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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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The Impact of Islam
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Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
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interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
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Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
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, 23, 2007.
Friday, 23 February 2007
Arabs' hero 'should be Lawrence of Judea'
Something here for the Camel Corps at the Foreign Office to ponder, and which follows on from Hugh’s comment to one of my posts last month. From The Telegraph.
T E Lawrence could in future be known as "Lawrence of Judea" instead of "Lawrence of Arabia" after a distinguished British historian claimed that he privately supported the idea of a Jewish state in the Holy Land.
While feted as an Arabist who supported independence of Arab states, Lawrence in fact regarded Arabs with a "sort of contempt", said Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Churchill.
Sir Martin said Lawrence believed fully in the Zionist project of creating a Jewish state in the Holy Land. "He believed that the only hope for the Arabs of Palestine and the rest of the region was Jewish statehood — that if the Jews had a state here, they would provide the modernity, the 'leaven,' as he put it, with which to enable the Arabs to move into the 20th century."
In a Jerusalem Post, interview, (which I can’t find, you may have more success) Sir Martin did not cite sources for this unorthodox view of Lawrence, who created a swash-buckling image during the First World War as a supporter of all things Arab.
Sir Martin said the "astonishing truth" was that Lawrence was in fact a supporter of the project that ended in the creation of Israel. He felt that only with a Jewish presence and state would the Arabs ever make anything of themselves. By a Jewish state, he meant a Jewish state from the Mediterranean shore to the Jordan."
Posted on 02/23/2007 1:48 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 23 February 2007
The corner shop test

In my immediate neighbourhood there are about twelve “corner shops”. Not that these are all on street corners; “corner shop” is an affectionate name for mini-market, or small self-service convenience store, generally open from early in the morning until late at night, if not 24 hours a day.

 

A politically incorrect term for these shops was “Paki shop”. This term sounds very racist, but it was often used affectionately and by Pakistanis themselves. Obviously the term reflects the fact that many of these shops are run by immigrants or descendants of immigrants from the Indian sub-continent. Indeed many of the shops were opened by such immigrants, who were prepared to work far longer hours than the native Britons. Calling a shop run by Indians a Paki shop sounds ignorant, as indeed it is, but this ignorance reflects the fact that the first generation of Indian and Pakistani immigrants were hard to distinguish. They are of the same race, and in the past wore similar clothes. Even the women dressed alike, the only difference being a headscarf for Muslims and a bindi (red dot) for Hindus. This is changing.

 

After September 11, as I learned more about Islam, I looked more closely at these shops, distinguishing Hindus from Muslims. Both groups sell the same goods, including alcohol, but the signs are there if you look. In Muslim-owned shops women do not usually work behind the counter, and they are more likely to wear veils than previously. You will also see a charity collection box for “Islamic Relief Fund” or some such organisation.

 

Recently I have observed a change in relation to these shops. For now I write only of anecdotal evidence from my immediate neighbourhood and that of friends. Formerly, out of my twelve corner shops, one was Sikh-owned, two Irish-owned, four Hindu-owned and five Muslim-owned. Now there is only one Muslim-owned shop. The other Muslims have been replaced by Eastern Europeans – Poles, Czechs or Romanians.

 

The phenomenon of the Polish plumber, so resented by the French that it must be a Good Thing, has been well documented. Immigration from Eastern Europe to Britain in recent years has not been without its problems, but generally this is an exceptionally hard-working group of immigrants, who put us natives to shame. Welfare benefits for this group are severely restricted, but in any case they seem to have a strong work ethic.

 

The first generation of Muslim immigrants from Pakistan had, if not a strong work ethic, a strong motivation to work hard. Benefits were not generous then, genuine race discrimination went unpunished, and they had to fend for themselves. Born into poverty, they were grateful for the chances that Britain gave them. However, second and third generation Muslims have no such gratitude. Born into relative wealth, they do not see why they should struggle as their parents did. Add to this the fact that Islam, about which they know more than their parents, inculcates a sense of entitlement that is diametrically opposed to the work ethic, and you may have the explanation for the changes in my local shops.

 

As has been demonstrated at this site and elsewhere, poverty is not the cause of Islamic terrorism. On the contrary, Islamic terrorists often come from privileged backgrounds. Poor Muslims are often too busy scratching a living to entertain dreams of Islamic supremacy let alone try to realise them. They are in any case ignorant of what the Koran tells them to do. It is the wealthy, idle Muslims who have time to study and practise true Islam. This wealth is generally unearned; in some Arab countries it comes from oil, and in Europe it comes from welfare benefits. What will the Muslims, previously working in the corner shops, do with their time?

 

Of course this may be a coincidence, confined only to my neighbourhood. It is possible that my assumptions are incorrect, that the Muslim shop-workers have moved on to better jobs elsewhere. In the meantime, however, I am going to watch the situation closely. The corner shop may be a useful barometer of Islamisation.

Posted on 02/23/2007 4:36 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 23 February 2007
Jesus is not Muhammad?

It's astonishing they let this group of propagandists into a government school.  Fox news reports:

The father of a North Carolina ninth grader who was given 'anti-Muslim' literature in class says the material handed out is not an issue of free speech, but of slander and defamation.

"First of all, it slanders, things like, Mohammed is a 'criminal,' is 'demon possessed' ... that just made my blood boil," said Triaq Butte, whose daughter Saira, was one student who participated in the ninth grade orientation seminar at Enloe High School in Wake County, N.C., where the material was distributed.

Butte is not a practicing Muslim; his wife is Christian and his kids are taught to accept and respect all religions.

"So for a person like me to feel like that — I've never been to a mosque — to feel like that … for me to feel such hideous attacks, they were not just pointing out failures or weaknesses in Islam or Muslims, they were just attacking."

A representative from the Kamil International Ministries Organization, a Christian group based in Raleigh, was invited by a teacher to come and speak to the class. He handed out literature class that compared the teachings of Jesus with accusations against Islam's Prophet Muhammad; Muslims Jesus as a prophet of God equal to the prophet Muhammad.

Among the materials handed out was a pamphlet called "Jesus not Muhammad," as well as one entitled, "Do Not Marry a Muslim Man." The latter pamphlet compares parts of the Koran with those of the Bible, such as:

—Husband, beat your wives and deny them sex." (The book of Islam, Koran 4:34)

—"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her." (The Holy Bible, Ephesians 5:25)

It warns women to not be lured into marrying a Muslim man, even for his "dark good looks, education, financial means, and the interest he shows in you."  [Go here for the whole story, including boilerplate outrage from CAIR]

Here's Kimo's Mission Statement

Kamil International Ministries Organization is dedicated to teaching the truth about Islam. We love Muslims but we believe that Islam is not a Divine faith, Muhammad was not a prophet from God and the Koran is not the Word of God. Our mission is to raise an awareness of the danger of Islam among Christians and equip them to share Jesus with Muslims. We will be glad to impart historical and factual information about Islam.

Re: Triaq Butte: Is Sudden Jihad Syndrome in his future?

Posted on 02/23/2007 5:49 AM by Robert Bove
Friday, 23 February 2007
Writers' top ten

The Times asks whether you have "ever wondered what books your favourite authors would choose as their favourites." No, not really. Anyway, here's more:

Leading writers from Britain, America and Australia have been asked to list their top ten works of literature, and the results will be published in a book next month.

The top-rated work was Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. His other great epic, War and Peace, came third. Two other Russians also made the top ten. Vladimir Nabokov’s infamous novel Lolita came fourth and the stories of Anton Chekhov ninth.

Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary came second. Shakespeare was the highest rated British author, coming sixth with Hamlet. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was voted the greatest American novel. The only woman to make the top ten was George Eliot with Middlemarch.

Nobody chose Shota Rustaveli's ვეფხისტყაოსანი (The Knight in the Panther's Skin)? That's a shame. No, I haven't read it; it's just that it's strange to look the Georgian and have no idea where Knight ends and Panther begins.

Surprisingly, none of the writers chose their own works. I noticed that Margaret Drabble had Chekhov's The [sic] Three Sisters as one of her choices. I don't think this is right. I have only ever seen the title as Three Sisters, without the definite article. The sense without the the is slightly different, although it is hard to explain why. More "take three sisters" rather than "the tale of three sisters", perhaps, and more suggestive of three sisters as individuals rather than a unit. I'm not sure, but I think it's better without the the.

"The The" is a band that seems to have been going for ever. It isn't just any old the, it's the The. If it were just any old the, it would be "A The".

Posted on 02/23/2007 6:15 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 23 February 2007
Senate Democrats Seek To Curtail US Involvement in Iraq's Civil War

New Duranty: WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 — Senior Senate Democrats, stepping up their confrontation with President Bush over Iraq policy, are preparing legislation that would limit the role of United States troops there to counterterrorism efforts and prohibit them from interceding in sectarian violence.

Senate officials said Thursday that the proposal now being drafted would be a new turn in their attempts to force the White House to halt its troop buildup in Baghdad. They described it as more substantive than the nonbinding resolution of opposition to the increase that stalled in the Senate last Saturday.

The officials would speak only if not identified because the central proposal was still being drafted and needs to be presented to all Senate Democrats when they return from a weeklong recess next Tuesday.

They said the proposal was intended to essentially overturn the 2002 resolution granting Mr. Bush the authority to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and limit the military to combating Al Qaeda in Iraq, keeping Iraq from becoming a haven for terrorists and training Iraqi forces. The proposal’s goal, officials said, would be to allow combat forces not engaged in those duties to be removed from Iraq next year.

The chief authors are Senators Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Carl Levin of Michigan, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. The plan is to try to attach the proposal to an antiterrorism bill the Senate expects to begin considering Tuesday.

Lawmakers and senior aides said that such a plan was unlikely to pass Congress, and even if it did, it would certainly be vetoed by President Bush. But Democrats say their intention is to keep pressure on both Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans who are facing a public frustrated with the war. Democrats say that other Iraq proposals are likely to emerge as well...

Senator Biden foreshadowed his approach in a speech last week when he said that the “the best next step is to revisit the authorization Congress granted the president in 2002 to use force in Iraq. That’s exactly what I’m doing.”

“We gave the president that power to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and, if necessary, to depose Saddam Hussein,” he said. “The W.M.D. were not there. Saddam Hussein is no longer there. The 2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq.”...

Posted on 02/23/2007 6:56 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 23 February 2007
The hits just keep coming

A sample of Scott  W. Johnson's examination of Dinesh D'Souza's alarming condition at the current New Criterion:

The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11—D’Souza’s new book—is something else entirely.[1] The book works a strange metamorphosis. Whereas Illiberal Education and The End of Racism proved D’Souza a precocious commentator and gifted polemicist, the new book is crude and sophomoric. Worse than its sophomoric treatment of serious issues is its presentation of a blinkered and politically correct version of the Muslim world. It is a presentation that the young D’Souza would have scorned. It is as though, having arrived on the scene as Franz Kafka, he has turned himself into Gregor Samsa.  [Read on.]

(Johnson, of course, is part of the trio which runs PowerLine.) 

Posted on 02/23/2007 6:55 AM by Robert Bove
Friday, 23 February 2007
B of A Boycott Coming

Wells Fargo is already a well known enabler for illegal immigrants. Bank of America has now joined in.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp. is defending its decision to offer credit cards to people who don't have U.S. Social Security numbers, amid criticism that the program effectively endorses illegal immigration.

The bank's pilot program, revealed last week, focuses on Hispanics in the Los Angeles area.

It has spurred opposition in Congress and from grass-roots groups who say many illegal immigrants could benefit, and that the program might foster identity theft, money laundering and terrorism.

Bank of America Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis defended the program on Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. This came after some groups called for a boycott of the No. 2 U.S. bank by assets. They say their efforts are bearing fruit.

William Gheen, director of the National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition, said his group has collected hundreds of e-mails from people vowing to cancel accounts and move mortgages. The group said it has more than 11,000 signatures on its petition calling for a boycott of Bank of America.

"What Bank of America is doing is illegal, or should be," Gheen said.

Posted on 02/23/2007 7:09 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 23 February 2007
Open border, open mind

A scribbler writes:

It’s much easier now, now that I have accepted the permanence of open border policy, to accept the impermanence of borders anywhere and everywhere.  I am become mental nomad, a tribe of one, recognizing the impermanence of all distinctions as I wander acceptingly among the equally diaphanous, vaporously equal, waiting here where I am, where I always am, here, no matter where I go, light hearted, light headed enough to be hoovered up celestial pneumatic tube without knowing it, because I already may have been.  I have bought unstamped postcards for the journey because neither here nor there are there stamps or mailboxes or mail carriers eager to go postal.  It’s better that way.  And this: I will bring no pen much less lap top with which to record my thoughts; they are so heavy bro' and I want to stay light.  I read these words over and realize they are not mine because like borders copyright is chimera, except if one must earn one’s daily bread as somebody called writer or pursuing litigation as hunter draws bead on snark.  I have forgotten to whom I was writing but no matter there either line between writer and receiver written and received erased like syntax itself in post border post rational reverie which never ends having never begun even here and coffee, light, no sugar.

Posted on 02/23/2007 7:51 AM by Robert Bove
Friday, 23 February 2007
Separationism Gains Ground

Investor's Business Daily editorializes on the new Gallup poll (h/t VFR):

...Gallup merely backs with statistics what we already knew. Contrary to liberal dogma, education makes Muslims only more extreme, not more moderate. Education doesn't stop terrorism.

Inviting more Muslims to our shores in the hopes they'll embrace our culture and adopt our values also seems misguided.

Yet this is the logic behind the White House's deal to grant 21,000 student visas to young Saudi men over the next four years. It's been sold as a cultural exchange program.

But do we really want to educate thousands of Saudis on our campuses if education helps only to radicalize Muslims?

Gallup's survey of Muslims, the largest conducted, puts to rest theories that radicals attack us because they're poor and alienated from society. Or because they're dim and easily misled.

Radical Muslims have an education and an economic future, yet they still hate. They're literate enough to interpret their holy books, yet they still embrace jihad against infidels.

Perhaps the only sane course in this war is to separate the West from Islam.

Posted on 02/23/2007 7:57 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 23 February 2007
Une Autre Rive, Une Autre Vie

Nobody chose Shota Rustaveli's ვეფხისტყაოსანი (The Knight in the Panther's Skin)? -- Mary Jackson

I have Rustaveli's national epic of Georgia, in a Soviet-era edition. But I didn't buy it - it was given to me by a Russian whose fondest memories are of Khvanchkara and Kindzmarauli, and toasts by tamadas, and "Georgian Nights." There is something unusual about this, the Georgian national epic. Care to try to guess?

And "tiger's" rather than "leopard's" skin is how the Rustaveli title should be rendered.

If you want to drag Shakespeare into this (and who doesn't?) and offer him a walk-on part, then you might go so far as to emend the second part of Robert Greene's cutting phrase and use it to translate the second part of Rustaveli's title: "wrapped in a tiger's hide."

But I don't want to be critical, corrosively or otherwise, on this occasion.

Instead, I wish to thank you for giving us the opportunity to bring the Republic of Georgia and its fine products and tourist-destination possibilities to the attention of the English-speaking world. The producers of the desert-island disque  "Chansons de la Georgie" ("ne pei, krasavitsa, pro mne...")* thank you. The Wine-Makers Association of Georgia thanks you. The Fondation Bagration thanks you. The Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Tbilisi thanks you. The Travel Agency of George Papashvili thanks you. The Committee to Elect Salome Zourabachvili thanks you. The heirs and assigns of Paul Chavchavadze thank you.

A tamada's toast, a toast now, brat'ya, to....well, let's all, at least this once, hail Mary.

_____________________________________

*A Pushkin poem beautifully translated into French by Vladimir Nabokov decades ago, and ending, if memory agrees to serve, "ces chansons de la Georgie/Leur amertume me rappelle/Une autre rive, une autre vie."

Posted on 02/23/2007 9:29 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 23 February 2007
Not Winston

Blair used to have quite a fan club in this country. Why, he was practically Winston Churchill for some. Others, who knew him when, and observed his awfulness at close range, were not quite so willing to be impressed with his ability to put a few sentences together that made him seem, but only  by comparison with our own semi-dyslexic President, for whom individual words prove to be difficult tongue-twisters, and logical thought impossible, as eloquent as Burke.

For fun, consult the compendium of Blair's remarks on Islam -- the "great religion" and the Qur'an that Blair found so "impressive" and carried around, he said, with him -- it can be found on-line, or in "the Places In Between," Rory Stewart 's book about his travels by foot  in Afghanistan.

Blair's latest claim is that the war against the "Islamists" or "the terrorists" will last perhaps as long as "30 or 40 years." That is as revealingly idiotic a remark as that by the semi-demented but very certain-of-himself Cheney, that True Believer in the "mission" in Tarbaby Iraq, who thinks that the "war against the terrorists" could last a "generation or two."

Are they both crazy? Do they not understand that this war goes on forever? That the duty of Jihad continues forever, and has no sell-by date, and that the only sensible thing is to husband resources, engage in every way in the mass education of Infidels, deprive Muslim states and polities of every assistance beginning with the outrage of Jizyah (in American aid alone, that $60 billion so far to Egypt, that $27.5 billion to Pakistan over the past five years, those billions spent on the Fast-and-slow Jihadists of the "Palestinian" people, and then more to Jordan, and more to Indonesia and Bangladesh, and then of course the $750 billion spent or committed at this point to Iraq, and that doesn't even include the nearly $100 billion in debt relief from Infidel lands to Iraq that James Baker arranged, though not a single Muslim state agreed to drop its claims as a creditor on Iraq).

And everywhere, efficiently, to deprive Muslim states of major weaponry, and if they are sold Western weaponry, to make sure such weaponry's use can be controlled, by Western computers, wherever possible (proleptically sabotaged by the smiling sellers for those smiling, completely untrustworthy  Muslim buyers).

Finally, a populace that has been educated will demand not only a complete halt to Muslim migration, based on the impossibility of ever distinguishing the true "moderate" (i.e., bad or unobservant or Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only Muslim) from the other kind, and since too many, for various reasons, start out as, or under the pressure of living in the West tend to become, that "other kind" -- the Immoderate Muslim -- it will not only be necessary to halt Muslim migration but to reverse it, keeping in mind what the advanced, and tolerant state of Czechoslovakia felt it had to do, for its own security, after World War II. This is owed, if not to some unworthy present, than to the Past, and the civilizational legacy left by people -- Shakespeare and Spinoza and Dante and Samuel Johnson and George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams, Clouet and Balthus and Jules Ferry and Jean Jaures and Raymond Aron (fill in another Ten Thousand Names here) who would not be happy to find that the Western world had succumbed, purely through sentimentalism and willful ignorance and being beaten at the game of procreation, seen by Muslims as a weapon to islamize the world, to this awful belief-system in which not one of these people could have been produced, or survived, for one minute.

Blair does not feel this possible loss keenly. He does not grasp the horror and the menace. But only those who feel all this keenly can now lay claim to leadership (or even a "leadership role") in the Western world. That means only those who feel it all keenly already, and  those who can allow themselves to be educated, or to educate themselves, so that should they not yet feel that horror and that menace, they soon will.

Posted on 02/23/2007 11:12 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 23 February 2007
No Invasion Necessary

Such phrases as "invasion of Iran" are dishonest, and are meant to evoke images of Tarbaby Iraq. But no "invasion of Iran" is necessary. No "complete destruction of Iran" is needed. Strikes, from the air (planes and missiles -- what is the Air Force for? And the Navy?) can destroy or damage very severely, the nuclear project. Iran need not be dismembered nor its regime "changed." That will happen slowly, from within. And besides, one doesn't wish to end the threat to Sunnis or to allow them to retake control of Iraq. One wishes only to eliminate the nuclear threat to Infidels, in and out of the Middle East.

Posted on 02/23/2007 1:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 23 February 2007
Filet Zumbo

The world of Second Amendment rights has been roiled this past few days by the case of Jim Zumbo.  For full background do a Google News search on "Zumbo" (good thing he wasn't Jim Smith).

There's a summary here with some illuminating comments.

"On Friday evening, a gunwriter who was apparently tired of his 42-year career put his word processor in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

"Ten years ago, had his statement survived the editorial process and made it into print, we would have seen a handful of cherry-picked letters on the 'Letters to the Editor' page of Outdoor life, and things would have pretty much proceeded along at status quo ante. Not now. Not today.

"Here's what happens today:

"Friday Night: Jim Zumbo, a paid writer of the old-school print and TV media, posts his now-legendary screwup on his new-fangled blog, without benefit of editorial restraint. [He offhandedly referred to a certain category of rifles as 'terrorist weapons'—JD]

"Saturday Night: The news breaks on ARFCOM, one of the busiest internet gun boards, with almost 200,000 members..."

[Derb] I'll leave you to read the rest for yourself.  The POLITICAL message here is the tremendous passion & solidarity of gun enthusiasts.  (Plus, of course, as the above writer stresses, the power of the Internet.)  We've all been ruminating on the need for Rudy Giuliani to do some hard thinking & plain talking about those social issues on which he is too liberal for a lot of Republicans:  abortion, homosexual unions, gun rights.  It may be that the greatest of these is gun rights.  We folk at NER being mainly a bunch of flabby Metrocons, perhaps we tend to underestimate this issue.  Let's hope Rudy doesn't.

Posted on 02/23/2007 1:52 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 23 February 2007
Numerology

At the risk of attracting Louis Farrakhan's attention, I note the following link, which tells you what is interesting about every single natural number.*

The first number the website has nothing to say about is 226.  This should, therefore, be the smallest uninteresting natural number... except that, by a theorem well-known to math undergraduates, there can be no such thing.

Theorem:  There is no such thing as the smallest uninteresting natural number.

Proof:  Let S be the set of all uninteresting natural numbers.  Suppose that S is nonempty.  Now, a well-known theorem states that every nonempty set of natural numbers has a least member.  S therefore has a least member.  Call this least member N.  Then N is the smallest uninteresting natural number.  But that's interesting!  N is therefore interesting on that account.  Reductio ad absurdum—so our starting assumption, that S is nonempty, must be false.  Therefore S is empty.  There are no uninteresting natural numbers. 

There are, however, deeply, deeply uninteresting court cases.....

———————————

* "Natural number" is a term of art in math.  The natural numbers are the positive whole numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, ...  Zero is sometimes included, but more often not.

Posted on 02/23/2007 1:57 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 23 February 2007
Pakistan successfully tests nuclear-capable missile

Looks like The Pakistanis are putting that 27.5 billion dollars in US aid since 9-11 to good use. Now they'll have nuclear capable missiles to go with those nuclear capable F-16's we're sending them, which just happen to go really well with the actual nukes A.Q. Khan developed from plans stolen from The Netherlands and then sold that technology all over the hostile globe. What are we thinking?

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan Friday test-fired its longest range nuclear-capable ballistic missile, two days after signing a deal with rival India to cut the risk of atomic weapons accidents, the military said.

The Shaheen II, or Hatf VI, missile with a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,240 miles) was launched from an undisclosed location, military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan told AFP.

"The test was very successful. It was carried out to validate technical parameters and it hit the target with 100 percent accuracy," Sultan said.

"It is a two-stage solid-fuel-based missile capable of carrying all types of warhead including nuclear."

Posted on 02/23/2007 2:01 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 23 February 2007
RE: Filet Zumbo

One of several similar emails:

"Derb—-I have no idea if the sacking of Zumbo was fair. From the sound of it, he may have gotten a raw deal. Your larger point is supported by this incident. As a gun owner, hunter and sportsman, I have zero patience with gun grabbers. All of my friends who hunt or shoot feel the same way. The argument is over and only the devious or insane support gun control.

"That means we don't vote for the devious or insane – ever.

"Rudy has a chance with folks like me, but he has to drop the gun grabbing stuff and get on the winning team, as they say. Otherwise, I'll vote for the Mormon."

[Derb]  I think there are things that, as a city kid, Rudy might not appreciate.  He'd do well to be open-minded about this, and perhaps submit to some education.  Have some prominent Second Amendment-supporting Republican (**NOT** Dick Cheney) take him on a hunting trip, from which Rudy comes back enthusing—a convert!  I'm not saying he should be insincere & Clintonesque about it.  A well-organized hunting trip **is** something you'd enthuse about, unless you are a hopeless bookworm.  Rudy's 9/11 responses suggest there's a man of action in there somewhere.  Teddy Roosevelt was born in NYC too...

He could try some such escape hatch as: "Growing up in the city, it seemed to me that guns were what criminals had..."  Although, given certain facts about Rudy's family background, this would have to be done v—e—r—y carefully...

Posted on 02/23/2007 2:24 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 23 February 2007
Zumbo, Zimbo

The Second Amendment issue aside, Jim Zumbo's name has been firing off secondary explosions in my head. 

I've been reading up on Consciousness Studies this past few weeks, by way of background to a review I'm doing of Doug Hofstadter's  forthcoming book.  Fascinating stuff, with some interesting results coming in from neurophysiology, evolutionary biology, zoology, and so on.  Did you know that there is (since 1994) a Journal of Consciousness Studies?  It's a hot field.

Not the least fascinating thing about Consciousness Studies is the jargon that's been built up:  the Cartesian Theater and the Chinese room, the Turing Test and the Phi Phenomenon, that sort of thing.  What particularly came to mind reading about Jim Zumbo's unfortunate experience was the zimbo.

You start with a zombie, which is a person who can do everything you and I can do—talk, act—but has no self-aware consciousness.  Everything's there except the spark, the elan mental (more jargon).

Then you enhance your zombie slightly so that his thoughts can observe and monitor themselves—allow "recursive self-representation"—, but there is still no central clearing-house—no "I."  That's a zimbo.  I think I've got that right.  It's all covered at length in Daniel Dennett's 1991 book Consciousness Explained (which, for my money, left rather a lot UN-explained...)  The issues to be explored here are:  Can zombies exist (consensus answer:  no) and, Can zimbos exist (consensus answer:  well...)

Whether or not zimbos can exist, the past few days have left us in no doubt whatever that bimbos can.  As H.P. Lovecraft would have said:  They exist, and they walk among us.   

Posted on 02/23/2007 2:26 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 23 February 2007
Even Though!

Remember the classic NY Times headline about how crime rates are going down even though more people are in jail?  Well, here's an item from Fox News that you could file right alongside:

"Large percentages of high school seniors are posting weak scores on national math and reading tests even though more of them are taking challenging courses and getting higher grades in school, say two new government reports released Thursday."  [My italics.]

We should start a collection of these astonishing "even thoughs."

Posted on 02/23/2007 2:31 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 23 February 2007
Flash for Freedom

For an unusual angle on the slave trade, I recommend Flash for Freedom, in which the incorrigible Harry Flashman encounters the Latin-quoting slave ship captain John Charity Spring.  It is one of the better extracts from the Flashman Papers, that incomparable trove of 19th-century historical documentation.

Posted on 02/23/2007 2:33 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 23 February 2007
More Re: Filet Zumbo

Several readers have poo-pooed my suggestion that Rudy get himself invited on a Cheney-free hunting trip.  Main point, from a reader:

"One thing gun owners have learned the hard way is we got to stick together.  The antigunners want to separate the hunters, from the pistol guys, from the Military rifle type guys—divide and conquer."

I understand.  Was only trying to suggest ONE thing Rudy might do to get himself some creds on this issue.  Sure, there are others.

And non-hunting fans of range shooting should anyway be feeling my pain right now.  My town range here in Huntington was closed for good a few weeks ago.  Nothing especially ideological—it was just some kind of play between the town and some property developers.  It's deprived me of a favorite Friday afternoon relaxation, though—driving over to the range & popping away with my handguns for a happy hour or so.  Nearest public range now is I think Calverton, 40 miles up the coast.  Grrrr.

Posted on 02/23/2007 2:39 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 23 February 2007
Christianity and the Enlightenment
It's a big and tangled topic, and I already suspect I'm going to regret posting this, but I smell some "historical recruitment" going on with some readers telling us how Christian the American Revolution was.  The Enlightenment was shot through with deep skepticism towards the truths of revealed religion.  Voltaire and Gibbon were by no means outliers.

I've just been reading Brooke Allen's book Moral Minority, which gives a lot of fascinating details.  For sure, many of those who fought for independence were very pious.  On Brooke's account, though, none of the six Big Names she discusses in detail (Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton) would be at ease in an evangelical meeting, either of their own time or of ours.  (Let alone—good grief!—a Catholic Mass.)

I will defer to Rick Brookhiser on all points of history here.  I would like to say, however, that this business of "recruiting" historical figures to one's pet cause is deplorable.  It was pioneered by the homosexualists, who wrote numberless tomes to convince us that everyone of consequence in history, from Julius Caesar to Abraham Lincoln, was "gay."  It's silly stuff, and I am sorry to see Christians engaging in it.

Since I've already incited 10,000 emails, I'll go the whole distance here and say that when Christian apologists do acknowledge the skepticism of the Founders, it often drives them into something close to anti-Americanism.  As an illustration, consider this reader's letter in the current (March '07) issue of the Paleocon-Catholic magazine Chronicles:

"In his review of Gordon S. Wood's Revolutionary Characters ... James O. Tate avers that 'we need to recover a vital connection to the spirit of the Founding Fathers...'  He notes that Wood identifies that spirit, but nowhere in the review does he describe it.  That spirit was anti-Catholic—a marriage of rationalism, naturalism, and secularism, the bitter fruits of Protestant and Enlightenment ideas, because of their redefinition of human nature and freedom.

"Why should I, a Catholic born in America, want to reconnect with Thomas Jefferson, who, in a letter to John Adams on April 11, 1823, wrote, 'And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.  But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding'?

"Going back to Washington, Franklin (both Freemasons), and the rest of their ilk will not resuscitate America.  We must divorce ourselves from adoration of those revolutionaries, and return to Him Who declared, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life.'  It is only in this way that we can become His temporal instruments for the restoration of the good, the beautiful, and the true in our land."

Perhaps there should be an Anti-Founders Club, in which the likes of this gent could hobnob with their leftist equivalents, people who disdain the Founders as slave-holders.

(I did not mean any slight on Chronicles, by the way, a magazine I much admire, which always has thought-provoking stuff in it at a high level of cerebrality.  This same issue, for example, has a piece on the "Polonization" of Ireland—the great flood of people from Poland into the Irish Republic, which is having all sorts of odd consequences, and has not been much reported eslewhere.)  

Posted on 02/23/2007 2:51 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 23 February 2007
Rudy in a Bind
A skeptical reader:
"Derb—Giuliani on a hunting trip will look as patently false as when Kerry tried to pretend he was a big macho bird hunter (easily the most ridiculous stunt since Dukakis drove around in a tank trying to pretend he was pro-military).  Snooty, buttoned-down East Coast city dwelling politicians should not even try to act like good old boys.  Such grotesque pandering convinces nobody,  and only arouses contempt from friends and enemies alike."
[Derb]  Hmmm.  I don't think the comparison holds water.  You'll hear a lot of bad things said about Rudy, but I doubt the word "snob" will figure among them.  He has a down-home-iness (this kind of thing is much easier to say in German) about him that could, with a little massaging, be transferred successfully to rural pursuits, I am sure. 

Hunting and class cut all sorts of ways, from the WASP millionaire in his duck blind to the working stiff stalking whitetail in Presque Isle.  Rudy's a working-class boy from the mean streets.  He could pull this off, I am sure.  It would need careful calibrating, but he really needs to do something along these lines.
Posted on 02/23/2007 3:01 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 23 February 2007
Worth a Mass

A reader:

"Derb—-Re your recent post: 'None of the six Big Names she discusses in detail (Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton) would be at ease in an evangelical meeting, either of their own time or of ours.  (Let alone—good grief!—a Catholic Mass.)'  I recall a passage from Davis McCullough's biography of Adams that he, Washington, and a few other delegates to the Constitutional Convention actually went to a Catholic Mass—more as tourists than believers.  None of them were converted: Adams was repelled by the image of the crucified Christ hanging on a cross, although he did think that the sermon was pretty good."

[Derb]  I had a Catholic girlfriend once who used to drag me along to Mass.  My only recollection of those events is of thinking how inferior the hymns were to Anglican ones.  That was 40 years ago, though.  To judge by Father Rutler's little gem of a book, Anglican hymnody is much better received in the RC church nowadays. 

Posted on 02/23/2007 3:04 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 23 February 2007
How Homosexuals Saved Civilization

A heavy-laden reader:

"Dear Derb—While I can't argue for or against Lincoln or Caesar, speaking as someone who has been a bachelor and is now married with two small girls I can say with great confidence: it is the homosexual who, acting throughout history, has provided most if not all of the progress.  Why?  No married father has the excess resources (not monetary, mental, nor temporal) to do more than subsist.  Only homosexuals have those three surpluses necessary to innovate.

"Yours in tragic heterosexuality,

"[Name]"

[Derb]  I know exactly how you feel, Sir.  In an age when only the seriously rich have a good complement of domestic servants, homosexuals have a big edge over us breeders in the matter of GETTING THINGS DONE.  They have way more time on their hands.  They even have an edge over single heterosexuals, who have to waste endless amounts of time conducting and preparing for courtship.  Unless I have been seriously misinformed, homosexual courtship lasts about twenty seconds.

Posted on 02/23/2007 6:12 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 23 February 2007
Recruitment
On the subject of recruitment, here's my personal favorite:  

On the point of homosexualists* having pioneered the "outing" of historical figures as this or that, I stand my ground.  Others may have made efforts to "out" some particular character, with Jesus of Nazareth of course a favorite subject, but the scope of the homosexualist outing makes it, I think, qualitatively different. 

And I was really only thinking of the state of affairs in free societies.  The guardians of official ideologies have of course been doing something similar for millennia.  The work done by orthodox Confucians in Imperial China to "confucianize" ancient literature comes to mind.  Here, for example, is an old folk poem from pre-Confucian times.  (It's Song 81 in Karlgren's numbering of the Book of Odes.)

Walking the great road
I grasp your sleeve.
O do not hate me!
Do not forget the old times!

Walking the great road
I grasp your hand.
O do not reject me!
Do not forget the good times!

One might think that this is a leading candidate for the title World's Least Ambiguous Poem.  Not to the literary critics of imperial China.  Since the Odes were supposed to have been gathered by Confucius himself, they all had to be confucianized.  So the critics assure us, with straight faces, that this is the complaint of a loyal minister unjustly dismissed by his sovereign!  And for a millennium and a half that was the only allowed interpretation, if you wanted to pass the imperial examinations.

———————

* As I explain here , "I favor the usage 'homosexualist' for people who are activist about their sexual orientation, versus 'homosexual' for people who are merely, and privately, homosexual. I admit, though, that my attempts to promote this—it seems to me, useful and non-insulting—usage have fallen mostly on stony ground."

Posted on 02/23/2007 6:15 PM by John Derbyshire
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