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These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 14, 2007.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Of talking heads and witch doctors

Any doubts that mainstream media now resembles nothing so much as post-rational collage should be dispelled by this MRC report:

The NBC and ABC morning shows on Monday found it newsworthy that President Bush's "evil spirits" would have to be removed from Mayan ruins he would visit in Guatemala. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, traveling with Bush, relayed on the Today show how "he plans to tour Mayan ruins here in Guatemala and we're told some local priests want to purify the site afterward with a kind of ritual they say will get rid of what they call 'bad spirits.'" Over on ABC's Good Morning America, news reader Chris Cuomo reported how "President Bush will also visit a sacred Mayan ruin today, making some protesters angry. They say President Bush will only bring, quote, 'evil spirits' to the site." He later related how Bush "will visit a sacred Mayan ruin, where some critics jab he is likely to leave behind, quote, 'evil spirits.' They say they are going to perform a spiritual cleansing there afterwards, just in case."

     [This item is based on Monday NewsBusters postings by Geoffrey Dickens ( newsbusters.org ) and Scott Whitlock ( http://newsbusters.org/node/11366 ) ]

     On Monday's Today, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell opened her report of the President's tour of Latin America with protest coverage, showing footage of a sign of Bush with a Hitler mustache, a man chanting "Gringo go home," and even noted local priests' desire to "purify" a Mayan site, Bush planned to visit, of "bad spirits." Over video of protestors O'Donnell emphasized: "The President is followed by Iraq and how bitterly unpopular the war is here. Protests in each country he visits."

     The following is the full report as it aired on the March 12 Today:

     Ann Curry: "In the news this morning President Bush is in Guatemala today on his five nation Latin American tour. His visit has been greeted with protest against his war policy and now the President is making a case for sending another 8200 troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. NBC's White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell is traveling with the President. Kelly, good morning."  [Read on.]

Yes, let us consult the magicians of ancient Mayan "civilization," so adept at dispelling their own evil spirits.

Posted on 03/14/2007 6:12 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Married to the Qur'an

KARACHI: Seven years ago, Zubaida Ali witnessed a bizarre ceremony in her ancestral village in Sindh where her cousin Fareeba was married to the Holy Quran. --from this news item

The Doges of Venice on Ascension Day would sail out, with other high officials, spiritual and temporal, on Bucintoro, and throw a ring into the Adriatic, and thereby symbolically marry the sea.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Angela di Marco was memorably married to the mob -- or was it her husband, Tony, who was married to the mob? I can't remember.

Since the girl is a devout Muslim, the Qur'an in question needn't worry overmuch about his new wife ever looking at another book. No, the book that she marries will have to be --and in Dar al-Islam it always is -- the only book for her. No hanky-panky with a Gideon Bible in a motel room.

With a husband like that, she's unlikely to get out very much. Most evenings she will probably have to be satisfied by curling up with a good book. The One and Only Book.

Posted on 03/14/2007 7:21 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Is it too late to unload that Antarctic real estate you just bought?

Power Line has the BBC video which aired on Channel 4, "The Great Global Warming Swindle," here.  
The Calgary Sun runs a column on the show here.

Posted on 03/14/2007 7:34 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
So There

Ron Guhname on the Inductivist blog quantifies what we surely all know:  That if you divide up the human race according to the type of music people like, opera fans are the smartest.

Posted on 03/14/2007 8:46 AM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Signs of the times

Here is a strange sign near where I live:

 

The barrier, under which we must not walk, is a mere three feet high. And as you can see, to the left of it there is a gap. So why would you walk under it? More to the point, would that silly yellow banner deter a dwarf or limbo dancer bent on defiance?

 

I dislike these bossy signs, telling you not to do something you weren’t ever going to do in the first place. They bring out the bloody-minded stroppy bastard in me. These days you see illuminated signs on motorways: “Keep your distance! Tiredness kills – take a break!” If I can find one, I will put an illuminated sign on my car roof: “Bugger off! Mind your own business!”

 

I don’t dislike road signs. They are well designed, on the whole. There is a directness to these wordless admonitions sadly lacking in much contemporary language. Look at this one, meaning “elderly people crossing ahead”:

 

No facelifts, no “eighty is the new forty” just honest-to-goodness doddery old gits. This one, meaning quayside or riverbank, is good too:

 

No euphemisms here: watch out or you’ll end up in a watery grave.

 

My favourite is this:

 

It means “slippery road”, although in some survey or other a fair number of people thought it meant “beware drunk drivers”. The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road. The main reason I like it is that it is impossible: the tyre tracks can never cross like that, but you can while away the hours trying to imagine that somehow they might. 

 

Here’s Jeanette Winterson, whose journalism I prefer to her books, on the subject of road signs: 

This roadway version of the famous British reserve prompted me to collect some of the idiosyncrasies of travelling life. Although we are fined for eating apples or making telephone calls at the wheel, we are expected to read a huge amount of information while we drive. These warnings and instructions are often so entertaining that I would be safer using my mobile phone with both hands than enjoying myself with their multiple readings.

What should we make of “Changed Priorities Ahead”? It is now impossible to drive through any city centre without reflecting on one’s life choices. Should you give up the car? Move house? Or is it the world that has changed while you were in Marks & Spencer?

For motorists on the M4 around Reading, a marvellous opportunity presents itself to find an answer to all questions about changed priorities: “For Oracle Leave at Junction 11”.

For those of us not quite ready for a real-life version of Discworld, new exhortations from the Ministry of Transport may be sufficient. People sometimes complain that we are a superficial and passive society who prefer The X-Factorand Big Brotherto art and culture. Perhaps I have thought so myself, but no more. As I zoomed along the M40 into London, there it was, over the lanes: “Think Don’t Phone While Driving.”

Straight away I switched off Radio 2 and turned to the big questions. “Why am I here?” I thought, and although there was no clear answer, especially driving through Ruislip, I was grateful to the road czars for prompting me back to higher things.

I am sure that most wet-weather drivers will have seen the “Spray Slow Down” signs digitally illuminated on the motorway. The fun starts when the lights fail. “Pray Slow Down” is wonderfully polite, and I am so charmed that I hardly manage more than 25mph in honour of the phrasing. The best one yet, however, is “Pray Low Down”, which must be for our Muslim friends, but adds some spiritual uplift to a tedious journey.

One recent journey through the 27 mini-roundabouts barring the way to Cambridge via Milton Keynes set me thinking about our literary heritage, and how different it might have been if the crossroads had been replaced by the roundabout.

Oedipus would never have had that fight with his father about who was going to give way first – they could just have followed the arrows. And then he wouldn’t have married his mother, so all that fate and incest could have been avoided with a bit of highway management. But what of Tess of the D’Urber-villes or poor old Jude the Obscure or Tom Jones or Tam O’Shanter? The implications of crossroads are profound – less so the roundabout. Has anyone ever said: “I’ve come to a mini-roundabout in my life.”

The most unnerving road sign I encountered was somewhere near Doncaster. It just said “End”, with no indication of what had just ended, or what I should have been doing while it lasted.

Posted on 03/14/2007 8:52 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Seven People In Search of ...

You could call it an annual rite of passage for CBN News--sort of our version of March Madness. The Council on American-Relations (CAIR) holds a press conference in Washington, D.C. CBN News, in good faith, sends a reporter and camera crew to record the event and ask CAIR's representatives the relevant questions. After all, CAIR bills itself as America's leading Muslim civil rights organization and a shining beacon of interfaith goodwill. So who better to ask about Islamic affairs here and abroad? And yet, like a vampire to garlic, time and again, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper has ushered CBN News off the premises, recoiling at the mere mention of our name. --from this news article 

Hooper the Revert has earned a psychological study. He, and Yvonne Ridley, and Adam Gadahn, and Richard Reid, and David Hicks, and Jose Padilla, and Ingrid Matson, all deserve separate studies, then to be collected in a book about Western converts or "reverts" to Islam. What features do they have in common? What conclusions can one draw about the mental makeup of those who are specially susceptible to the siren-song of Islam. What's that phrase? Long overdue. Yes, such a study is long overdue.

Seven People In Search of Complete Regulation.
Seven People In Search of Total Certainty.
Seven Types of Unambiguity.

Posted on 03/14/2007 8:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
More on D'Souza

Stanley Kurtz posts this passage by Fr. Neuhaus's review of The Enemy at Home in First Things:

“‘In order to defeat the Islamic radicals abroad,’ writes Dinesh D’Souza, ‘we must defeat the enemy at home.’  That is the argument of his new book, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.  Mr. D’Souza is undoubtedly right that radical Jihadists exploit–among many other things they exploit–the pervasiveness of pornography, sexual licentiousness, and other depravities America exports through its commanding role in the global media.  And there is in this country an intense and open-ended conflict, commonly called a culture war, between ‘the cultural left’ and its opponents.  But to suggest that those associated with the cultural left are ‘the enemy’ in a way comparable to [the way in which] al-Qaeda and its allies are the enemy is over the top.  The ‘responsibility for 9/11' rests solidly with the international network of Jihadists who have declared their determination to use any means necessary to defeat the U.S. and force the world’s submission to Islam.  The idea that they or the millions of Muslims sympathetic to them will have a change of heart about America and the West if only we put our house in moral order is not persuasive.  More troubling is the implication that America, if only the American left, is responsible for the war being waged by the Jihadists.  Recall the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s speech at the 1984 Republican convention and the ‘blame-America-first-crowd.’  That crowd is large enough as it is.  There’s no call for self-identified conservatives to join it.”

In D'Souza's latest apologia, he attacks Kurtz for objecting to Muslim polygamy saying "In Islam polygamy is voluntary: it requires the free consent of all parties...since in its Islamic form it involves consenting adults, I’m not sure why it’s inherently illiberal." (I'm not kidding) Then he goes on to attack Robert Spencer by contending he "refuses to believe that there are such people as traditional Muslims." A completely ridiculous assertion which Spencer refutes here.

Posted on 03/14/2007 9:34 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Just a Bit More On Homi Bhahba, Theoretician of Literature

Here are some excerpts from an interview with Homi Bhabha that appeared in "The Hindu" (July 3, 2005):

What is your reaction to the charge that you are dense and obscure in your writings and formulations?

I don't wish to defend myself. Yes, I have certainly been accused of using difficult words and complex formulations. I can only say that I use the language I need for my work. For instance, Hegel's book is difficult, but it's not that Hegel said: "How can I make my reader's life a misery?" He had certain references, allusions, and readings. In my case, such allusions also cause difficulties. I am not interested in being a descriptive and expository writer. Eventually, I make all theoretical framework my own even if I may be drawing upon Foucault, Lacan, and Mahatma Gandhi. The attempt at making new connections, articulating new meanings, always takes the risk of being not immediately comprehensible to readers.

Does this annoy you?

Well, it annoys me that people talk about easy access to a work and a notion of transparency without thinking of what is really involved. For instance, the science section of the New York Times is not immediately comprehensible. Do I therefore say that I am not interested in the whole article? The idea that sources from the humanities have no philosophical language of their own, that they must be continually speaking in the common language of the common person while the scientists can publish in a language that needs more time to get into, is problematic to me. That is not to say that if you were to point out a passage that you thought was very difficult, I wouldn't try and rewrite it. I would. Many a time I had to rewrite passages.

By choosing a location of power in the United States, are you not being implicated in the Western hegemony?

Well, the reasons for my moving to the West were largely educational ones. After taking my B.A. degree from Bombay University, I moved to Oxford. At such times, it is natural for a person to feel part of a new context. It is not that I thought by travelling to the West I'd fatally injure my relationship with India. I saw it as a way of expanding what I truly love and understand in India.

One is always located within a power structure. Now, do I think that this is the wisest and most sensible American administration? I do not think so. The power that really matters to me personally is the empowerment I feel through my own work and my ability to empower others. I don't think I am a collusive part of the American power structure.

[he is speaking about a tenured position, and a chair at Harvard, which he, Homi Bhabha, has deigned to accept as long as he can remain pur et dur, not “a collusive part of the American power structure”]

What is your interest in subaltern studies?

I am very interested in the idea of collaborative work, very interested in the way subaltern histories have given presence to several voices in history, and talked about the asymmetry of nationalism. Also the way such historians continually cross disciplinary boundaries.

[Where would “post-colonial studies” – with that wonderful word “post-colonial” not having a sell-by date, but forever fresh, and young, and applicable, postcolonial world without end, providing fodder for the ideological mill that grinds mere words of poems, novels, plays, essays into the post-colonial flour that is then baked by bhabhas everywhere  into a pie].

What is the future of literature in late capitalism?

I want to now return to our informal conversation. I would like to return to some of the lessons you have taught me. Here you are, a Professor from Hyderabad. You have made a choice that you will work hard in revealing to the world the rich archive of Oriya Literature. Now, is this story going to be on CNN? It is not going to be on CNN. In the complex society in which we live, we cannot judge our success in inappropriate measures. And I believe we need to rethink our criteria of success and failure.

[Apparently Homi Bhabha has not had much as yet to help to “rethink our criteria of success and failure,” to judge by the  description of Homi Bhabha, with all piquant details – being “Faculty Advisor to the DAVOS World Economic Forum,” that being named by Newsweek as one of “100 Americans for the New Century,” those lectures  in Berlin.

You can find Homi Bhabha’s apparently continuing “collusion” in the most obvious current “criteria of success and failure,” at the web page of the Department of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University. That advertisement for himself can also be found here at NER, under the “Pseudsday Wednesday, or, Homi Bhabha”].

Posted on 03/14/2007 9:58 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Ramadan Detained for Insulting an Officer

The Terror Finance Blog has an exclusive on Tariq Ramadan (h/t DW):

Tariq Ramadan, the so-called “moderate” Islamic “intellectual”, was briefly detained and charged for “insulting a public agent” on Sunday at Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle International Airport, while in transit to London.

From informed police sources, we have learned that when Ramadan tried to enter a prohibited area, a young policewoman stopped him. He began shouting at her and was then taken into police custody; the officer filed a complaint against him.

While in custody, he admitted the offense and was ordered to appear before a criminal court of Bobigny on April 6. Tariq Ramadan faces up to 6 months of imprisonment and 7,500 Euros of penalty.

Posted on 03/14/2007 10:14 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Re: D'Souza

He's got his market niche to protect. And the determination of the mountebank or Wizard-of-Oz who must never allow for the slightest admission of error, much less of colossal error that not merely misleads, but by misleading in this case creates danger for the Western world that, we are supposed to believe, Dinesh D'Souza cares so very much about. I submit that Jacques Barzun is an example of someone who cares about the fate of Western civilization, and Dinesh D'Souza an example of someone who cares mainly for the fate of....Dinesh D'Souza. He's not alone. There are others like him. Many in the same racket. But he has chosen a topic where any further misinformation has direct immediate and potentially terrible consequences. His insouciance with facts, his willingness to substitute the cheapest sound-bite for any semblance of coming to grips with the matter at hand, his comical complacency and self-satisfaction, his solipsistic self-promotion and ishness -- - these are no longer to be endured.

Posted on 03/14/2007 10:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Muslim takes sauna in hijab
From the Currant Bun
A MUSLIM woman in full hijab robes was allowed to swelter in a SAUNA because worried staff did not want to offend her.  She then jumped into the sports centre’s swimming pool to cool off while still wearing the black top-to-toe Islamic dress.
Staff did not know if they should enforce a dress code which asks customers to wear SUITABLE clothes. People in the sauna — all wearing normal swimming cossies — were amazed as the woman joined them in the steam room in her robes.
After ten minutes in the sauna and ten minutes in the pool the mystery woman changed out of her wet hijab into a dry one in the changing rooms and left alone.
Yesterday members of the David Lloyd Leisure centre in Oxford said they were baffled by the women’s actions.
Club member Ian Caldwell, 46, was sitting in the sauna when the fully-dressed woman walked in.  “The pool attendant said she was allowed to wear this due to her religious customs. It was just political correctness gone completely barmy. I told the manager that it was my custom to attend saunas naked, as they do in Sweden, and said I trusted he would find that equally acceptable.  But to be serious, this is a question of hygiene, not religious rights.”
Last night surprised Muslim spokesman Taj Hargey (chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre in Oxford) asked: “How can you swim properly if you wear a hijab? . . . People should have appropriate swimwear when they come to a leisure centre. It is basic common sense.”  He added the incident demonstrated a problem among some Muslim women in Britain. He said: “They think this is their way of making a statement, but this is the worst possible statement. They are shooting themselves in the foot.”
Centre manager Liam MacGilp said all pool and sauna attendants had now been briefed on the company’s policy, and that robed or outdoor garments would not be allowed in future.

Update, I remember now posting
this last summer about a range by Hasema of Islamic swimming and other sports suits. This is what they recommend for the sauna, or perhaps it is the sauna itself. 
Posted on 03/14/2007 10:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Annoying Americanism of the week

I was in a sandwich shop today, minding my own business and thinking jolly old limey thoughts about George Formby and Trooping the Colour, when I heard this from the customer next to me:

"Can I get a cheese roll?"

The shop assistant should have replied: "No need - that's my job. I will get it so that you can have it."

You hear "can I get" a lot these days, instead of "can I have" It's as American as "I'm, like, 'Hello?'" and just as annoying. But at least we still say "Can I get a biscuit?" and not a "cookie". We have a few crumbs of dignity left.

If the usage is to spread, we should subvert it by asking for things Americans don't understand or like: "Can I get a cup of hot, sweet tea, a bacon bap, some parkin and some lardy cake with spotted dick and lashings of custard? Ta, y'all."

Posted on 03/14/2007 10:49 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
The MEK

BAGHDAD, March 14 (UPI) -- Iraq and the United States are at odds over thousands of Iranian rebels living near Baghdad who help U.S. intelligence but who are considered terrorists.

About 3,800 expatriate Iranians who belong to the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, receive U.S. military protection in their compound north of Baghdad, even though the State Department has designated the group a terrorist organization, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. --from this news item

I'm not sure that the MEK, and Miriam Rajavi, are not at this point useful to the West. They represent, in the incredible confusion of Iran and its various groups and groupuscules, inside Iran, outside Iran in Iraq and France and the United States, one strand, the crazed leftists who thought, wrongly, that they should oppose the Shah (who looks better every minute) and that they would be able to handle Khomeini and his primitives. Like the Tudeh Party members who, a a minute after they debarked from the plane that had taken them from their Russian exile in Moscow, were all shot dead right on the tarmac, the MEK prisoners in Iran were massacred by Khomeini.

Are many of the members of MEK not our cup of tea? Of course. No one in the Muslim world, save for a handful of apostates, can be described as our cup of tea -- we, rational, advanced, Western men. But that doesn't mean that MEK doesn't have its uses.

One would like to know much more before insisting this group be disarmed or disbanded. Its efforts might be most helpful. The Arabs setting off bombs in Khuzistan are not our cup of tea, either -- but does anyone think that those bombs do not unsettle the Islamic Republic of Iran, and therefore right now work to our Infidel advantage?

Posted on 03/14/2007 1:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
More Islamic Family Values

No matter how many of these interviews with little children talking about martyrdom I see, they never fail to shake me up. In this case it was their own mother who blew herself up kiling "five Jews" in the process. The interviewer of course encourages the children to be proud of this and to recite affirmations.

Posted on 03/14/2007 2:19 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Let's just call it "the weather"

Two more global warming stories via Jules Crittenden:

OOPSDATE: Scientific mission to North Pole to prove Global Warming aborted due to frostbite.

First Channel Four’s “Great Global Warming Swindle,” now the New York Times, “hype” and “exaggeration.”  The flood waters rising around Gore, warmglob enthusiasts. Oh, the treachery!

Update:  Interesting discussion of the "Great Global Warming Swindle" at Power Line forum.

Posted on 03/14/2007 3:16 PM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Global warming - arrnchasickofit????

...asks Private Eye's Glenda Slag. Well she might pluck up courage to write that - it isn't as scary as Islam, after all.

I really don't know what to think. It's probably true and we should probably worry about it, but it's boring - even more boring than Islam. Then again, it's probably true.

I saw the Channel 4 documentary, and it argued pretty convincingly that global warming is nonsense. This is what I want to believe, though, and the fact is that I haven't a clue. Mary Ann Sieghart doesn't know either, but she's opted for believing it. She was right about handbags, so she's probably right about this: 

I am not a natural environmentalist. I am no longer even a sceptical environmentalist. I have become a reluctant environmentalist because it no longer seems tenable either to dismiss the existence of global warming or to deny the contribution that humans have made to it.

I still file the subject under “boring but important” — that useful heading coined by The Week. When I drive my next car, a hybrid, I will gain no eco-pleasure from its milkfloat-like acceleration. I find our low-energy lightbulbs annoying and I resent having to wrap up warm inside my house because the thermostat has been turned down. But my view is that we simply have to grit our teeth and get on with it.

You see, there comes a point at which you have to admit that 95 per cent of the world’s scientists can’t be wrong. Or at least, it is becoming vanishingly unlikely that they are.

There are some, like Edward Leigh in the House of Commons yesterday, who cling to the odd iconoclastic voices reassuring us that global warming is either a con or it is not our fault. Some of these people even argue proudly that the more scientists agree, the more inclined they are to be sceptical about the conventional wisdom. “One decade it’s another Ice Age; now we’re all going to roast,” they scoff.

These doubters are increasingly beginning to sound like the smokers who refused to believe that there was any link between their toxic inhalations and lung cancer. Even when the correlation was proved, they insisted that no causation was present. They continued to resist the science until their (prematurely) dying day. A fat lot of good it did them. Had these smokers given up their habit instead, many of them would still be alive. But they insisted on believing what they wanted to believe, and denying the uncomfortable truth.

Discounting the now overwhelming scientific evidence for climate change, and the human contribution to it, is a similar — and equally damaging — form of denial. If we all indulged in this denial, countless lives would be lost through drought in some parts of the world and flooding in others. It is not a costless course of inaction.

Yet if we take action instead and try to reduce carbon emissions, that must be good for the planet, even if the mavericks are right about global warming. There are not infinite stocks of oil, gas and coal in the world, so it makes sense to use them more efficiently. [My bold]

It is odd that the few remaining sceptics are largely on the Right. Conservatives should believe in conservation, in handing the world on in good shape to future generations. Burning less carbon and protecting rainforests should be at the heart of any Conservative policy. Surely a man named after some of the oldest trees in the world — Redwood — ought to agree?

Even if the threat is not as bad as some make out, it make sense to reduce carbon emissions, with all due scepticism about Kyoto and other con-tricks. We need to be less dependent on oil, so we don't have to pander to Muslims and nutters like Chavez. What a bore, though.

Posted on 03/14/2007 4:25 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Homi Bhabha and the Enunciatory Modality

One of the glittering prizes left out of the list Homi Bhabha  must have compiled  of the many awards and honors he has received (Lectures in Berlin, "Faculty Advisor to the DAVOS World Economic Forum," being named by Newsweek as one of the "100 Americans for the Next Century" und so weiter) for the biographical gush posted about him at the web-page of The Department of African-American Studies at Harvard University (chaired by  the well-known entrepreneur  Henry Louis Gates, Jr.), is the  award he received in 1998, a Second Prize not a First. It is that prize which, far more than his being “Faculty ADvisor to the DAVOS World Economic Forum,” would properly inform potential students of Harvard, those whose particular bent is literary, and who might wish to find out about Homi Bhabha, whose appointment a few years ago was hailed by Professor Stephen Greenbaltt, then the Department Chairman, as a great event, for Bhabha was a “world-class scholar” (or some such) and a “great catch” – a “great catch” that presumably offset the “great loss” Harvard must have felt when Cornel West left in a huff, only to become the “great catch” and “world-class scholar” promptly snatched up by Princeton and given a University Professorship to boot.  Homi Bhabha must surely be on his own way to his own University Professorship, more likely now that one form of unacceptable administration has been replaced by another.  

The prize that those students (and their parents) might have wanted to find out about is the Bad Writing Prize.

The details, found at www.denisdutton.com, are as follows:

“This year’s second prize went to a sentence written by Homi K. Bhabha, a professor of English at the University of Chicago. It appears in The Location of Culture (Routledge, 1994):

If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities, and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to “normalize” formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality.

This prize-winning entry was nominated by John D. Peters of the University of Iowa, who describes it as “quite splendid: enunciatory modality, indeed!”

 

 

A single sentence, but there are so many more just like it.

 

Ex ungue leonem.  

Posted on 03/14/2007 7:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Gide in 1940

Late this  afternoon I picked up at a 75%-off sale a copy of "Pages de Journal" by Andre Gide, published in New York, in 1944, by Jacques Schiffrin, under the Pantheon label that Schiffrin had established in his American exile.

I've early on been struck by the relevance of several entries, from 1940, to France today, to the inadequate response by the French to the steady islamisation of their country, which continues  largely undisturbed or much studied, even where its effects manage to be noted. And this is all the more striking because the  most obvious feature of Islam, that primitive Total System, exhibits a deep and permanent and hideous collectivism, so completely at odds with what it is that made the "perfected civilisation" of France what it was.

Here are two of Gide's entries:

21 mai 1940:

O incurablement léger peuple  de France! tu vas payer bien cher aujourd'hui ton inapplication, ton insouciance, ton repos complaisant dans tant de qualités charmantes!...

26 mai 1940:

Cette désindividualisation systématique à quoi travaillait le hitlérisme, préparait admirablement l"Allemagne à la guerre. Et c'est par là surtout me semble-t-il, que le hitlérisme s'oppose au christianisme, Cette incomparable école d'individualisation, où chacun est plus précieux que tous. Nier la valeur individuelle, de sorte que chacun, fondu dans la masse et faisant nombre, soit indéfiniment remplaçable, que, si Friedrich ou Wolfgang se font tuer, Hermann ou Ludwig feront aussi bien l'affaire et que de la perte de tel ou tel, il n'y a pas lieu de beaucoup s'affliger.

 

 No doubt there will be more, as the link between a past threat, and a present and future one, becomes ever clearer, and the faiblesse of the West's response gives a collective sense, one not imagined but real, of Deja Vu.

Posted on 03/14/2007 8:10 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
A View of Utrecht

At The Brussels Journal Paul Belien has put up the latest news from Utrecht:

 

 

Ondiep, a working class neighbourhood in the Dutch town of Utrecht, is in turmoil. After the death last Sunday of Rinie Mulder, a 54-year old indigenous Dutchman who was shot by a police officer, non-immigrant citizens went on a rampage, burning cars, looting shops and arsoning a community centre in “inverted Paris style riots.” According to our sources the police officer who killed Mulder is a woman of Moroccan origin.

The Ondiep residents have been complaining for months about harassment and intimidation by immigrant youths of Moroccan origin. The Dutch mainstream media do not go into much detail about what is going on. Most of them do not mention the ethnicity of the victim and the police officer, though the riots clearly have an ethnic nature.

Apparently Mulder intervened when Muslim youths harassed a pregnant native Dutch woman. He was able to grab the knife of one of the youths. When the police arrived Mulder was shot because he had raised the knife. Witnesses say Mulder was indicating to the police that he had called for them.

Locals claim the police has failed to protect them for years. They say the authorities are afraid of the immigrants and tolerate their criminal behaviour. After the death of Mulder the indigenous Dutch decided they had had enough and started riots which went on for two continuous nights. The police made 130 arrests: 60 of them are Ondiep residents. According to the mainstream media the others are mainly “football hooligans” from other parts of the country. Annie Brouwer-Korf, the Socialist mayor of Utrecht, has ordered Ondiep to be sealed off from the rest of town to keep non-residents out. She expressed some sympathy for the frustrated Ondiep residents. “I understand that residents are sometimes upset about the nuisance around their own house and neighbourhood.  That does you no good whatsoever.”

The riots are no surprise. As I wrote last January:

The Netherlands are bracing themselves for more [Parisian style] incidents this year. An official report published last week states that the Government has seriously underestimated “tensions between various ethnic and cultural groups of youths.”
 
The report says that the Dutch authorities fail to grasp the gravity of the problem. If nothing is done the country will soon witness situations similar to the French riots of 2005 and 2006 which led to the police abandoning immigrant suburbs to gangs of Muslim youths. The result of the French ambivalence is that the same gangs have now taken over effective control of more than 750 French urban neighborhoods.


Ondiep is one of the Dutch urban neighbourhoods which seem to have been abandoned by the authorities. It is hardly a surprise that the natives are beginning to fight back. The same thing happened recently in Britain.
 

Posted on 03/14/2007 8:55 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
That Channel 4 Documentary #1

Climate scientist 'duped to deny global warming'



Ben Goldacre and David Adam
Sunday March 11, 2007
The Observer


A leading US climate scientist is considering legal action after he says he was duped into appearing in a Channel 4 documentary that claimed man-made global warming is a myth. Carl Wunsch, professor of physical oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the film, The Great Global Warming Swindle, was 'grossly distorted' and 'as close to pure propaganda as anything since World War Two'.

He says his comments in the film were taken out of context and that he would not have agreed to take part if he had known it would argue that man-made global warming was not a serious threat. 'I thought they were trying to educate the public about the complexities of climate change,' he said. 'This seems like a deliberate attempt to exploit someone who is on the other side of the issue.' He is considering a complaint to Ofcom, the broadcast regulator. The film, shown on Thursday, was made by Martin Durkin. In 1997, he produced a similar series for Channel 4 called Against Nature, which attacked many of the claims of the environmental movement.

Durkin said: 'Carl Wunsch was most certainly not "duped" into appearing in the film, as is perfectly clear from our correspondence with him. Nor are his comments taken out of context. His interview, as used in the programme, perfectly accurately represents what he said.'

Channel 4 said: 'We feel it is important that all sides of the debate are aired. If one of the scientists featured now has concerns about his contribution, we will look into it in the normal way.'




Posted on 03/14/2007 11:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
That Channel 4 Documentary, #2

A Global Warming Swindle play-by-play

12 Mar 07

The UK Channel 4 documentary "The Great Global Warming Swindle " has been touted by deniers and slammed by a lot of others, including one scientist who appeared in the film. Having taken a quick glance over the movie, the first thing that jumps out is that it's the same guys we write about on DSBlog all the time. There's nothing new here that we have not heard ad naseum from the same handful of global warming deniers.

Here's a few obvious points:

Putting lipstick on a Llama: Tim Ball, retired professor at the University of Winnipeg's department of geography, has magically turned into "Professor Tim Ball, University of Winnipeg, Department of Climatology." Here's some more on Tim Ball. $100 in iTunes to the first person to find the elusive department of climatology at the University of Winnipeg. I'll even give you the list of departments at U of W to make it easier.

Climate scientists are lying to us: Off the top, the narrator states we are all being lied to. In one broad brush stroke, the Swindle film brushes off the following groups who have stated that global warming is a serious problem and we humans are to blame: the National Academies of Science (or their respective equivalent) of China, France, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, United States, Japan, Italy and and Germany (pdf); the UK's Royal Society (pdf ); the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; NASA; and NOAA, to name just a few.

Of course, the Channel 4 film also forgot to mention that there has been no science in the peer-reviewed scientific literature refuting the consensus view that global warming is real and humans are the cause.

The two Paul's: Paul Reiter and Paul Copper make an appearance.

The "Great Science Funding Conspiracy" is put forth by Roy Spencer . Spencer claims that "climate scientists need there to be a problem in order to get funding."

Virginia's "Climatologist" (can I still say that?), Pat Michaels claims global warming is a big business. Darn rights it is Pat: How much did you make last year from the coal-fired electrical industry?

Nigel Calder might want to refresh his CV for "Swindle Part 2." Calder is touted in the film as the former editor of "New Scientist" magazine. Which is true, he was the editor between 1956 and 1966.

And this is all in the introductory scene.

To continue:

The Little Ice Age as evidence. Is this earth-shattering news uncovered by the crack team of researchers at Channel 4, destined to rip apart the scientific conclusions of climate scientists around the world? Have they never heard of this "little ice age?" Should someone phone NASA? Nope, here's a little background on the Little Ice Age written by an atmospheric scientist in language that is easy to understand.

The Medieval Warming period. For those DeSmog readers well-versed in the "science of global warming denial," it comes as no surprise that a mention of the Little Ice Age would be quickly followed by the next favorite bit of distracting blather: the Medieval Warming Period. Like the LIA, the MWV, has been factored into the science of climate change and factored out as a sign that somehow the global warming today is part of natural variation. Here's an explanation of the medieval warming period .

Blind betting now. I have paused the video and I am going to guess that the next little piece of earth-shattering news in the film will be the "Global Cooling of the 70's." Wish I had wagered money on that one. Here's some more information on the "Global Cooling of the 1970's."

And back to Tim Ball, who at this point in the film, is still parading as a Professor at the University of Winnipeg's department of climatology.

Water vapour makes up 95% of the atmosphere, C02 is unimportant. Again, I will first ask: Do you think the world's climate scientists are unaware of this? Do you think that they have all (in their mass money-making conspiracy) just ignored this in their scientific conclusions? The answer is no, scientists are well-aware of water vapour. Unfortunately the best debunking of the water vapour myth is quite technical, but it is the best one around and is written by a scientist here.

And surpise, surpise here comes Dr. Fredrick Singer. This is the same guy who challenged the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke. Not to mention the fact that he is affiliated with 11 think tanks and associations that have recieved funding from oil-giant ExxonMobil.

Then comes Carl Wunsch who is kicking himself for even appearing in the film.

Philip Stott and solar variability: "Isn't it bizarre to think that is humans, you know, when we are filling up our car, turning on our lights, we're the ones controlling climate? Just look up in the sky at that massive thing the sun." So here's some more on the skeptic's solar variability argument.

Posted on 03/14/2007 11:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
That Channel 4 Documentary #3

The following letter from Carl Wunsch is intended to clarify his views on global warming in general, and the The Great Global Warming Swindle which misrepresented them.

Partial Response to the London Channel 4 Film "The Global Warming Swindle"

Carl Wunsch 11 March 2007

I believe that climate change is real, a major threat, and almost surely has a major human-induced component. But I have tried to stay out of the `climate wars' because all nuance tends to be lost, and the distinction between what we know firmly, as scientists, and what we suspect is happening, is so difficult to maintain in the presence of rhetorical excess. In the long run, our credibility as scientists rests on being very careful of, and protective of, our authority and expertise.

The science of climate change remains incomplete. Some elements are so firmly based on well-understood principles, or for which the observational record is so clear, that most scientists would agree that they are almost surely true (adding CO2 to the atmosphere is dangerous; sea level will continue to rise,...). Other elements remain more uncertain, but we as scientists in our roles as informed citizens believe society should be deeply concerned about their possibility: failure of US midwestern precipitation in 100 years in a mega-drought; melting of a large part of the Greenland ice sheet, among many other examples.

I am on record in a number of places complaining about the over-dramatization and unwarranted extrapolation of scientific facts. Thus the notion that the Gulf Stream would or could "shut off" or that with global warming Britain would go into a "new ice age" are either scientifically impossible or so unlikely as to threaten our credibility as a scientific discipline if we proclaim their reality [i.e. see this previous RC post]. They also are huge distractions from more immediate and realistic threats. I've paid more attention to the extreme claims in the literature warning of coming catastrophe, both because I regard the scientists there as more serious, and because I am very sympathetic to the goals of my colleagues who sometimes seem, however, to be confusing their specific scientific knowledge with their worries about the future.

When approached by WAGTV, on behalf of Channel 4, known to me as one of the main UK independent broadcasters, I was led to believe that I would be given an opportunity to explain why I, like some others, find the statements at both extremes of the global change debate distasteful. I am, after all a teacher, and this seemed like a good opportunity to explain why, for example, I thought more attention should be paid to sea level rise, which is ongoing and unstoppable and carries a real threat of acceleration, than to the unsupportable claims that the ocean circulation was undergoing shutdown (Nature, December 2005).

I wanted to explain why observing the ocean was so difficult, and why it is so tricky to predict with any degree of confidence such important climate elements as its heat and carbon storage and transports in 10 or 100 years. I am distrustful of prediction scenarios for details of the ocean circulation that rely on extremely complicated coupled models that run out for decades to thousands of years. The science is not sufficiently mature to say which of the many complex elements of such forecasts are skillful. Nonetheless, and contrary to the impression given in the film, I firmly believe there is a great deal to be learned from models. With effort, all of this is explicable in terms the public can understand.

In the part of the "Swindle" film where I am describing the fact that the ocean tends to expel carbon dioxide where it is warm, and to absorb it where it is cold, my intent was to explain that warming the ocean could be dangerous---because it is such a gigantic reservoir of carbon. By its placement in the film, it appears that I am saying that since carbon dioxide exists in the ocean in such large quantities, human influence must not be very important --- diametrically opposite to the point I was making --- which is that global warming is both real and threatening in many different ways, some unexpected.

Many of us feel an obligation to talk to the media---it's part of our role as scientists, citizens, and educators. The subjects are complicated, and it is easy to be misquoted or quoted out context. My experience in the past is that these things do happen, but usually inadvertently --- most reporters really do want to get it right.

Channel 4 now says they were making a film in a series of "polemics". There is nothing in the communication we had (much of it on the telephone or with the film crew on the day they were in Boston) that suggested they were making a film that was one-sided, anti-educational, and misleading. I took them at face value---clearly a great error. I knew I had no control over the actual content, but it never occurred to me that I was dealing with people who already had a reputation for distortion and exaggeration.

The letter I sent them as soon as I heard about the actual program is below. [available here]

As a society, we need to take out insurance against catastrophe in the same way we take out homeowner's protection against fire. I buy fire insurance, but I also take the precaution of having the wiring in the house checked, keeping the heating system up to date, etc., all the while hoping that I won't need the insurance. Will any of these precautions work? Unexpected things still happen (lightning strike? plumber's torch igniting the woodwork?). How large a fire insurance premium is it worth paying? How much is it worth paying for rewiring the house? $10,000 but perhaps not $100,000? There are no simple answers even at this mundane level.

How much is it worth to society to restrain CO2 emissions --- will that guarantee protection against global warming? Is it sensible to subsidize insurance for people who wish to build in regions strongly susceptible to coastal flooding? These and others are truly complicated questions where often the science is not mature enough give definitive answers, much as we would like to be able to provide them. Scientifically, we can recognize the reality of the threat, and much of what society needs to insure against. Statements of concern do not need to imply that we have all the answers. Channel 4 had an opportunity to elucidate some of this. The outcome is sad.

Posted on 03/14/2007 11:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
www.realclimate.org, or, That Channel 4 Documentary, #4

Go to www.realclimate.org.

Then scroll down to the entry for 9 March 2007. Then click on the link to the comments.  Start reading.  Stop when you get tired, then resume reading. I started noting a few from about #88 on, and would recommend #89, 91, 96 [response], 97, 98, 99, 102, 105, 112, 114, 116, 131, 138, 143, 150, 163 [the response], 233 [as an example of what a so-called skeptic produces), 237 [a response to 233],238, 316, 317. 

Unless he is already well-versed in the field, a reader cannot possibly make much sense of what is written, and is most likely to have to content himself with trying to detect or figure out what appears, by its presentation, to have been written by sensible, measured, careful people,  and what appears to be something else -- the continued presentation of arguments that have been, already, repeatedly knocked down, or the assertions that are mere attitudinizing in the podsnappian mode -- that there must be some hidden agenda, leftist or anti-growth or otherwise, and that all of these climatologists are in on this vast -- and entirely imaginary -- conspiracy. .

Posted on 03/14/2007 11:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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