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These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 10, 2006.
Monday, 10 April 2006
Red Ken does it again

Slimey git

Just when you thought the loathsome Ken Livingstone couldn't sink any lower - what? You never thought that - here he is comparing the poll tax riots of the 1980s to the massacre in Tiananmen Square. From The Telegraph:

Looking out over the Beijing square from the steps of the National Museum of Revolutionary History, the Mayor of London said the 1989 massacre, in which -hundreds of protesters died, was part of the city's "interesting history", like London's.

Bearing in mind the old Chinese curse, perhaps the word "interesting" means something different to the Chinese.

In the same way that Trafalgar Square has had an interesting history, not always a peaceful one, there's a very clear parallel," he said.

"We've had some interesting riots in Trafalgar Square - I mean, only 20 years ago, the poll tax riots, and flames licking up." ...

When it was pointed out that the Metropolitan Police had not shot or killed anyone during the poll tax riot in London in March 1990, he suggested the comparison should be put into a longer context.

"If you go back to some of the early instances you will find many cases where innocent protesters were hacked to pieces with sabres - the Peterloo massacre, for example. There is no such thing as one country with a perfect record." In the Peterloo Massacre, the local militia waded into a crowd of radicals campaigning for universal suffrage on St Peter's Field, Manchester, in 1819, killing 11 and injuring 400.

On Tiananmen Square, estimates of the numbers of those killed by troops and tanks range up to 3,000, the figure given out by the Chinese Red Cross immediately afterwards.

Mr Livingstone's views on the "June 4 incident", as it is called in China, are unlikely to be reported by the local media. Nor will they be of much interest to the Beijing city authorities, who are hosting him, though he went on to say that he would express his personal feelings to them in private. Other politicians have been in trouble for their comments on the massacre.

President Jacques Chirac of France said in 2004 it was "another time" when he sought to justify his support for the lifting of the EU arms embargo on China, imposed immediately after the killings.

At least Chirac didn't make any ludicrous false equivalence. It is coming to something when a British politician is even more despicable than Chirac.

As he continued his press conference on the steps, Mr Livingstone went on to denounce the "conservatism" of Westminster council and other authorities in London.

Brave Ken. And hasn't he got his priorities right?

Just look at his smug face. Revolting, isn't it?

Update: Judy makes some pertinent comments about Ken's latest stunt, in a piece which borrows for its title the wonderful last line of the film "Some Like it Hot": nobody's perfect.

Posted on 04/10/2006 4:34 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 10 April 2006
Something and nothing

Somebody kindly sent me this via email: 

The inrcbedilbe pweor of the hmuan mnid

 

Aoccdrnig to a  rscheearch  porgamrme at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht  oredr  ltteers in a wrod  rae, eth olny iprmoatnt tihng is  taht the frist adn lsat ltteer be ni het rghit pclae,  ecxpet  fro ferquent wrods leik het, na, ect.

 

The rset can be a tatol mses nad  yuo can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos  not raed ervey lteter by istlef, ubt  het  wrod as a  wlohe. 

Readers may well have seen this before – these things tend to do the rounds. Three questions:

 

  1. Does it work for music? A piece starts and finishes on the right note, juggles the ones in between and still remains recognisable? The answer is probably not, but it would be quite good fun to try. You never know, there may be some kind of award for it - a musical equivalent of the Turner Prize.
  2. Does it work for clothes? I heard somewhere that if a woman has the right handbag nobody notices anything else she is wearing. Again, I suspect not.
  3. Is it true, or is it a bit of a con?  

To answer this last question I had to resort to Google. Now Google and I have not always been the best of friends. Not content with denting my ego, Google would insist on correcting what it perceived as my poor spelling. Eventually, I chanced upon what on the Internet is commonly called a fisking of this piece, from some “reading experts” on a website called the Illinois Loop.

 

It is argued that this paragraph has been used to discredit the phonics method of teaching children to read, by proponents of the whole language (WL) method.  

Once you have mastered the alphabetic principle thoroughly, it is possible for you to perform error corrections upon encountering misspelled words. This is because, being well-read and thoroughly acquanted with the vast body of correctly spelled words, the competent decoder can recall the very few (or possibly only one) word(s) that could possibly fill the position in which a misspelled word appears. The WL advocate would fool us into believing that this is done primarily through context and whole-word recognition, but ultimately upon being asked precisely how the reader determines what the whole word is without first decoding it, or how to establish a context in the first place, he is at a complete loss. 

I never thought of myself as a competent decoder, but that’s because I’m not a reading expert. 

Almost universally, the listener doesn't take the time to think about the fact that he himself, being a fully experienced decoder, speller, and speaker of the language, is in no way analogous to a child who is learning to read. And so amazingly the listener, being accustomed as all of us are to accepting the apparent "reality" of every sound bite we hear on TV, doesn't stop to think that the example obviously WOULDN'T work on a child who is learning to read, despite the fact that the WL advocate is trying to "prove" that it would. 

Fair enough. I do wish that reading and other “experts” would learn to write clear, simple prose. Another commenter makes the point far better as follows: 

It makes a difference, too, how severely you mangle the letter order. Try this version:

Adocrnicg to rrheashecc by the Litunsgiic Dmrepnteat at Cgmdabrie Uvtinseriy, it dsen'ot mtetar in waht oerdr the lteerts in a wrod are, the olny inpeamott tnihg is taht the fsrit and lsat lteter be at the rghit palce. The rset can be a ttoal mses and you can slitl raed it wtouhit pobelrm. Tihs is buseace the hmaun mnid deos not raed eervy lteter by iestlf, but the wrod as a wolhe.

 

This convinces. It is a bit of a con, but quite a good one.

 

Apparently something called “synthetic phonics” is now making a comeback in schools. This was probably how I learned to read, but I have absolutely no recollection of the process. A taxi driver once told me he had never learned to read. This was a London black cab, so he would have needed to pass “The Knowledge”, a rigorous test of his knowledge of London streets. This takes literate taxi drivers at least a year, and even they develop a larger than average hippocampus in the process. How clever this man must have been to do this without being able to read. What might he have achieved had been able?  

Posted on 04/10/2006 7:42 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 10 April 2006
SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE
"Since Mexican political leaders from the ruling party and the opposition have been demanding that the United States ignore, alter or abolish its own immigration laws, they have opened their own internal affairs to American scrutiny. The time has come to examine Mexico's own glass house."

---J. Michael Waller, who is the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication at the Institute of World Politics, and Vice President for Information Operations at the Center for Security Policy.

Prof. Waller proceeds to examine Mexico's treatment of immigrants in a paper here.

"Summary:

"In brief, the Mexican Constitution states that:

"--Immigrants and foreign visitors are banned from public political discourse.
"--Immigrants and foreigners are denied certain basic property rights.
"--Immigrants are denied equal employment rights.
"--Immigrants and naturalized citizens will never be treated as real Mexican citizens.
"--Immigrants and naturalized citizens are not to be trusted in public service.
"--Immigrants and naturalized citizens may never become members of the clergy.
"--Private citizens may make citizens arrests of lawbreakers (i.e., illegal immigrants) and hand them to the authorities.
"--Immigrants may be expelled from Mexico for any reason and without due process."

Posted on 04/10/2006 3:49 PM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 10 April 2006
the polypragmonic impulse

The polypragmonic impulse, the result of all the most unattractive, and some of the attractive ones as well, of the American character, and of our rulers who do not take ideologies seriously because they fail to recognize that they, too, have an ideology --- that of Economic Growth, and Enlarging the Pie, and the Rising Tide Lifting All Boats, and Economic Performance as the Measure of All Things, and the Sheer Rightness, in All Aspects of Life, of the "Free Market" As It Currently Operates-- and that that ideology is not exactly wonderful, or to go unchallenged, always and everywhere.

This polypragmonic impulse ranges from mere busybodiness to all the way to an outright messianic fervor, as when Bush believes that there exists an universal "desire for freedom" (which "freedom" is that? The freedom to trade, the freedom to beat the Infidels, the freedom for complete license?) and that the United States is here to solve all problems around the world -- for the American people like nothing better than to solve all the world's problems, with their lives, and their money, and who cares if it cannot be done, or who cares if it can only be done over centuries, and who cares if no one else cares, and regards us with continued indifference or hostility?

Successive American governments did very little to encourage, in the right way, the taking hold of "democracy" in post-Communist Russia. The kind of busybodies who thought that Russia could simply be plunged in to a cold bath of capitalism did not factor in either human nature, or its Russian variant. Jeffery Sachs, the deplorable Master Busybody, has been taken apart for his misunderstanding of Russia -- or rather, his general negligence and ignorance of the specifics as he is so intent on Curing the World of Poverty and doing other great things. And there are lots of such sachses all over the place, perhaps not each with his own World Institute, but not for want of trying.

Nor was the bombing of the Serbs undertaken with sufficient consideration of what it would do in Russia. It was not the only, or even the best way, to deal with Milosevich. It has had a terrible effect on the Russian view of the United States, leading to a deepening and completely unjustified --but to many Russians plausible conspiratorial view of the Americans as plotting Russia's further weakening, when the Americans would like nothing more than a strong, prosperous Russian state able to withstand both Islam's possible demographic conquest of Russia from within and China.

It is not true that the "whole world wants freedom." It is not true that those raised up in a system where the Perfect Man was a despot and a warrior, far more reminiscent of Stalin in his works and days than of any of the American Framers or overlapping Founders, that what goes on in Baghdad is not, despite the absurd remarks of both Bush and Rice, reminiscent of what went on at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, that the habit of mental submission in Islam, and the acceptance of rule by the most powerful, and the locating of legitimacy not in the people -- a sine qua non of democratic theory -- but rather in the Qur'
an, the Sunna, and the Holy Law of Islam or Shari'a that is based on both -- means that Islam will accept democracy only in the narrowest sense of vote-counting, without any acceptance of the idea that the will of the people can ever be permitted to violate the tenets or attitudes of Islam.

Among the lessons to be learned from tarbaby Iraq is that knowledge of Islam must properly precede attempts to deal with Islam, that the word "war" should not fool Infidels into thinking that the only instruments of war are those of combat or terrorism, and that all the instruments of Jihad need to be dealt with. And another lesson is to be alert to those fissures within the camp of Islam which, if properly exploited, could help to divide, demoralize, and weaken that camp.

Surely some remember that during the Cold War, the Americans were pleased at Tito's defection in 1948 from the Eastern bloc. They sent secret aid to the "Forest Brotherhood"(the "leshii") in Lithuania, did not expect but surely welcomed the Hungarian Revolution as a sign of disaffection, and the same with Dubcek and what became known as the Prague Spring, and of course always welcomed signs of a Sino-Soviet split.

Yet there has been not a single article -- save here at Jihad Watch, where a hundred odd pieces have gone over and over the same ground -- about the usefulness of the ethnic (Kurd-Arab) and sectarian (Sunni-Shi'a) fissures being not patched up by the Americans, but allowed by a a natural process to lead to the reversion of Iraq to the three Ottoman vilayets from which it was originally formed, with the expectancy and hope that Shi'a elsewhere will be inspired by this new Shi'a, oil-possessing entity, and possibly, everywhere from Bahrain (70% Shi'a chafing under a Sunni ruler) to Yemen to Lebanon to Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, the Sunni fear of Shi'a, and the Shi'a fear of Sunnis, will work its natural almost inevitable way.

The Bush Administration, obstinate and not knowing quite how to admit to itself, much less to the American public, that after late 2003, or certainly, in no case later than the day that Saddam Hussein was seized, it made sense to leave Iraq, will never it seems find a way out of tarbaby Iraq until the voters force it. This is a pity. It is a pity because it may mean that the Administration, fearful of doing the most important thing -- destroying Iran's nuclear project -- will continue instead to pretend that it is on the verge of "success" in Iraq when the definition of "success" that the Bush Administration offers is in fact a definition for "failure." For a stable nation-state in Iraq will not be good for Infidels. What will be good is a Sunni-Shi'a proxy war, in which both Iran and Saudi Arabia feel themselves necessarily drawn in, and an independent Kurdistan that can inspire other non-Arab Muslims, including Berbers, and within Iran, the Kurds, the Azeris, the Baluchis, and even those Arab Muslims in Khuzistan.

But one does not get the sense that in the Pentagon there is an office devoted to the world-wide anti-Jihad. One does not suspect that even now plans are being drawn up for shoring up black Christians in Nigeria, the Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania, Ethiopia. One does not have the sense that a room exists with a map of Europe, and with all the demographic figures about Muslims and non-Muslims, and the list of local leaders who need support, and those who are in the camp of appeasement. One does not get the sense that a propaganda war has been launched, in which the Infidel publics will cleverly be made aware of what is actually contained in Qur'an, Hadith and Sira. One does not get the sense that Rumsfeld, Rice, Bush and many others have spent a day, a week, two weeks reading "Islam and Dhimmitude" or "Onward Muslim Soldiers" or "The Legacy of Jihad" or "While Europe Slept" or any of the available literature. One does not have the feeling that enough people have printed out, from this site, the three parts of "Islam for Infidels" as a handy short-course in the subject.

It will happen.

But will it happen after another year or two goes by, with that squandering of men, money, materiel, army and civilian morale, and diversion of attention from Iran, or will it happen now, in a few months? The Iraqis have provided every opportunity for the American administration to call a halt and insist that by, say, September 1 it will leave. That is plenty of time to get everyone out, and not to leave a single rifle behind (well, maybe a few rifles, and a few Jeeps, but only for the Kurds, and only if they agree to protect any Christians who wish to flee to a safe area while the Sunnis and the Shi'a have it out).

There are the squanderers, and the husbanders. The Bush Administration's continued ignorance, and obstinace, puts it among the former, not the latter. We don't have all the resources in the world, certainly not enough to last for decades. Husbanding resources will also husband morale for a longer term.

Where are the mahans and the mackinders and those who wrote "Casablanca" and those who helped persuade, or created the conditions in which they persuaded themselves, the penkovksys of the Soviet Union? Where are they hiding? Or are they being kept deliberately down, and out for the count?

Posted on 04/10/2006 4:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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