Friday, 31 May 2019

MacKenzie Bezos is going to give all her money to charity …


Coincidence: after our talk about MacKenzie Bezos the other day, that she's become the wealthiest woman in the world following her divorce from Jeff Bezos, in yesterday's news: that she's going to give it all away…
Quoting her:
"We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand. In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share.
"My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won't wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty. "
She was a key partner in the early success of Amazon and is a well-regarded published author. In short: a woman of skill and accomplishment.
Jeff Bezos says he is proud of her.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Trump China Policy Misguided: Focus on Totalitarian System, Not Consumer Goods | National Review

Trump is focused on the non-threat of Chinese exports while ignoring the true threat of China's totalitarian system reaching abroad. A few weeks ago, CBS censored a comedy that mocked China's censorship. That ought to worry us more than imported washing machines.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Tweet by Coleman Hughes on Reparations. Wow

Coleman Hughes (@coldxman)
This was an interesting case study in echo chambers.

The event gets protested at around 4:00 (not because of me though.)

I speak around 12:00, 28:40, 43:30, 59:00, and 1:24:00––when the crowd nearly rises up against me.

youtube.com/watch?v=mTdrkM…

“Serious disputes between ethnic groups”. ABC’s form of words for “genocide”



I'm just listening to Sarah Kanowski in ABC Australia's Conversations program talking to Gina Perry about the latter's book The Lost Boys about the 1954 Robbers' Cave experiment.
In the talk Sarah referred to the Armenian Genocide by Turks in 1915-17 as "serious disputes between ethnic groups".  (Armenian and Genocide were words not uttered). 
This was in fact the world's first recoded genocide and the reason the word genocide was invented. Unlike Germany thirty years later Turkey has always denied the genocide. (Or played it down— everyone was fighting innit?).
And really... I can't not say it.... calling that a "dispute between ethnic groups is the same, exactly the same, as calling the murder of six million Jews "an ethnic dispute between Christian and Jewish Germans". I mean, the SAME. 
Poor ABC. Poor Sarah. Do they even know the violence they are doing to history? All because they are wary of "hurting the feelings" of the good Muslims of Turkey.
"The Lost Boys" is a great story, by the way. 

Thursday, 23 May 2019

tax


From here 

And remember it’s perfectly safe to like this cartoon! It ain’t bigoted.…

Monday, 20 May 2019

If Israel was justified in attacking Egypt in 1967, was Japan justified in attacking the Pearl Harbor?

Arab leaders did plan to eliminate Israel, killing all the jews

An interesting question, to which the simple answer is “NO”.
Myriam Obadia gives the best simple answer, imo.  She talks of casus belli, “reasons for war”.  The Israelis had one. The Japanese did not.
Have a look.

And Trump is “racist” and “misogynistic”

The Alice Johnson story: a now great-grandmother in prison for life without parole, for a first time non-violent crime, gets released under Trump's clemency order, after 21 years in prison.
Courtesy of representations by Kim Kardashian West, with whom Trump also worked to get a prison reform bill passed. A prison reform bill the liberals might have passed decades ago. But hadn't.
And yet… he's the racist woman-hater. Right.
Oh… and Alice had appealed for clemency via Obama and Obama had turned her down. And he's the empathetic, caring liberal. Right.
And you won't see this news in CNN or MSNBC. Because it doesn't fit the narrative. That Trump is the devil incarnate.
Alice says "the time should fit the crime". Not that she shouldn't have been in prison. But not for life, for her one-time non-violent offence.

Don’t mention the S word.


Zimbabwe's collapse under Robert Mugabe. The fall of the Soviet Union. Cuba's disastrous unraveling in the 1990s. TODAY NYT
Notice any common factor in those three countries? (This being the opening para of the front page story in today's New York Times).  
Answer: All are or were socialist countries. Socialism fails to the exact extent that it is implemented. The more socialist the more the failure. From North Korea, a disaster, to Cuba, merely indigent. 
But the New York Times doesn't bother to mention the word "socialist" even once. In a long front-page article. That purports to examine the reasons for failure. 
In any case, Socialists — and the New York Times is definitely warm to the ideology — have the perfect get-out, in the shape of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. Socialism didn't work? Then it wasn't true socialism. 
We see that now in the United States. The Democratic Socialists of America claim they will succeed where others have failed because they understand socialism better. Those countries that failed under socialism? They weren't practicing true socialism. (The cartoon above).
Well, I've lived in a true socialist economy, China of the seventies, and it don't work.  Or like China now works as a State capitalist economy. 
And I've looked at the policies of the DSA.  They are pure and simple down the line, plain-vanilla failed-every-time-it's-been-tried socialist policies, state control of the means of production and all. 
So folks like AOC must be treated with suspicion. As a powerfully-persuasive, telegenic, social media-savvy youngster Ocasio Cortez reaches millions with a single tweet, and can convince many of her followers down the socialist road, despite socialism's egregious record of failure every single time it's been implemented. The extent of its implementation being the extent of its failure. More socialism = more failure. 
To repeat. This front page article on Venezuela mentions the word "socialism" exactly ZERO times. Despite the fact that it's the single largest reason why Venezuela's economy is in ruins.
Way to go, Times!  You paper of record, you!

Hong Kong a ticking financial time bomb? I don’t buy it


We do take note of Tom Holland, one of the very best commentators on Asian business. 
He analyses Hong dollar peg and property both being sound. 
 …the Hong Kong dollar peg is in no danger. Nor is there much reason to worry about Hong Kong's banks. A debt to GDP ratio of 850 per cent is not unusual for a major financial centre. London's is similar. And the exposure is not as great as it looks. Much of the banking system's assets consist of foreign currency loans extended by Hong Kong branches to mainland borrowers, collateralised by yuan deposits held by the same banks' mainland branches. It's a profitable, low-risk business.
~~~~~~~~
Hong Kong a ticking financial time bomb? I don't buy it

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Chernobyl doing good work for pro nuclear


Last night at Double Haven, north east Hong Kong
Over the past 33 years, Chernobyl has gone from the being considered a potential desert for life to being an area of high interest for biodiversity conservation.
It may sound strange, but now we need to work to maintain the integrity of the exclusion zone as a nature reserve if we want to guarantee that in the future Chernobyl will remain a refuge for wildlife. [Ref]

Friday, 17 May 2019

A win for Labor

Random photo: this one of Koh Samui in Thailand

That's my prediction for tomorrow's election.
ScoMo has performed badly and Shorten has upped his game.
And the big issue seems to be climate change where Labor is stronger.
There. I've just put the mockers on Labor ...
I hope not, Bob! RIP....
LATER (20 May): well I got that wrong, as did all the polls.  Just as I got the call on Hillary wrong, as did all the polls.  So I’m zero for two in the most recent US and Oz elections.
Oh well.  I’m actually pretty neutral on the Oz side, because each party is pretty much in the middle, just one a bit leftish and one a bit rightish. On economic performance I did the analysis and there’s but a gnat’s difference between them.  You can tell one from t’other.

Former official says Beijing might have to wait for change | SCMP




Susan Thornton shives the knife in. She does great damage to the US. 
She was part of the Clinton and Obama administrations that led China into the WTO with more hope than certainty that they would abide by its rules. And abide, they did not. Hence today. 
Here she undermines the United States. She openly subverts its efforts to get a decent deal so that a "future administration" can bend to China's will. She is kowtowing to China. 
Kind of sleazy, I reckon.
Note that her audience of China-based business people don't buy her surrenderism, her anticipatory capitulation, her appeasement...
Frank Lavin, who runs a consultancy in Shanghai called Export Now advising businesses working in China and is the former head of the International Trade Administration at the US Commerce Department between 2005 and 2007 under George W Bush, said there was general support for Trump's approach towards China."There's an ambivalent view on tariffs, whether it's the right tactic or not. But at least most people, I think a solid majority of Americans, will say he is done a good job of identifying the problem and rattling China," he said.
And so say my own contacts in China. Not Trump voters. But supporting some sort of decent (= tough) deal with China that has penalties for non compliance. Just as every other country, including the United States adheres to. 
Mind you it may be that the text of the draft agreement could be modified by making any punishments apply to both sides. Why not? To remove any hint of humiliation. 
~~~~~~~~
Former official says Beijing might have to wait for change

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Public Figures Urge Government Not to Adopt Sayeeda's Definition of "Islamophobia" -


Good
Though the usual suspects are all upset that the government wouldn’t buy the patently absurd definition, that makes pretty much any comment on Islam disallowed by law.  Imagine that for Christianity.  Or the Mormons....

gone


From gone
And remember it’s perfectly safe to like this cartoon! It ain’t bigoted.…
Which gives me, a long time liberal supporter of "women's right to choose", pro-choice in the American vernacular, to say that there is a thing that doesn't make sense.
All supporters of abortion say that "women mist have the right to control their own bodies".
But it's *not* their own bodies. It's a separate living human being.
Duh... how did that take me so long to realise?  OTHO, plenty of other pro choice people act as if the other human being doesn't exist. That somehow they are a part of her body.
And, by the way, it doesn't change the calculus of the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. It might seem to, but the moral argument is the same. Either one accepts that there is a a living homo sapiens which must be protected no matter its origin or one doesn't.
It's not as simple as "reproductive rights" or a woman being able to have sovereignty over her own body.
That said I'm not yet ready to go full pro-life. I'm still pro choice mainly because of the safety element. Women will find backyard abortion ones if they can't find legal ones. But it should not be celebrated — as it has been by some zealous American feminists — because that's bizarre and kind of off, and abortion  ought to be "safe, legal and rare". And not celebrated. 

My letter in SCMP “Do not let bad news taint your view of the world”.


Goodness, that’s about three or four letters of mine published in as many weeks.... Each on a different issue.

Fears of China and WeChat as Australia heads to the polls | (Asian Values)


When a Sydney council chose Chinese-language newspaper Vision China Times to sponsor its Lunar New Year celebrations last year, the Chinese consulate in the city warned the inclusion of the "anti-China" newspaper would harm China-Australia relations.
Some people quotes in the article:
Lin Hongyu, dean at Overseas Chinese institute at Huaqiao Uni Xiamen
Sun Wanning, media studies at Uni Tech, Sydney
Yeung Wai-ling, researches Chinese influence in Oz
Erin Chew, Asian Australia Alliance
~~~~~~~
Fears of China and WeChat as Australia heads to the polls


Why Japan has a problem with politeness | SCMP (Asian Values)


Japan has a problem with politeness. No, not with the impeccable manners of its citizens – bows remain respectfully reverential and taxi drivers' gloves are persistently and implausibly white. Rather, it's the coarse quirks of the island nation's millions of visitors that are an issue, and, in a paradox of absurd proportions, the Japanese are struggling to find ways to inform foreign guests of their offensive habits for fear of causing offence.
~~~~~~~ 
Why Japan has a problem with politeness

Xi warns of disaster if one civilisation imposes will on another (Asian Values)

Xi: cultures are distinctive but no better or worse than each other
In the print edition, the headline: Xi: Clash of civilisations is stupid

In the  latest sign that the confrontation between China and the United States is escalating, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that one civilisation forcing itself on another would be "stupid" and "disastrous".

I agree with Xi that culture are distinctive, but not that they are necessarily equal. Or “ no better or worse than each other”. Reductio ad absudum: one culture respects individual right, treats all people equally, tolerates minorities of all sorts— gender, religion, belief... etc. And the other is misogynist, supremacist, sectarian, oppresses minorities… well you get the picture. These are not equal. 
Not trying to read Xi’s mind, but I’ll assume he’s thinking of Chinese culture vs Western culture. Those are different in parts, and, yes, no better or worse than the other. Indeed we ought to be learning from each other. 互相学习,互相帮助
A Venn diagram would have a fair degree of overlap. And likely increasing overlap. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Happiness of the bird

Created bulbul eggs in our mango tree

Regular correspondents will know the story of our mango tree.
Planted by us here at our Hong Kong place in 2002, it thrived, was very happy, grew to 30 feet and provided us with an embarrassment of mangoes every August.
We asked Noel to come over to use our chain saw, help Arlene to cut one branch that was hanging rather too heavy over the kitchen. (Old men should not use chain saws) I showed them the branch and went back to my office. Coming back an hour later, found to my horror that they'd cut the whole tree down to its stump.
Huuuuge misunderstanding. Jing cried. Arlene offered her resignation.
I said life would regenerate. And it has. The tip of the stump is now flourishing. So much so that I'm going to have to work out where to trim a bit of the growth to get some proper branches a chance to strike out for the sky.
Arlene was pottering around in the new growth yesterday and found that a bulbul had made a nest hidden right inside, and managed to take this photo of the four eggs in there.
How lovely!
We noticed, Arlene and I, that Mama bulbul was keeping a wary eye on us. What were we up to, we interlopers? So we signal and whistle to her that we mean no ill will. We whistle to our birds every day, Arlene rather more capably than me. So they know us.
I sent the picture to Jing who asked us please to be careful.
I said don't worry Mama bird knows us and knows we don't mean any harm. Mama bird is happy, I said.
She didn't ask, but could have, how do you know Mama bird is happy?
And that's why I dug out my Classics text book in the post immediately below. It's the story of Zhuang Zi and his mate Hui Zi walking over a bridge and Zhuang noting that the fish is happy. Hui says you're not a fish, how do you know it's happy? Zhuang says you're not me how do you know I don't know the fish is happy? There's a bit more of this ancient deconstructionism, but point made…

Sent from my iPad

Progress Report


I've written 6,000 words so that's one tenth of the way to the 60,000 words of a “standard length" non-fiction book, per my research. 
What I've done is split the book into five chapters plus foreword and conclusion. 
The five chapters each 10,000 words and the F & C each 5,000 words. 
I know more or less what each chapter will be so I can move around and write in whichever one as the mood takes. 
So yesterday did some of chapters one and two. 
The five main chapters, the guts of the book in Asian Values, is based on Confucius' five stages of life 
三十而立
四十而不惑
五十而知天命
六十而耳顺
七十而从心所欲,不逾矩
Doing some refresher work last night 复习, was looking up "the happiness of the fish" a story of Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zi, I took a photo above from my 1976 text book of Classical Chinese. The calligraphy is mine. It's not too bad! It fooled Jing who thought it might have been by an actual Chinese...
The marginalia, the notations in pencil, are also all mine, from 1977 when I'd finished in Beijing and was doing my second year at Hong Kong U. 
I much enjoyed Classical Chinese. Still do...

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Passive aggressive sharks. Relatives of Bruce the vegan shark


“Look at the facts when it comes to species loss”. Letter SCMP



G. Bailey's letter in today's South China Morning Post. 
I'd been doing a bit of fact checking myself in the IPBES claim of species loss. It hasn't seemed credible according to the "common sense test". And indeed it wasn't. Bailey quotes 8 million extant species. But that's the bottom end according to my research, which suggests there are up to 100 million species on the earth with as many being created as lost. Not to downplay the concerns, but let's not get freaked out about them either. 
Bailey mentions the rehabilitation of nature and a few weeks ago I posted a story that the earth is getting greener, with more trees, because of replanting programs in India and China. 
I'm constantly amazed at how people rush to cries of "the sky is falling" at every pronouncement from the United Nations. The IPCC, for example, has several times overshot on projections of warming. 
And again some of the good intentions have unanticipated bad outcomes, like growing biofuels to replace petroleum destroying primates' living space, mentioned by Bailey. Or shutdown of nuclear plants because of scare tactics in the wake of a Fukushima. Germany and Japan both have more greenhouse aide of these silly decisions.
Sent from my iPad

The true legacy of China’s May Fourth protests is being glossed over (Asian Values)


A heated debate had already begun a few years earlier as part of the New Culture Movement, which fed off disillusionment with traditional Chinese institutions and disappointment at the Chinese Republic. More than ever, Chinese intellectuals called for the rejection of Confucius values and the creation of a new culture based on Western ideas.

The true legacy of China's May Fourth protests is being glossed over

Why Hong Kong finds it hard to trust China’s rule of law (Asian Values)

Oz's crazy Leunig

Why Hong Kong finds it hard to trust China's rule of law

Monday, 13 May 2019

Writing a Book (3).

I read up about writing a book and it was useful...
Some of the hints:
Write at the same time each day
Work out an amount that you need to write each day
Have a structure of what you want to write
Have an idea of the number of words for the book. Ok, so I decided 60,000 which is defined as about an average short non fiction book
So I worked on the structure and got something I’m calling the clothes hanger.  Something to hang the story on.

I’m writing a book.... (2)

The pool yesterday. Hong Kong Central in the distance 
Ideas, comments, suggestions: Email me
I’ve started and it’s going along pretty well.
I’ve decided to convert this blog into one following my writing of the book.
LATER: major change, right?? Still some issues.  Can’t get the comments working, and don’t know how to add other stuff to it. But meantime, is cool look I reckon.
I don’t want to start a whole new blog, because I’ve already got this one, with nearly ten years of posts on it.  I don’t want to lose it.  Just redirect it to the book project.
It started with a dream.
Early last Saturday morning, early as in 04:15am I woke up from a vivid dream.  Now there can be very few more boringly horrifying things than someone saying to you “I had an amazing dream last night” and you realising that you can’t escape.
But this began this and so.... this...
There’s a plane on the roadway, the highway, and it needs to take off.  I’m in charge of making sure the road is clear.  I find out that there are dozens of people working on the road, all with yellow bandanas, Japanese style, but these are Chinese as I soon discover from their chit-chat.  And I see that there are some parts of the road that are going to interfere mightily with the take off -- a scaffolding, for example. Chinese-style, the scaffolding is made of bamboo.  That’s when I realise I have a chance of getting them to take it down in time for us to take off.  I ask the workers, in Chinese (in many of my dreams in recent years I speak Chinese...) where is the boss.  They point out a fellow with a Mexican moustache, like Pablo Escobar.
And right there, in the dream, I realise what’s going on.
In the movie, Loving Pablo, which I’d seen just the night before, there’s a tremendous scene of something that apparently really happened: a semi trailer run by employees of the notorious drug kingpin, blocked a freeway in Mexico while a plane flew down and landed on the road.  The back door dropped down, dozens of waiting Escobar Employees ran over and hauled out sacks of cocaine, into the cars waiting on the opposite side and sped off.  Then the semi-trailer turned back and let the traffic get on its way.
Clearly this dream was from that, and I realised it in the dream.  I started to discuss this with the Chinese Pablo in the dream, when I realised I shouldn’t waste time on reminiscing about drug kingpin movies, but get him to move the scaffolding.
I played to his vanity.  “You blokes are such hard workers, you Chinese, you can do it, no problem”, says I to Chinese Pablo, still all in Chinese. By the way, I ask, what’s your name? “Xie”, he says. “Ah” says I, Xie as in Ganxie 感谢的谢, Xie as in “thank you” (Ganxie de xie). “Right”, says Xie, and so I move to “Xie Jingli”, 谢经理. Manager Xie, would you be so kind as to ask your staff to take down the scaffolding just until we can take off (qifei).  And then, I say, I surely “thank you warmly”.  Haha.
And he ignores the flattery, but looks at me with an Escobarian half smile, a wicked one that I know I ignore at my peril, and says...
“You know, my friend, you said we work so hard we Chinese -- 我们这么努力工作 -- you ought to write something about us, about our values, our culture” .... and  I was shaken, and I woke up and I wrote it down in my notes, thanks Siri.
And so I’m also going to redo the blog to focus on this, the writing of the book.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

I’m writing a book...

Marcus our Weimaraner and self. Climbing Lantau Mt

... and so will be doing a bit less on the blog as I try to write 1,000 words a day on Asian Values. 
The outline — done quickly yesterday and updatable — is in the post immediately below. 
There's a link to email comments suggestions etc. 
This will be very much ideas developing in progress. That is, I'm not sure where I'm going, but some ideas held subconsciously and at depth will hopefully  bubble up. 
And I'm planning to talk to various folks about their ideas. 
Is there such a thing as "Asian Values"? (Are there such things ...?). And does it matter? 
Well, there are such things as Wetern Values and people discuss and debate them all the time. And they seem to be pretty important. So yeah, I'd say that it is pretty important if there are AVs and what they are. 

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Asian Values (Pilot)

Comments by email
Add 風向轉變時,有人築牆,有人造風車
Add: 无为
Foreword
We talk a lot about western values. Heaps of books and articles about them. (Pinker, Shapiro, Greenberg). But what about Asian Values? Do they exist and if so what are they?
Had Confucianism. Then 批林批孔
Development in west down to western values.  But China did well for millennia without Judeo-Roman input. And is now flourishing.
Is it time we took on some Asian Values?
China is not about supremacy because when your are no.1 you can only go down
America has one Big Idea: Freedom
China has no Big Idea except China Dream. Which is Xi Jinping’s dream of a docile and controlled population.
Serious or silly. A bit of each. Taking a walk around the paddock. Seeing Asian values via my trek around Asia.

Chapter One: 三十而立
I arrive in China and Reg Little talks of Confucianism. Is there anything new to say here? Story of interesting times.
Politics in everything : story of writing about the a Gang of Four
What was Jing doing at the time?

‘The scourge of the grouse moor'

In 1974  I spent the summer working as a butler's valet, in a Scottish Manor House, Glenfiddich Lodge, which was then a working grouse-hunting lodge. It had been rented for the summer by a fellow who I remember only as Mr Davidson and who I overheard one evening tell his dozen or so guests "my accountants tell me I'm the richest man in England". Really, I thought, even then, impecunious me, well, such nouveau in the riche....
He'd rented it from the owner, Lady Norton, of Norton motorcycle fame.
That summer was for shooting. There's a fine stream running through the property, the Glenfiddich Ee, the very one from which the famous single malt draws its waters. And I'm guessing, just in retrospect, mind, that it may have had trout or salmon, but  for some reason none of the guests were fishers. 
So it was daily shooting of grouse. For the season, morning and arvo they would head out, all jolly and jaunting, guns casually slung over shoulder, to the grouse lands, the warm blue heather moors of the Scottish highlands. 
My boss the butler showed me a chart in the drawing room, of grouse numbers on the property, going back to Victorian days and up to the present. There were two big hills and valleys on the chart: the two world wars. In each case the numbers of grouse had shot up, then just as precipitously crashed. Numbers were much more steady and on a gentle upward path, when normal shooting seasons were in place. 
That was something I always remembered. That regulated hunting seasons could be good for game management.  And that seems to be the message from the article below, just that it's got out of kilter with grouse. 
We, my family, went back to Glenfiddich Lodge a few years back. You get to it via Dufftown in Banffshire, but while the Lodge was well known in '74, now no one knew where it was. No one at the Tourist office or the gas station had even heard of it. Weird. I had to buy a large scale map before I pinned it down and even then it wasn't easy to find. When we finally made it, we find the Lodge abandoned, falling apart. Apparently — we were told by a local cooper who'd given us directions — it had been bought by a large distillery, combined with another landholding and just let go. We peered in through cracked and dusty widows, to the kitchen, the dining room where I'd served dinner to those long ago worthies, to the servants' scullery, to our own dining table where we'd feasted well, as well as the worthies, in grouse and the full Scottish, black pudding and grouse baps.
We — at least, the guests — didn't just hunt grouse with guns back in 1974. Mr Davidson also employed a falconer called Hamish, and yes, he was the classic Scotsman, ginger beard and flowing hair (I have pictures!). So we, the staff, Hamish, the butler and his two valets, went hunting grouse in our free time, while the squires were out shooting, we went with the falcons, the dogs - Pointers and Labradors - all doing our allotted tasks. For some reason the guns didn't seem to have much interest in Mr Davison's falconer, so we had Hamish, falcons and dogs to ourselves, to hunt in the ancient way, the natural way, man and beast and prey in the high highland skies.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Tweet by John Stossel on Twitter Re the New Independent Media

John Stossel (@JohnStossel)
.⁦‪@Timcast‬⁩ doesn't have a high school degree... yet he often does better reporting than major news outlets. He exposed the bad reporting around the Covington kids: pic.twitter.com/KQvhrfCyAp

I like John and I like Tim. Honest guys trying to get a nuanced picture of the world. Of, dare I say? the truth…

Islamophobia - The 21st-century Weapon to Silence our Freedom of Speech - ADAM MILSTEIN


On March 5th, 2019 the House was set to vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in the wake of a freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's latest hateful comments on Jews and Israel. Unfortunately, that resolution never made it to the House floor for a vote. Instead, on March 7th, a revised resolution was passed 407-23, denouncing both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia "as hateful expressions of intolerance".
Around the same time, a resolution was introduced on the floor of the United Nations in response to recent attacks on minority groups, like the horrific murder of 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the slaughter of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life in Pittsburg. Until Israel's ambassador Danny Danon spoke out and rallied allies, the resolution only condemned Islamophobia, completely excluding anti-Semitism.
The events illustrate how anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are often framed in our discourse: as equivalent phenomena and equal dangers. This framing is both incorrect and problematic.

This Company Says The Future Of Nuclear Energy Is Smaller, Cheaper And Safer



How cool is this?  A: very.  And about 1/400th of the land needed for similar amount of wind energy.
From NPR, no less

Oh deer...


Australia misspells a word on the $50 note.  Months after it was issued! There's a word, but I can't remember it, for this phenomenon: namely that millions of people missed something obviously incorrect, because they are reading it and assuming -- the brain automatically makes the assumption -- that all the words are correct, so the brain just skips over it...
Anyway, it really is a bit of a trick to spell "responsibility"....
Then again, this is the Australian Mint!

nippy

From the author.  Inspired by this article.
And remember it’s perfectly safe to like this cartoon! It ain’t bigoted.…
In answer to a commenter's question "Umm… how many proponents of GM food know what they’re talking about?" the answer is the same as for Climate Change: we take the advicse of the vast majority of scientists, which for GM is that they are safe, and probably the only way that we can feed our 7 billion humans on earth.

A response to my Letter. ”NOW TV is a turn-off”

Today's South China Morning Post
Comment on my letter the other day.
Talking about our local Hong Kong Cable TV provider "Now TV".  Its only competitor is iCable, which is worse.  Hong Kong is really not as good as Australia, UK, America, etc.... Which is a shame and a bit embarrassing, for a city that sells itself as "Asia's World City".
Sure and this is a First World Problem. We moan about our cable, while other places are dodging bombs .

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Steele a peek at Putin



One thing that hasn't had much if any attention in the last two years of Mueller's investigation into Russian collusion (aka non-collusion) is that of the so-called Steele Dossier.
After all, if there was Russian involvement in providing info to the Dossier, as there almost certainly was, then there is a very high likelihood that said Russians had links to the Kremlin (aka Putin).  In that case, the Russian were colluding with Hillary to stump Trump. Hillary the Traitor! Hillary the Quisling! As nobody said.
Ross Douthat asks this very question, in the New York Times, which ought to get more traction in coming months.
Then equally welcome would be an answer to my second major question: Was any of the Steele dossier's bad intel deliberately crafted by the Russians?

My letter “Time to move on…” | SCMP


In today's South China Morning Post 
Goodness, two letters in three days.  This one somewhat redacted 

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Palestine could be Hong Kong. Instead it’s Afghanistan

Why hasn't Palestine developed like Israel in the last 70 years? [here]

Long story short: Because the Arabs freely chose to not advance themselves.

Short story long: The only reason for the vast disparity in development is because the Jews of Palestine chose to build a nation on their half of the land and develop their resources, technological and human. The Arabs of Palestine chose to wage wars instead.
After WWII, the UN partitioned what was then called Palestine into two portions: half for a Jewish homeland, half for an Arab homeland. Jews and Arabs were considered the only two peoples with legitimate, longstanding claims to having lived in Palestine for centuries, so the split was considered logical. The UN was the only body with the legal authority to make that decision, and it did.
The Jews accepted their half and declared the State of Israel. The Arabs bowed to the Arab League’s and surrounding Arab states’ lust to launch a war of Jewish extermination, in hopes of adding the Israeli half to the Arab half to create a Jew-free state from the river to the sea: Palestine. The Arabs lost to Israel in the War of Independence, and Israeli construction began.
The militaries of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and others tried to exterminate Israel three more times: in 1956 (Suez War), 1967 (Six-Day War) and 1973 (Yom Kippur War). They failed each time. Enter the PLO, Palestinian Authority, and terrorist Yasser Arafat, who launched two intifadas against Israel that featured thousands of suicide bombings, package bombs, mail bombs, knife attacks, and other bloody assaults on civilian targets. The intifadas took many Jewish lives, but they eventually faded as Israel fought back and eventually erected concrete separation walls to keep the murderers on their side of the border.
Fast-forward to today. One part of the UN Mandate land, Gaza, is populated entirely by Palestinians, with every Jew pulled out by the Israeli government. How did Palestinians react? By electing the terrorist organization Hamas to govern them—and to launch rocket and arson attacks against Israel. The Palestinian Authority governs most of the Palestinians living in Judea/West Bank, the other part of the UN Mandate. PA territory, while tense, is largely free of terror and murder.
Neither Hamas nor the PA have made one move toward statehood, despite two Israeli prime ministers offering them virtually all the land the Arabs lost in four wars in exchange for a peace treaty, permanent borders, and a peaceful Palestine. Israel wants out of the occupation business, but Arabs have no wish to cooperate.
The State of Palestine will not exist until Palestinians want a state more than they want to murder Jews. The ball has been in Palestine’s court for 70 years, but they refuse to pick it up. Israel is there and thriving. Palestinians are destitute and screwed over every day by their own leaders.
What’s it going to take for them to wake up? 

“Is it time we gave nuclear power another chance?” | Engadget


TL;DR: Yes.
Though the author goes on a long -- a very long -- walk around the paddock, noting "on the one hand this" and then "on the other hand that" before suggesting "yes", yes we ought to give nuclear another chance.
Short version: we need a mix of energy generation of which nuclear should be one. 
Greenies helped warm the planet by their fact-free scaremongering, starting back in the seventies.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Saatchi Gallery covers up SKU artworks after complaints by Muslims | The Sunday Times

But according to some, this is no big deal. Only affecting a tiny part of society. I thought at first this story was parody. Sadly it's not.
Drip… drip
LATER: Apparently the artist itself, SKU, suggested the gallery cover up the picture, saying it would be "showing respect to those that were offended".  The Saatchi Gallery, in a wonderfully Orwellian aside said it was "not censoring, just covering up".

God of the grains of sand


Our little corner of the universe
Ex-Muslims of North America (@ExmuslimsOrg) Tweeted:
Each dot is a celestial body; stars and worlds at a scale beyond our imagination.
Do you really think a being that created all this cares about which foot you enter the bathroom with; or which hand you eat with and what special words you say before you eat?
PF: More science = Less religion.
My headline reference is to the common statement that there are more stars than grains of sand in the world.  I wondered about this, could it be true?  I did some calculations based on what we know about each -- sand and stars --  and it's true.  Not only just true, but true by at least one order of magnitude, meaning that even if we're off by a bit, it doesn't matter, the fact remains: there are more stars than grains of sand.
And it's a passing reference to theory of "The God of the Gaps". God exists only in those gaps where science doesn't explain.  And that gap gets inexorably smaller.

With Uber’s I.P.O., Dara Khosrowshahi Is Taking Travis Kalanick’s Company Public | NYT

LETTER TO NEW YORK TIMES:
Dara Khosrowshahi had a problem. His name was Travis Kalanick.
This is your first sentence of your front page story, which I read in the print version of your international edition.  
Can't you see the grammatical problem with this sentence?
We can identify the problem with a Q & A:
Question: The name of what was "Travis Kalanick"? Answer: the problem
Therefore, the sentence should be: 
Dara Khosrowshahi had a problem. Its name was Travis Kalanick.
This would avoid confusion. I had to read it over several times. I wondered if a fellow called Dara …had perhaps changed his name to Travis … (I'd heard of Kalanick, but wasn't sure I'd heard of Khosrowshahi). 
This is quite a serious grammatical error in your very first sentence which makes up the whole of the first para. 
And while the headline of this online version (above) helps a bit, the headline in the print version does not: "Problem for Uber's IPO: The founder". No clue there to the Dara/Travis travesty.
In short, you didn't bury the lede. You burned it.
Peter Forsythe
Hong Kong
93080799
~~~~~~~
The C.E.O. wants to prove that the start-up has evolved past a raucous, and profligate, tech-bro culture. But Uber's past is simply not that far gone.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Tweet by Imam Mohamad Tawhidi on Twitter

Imam Mohamad Tawhidi (@Imamofpeace)
We warn the West from what we fled from in the Middle East, but the West doesn't want to listen. This is your next generation: twitter.com/MEMRIReports/s…
Would this be called "hate speech", by the likes of Aussie politician Jihad Dib, who is upset (understandably) that his daughter was called a "dirty Muslim" at a soccer match, and who connects this bullying to "broader issues", specifically hate speech by adults who normalise such behaviour.
So, here is the "Imam of peace", calling out the horrid songs by an Islamic children's group in Pittsburgh.
What are we to do in the face of such challenges? Are we to be mute, because calling it out might lead to more teenage bullying?
BTW, Tawhidi is not recognised as an Imam by the Australian National Imams' Council, I'm guessing because (a) he's Shia and (b) he calls out radical Islam.

A bitter pill' argument for decriminalising drug trade | Spectator

Our home grown orchids 
I heard yesterday a Spectator podcast debate between Peter Hitchens, (anti) and Chris Daw, QC (pro) on decriminalisation of the drugs trade. I like Hitchens, but he hasn't his brother the late Christopher's fierce wit, and I thought he lost the argument. 
I find nothing pro and everything anti the so called War on Drugs. It's caused massive pain, death and unnecessary incarceration.  If legal, it would become a public health issue, as are alcohol and tobacco.
Here is Chris Daw QC, making his case for the decriminalisation of the drugs trade. 
I can't imagine that if I'm resurrected in a thousand years it will be to a place where the plod are still banging up folks supplying a product that people want.

“The Mueller Report: or how Trump was let off the hook” | SCMP

LETTER TO SCMP (published on 8th Nov):
Democrats are driven mad by Mueller. 
First, he was their saviour. "Saint Mueller" - Trump slayer. They lighted votary candles for their man.
Then, he wasn't. He didn't deliver Trump in a tumbril. They'd been cheated. So they suffer the bitterness of the jilted. They lash out: Mueller has "let Trump off the hook", they cry. 
Example: George Payne conducts a truly bizarre thought experiment. ("Mueller report lets Trump off the hook", Letters, 5 May). He imagines that Trump people were buying drugs at that Trump Tower meeting. "If they had done that, it would have been illegal". Well, of course it would have been illegal. And if I had robbed a bank it would be illegal. And if you, Mr Payne, or I, had done that, it would be illegal. But we didn't do that, you didn't do that, Trump people didn't do that. None of us did that. It's a nonsense supposition.
What Trump's people did do, was try to get some "opposition research", which is perfectly legal and which all political parties do. (Steele dossier, anyone?)
Are we expected to believe that Mueller and his team — solid Trump-haters all — somehow missed any legal way to indict the man? 
The simple fact is that 1800 interviews with 500 witnesses by a team of 20 lawyers and an army of investigators, mostly Trump-haters, found no legal grounds to indict Trump. 
End of. 
"Not sitting Trump down in person to demand the truth" is irrelevant. The accused is rarely put in the witness box and Trump was well advised not to put himself at risk of a prosecutor given to springing sleazy perjury traps (vide General Flynn).
So Payne's points are pointless.
The Mueller team found no indictable collusion or obstruction of justice. Not Guilty on both counts.
Let's accept that, and Move On.

Pf
~~~~~~~~
The Mueller Report: or how Trump was let off the hook

My letter to SCMP “Now TV treats all viewers like children”



My letter ran in today's South China Morning Post. But they edited out my comment about one of the possible reasons for the censorship being that packages bought by NOW Cable are those that include Malaysia so we are subject to the censorship that that country requires.  I dunno, but it sounds logical.
They also cut my nice pun about the pig heads that had been blurred in the Hostory channel show “Forged in Fire”: where they cut into pig carcasses and I said the heads had been “ pigsillated”. Hah!

“Red meat and bowel cancer: eating even a moderate amount raises risk, study finds” | SCMP from The Guardian


A 20% increase in cancer risk sounds scary, right? Better say bye bye bacon.
But wait! 
The incidence of bowel cancer in the United Kingdom, where the Cancer Council study was done, is 70 per hundred thousand. That's 0.07%.
A 20% increase takes this to 84 per hundred thousand, 0.084%. 
The increase in risk is 14 per hundred thousand or 0.014%. (And that's the worst case).
Do you feel endangered by a risk that has increased by zero point zero one four percent
You are twelve times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than by that extra rasher of bacon. Logically you should as well take one twelfth the number of car trips, as to forego that extra rasher. 
I read somewhere recently that scientists are "really bad at statistics". 
I dunno. In this case I suspect the folks at the Cancer Council are deliberately spinning the scariest reading of the results, never mind that they're deeply duplicitous and misleading. 
To them, getting people to eat less processed meat is worth the hoodwinking. 

Saturday, 4 May 2019

CNN Tonight: The “fine people” hoax

Don Lemon,
Your guests said Trump didn't condemn neo-Nazis. 
But that's exactly what he did. Unprompted. In the very Charlottesville clip that the media clipped:
In other words, the president believed there were non-racists in attendance who support keeping historical monuments. To remove all doubt, the President continued with "I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally – but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay?" [Ref]
Pf

'We’re in a terrible tangle over Islam' | Rod Liddle | Spectator

The inimitable Rod Liddle. The Ctrl-Left loves to hate Rod, because he is a straight talker, humorously so, but to the SJWs, a "hate"speaker, a hate spreader, and "free speech" is now a dirty phrase. They mock it for being cover for hate (a word they love), for "weaponising" freedom of speech to hate on minorities. Rod, meantime, is actually himself a leftie if old, long time Labour Party man, though lately, iirc, skipped over to Lib Dems.
Here is Rod talking about my favourite topic, about which he's well read and sound. 


ROD LIDDLE

We're in a terrible tangle over Islam


The carnage in Sri Lanka which left more than 300 dead may have been carried out by 'Buddhists', according to the BBC Today presenter Nick Robinson on the morning after those hideous bombings. We all grope slowly towards meaning, don't we? We look for precedent, we search for clues. I did both when I heard of the murders and came to a different conclusion to Nick. Someone had attacked Christians and westerners in a series of suicide bombings: that gave me an inkling. Perhaps — just perhaps — it wasn't Buddhists. Perhaps it was instead the fanatics responsible for the vast majority of terrorism outrages in the world (Global Terrorism Index, 2000-2013) and 92 per cent of all terrorism murders in the United States since 1992 (Cato Institute, 2017). Yes, I thought, it's probably them again. I didn't find it a terribly hard call to make.
Compare Nick's reaction, and indeed the overwhelming reaction of the western world leaders and liberal media, to the murders in Sri Lanka and the murders in Christchurch. In the latter case, everybody was clear firstly that it was terrorism and that Muslim people had been targeted, and they were happy to say as much. But they did not stop there. With great alacrity they also identified the poisonous ideology behind the Christchurch attack: racism, Islamophobia and white supremacy. The far right. Many commentators over here, including LBC's in-house cretin James O'Brien, went further and suggested that those of us who find certain aspects of Islam a little difficult to swallow were directly responsible for the murders. The ideology was seized upon and rightly eviscerated.
Now look at what happened in Sri Lanka, and how we reported it. Of 20 world leaders, ex-leaders (Obama) and hideously useless also-rans (Hillary) who took time to condemn the atrocity, only one — Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg — mentioned that the victims of the attack were Christians. None of the 20 — none — mentioned the word Islam. So in one attack we were rightly enjoined to stand in solidarity with the victim group, who were not merely identified but lionised, and also enjoined to condemn the ideology behind the attack, which was very clearly explained in every broadcast. In the other, the victim group was not named and nor was the ideology. Why should that be?
We have got ourselves in a terrible irrational tangle over Islam and its confected opposite, its specious other, Islamophobia. It may well be that under our current definition of the term, it would be Islamophobic — and therefore a hate crime — simply to state this plain and simple fact: the murders in Sri Lanka were carried out by Muslims in the name of Islam. It is an article of faith for the liberals, who still cleave to the ludicrous idea of multiculturalism, that there are two things: Islam, which is a religion of peace followed by million upon million of pacific souls and must therefore be respected, and this other thing, non-Islam, which is what is followed by a minuscule proportion of nutters and extremists and has nothing to do with the religion itself, or is instead a grotesque perversion of it.

'I can't imagine a world without hummus.'

This is wishful thinking taken to surreal levels and an obviously false dichotomy. There are indeed million upon million of peaceable Muslims. But the gap between those two supposed opposites is not so wide as you might think. Almost one in four British Muslims, for example, thought the 7/7 attacks in London were justified (NOP poll, 2006). A year earlier, another poll suggested that 37 per cent of British Muslims thought Jews were a 'legitimate target'. A poll for BBC Radio 4 in 2015 reported that 45 per cent of British Muslims thought that imams who preach violence against the West were still part of 'mainstream Islam'. You take my point? And that is only Britain, where our Muslim community has been exposed to the undoubted transcendent virtues of mutual toleration and representative democracy. A worldwide poll from Pew Research in 2013 reported that only 57 per cent of Muslims in the world disapproved of al Qaeda.
The inconvenient truth is that a fervent commitment to Islam led those benighted savages to murder Christians in Sri Lanka and that a sizeable proportion of Muslims worldwide are not entirely averse to such despicable actions. You cannot quite separate Islam from the horrors carried out in its name, no matter how well intentioned you may be. Nor, for that matter, can you separate Islam from the appalling treatment of women, gays, apostates and Christians in states which call themselves Islamic. Islam, as it is practised today, is in general neither peaceable nor tolerant and it seems to me absurd to pretend that it is.
One man got it right on the Sri Lanka atrocity. Rauff Hakeem, from the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress, was prepared to say what the vacillating western leaders would not say: he called for Sri Lankan Muslims to enter a period of introspection, adding: 'We are ashamed and outraged. We must try to address issues within the community.'
Those were painfully honest and heartfelt words and worth far more than the bovine platitudes bestowed upon the victims by Theresa May et al. And also a reason for hope, amid the shattered limbs and the destroyed lives. Rauff clearly grasps the point rather better than the western world,  which, in its paroxysms of political correctness, engendered partly through fear, blinds itself to the unpleasant realities. And nor, we should add, are the large majority of blameless, peaceable Muslims, most of whom are as outraged as we are about these remorseless attacks. You cannot solve a problem by pretending that it doesn't exist.