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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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Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
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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
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
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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:
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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 Monday, 12, 2007.
Monday, 12 November 2007
The Commonwealth - an Odd Thing

The Commonwealth is an Odd Thing when you think about it. I've hardly ever thought about it, and I'm only thinking about it now because I heard something on the radio about it this morning. Look where it is, and, more importantly, where it isn't:

As supranational bodies go, it's not so bad. Compare the EU - curses be upon it - and the UN. I think we should get rid of Pakistan and Nigeria though. It was established mainly by the Balfour Declaration, which must not be confused with the Balfour Declaration:

The Commonwealth of Nations, usually known as the Commonwealth and sometimes as the British Commonwealth, is a voluntary association of 53 independent sovereign states, most of which are former British colonies (the exceptions being the United Kingdom itself and Mozambique).

The Commonwealth is an international organisation through which countries with diverse social, political, and economic backgrounds co-operate within a framework of common values and goals, outlined in the Singapore Declaration.[1] These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism, and world peace.[2]

Queen Elizabeth II is the current Head of the Commonwealth, recognised by each state, and as such is the symbol of the free association of the organisation's members. This position, however, does not imply political power over Commonwealth member states. In practice, the Queen heads the Commonwealth in a symbolic capacity, and it is the Commonwealth Secretary-General who is the chief executive of the organisation. The Commonwealth is not a political union, and does not allow the United Kingdom to exercise any power over the affairs of the organisation's other members.

Elizabeth II is also the current Head of State, separately, of sixteen members of the Commonwealth, called Commonwealth realms. As each realm is an independent kingdom, Elizabeth II, as monarch, holds a distinct title for each, though, by a Prime Ministers' Conference in 1952, all include the words "Head of the Commonwealth" at the end; for example: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Jamaica and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth. Beyond the realms, the majority of the members of the Commonwealth have their own, separate Heads of State: thirty-two members are Commonwealth republics and five members have their own monarchs (Brunei, Lesotho, Malaysia, Swaziland, and Tonga).

Every four years the Commonwealth's members celebrate the Commonwealth Games, the world's second-largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.

Update: as Esmerelda points out, Nigerian Christians need our support, so we shouldn't give up on them. I wonder how much help the Commonwealth is with Pakistan's Christians. I suspect the Barnabas Fund does more there.

Posted on 11/12/2007 3:43 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 12 November 2007
The Anglosphere - a Good Thing

The EU is wlatsome and abhominable to God. The UN is simply a vehicle for attacking Israel. So we need a better club. The Commonwealth has already been mentioned. Here's the Anglosphere:

It's essentially the same, give or take a couple of minor changes. I'd stick Israel in there for good measure.

Posted on 11/12/2007 4:19 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 12 November 2007
Iran police battle Sufi Muslims
From the BBC
Around 180 Sufi Muslims have been arrested in Iran after attacking a Shia mosque where a cleric labelled their religion "illegitimate", say reports.
The confrontation in the western city of Boroujerd led to a shootout between the Sufis and police that reportedly left about 80 people injured.
Sufis are tolerated in the Islamic Republic though some religious leaders have branded them "a danger to Islam".
There are Sunni and Shia Sufis. Their practices are often seen as unorthodox and illegitimate by more conservative Muslims.
Posted on 11/12/2007 4:52 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 12 November 2007
Organisation of the Islamic Conference - a Bad Thing

If you look at this map it appears that the OIC is more or less the non-Anglosphere/Commonwealth countries:

Membership in the OIC:

     Member     Members once temporarily suspended     Withdrew     Observer     Attempted to join but blocked
This is misleadingly reassuring - it doesn't show the Muslims "behind enemy lines".
Posted on 11/12/2007 4:47 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 12 November 2007
Speak of the devil
and see his horns. From The Guardian
Commonwealth foreign ministers today gathered in London to debate (I am saying nothing about this usage – others have already said it!) Pakistan as opposition parties threatened to boycott forthcoming parliamentary elections unless emergency rule is lifted.
Pakistan's emergency will come under scrutiny when Commonwealth foreign ministers meet in London today to discuss Musharraf's actions.
"Ministers will be meeting to discuss various levels of responses," a spokesman said, but declined to say whether suspension was on the agenda.
In a statement last week, the Commonwealth's secretary general, Don McKinnon, expressed grave concern at emergency rule, calling it a "step in the wrong direction and a serious setback to democracy."
McKinnon convened a meeting of the Commonwealth ministerial action group, Cimag, which includes the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, and the foreign ministers of Canada, Malaysia and others, to discuss Pakistan.
Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth in October 1999 - when Musharraf seized power - and restored to full membership in May 2004. But Musharraf was criticised by the Commonwealth in 2005 for retaining his position as head of the army while head of state. The organisation said that until the two offices are separated, the process of democratisation in Pakistan would not be irreversible. McKinnon said that while the challenges facing Pakistan were widely acknowledged, suspending constitutional rule and taking arbitrary action against the judiciary were not the answer.
Posted on 11/12/2007 5:37 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 12 November 2007
Tempting . . .

This has just played on Planet Rock. The tag "late, great" is such a neat rhyme that it is used too often to describe anybody who has died. In the case of Bon Scott it is correct. I once got bought a drink by a gang of bikers in a pub in Yorkshire on the strength of having seen Bon Scott with AC/DC in London the year before his death.
Click here good and gentle readers for
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.
 

Posted on 11/12/2007 5:42 AM by ESmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 12 November 2007
From Mayfair to Montcuq

A couple of months ago I posted about national versions of the board game Monopoly. The French, it seems, are having fun with this. From The Times:

An internet poll to find France’s best-loved towns for a national Gallic version of Monopoly ended in fiasco yesterday when a small village with an embarrassing name won the vote to become the equivalent of Mayfair.

The decision to replace street names with towns and cities backfired on Hasbro, the US-based manufacturer, as tens of thousands of pranksters opted for the southwestern village of Montcuq.

Mention of the village brings a smile to French faces since it is often pronounced without the final “q”, and sounds like mon cul, or “my arse”.

It has been famous since a sketch in 1976 by the comedian Daniel Prévost, in which he said: “Today, for the first time on television, I’m going to show you Montcuq.”

The winner of the competition was to get the Mayfair space on the Monopoly board and the runner-up the Park Lane spot. The 22nd town would take the place of the Old Kent Road.

Montcuq could not be the Old Kent Road. Not everyone's been up the Old Kent Road.

Montcuq residents quickly spotted a fresh opportunity to seize the limelight and began an internet campaign that rapidly caught the imagination. The village got 52,879 votes, almost double its nearest rival, Dunkirk, the Channel port best known for the evacuation of British troops in 1940.

“We saw what humour could do for the village and so we wanted to add to the phenomenon,” said Laurent Bazet, who started the campaign.

But Hasbro was not laughing as it sought to get its corporate image out of jail. The multinational toy company rewrote the rules and said that Montcuq would not feature on the French towns and cities version of its game.

Just as we beat the French at rugby, conkers, Agincourt, Waterloo and Trafalgar, we also beat them at rude or silly names for towns. Here, from one of my posts a few months ago, are some examples of towns that could feature on a British national monopoly board:

Percy Passage, London
Nether Wallop, Hampshire
Ugley, Essex
Upper Dicker, East Sussex
Snatchup, Hertfordshire
Shingay cum Wendy, Buckinghamshire
Old Sodom Lane, Wiltshire
Dicks Mount, Suffolk
Three Cocks, Powys
Friars Entry, Oxfordshire
North Piddle, Worcestershire
Mincing Lane, London
Scratchy Bottom, Dorset
Tosside, Lancashire
Lickers Lane, Merseyside
Hill o'Many Stanes, Scotland
Titty Ho, Northamptonshire
Shitterton, Dorset
Sandy Balls, Hampshire
Twatt, Orkney

Montcuq is pretty feeble and can't hold a candle to our Scratchy Bottom; indeed you can make a moquery of the French claims to supersmut status merely by rearranging the letters.

Posted on 11/12/2007 6:43 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 12 November 2007
A Musical Interlude: Tout Va Bien, Madame La Marquise
Posted on 11/12/2007 7:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 12 November 2007
New Yorker Cartoon

Several readers took issue with my review of Theodore Dalrymple's new book, In Praise of Prejudice, in which I describe Dalrymple's depiction of the loss of marriage, as a world of sexual predation and jealousy marked by abuse.

I should have also pointed out that part of his (and my) problem with the demise of marriage is in depriving children of their fathers.

I believe children need their fathers as much as they need their mothers. If that's prejudice, so be it.

Posted on 11/12/2007 8:01 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 12 November 2007
Lord Guthrie: 'Tony's General' Changes His Mind

The Independent: The former head of the armed forces is candid about his mistakes. But he is also distressed by the cash crisis in the Army that "will cost lives". And he blames one man above all: Gordon Brown

The invasion of Iraq was a mistake. It was wrong to say that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair was selective about the intelligence reports, preferring those that told him what he already believed. These things may seem self-evident, four years into a violent and chaotic war, but coming from Lord Guthrie they have an impact approaching shock and awe.

"I felt it was right at the time," the former head of the armed forces says of the decision to attack Saddam to stop him attacking us. "Now I'm not so sure. In fact I think it was probably wrong."...

Posted on 11/12/2007 7:46 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 12 November 2007
Hirsi Ali - right wing Islamophobe

So says Joshua Holland.

The former "liberal" who becomes an outspoken right-winger has become an American political archetype. Ronald Reagan and David Horowiz are two prime examples of the breed.

I didn't know Ayaan Hirsi Ali was any particular "wing". She is a very intelligent - and beautiful - woman who speaks out against Islam. To her credit, given the devastating effect Islam has had on her life, her comments are dispassionate and not confined to her own experiences. Compare "ex-Islamist" Ed Husain, who puts himself and his "journey" at the centre, and does not engage with the problems of Islam at all.

To dismiss Hirsi Ali as treading a well-trodden path from "left" to "right" is absurd. Hirsi Ali has, I think, developed and changed in the sense that her arguments against Islam have become more cogent and confident. But this development is not the standard "socialist at twenty conservative at thirty" pattern.

Here's more of this nonsense. Readers are warned that the extract contains the word "hegemony" and the cliché "poster-girl", proof, if proof were needed, of the shallow thinking of its author.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a proud Somali woman raised in a devout Muslim family. She is poised to become the most recognizable face of naked Islamophobia in America. Expect to see her as a ubiquitous guest on cable news channels and frequent contributor of op-eds reinforcing the worst stereotypes about the Muslim world. She'll validate already disturbingly common narratives about the perfidy of Islam, and she'll tout the vast superiority of Western thinking in stark terms that would be shocking coming from a more traditional (read: white, Christian) right-wing commentator.

Hirsi Ali has become a darling of those who believe in the benevolence of Western hegemony; The Economist described her as a "cultural ideologue of the new right." But she's more than that; Hirsi Ali occupies a unique space in the political landscape. Her outspoken advocacy on feminist ethical issues -- roundly condemning "honor killings" and female circumcision -- has also made her a poster-girl for the aggressive brand of atheism typified by figures like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, all three of whom have held her life-story up as an example of the harms caused by religion in general, and Islam in particular. For them, she's a living testament to the idea that rational liberal interventionists in the post-Enlightenment West have a moral duty to wage a new crusade against the Muslim world. Harris and Salman Rushdie penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times calling Hirsi Ali a "unique and indispensable witness to both the strength and weakness of the West: to the splendor of open society and to the boundless energy of its antagonists."

Neely Tucker wrote in the Washington Post that "Neoconservative, middle-aged white men … tend to swoon when she walks into the room."

I would imagine quite a few young black men would swoon when she walks into the room. What has being a "neoconservative" got to do with that?

Hirsi Ali is indeed charming and articulate, possessed of a rare intelligence and gifted with exceptional language and political skills. But she's also an extremist, by any measure. She goes beyond others who embrace the idea of a "Clash of Civilizations" -- people like Tony Blankley and Michael Ledeen -- in her insistence that all of Islam is extreme. "There is no moderate Islam," she told Reason. There can only be peace between East and West, she said, "if Islam is defeated." When asked if she meant radical Islam, she replied: "No. Islam, period. Once it's defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It's very difficult to even talk about peace now. They're not interested in peace."

Which bit of this is untrue?

The author uses ad hominem arguments to discredit Hirsi Ali here. Later he goes even further, claiming that Hirsi Ali's direct experience of Islam actually disqualifies her from speaking about it:

She suffered a cruel upbringing in a stringent Muslim household -- she describes the horrors of undergoing female genital mutilation at age five and claims she was forced into an arranged marriage in her teens (a claim her family and former husband dispute), so the issue is not whether she is sincere, but whether the victim of an abusive childhood should be viewed as an impartial and credible analyst. It's the equivalent of a Catholic choirboy who, having been the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of pedophile priests, is asked for an impartial view of the church. That would never happen, but Hirsi Ali will be called upon to explain the dangers of Islam to an eager West as if she's a knowledgeable but detached observer. That's problematic in that she's a woman whose views are colored by an upbringing that is: A) anything but universal within Islam and B) in no way exclusive to that culture.

Yet presumably someone who has only seen the good side of Islam and Da'wa - a colourful film of the Haj, a Souk, an "exotic" dinner, a book by Esposito, Armstrong or Said - is qualified to speak on it? If a "proud Somali woman" raised in a "devout Muslim family" cannot speak about Islam, who can?

Nowhere does the author address Hirsi Ali's arguments, which, as I said above, are impartial and rational.

Update: The word "discourse" is used too. Never trust anyone who says "discourse".

Posted on 11/12/2007 8:45 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 12 November 2007
Nigerian police arrest Al-Qaeda suspects
Nigeria's secret police have arrested several people suspected of links to the Al-Qaeda network in three of the country's predominantly Muslim states, a spokesman said Monday.
"Our operatives arrested the suspects in Kano, Kaduna and Yobe states in connection with the threat of terrorism," State Security Service spokesman Ado Muazu told AFP, adding that the suspects had a "link to Al-Qaeda groups".
He said they also had links to a group known as the Nigerian Taleban. This Islamic extremist movement first emerged in 2002 calling for a stricter implementation of Islamic sharia law in the 12 states of northern Nigeria that apply it.
Since then it has launched attacks on targets symbolizing the Nigerian government, most notably on police stations. In the most recent of these attacks, the group earlier this year razed a police station in the northern city of Kano, killing around one dozen people.
The group is not known to have any connection to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Muazu said the suspects were all Nigerians but declined to disclose how many were arrested or what they were allegedly planning. "The suspects were arrested with some explosive device materials," Muazu said, adding that investigations were still going on.
Nigeria has never had an Al-Qaeda style attack but since the population is roughly half Muslim and since the country is home to various armed groups, US officials tend to see the country as being at risk of such activity.
Posted on 11/12/2007 10:40 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 12 November 2007
Islam and Mammon

The government will step up preparations this week for the launch of sharia-compliant bonds, known as sukuk, as it seeks to turn London into the world centre of Islamic finance. --from this news article

An on-line summary of the contents of "Islam and Mammon" by Professor Timur Kuran:

"The doctrine of "Islamic economics" entered debates over the social role of Islam in the mid-twentieth century. Since then it has pursued the goal of restructuring economies according to perceived Islamic teachings. Beyond its most visible practical achievement--the establishment of Islamic banks meant to avoid interest--it has promoted Islamic norms of economic behavior and founded redistribution systems modeled after early Islamic fiscal practices.

In this bold and timely critique, Timur Kuran argues that the doctrine of Islamic economics is simplistic, incoherent, and largely irrelevant to present economic challenges. Observing that few Muslims take it seriously, he also finds that its practical applications have had no discernible effects on efficiency, growth, or poverty reduction. Why, then, has Islamic economics enjoyed any appeal at all? Kuran's answer is that the real purpose of Islamic economics has not been economic improvement but cultivation of a distinct Islamic identity to resist cultural globalization.

The Islamic subeconomies that have sprung up across the Islamic world are commonly viewed as manifestations of Islamic economics. In reality, Kuran demonstrates, they emerged to meet the economic aspirations of socially marginalized groups. The Islamic enterprises that form these subeconomies provide advancement opportunities to the disadvantaged. By enhancing interpersonal trust, they also facilitate intragroup transactions.

These findings raise the question of whether there exist links between Islam and economic performance. Exploring these links in relation to the long-unsettled question of why the Islamic world became underdeveloped, Kuran identifies several pertinent social mechanisms, some beneficial to economic development, others harmful."

[Timur Kuran is Professor of Economics and Law, and King Faisal Professor of Islamic Thought and Culture, at the University of Southern California. His books include Private Truths, Public Lies.]

Comment:

Amazing, isn't it, that Timur Kuran can hold the "King Faisal Professorship." Somehow he managed to get appointed -- an act of defiance by the Economics Department at U.S.C.? -- and the Saudis must be gritting their teeth in fury.

Let them grit.

Posted on 11/12/2007 11:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 12 November 2007
The Recipients Of The Largest Transfer Of Wealth In Human History

Does Ibrahim Hooper, reacting indignantly to Donald Rumsfeld’s remark about Muslim aversion to work resulting from oil wealth, think that the world has failed to notice what goes on in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and every else where the Arabs, through an accident of geology, have acquired great, continuing, and completely undeserved wealth? Does he think the world doesn’t know about the millions of wage-slaves, working away in Saudi Arabia, some of them at the bottom hideously mistreated -- from the house slaves who include girls from southeast Asia whose duties encompass all kinds of activities, to the street-sweeping Pakistanis and Indians, to the South Korean building contractors, to the engineers and doctors and other professionals from Europe and America at what might appear to be the top, save for the contumely with which they are treated?

Everyone in the world knows that the Saudis do not work, have not worked, and will not work. A few go to the office for a few hours. Officially the work day for Saudis is about three hours, where they chatter and check on their investments and busily order non-Saudis about. And the same goes for the Emirates and Kuwait and the rest of these places. Every single expatriate who has endured, for the dough, these awful -- morally awful, socially awful -- places knows this, and comes away merely counting the banknotes as the only consolation.

The Administration should be figuring out every possible way to diminish the oil wealth of the rich Arab and Muslim states. In so doing, it will necessarily have to tax oil and, especially, gasoline. It ought to have done so long ago, in 1973, in order then to recapture oligopolistic rents that otherwise were going to OPEC oil producers. The gasoline tax should have been imposed with great fanfare, and the government should have committed to a steady rise in that tax, ensuring to car manufacturers, and to those in charge of mass transit programs, that the price would never go down. A powerful Saudi lobby, consisting of all those who were sure, or at least pretended to be sure, that Saudi Arabia was our "ally" and would ensure "price moderation" (whatever that meant), helped prevent such an energy policy. The Western hirelings of Saudi Arabia have not only helped them to continue to fund, without being stopped, mosques and madrasas and campaigns of Da'wa all over the West, but have helped them to prevent an energy policy that might have headed off the environmental disasters, including the loss of 90% of the world's species, that are now almost certain to occur.

Though Saudi Arabia and the other undeservedly rich Arab and Muslim oil states have been the recipients of the largest transfer of wealth in human history, some ten trillion dollars since 1973 alone (and there was plenty in the decades before that), without having lifted a finger to deserve it, they have failed everywhere to create modern economies. Now they talk grandly of "economic cities" they will build. But what Saudis have learned, or will learn, how to work? The Muslim Arab tradition honors not work but rather wealth gathered through raiding parties, or from the Jizyah received from non-Muslims, or from trading. Nothing is made by the Saudis or other Arab oil sheikdoms and countries. Nothing is offered by way of services. They are rentier states. And what is still more maddening, they have somehow been allowed to get the Western world to pay for, to offer up a disguised Jizyah to, all of the oil-poor Arabs and Muslims. It is not Saudi Arabia that spent tens of billions on aid to Iraq, not Saudi Arabia that has given Egypt more than $60 billion in the last few decades, or close to $30 billion (Selig Harrison's calculation) to Pakistan since the 9/11/2001 attacks. It is not Saudi Arabia but the West that keeps piling money into the pockets of the corrupt "Palestinian" Authority, billions of which disappeared when Arafat died (where did it go? does anyone care?), and that continues to go to Arafat's cronies, now performing their routine as mild-mannered and sober and eminently trustworthy accountants.

And within the Western world, the rates of criminality, and of living off of the dole, of taking maximum advantage of everything the welfare state of the Infidels offers -- of Muslim immigrants, as compared to any other group -- is sky-high. It's not surprising. Infidels owe Muslims the Jizyah. And as Muslim clerics have noted, in those cases where the Jizyah cannot yet be demanded, it is the right of local Muslims to help themselves.

Hooper would like us not to notice all of this. He would like us not to notice how the Saudis, and the assorted sheiks of Araby in the Emirates and Kuwait and elsewhere, do nothing, save for that gaudy island of vulgarity, Dubai, which in fact is mostly the product not of Arabs but of Iranian money, and which, architecturally, and economically, represents nothing but a glossy collection of the most unappealing luxury apartments in a place that is only superficially modern. As the family of a fifteen-year-old French boy, M. Robert, raped by several local men, found out, underneath the glittering surface, the supposed modernity, the primitive and vicious nature of the regime and the people -- what one may call the real Dubai -- still remains.

"Money can buy everything, except civilization." It is our duty to limit the sums available to the rich Arabs, to threaten -- or more than threaten -- to seize their assets in the West. What can they do in return? Stop selling oil? We should also insist that they stop spending money in our countries to spread Islam in every way possible. We have ways. We just don't use them, because we have wrongly believed, without any analysis, that it is we who need them. Not at all. And finally, a full stop to all further transfers of Infidel wealth, beyond that required to pay for oil and gas -- no more disguised Jizyah to Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, the "Palestinians" or any other Muslims. Let them go to Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and ask for some handouts from their fellow Muslims, fellow members of the umma. Whether their requests are granted, or granted fully, hardly matters. The very sense, among the poor Arabs and Muslims, that the rich ones are not sharing, will cause all kinds of disruption, disgruntlement, and strife within the Camp of Islam.

And that internal weakening of the Camp of Islam and hence of Jihad is, or should be, the main goal of the Infidels from here on out. No boots on the ground necessary. Just preventing (from the air) any further acquisitions of major weaponry, and a steady steely determination to reverse the Muslim presence and therefore Muslim menace in the West, and an equally relentless determination to exploit whatever pre-existing fissures exist within the Camp of Islam. It will all be much less expensive, and much less wearying, and much more effective, than what, so far, has been the incoherent response of the American and other Western governments.

Posted on 11/12/2007 11:39 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 12 November 2007
Jacques Barzun At 100

There is a wonderful article on Jacques Barzun at the New Yorker by Arthur Krystal:

For the past few years, Jacques Barzun has been dreaming more and more in French. Sometimes two people are speaking—one in English, the other in French—as though nothing could be more natural than the cadences of one language summoning the other. If awakened by the chatter, Barzun isn’t sure whether he has dreamed in French and incorporated a native English speaker, or vice versa. He finds these conversations oddly soothing, but he recognizes that they’re a sign of aging, the tic of a mind seeking a moment when all the world spoke French.

These days, Barzun doesn’t have much occasion to speak the language of Flaubert, whose grammar and syntax, by the way, he considers slovenly. He lives with his wife, Marguerite, in her home town of San Antonio, Texas, where he retired after spending more than seventy years in New York, most of them on the faculty of Columbia University. Barzun is usually out of bed by 6 A.M. He brews coffee, reads the San Antonio Express-News, exercises for forty minutes, and heads down the hall to his study. After lunch, he dips into the manuscripts and books that people send him, answers letters, and takes calls from family members and friends. In the afternoon, he likes to read in the sunroom, whose white brick walls and black-and-white tiled floor accommodate without protest a mélange of armchairs and end tables of no particular style. But then all the furnishings in the house—including the art: Piranesi fortifications, Daumier scenes of Parisian life, Expressionist studies by Cleve Gray, and bright watercolors of flowers and plants by Marguerite—have an aesthetic compatibility that seems to issue more from accident than from design. Cocktails are at six-thirty (Barzun favors Manhattans); a light dinner follows, then a session with the New York Times. Barzun doesn’t watch TV and is usually in bed by nine-thirty. Not long afterward, someone starts speaking in French.

Next month, Barzun, the eminent historian and cultural critic, will turn one hundred. His idea of celebrating his centenary is to put the finishing touches on his thirty-eighth book (not counting translations). Among his areas of expertise are French and German literature, music, education, ghost stories, detective fiction, language, and etymology. Barzun has examined Poe as proofreader, Abraham Lincoln as stylist, Diderot as satirist, and Liszt as reader; he has burnished the reputations of Thomas Beddoes, James Agate, and John Jay Chapman; and he has written so many reviews and essays that his official biographer is loath to put a number on them. There’s nothing hasty or haphazard about these evaluations. Barzun’s breadth of erudition has been a byword among friends and colleagues for six decades. Yet, in spite of his degrees and awards (he was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom), Barzun regards himself in many respects as an “amateur” (the Latin root, amator, means “lover”), someone who takes genuine pleasure in what he learns about. More than any other historian of the past four generations, Barzun has stood for the seemingly contradictory ideas of scholarly rigor and unaffected enthusiasm.

Keep reading here.

Posted on 11/12/2007 11:50 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 12 November 2007
Faulty Tower

“the mapping of Muslim communities...seems premised on the faulty notion that Muslims are more likely to commit violent acts than people of other faiths.”
-- from this news article

Take a look, to start with, at Robert Spencer's discussion of Sura 9. Read it, and then go back and read what he has written so far about the contents of the Qur'an. Now, on-line, find the Calcutta Koran Petition, and read all the verses in the Qur'an that might naturally prompt a Believer to regard with hostility, or even murderous hatred, non-Believers in Islam, or Infidels. Find the verses in the Qur'an that reinforce that message. Now find all those that counsel sweetness-and-light, gentle-Jesus-meek-and-mild stuff, turning-the-other-cheek, the Sermon on the Mount, things like that. Can you find them? Where?

Now do the same for the Hadith -- the Hadith ranked as most "authentic" by the most authoritative muhaddithin.

And then take a look at the Sira, the Muslim life of Muhammad, that Model of Conduct, uswa hasana, that Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil. Look at what Muhammad did with the prisoners of the Banu Qurazya. Look at the pleasure he expressed at news of the deaths of Asma bint Marwan and Abu Akaf. Look at how he ordered, for the sake of booty, the attack on the inoffensive Jewish farmers of the Khaybar Oasis. Look at the agreement he made with the Meccans in 628 A.D., at Hudaibiyya, and at how he behaved 18 months after signing that 10-year treaty. Look, look, look.

Now look again at the phrase from the article quoted above.

It has one gross error, one terrible fault or fault-line, and if one wished to save the entire teeter-tottering faulty tower from collapse, one must remove one word.

Can you guess what that word is?

For those who can't, here is the errata sheet:

For "the mapping of Muslim communities...seems premised on the faulty notion that Muslims are more likely to commit violent acts than people of other faiths"

Read "the mapping of Muslim communities...seems premised on the notion that Muslims are more likely to commit violent acts than people of other faiths."

There. That was easy.

Posted on 11/12/2007 1:03 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 12 November 2007
Six Die At Arafat Memorial Rally
BBC: At least six people have died in gunfire at a rally in Gaza City organised by Fatah to mark three years since the death of Yasser Arafat.

The violence occurred when Fatah supporters began taunting Hamas police and throwing stones, witnesses said.

The Hamas security forces reportedly responded by firing towards the crowd.

It was the biggest rally held by the late president's party since it was ousted from Gaza by Hamas in June after a series of bloody clashes.

Posted on 11/12/2007 1:27 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 12 November 2007
A Local Habitation And A Name
In Arthur Krystal’s tribute to Jacques Barzun in The New Yorker, the last paragraph devoted to The One-Hundred-Year-Old Phenomenon contains this:
 

“Two years ago, while working on a piece for this magazine, I called Barzun to find out whether Lord Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary during the First World War, had said that the lights were going out all over Europe before hostilities had actually begun. Barzun asked if I was referring to him in my article as “Lord Grey.” I said I was, since the attribution was always the same. Barzun cleared his throat. ‘Well, you know, he wasn’t a lord when he said it. He didn’t become Viscount of Fallodon until 1916.’”

 
A few years ago I read something by Lord Grey, Viscount of Fallodon, Grey of Fallodon. Not two-volumed Edwardian political memoirs, but rather "Falloden Papers," a single small volume about such things as fishing and birding, that happened to give Viscout Grey of Fallodon his greatest pleasure. Then I forgot all about it.
 
But a few months ago, when repeated reference was made at this site to “John Randolph of Roanoke” I thought at once of Lord Grey of Fallodon. The same careful Americans who write “The Federalist” rather than the wrong “The Federalist Papers” are also careful to write “John Randolph of Roanoke” and never “John Randolph.” ” Their British equivalents refer  to Edward Grey after he became Viscount, not as "Sir Edward Grey" as he was for so many of his most important years in politics, and not merely as Viscount Grey, but as  "Grey" or  “Lord Grey"  "of Fallodon.” In that memoir (my copy of which  I cannot find) I remember that Lord Grey of Fallodon, out of office and procul negotiis, described the pleasures of nature, and especially the pleasure he derived from the observation of birds. He also mentions that a famous visitor came to call, Theodore Roosevelt. While the both of them were out for a quiet walk in the woods  (nothing Nitzean, much less Nietzschean, about it) the American visitor managed not only to identify a bird-call as coming from a bird not native to North America, but was also able to promptly supplying the name of the North American (Nearctic) bird closest to its British (Palearctic) cousin – earning him more points than San Juan Hill could possibly have done. 

You know now why mention of John Randolph of Roanoke prompted me to think of Lord Grey of Falloden. And these two examples hardly exhaust the list. There is Drummond of Hawthornden – never merely Drummond -- who bull-doggishly recorded Ben Jonson’s table-talk. I look forward to  the suggestions of others who can supply names to the short-list of examples, examples of a name, and a local habitation, that are indissolubly, and forever, linked.
Posted on 11/12/2007 1:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 12 November 2007
Huge blaze in east London
This is from Reuters. Unusual for me to chose an international agency for London news but at the time of starting this it was the fullest report.
 
A huge blaze at a warehouse sent black smoke pouring over east London on Monday but there were no reports of casualties and police ruled out a terrorist attack.
Fifteen fire engines and 75 firefighters rushed to the scene, an industrial estate in the Stratford area, the London fire brigade said.
Witnesses said the fire broke out in an empty warehouse being demolished as part of preparations for the 2012 Olympics.
Two ambulances raced to the scene but the London ambulance service said no casualties had been reported.
News reports and witnesses spoke of an explosion, raising fears of a possible attack.
However, a police spokesman, asked whether police suspected terrorist activity, said: "Not at all. It's a fire -- a very large fire."
"It was a large bang," said witness Stuart Russell, a telecommunications worker, who phoned Reuters. "There were massive flames and smoke filling the sky."
The fire sent flames 40 to 50 feet (12 to 15 metres) into the air and thick black smoke could be seen for miles.
Police sealed off the area around the fire and evacuated staff from local businesses.
Another witness, Peter Singleton, 53, said: "The area was being demolished for the Olympics. At first we thought they were just dismantling the building.
"But then we saw the flames coming out. And then it collapsed on itself."
A spokesman for the Home Office said London's police force had reported there were no reports of an explosion.
Asked if it was possible to rule out any terrorist connection, a security source said: "We wouldn't rule anything out at this stage, its too early. But for the time being it's being responded to as a fire. Obviously it's something that we will be keeping an eye on. We're not going to rule anything out this early in the day."
 
That is interesting, because the very first reports said that there is a fire in the Stratford/Hackney area, later specified as behind the bus depot in Waterden Road which runs between Stratford Low level and Hackney Wick, but it is not a terrorist incident. The authorities seemed very certain, very early.
Incidentally, Waterden Road is where the Kingsway International Christian Centre, the largest space for Christian worship in the SE, if not England was sited. I was not in work in London today. When I heard how heavy the smoke was I was driving on some family errands and decided to take a detour to a high vantage point with a view of the City of London and Canary Wharf some 20 miles away. The smoke was grey at that distance but still noticeable. I took the picture below.  To the left are the office blocks of Canary Wharf. The smoke looks like it is coming out of the building on the right, just to the right of the tree.  It is billowing (faintly I admit) over the power lines. That building is only about 2 miles away, the smoke is about 15 miles behind it.
I doubt that it is a terrorist incident. If it was not an accident then it is likely to be an insurance scam or someone displaced or inconvenienced by the Olympics, there being little support for the games locally. 
What no-one seems to have any idea, is what was in a "small building about to be pulled down" to make so much smoke. We regularly get tyre dumps in flames, that smoke is black, but never so much of it.
Posted on 11/12/2007 1:53 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 12 November 2007
Two Can Play This Game

Take careful note of who shows up, or sends a representative, to what only seems to be a neutral, ethnic-identity-based group, but in fact has been taken over by Muslims and a few islamochristians -- some no doubt sensing where the money is to be made -- and therefore is not about "Arab-Americans" at all. In any case, the very phrase "Arab-American" is highly misleading, because it is an attempt by recent arrivals, Muslims, to exploit the good name, and if they can, obtain the useful-idiot assistance, of those Christians whose Arabic-using ancestors arrived, from those parts of the Ottoman Empire that now form Lebanon and Syria (with some Copts from Egypt being more recent arrivals, and Assyrians and Chaldeans from Iraq being more recent still), and who were refugees from Islam, fleeing the pressures of daily discrimination, as well as intermittent persecution, and outright murder that they faced, too often, from Muslim neighbors and authorities.

I presume that many non-Muslims, many Infidels, think as I do. I write off my list of possible acceptable candidates those who pander, in any way, to individuals, groups, or organizations that I know are promoting policies that are desired by Muslims world-wide. That's an Iron Rule, or should be, of all Infidels. Make your views known about this kind of thing. There are far more of you than there are Muslims or islamochristians whom these politicians apparently assume they can court, without losing support elsewhere.

Make sure they lose support elsewhere, and make sure their campaigns know why.

Posted on 11/12/2007 2:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 12 November 2007
English Toponyms: La Belle Sauvage Yard
A list of double-entendring English toponyms prompts a memory of a non-naughty though seductive, place-name,  the place of publication for my earliest edition (circa 1870) of Cassell's Latin-English Dictionary and the reason why I bought it in the first place. I don't recommend the dictionary; I do recommend its place of publication:
La Belle Sauvage Yard.
Posted on 11/12/2007 2:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 12 November 2007
A Musical Interlude: Sweet So And So (Jack Buchanan)
Posted on 11/12/2007 2:53 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 12 November 2007
Where Some Of The Money We Spend On Gas Ends Up

IHT: PARIS: He may only be the world's 13th-richest man, but Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia will soon be able to claim the bragging rights to the world's largest private jet.

Putting an end to months of speculation, Airbus announced Monday that the Saudi billionaire had become the first VIP customer for the A380 superjumbo jet, the winged colossus that the European plane maker lists for just over $300 million. Prince Alwaleed, who currently makes do with a customized Boeing 747-400, signed the contract for his new "flying palace" at a ceremony with senior Airbus executives at the Dubai air show.

He expects to take delivery of his plane in 2010.

With its 73-meter, or 240-foot, double-deck fuselage and 80-meter wingspan, the 560-ton A380 dwarfs the rides of the even world's most powerful leaders. In comparison, Air Force One, the U.S. presidential jet, is a relatively modest conveyance, a Boeing 747-200 weighing in at just 333 tons.

"This is a very overt sign of the tremendous wealth that's being created in the Middle East these days," said Doug McVitie, managing director of Arran Aerospace, a consultancy in Dinan, France. With oil prices edging toward $100 a barrel, he said, building private jumbo jets for Arab customers "is definitely a growing market."

Saudi Arabia may be the biggest oil producing nation, but oil is not the main source of Prince Alwaleed's fortune, which Forbes magazine estimates to be $20.3 billion. The prince, 52, controls Kingdom Holding, a vast enterprise with stakes in scores of blue-chip companies, including Citigroup, News Corp. and Walt Disney. The company, based in Riyadh, also owns significant stakes in some of the world's most prestigious hotels, including the George V in Paris and the Savoy in London.

Prince Alwaleed has declined to discuss his plans for outfitting his superjumbo. But Lufthansa Technik, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Airlines based in Hamburg that designs and builds aircraft interiors, has already drawn up sample floor plans for a customized luxury A380.

The company's computer models include a bedroom, office, bathroom and "wellness area" for the VIP in the back of the plane's upper deck, along with two guest rooms equipped with their own showers. A private lounge with numerous divans, as well as a modern galley and buffet are laid out in the front section.

The main deck is reserved for meeting rooms, a dining room and a spacious royal lounge. The rear section would also feature first- and business-class style seats for courtiers, advisers and other staff.

Industry analysts estimate that manufacturers churn out as many as 1,000 private airliners a year, with sales over the next decade predicted to reach as much as $200 billion...

Posted on 11/12/2007 4:52 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 12 November 2007
In the back yard

Hugh mentions La Belle Sauvage Yard in London, which was the site of the Belle Sauvage Inn off Ludgate Hill, near St Pauls which is where Pocahontas stayed when the Virginia party first came to London.  The old inn was covered by a print works by the late 19th century, when Hugh's dictionary was published.  It is now Limeburner Lane, with shiny new office blocks. Pictures and some old maps here.

Another name Hugh might like and which is still there, is Bleeding Heart Yard. Just off Greville Street and behind the historical oddities of Ely Place, St Etheldreda's Church and the Mitre pub. The Bleeding Heart Wine bar used to advertise with the slogan "Bleedin' hard to find - but worth it".

Posted on 11/12/2007 3:21 PM by Esmerelda WEatherwax
Monday, 12 November 2007
A Literary Interlude: Aux Arbres (Victor Hugo)

Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
Recueil : Les contemplations
"Aux arbres"

Arbres de la forêt, vous connaissez mon âme!
Au gré des envieux, la foule loue et blâme ;
Vous me connaissez, vous! - vous m'avez vu souvent,
Seul dans vos profondeurs, regardant et rêvant.
Vous le savez, la pierre où court un scarabée,
Une humble goutte d'eau de fleur en fleur tombée,
Un nuage, un oiseau, m'occupent tout un jour.
La contemplation m'emplit le coeur d'amour.
Vous m'avez vu cent fois, dans la vallée obscure,
Avec ces mots que dit l'esprit à la nature,
Questionner tout bas vos rameaux palpitants,
Et du même regard poursuivre en même temps,
Pensif, le front baissé, l'oeil dans l'herbe profonde,
L'étude d'un atome et l'étude du monde.
Attentif à vos bruits qui parlent tous un peu,
Arbres, vous m'avez vu fuir l'homme et chercher Dieu!
Feuilles qui tressaillez à la pointe des branches,
Nids dont le vent au loin sème les plumes blanches,
Clairières, vallons verts, déserts sombres et doux,
Vous savez que je suis calme et pur comme vous.
Comme au ciel vos parfums, mon culte à Dieu s'élance,
Et je suis plein d'oubli comme vous de silence!
La haine sur mon nom répand en vain son fiel ;
Toujours, - je vous atteste, ô bois aimés du ciel! -
J'ai chassé loin de moi toute pensée amère,
Et mon coeur est encor tel que le fit ma mère!

Arbres de ces grands bois qui frissonnez toujours,
Je vous aime, et vous, lierre au seuil des autres sourds,
Ravins où l'on entend filtrer les sources vives,
Buissons que les oiseaux pillent, joyeux convives!
Quand je suis parmi vous, arbres de ces grands bois,
Dans tout ce qui m'entoure et me cache à la fois,
Dans votre solitude où je rentre en moi-même,
Je sens quelqu'un de grand qui m'écoute et qui m'aime!
Aussi, taillis sacrés où Dieu même apparaît,
Arbres religieux, chênes, mousses, forêt,
Forêt! c'est dans votre ombre et dans votre mystère,
C'est sous votre branchage auguste et solitaire,
Que je veux abriter mon sépulcre ignoré,
Et que je veux dormir quand je m'endormirai.

Posted on 11/12/2007 11:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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