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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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The Impact of Islam
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by Ibn Warraq
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
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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
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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
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Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
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These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 1, 2008.
Friday, 1 February 2008
That Bed By Nabokov
I have never read the book in question myself (shh, don’t tell Hugh or Mary – I have a hard enough time keeping my head above water in this place as it is) but even so I know of the story and the cultural tag which attaches to what, I suppose was once a perfectly ordinary name, at that time and place for a teenage girl. Little Lola, Lola being itself a diminutive of Dolores.  To me Lola of the dark brown voice will forever drink cherry cola but that’s just one of my own favourite cultural icons talking. Or rather singing.
Someone in Woolworth’s Head Office is completely unaware of the book, the film, the Sting lyrics, the cultural shorthand. From The Telegraph
Woolworths has withdrawn a range of bedroom furniture for girls bearing the name Lolita after an internet campaign by outraged parents.
The Lolita Midsleeper Combi, marketed as "the perfect space-saving solution for your child's bedroom", was on sale on the store's website for £395.
Staff were apparently unaware of the connotations surrounding the name which, as the title of Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel about a 12-year-old temptress, has become a byword for a sexually precocious young girl. Is that a fair assessment of the story?
Catherine Hanly, who also edits the parenting website, wrote: "Am I being particularly sensitive, or does anyone else out there think it's bad taste for Woolies to have a kiddy bed range named Lolita?"
After a flurry of similarly outraged messages from other parents, Ms Hanly contacted Woolworths to ask for an explanation.
An initial statement from the firm said: "Our aim is to attract a broad customer base of all ages and make every effort to stock items which appeal to the whole family. However, we also have to respond to customer demands and follow current trends." But within hours, the chain withdrew the range.
A press officer told Ms Hanly that the staff who run the Woolworths website "had no idea" of the controversy surrounding the name, admitting that he too "had to go on to Wikipedia" to learn of the novel.
A Woolworths spokesman said last night: "Now this has been brought to our attention the product has been removed from sale with immediate effect. We will be talking to the supplier with regard to how the branding came about."
Is this dumbing down, or a generational thing? I ask because the name Robert Plant came up in conversation a few days ago. Now to me Robert Plant is, is, quiver, tremble, the greatest, add superlatives, and has been since 1969 when I first heard Whole Lotta Love.
 “Who?” said two young women in their 30s. “You have heard of him?” said the woman who brought his name up, in some surprise. Of course I have heard of him; do you think I have spent the last 35 years listening to Mantovani?   Actually I did spend a lot of time in my teens avoiding my parent’s Mantovani LPs, and they spent a lot of time avoiding my Zeppelin, Tyrannosaurus Rex and Deep Purple.
But getting back to Woolworths, I can understand the press officer not knowing about Lolita. But somebody in Branding did enough research to pick up on Lolita as a name for a little girl, but no deeper market research as to its suitability. Unless the name is emblazoned on the bed renaming it in time for the next catalogue shouldn’t be impossible. I wonder what they will chose this time suitable for a small girl.? The Ethel? The Maud? The Wilfred? 
Posted on 02/01/2008 2:09 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 1 February 2008
A Cinematic Interlude: Lolita
Posted on 02/01/2008 6:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2008
Bill Clinton And That Three-Hour Meeting At His House In Chappaqua

The most important part of this story comes at the end, and it concerns a three-hour meeting, at Bill Clinton's house in Chappaqua, with Mr. Giustra (the Canadian entrepreneur who befriended Bill Clinton, and flew him around the world, and to whose foundation he has committed $100 million, and Bill Clinton, in turn, helped him succeed in business without really trying, or at least without really trying in the old-fashioned way) in Kazakhstan, not least by Clinton meeting with, turning on the charm for, greatly impressing for the sake of his friend Mr. Giustra, the ruler of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Contacted by the writers of the Times piece, both Clinton and Giustra denied that any such meeting ever took place. Then, confronted this week with the evidence supplied by others, they suddenly both remembered such a meeting.

Now Bill Clinton does meet all kinds of people. Some come up to him, and shake his hand, at a White House ceremony, or at Davos, or outside the Grapes of Wrath bookstore in Vineyard Haven. And he can't remember them all. No one is expecting him to. But the meeting about which he had no memory at all took place at his house, and lasted a full three hours. If an important Kazakh personage visited you, and spent three hours alone with you and a fabulously rich Canadian businessman, and if he had his picture taken with you, and if all kinds of things had gone on in Kazakhstan, with you and with your new temporary  best friend that Canadian businessman, wouldn't you remember?

We all know the answer to that.

Posted on 02/01/2008 7:30 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2008
The Arabs, The Berbers & Africa

by Hugh Fitzgerald

It is no mystery as to why Christian missionaries might be having their greatest success in the Kabyle. In Algeria, that remains the Berber heartland. It is where the Berbers are concentrated, that is those who were not forcibly transformed, during the centuries of Arab rule (interrupted by 132 years of French rule) into "Arabs." (How many of those "Arabs" who now persecute the Berbers realize that they themselves are a generation, or two, or five removed from their clearly Berber origins?)  more...

Posted on 02/01/2008 7:41 AM by NER
Friday, 1 February 2008
Yvonne Ridley, Peddling Islam in Tennessee

by Rebecca Bynum

 

According to Yvonne Ridley, who spoke at Vanderbilt University on Jan. 17th, of the approximately 60,000 immigrants and refugees living in Davidson County, Tennessee, about one third (or 20,000) are Muslims who have settled in Nashville. The Ridley speech was sponsored by the Islamic Center of Nashville and the Muslim Student Association at Vanderbilt. Both organizations have roots in Islamic fundamentalism (see here and here) and both seem anxious to portray Islam to the rest of the community as a religion of peace, tolerance and pluralism.  more...

Posted on 02/01/2008 7:43 AM by NER
Friday, 1 February 2008
Multiculturalism in the U.K.: Faith Based and Ethnic Schools

 - The Debate

by Norman Berdichevsky

Writing in The Times of London on October 20, 2007, British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks admitted that the "Emperor is naked"  His editorial, entitled "Multiculturalism is a Disaster", called a spade a spade. Writing with a candor unusual for a Rabbi and in earnest defiance of the self-hypnotic mantra subscribed to by many Jews prominent in public life in both the U.K. and the U.S., that "Multiculturalism = Good; Assimilation, Accommodation and Acculturation = ALL BAD. It was as if the numbing pain caused by endlessly repeating the same orthodox liberal policy of "multiculturalism" and coming to the same disastrous dead end result (Einstein's definition of insanity) had miraculously been lifted.   more... 

Posted on 02/01/2008 7:47 AM by NER
Friday, 1 February 2008
Somalis, Shelbyville and Severe Culture Shock

An Interview with Brian Mosely

by Jerry Gordon

Shelbyville, Tennessee is a rural community located in the middle part of the state. Four years ago, the character of this community was changed irrevocably when a major employer, Tyson Foods, hired several hundred Somali émigrés to replace illegal Hispanic meat packers at a facility there. The Somalis emigrated from other centers in the heartland of the US, after coming to America under a legal humanitarian immigration program established by the 1980 Refugee Act, controlled by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and by the US State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration with a budget of over $1 billion. In 2007, there were an estimated 70,000 plus Somali legal immigrants in the US. Major centers of Somali émigrés include, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Columbus, Ohio. This was facilitated in the 1990’s when the Clinton Administration, through the US Office of Refugee Resettlement, decided to vector Somalis and other humanitarian refugees away from major coastal cities and into the interior of the American heartland.  more...

Posted on 02/01/2008 7:51 AM by NER
Friday, 1 February 2008
Kapital As Kapalit

by Takuan Seiyo

A boutique In Tokyo called Kapital sells new, 19th century workers' clothes that have been meticulously copied from old photographs of cloth-capped strikers, overall-wearing steam-lathe operators, or coal miners in heavy, torn boots shuffling to work in Ruhr and Schlesien. Starving ghetto Jews too; Roman Vishniac's Polish Jews is part of the atmospheric window display, along with pre-1940 clothespins, beat up work aprons, and old junk. more...

Posted on 02/01/2008 7:54 AM by NER
Friday, 1 February 2008
Lolita film

I had never seen the film of the book - not even a short scene from it - until just now. I read the book last year  after some gentle persuasion from Hugh. I couldn't put it down. I was shocked - by just how funny it was.

Coincidentally, my February piece touches on the theme of seeing a film of a book. You create in your mind a picture of a character, and the film very rarely matches it and usually disappoints. I find it easier to see a book, and the film of it, as two independent entities.

I can't judge Lolita  the film on the basis of one clip, and I should watch the whole thing. I must say, though, that I am not sorry I read the book first.

Lolita looks nothing like I imagined her. She looks much older. I know she's meant to be precocious, but my impression was that at the time of her first meeting with Humbert Humbert she is still a girl child. That actress looks like a tarty teenager. The impression given at the time the film was made may have been different. In 1962, young women in films were slim but still fairly curvy and looked like women. Today's starlets, of any age, have the skinny bodies of pre-pubescent girls, so the contrast between "nymphet" and woman is not great.

As for Humbert Humbert, I like the acting and the voice, but  I don't think he's handsome enough. And it's very strange to see him from the outside when in the book you're in his mind looking out. The mother is how I imagined her.

In any case, just because the characters in a film don't match the ones in your imagination, it doesn't mean the film is wrong or bad.

Update: should have "wiki'd" before I posted - turns out that Lolita's age was raised from twelve in the book to fourteen in the film. That is a big difference. Also she wasn't blonde. Less important, but easier for the film to get right.

Posted on 02/01/2008 7:40 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 1 February 2008
The Interview

by Ares Demertzis

 

In memory of the Muslim teenagers Aqsa Parvez, Amina Said, and her sister Sarah; three of an untold number sacrificed on the altar of ignorance.

 

(i)

 

“May Allah curse the day we set foot on infidel soil!” exclaimed the thin voice of a shriveled old woman.  She was dressed in black, with the hijab held snugly in place over her hair.  A stream of spittle inadvertently pushed through two remaining yellow teeth concealed behind parsimonious, flaccid lips, the saliva trickling leisurely to form an erratic, moist streak across her coarse and bristly chin.  We were sitting cross-legged on frayed carpets, high on a rock-strewn promontory under a deformed and twisted olive tree whose coiled roots grasped with an implausible tenacity the parched and unyielding stony earth.  I was taking notes on the few remaining blank pages of a rectangular pocket notebook.  The dull, metallic clank of goat bells drifted in our direction.  more...

Posted on 02/01/2008 8:02 AM by NER
Friday, 1 February 2008
The Future In The Face Of Militant Islam
by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Global Jihad – The future in the face of Militant Islam
by Patrick Sookhdeo with foreword by Professor Richard Holmes
Isaac Publishing, 2007, 669 pp.


I wasn’t sure what to expect – a book on jihad which, on its own admission, is aimed at decision makers in politics, security, intelligence and the military and written by an Anglican priest. Of course Patrick Sookhdeo, founder and director of the Barnabas Fund is not your stereotypical (few are these days) C of E Vicar.  more...

Posted on 02/01/2008 8:07 AM by NER
Friday, 1 February 2008
Exit, Pursued by a Man in Bear Costume

by Mary Jackson

A country road. A tree. Evening.

Oh God, God Oh. I'm bored already. But Beckett's stage directions are no more boring than his dialogue; in fact they seem pretty much interchangeable:

A country road. A tree. Evening. A ditch!  Where? Over there.

Most stage directions are mundane ("Enter the King"), but some are quite challenging. more...

Posted on 02/01/2008 8:10 AM by NER
Friday, 1 February 2008
A Cinematic Interlude: Divorce Italian Style
Posted on 02/01/2008 9:31 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2008
More on that Lolita bed

According to The Times, but not in so many words, Woolworths made an hughmongous mistake. This is an humiliation - and an hilarious one. It will provoke an hysterical - nay, an historically unprecedented - hoo ha. Anyway, back to the point:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. My most celebrated, literary, sesquipedalian, notorious, delicious, under-rated, overrated novel of the 20th century. You made nymphetophilia, faunleterastia intellectually respectable. You sailed the perilous and uncharted seas of sexing up pre-pubescent girls. What are little girls made of? No longer sugar and spice and all things nice. But scarlet toenails, fishnet stockings, frilly knickers, eye-shadow and pelmet miniskirts.

But were you a good idea as the brand name for Woolworths range of children's beds? What next? The Harold Shipman doctor and nurse set? The junior Gary Glitter singalong guitar and karaoke kit? Our children grow up fast enough without being hurtled headlong into adulthood or adultery. The Lolita children's bed joins the catalogue of classic ad disasters. Birds Eye was within days of launching a new range of battered fish fingers under the name of Cod Pieces, until somebody spotted the double whammy. Advertising agencies should employ a philologist as well as bright young word-tumblers. Rolls-Royce called its successor to Silver Cloud, Silver Mist, until a pedant observed that Mist in German means something solider than mist. In Italian Schweppes advertised its Toilet Water. “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation” was a great slogan until translated into Chinese as: “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”. The largest chicken farmer in the world advertised: “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken.” This was translated in Spanish as: “It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”

Who says there's no truth in advertising?

And let's not forget that other branding error: Volapük.

Posted on 02/01/2008 9:49 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 1 February 2008
Standard Operating Procedure

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two mentally disabled women were strapped with explosives Friday and sent into busy Baghdad markets, where they were blown up by remote control from another location, a top Iraqi government official said.
--from this news article

Standard Operating Procedure. Done by the PLO, or whatever its constitute groups are called -- Hamas, Islamic Jihad, No-Name Terrorist Group -- all the time. Or at least they have tried. Often the Israelis, sensing what is to come, have managed to defuse the mindless time-bomb and save the innocent would-be mass-murderer's life.

Posted on 02/01/2008 9:54 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2008
Just The Toponymic Ticket

Report: Gunmen open fire at Israeli embassy in Mauritania
-- from this news article

Mauritania.

The two best things about that country, at least from what little we know, are:

1) that it dares to buck the Arab League's would-be Diktat and recognizes the state of Israel

and

2) its name: "Mauritania." Bring back those Roman names. Wouldn't Libya be much more tolerable if it were called "Tripolitania," for example? And instead of "Saudi" Arabia -- named after a single malevolent and greedy family (the Al-Saud), why not take the Arabian peninsula, the Jazirat al-Arab, and re-romanize the place, with Arabia Petraea, and Arabia Deserta (these two taking care of "Saudi" Arabia and to the north and east perhaps spilling over into Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, the sheikhdoms), with Yemen and part of Asir Province (of "Saudi" Arabia) re-acquiring the name of "Arabia Felix."

Yes, that's just the toponymic ticket, to cheer us all up. Especially if we live in Rome, and are two thousand years old.

Posted on 02/01/2008 9:59 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2008
Cinema Paradiso, With Raisinets

THE HAGUE, 01/02/08 - Iranian Ambassador Ziaran intends to invite all Islamic ambassadors in the Netherlands for a meeting on Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders' film on the Koran.
--from this news article

Special re-release screening?

How many thumbs up (or for that matter down) can a film get if the judges don't bother to see it first? Why don't they wait until it is released, then see it along with the rest of us, and then we can all calmly discuss it, as befits ladies and gentlemen, outside the cinema itself, far from the popcorn being noisily munched, and those sloshing paper cups of coca-cola, and even those...dare one mention, luxenbergishly, those packages of raisinets, the very promise of which has, in the past, driven Muslim men to distraction, and worse.

Posted on 02/01/2008 10:08 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2008
Is There In Hillel House No Hillel?

"inter-faith and intercultural dialogue."
-- from this depressing article

Inter-faith Healers: it's the latest racket. Elmer-Gantries galore. Or worse. All Elmer Gantry wanted was money and women. While Muslims, wherever they conquered in the early centuries of conquest, certainly seized women and loot (just like their Model of Conduct, their Perfect Man), nowadays they don't want just that, but to remove all obstacles to the spread of Islam. And that means everything that makes the West the West, beginning with such things as individualism and the guarantees of freedom of thought and speech, and equal treatment, legal equality, for women and non-Muslims, and freedom of artistic expression, and the free and skeptical inquiry which is punished in Islam, and encouraged in the post-Enlightenment West, and without which the enterprise of science cannot continue.

No doubt the Hillel rabbi was quite proud of himself for his "broad-mindedness." Yes, moral preening. But that word can cover a wide variety of things.

Right now I fondly recall a scene from the first version --- the one with James Mason -- of "Lolita." There he was, living at the house of Charlotte Haze, and attending the school prom, and Jean Farlow is dancing with him, and she explains, endowing the phrase with a meaning that her partner, world-weary Humbert, chooses to ignore, that once he gets to know Jean and her husband, he will find, Humbert, that "we are extremely broad-minded."

Perhaps the Hillel-House rabbis from sea to shining sea should put down their latest handouts from some Interfaith group, or whatever it is they picked up at their last visit on Outreach Night at a local Mosque ("What Is Islam Really All About?" or "Is Something The Matter With Islam?" or "Can't We All Just Get Along?") or possibly that last issue of Tikkun with that "hopeful" piece -- positively rivetting, wasn't it? -- by Cornell West, and do something really unexpected. How about this? How about reading, sitting down and reading, Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira, and then reading the great Western scholars on Islam -- Joseph Schacht, C. Snouck Hurgronje, Arthur Jeffrey, Henri Lammens, St. Clair Tisdall, and so many others who studied and wrote before the age of the Great Inhibition.

And then there is one more thing these eager Interfaith-Healers (Hillel Rabbis Division) might do. They just might read what Maimonides wrote about Islam and the treatment of Jews under Islam (see "Epistle to the Yemen"), and then, to really do something wild and crazy, they might actually re-read, or possibly read for the first time, Rabbi Hillel.

You know, the one who wrote "If I am not for myself, then who will be?” What a crazy idea. What a wild idea. Maybe it’s time, it’s long past time, not only for the Hillel-House rabbi and his charges at Tufts, but for the denizens of the entire Western world, to start thinking about, and then taking, that excellent advice.

Posted on 02/01/2008 10:37 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2008
Angry stars save theatres from closure

Some good news for a change. From the London Evening Standard:

London's Bush Theatre has been saved after a massive campaign by theatre stars angered at plans to axe its public funding.

The tiny venue in Shepherd's Bush was one of a handful of bodies to be saved from Arts Council cuts in a last-minute U-turn.

A proposed reduction of £180,000 in its £480,000 grant prompted protests from actors including Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and Daniel Radcliffe.

The campaign - highlighted by the Evening Standard - was also backed by playwrights Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard who said the theatre is an important nursery for generations of writers from Stephen Poliakoff to Catherine Johnson who wrote the West End hit Mamma Mia!

As a regular theatre goer who prefers small, local theatres to the West End, I am pleased to see that the money is not all going to Benjamin Zephania and other unworthy causes.

Posted on 02/01/2008 11:11 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 1 February 2008
Unpleasant, Expensive, and Physically Dangerous

Airport police investigated and charged only Brueningsen with assault. Shortly after, the airport closed the building, and Muslim drivers began praying outside.

No one was happy.

"Cab driver Yuriy Artuyunyan says, "We cannot have breakfast, we cannot go to restroom, we cannot play chess."

Barbara Gann, with the Salt Lake International Airport, said, "There were some grave concerns over safety and possible escalating violence."

Airport officials say they never sanctioned prayers, but they never stopped them. Instead they trusted the drivers to be courteous and respectful to one another, a plan that didn't work.

Airport and city officials are meeting to decide what to do with the building. While they do that, Brueningsen isn't allowed to work on airport property."
-- from this news article

Now let's see. One taxi-driver, Mr. Brueningsen, has been prevented from pursuing his livelihood or at least had that pursuit narrowly curtailed, for he "isn't allowed to work on airport property."

He is the one who complained about the turning of what was always the place where taxi-drivers could relax, sit, talk, read, have a snack, into a mosque, clearly made unwelcoming to, off-limits to, the non-Muslim cabdrivers.

Yet he alone has been punished. Why? Let's see if we can figure out if, indeed, Mr. Brueningsen is the kind of man who would simply swagger about, take on dozens of Muslim cabdrivers, and even give one of them, for no reason at all, the fuck-you sign with his middle finger, and lie.

Here is what Mr. Bueningsen says:

Shuttle driver Jeff Brueningsen took photos inside the building he and other drivers share at the airport. "It was definitely an Islamic center." He said it didn't feel right, so he filed a complaint with the FAA against the airport.

"In proper, polite company you never bring up politics or religion. And they introduced both instantly into what's supposed to be a professional, secular transportation-aviation facility," Brueningsen said.

In the complaint he details claims that he was harassed by a group of Muslim drivers who he says have threatened to kill him. It came to a head earlier this month when Brueningsen says Mohammed Alahmed and other drivers attacked him.

"They were going like this, using their fingers, saying, ‘You F-ing Jew, you don't want us to pray here,'" Brueningsen says."

And here is what a Muslim cabdriver insists:

"Alahmed says it was the other way around, that Brueningsen tried to stop him from praying. "He say the F word against me, and I didn't do anything. And he grabbed me from my shirt and hit me with his hand," Alahmed said."

Now tell me. What is more verisimilar? What do we know, from a thousand other cases, of how Muslims have behaved when their turning of public spaces open-to-all into private spaces, open to Muslims alone (and this includes those "places of silent worship" offered to all faiths in airports all over the world -- I have seen with my own eyes what happens to them in, for example, Italy, and no doubt others have their own horror stories to tell. And why would a lone American driver go up to Muslims and make the fuck-you sign, and tell them to cut it out?

Does Mr. Bueningsen strike you as that type? Let's go over, once again, his statement to see if it tells us anything:

"In proper, polite company you never bring up politics or religion. And they introduced both instantly into what's supposed to be a professional, secular transportation-aviation facility," Brueningsen said.

Does someone who talks like that strike you as the aggressor and the liar in this case? Or don't you think that such words, used in such a fashion, clearly tell us a different story, and it is not Mr. Brueningsen who should now have been "banned" from the airport (alone, of all the drivers), but rather the Muslims who have aggressively seized the quarters open to all the taxi-drivers (and of course the other non-Muslim taxi-drivers are now doubly scared -- they are scared of the "authorities" who banned Mr. Brueningsen, which makes them think that the fix is in, and they are scared -- physically scared --of the Muslim cabdrivers, should they themselves speak out, or even testify truthfully about what has gone on at the airport). This is a case that now requires a full investigation, and an investigation of those who thought it proper to ban Mr. Brueningsen.

This should not be dropped. An injustice has been done to Mr. Brueningsen, and if not reversed, it will be done, is right now being done, to other potential Brueningsens. And step by step, the bullying and the appropriation of space and power, here just about cabdrivers - but are not cabdrivers entitled to their own down-time, and a place to relax, and eat food brought from home rather than having to spend money at an airport café, without being fearful of aggressive Muslims behaving in such a way as to make their lives more "unpleasant, expensive, and physically dangerous," than they would otherwise be?

Posted on 02/01/2008 11:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2008
Massive Demonstrations in Cologne

Der Speigel: Following the violent death of a Moroccan teenager in Cologne, hundreds of immigrants have taken to the streets in nightly demonstrations to protest what they see as evidence of their second-class status in Germany. Police warn the city could be ready to explode.

The owner of an electronics shop on Cologne's Kalker Hauptstrasse had rolled down the shutters on the windows in case there was unrest. Now they have photos of a 17-year-old Moroccan boy taped to them. The teenager, whose name was Salih, was killed in front of the shop two weeks ago.

The sidewalk is a sea of candles as hundreds of people chant: "Salih! Salih! We want justice!" They feel that Salih was one of them -- a youth from an immigrant family.

For the police, the case is clear cut. According to their version of events, Salih allegedly wanted to mug a 20-year-old German man, who tried to defend himself. But he panicked and pulled out a pocketknife that he plunged into Salih's heart with an unlucky stab. Prosecutors said it was a clear case of self-defense, and there are witnesses. But none of that matters any longer.

Every night last week, up to 300 protestors gathered at the spot where Salih died to demand "justice" instead of letting his killer walk free. They are protesting against "racism in Germany" -- but since it appears clear that this case involves self-defense, it's obviously about more than just the unfortunate Salih. It's more about how immigrants and their children feel they are currently being treated in Germany...

Immigrants and people with at least one non-German parent make up 54.7 percent of Kalk's population. The amount of young people between 15 and 18 living there is above average; education levels, on the other hand, are below average. Some 90 percent of people without a job in the area count as long-term unemployed....

Posted on 02/01/2008 12:17 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 1 February 2008
Roman Vishniac's Vanished World

"Vishniac"
--mentioned here

This is a reference to Roman Vishniac, whose collection of pictures of Jews in pre-War Poland were published as "A Vanished World." Some of those photographs were put up at this website  last Sunday, just after a bit of "Yidl Mitn Fidl."

Vishniac lost 70,000 prints in Europe, destroyed by the Nazis. But what he did manage to get back to America with is the best record one has of those who were farming (miserably), studying in cheders (intensely), selling (five potatoes, a handful of onions, papirosen, whatever there was), or talking together, on Nalewki Street, or in some shtetl of Belz. And that means that Roman Vishniac, who did not escape endless personal tragedies, even in the United States (his son, Wolf, was a scientist at Yale who died in a freak accident in Antarctica, and one of Wolf's two sons also died, both of them predeceasing the father of one and grandfather of the other, that wonderful man, Roman Vishniac).

It's all become quite the fashion, hasn't it? That float in Brazil. That window-dislay in Tokyo, as described above. And surely there is a link between this use of the German murders and the easy invocation of "the Holocaust" and of course, those visiting dignitaries who on state trips to Israel visit Yad Vashem, then come out, their faces suitably grim and ashen ("tvoj vzor unyl i strashen"), and they utter their "never-again" speech, and then go home, and at the U.N. they never get around to instructing their country's representatives not to vote as the Arabs and Muslims want them to, in the Great Gang-Up at the Kangaroo Court on the East River.

Yes, it all meant so much to them. They might as well join those would-be cariocan merry-makers, or the vetriniste in Tokyo, given what that event too easily called the "Holocaust" apparently means to them.

Posted on 02/01/2008 12:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2008
Or, Put Otherwise, Is There No Truth In Beauty?

A title that no doubt was unconsciously chosen as an aide-memoire, to remind myself  to ask the eternal question:

Is There In Truth No Beauty?

Oh, sorry. It's the end of the week. Everyone is mentally exhausted. Must remember to keep things less vendlerish, more low-brow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-0rXD1wb_Y

Posted on 02/01/2008 12:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2008
A Literary Interlude: Jordan (I)
WHo sayes that fictions onely and false hair
Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?
Is all good structure in a winding stair?
May no lines passe, except they do their dutie
            Not to a true, but painted chair?
 
Is it no verse, except enchanted groves
And sudden arbours shadow course-spunne lines?
Must purling streams refresh a lovers loves?
Must all be vail’d, while he that reades, divines,
            Catching the sense at two removes?
 
Shepherds are honest people; let them sing:
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for Prime:1
I envie no mans nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with losse of rime,
            Who plainly say, My God, My King.
George Herbert
Posted on 02/01/2008 1:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2008
A Puzzle For The Weekend

The first line of George Herbert's Jordan (1) is as follows: 

"Who says that fictions only and false hair"

Several steps (fittingly) are required to solve this puzzle.

First, find in that first line by Herbert a non-obvious link to a non-obvious writer, realizing that a mental leap will have to be made to arrive at your desired destination.

Second, locate a detail in the life of that certain non-obvious writer that connects, by a commodius vicus, to another, later writer, far more famous than any of those who have so far been named, or alluded to, in any part of this puzzle-posting. 

Remember to show your work.

Yes, this is hard.  

Posted on 02/01/2008 1:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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