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Threats of Pain and Ruin
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
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by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

The Iconoclast

Thursday, 09 August 2007

"but there is a divergence of opinion over the position of the little finger. He disapproves of raising it while the cup is brought to the lips, but the American view is that it is acceptable to continue a tradition born of the need for balance in the days before tea cups had handles."--from the article below

A few months ago I was watching a quiz show on the RAI (Italian state television) and the question had to do with what were the sure signs of ill-breeding, of someone being "maleducato." A number of possibilities were offered. But the one that represented, to the studio audience of Italians, including several high RAI executives, Piero Badaloni among them, the height of gross behavior was, while raising a cup to one's lips (of tea or something else), also raising and keeping aloft the little finger, the tell-tale pinky, the mignolo.

Everyone seemed to agree: the unpardonable sin was to uplift that mignolo.

So when in Rome, or in Florence, or Venice, or MIlan, or Turin, or for that matter in Tre Castagni in Sicily, remember: Non sollevare il mignolo.

Posted on 08/09/2007 10:24 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Thursday, 09 August 2007

I won't bother giving the full text. You can find it in "Pnin." But you remember it, don't you? That "highly philosophical, highly satisfying instrument," the pencil-sharpener, the one that feeds on yellow finish sweet wood and that ends up in a "soundlessly spinning ethereal void, as we all must"? Of course you do.

Perhaps you read it. Perhaps you even were present -- do you remember? -- and heard that passage read aloud, at the McGraw-Hill Building, at the Memorial Service, in the late summer of 1977.

And the sound of that pencil sharpener, the old-fashioned kind that was affixed to desks in libraries and in schools, made that special sound, which you haven't forgotten either, have you:

"Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga."

Posted on 08/09/2007 9:17 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Thursday, 09 August 2007
[Always on the lookout for innovations in the world of science to bring before my readers, I am of course a subscriber to that indispensable compendium of pharmacological data, The Physicians’ Desk Reference. Combing through the pages of the latest edition of this classic, I note the following new products to emerge from the labs of our pharmaceutical companies — the world’s best!]

(uranium caliphate)
Description: Mild psychedelic, enhances out-of-body and religious experiences.
Indications and Usage: Ahmadinezam is indicated where attempted transplant of foreign tissue has been rejected. It has also proven effective in the symptomatic relief of excessive rationality.
Contraindications: Ahmadinezam is mildly radioactive (~100kBq/g) and should be handled with care.
Adverse Reactions: The most pronounced adverse reaction, observed in approx. 10 percent of cases on clinical trial, was moderate dwarfism. Also observed at low to medium frequencies (2-5 percent): strabismus, facial rash (resulting, for male subjects, in inability to shave), loss of some highly specific motor functions (e.g. ability to knot necktie).

Barax (obamalic articulate)
Description: Regulates melanin production.
Indications and Usage: Effective with patients suffering from chronic situational dermatochromal anxiety — i.e. self-perception as “not black enough” when among African Americans yet “too black” when among other groups. Barax induces a “chameleon effect” — increased/decreased melanin production corresponding to perceived average shade of nearby persons.
Contraindications: Barax is contraindicated in patients with non-health-threatening anxiety levels and should not be prescribed for patients with well-established perceptions of their own racial identity.
Adverse Reactions: May cause severe mood swings, from amiable passivity to sudden aggression.

Bimborol (lohanafil)
Description: Aging accelerant.
Indications and Usage: Cosmetic medication. May be prescribed for female patients who, on a voluntary basis, wish to advance speedily from cute preteen appearance to the “burned out” look of late middle age. In suitable patients, with precisely regular dosage, the normal 30-year freckled-moppet-to-raddled-hag transition can be accomplished in as little as 2-3 years.
Contraindications: Bimborol is contraindicated in patients with weak self-control, poor selection of companions, history of drug dependency, and more money than sense.
Adverse Reactions: In clinical trials there were some cases of insomnia, loss of work discipline, and automotive compulsion.

Fredopan (loranorda sublimate)
Description: Maxillary enhancer.
Indications and Usage: Cosmetic medication, successful in treatment of males with receding or pointed chin/jaw-line. Careful application over 6-8 months brings out the square-jawed “magisterial” look favored for certain movie/TV screen roles.
Contraindications: Strongly contraindicated in patients displaying jaylenoid symptoms.
Adverse Reactions: Chronic procrastination and loss of decision-making power.

Daylaboral (latinosin)
Description: Diversity enhancer, wage suppressant, neighborhood trasher.
Indications and Usage: Daylaboral is indicated for the management of elevated wage levels and excessive homogeneity (“whitebread syndrome”). Dosages must be localized and carefully controlled (see Adverse Reactions). Because of a tendency to form unsightly concentrations at night and in early mornings, Daylaboral should not be injected into regions with >500K mean property values.
Contraindications. Daylaboral should not be given to patients taking Ludobsostat.
Adverse Reactions: Uncontrolled dosages may lead to selective systemic failure (schools, hospitals, law enforcement) and elevated populism. Incidents of dorsal hydration, formerly associated with Daylaboral, appear to have declined.

Derbadrine (anglocentrous dumanglumium)
Description: Depressant, antieuphoric.
Indications and Usage: For treatment of euphoria, excessive optimism, religious enthusiasm, and dogged political loyalty.
Contraindications: Derbadrine is contraindicated in patients with low energy levels, depressive/suicidal or alcoholic tendencies, cynicism, reductionism, weak political or religious attachments, or difficulty in maintaining regular employment.
Adverse Reactions: Obsessive-compulsive writing at great length on trivial or highly abstract (e.g. mathematical) topics. Occasional prolonged spasms of utterly nonproductive activity (e.g. treehouse building). Excessive drinking. Homophobia. Sinogynephilia. Poverty.

Hillariphen (distillate of rodhamite)
Description: Attention enhancer.
Indications and Usage: Normally to be prescribed for patients whose work requires regular spells of intense concentration and self-control, e.g. bomb disposal work, attorneys in fiercely adversarial courtroom confrontations, etc.
Contraindications: Hillariphen is strongly contraindicated in patients with low temperature and/or metabolic rate, who may experience freezing of body fluids and consequent immobility.
Adverse Reactions: Some instances of exophthalmia, buccal hypertrophy, and thickening of extremities were observed in clinical trials.

Islamec (cairolsuya)
Description: Stimulant, mood intensifier, diversity enhancer.
Indications and Usage: Highly effective in treatment of tolerance, social equality, rational economics, freedom of worship, and peace.
Contraindications: Contraindicated in female and homosexual patients. Very strongly contraindicated in Jewish patients.
Adverse Reactions: Clinical trials in regions where Islamec and its forerunners (e.g. assassinifil, seljukazyme, ottomanizol) had no market penetration produced strong allergic reactions, though so far no instances of complete rejection. Patients whose metabolism is receptive to Islamec often exhibit irresistible suicidal tendencies.

more here
Posted on 08/09/2007 8:48 AM by John Derbyshire

Thursday, 09 August 2007

Another two-year-old posting on the matter, put up the last time Tancredo raised the matter of deterrence and a retaliatory attack on Mecca, July 28, 2005:

"Congressman Tancredo, a former history teacher, has almost alone in Congress bothered to begin to investigate what Islam teaches, what it is all about. For this he deserves the support of everyone, and everything possible should be done to help re-elect him -- if for no other reason, than to ensure that at least one member of Congress will speak the truth about the belief-system of Islam. He deserves to be supported to the hilt, in any possible way.

And the Congressman did not recommend that "Mecca be bombed." While many people have in the past suggested that -- see the redoubtable Fred Ikle, for example, he who was so important in the Reagan Administration -- Congressman Tancredo said something different, and perfectly understandable.

He was asked about rumors that Muslim terrorists might have already smuggled into the country nuclear devices that they planned to set off, and what kinds of things might deter them. He mused aloud, that one of the things that might deter them would be the threat to bomb Mecca. That was all he said. It was hardly remarkable, and the only thing remarkable about it has been, as has been repeatedly suggested at JW (see, for example, the recent article by Rebecca Bynum) is that all the different ways to inflict damage on the belief-system of Islam have not been discussed. But on the other hand, as long as we are conducting either a "war on terrorism" or a "war on an ideology of violent extremism" that remains carefully unnamed, perhaps in the end it is not surprising that we have no discussion of the kinds of deterrents that would work, and on whom.

For example, there may be no way of deterring the groups and groupuscules of fanatics. But there are ways to threaten, and deter, the Saudis from continuing to send money abroad to support the entire Muslim infrastructure that, as the recent Freedom House report showed, encourages not merely Islam but the most hate-filled brand of Islam -- in other words, there are threats of seizure of assets that might get the attention of the rulers of Saudi Arabia (and the U.A.E. riding pillion), to have them cease using the "money weapon" to pay for mosques and madrasas and Da'wa throughout the Western, Infidel world.

But Tancredo was addressing a different problem. and he did not offer an answer. He offered one among many possibilities that he thought deserved intelligent discussion. And he was right. And this is not a clear-cut case. There are many ex-Muslims, for example, who appear to believe that Tancredo is absolutely right -- that this may be the one thing which, if threatened, or at least considered, could cause Muslims to rethink. It is already clear that the change in the atmosphere in the Western world, the beginning of a glimmer of an understanding that the very matter of Islam needs to be examined, has caused such things as this absurd public-relations effort in damage-limitation, this so-called "fatwa" to be issued by some Muslim groups in America, and announced by that more than doubtful organization, CAIR -- of course the wording will require the closest kind of reading, the kind we ordinarily would reserve for Shakespeare, Keats, or Hardy, applied to the banal taqiyya of Muslim bureaucrats. But the mere fact that people who have been defending certain acts now feel they must, for Infidel consumption, seem to be distancing themselves, is a sign that when danger is perceived, there is a drawing-back. It is certain that the mere discussion of bombing Mecca has both good and bad aspects. The bad aspect is that it is the kind of remark that allows many to get on their high moral horse, and huff and puff, and "deplore" this wild man, Tom Tancredo. Anyone can imagine what editorials in The New Duranty Times and The Bandar Beacon deploring Tancredo might look like. But in our Infidel hearts, we are all secretly pleased, and relieved -- are we not? -- that such a discussion of deterrence has at least been begun. For without such a discussion, there is no way to begin to think straight about the problem of Islam world-wide -- not of "terrorism" but of Islam.

Every intelligent Western observer has noted what Tocqueville, who had been in Algeria, referred to as the "morbid" quality of Islam. Churchill, in "The River Wars," had nothing good to say about the foaming-at-the-mouth fanaticism of the Muslim warriors, but he did note that they did not fear death, for the sensual Paradise that awaited the warrior who died in Jihad was a reality.

And because the usual kinds of threats might mean little to fanatics, one has to figure out what might work as a deterrent. In Israel the punishment of destroying houses has some deterrent effect, given that the families of the "martyrs" will suffer -- and some "martyrs"are wiling to die, but don't want their family members left behind to have to build a new home. It is not true that such deterrence does not work. There are other possibilities. Much Muslim behavior inimical to the West can be deterred.

For example, the family that has seized, and treats as its private property, the vast territory of Arabia -- the House of Al-Saud -- both directly or indirectly helps to support, and even help to create, fanatics in two ways. Within Saudi Arabia, its own despotism and corruption causes young Saudis who are enraged by them to embrace, not Jeffersonian democracy, which is un-Islamic, but rather Al Qaeda or other groups, which provide them with the vocabulary, the imagery, the categories that Islam itself supplies to define opposition to a corrupt caliph or ruler. For it does not do, within Islam, to denounce someone as corrupt, or as a despot. The rulers, after all, are the rulers, and the habit of mental submission that Islam inculcates, and the inshallah-fatalism that is within Islam, helps in large part to encourage submission to the despot, however corrupt -- unless that despot can be seen as, defined as, placed in the category of, "Infidel." Then anything and everything can be done to destroy that "Infidel." And that is exactly what happens among those who oppose the Al-Saud, or the Mubarak Friends-and-Family stratokleptocracy in Egypt -- save for a pitiful, nearly nonexistent Western-style secular opposition in the latter, the opposition will always take on a Muslim cast. Muslims can do no other. And the corruption of the Al-Saud helps create the odd scion of plutocrats who, in Muslim terms most nobly, gives it all up to fight for "justice" against the corrupt rulers, but "justice," alas, Muslim-style, with the Muslim worldview, which means that all evil comes from Infidels, and all who are genuinely evil must be defined as, and treated as, Infidels, even if they may claim --- falsely, obviously -- to be Muslims, as do so many of the corrupt princes and princelings of Saudi Arabia.

That is one way the Al-Saud help swell the ranks of the Muslim terrorist groups.

The second way they do so is in building, and paying for the maintenance of, mosques and madrasas all over the world, but especially in the Infidel lands, the Bilad al-kufr, where those mosques, and those madrasas, can encourage the worst brand of Islam (this does not mean that a "milder" brand does not inculcate hatred of Infidels, for it must -- it is a question of with what intensity, with what fervor, with what single-mindedness, the particular brand of Islam inculcates what is common to all of them, part of Islam itself). Nearly $100 billion has gone from the Saudis as part of the propaganda weapon on behalf of Islam, as part of world-wide Da'wa, and to pay for Western hirelings who will do the bidding and promote the interests of, and deflect criticism from, the Saudis as they continue their malevolent activities throughout the world.

The Al-Saud are rational actors. They can be threatened, and forced to cease their support for the mosques and madrasas and hate-filled propaganda. they can be threatened with seizure of their assets abroad. They can be threatened with a total removal of American guarantees, that they assume are permanent, for their safety. They can be threatened with a loss of secure American or other Western refuges if and when they are overturned. They can be threatened with the removal of Western doctors, and teachers, and a refusal to allow their children to study in the West, or for them to find medical care in the West. These are very dangerous threats -- imagine if someone threatened you that you would never again be allowed access to advanced Western medical care. And in the end, if they think they have that ace-in-the-hole, oil -- you can show that you are willing to seize the oil in the al-Hasa province, oil conveniently close to tankers in the Persian (Persian, not Arab) Gulf, and that there are a thousand-and-one ways to deal with this situation. But this requires a complete change of tone to get the Saudi attention. Such attention will not be attained if those who continue to prate about a "strategic partnership" with Saudi Arabia, which one finds in such deplorable examples of the appeasement-of-the-Saudis mindset in the Op/Ed of one Flynt Leverett, described -- even more disturbingly -- as "former senior director for Middle Eastern affairs at the National Security Council" -- and someone who has clearly been one of those who fails to understand that Saudi Arabia is not, and never has been, and never can be, the ally of an Infidel country, but that, if treated correctly, certain kinds of behavior on its part can be prevented, and certain other kinds of behavior forced from its rulers.

Congressman Tancredo, in raising the question of what would, or would not, work as deterrence, was performing a great service to discussion. It is of course difficult to predict what bombing Mecca would do. I tend to think it would be far better to discuss all the other kinds of deterrence that one knows will work, on the rational actors or quasi-rational actors within the dar al-Islam. And as for the fanatics, one can consider how to limit access to Mecca, airfield by airfield, port by port, highway by highway, until it should be as remote as the highest Himalayas, or some impassable and steaming jungle, or the frozen wastes of Ultima Thule. Mecca would still be there, but to get to it -- that would be the problem. And that kind of deterrence would be a step-by-step affair.

But the question of the psychology of Muslims -- of their combination of grandiosity and living in some mythical great past, and resentment over the miserable and obviously miserable present, where murderous hatred of Infidels is so often part of some grotesque ten-step Self-Esteem Program for those Muslims who have tasted the West, may even have used drugs or lived as criminals and now wish to go straight, Islamically straight -- needs more examination.

However the debate over this or that kind of deterrence goes, the mere fact that such a debate takes place is good, for it automatically ends certain taboos. It makes clear that this is not a "war against terror" alone but a long campaign, very likely without end unless the migration of Muslims to the West is stopped and reversed (and while hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the U.K. claim to "wish to leave" one does not see any of them leaving -- but more significantly, one has not heard, even from the most antisemitic and anti-Israel brigades, any pleas for them to remain), and unless the unearned and entirely unmerited OPEC oil wealth is so diminished that the Saudis, and the rest of them, can be pushed back into that state of obscurity, poverty, and general irrelevance that they were in before an accident of geology gave them power. In the meantime the Infidels, for their own safety, must work to create those conditions -- or to do nothing to prevent the creation of those conditions -- by which, like those in the Soviet Union who concluded that their own system had failed, Muslims themselves will be forced to confront the evident political, economic, social, and intellectual failures of their own peoples and polities, and will have to attribute those failures, correctly, to Islam itself.

Finally, it is hard for Infidels to judge the effect of a threat on Mecca, or a threat to limit access to Mecca, on Muslims. Who might best have some insight into this? Possibly ex-Muslims themselves, the many articulate and acute students of minds formed by Islam, who managed to undo its manacles, and escape from its closed circle. One wonders what views they would have on the threat to bomb Mecca, or to limit access to Mecca, as something that might work on the groups and groupuscules that, unlike the sneering but carefully calculating members of the Al-Saud, are less subject to the ordinary threats of loss of income, loss of access to all the goods and services of the advanced Infidel world, even loss of life."

Posted on 08/09/2007 8:04 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Thursday, 09 August 2007

"Police said they acknowledged some parts of the programme may have been considered offensive, but, when analysed in full context, there was not enough evidence to bring charges."-- from this article on Channel 4's Dispatches

"Considered offensive" by whom? By the English public of non-Muslims? Of course anything that exposes Islam, or imams, or mosques, as Janus-faced, outwardly offering the Infidels one thing ("war is deception") but offering, in what they take to be the privacy of their own mosques (that ought to be put under permanent, if secret, surveillance, with recording devices -- bugging mosques as routinely as one would bug the Soviet Embassy in 1954), quite a different much more disturbing view of themselves and, of course, of the texts (quoted in the khutbas), the tenets, the attitudes, the atmospherics of Islam.

Why were the police (or, anglice, why "was" the police) so very interested in finding something "offensive" about the program? Why "was" the police so solicitous of Muslim complaints, and what did the police do when they could come up with not a single untruth or misimpression to be derived from the whole program? Did the police apologize for their behavior?

They didn't. Then investigate the personnel, investigate the police, and put them on notice that such behavior, from them, whether it is meant to placate or curry favor with Muslims in the neighborhoods being policed, or even with Muslim police officers, will not, can not, be tolerated any more.

Such behavior by the police is at this point, with these threats, and with the British public desperately in need of the truth -- after all, their lives, the lives of their children, the cultural legacy created over centuries that they inherited and have a duty to work to preserve, their very country, are all at stake -- any attempt to bully those who, as with this program on Channel 4, tell the truth -- is simply intolerable.

Posted on 08/09/2007 7:55 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Thursday, 09 August 2007

....There were trees in Greenland.


Objection: When the Vikings settled it, Greenland was a lovely, hospitable island, not the frozen wasteland it is today. It was not until the Little Ice Age that it got so cold they abandoned it.

Answer: First, Greenland is part of a single region. It can not be necessarily taken to represent a global climate shift. See the post on the Medieval Warm Period for a global perspective on this time period. Briefly, the available proxy evidence indicates that global warmth during this period was not particularly pronounced, though some regions may have experienced greater warming than others.

Second, a quick reality check shows that Greenland's ice cap is hundreds of thousands of years old and covers over 80% of the island. The vast majority of land not under the ice sheet is rock and permafrost in the far north. How different could it have been just 1,000 years ago?

Below is a brief account of the Viking settlement, based on Jared Diamond's "Collapse".

Greenland was called Greenland by Erik the Red (was he red?), who was in exile and wanted to attract people to a new colony. He thought you should give a land a good name so people would want to go there! It likely was a bit warmer when he landed for the first time than it was when the last settlers starved due to a number of factors -- climate change, or at least some bad weather, a major one.

But it was never lush, and their existence was always harsh and meager, especially due to the Viking's disdain for other peoples and ways of living. They attempted to live a European lifestyle in an arctic climate, side by side with Inuit who easily outlasted them. They starved surrounded by oceans and yet never ate fish! (Note: this was not a typical European behavior, and is a bit of a mystery to this day.)

Instead of hunting whales in kayaks, they farmed cattle, goats, and sheep -- despite having to keep them in a barn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a full 5 months out of the year. It was a constant challenge to get enough fodder for the winter. Starvation of the animals was frequent, emaciation routine. Grazing requirements and growing fodder for the winter led to over-production of pastures, erosion, and the need to go further and further afield to sustain the animals. Deforestation for pastures and firewood proceeded at unsustainable rates. After a couple of centuries, it led to such desperate measures as cutting precious sod for housing construction and even burning it for cooking and heating fuel.

When finally confronted with several severe winters in a row, they, along with the little remaining livestock, simply starved before spring arrived.

The moral of the story for the climate controversy? Much as you can not judge a book by its cover, you can't judge the climate of Greenland by its name.

A bit of related trivia, and further indication of the Vikings' stubborn reluctance to learn from the Inuit: there is no evidence of any trade whatsoever, despite centuries of cohabitation. In fact, the first of only three Norse accounts of encounters with the natives refers to them as "skraelings" (wretches), and describes matter of factly how strangely they bleed when stabbed. How's that for diplomacy?

See also the entry on Vineland if it happens to come up."

Posted on 08/09/2007 7:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Thursday, 09 August 2007

by Ole Jørgen Anfindsen, Ph.D., editor, HonestThinking

and Jens Tomas Anfindsen, Ph.D., editor, HonestThinking


The immigration policies currently in vogue in most Western countries show increasing signs of being unsustainable, and the associated problems are likely to grow ever more severe in the coming years. This is one of the largest ethical dilemmas of our time. We therefore believe the entire foundation for the prevailing regime needs to be reconsidered, and submit this manifesto as a starting point for reasoning about these challenges.

  1. It is a moral duty to promote human rights all over the world.
  2. The concept of human rights must not be confused with any particular legal implementation or formulation of that concept, since such explications could contain internal inconsistencies or imply consequences that would cause conflict with the previous tenet.
  3. The worth of a human being is independent of his or her gender, religion, ethnic background, sexual preferences, culture, language, and other such markers.
  4. Cooperation across cultural, language, religious, and ethnic borders is desirable and necessary.
  5. Even so, culture, language, religion, and ethnicity are instrumental in establishing each individual’s identity, and thus central in forming his or her sense of belonging and loyalty. Any policy aimed at sustainability must take this into account.
  6. It is therefore legitimate for any sovereign state to implement restrictions towards non-citizens in such a way that control over its demographic development is retained.
  7. It is unacceptable, without foregoing careful consideration and proper democratic processes, that political dispositions be made to alter the demographic composition of a state in such a way that its stability, its inner cohesion, and the mutual loyalty of its population be threatened.

We are apprehensive of individuals, organizations, and other legal entities that try to quench free and open debate on the above issues, and regard such political actors as having little or no legitimacy in questions of democracy and human rights. Moreover, ideologies and political movements whose goals are irreconcilable with the above tenets should be considered devoid of moral and intellectual integrity, unless they are able to justify said discrepancy.


[Sounds reasonable to me. Read more at the multilingual (Norwegian, German and English) website HonestThinking.]

Posted on 08/09/2007 7:00 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Thursday, 09 August 2007

Joseph Bottom* waxes lyrical on the "new atheists":

Christopher Hitchens
picks up the rice in a church
where a wedding has been.
Lives in a dream . . .

All the lonely doubters,
where do they all come from?
All the lonely doubters,
do they all belong?

The rest of Bottom's piece discusses Harvey Mansfield's probing into the topic. Fascinating.

*Speaking of names, Mary.

Posted on 08/09/2007 6:50 AM by Robert Bove

Thursday, 09 August 2007

Bukowski. He's not for everybody—but he don't care (and not just because he be dead).

A musical based on his writings is now at the New York Fringe Festival. It's titled Bukowsical!.

A splenetic taste of the SoCal bard from his poem, "The Shoelace":

with each broken shoelace
out of one hundred broken shoelaces,
one man, one woman, one
enters a

And speaking of drunks, actor Stacy Keach has some advice for suicidal pop tarts:

"I did my most important rehab in the Reading Gaol, England's version of very tough love. So tough they wrote songs about it. A 6-by-6 cell for six months, talk about 666," Keach told Page Six. "Rehab is not a walk in the park for two months and out. It's the toughest role you'll ever tackle." Sobriety has paid off in career longevity. Keach, 66, stars in John Sayles' upcoming feature "The Honey Dripper," just finished the Hallmark Western "The Lone Rider," and portrays St. Paul in the star-studded audiobook of the Bible.

Posted on 08/09/2007 5:57 AM by Robert Bove

Thursday, 09 August 2007

I'd rather be tickled in the ribs, as happened when I read this piece in today's Telegraph:

Britney Spears named her boy Jayden, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore plumped for Rumer, and Angelina Jolie inflicted Maddox on her adopted son. Although all of these celebrity children will seem like stuffed shirts compared to Jermajesty Jackson, son of Michael's brother Jermaine.

But while this has always been expected of actors and pop stars, it is only in the past 15 years that the fashion for unusual names has become a real class issue.

Names have always suggested social status; working-class girls often had French names, such as Michelle or Anne-Marie, while Celtic monikers such as Kieran and Kevin were more common on football than rugby fields. But it is only since the very poorest members of society became a distinct underclass that we have become two nations in names as well as actuality.

A possible explanation is the religious vacuum at the bottom rung of society, and the almost total absence of a cultural heritage. Until relatively recently, most given names came either from the Bible or from Greek, Roman or Germanic traditions; children were called after saints, family members or historical heroes. Now, parents are as likely to name them after their favourite brand of underwear.

The Puritans started the mania for individuality. At the start of Elizabeth I's reign, 70 per cent of all men were named John, Thomas, William, Richard or Robert. Then the Geneva Bible came along, and suddenly there were Englishmen with hortatory names like Be-courteous Cole, Safely-on-high Snat and Fight-the-good-fight-of-faith White.

This was taken to new extremes in New England, where Congregationalists often shut their eyes and picked words from the Bible at random, lumbering their children with such names as Notwithstanding Griswold, Maybe Barnes and Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin Pond.

That last one would certainly make a big splash. The surnames all seem such an anti-climax, as if someone were to be called Be-that-as-it-may Bottomley, or Woe-unto-the-world Winterbottom.

But while hortatory names did not thrive outside of America, a modern, less optimistic equivalent has been more successful. In the empty consumer culture of the rich world's poor, children are often named after brands: Levi, Abercrombie, Disney, Lexus and even Ikea have all appeared in England. There are at least 300 Armanis in America, a handful of L'Oreals, and even two boys called ESPN (a sports channel)....

But names are being deliberately misspelt because, for a life without hope or faith, fame and individuality are the highest aspirations. Why call a child Magic when "Magick" will get her more attention? Why opt for the relatively common Mercedes when you can choose Mercydeez? Likewise Chelsie, Chelseigh, Cortnee, Cortnie and Soozie (all real names) are the naming equivalent of Japanese script tattoos - a mark of individuality.

My name is so staid. It's spelt in a dull way and contains no conjunctions, brand names or exhortations. I think I'll change it to Maree Nonetheless Nabisco Tempus Fugit Jackson.

Posted on 08/09/2007 5:32 AM by Mary Jackson

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

Mathematician Atle Selberg , one of the heroes of my 2003 book Prime Obsession , has died aged 90 (thereby adding another data point to my remarks in that book about mathematicians' longevity).

Posted on 08/08/2007 5:10 PM by John Derbyshire

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

Just got a survey cum fundraiser from Senator John Thune (R-SD). The survey requires one of the above.

S'wonderful, this persistence of stylus.

Posted on 08/08/2007 4:56 PM by Robert Bove

Wednesday, 08 August 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) - Fred Thompson on Wednesday tapped the man he credits with saving his 1994 Senate campaign to take over his likely presidential bid.

Bill Lacy, a former strategist for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and Republican National Committee, will run day-to-day operations of Thompson's committee to "test the waters" for a presidential run.

"He turned around my campaign for Senate in 1994 and, as I move toward a decision on whether to run for president, I am confident he will take our operations to the next level," Thompson, the former Tennessee senator and "Law & Order" actor, said in a statement.

"I'm here for the long haul," Lacy said in an interview from the committee's headquarters in a Virginia suburb. He said he has taken a leave of absence from his current post as the director of the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.

Thompson is expected to officially enter the race Labor Day week, and is showing strongly in national polls and surveys in several early primary states. But a certain measure of turmoil has hit his preliminary campaign this summer.

The all-but-declared candidate collected about $1.5 million less than the $5 million backers had hoped to bring in during June, his first fundraising month. In July, Thompson sidelined his campaign-manager-in-waiting, Tom Collamore, and watched a few other aides follow him out the door amid consternation inside the operation about the active role of Thompson's wife, Jeri.

At the time, aides said former senator and energy secretary Spencer Abraham and a Florida GOP strategist, Randy Enwright, would take over the unofficial campaign. But that turned out to be a temporary solution as the Thompsons sought a replacement for Collamore, who still is advising Thompson.

Lacy's relationship with Thompson dates to fall of 1993, when Thompson was enmeshed in a sluggish campaign in a special election to fill the remainder of Al Gore's Senate term. Gore had resigned to become vice president...

Posted on 08/08/2007 4:50 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

But, alas, they were Muslims so everybody cares.  Or, better yet, CAIRs.

Yes, that execrable organization and it's official Sami al-Arian-pom-pom-wavin' spokesman, Ahmed Bedier, are at it again. 

First, Bedier pronounced, before anything approaching an investigation could have been done, that the two Egyptian Muslims who were arrested over the weekend in South Carolina, were totally innocent:  Just a couple of "really naive kids" (ages 21 and 26) who happened to have some "fireworks" in their car as they made their way on one of those crazy college kid field trips ... one that just happened to take them by Goose Creek where the the U.S. Naval Weapons Station is located, many miles from Tampa, where they attend the University of South Florida's School of Engineering. 

And, here, well, let's just say we end up with one of those you-just-can't-make-it-up coincidences:  That happens be the same USF School of Engineering that served as home base for former Professor Sami al-Arian while he was laboring for Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  And, whaddya know, Al-Arian's case was the last time we were hearing so regularly from Bedier.  By the end, in spring 2006, he was boldly pronouncing that Sami would stick to his guns.  He would not  under any circumstances plead guilty to any terrorism offenses because there was "no conspiracy to support terrorism."  That turned out to be right before al-Arian pled guilty to conspiracy to provide services to a designated terrorist organization.  He's since been deported.

Now Bedier is once again on the case for Ahmed Abda Sherf Mohamed and Yousef Samir Megahed, the really naive kids with the, er, fireworks.  Of course, Bedier wants you to understand, he and CAIR are absolutely, positively, opposed to terrorism, without reservation.  Why, he even made a point of saying, "If it's clearly a pipe bomb that's a different story. Then there is cause for concern." 

Well, guess what?  Police say it was actually several pipe bombs and formally charged the men with possession of an explosive device (a felony under South Carolina law, punishable by up to 15 years' imprisonment).

So, then, it's a "different story," right Mr. Bedier? 

It sure is.  Now — make sure you're sitting down for this, you'll never, ever guess — the story is ... Islamophobic profiling!

Here's Bedier today in a story posted on CAIR's website"'Had they been two white kids nobody would be asking any questions,' Ahmed Bedier, Executive Director of the Counsel For Islamic American Relations (CAIR), said."  (For regular readers, you'll find it in the always dynamic "CAIR in the News" section — thanks to Greg Pollowitz for the heads-up). 

But of course!  We all know that white kids — other than my son, apparently — never get stopped for speeding.  And on those rare occasions when they do, the police always let white kids off with a warning:  "Look here, son, stop driving so fast.  Last thing you need is to make those those pipe bombs rattle around in the trunk." 

Oh, the injustice!  I'm ashamed to live in this country.  No Justice No Peace, Insha Allah!

Posted on 08/08/2007 4:39 PM by Andy McCarthy

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

Brad Warthen has an (I thought) pretty devastating piece on John Edwards' populism in America's Newspaper of Record this item.

Posted on 08/08/2007 4:36 PM by John Derbyshire

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

(hat tip: JW) Pak Tribune ISLAMABAD: The treasury and opposition members in National Assembly (NA) Wednesday have made it clear on US that one billion Muslims will turn into suicide bombers if the holiest places of Makkah and Madina are attacked and warned Vetican City will not remain secure if any such  threat is materialized.

 They said this unanimously while participating in debate on foreign policy. Opposition legislator Ghulam Murtaza Satti said  US was pursuing double standards. Those talking of launching any military offensive against Makkah and Medina are accursed. This will not happen nor will we allow it to happen.

Treasury member Rozina Tufail said Benazir Bhutto was striking deal with government and was seeking guarantee from US. If US presidential candidates are giving offensive statements then our candidates can also say that Vetican be attacked during the election campaign in the upcoming elections ", she added...

Treasury member Ejaz Chaudhry said US was not friend of any one. " We will teach the lesson to US if it dares to come forward to attack upon us. Americans are coward nation and they can do nothing. Army should not target their brethren. US aid is like killer disease AIDS We curse it. The whole nation does not want US aid. Those who are targeting humanity and justice are terrorists. Those who are engaged in freedom war are freedom fighters. US ship is close to sink. It is hurling threats like a coward...

(spelling, syntax and punctuation all in original)

Posted on 08/08/2007 3:46 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Wednesday, 08 August 2007
From The Guardian (with thanks to Jeffrey Imm):  Channel 4 has rejected claims that it spliced together extracts from speeches by Islamic preachers to distort their views, as it emerged a second Dispatches programme is being investigated by police.

The broadcaster said it was confident of successfully defending a complaint made to Ofcom by West Midlands Police about its Undercover Mosque documentary.

And a spokeswoman said following the request for untransmitted material from another programme on Monday night they, consistent with other broadcasters, require the police to obtain a court order before such material is handed over and "will be responding to the police request shortly".

The first Dispatches programme, which went to air in January, featured footage shot at a number of mosques and showed extremist preachers deriding homosexuals and praising the Taliban for killing British soldiers.

Speaking after it emerged that West Midlands Police sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over whether to prosecute Channel 4 for stirring up racial hatred, Dispatches' commissioning editor, Kevin Sutcliffe, insisted the hour-long programme had been in the public interest.

In a strongly-worded statement, Mr Sutcliffe said: "We are very confident of successfully defending this unfairness complaint against the programme if Ofcom chooses to consider it.

"West Midlands Police have made a very general allegation of unfairness against the programme and have produced no evidence to support their claims. We find it extraordinary that they have gone public on these concerns without discussing them with us first."

In a joint statement with the CPS, West Midlands Police said its inquiry had initially looked at whether there had been any criminal offences committed by three people featured in the programme, but had then extended to its editing.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Metropolitan Police are looking into the edition broadcast on Monday night. Dispatches: Britain Under Attack explored the roots of Islamic extremism in the UK.

A Met spokesman said they were assessing the content to determine if any offences may have been disclosed, adding: "We will also be liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service in due course."

Channel 4 Dispatches Britain Under Attack from Jihad
YouTube Posting of Channel 4 Video in 5 parts
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
Part 5:

Posted on 08/08/2007 3:28 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

Archaeologists embarrassed somewhat by their own delight.

Rannoch Moor, June 2006 by Robert Bové

Posted on 08/08/2007 2:35 PM by Robert Bove

Wednesday, 08 August 2007
A little 7 year old girl chased an armed robber from a convenience store in Memphis. video here.
Posted on 08/08/2007 12:15 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

San Francisco Chronicle (hat tip Michelle Malkin): Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland found themselves in the unwelcome spotlight this week over the letters of support they wrote on behalf of the notorious Your Black Muslim Bakery, but they aren't the only politicos who have supported the group over the years.

At the height of its power back in 1996, the splinter Muslim group - whose members were implicated in last week's slaying of newspaper editor Chauncey Bailey - got the city to approve an advance on a $1.2 million federal redevelopment loan to launch training program for health care jobs.

Within three months, the group had burned through $275,000 without turning out a single graduate.

They did, however, spend $650 a month to lease a Cadillac.

Another $44,000 supposedly went to consulting fees, $10,500 went for security and $7,500 for advertising on a local cable station, where then-leader Yusuf Bey had a weekly TV show.

When asked to explain what was going on, the Black Muslim Bakery cadre - in one of their typical tactics - marched in unison from the bakery to City Hall, then entered the council chambers like a precision drill team, lining up along the room's back walls.

They then asked for another $70,000 to keep the project going.

And they got it, with the council voting 6-2 to grant the funds - minus the money for the Cadillac.

"The message was very clear - we are watching you," said City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, who cast one of the votes against the group's request.

The school never opened.

And the loan - one of several the council made that year to help disadvantaged businesses - was never repaid...

Posted on 08/08/2007 11:54 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

The view from the ground. St Paul's cathedral at night.

Posted on 08/08/2007 11:49 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

From The Times:

Taking a polite beverage in a traditional English tearoom is a world away from slobbing it in Starbucks. There is an art to it.

You don’t put your elbows on the table. You don’t clang your spoon on the inside of your cup as you stir. You don’t insult the Queen, sip from your teaspoon or handle the sugar cubes. And if you commit either of the cardinal sins of using a mobile phone or dunking your biscuit, you will be invited to leave.

Those rules have been imposed by David Daly in his Brighton teashop. He has said that he is trying to offer his customers the equivalent of high tea at the Ritz. “It is about the art of tea drinking. This is not about going to Starbucks for a mug of coffee. Most people don’t break the rules any more, but one man did bang his head on the table when I walked in, because he was using his phone under the table.”

The rules have prompted a group of surprised customers to set up a discussion group on Facebook, the social networking website. “This is the most scariest place ever,” one customer wrote. “The list is long and intense, but worst of all you can’t dunk biscuits.” She claimed to have seen people ejected for daring to wet their digestives...

The Tea Council does not offer advice on etiquette, an area of arcane expertise that is more alive in the US these days than in Britain, which after Ireland is the world’s largest per capita tea-drinking nation.

American experts advise that one does not “take” tea; that being a vulgar expression of the lower classes. One “drinks” tea. The spout of the teapot should always face the hostess, or appointed pourer, and the cup should be placed back on the saucer between sips, never waved in the air.

“Do not stir your tea in clanging circular motions,” one US etiquette website counsels. “Softly fold the liquid from the six o’clock position to the 12 o’clock two or three times, being careful not to clang your spoon on the inside of the cup.”

Do not blow on your tea, do not loop your fingers through the handle, and under no circumstances grip the cup with the palm of your hand.

Mr Daly would agree with all of that, but there is a divergence of opinion over the position of the little finger. He disapproves of raising it while the cup is brought to the lips, but the American view is that it is acceptable to continue a tradition born of the need for balance in the days before tea cups had handles.

I have some advice for Americans where tea is concerned: don't pour it into Boston Harbour.

For more valuable information on tea, click on the links to my posts on tea pseudery, afternoon tea in polite society, tea and biscuits and biscottini.

Posted on 08/08/2007 10:27 AM by Mary Jackson

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

However many millions of cats it may have killed, curiosity is a Good Thing. As may be said of a sense of humour, life without it is a half-life. Eating that apple may have led to all kinds of trouble, but what kind of a dullard would not have eaten it? 

Here are some quotations about curiosity. If you’re bored already, there’s no need to bother reading them: 

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Albert Einstein 

“I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive.” Eleanor Roosevelt. 

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” Ellen Parr

 “Only barbarians are not curious about where they came from, how they came to be where they are, where they appear to be going, whether they wish to go there, and if so why, and if not, why not.” Isaiah Berlin  

Like humour, curiosity is curiously absent from the Islamic mindset. Everything is explained, and it is no laughing matter. The Islamic way goes against the grain for humans. Children are naturally curious and naturally humorous, but these qualities can easily be stamped out, and in the Islamic world, generally are.


In the West we are curious. So curious that we do things that seem pointless like sending people to the moon. Yes, I know, space research gave us Teflon, but that isn’t why we did it. The pointlessness of space travel makes it all the more admirable. So in theory we should condemn Joe Joseph for his dismissal of the quest for life on Mars in today’s Times. But in practice we shouldn’t, because it’s funny, and funny conquers all:

Are we excited that Nasa has just launched a spacecraft to Mars? Er, no. Because if Mars was a girl you’d have given up on her after the third date as someone who is a tease, but with not enough to tease with. What, after all, has Mars ever given us, apart from a catchy song by David Bowie? What is Nasa hoping to achieve by poking around there? Nasa’s Phoenix Mars lander is unmanned (though it’s not clear whether this was intentional or whether the Nasa astronauts were getting in one last round of Mojitos and failed to turn up for take-off). Indeed, nobody is ever going to want to go to Mars. Nobody wants to spend a day flying to New Zealand, so who’s going to fly 422 million miles to visit a terrain that resembles the close-up photos in acne ads?

There is a huge crater in the Canadian Arctic that is barren, rocky and red – so scientists use it for their Mars exercises. But it never occurs to them that this crater remains barren because nobody wants to go to such a dusty wasteland. So why would we want to spend nine months journeying to Mars when we don’t even want to visit a Mars-style landscape that’s just a plane ride away? If we really wanted to study something that had the potential for life, but which seemed to display no actual signs of life, we could all just look at pictures of Britney Spears.

Next week, Joe Joseph gets his teeth into Uranus.

Posted on 08/08/2007 10:14 AM by Mary Jackson

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

As readers will have noticed, New English Review has word verification in the comments to stop spam getting through. Generally this has been very successful, although a stubborn and vigorous Viagra advert regularly manages to thrust its way through the cracks.

The characters are all squiggly, so a robot can't see them. Sometimes humans can't see them properly either - well, this human occasionally confuses the figure one, lower case L and upper case i - but this is a minor inconvenience. Of course, it is only a matter of time before a squiggly robot is developed, so we should make the most of this relatively spam-free interlude.

Quite often one sees words - not proper words but silly half-words, not unlike the spellings that spammers use to get round your anti-spam software when they offer you va1rga to help your wilting pennis, or personalised number plates on cars proclaiming that the owner is 2EX1.

Today, when I was leaving a comment on Hugh's post about the Filipino Felons, I was given a much clearer message: piSs0Fv.

Thanks. I can take a hint.

Posted on 08/08/2007 8:57 AM by Mary Jackson

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

The Iraqi Shi'ites are Arabs and the Iranian Shi'ites are Persians, the Iraqi Shi'ites wear ties and the Iranian Shi'ites don't. See, Dick? There's nothing to worry about.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki arrived in Iran on Wednesday for talks expected to focus on bilateral relations and overcoming "terrorism challenges" in his war-torn nation.

It was the Iraqi premier's second visit to Tehran in less than a year.

Iraq, which like Iran is majority Shiite Muslim, has managed a difficult balancing act between Tehran and Washington since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, trying to maintain good relations with its powerful neighbor while not angering Americans.

The U.S. has accused Iran of providing money and weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq. Tehran denies the charges and argues that the presence of U.S. troops is destabilizing the region.

Iran and the U.S. have held three rounds of talks on Iraqi security since May, and al-Maliki said he would push for these talks to continue at an ambassador level.

State television said he was received in Tehran by First Vice-President Parviz Davoodi and would hold talks with other Iranian leaders during his visit, expected to last three days.

"We are here today to boost commercial and security relations with neighboring countries against the terrorism challenges in the area," al-Maliki told The Associated Press on the plane to Iran.

The premier, who is a Shiite and is deemed a close ally of Iran's Shiite regime, said he would also discuss and sign a number of cooperation memorandums with Tehran. He did not elaborate.

In an apparent gesture of welcome, Iran's Payam state radio played Arab-style belly dancing music early Wednesday, a rare event in this conservative Islamic country...

Posted on 08/08/2007 8:36 AM by Rebecca Bynum

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