Wednesday 29 July 2015

"Free speech must not incite violence"

Yes, but...
Free speech must not incite violence by literally inciting violence: that is, calling for rioting or killing of people.
Any other free speech, be it satire, cartoon, even objectionable or confronting articles, must be allowed.  In these cases, if violence ensues, it is only when it is incited by those taking offence.  It is not incited by the free speech itself.  Any other take on this is to blame the victims of violence, as many have done, implicitly or explicitly in the Charlie Hebdo case.
This sadly misguided SMH editorial quotes Dr Anne Aly of Curtin University, who claims that "right wing extremism is emerging as an equal or even greater threat that Muslim radicalisation in Australia".
But this is nonsense.
Crazies from the Ku Klux Klan or other right-wing racist nutters aside (and they're a vanishingly small number in Australia), the so-called "right-wing extremists" we're talking about here are those that are against the spread of Sharia law in Australia (as we should all be), against the Islamisation of society (halal slaughter, sexual segregation in schools, limitations on free speech, etc), against Islamic extremism and terrorism (again, as we should all be, surely).
These are liberal principles, and the "right wing" label is just a slur.
In effect, Dr Aly is conflating those Australian who are against the Sharia, extremist Muslims and jihadis, with those very extremists and jihadis that are calling for Sharia, whether violently or otherwise.
Piers Ackerman has more on this at "Getting it wrong on right-wing extremists and jihadists".

"A New Syndrome: Anything But Islam"

On the ridiculous notion that the Islamic State, or ISIS, or ISIL, or Daesh, or whatever you want to call it, "has nothing to do with Islam", as we're told by Obama, Cameron, Kerry, et. al.
Our own Aussie Foreign Minister has taken to calling it "Daesh", in the belief that this somehow divorces it from Islam.  But Daesh simply means "Islamic State" in Arabic.  As one wag commented somewhere: it's rather like believing that it's not a cake, because you call it a "gateau".
Graeme Wood covers this in rather more detail in the Atlantic: "What ISIS Really Wants".
And Rod Liddle tackled the ludicrous notion, here and here.

Why has scientific progress stalled in many Islamic countries?

An article in the Times Higher Education supplement examines this question.
But there's nowhere in the article any recognition of Islam itself.
"The Closing of the Muslim Mind", by Robert Rielly, covers this aspect rather better.
The point that sticks most clearly in my mind from that book, is this: that Islam (from around the 11th century, if I recall correctly) has basically banned the concept of "cause and effect".  The reason: because to say that "x" causes "y", is to limit the power of Allah.  Thus, one cannot even say that the three angles of a triangle always add up to 180 degrees.  For to do so would be to limit the agency of God.
One can imagine the violence this does to the scientific method.  Cause and effect is replaced by "Inshallah".
The full article is below the fold.

New Conservative Star Does it AGAIN! Slams Obama on Islam and Terrorism

Tomi Lahren has some firm views.  

Fist pump? Cheer? Slow clap? All appropriate responses to this epic rant.

Yes, Islam is inherently misogynistic, and here's why

A typical piece of Islamic apologia under the headline "No, Islam is not inherently misogynistic, and here's why". Unsurprisingly, in the leftie Huffington Post...

On the other hand:

Note that in neither link above do we cherry-pick.  We both quote the negative and positive references to women.  It's just that the negative far outweigh the positive, by a large margin, and are considered normative in many parts of the Islamic world.  Vide: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, in particular.

Patricia Crone, 70; scholar of Islamic history

I've come across Patricia Crone's work from time to time; and now she's dead.
She died just when we had news that a fragment of a Koran had been discovered at a UK university, apparently written at the time Muhammad was alive.  That was interesting as most scholars, Muslim and non-Muslim, and including professor Crone, believe that the earliest Koran's were assembled only some centuries after his death.  Indeed, elsewhere, Crone has stated that there is no archaeological evidence of any of the events of the Koran or in the Islamic Trinity.
But Saudi scholars are not convinced that the newly-discovered fragments are indeed from the time of Muhammad.  They say that it was common to wipe off previous text from ancient documents, and to write later texts thereon. 

The Evidence Supports Artificial Sweeteners Over Sugar -

What I've always believed, based on the science:
"The available evidence points to the fact that there appears to be a correlation between sugar consumption and health problems; none can be detected with artificial sweeteners...."
If you've gotta have a Coke, make it a Diet...

Monday 27 July 2015

"Gloves come off in bitter fight over climate change". But the SCMP doesn't cover the full brouhaha

The South China Morning Post's Science Focus is an often interesting page.
Its editor is Alex Ho has decidedly "climate science denial" (or "sceptic" if you wish) tendencies, so I suspected there may have been more to the story that simply the case of a brave "climate sceptic" facing off the brute forces of  the "global warming orthodoxy".
I was suspicious. A letter to the editor followed:

I was intrigued to read the article by Wilie Soon (“Gloves come off in bitter fight over climate change”, Science Focus, 19 July).  Why give such prominence to an article complaining about “personal attacks”? [1]

So, I hied me to the internet and find that Soon’s statement had first appeared on 2 March, in response to a New York Times article claiming that Soon had not fully disclosed the source of grants for his studies on climate change. These totalled $US 1.5 million over ten years, almost all from the fossil fuel industry.  

One may choose to believe Soon’s claim that “I have never been motivated by financial gain…”.  And one may also choose to believe in the tooth fairy.  In any case, whether or not he was influenced by the source of his grants is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that he did not always disclose those sources.  The Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (HSCA), at which Soon works part-time, has said: “Soon had failed to meet disclosure requirements of some of the journals that published his research”.  Google “Willie Soon” for many more references to this brouhaha.  Virtually all are dismissive of Soon’s claims, and indeed of his science.

Wikipedia has this to say about the controversy:  "He also requested that journalists who had reported on his actions similarly examined disclosure by other scientists.  An investigation by InsideClimate News could find no cases where mainstream climatologists had failed to disclose the funding of their research. Unlike Soon, who had approached private funders directly, their funding was almost entirely obtained through open competitive peer-reviewed applications to public bodies."

Soon describes himself as “research physicist sat the Harvard-Smithonian Centre for Astrophysics”.  Yet he released his claim of victimisation via the Heartland Institute, a climate sceptic organisation, rather than the HSCA.  Why?   Perhaps because on 26 February a Smithsonian statement said: "The Smithsonian does not support Dr. Soon’s conclusions on climate change. The Smithsonian’s official statement on climate change, based upon many decades of scientific research, points to human activities as a cause of global warming."

As to the substance of Soon’s research, the nub of it is this: he believes that sun-spots are the sole cause of global climate changes, and that CO2 can be discounted.  Many climate scientists agree that solar activity plays a part, but not the sole part, and that all the evidence points to rise in CO2 emissions as the chief cause of global warming. 

Given that fully five months have elapsed since this controversy first erupted, surely your editors could have found time to research and report this background.  Your readers would have been better served by understanding the context as balance to Soon’s farrago of victimhood.

Yours, etc....
[1]: Soon's original statement via the Heartland Institute is here.  The SCMP version is very slightly different, but behind a paywall.

Friday 24 July 2015

Salman Rushdie on Islam: 'We have learned the wrong lessons' | Books | The Guardian

Quote re Rushdie:
The novelist [Salman Rushdie] told the French magazine that he believes "we are living in the darkest time I have ever known", with the rise of Islamic State of "colossal importance for the future of the world". He argued that the taboo surrounding "supposed 'Islamophobia'" must be brought to an end.
"Why can't we debate Islam?" he said. "It is possible to respect individuals, to protect them from intolerance, while being sceptical about their ideas, even criticising them ferociously."
The cravenness and self delusion of western literati.

What it means to be poor by global standards | Pew Research Center

Interesting, from the non-partisan, and widely regarded PEW Research Institute. Main conclusion to note -- confirmed by United Nations and other studies -- is that global poverty has plunged in recent decades as countries, notably China and India, have adopted capitalism as their guiding philosophy.
For Africa the story is the same, save for the added importance of improved governance there (otherwise known as not letting the kleptocracy get away with it all).
Whatever the angsts of the SJWs, the clear fact is that it's capitalism (NOT socialism) that has the best record of improving the lot of the poor and the working class of the world.
Full article here.

I’m off to join Islamic State. See ya, kafirs! » The Spectator

From the redoubtable Rod Liddle.
Sad truths of the west's self delusion on Islam wrapped in his trademark barbed humour.

The enemy's enemy: how Arab states have turned to al-Qa’eda » The Spectator

By Ahmed Rashid, a writer I've just recently come to know. A highly interesting article about the world of realpolitik and the least bad choices. Who da thunk? 14 years after 9/11 and Al-Qaeda is now being courted as the "moderates"....

Friday 17 July 2015

Qatar's 'Efficiency' Praised Amid Ongoing Rights and Bribery Controversies | VICE News

Ridiculous that Qatar should be top of a list of most efficient governments in the world. Right. Efficient at bribery, corruption, exploiting workers and downtreading women.
Here's a critique of this morning's news of that "honour"....

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Life as a sex slave to ISIS - Newsnight

Of course, ISIS has *nothing* to do with Islam. As Cameron, Obama, et al are constantly assuring us.
Only that it does. Slavery is expressly allowed in the Koran. And in Sharia law. And in the Hadith. And in the Sirah, the official biography of Muhammad. Q
And that "perfect man", Muhammad, had his own slaves.
Now watch this profoundly disturbing video. Horrible Islam in action.

Nathan Lean: Islamopologist-in-chief

Nathan Lean has form.  He's been a consistent critic of critics of Islam, but does so in a particularly nasty and incoherent way.  A few years back Jerry Coyne's took him on in his Why Evolution is True blog.
Lean's latest piece in Salon cops a lot of flak in the comments, interestingly for a left-of-center blog.
I found Lean's piece gag-worthy.
Amongst many egregious statements, one of the worst is this one:
The values they [Ayann Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani] claim to champion — gender equality, nonviolence, rationality, and self-critique — are virtuous for sure, and ones that, in their view, any reasonable human being should welcome. The problem, though, is that they elevate themselves above the rest of the Muslim community and, looking down upon it from their throne of high morality, delineate the acceptable parameters of practicing religion. It is against their world and its paradigms that all followers of Islam must measure themselves. [the bolding is mine].
What does he mean claim to champion? Of course the do champion these values. That's all they do.  His snide use of "claim" is pure, unwarranted ad-hominem.  And what of the addition of "in their view"?  Does he imply that in his view, they are not values that any reasonable human being should welcome? Or, perhaps, that others, progressives maybe, would not welcome such values?
And then the "elevate themselves above the rest of the Muslim community".  How do they do that, Nathan?  They are simply presenting a case against misogynist, homophobic values and calling for values of free speech, gender equality and the rights of minorities and non-Muslims.  I fail to see how that's elevating themselves in any way, other than in Lean's tortured mind.
It's worth noting that Lean is employed by Islamopologist Reza Aslan's Aslan Media, and a graduate of Georgetown University's Middle East centre, which is funded by Saudi money.
The comments are well worth reading: most being a take-down of Lean's "propaganda".  And that's pretty much a one-word summary of what it is.  Islam(ist) propaganda.
As one commenter said: "Shame on you, Nathan Lean!"

PS: it's worth listening to above-mentioned Jerry Coyne in conversation with Sam Harris.  Along the way a bit, they talk of the very Ayaan Hirsi-Ali, one of the targets of Lean's ire.  Coyne and Harris bemoan the fact that this courageous, coherent speaker for more tolerance, Hirsi-Ali should be the target of vitriol from the left and the likes of Nathan Lean.

Thursday 9 July 2015

Alpha Brewing Scraps "Submission Ale" -- But Not Necessarily a Beer Mocking Islam

As a budding brewer of craft beers, I found this article rather funny.

(if also rather depressing).

Another case of Islam being treated with kid gloves.  Why not "mock" Islam, just as we mock all other religions and atheists.
Alpha announced the series making fun of religion back in January, and put all 12 labels online at that point, Langeneckert says. There was no controversy. Nor was there any in previous months when everyone from atheists to "door knockers" to Scientologists came in for a ribbing.
These included a "pope mob-ale" and "xenu xipa".

The lure of Fantasy Islam

This is a long and rather learned article on the issue of Islamic apologia.  The concept that Islam is a "Religion of Peace" vs what we see daily done in its name.
I post it here for reference, as Kirby is thorough in his comprehensive footnoting of Islamic doctrine.
His conclusion, with which I agree:
 For many years non-Muslims in the West have been fed a steady diet of how Islam is a “Religion of Peace” and is similar, and even related to, Judaism and Christianity.  At the same time we have seen an increasing number of acts of violence done in the name of Islam.
For those willing to learn and investigate, the irrefutable conclusion is that most, if not all, of the violent acts committed by the jihadists are truly supported by Islamic doctrine, just as the jihadists themselves claim.  But this conclusion can create a cognitive dissonance between what we have heard about Islam and what we see actually being done in the name of Islam and supported by Islamic doctrine.  This dissonance can create stress.  The antidote to this stress for many is to turn to Fantasy Islam, where Islam is what any peaceful-sounding Muslim wants it to be, and the jihadists are the hijacking outliers.
But this is only a temporary resolution.  Just because you continue to ignore the reality of Islam, doesn’t mean that the reality of Islam will continue to ignore you.  The Christians in the Middle East and Africa are the canaries in the coal mine.
Dr. Stephen M. Kirby is the author of three books about Islam.  His latest book is Islam According to Muhammad, Not Your Neighbor.
Here is the whole article.... 

The Decisions That Greece Faces -

Things were getting better then Syriza got in power. This is by the ex finance minister George Papaconstantinou.
"After five years of tremendous economic and social pain, in the beginning of 2015 the economy was growing again. What lay ahead was a promise of additional debt relief, and economic and social recovery.
"It took five short months for the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to destroy all this because of a mix of ideological blindness, lack of understanding of the basic eurozone rules, unforgivable brinkmanship and plain incompetence."


Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Religious Schools, Ideology and Terrorism > Samir Yousif

Long article (linked below) somewhat dour and tedious, but important. The same as the authors reveal here as happening in Islamic schools around the world -- namely as breeding grounds for terrorism -- is happening in mosques around the world too.
Better the Singapore solution: not to allow *any* foreign funding for any schools or mosques (or churches or temples, just to make it fair).
The main villain in the piece, as in so many of our problems with Islam around the world, is our supposed ally Saudi Arabia. God-awful Saudi Arabia. God, God awful Saudi Arabia, about which not one good thing can be said.
Today, religious schools are found everywhere including the USA and Europe. Granting Schools the right to teach Wahhabism is similar to licensing Neo-Nazism. Democratic and liberal societies should look beyond the surface and comprehend the consequences of implanting ideas of hatred in the minds of the young. Teaching Wahhabism in the USA and Europe means implanting the seeds of self-destruction.,_Ideology_and_Terrorism/

Sent from my iPad

Get off your high horses, lefties – Big Government, not 'austerity', has brought Greece to its knees - Comment - Voices - The Independent

Interesting article on the history of the current shambles in Greece, in the Independent 

When Did Carmen Ortiz Become an Islamic Religious Authority?

Related to the post immediately preceding this, from Middle East Forum, again focussing on the fact that Islamic State has a lot about it which is Islam:
Nevertheless, it [saying Islamic State has "nothing to do with Islam"] is very troubling and very dangerous, for two reasons. Most obviously, it is a refusal to accept reality – namely, that these crimes are very much about Islam and represent an ideology which, though it is not shared by all Muslims and many Muslims oppose it, is at least an offshoot of Islam which many Muslims do believe authentically represents their faith. If you can't correctly identify who or what you are fighting, you can't defeat it, to paraphrase former US Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
More importantly, it is not the business of the United States government to decide what is "true" religion (any religion) and what is heresy. That is the foundation of the (non-) Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. By arrogating to themselves the right to determine what is authentic Islam, federal officials are making themselves religious authorities, and dangerously eroding the separation between church (mosque?) and state. 
Read it all...

Sorry, but you can’t take the Islam out of Islamic State

The always spot-on Rod Liddle:
The truth is that, no matter how unpalatable it might be to say so, the Islamic State has an awful lot to do with Islam — yes, the clue is in the name. They believe that what they are doing is theologically right and there is a fairly sizeable proportion of the Islamic world which would concur. And we are not qualified to dissent.
The unpalatable truth is that they believe what they are doing is theologically right — and a sizeable proportion of the Islamic world would concur
What is amazing about the efforts of Cameron, Obama, Kerry and others who want to remove "Islam" from the "Islamic State", is that they don't attempt to change the name of any other odious regime in the world.  The still talk of the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea", even though it's not democratic, doesn't represent the people and is not a republic.  To remove "Islam" from the Islamic State not only inconsistent, it's also plain wrong.  For there's plenty in what the Islamic State says and does that is Islamic. Still there's the inconsistency: why call all others in the world the names they want to be called by except for anything to do with Islam, which the likes of Cameron,, find uncomfortable.
In case you can't read the article, I've put it in full below the fold: