learn the lessons".  But curiously absent from the lessons to be learned was any mention of Islam.  Apart from ex Mayor Giuliani, who spoke of the on-going threat of Islamist radical violence, and Jonathan Schanzer who pointed out that various polls show 20% of Muslims around the world (I think he might even have said "at least")  "hate the west", and that's a population larger than that of the US.
But nothing, not a word, about the ideology of the perpetrators.
Now, if I'd been asked the same question, my reply would have been:

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

"Rejecting the European Project"

Theodore Dalrymple is always worth reading.  He writes, inter alia, for the City Journal and the New English Review.  Always clear, cogent and incisive.
In his "Rejecting the European Project", he reviews Daniel Hannan's "A Doomed Marriage: Britain and Europe".
The money shot:

Like all people with bad habits, politicians and bureaucrats are infinitely inventive when it comes to rationalizing the European Project, though they’re inventive in nothing else. Without the Union, they say, there would be no peace; when it’s pointed out that the Union is the consequence of peace, not its cause, they say that no small country can survive on its own. When it is pointed out that Singapore, Switzerland, and Norway seem to have no difficulties in that regard, they say that pan-European regulations create economies of scale that promote productive efficiency. When it is pointed out that European productivity lags behind the rest of the world’s, they say that European social protections are more generous than anywhere else. If it is then noted that long-term unemployment rates in Europe are higher than elsewhere, another apology follows. The fact is that for European politicians and bureaucrats, the European Project is like God—good by definition, which means that they have subsequently to work out a theodicy to explain, or explain away, its manifest and manifold deficiencies.

I confess I've always been a Eurosceptic.  I've spent nine years of my life in Europe and the UK, in the fifties, in the seventies and in numerous trips since.  I loved it in the "old days", with its clearly defined differences country to country: a kind of bordered diversity, if you will (to give a nod to the diversity so beloved of the Left).  The hassles of changing Italian Lire to Swiss Franks, and then to German Marks, and having to show a passport at a border, were a small price to pay for the excitement and anticipation of leaving one culture, one language and one currency and arriving, a short time later in a completely different one.  Nowadays, you drive, say, from Germany to the Czech Republic and because of the Schengen agreement, you don't stop, you just fly by and hardly know you're in a different country.
I'm told by many that the European Project has kept Europeans from fighting each other for 60 years; and that the Euro has helped Europe's competitiveness -- that leaving it would be a "disaster".  I'm still not convinced.  Would Greece and the others be in the pickly they now are in, if we didn't have the Euro?  I doubt it.  And the clip above is surely a rather devastating one-para critique of that view, even if arguably reductionist.
Hannan's book must be a must-read for people of my persuasion.  But what of the cheerleaders for the European project?  Will they read it?  Dalrymple is not optimistic. Quoting Gibbon: "truth rarely finds a favourable reception in the world...."

H/T for the link: DT

"Bomb? or The Bomb?": should Iran be allowed to get the Bomb, or be bombed?

Drawing: Nicholas Blechman in the NYT
The Right beats the drum for a strike on Iran before it gets a nuclear bomb; and is lambasted by the Left for warmongering. The Left calls for more diplomacy; and is excoriated by the Right for being "appeasers".
But the issue is rather more complex than that.  As Bill Keller argues in his thoughtful "Nuclear Mullas", there may be a third option: "none of the above".
And on the same day, James Carroll -- who in other articles I've found to be rather an Islamapologist -- makes an interesting point in "Obama's wily strategy on Iran": that Obama's strategy on Iran may be a kind of tactical ambiguity, to buy time and possible peace.  One can certainly argue this point, but it's not without its attraction.

Monday, 10 September 2012

"Jihadists join Aleppo fight, eye Islamic state, surgeon says"

PARIS, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Foreign Islamists intent on turning Syria into an autocratic theocracy have swollen the ranks of rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad and think they are waging a "holy war", a French surgeon who treated fighters in Aleppo has said. [Read on]
Came across the above article via Reditt.  There's only one comment on the Reuters site which carries the story, but lots of comments on the reditt site.
Reditt is left-of-centre, but one thing that left and right can agree on is this: that the US should not be supporting the "Opposition" (aka "rebels", or, by Assad, "terrorists").  The Right because it will lead to expansion of Islamism, the strict Sharia state, the Caliphate, etc,  as the French doctor above gives evidence for; the Left because the US should not be interefering in other states on a matter of principle, a view with logic as well.
Note that the US did give aid to the Mujahadeen when Russia were in Afghanistan, but the bigger picture there was the Cold War.  Now we know more about the rather nasty unintended consequences of that support and what the Jihadis will get up to (9/11, etc), so there's less reason now to be naive about supporting the likes of the Syrian "opposition".  Of course, Assad and his cronies are no better, so it's "a rock and a hard place" territory here.
For that reason alone, we should stay out of it...
BTW: I agree with the Reditt commenters on the opium poppies issue. I've written about that before (eg).  We should buy the whole crop and use it to make medicinal morphine, not try to destroy it and drive even more into the arms of the Taliban.

Why Wildebeest won't rule the Earth, and other nonsense


From David Thompson's blog, which also has link to Face in the Blue blog, with the lovely bit of nonsense, started at reditt.com...
"In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win, and Why?"
The comments are amusing too....

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Things must be getting bad...

.... when the only two articles on Islam, alerted to me by the New York Times -- usually so Islam-apologist -- are both critical:

"Family Life According to the Brotherhood", Sept 4th.
Women are erratic, emotional, and they make good wives and mothers but never a leader or ruler.... [Read on]
"Tunisia: Salafist Muslims Ransack Hotel for Serving Alcohol", Sept 4th.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Man bites dog......Saudis monitor mosques

Odd.  And slightly encouraging? Will this make it any easier for the common-sense approach to take place in the US, where five studies (including one by a Muslim Sheikh, and one by the NYPD) have shown that over 80% of mosques there preach hatred and violence against the infidel?

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Good news for pudgy choco-holics...

Eating less won't help you live longer... (Slate, Aug 29.  Also in NYT, SCMP, etc...)
and
Chocolate reduces stroke risk for men... (Guardian, Aug 30)