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

These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 15, 2008.
Friday, 15 August 2008
Johann Hari on Islam

Johann Hari writes for The Independent, which can at times be as bad or worse than The Guardian. He is a lefty with dopey anti-Israeli and anti-American views. But even he is starting to understand something of Islam's threat to our society. "We need to stop being such cowards about Islam," he writes in The Independent:

In Europe, we are finally abolishing the lingering blasphemy laws that hinder criticism of Christianity. But they are being succeeded by a new blasphemy law preventing criticism of Islam – enforced not by the state, but by jihadis. I seriously considered not writing this column, but the right to criticise religion is as precious – and hard-won – as the right to criticise government. We have to use it or lose it.


We need to acknowledge the double-standard – and that it will cost Muslims in the end. Insulating a religion from criticism – surrounding it with an electric fence called "respect" – keeps it stunted at its most infantile and fundamentalist stage.


The story of Aisha also prompts another fundamentalist-busting discussion. You cannot say that Mohamed's decision to marry a young girl has to be judged by the standards of his time, and then demand that we follow his moral standards to the letter. Either we should follow his example literally, or we should critically evaluate it and choose for ourselves.

Hari also writes on the Yemeni child-brides:

The conservative Islamic mullahs have reacted by saying there is nothing wrong with child-marriage – because Mohammed did it. I discuss this in my column today. It is true Mohammed did this. If you are trapped in the fundamentalist mindset of Mohammed-is-our-moral-exemplar, you have no way to answer back. The debate is resolved; Nujood's "husband" was in the right.

To get out of this bind, you need to leave behind a fundamentalist reading of Islam. You need to accept that parts of it are metaphor – or, better still, abandon supernatural explanations for life altogether.

Metaphor? That's a joke. Islam is nothing if not literal. And there is no need to abandon "supernatural explanations for life" - just abandon Islam, and find some "supernatural explanation" that doesn't entail killing unbelievers and raping nine-year-old girls.

To call anyone who tries to help them "Islamopohobic" is an obscene betrayal of these young women. Some of the bravest critics of this barbarism are in fact British Muslim women: they staff and run a series of brilliant domestic violence refuges. But the fundamentalist literalist reading of Islam chokes their efforts. It will always tell the girls that child-marriage is acceptable, because Mohammed did it. If we can't criticize and reinterpret Mohammed without being threatened, then we may be unable – in the end – to cut away the intellectual justification for abusing these girls.

Both pieces have some good points, but Hari, like Hitchens and too many other atheists, makes the mistake of attacking "religion" rather than Islam. First, Islam is not only, or mainly, a religion. More importantly, other religions do not command world domination.

Richard Dawkins is another atheist who, until recently, refused to see that Islam is uniquely dangerous. But there is a hint that the penny may have dropped. From The Herald:

Mr Dawkins said, in answer to a question from the audience about the future of religious belief in the world, that the possible growth in Islam while Christianity declines would be a "poor exchange".

Understatement of the year.

Update: David Vance (h/t Alan) agrees on the weakness of Hari's argument, and his failure to make the point that Islam is uniquely dangerous.

Posted on 08/15/2008 4:36 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 15 August 2008
Three terror suspects arrested in North

I just spotted this while browsing in a Norfolk library. As you do. From The Telegraph
Three men have been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences.
Police confirmed two men were stopped at Manchester Airport while a third man was arrested in Accrington, Lancashire.
The three men are from Blackburn. On Thursday night specialist officers were carrying out searches at their homes. The men are of Asian origin and aged 21, 22 and 23.
The arrests were the culmination of a counter-terrorism operation between Lancashire Constabulary and Greater Manchester Counter Terrorism Unit.
Chief Superintendent Andy Rhodes, Divisional Commander for Eastern Division, said: "These arrests and subsequent searches of the nearby premises will be conducted with sensitivity and carried out as quickly as possible to ensure minimum impact on the three areas concerned. However, these types of enquiries can be complex and may take time to resolve.
"I would ask local residents to be patient with us and to be assured that we will keep them updated in relation to the investigation as and when we can. Why? If a troop of burglars are arrested do the local community need to be “reassured”?
. . . two men arrested in Blackburn by Lancashire Police last July over a suspected al Qaeda plot to detonate car bombs in London and Scotland turned out to be cannabis dealers. So fine upstanding citizens, an asset to society then.
Accrington councillor Doreen Pollitt was surprised to learn one of the arrested men was from the area. She said: "The majority of our community here are Kashmiri. We have never had any problems, and have a very good relationship with the Kashmiri Community, and have done for a very long time”.  Kashmir has been a volatile area since I was a child – I recall fights in the school playground over Kashmir.
Locals said houses in the Whalley Range area of Blackburn are being searched. Resident Omar Hussain said: "I came in about 10.15pm and there were police officers outside and they handed me a leaflet saying 'don't be worried, they're just looking into the neighbourhood, there have been three terror arrests'. It was quite hard to see which houses because there were crowds of people outside, and two police cars and a van. It's really worrying that it's so close. It's like 'oh my God, who is it?' You can't believe it's actually happening on your street, in your community." They never do.

Posted on 08/15/2008 5:31 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 15 August 2008
They've killed Professor Plum

Or is he just Plum tuckered out? From The Telegraph:

Yesterday, another little piece of my childhood was bludgeoned to death, in the billiard room, with the lead piping. The makers of Cluedo have decided to scrap Colonel Mustard, Reverend Green et al in favour of a "thrilling" and "up-to-date" new version.

Instead of a library and lounge, there will be a spa and home theatre; Professor Plum becomes Victor Plum, video-game billionaire, while Miss Scarlett is Kasandra Scarlet, a Heat magazine pin-up who will no doubt be accessorised with matching chihuahua.

I ought to be annoyed, but I can't help finding it quite funny. The stated rationale is that the game should reflect 21st-century society - but do its makers really imagine that the faux-Edwardiana of the original, in which the vicar and the doctor and the local spinster gathered at the manor, was an accurate reflection of late-1940s society?

Should we also replace the knights and castles of the chess board with cops and hoodies, or the boot on the Monopoly board with an adidas trainer?

Admittedly, the owners of Cluedo have a job to do: to make money. That is why we have Trivial Pursuit: Star Wars and SpongeBob SquarePants Monopoly. But the appeal of these games is not that they reflect the real world, but that they take you away from it.


When you don't have much money - because you're a child, or there's a credit crunch on - board games are a wonderful solution. (Indeed, given that Monopoly was invented in the Great Depression, it's the definition of a cheap thrill.)

Even if you can afford the latest gizmos, they can still be magical. Last year, on a particularly drizzly Bank Holiday, we drove over to some friends with a set of games culled from the family cupboard.

After a squelch through the Oxfordshire woods, we all settled in front of the fire for a few games of Boggle. Being the designated driver, I couldn't drink, but the warmth of the atmosphere was enough to give me a glow. Perhaps that's why sales of board games rose after September 11, 2001 - we were all trying to recover that sense of community.

Posted on 08/15/2008 5:40 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 15 August 2008
Cold War Heats Up Again

 IHT: WASHINGTON - The United States and Poland reached a long-stalled deal on Thursday to place an American missile defense base on Polish territory, in the strongest reaction so far to Russia's military operation in Georgia.

Russia reacted angrily, saying that the move would worsen relations with the United States that have already been strained severely in the week since Russian troops entered separatist enclaves in Georgia, a close American ally.

But the deal reflected growing alarm in countries like Poland, once a conquered Soviet client state, about a newly rich and powerful Russia's intentions in its former cold war sphere of power. In fact, negotiations dragged on for 18 months — but were completed only as old memories and new fears surfaced in recent days.

Those fears were codified to some degree in what Polish and American officials characterized as unusual aspects of the final deal: that at least temporarily American soldiers would staff air defense sites in Poland oriented toward Russia, and that the United States would be obliged to defend Poland in case of an attack with greater speed than required under NATO, of which Poland is a member.

Polish officials said the agreement would strengthen the mutual commitment of the United States to defend Poland, and vice versa. "Poland and the Poles do not want to be in alliances in which assistance comes at some point later — it is no good when assistance comes to dead people," the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, said on Polish television. "Poland wants to be in alliances where assistance comes in the very first hours of — knock on wood — any possible conflict."

A sense of deepened suspicions — and the more darkly drawn lines between countries in the region — were also apparent in the emotional reaction from Russia.

"It is this kind of agreement, not the split between Russia and United States over the problem of South Ossetia, that may have a greater impact on the growth in tensions in Russian-American relations," Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian Parliament, told the Interfax news agency on Thursday in Moscow.

Meanwhile,, Secretary Rice travels to Georgia:

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says a proposed cease-fire she wants Georgia to sign with Russia protects Georgia's interests despite concessions to Moscow.

Rice told reporters traveling with her to Tbilisi that the immediate goal is to get Russian combat forces out of Georgia and that more difficult questions can be addressed later. But she said the U.S. would never ask Georgia to agree to something that isn't in its best interests.

Unlike our treatment of Serbia. See Walid Phares's article here.

Posted on 08/15/2008 6:46 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 15 August 2008
Getting around Britain and America


I’m surprised people manage to get around both countries. Any help with the gaps/inaccuracies much appreciated.

















Pickup truck?

Truck (small lorry with no roof at the back)

???? Trailer

Mobile home



Trailer trash


Trailer/camper van?

Articulated lorry

???? Dumb truck???




?? Greyhound bus

People carrier

SUV? Pickup truck?

Chelsea tractor (= people carrier)



Station wagon



Black cab

Yellow cab


Excuse me?



??? Road??








Motorway service station


Slip road

Off ramp ??

??Highway? (not used often)


Names like High Wycombe, Weston-super-Mare, Ashby-de-la-Zouche,  Little Snoring

Names like Pittsburgh, Louisville, Toledo

In the street

On the street

Dual carriageway



Traffic circle

Traffic offence

Traffic violation



A road


B road


Unadopted road (see Betjeman)





Burma Shave signs


Posted on 08/15/2008 8:06 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 15 August 2008
A Musical Interlude: In My Merry Oldsmobile; Get Out And Get Under
Posted on 08/15/2008 12:32 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 15 August 2008
Man with a van

Oh yes, we have those. There's Salford Van Hire, thought, by an Irishman to be a Dutch painter.

The French have something similar. It's called coq au vin.

Then there's White Van Man, who should not be confused with Black Cab Man. Both are generally, but not necessarily, white:

"White van man" is a stereotype, a usually pejorative term used in the United Kingdom to describe aggressive, thoughtless drivers of light commercial vehicles. Such vehicles are almost always painted white at the factory — in order to facilitate easy sign-writing on the panelled sides — and as such, the colour is very popular among van buyers. Drivers of un-lettered white vans are often thought of as having poor road manners, cutting off other road users and generally failing to drive safely. The term is therefore used to refer generally to aggressive van driving, extremely fast driving speeds and is not usually specific in its target.

"Drivers of unlettered white vans". And vice versa.

Posted on 08/15/2008 1:08 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 15 August 2008
Station wagon

Ah, it's an estate car:

A station wagon (or simply wagon) in American, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand usage and an estate car (or just estate) in British usage, is a passenger automobile with a body style similar to a sedan (saloon in British usage) but with the roofline following an extended rear cargo area.

Sedan? It's a whole 'nother language.

Posted on 08/15/2008 5:58 PM by Mary Jackson

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