Thursday, 13 December 2018

“Why Anti-Zionism Is Malign” | NYT

Michelle Goldberg wrote a piece in the New York Times the other day (linked below) claiming the usual anti-Jewish thing: anti-Zionism ain't anti-semitism. Yeah right. And the fact that she's Jewish cuts no ice. Many an American Jew is anti-Israel to the tune of anti-semitism. Well meaning and all that they may be.  
To the extent that the BDS movement seeks to deny Israel's right to exist — and it does, overtly or not  — it's by definition anti-Semitic. 
So here's the rebuttal to Goldberg, from David Harris.  It's familiar. But needs repeating. And repeating. 
Good on the Times for running this rebuttal. Though it doesn't appear in the print edition as far as I can see. 

Re "Anti-Zionism Isn't the Same as Anti-Semitism," by Michelle Goldberg (column,, Dec. 7): 

If anti-Zionism isn't a form of anti-Semitism, what is? To deny the Jewish people, of all the peoples on earth, the right to self-determination surely is discriminatory, all the more so 71 years after the United Nations General Assembly voted to recommend the creation of a "Jewish" state. And if the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement isn't another form of anti-Semitism, what is? 

To single out Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, for demonization and isolation, while ignoring egregious human rights violators aplenty, once again smacks of anti-Jewish hatred. After all, the very same B.D.S. movement does not even focus on the mistreatment of Palestinians in the Arab world, including the thousands killed and imprisoned in the Syrian carnage, the many professional fields closed to Palestinians in Lebanon, or the internecine wars between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. If Israel is not involved, the B.D.S. movement has no interest.

Nor does it take into account the many efforts by Israel to forge a peace deal with the Palestinians, beginning 70 years ago, only to be spurned time and again.

Criticize Israeli policies? Sure. It's done every day in Israel itself by the media, nongovernment groups, and in the Knesset. But that's a far cry from treating Israel differently from any other country in the world, which is at the core of the anti-Zionist and B.D.S. outlook. The American Jewish Committee says it is no different from anti-Semitism.

David Harris
New York
The writer is chief executive of the American Jewish Committee.


Wednesday, 12 December 2018

"Racial Preferences Aren’t Only an American Problem" | WSJ

Protesters support Malaysia's racist Bumiputra policies,
Kuala Lumpur, December 8. 
Legalised racism is permitted in places as widely apart as the United States and Malaysia. In the US it's called Affirmative Action. In Malaysia it's called the Bumiputra policy. In both cases the aim is specifically racial, that is to say, racist: to provide benefits to one or more race over others. In the States it's mainly for Black and Hispanic minorities being treated preferentially over Whites and Asians.  In Malaysia it's to benefit the Malay majority over the Chinese minority.
Since it seems to be ok by everyone to have specifically race-based policies, I presume it's ok also to make some race-based observations. (It would probably be better to talk of "ethnically based" instead of "race", since there are some views that there is no such thing as race, but I'm using common parlance here).
My observations are mainly about the Chinese. The article linked below notes that the Chinese in Malaysia came there as common labourers in the mid sixties. Yet they still did well enough to prompt the government to hold them back. To handicap them. Similarly in the States, Chinese immigrants came to labour on the railways in the 19th century. Again they've done so well since that Harvard, to take just one example, is being sued for making it harder for them than any other group to join. They're too successful!  Or as Harvard puts it, they don't have the right "personality".… hmmm…
The common explanation for the success of Chinese whenever they go, and however poor to begin with, an explanation which — married as I am to a Chinese, and having been involved with China for over forty years — I agree with, is that their culture places huge emphasis on hard work and education. (Jews the same, btw) (and phew! what a sentence).
By contrast, at least in the United States, African-American culture is something of the opposite. Scott Adams talks of "cultural gravity", pulling down would-be high achievers in the African-American community. Whereas Chinese culture is not gravity, but something like a hot air balloon, encouraging and celebrating high fliers.
I recall a story about a college graduation prize-giving in America. Whenever an African American student was awarded a prize their black class mates didn't clap.…. They booed! Imagine how dispiriting that must be!
Another thing pointing to culture in this whole race thingie: Nigerians who migrate to America perform better than native-born African-Americans. Having been brought up in a highly competitive Nigerian culture, they thrive in the freedom of the United States. And they do so without Affirmative Action. General Colin Powell is one such example Mrs BoT tells me.
It's not just me, a cranky old white man, saying this. Black Americans say so too: the likes of talk show host Larry Elder and economics professor Thomas Sowell. Even Obama had a bit of a go at it: it's ok to "talk white"!
The point being this: that much more attention needs to be paid to how to overcome the negative "cultural gravity" of the African-American and Hispanic-American cultures. Otherwise no amount of Affirmative Action is going to help. (As indeed it has not helped since its inception in the seventies — see the article).
The same goes for Malaysia and its racist Bumiputra policies.

Monday, 10 December 2018

“Britain must now pay the price for the tantrum it called ‘referendum’ “

Good morning David,
Re your second marker, you say:
Second marker: that the Brexit conflict is a symptom of a nation fundamentally divided. London versus the rest of the country; Scotland and Northern Ireland against the English; the young against the old; the rural versus the urban; the privileged and supine metropolitan elite versus a marginalised middle class.
Today, these divides remain as absolute as ever. Two years of ferocious, incestuous debate seems to have left these divisions as deeply entrenched as ever. [here]
I agree with all this. 
But it strikes me that the attitude of defeated Remainers and much of the media has been pretty much to brand all Brexiteers as "deplorables". Public intellectuals have been vicious in their denunciations: "racist", "xenophobic", "ignorant" and so on. said
"It has become quite commonplace to associate support for Brexit with low levels of education and intellect and to claim that reason and thought inevitably lead to an anti-Brexit view."
This certainly hasn't been helpful to bridging the divides you identify. 
The BBC had a great Intelligence squared debate on Brexit over the weekend. Covered 3 options: 1. The May Deal, 2. No Deal and 3. Second Referendum.  
If I were British I'd be supporting 3.... and it seems to be gaining some traction. 
If there is to be a second referendum, it would have helped if the Remainers had been a bit more gracious in defeat and recognised concerns of the Brexiters, concerns which go beyond trade and the economy.  

Peter F.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

“George H.W. Bush: making another genocidal American great again” | SCMP

"Skulduggery and mass murder" ?? SCMP. WTF??

The chief news editor of the South China Morning Post, Yonden Lhatoo, says "I'm fine with forgoing my sense of decency and humanity over this one." ("George H.W. Bush: making another genocidal American great again", Dec 9)
I wonder: is there any time it's right to forego one's sense of decency and humanity?
Especially when it's based on so many specious allegations. 
Example: Lhatoo quotes Freud as justification for his savaging of the dead.  But Freud, the "father of psychoanalysis" says Lhatoo, is a now a thoroughly discredited figure. We speak well of the dead because it makes us feel better and more noble. That's my psychoanalysis. Lhatoo saying otherwise, on the basis of spurious Freudianism, is just "grinchery". 
Lhatoo claims that Bush 41 "encouraged" Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait in 1990. Not true. The US ambassador to Iraq at the time, April Glaspie, passed on confusing messages to Saddam about American neutrality (neutrality, by the way, that Lhatoo would have applauded at the time!). Messages for which she was later upbraided. Saddam made a mistake in taking these as carte blanche to invade the sovereign Kuwait.
Bush said "this will not stand". He put together the "coalition of the willing" backed by a United Nations resolution and including Arab states. Saddam was driven out of Kuwait in 100 hours. Retreating soldiers were not killed. Coalition forces pulled back, as the UN resolution was only for forcing Iraq our of its illegal occupation of Kuwait. 
Yes, there was dreadful bloodshed — by Saddam — when coalition troops withdrew. One can argue the rights and wrongs of the withdrawal although it's clear it honoured international resolutions. 
To blame Bush for Saddam's bloody reprisals is a gross calumny.  You might as well blame England and America for Hitler's killing of 6 million Jews. The logic is the same. 
Yonden Lhatoo has form in his blind hatred of America. I'm shocked and offended that you have such hateful ad hominem in your otherwise fine paper. 
He doesn't deserve the title of chief news editor. 
Although I guess he achieves your click-bait goals. 


Saturday, 8 December 2018

Eels stuck in Hawaiian monk seals' noses baffle scientists - The Washington Post

Naughty, naughty boy! "Make better choices"!

Read and have a good laugh....
A relaxed-looking juvenile Hawaiian monk seal lounges near a sandy white beach on some green foliage. Its eyes are half-closed, and it has a serene expression on its face. But the seal's calm demeanor is surprising.Why? Well, there's a long, black-and-white eel dangling from its right nostril."It's just so shocking," Claire Simeone, a veterinarian and monk seal expert based in Hawaii, told The Washington Post on Thursday. "It's an animal that has another animal stuck up its nose."

Friday, 7 December 2018

Perfection is the enemy of action. AKA, The Greenies screw it again

Ever since I understood it, I liked it: the aphorism: "perfection is the enemy of action".
I've lived by it in some ways: I built a boat a few years ago.  She was far from perfect, but I finished her in about six months, she sailed well, and I sold her.  If I'd tried to be perfect, I'd never have finished her.  Many other folks were building the same boat at the same time, and all took longer than I did, many years longer.  They've got nicer boats, no doubt.  But I built, sold and moved on.
Here's the blog of the build.
What of Greenies?  What's the reference?
Well, I remember some years ago, when natural gas started to become a thing, like in Australia which has vast quantities.
I remember being surprised when the Greens came out against natural gas.  Half the CO2 emissions!
No, they said.  We must have perfection.  And perfection is Renewables.
Result: The United States has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other country in the world. While the rest of the world, including Europe, has increased its CO2 emissions as it struggles to shift to renewables.
For sure there was also an ideological side to their opposition to natural gas. It's a fossil fuel, after all.
I've already said why I think that the Greenies have ruined the world.  Already.
Why do we still listen to them.
Go gas! and Go nuke!
BTW: the talk of Dave Rubin with Marian Tupy, above, is purely coincidental.  I didn't know it had the same points I'm making here.
Which is this: better move a bit along the road.  Than not to move.
Perfection is the enemy of action.
Note also: wealth is good for the environment.  Poverty (aka "socialism") is bad for the economy.  Marian Tupy gives many examples.  Including that the world is deforesting at only 0.8% per year, and that's all in Africa and South America. The developed world and lately China, are major re-afforesting.
And: 90% of the plastics in the world's oceans come from 8 rivers, all in Africa and Asia. The Western world's contribution to plastic in the oceans is negligible.  Because of wealth.
And: the last time someone died of an accident with a nuclear power station was Chernobyl back in the 80s.  Even including Fukushima.
So, again:
Go gas! and Go nuke!

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Roll Back China’s Soft-Power Campaign - The Wall Street Journal.

"Star­tlingly, Chi­na's ef­fort de­pends on the co­op­er­a­tion of many "nom­i­nally in­de­pendent ac­tors" within the U.S. For ex­am­ple, news out­lets aligned with Bei­jing have cor­nered al­most the en­tire me­dia mar­ket aimed at Chinese-Amer­i­cans, es­tablish­ing new print, ra­dio, tele­vi­sion and on­line pub­li­ca­tions in both Chi­nese and Eng­lish.
"The in­flu­ence is also pro­nounced at Amer­ican uni­ver­si­ties. Con­fucius In­sti­tutes are funded by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and may not en­gage in ac­tiv­i­ties that con­tra­vene Chinese law. Other research cen­ters backed by Bei­jing use their re­sources and reach to at­tack the aca­d­e­mic free­dom of pro­fes­sors. Uni­ver­si­ties be­come sub­ject to pres­sure and even re­tal­i­a­tion when they pub­lish re­search or host events that of­fend the po­lit­i­cal sen­si­bil­i­ties of Chi­na's gov­ern­ment and Commu­nist Party. China also in­creas­ingly of­fers fund­ing to Amer­i­can think tanks will­ing to por­tray their na­tion in a pos­i­tive light, and blocks un­co­op­er­a­tive re­searchers from obtain­ing ac­cess to Chinese so­ci­ety."

Outrageous Predictions 2019

Some bit of fun.  And some bit of record: they've done this for some years, so you can Google their previous years' results to see how they did.
The main thing is that this is a corrective to all the predictions we get. Daily, we have pundits telling us "this" or "that" will happen.  But their records are very poor. Noone, just noone, knows what's going to happen.  Occasionally they might get something right, but that's just like the famous stopped clock, correct twice a day. 
Just strap in and enjoy the ride.
That's me these days. I merely watch history. Happening in front of me. 
I try to find things to laugh about.  
Because laughter is good for you.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Say something nasty about immigration? Off to jail with thee!

So on the same day that there's a historic Brexit vote in the British Commons, December 11, there's an equally -- maybe even more -- consequential vote happening in Marakeesh.   This vote will be a UN attempt to criminalise any criticism of migration.  Get that.  Criticism of migration!
Bear in mind that if you're for immigration, or against it, or -- as most people -- somewhere in between, believing that controlled immigration is the thing, there are studies showing that immigration harms the working class and studies showing that immigration causes no harm at all and only good.
In other words: it's a topic of debate and discussion.
But not if the UN has its way.
No doubt pushed by the biggest block in the UN: the Organisation of Islamic Congress.
If the United Nations has its way, if the OIC has its way, it will no longer be even legal to voice your concerns about immigration.
At least my own country, Australia, has said it won't sign the document.  On'yer ScoMo!

“A European Goes to Trump’s Washington” | Ivan Krastev | NYT

A reader comments on the article below:
Interesting article with a different take. T is going to be a transformational president (already is) and as I have mentioned many times before, he is setting the world agenda. I think the Europeans will have to ‘go to the dentist’ as mentioned in the last paragraph, but I think they increasingly will be willing to do that. They will eventually see the Chinese dictator for what he is, when they fully realize that  ‘1984’ is being implemented in China. Further, Europe is on the ropes economically. Look at the pathetic growth rates, which until very recently China was propping up. No longer. The Europeans will need to pull up their own socks and I agree with Bannon that the European elections next year will be the first ever consequential ones. 
Stand by for a ‘tack’.

VIENNA — For a European, visiting the United States these days is a bit like going to the dentist: Your mouth is agape, you smell trouble, and you leave with a lingering bad taste.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Winnie the Pooh: cuddly Xi Jingping isn’t a cuddly at all. He’s a communist crocodile

Chinese have compared Xi to Winnie the Pooh. Obama as Tigger 

The man I love to hate. Not Chinese that I hate. Or China. But Xi Jinping. The man. The dictator. That's who I hate. He's a tyrant. A megalomaniac. A cruel dictator. Yet he wooes the world with fine phrases from Chinese literature. Then again, so did Mao. A man with more blood on his hands than Hitler. Mao was a fine calligrapher. And knew his Chinese poetry. And was a fine poet in his own write. But ruthless. 100 million died because of him.
This article -- “On the World Stage, Xi Fails to Practice What He Preaches” -- shows how Xi is the wooer of the world and it's been successful. The world, the wooee, is wooed, the world, the wooee, is fooled. Because in practice Xi hasn't practiced what he's preached. He's cruel. And he's ruthless. 
The article below doesn't even mention the worst of recent excesses: the roundup of over a million Uighurs for the crime of being Muslim. My view on Islam is pretty clear, I think, but even to me, this strikes me as a pretty horrid policy. But he does it and he's getting away with it. Because: woo....
... For instance, since he came to power in 2012, Xi has tightened the ruling party's – if not his – control over the 1.3 billion-plus-people country's cultural, social, economic and political life. The tightly censored country "was the world's worst abuser of Internet freedom in [Freedom House's 2018] Freedom on the Net for the fourth consecutive year."Under his watch, Beijing has carried out land reclamation and a military build-up in the contested waters of the South China Sea. It has also rejected a landmark ruling by a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which invalidated many of its contentious claims and unlawful actions in the resource-rich and strategically vital sea.Had his regime not done all this, the world might believe that Xi's China is a benign power – that has "worked hard to advance and uphold human rights" at home, "uphold[s] the authority of the international rule of law," loves its smaller neighbors as itself, or "never seek[s] hegemony, expansion or sphere of influence" – as Xi has publically preached.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Bannon channels Bernie

I'm not a big fan of Steve Bannon, but I do respect his resume: Marine, MBA, worked for Goldman Sachs, successful entrepreneur, edited Breitbart.
And in this talk, he says many things that crypto-socialist Bernie Sanders wouldn't argue with.  Especially care and concern for the working class. That I agree with, cause I think they've been forgotten by all parties.
A reader comments, below the fold...

The Left and the Right are agreed ...

Occasionally even duplicitous Hill is right

.... they all hate Hillary!
Well, at least for her recent immigrant comments. Comments that Europe must control its immigration to stop rightwing populists.
Here's how it goes:
  • The Left: How dare you, Hillary? You're throwing deserving immigrants, refugees and others, under the bus to appease the "far right".
  • The Right: How dare you, Hillary? Suggesting that it's only the immigration issue that brought us these victories, from Brexit to Trump. It's more that that; we're a broader church.
Fair enough.
But I think this is all because people just don't like Hillary.  Even the Left.  Though some adore her.  But many to most don't.  And I certainly don't like her, even if I would have voted for her, were I American, largely because of her mishandling and lying about the Benghazi attacks.
And of course the Right hates her.
But it happens that she's finally said something right, just like the stopped clock that tells the correct time twice a day.
Occasionally, the Hill tells the truth....

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

‘You’re not fit to call yourselves men,’ Sarah Hanson-Young tells senators - YouTube

Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young's magnificent put down of misogynistic men. Worth several views...
Finally, I agree with the Greens on something: she's the Greens Senator for South Australia.  (But certainly not everything).
(Dodgy dress, but.... Black, ladies... you're never wrong with black. [*Wonders*] is that misogynistic?  mansplaining?) 
The Libs seem to have a real problem with bullying women. And ScoMo is not helping with crudenesses like his Pamela Anderson comment. 

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

“True Islam Does Not Kill Blasphemers”. Not... (critique of Mustafa Akyol)

Ireland ditched its blasphemy law last month, while a European court found
for Sharia at the same time. Irony, much?
Even if it were true (which it isn't), that Islam doesn't kill blasphemers, the European Union has itself decided that it will punish blasphemers. Only those who speak ill of Muhammad, mind.  Not the Jesus pissers, or Buddha blasphemers; they get a free pass.
I've written about Mustafa Akyol before, putting him in a moderate Muslim category. He's the author of the recent New York Times article critiqued here.
There is a sense in which even if what he says (“True Islam Does Not Kill Blasphemers”) is not quite true, as Spencer shows is clearly the case, it ought to be true, and if more Muslims lived as if it were true things might be a lot better.  After all, many Christians remain Christians while ignoring the bits about killing blasphemers, stoning adulterous women, and so on. That's what I said six years ago, and it remains true today.
The full article, critiquing Akyol, is below the fold. Note the headline, as above. It's a version of the  "no true Scotsman fallacy". These Islamic countries kill blasphemers? Well, they're not "true Muslims", then.  Not true Islam. It's a formulation that can't be gainsaid, but has to be rejected in its entirety.

Monday, 26 November 2018

“The Woman Who Still Finds Louis C.K. Lovable” | NYT

Blanche Gardin at the Cesar Awards, Paris, 3/18.
Wearing Louis C.K.Pin
Some sense and sanity amongst the madness of #MeToo (some madness. Just some. Hand on heart, it's a needed movement. Really!). 
Blanche Gardin comedian from France:
Ms. Gardin defended Louis C.K. after his fall from grace. "Obviously, people need to speak up. Women should feel free to make denunciations," she told the magazine Télérama. "But the fact that we put a producer who rapes actresses in the same bag as a guy whose fetish is to masturbate in front of women, after asking if he can do it, means our modern society has a big problem with nuance."
She argued that it's hypocritical to shun Louis C.K. His humor, she noted, "explored his dark side, his perversions, and deciphered the darkness of the human soul." 
"People loved him for that," she said, "because it made them feel better about their own dark sides."

“This easy-to-build bamboo house could solve Asia’s slum problem” | SCMP

The Cubo house takes four weeks to manufacture and four hours
to assemble on site, costing $US77 per square metre
This is a great story. Young Filipino Earl Forlales, just 23, wins a major architectural prize for a bamboo house you can put together in four hours. 
A 100 square metre "Cubo" (=1,000 sq ft, or 10 squares), would come in at just under $US8,000. Super cheap.
Bamboo is a great material. We grow it in our yard and have used it to make benches and bread boards. I looked at building a bamboo bike, until I realised I already had too many bikes. 
Bamboo ought to be used more on boats, sailing yachts, like for flooring below decks or on decks instead of teak. 
It's quick growing, has greater tensile strength than steel and produces 35% more oxygen than trees. And completely renewable. 
Wonder material. 
In Hong Kong and China it's famously used as scaffolding: lighter, stronger and more environmentally friendly than steel scaffolding. I've often wondered why the rest of the world doesn't use it and guess it's down to "elf 'n safety", innit?
The Chinese character for bamboo is a nice little pictogram of bamboo stalks: 竹.  Pronounced "zhu", second tone. 
Earl is going to build more bamboo Cubos north of Manila. 
Well done Earl!
Forlales' house could be manufactured in a week, constructed in four hours and costs £60 per square metre. Its use of bamboo – which releases 35 per cent more oxygen into the environment than trees – was praised by the judges. The ability of the houses to be constructed in any bamboo-producing area was one of the key attractions.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

“A deal on tariffs won’t end the US-China economic Cold War” | SCMP [last week]

Who will blink at Buenos Aires?  Anyone? Noone? 
I like Tom Holland. He's a good analyst with long history in this part of the world. 
In today's print edition article "This could go either way. Either way, it's bad" (not yet online) he ends up with this scary prediction:
"... it matters little whether Trump and Xi manage to strike a deal in trade tariffs in Buenos Aires next week. The US and China are heading for an epochal economic Cold War that will sour international relations for a generation to come." [my emphasis]
And in the article headlined above and linked here, from last week:
And while it is debatable whether globalisation was ever quite the force in averting international conflict that its advocates claimed, it is a safe bet that de-globalisation is never exactly going to promote the cause of peace and harmony between nations. Protectionism on national security grounds is a threat to everyone's security. 
I'm hoping Tom's got this wrong. But if not, then in my old-old age I'm going to be asking "was it worth it?". 
The whole Trump taking on China because "protectionism is good" and "winning a trade war is easy" thing .... was it worth it?
As Trump says "we'll see". So far, not so good...

Saturday, 24 November 2018

“Trump has tapped into American disdain for China’s authoritarianism” | SCMP

I was going to write something about David Dodwell's recent article about how China and America were both serial trade offenders and so Trump's attacks on China are a case of pot and kettle. Tu Quoque. I was going to say that, sure, both are at fault, but China’s faults are bigger and worse. A serial killer and a shoplifter are both criminals. Right....
But as so often my sloth comes to assist, as I.M. Wright of Happy Valley has done the heavy lifting for me in the letter to the editor, copied below the fold.
Another case of the wisdom of Taoist Wu Wei philosophy. ("do nothing").
The letter:

“Cultural Revolution era stamp sells for US$2 million” | SCMP

Spot the mistake. Answer below

LETTER TO SCMP's Laurie Chen

Dear Laurie, 
(cc Letters to editor),

A couple of things about your article today on the $US2 million stamp:

1. The translation of 无产阶级 is not "without the bourgeoisie".  It is "proletariat". The whole phrase on the stamp, well known in China especially by people of a "certain age", is "Long Live the total victory of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution". 

2.  More seriously: you don't mention the real reason this stamp is worth $US 2 million: the island of Taiwan was printed in white, not red like the rest of China! [its there looking like a egg above the head of the woman just behind the guy holding aloft Mao’s Little Red Book]. 
Taiwan is an "inalienable part of the motherland" and should have been printed in red. 
This was a dramatically serious mistake and the post office officials were appalled when they realised their grievous error. Some were later imprisoned. 
As soon as the mistake was realised, the stamps were recalled and pulped. Only nine are known to have survived with this one as the best of the nine. 
And that's the reason it's worth $US2 million!

Peter Forsythe
Discovery Bay 
9308 0798
Cultural Revolution era stamp sells for US$2 million