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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 Tuesday, 23, 2007.
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
In pursuit of my New Year's Resolution to watch more TV, I watched 24 last night.  I guess I would have got more out of it if I'd watched the previous few episodes.  It was pretty good, though, and there was a good story-so-far preface up front to help the clueless.  Nice to see the current terrorist population portrayed as young Arab males, not cartoon neo-Nazis or agents of international capitalism.  One's viewing pleasure is supplemented by the agreeable awareness that CAIR must really, really hate this show.  Still, it's TV—not up to the standard of a good thriller movie, or even an average one. 

I've also seen a couple of episodes of CSI the past few days—my daughter's hooked on the show.  Same bottom line—good TV, but doesn't "stick" the way a good book or movie does.  I guess I'm not a TV person.  I'll keep trying, though.

(From vague memory:  When the kid in Heinlein's Starship Troopers is being evaluated by a military recruiter, the latter says, looking over his school transcripts:  "Well, anyone that gets a C minus for TV appreciation can't be all bad.")
Posted on 01/23/2007 7:02 AM by John Derbyshire
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Al-Zawahri Mocks Bush
Egypt (AP) -- Al-Qaida's deputy leader mocked President Bush's plan to send 21,000 more troops to Iraq, challenging him to send "the entire army" and vowing insurgents will defeat them, according to a new videotape released Monday by a U.S. group that tracks al-Qaida messages.

The Washington-based SITE Institute said it had intercepted the video from Ayman al-Zawahri, which had not yet been posted on Islamic militant Web sites, where his messages are usually posted. SITE did not elaborate on how it received the message.

Al-Zawahri said the U.S. strategy for Iraq, outlined by Bush in a Jan. 9 speech, was doomed to fail.

"I ask him, why send 20,000 (troops) only _ why not send 50 or 100 thousand? Aren't you aware that the dogs of Iraq are pining for your troops' dead bodies?" said al-Zawahri in the footage released by SITE, which assesses and analyzes intelligence related to terrorism.

"So send your entire army to be annihilated at the hands of the mujahideen (holy warriors) to free the world from your evil," he said, "because Iraq, land of the Caliphate and Jihad, is able to bury ten armies like yours, with Allah's help and power."

Posted on 01/23/2007 7:05 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Republicans Not Onboard Bush's Iraq Plan

Warner & Collins Criticize Bush

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional Republicans pushed back Monday against President Bush's decision to increase troop strength in Iraq, some voicing opposition while others urged holding the administration and Iraqi government more accountable for the war effort.

Sen. John Warner of Virginia, former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined Collins and Norm Coleman of Minnesota in producing the legislation expressing disagreement with Bush's plan. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., joined them.

"I personally, speaking for myself, have great concern about the American G.I. being thrust into that situation, the origins of which sometimes go back over a thousand years," Warner said.

Collins said some Republican senators did not feel comfortable with the Democratic-backed measure, but wanted to register their concern with Bush's approach.

"We've had four other surges since we first went into Iraq," said Sen. Susan Collins, referring to the administration's plan for an additional 21,500 troops. "None of them produced a long-lasting change in the situation on the ground...

Posted on 01/23/2007 7:09 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
CAIR Canada Seeks Arrest of Ex-Muslim

ONTARIO, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/(h/t: DW)

There is a growing and forceful campaign by CAIR and other Islamist organizations in Canada to silence the free speech of Zachariah Anani and undermine his legitimacy as a Canadian citizen, by calling for his arrest and deportation. Anani is a former terrorist-militant, a refugee from Lebanon and Muslim convert to Christianity. CAIR, an organization which claims to be the voice of moderation, should be embracing Anani's message against violence and the dangers of extremism instead of mounting a witch hunt against him.

It is no wonder that CAIR is attacking Anani, as it has been documented that many of the leaders of CAIR have openly supported the positions of Hamas, Hizballah and al-Queda -- all recognized terrorist organizations.

Recently, Anani spoke on the dangers of radical extremism at a church in Ontario. A backlash ensued, with CAIR and other Islamist groups pressuring political leaders to throw Anani and his family out of the country. Two members of Parliament, and one member of City Council joined the mayor of Windsor in denouncing Anani. None of these political officials, however, attended the lecture or even watched a video of it. The content of Anani's speech was almost exclusively from passages he read directly from the Koran.

Wally Chafchak, a member of the Windsor Police Services Board and the Windsor Islamic Association, is leading the charge to have Anani arrested. According to Arab American News of Michigan, CAIR Canada is also calling for Anani's arrest...

"Incarcerating or deporting a former terrorist who wants to warn the world about extremism will set a dangerous precedence for Canada," Shoebat says. "Instead of censoring free speech, CAIR should be encouraging Muslims to embrace Canadian culture, as other groups have, and not try to change it in a way that will censor the freedoms Canadians have fought and died for."

Shoebat believes that CAIR and other Islamist organizations should join Anani in encouraging Muslims to speak out against terrorism and the killing, raping, forced conversion, mutilation and other acts of violence perpetrated by Jihadist groups worldwide against non-Muslims.

On Tuesday, January 30th at 7:00 p.m., Walid Shoebat, Zachariah Anani and Kamal Saleem, all former terrorists, will speak at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.


Posted on 01/23/2007 7:31 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
State of the Union

The President absolutely has to say that there has been no significant terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11.  Yes, it's giving a hostage to fortune; but at this point, it's one of the few obvious positives from the War on Terror, and in the President's current position, you play any cards you've got.

Posted on 01/23/2007 7:55 AM by John Derbyshire
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Re: State of the Union
But if Bush uses the maddening phrase "War on Terror" in claiming any such success, it will be an Antony-and-Cleopatra moment: "and what they undid, did."
Posted on 01/23/2007 8:25 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
How to get more blog hits
Posted on 01/23/2007 8:38 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
The Other Side of the Ledger

"We are developing an ingrained hatred for people who aren't Christians," said [Former President Jimmy] Carter, a Sunday School teacher since he was 18 years old.

Unwarranted fear of terrorism is behind these feelings, he said.

"The distortion that we are about to be destroyed makes us suspicious of those who don't worship the way we do," he said. "And our country has no reason to be afraid." --from this news item

Still the holier-than-thouness, still the conviction that he need not find out about things because it is just too tedious (all those silly facts about the history of the Middle East, the history of Islam, the history of the Palestine Mandate and its reason for being in that particular sliver of land known to Carter, tendentiously, as "Palestine," the history of territorial adjustments after wars, the history of the actual negotiations and not Carter's imaginary one, between those conducting the Lesser Jihad, that is all of the Arab Muslim states and peoples, and those merely attempting to stay alive (the Jews of Israel), the history and meaning of the Treaty of Al=Hudaibiyya, the history and true meaning of the word "Apartheid" which can be found all over the Middle East -- in Saudi Arabia, with its signs "Muslims" and "Non-Muslims," in Jordan (where selling land to Jews is punishable by death), and everywhere that Islam rules the roost for the Shari'a, the Holy Law of Islam, carries with it the most basic idea of Apartheid -- the unequal treatment of two groups, right down the line. In the Shari'a, those two groups are Believers, and Infidels, and the host of liabilities which non-Muslims are forced to endure causes them, in the true Islamic state, to exist in a permanent condition of humiliation, degradation, and physical insecurity.

Convinced of his own moral superiority, radiating holier-than-thouness, the man who hectored Begin and lived up to his reported remark at the time of Camp David that he was "sick and tired of hearing about the Holocaust," and since then dabbling in all sorts of things, including going off on his own to come back, triumphantly, from a trip to North Korea with assurances of "peace" from Kim Chong-Il, the man who failed to shore up the Shah, and sent a letter to Khomeini praising him "as a fellow man of faith" should go down in the history books, along with Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln. But not on their side of any ledger. On the other side.

Posted on 01/23/2007 8:45 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
What Does Carter Know?

Carter should ask himself a few questions. All over Western Europe immigrants have been welcomed bearing alien creeds. They include refugees from Vietnam, economic migrants from China and India and sub-Saharan Africa, Filipinos and Ethiopians in Italy, even now some from Latin America, including a large number of Ecuadoreans in Spain, but also Andean Indians. And yet there has not been any significant problem with those Indian Hindus, those Chinese of Confucian or Christian or Buddhist indeterminate or non-existent confession or faith, no problem with those Buddhist or Christian Vietnamese, nor with those black African Christians, nor those Andean Indians. Yet everywhere, in Western Europe there has been trouble with one group: Muslims. Not Muslims from one country. But Muslims from everywhere, and precisely to the extent that they take their Islam seriously. They make demands for changes in the legal, political, and social institutions. They freely declare their support, in some cases for terrorist acts directed against the Infidels, including those in the very countries they now have been allowed to settle in (and one must understand that the results of opinion polls obviously understate the true depth of the hostility of Muslims, many of whom must naturally conceal it when asked their opinion). In every conceivable way, they exhibit a loyalty not to the Infidel nation-state or the Infidels who created and inherited that state, but only to Islam and to fellow members of the umma al-Islamiyya. How could it be otherwise? This collectivist faith, that is far more than a religion but a system of Total Regulation of Life and with it a Complete Explanation of the Universe, is so deeply inculcated, and so reinforced by everything, the phrases used, the shared Islamic history alluded to, the worldview that suffuses everything in Muslim societies, not only in Dar al-Islam, but those recreated in the West -- and even available to those who may appear to have completely integrated into a non-Muslim world, like "Mike" Hawash of Portland, like that child of Iranian exiles in Chapel Hill, like so many others who manage to surprise their Infidel neighbors, "friends," and colleagues with their revealed behavior and attitudes.

Posted on 01/23/2007 8:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
What The Australian People Want

The Daily Telegraph carries some good news this morning (h/t Mark Steyn):

PRIME Minister John Howard officially scrapped multiculturalism today as he sacked Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone and renamed her old department.

The trouble-plagued Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) will now be known as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, with former Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews the new minister.

Mr Howard defended the change, saying Australians believed that immigration should lead to citizenship.

“I think the title of the new department expresses the desire and the aspiration, and that is that people who come to this country, who emigrate, immigrants, become Australians,” Mr Howard told reporters.

“That's what the Australian people want."...
Posted on 01/23/2007 10:19 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Derb Media Report (2) -- Movies

Saw Idiocracy at the weekend.  This is Mike Judge's dysgenics movie, inspired (I should think) by C.M. Kornbluth's classic sci-fi story "The Marching Morons."  We're 500 years in the future and the dims have out-bred the brights, so that world mean IQ is down in the tank.  A 100-IQ visitor from our own time is the smartest guy on the planet.

I wasn't much impressed.  The movie might have worked as an animation, but with live actors it doesn't really come off.  Plot credibility is down around South Park levels, with a couple of gross lapses of continuity.  (How did Frito get a new car so fast?)  In Kornbluth's story a dwindling elite of brights just manages to keep everything going, but in Idiocracy everyone's a moron.  The jokes are kind of obvious & not many are very good.

Kornbluth's story is much bolder than Judge's in its solution to the problem.  (Kornbluth used some ideas from the Nazis' management of the death camps—this, in 1951!)  In part this is because Kornbluth was working in print storytelling.  Nobody would have made a movie of "The Marching Morons" in 1951.  I do believe, though, that it is also in part a narrowing in the scope of topics that can be respectably discussed in any medium.  In the sissy-totalitarianism that dominates our own intellectual culture, a storyteller is less able, or less inclined, to take an idea wherever it might lead him.

So why did Fox deep-six the released movie?  (The reason that I and others are talking about Idiocracy now is that it was released on DVD a few days ago.  The actual theater release was quashed by Fox—you had to be some kind of sleuth to even find out where it was playing.)  No great mystery to me.  The dimwits who inhabit the world of 2505 include black and Hispanic dimwits.  Not actually many blacks, though U.S. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho is worth a couple dozen all by himself, but Hispanics are way in evidence.  It's almost a Hispanic-dimwit movie.  Possibly this is just a California sensibility, but I bet it was this that set off the PC alarm bells in Fox HQ.  Just as movie criminals have to be white and Anglo, so do movie morons.

Idiocracy has, by the way, the longest list of credits I ever saw.  It seems to be almost as long as the movie.  When they started to roll I did what we all do—fast forwarded through to see if there were any post-credits outtakes or jokes.  I fast-forwarded for a usual sort of spell: credits still rolling.  Fast-forwarded again: still rolling...  Who ARE all these people?

Posted on 01/23/2007 10:24 AM by John Derbyshire
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
D'Souza: Sunni & Shia "have not been fighting for centuries."

"But the Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq is not a religious conflict. How do I know that? Because there are no substantial religious differences between the Shia and the Sunni. And these two groups have not been fighting for centuries. In fact, they haven’t been fighting at all. There are no wars that have been fought between the Shia and the Sunni in the past. Historian Bernard Lewis points out that our notion of Shia-Sunni conflict seems to be an ethnocentric projection of the Catholic-Protestant model onto the Muslim world. As late as the 1980s, Shia and Sunni fought shoulder-to-shoulder to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan."-- Dinesh D'Souza, quoted in Rebecca's posting below

So the Shi'a and the Sunnis have not been fighting for centuries, eh? And of course Islam changes over time, so what was fought over at Karbala and elsewhere in what is present-day Iraq, between Sunnis and Shi'a, was something in a remote and overcome past.

But this is nonsense. And it shows that Dinesh D'Souza does not understand Islam. There is no "past" that is over in Islam. What Muhammad did in the seventh-century, or rather, what someone known as Muhammad is reported to have done, is vividly alive today. Karbala is vividly alive, even if possibly misremembered in its details, by Muslims. The rituals of the Shi'a that Sunnis find so disturbing and distasteful, such as Muharram, and the visits to the shrines of Shi'a saints that so offend the austere worship of the Wahhabis and not only the Wahhabis, have led many Sunnis to consider the Shi'a as nothing more than Infidels, or even, as a very important Saudi cleric said last week, Infidels so bad that they were "even worse than Christians and Jews" -- if such can be imagined.

Perhaps Dinesh D'Souza is unaware of how often Shi'a have been attacked by Sunnis. It is great sport in Karachi, for example, for gangs of Sunni boys to attack Shi'a. Why? Well, just because they are Shi'a. And then there are older people, Sunni terrorists, in such groups as Sipaha-e-Sahaba, who take as their target not Hindus, not Christians, but specifically Shi'a professionals -- the Shi'a mosques, the Shi'a offices, the Shi'a schools. Has Dinesh D'Souza done any research about the attacks on Shi'a in Pakistan?

And has he read anything about the Taliban? Is he aware that the Taliban attacked the Shi'a Hazara, and were determined to wipe them out, completely, when their plans were rudely interrupted by American soldiers arriving to knock them off their murderous pedestal? He doesn't have to seek out works of deep scholarship. He can find the massacres and planned massacres of the Hazara described in that best-seller, that easy-read, with its very three and four-page chapters, "The Places In Between" by Rory Stewart.

Does Dinesh D'Souza know about the treatment of the Shi'a in Al-Hasa Province of Saudi Arabia, there where Dammam and Dhahram are located -- that is, where the oil is located? Does he know of the legal status of the Shi'a in Saudi Arabia?

And does Dinesh D'Souza know why, before Hezbollah, Amal was formed by the Shi'a in Lebanon, who were put upon not so much by the Christians, as by the Sunni Muslims?

It is true that Sunnis and Shi'a can come together, at times, to fight the outside Infidel, or perhaps it is better to put it thus: Sunnis and Shi'a can share the same enemies. In Afghanistan, for example, both Sunnis and Shi'a fought the Soviet Army. But that does not mean that they fought side by side, against the Russians. And much the same thing is now happening in Iraq, where the situation is complicated only by the fact that both sides -- Sunni and Shi'a -- want to manipulate the American forces for their own ends, to fight with greater ferocity, if they are Shi'a, the Sunni insurgents, and if they are Sunnis, the Shi'a militia. And each side would like to leach from the Americans whatever money, whatever weaponry, they can: the Shi'a-dominated government, for example, insisting that "if only" the Americans give them more weaponry, more of that really good advanced stuff the American soldiers get to use, why then the Americans can go home sooner, because with all that equipment "the Iraqi army" -- i.e., the Shi'a -- can suppress all internal opposition to the "new democratic Iraq" -- by which is meant the Sunni insurgents.

Dinesh D'Souza exhibits such carelessness, such overlooking of the most easily-acquired knowledge about Sunnis and Shi'a, that one can hardly refrain from rubbing one's eyes in disbelief. He was once taken seriously? By whom? Why?

And it is not only the Sunni-Shi'a hostilities and mutual antipathy, dating from the first century of Islam and of course not something that could simply be "overcome" (as Condoleeza Rice likes to put it so as to make it fit her Birmingham civil-rights template), not then, and not now, that Dinesh D'Souza misses.

He is also weak on the facts of recent history, and that is on display in a piece he wrote the other day about Iran. Iran, by the way, is a place full of Islam, the real Islam. And as possibly the most decadent city, in Dinesh D'Souza's sex-and-drugs definition, is the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Teheran. The numbers of drug addicts, the numbers of rural girls lured to the city, there to be prostitutes or, as choice Persian delicacies, sold to the Arabs of the Gulf for their temporary delectation (Arab men, Persian girls -- there's a theme that the American government ought to be playing up in its Farsi broadcasts, instead of beaming stories about how wonderful life is for Muslims in America), is as high as anywhere in the world. And does Dinesh D'Souza not know of the fantastic goings-on among the Arabs in the Gulf, both behind their high palace walls, with those girls and boys of every description, but also in their flats and houses on Avenue Foch, in Belgravia, and in those apartments at Trump Tower and similar topless towers where Arabs like to have a little pied-a-terre with a dozen mirrored bedrooms, for those special guests? He really is an innocent, that Dinesh D'Souza, who presumes to make pronouncements on matters he knows, it is now evident, nothing about.

Posted on 01/23/2007 10:32 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Golden Age

Just after sending a post that mentioned Cyril Kornbluth's 1951 story "The Marching Morons," I read a news story about a new Will Smith movie based on Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend.  Boy, 1950s sci-fi/fantasy sure has staying power.  What a great era that was for the unfettered human imagination!

And Jonah Goldberg just posted something about people being shrunk —- Matheson again!   

(And how prolific they were!  Look at Matheson's output, listed here.)

Posted on 01/23/2007 12:54 PM by John Derbyshire
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Does Your Blood Boil?

American soldiers were attempting to make plans for the protection of Shi'a visitors from abroad during Ashoura. They ended up being massacred in an ambush, in which a very large number of locals must have been involved. They may not have done the actual killing, but they allowed that suspect convoy to go through three checkpoints. One must assume that there was collusion. And why not? The Shi'a, like the Sunnis, are delighted when Americans die, or at the very least, are completely indifferent. In four years of fighting for a "decent Iraq" that does not exist, will not exist, and never did exist, American soldiers are being sacrificed -- killed while handing out candy, killed while attending meetings, killed while attempting to build or rebuild this country of treacherous and primitive ingrates, and now killed, by Shi'a, as they, those American soldiers, lulled no doubt into a feeling of false security, were not there to fight but only to make plans to assure the safety and wellbeing of Shi'a pilgrims -- and were nonetheless essentially massacred by other Shi'a. And not a single Iraqi Shi'a at that meeting, and not a single Iraqi Shi'a soldier outside, apparently fired a shot against those who murdered the Americans.


Here's why:

"When asked why Iraqi police did not intervene to stop the gunmen from fleeing, al-Mishawi said 'they assumed it was American-on-American violence and wanted to stay out of it.'"

Does that make sense? Has there been, anywhere in Iraq, at any time, any "American-on-American violence" that any Iraqi has observed or has any reason to think would ever go on? Could any Iraqi in Karbala really think that a convoy of thirty Americans would drive up to that meeting and enter it, and attempt to kill every American soldier there in cold blood? Where has anything like that ever occurred in Iraq? Is the reason given by that Iraqi for the failure of any of the Iraqis to fire a shot as the murderers left, at all believable?

Does your blood boil? Do you want to see more Americans killed making plans to protect those Shi'a during Ashoura, or killed protecting Sunnis from Shi'a militia, and Shi'a from Sunni terrorists? Do you no longer give a damn, do you in fact welcome the spectacle or prospect of those Shi'a being killed by and killing Sunnis, and vice-versa? Do you at long last want to have those American troops removed, so that instead of Iraqis explaining that they wished "to stay out of it" and so did nothing to attack those who left, completely unscathed by any counter-attack coming from any Iraqi, after murdering Americans, -- that is, let the Americans stay out of this place where some primitives capture others, while still other primitives, indifferent to the fate of Americans, nonetheless expect those Americans to protect them, to do what they should be doing if in fact, the non-existent state and people of Iraq are ever to exist. The militias, the bombers, the bodies left here and there and everywhere with the marks of fiendish torture -- not by the Marquess-of-Queensberry Geneva-Conventioned Americans, but by the Muslims, Shi'a or Sunni, it hardly matters, who should be done with, done with as people whose every failure can properly be ascribed to the teachings, the attitudes, the atmospherics of Islam, the very subject which the Bush Administration cannot bring itself to discuss or even to hint at. The failures of the people in Iraq, as of so many Muslim Arabs, are are the result of Islam and nothing but Islam.

These people should all be made, along with the others who will be drawn into, or affected by, Sunni-Shi'a hostilities in Iraq, to suffer for their Islam, and the American soldiers permitted, by this quasi-demented Bush Administration, to go home, not to risk their own lives to save Muslims from the consequences of the teachings, attitudes, and atmospherics of Islam, but to watch from afar, intervening only to keep those Muslim states and peoples from acquiring major weaponry that could harm Infidels. But otherwise this or the next Administration must end, and never again repeat, the squandering of American lives, American money, American war matériel, American morale civilian and military, in a futile and misguided effort to prevent the Camp of Islam from descending into its natural state. Stop. Full stop.

Posted on 01/23/2007 12:57 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Life Begins at...

Touching—very peripherally—on the beginning-of-life issue, here are some interesting comments from neuroscientist George Buzsaki, in a ten-questions interview at the Gene Expression website.  I note, though, that Prof. Buzsaki doesn't really answer the question.

Q6.  Your discussion of the brain's first rhythm could make one feel that we are close to understanding when meaningful cognition begins. Does your knowledge of EEG patterns and their underpinnings influence your thinking about beginning-of-life, end-of-life, or even animal rights debates?

A6.  I believe that cognition begins once the 1/f features of cortical rhythms emerge because this dynamics represents global (i.e., distributed) computation and only structures with these features appear to generate conscious experience. The ontogenetic appearance of 1/f dynamics coincides with the emergence of long-range cortico-cortical projections. In the newborn human the 1/f global feature of the EEG is already present. On the other hand, in preterm babies, depending on the gestation age, long seconds of neuronal silence alternate with short, spatially localized oscillatory bursts (known as "delta brush"), like in sharks and lizards. These localized intermittent cortical patterns in the premature brain, and similar ones in the strictly locally organized adult cerebellum, cannot give rise to conscious awareness, no matter the size. From this perspective, the structure-function relations between the small world network-like features of the cerebral cortex and the resultant global rhythms appear as necessary conditions for awareness. Earlier developmental stages without these properties simply do not have the necessary ingredients of the product we call cognition.

Posted on 01/23/2007 1:57 PM by John Derbyshire
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
We are pioneers in surreality

I've just returned from Downtown Manhattan, where hundreds of horrified people are fleeing east across the Brooklyn Bridge from some unnamed disaster.  Choppers are hovering overhead, including a dreaded Black Helicopter.  But it's 2007, not 2001; the disaster has something to do with a deadly pandemic, not Islamic murderers flying big jets; and the helicopters overhead have been hired for a scene in a new Will Smith adventure flick.  It will be very, very popular.

I've got the radio tuned into WABC.  A young woman is complaining that people "out there" are going to watch the current "24" season and attack Muslims (emphasis on the moo).  I'd like to sympathize, I really would, but I can't help but think that millions of Muslims are going to read the Quran and get the idea that the only reason infidels have heads is to give Islamic swordsmen target practice.

In the late sixties and seventies it seemed that every other word out of people's mouths was the word "surreal."  Hah!  They barely got their feet wet in surreality, the water in the fish tank in which we denizens of 2007 swim.

Posted on 01/23/2007 2:03 PM by Robert Bove
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Al-Qa'ida in 'threat' to blow up paper
The first of two items from The Australian
A MAN claiming to represent al-Qa'ida in Australia has left a telephone message at an Arabic Australian newspaper threatening to kill its editor-in-chief and destroy its offices in Sydney and Melbourne.
Apparently reading from a script, the Arabic-speaking caller threatened to butcher every Iraqi Kurd and Shi'ite in Australia. ASIO and NSW police are investigating the message, left for al-Furat editor-in-chief Hussein Khoshnow 10 days ago.
The caller claims his "well-structured organisation" will track down the names and addresses of the newspaper's reporters.  "We will destroy the newspaper's headquarters in Sydney very soon, God willing," the caller says. "We will destroy the newspaper's headquarters in Melbourne. You will be butchered. Every Iraqi Kurd and  Shi'ite in Australia will be butchered."
The threats, made on Sunday, January 14, were left on the answering machine in the newspaper's Fairfield office. They appeared to have been written down and then read over the phone in Arabic.
"Judging by the voice, I think it was a young man and from the way he spoke Arabic, his vocabulary and his accent, I think he might have been born here but of Yemeni or Syrian origin," Mr Khoshnow said.
The caller appeared to assume, incorrectly, that Mr Khoshnow was a Shi'ite and said: "You Shi'ites are dogs. You are scum, to be trodden underfoot. From Moqtada al-Sadr to Hassan Nasrallah, all your leaders are dogs and scum. Do not think that the death of Saddam will save you. We will deter you with terrorism here inside Australia.  
"Has the death of the president, the martyr, the living leader and hero who will never die, Saddam Hussein, a lesson for you? Do you want to savage the Sunnis, you dogs? I say to you, and repeat and reiterate, do not forget that one day we will take revenge, God willing, by liquidating the dog, Moqtada al-Sadr, who visited America and gave up Saddam."
A spokesman for ASIO said: "It is not our policy to comment in relation to matters that may be under investigation."  NSW police have confirmed they are conducting their own inquiry. 
Posted on 01/23/2007 2:20 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Reaction to Ken West's ban on the nation's pennant reveals the generational shift since the 1960s
The second item from The Australian today. Following on this news item that the Australian Civil Service Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs is now the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, and my story on Sunday about the first instance of an attempt to ban the Australian Flag at a public event is this opinion piece by John Birmingham.
IS Ken West in league with Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali or what? There's Mohammed's favourite stand-up comedian and his Elliot Goblet-like straight man Keysar Trad getting booed off stage for their latest vaudeville act, when up pops the organiser of the longest running, most successful outdoor rock gig in Australia, to distract attention from them with his disappearing flag trick.
I can almost feel his pain as he watched the sea of seething, thrashing bodies at last year's Big Day Out, with unknowable numbers wrapped in the ol' Southern Cross and, ahem, Union Jack, you know, up there in the corner. As in the Barmy Army song: There's a Union Jack in the Aussie flag, doo dah, doo dah.
Did these young people have no sense of dignity? Didn't they realise how uncool they were being? It's almost as though all of Harold Scruby's hard work to get rid of that embarrassing colonial relic had come to naught.
Of course, that's not how the public debate shook itself out. According to a direct quote, West said: "The Australian flag was being used as gang colours. It was racism disguised as patriotism and I'm not going to tolerate it. I am telling people not to bring (flags); they are free to get them out at midnight on their way home when it's Australia Day."
Apparently spooked by a nasty post-Cronulla vibe in last year's crowd, and perhaps looking to that ugly spot of ethnic bother at the tennis in Melbourne, the boss hog at Big Day Out thought that patting everyone down for the national colours would be the way to go.
Until this week I wouldn't have thought you could forge an alliance between the RSL and a horde of tattooed, stinky Wolfmother fans on an issue of principle, but I'd have been wrong. The organisers' increasingly desperate spin - that they hadn't banned anything, that they were just asking the punters to leave their flags at home - betrayed a profound misunderstanding of what was a simple security problem. A scrap of coloured cloth doesn't get about on its own, chugging down beers and monstering otherwise peaceful music lovers.
Nor is it facetious to tie West's ill-considered PC boo-boo into the Mufti's recent outing on Egyptian TV ... well, not completely facetious, because beneath the witless hysteria generated by both men, there lies a hard little bullet of contention, the vexed question of identity politics.
And as for West, he just doesn't understand the younger generation.
In the 60s, in the UK at least, the Union Jack was on everything, including carrier bags. I remember a visiting American remarking that the US flag would not have been treated so informally.  The Union Jack was waved for the 1966 England team (this was prior to talk of devolution) and was something of a symbol of the old "Swinging London" , Carnaby Street period. It must have been different in Australia.
Posted on 01/23/2007 2:39 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 23 January 2007

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hezbollah-led protesters paralyzed Lebanon Tuesday, clashing with government supporters and burning tires and cars on roads in and around the capital to enforce a general strike aimed at toppling U.S.-backed Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. Three people were killed and dozens injured.--from this news item


Spin-off effects from Iraq the Model.

Everybody Wants Freedom.

Cedars Revolution.

Democracy On The March.

But there is one good thing resulting both from Hezbullah's attempt to overthrow the Lebanese government, and even more, Shi'a efforts at converting Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon: the more the Shi'a endanger the Christian-Druse-Sunni Muslim alliance now to be observed in Lebanon, however short-lived it may be, and the more Iranian weaponry and money and agents are sent to Lebanon, the more fearful become the Sunnis in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf sheikdoms. And the more fearful they become, the more likely it is that they will give it their all in Iraq -- volunteers, money, war matériel -- to defeat the "Rafidite dogs," those "Persian" Shi'a.

Posted on 01/23/2007 4:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
The Once and (Possibly) the Future President

On television I just saw two speeches. One was delivered by the Great Hallucinator. He spoke again, as he has before, the usual blah-blah about energy and education and health care, and about an abstraction called "the economy." He spoke about Iraq, and managed to mention both Al-Qaeda and the "Shi'a extremists" but could not quite bring himself to discuss the broader group of Iraqi non-Al-Qaeda "Sunni extremists" (that is, the Sunnis, almost all of them, who do not wish to acquiesce in their loss of power). He could not bring himself even to consider, for a minute, that perhaps having those Sunni extremists and those Shi'a "extremists" at each other's throats  would not be a terrible thing but a very good thing -- Bush apparently unable to allow  himself even to consider anything which, in this sentimental age, might be considered by some to be unduly cunning or ruthless (we can't have that, in fighting a war for civilizational survival, can we?) Why, the very idea of not wishing to move heaven and earth to prevent two different groups, each composed of one's mortal enemies, from fighting with each other, seems to be impossible to suggest in polite company. The oldest rule of warfare, in other words, divide et impera, has now become impermissible even to whisper or to hint.. And Bush spoke again about "victory" in Iraq without, again, defining it. And we were all, at home, supposed to dully accept this, as if we are by now as stupid as some of our leaders.

Bush's hour was followed by James Webb's eight minutes, and in that eight minutes Webb spoke lucidly, crisply, and ,beautifully about a number of things, including the Four Big Things. education, energy, the maldistribution of wealth (that infuriates and depresses or should depress and infuriate all of us), and Iraq. The first two he dealt with summarily. The second two he dilated upon, if one can dilate upon anything in a speech lasting eight minutes. He spoke about how corporate CEOs now make in a day what the average worker makes in a year, and mentioned Andrew Jackson and Jacksonian Democracy. Few could gainsay him, and certainly even the very rich - that is the intelligent rich with a conscience and some common sense, could hardly quarrel with what he said. And then he spoke of Iraq, and of his father's military service, and his, and his brother's, and that of his son, and of how the American government had an obligation not to misuse patriotic feelings, or to squander or misspend loyalties out of ignorance and the arrogance of the polypragmonic impulse.

The one mis-step that Webb made in his speech tonight was to repeat that phrase "war on terror." Had he only dared to say: the war of self-defense against the Jihad, he would have been recognized tonight for what ye may yet be recognized as possessing: the right to the Democratic nomination for President in 2008. If Barack Obama can, after two years in office, declare or semi-declare that he sees nothing unusual  about running for President after two years in the government, and no one questions the audacity of this hope, or rather the sheer presumption of it, then certainly James Webb can offer his service as Secretary of the Navy, and his military service, as at least equivalent to Barack Obama's first two years of Senatorial service, and not announce anything about running, but allow Obama and Clinton to knock each other out, and the others to simply peter out, and then to step forth. On the evidence of tonight, in the Democratic Party he is the clearest and most no-nonsense of its potential candidates, the least given to gush or, despite the justifiable references to military service, the least inclined to make his personal history into some kind of stirring tale which we are supposed to applaud and then vote for.

So it is not quite "Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead" for James Webb but rather, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." There will be time, soon enough, in the next two years, for Webb to make his mark, by leading the effort to get us out of Iraq, and at the same time, to conduct a much more intelligent campaign, not based on appeasement, but on a cold understanding of Islam, and of the history of Islamic conquest. Webb has the mind that could comprehend all that. Whether or not he is willing to engage in the effort , tedious as it may be, and disturbing as may be what he discovers about not so much terrorism but the other instruments of Jihad -- the money weapon, Da'wa, and demographic conquest -- -- if he does that, he will be the candidate, and will deserve to be.

And would it were that the most deserving and intelligent and thoughtful candidate on the Republican side -- Tom Tancredo -- were to be that party's candidate.

How's that for the Audacity of Hope?

Posted on 01/23/2007 9:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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