Thursday 26 November 2015

As China’s Workforce Dwindles, the World Scrambles for Alternatives - WSJ

I imagine that most people who think about such matters would imagine that China is still a sweatshop economy with manufacturing workers earning mere pennies per hour for their labour.
But the truth is different.
China's per hour wage rates have increased sharply in recent years and are now $US 14.60 per hour. That's above the minimum wage in the United States. And is just $7/hour below the average of US manufacturing wages.
We need to recalibrate the view we have of China as a source of cheap labour. It's not. Increasingly, it's a high labour market with a huge and growing middle class.
See the chart in this story.

Watch Buck Sexton’s On-Air Clash With CNN Commentator on Radical Islam: ‘That’s Just Frankly Not True’ | Video |

I'm in Buck Sexton's side in this debate. The CNN commenter is engaging in the very obscurantism and denialism that Sam Harris has talked about here.

The video with Buck Sexton: here.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Hillary Clinton's Denialism Sets Off Trump's Rhetoric On Islam

This is a good article.
And has an interesting video showing the historical spread of the major world religions.

John Bolton: To Defeat ISIS, Create a Sunni State -

This makes sense.
Interesting that the New York Times would feature John Bolton, a man of the right, more often seen on Fox. They must find his argument persuasive.
Separate Sunni, Shia and Kurdish states, all with new borders: way to go. And in the process destroy ISIS.
These are not going to be Jeffersonian democracies. The choices are not between good and bad.  But between bad and worse.  Bolton's suggestion is perhaps the best of a bunch of lousy choices.

"Their murderous ideology"

So says Obama, of IS/ISIS, just now on BBC TvNews.
And what, pray tell, is that "murderous ideology"? Is it something they have invented? Have they written it up, as did Hitler in "Mein Kampf? Have they drawn on some preexisting "vile ideology" (another Obama-ism) like that of the KKK?
Why, no, no and no.
Their "vile and murderous" ideology is spelled out in their monthly online magazine, Dabiq. And it's simply this: quotations (galore) from the Koran, the Hadith, the Sirah and numerous Islamic scholars.
The vile and murderous ideology, in short, is the ideology of Islam.
When do the dots get connected?
In the case of Obama, they never will. He will keep up his obscurantism, in his absurd belief that to do otherwise would somehow tip some otherwise moderate over the edge into radicalism.
Wake up Barack.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

"Criminals" or religious maniacs?

Letter to the BBC, in the face of their ongoing, non-stop effort to exonerate religion, specifically to exonerate Islam, from anything to do with terrorism.
The truth seems so obvious, it's remarkable, and difficult to understand, how someone as clever as Lawrence Pollard (who I rather like and seems a very decent chap), can carry on like they do, about "nothing to do with Islam".
Dear Lawrence, 
Hearing you on BBC World Service here in Hong Kong
You asked a guest if the jihadists are just “criminals” and not motivated by religion.
Even if they are or were criminals, they all say they’re motivated by religion. The Paris bombers said they were killing people in a “decadent” society, as defined by their understanding of Islam. (not for any grievance).
Why give the religious motive a free pass, when it’s right in front of our faces in what they say motivates them?  Do we presume to read their minds better than they know them?
By the way, the leadership of all the Islamic terrorist organisations are not “criminals”.  Nor are they “disadvantaged” or “downtrodden”.  Most are well educated and had secure jobs.
What led them to terrorise the west, is their “us/them” dichotomy, as embedded in the doctrines of Islam.
Peter Forsythe.
Hong Kong

"On the Maintenance of Civilization". Sam Harris in conversation with Douglas Murray

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with author Douglas Murray about Islamism, liberalism, civil society, and the migrant crisis in Europe.
Sam Harris is one of the clearest and most eloquent speakers and writers I know.  And Douglas Murray is spot on. You don't need to take this in one gulp, but it's certainly a worthwhile conversation to listen to, concerning perhaps the greatest issue of our day.  Climate change won't matter if we don't have a civilization to protect.

Obama is responsible for the refugee crisis

Yale professor Walter Russel Mead excoriates Obama for his failure to take any action that could have prevented the crisis of millions of "refugees" swamping into Europe.
In the Harry's Place article where I first learnt of Mead's article, young James Snell says:
 Mead’s righteous evisceration of Obama’s hypocrisy and moral cowardice is practically unanswerable.
I agree.
Mind, this is not me taking part in the usual leftist practice of "blame the west (especially the "Great Satan" of the US)".  I don't believe that all the ructions in the Middle East are the fault of the west, least of all that the west "had it coming" as the likes of Chomsky allege (and infamously said after 9-11).
This is clearer, the refugee crisis: what could have been done by Obama?  At the very least: safe zones and no-fly zones.  But he did nothing.
I recall being disgusted at Obama failing to do anything after his "red line" threat (if Assad used chemical weapons, which of course he did).
Mead makes the point of Obama's culpability on this more cogently and eloquently.
And Snell's article at Harry's Place has many interesting comments.

Artist’s Death Sentence Follows a String of Harsh Punishments in Saudi Arabia -

And this is the Saudi Arabia that was recently voted onto the United Nations Human Rights Council, with the support of the U.K.
Disgusting. Disgusting. Disgusting Saudi Arabia the most horrid country.
And these hateful barbarians are an "ally" of the west.
Let's wean off oil and be done with that horrid place. Actually, with the world swimming in oil we hardly need theirs anymore anyway.

Tencent to fully open WeChat Payment for overseas transactions: Shanghaiist

Wow. Second thing this morning that I did not know.
This time that's it's that Silicon Valley is playing catch up with China. Not the other way around.
It's Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Co who are lagging behind the likes of WeChat which is owned by Tencent Holdings (disclosure: we hold Tencent Holding shares).
WeChat has a Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) of $7. That's 7 times that of FB-owned WhatsApp.
WeChat has "Apps within Apps" like the "Wallet" payment method mentioned in the link below. It's kind of like a portal.
And so I've downloaded the WeChat App, and am now wandering around it.
I've often wondered why our smartphones can't be used more widely to pay for small purchases and why our wonderful Octopus system in Hong Kong can't be embedded in our phones.
So here's China leading the world in this technology.
Just as it's leading the world in commercial cloning, in the post immediately below this.

Tianjin plans world's largest animal cloning factory -

Wow, I did not know this!
That cloning was at the stage it could be commercialised.
Turns out that Sinica, the company building the worlds largest cloning factory, has already successfully cloned 550 sniffer dogs working for airports, customs and police.
The implications of all this? I don't really know but suspect they could be huge. Especially for the world's huge breeding industry.
And what about cloning endangered species like the Northern White Rhino, which as of yesterday's death of an elderly female, is now down to just three specimens?

Monday 23 November 2015

When an Aussie calls you a ‘bastard’, you know you’ve arrived | Comment | Voices | The Independent

We take the good times with the bad in this column. Life isn't all Twitter and terror and porn. In proof whereof I am pleased to share with readers the news that I have been made an honorary Australian. In my heart I've been an honorary Australian a long time, but now it's official.
The title was conferred on me by the Australian high commissioner, Alexander Downer, at a moving ceremony in London last week. I have a medal to prove it. The only downside is that the honour lasts a mere 12 months. This time next year, someone else will get it and I'll just be any old Pommy bastard again.
Between ourselves, reader, it was being called a Pommy bastard that made me fall for Australia in the first place. Written down, it doesn't have much to recommend it, I grant you, but breathed into your face in situ – which might be a sophisticated cocktail lounge peopled by bankers and newspapermen in the middle of Sydney, or an outback bearpit with sawdust on the floor and 20 stockmen in Chelsea boots and ankle socks leering at you from the bar – the phrase "you Pommy bastard" expresses a warmth, I'd even go so far as to say a sentimentality, it is near impossible to convey to anyone who has never been its recipient.
[And now read on....]

Iowa’s Climate-Change Wisdom -

Some good news for a change in the global climate change area.
France's "Four per Thousand" initiative earlier this year, I've only just read about here. It says this: If the global soil carbon stock could increase by 0.4% pa, this would suck up ALL the world's annual CO2 emissions. That's a pretty big deal.
Iowa is leading the way in these carbon sequestration methods: agro-ecology, agro-forestry, conservation agriculture and landscape management.
Now read on....

"Issues within Islam must be recognised" -- Letter to SCMP

South China Morning Post ran my letter today:
South China Morning Post, 23 Nov 2015

Sunday 22 November 2015

George Orwell betrayed: Islamist Tariq Ramadan gives a lecture in his name – Telegraph Blogs

A few days back I posted my comments to the BBC after Tariq Ramadan had appeared on their TV news program.
Ramadan is a snake. I called him "unctuous" and "oleaginous". Silkily smooth, he is, beguiling, but hypocritical. Ok, there's maybe a touch of ad hominem there....
Anyway, I came across this excellent article on Ramadan, which is worth highlighting.

Paris: Radicalizing the Next Generation of Muslim Youth | Clarion Project

Australian imams in the "nothing-to-do-with-Islam" brigade. 
Meanwhile, the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, in his comments about the Paris attack named the "causative factors" of terrorism. In the mufti's mind, "racism, Islamophobia, curtailing freedoms through securitisation [sic], duplicitous foreign policies and military interventions" are what causes terrorism. Each of these "factors" speaks to the victimization narrative.
As a blogger writes in the Australian Herald Sun, "The statement is a disgrace. Worse, it is dangerous and ominous … According to the Mufti and his imams, the main "causative factors" behind the kind of terrorism visited on Paris … have nothing to do even with interpretations of the Koran."In fact, even the Islamic State - which claimed credit for the mass-murder - is not mentioned as a "causative factor" … No mention even of the Muslim countries, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, which sponsor extremists and terrorists.
There is only that familiar and lethal victimology - an accusation that the horrors unleashed in Paris and elsewhere are driven by the cruelty the West inflicts on Muslims."While the West has certainly made mistakes (which should be acknowledged), Western leaders need to call out this false narrative, expose its falsity and regain the trust of their Muslim citizens.

Paris ringleader’s family torn apart by descent into radicalism -

Abdelhamid's father turned him in to the police.
The father of the Paris massacre mastermind was concerned about the radicalisation of his son, so he shopped him to les flics.
What I wanted to point out here is this: that it's often the descendants of migrants to Europe, not the first-comers, who turn against the countries into which they've been born and which gave them succour.
There are statistics on this in Christipher Caldwell's well-regarded book "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe".
I can't think of any reason why the newly arriving hordes of refugees (1 million so far this year) will be any different. Why should they be?
The new arrivals may well settle down to make lives for themselves. But what of their progeny? Won't some of them also "fall" into Islamism? Clearly some of the doctrines of Islam are potent motivators.
Given that there is a percentage of Muslims who take up violent jihad (between 2% and 10% depending on the poll and the country), then, with mathematical certitude, the more refugees to the west the more violent jihadi attacks there will be in the west.
As the Financial Times article below says: "The story of the Abaaoud family is hardly unprecedented. Molenbeek [Belgium] is strewn with families split apart by sons and brothers who have fallen into radicalism." [my emphasis].
Note that word "fallen".
But fallen into what exactly?
Well, "fallen" into the Koran, the Hadith and the biography of Muhammad (the Sirah), in which the "perfect example" (as he's known in Islam), shows them the way of the sword, the hatred for infidels, the glory of jihad.
"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve" (Koran 8:12), says Muhammad, this perfect example of mankind.
And so they flock to follow. Sorry, to "fall".
Sent from my iPhone

Saturday 21 November 2015

Pacifism is pusillanimous pissantery

Jeremy Corbyn is such a pacifist the he wouldn't even shoot to kill a jihadist armed with an AK-47 spraying infidels with hot lead.
Who loves war?  No clear thinking person does.
But there are times when you have to fight against those that attack us.  Otherwise we die, we nice-thinking people.
The best argument argument against pacifism is the letter that the much-beloved Mahatma Gandhi wrote to the British people on 2 July 1940.
Here's a quote:
I appeal for cessation of hostilities, not because you are too exhausted to fight, but because war is bad in essence. You want to kill Nazism. You will never kill it by its indifferent adoption. Your soldiers are doing the same work of destruction as the Germans [1]. The only difference is that perhaps yours are not as thorough as the Germans. If that be so, yours will soon acquire the same thoroughness as theirs, if not much greater. On no other condition can you win the war. In other words, you will have to be more ruthless than the Nazis. No cause, however just, can warrant the indiscriminate slaughter that is going on minute by minute[2]. I suggest that a cause that demands the inhumanities that are being perpetrated today cannot be called just.
I do not want Britain to be defeated, nor do I want her to be victorious in a trial of brute strength, whether expressed through the muscle or the brain. Your muscular bravery is an established fact. Need you demonstrate that your brain is also as unrivalled in destructive power as your muscle? I hope you do not wish to enter into such an undignified competition with the Nazis. I venture to present you with a nobler and a braver way, worthy of the bravest soldier. I want you to fight Nazism without arms, or, if I am to retain the military terminology, with non-violent arms. I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions. [3]. Let them take possession of your beautiful island, with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these, but neither your souls, nor your minds. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself, man, woman and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.
This is truly revolting advice.
[1].  The first example I know of, of moral equivalence, the scourge of current discourse.  The defenders of aggression are the same as the attackers.  Those fighting against IS/ISIL are just as bad as IS, because they also happen to kill innocent people.
[2].  Some causes do in fact warrant "indiscriminate slaughter" if the cause be freedom.  That was so in both of the two World Wars.  Noone wants to repeat those wars.  But had they not been fought, we'd all be Nazis now.
[3]. The bottom line of pacifism: let them take what they want.  How on earth can this be right?Imagine if Churchill and the British people had taken Gandhi's advice. Well, it doesn't bear imagining, because we'd now be into the 70th years of the thousand year Nazi dynasty.

My sum of all this: Gandhi was ghastly.

Here's the whole letter.

Body Bags in Paris -

Roger Cohen taking Obama to task for his shocking performance at a press conference last Monday in Turkey, which even Democrats have criticized.
Obama was patronizing, dismissive and arrogant. He was more impassioned about taking in refugees to the US than about the Paris massacres.
There is much that the US could do other than simply staying the course, as Obama insists. No-fly zones, arming Kurds, leading a coalition to retake territory from ISIS.
And that's just little me, sitting here in my comfy house in Hong Kong.
Obama says his military and national security advisers tell him that he's got the right strategy. But that's simply untrue when one sees what some of them have said in the media. Most of the American public want him to get back on the front foot
In the press conference, he really does come across as clueless. He's clueless that he's clueless because he's arrogant. He has it right, noone else has.
Obama's body language: have a look at the way Obama enters the room in Ankara to face the press. Just ambling. As Cohen says, "words and body language aren't everything. Still, they count."
Cohen concludes:
"The West has lost its spine, a spine called America."
As Paul Keating might have said, Obama is looking for a spine to shiver up.

Europe’s Welcome Sign to Terrorists -

The former Secretary General of Interpol warns that having open borders, as in the so-called Schengen countries of Europe, without the proper vetting procedures "aids and abets terrorism".
He goes on: "The failure to thoroughly screen passports or check identities at border crossings is simply irresponsible in the face of global terrorism."
Of course there are many, especially on the left, who are so besotted with the the "European project", that they will deny these observations of one who should know, ex head of the International Police.

Brother Tariq Ramanan

Puleease ! Not Tariq Ramadan!
He of "Brother Tariq: the Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan" infamy.
Brother Tariq is a proven hypocrite, speaking one way to non-Muslim audiences, and another way to Arab-Muslim audiences. Smooth and calming to western audiences ("nothing to worry about here"); more fundamentally and rigidly Islamist to Muslim audiences. (Ref: the "Brother Tariq" book).
Brother Tariq is the grandson of Hassan Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is the progenitor of Al Q'aeda, Hamas and IS/ISIS.
Ramadan is *proud* of this connection!
Brother Tariq infamously refused to condemn the Hudud punishment of death by stoning. (He called for a "moratorium" instead).
See Brother Tariq's debates with the late Christopher Hitchens, in which Hitchens exposes the hypocrisy of this unctuously oleaginous man. (YouTube).
So, please! No more air time for Brotherhood Tariq. (Even if you think it's a case of free speech or "putting the other side", the fact remains that he's downright dishonest).
Brother Tariq is a dangerous distraction from the realities of what we face in ISIS.

The historian Tom Holland, by contrast, was spot on in his analysis of what we face in the motivations of ISIS. Simply put: grievances (western foreign policy, Palestine, alienation, "Islamophobia", etc). may be factors behind IS terrorism, but they are peripheral. At core IS have a fundamentally religious Salafist-Islamist motivation. IS really do want an Islamic caliphate, worldwide eventually, starting in the Middle East. No matter whether we are involved in the Middle East or not. No matter if Israel exists or not. No matter how Islamapologetic we are or not.

Friday 20 November 2015

"In the post-Paris blame game, let’s remember Muslims are victims too". 20 November

Letter to South China Morning Post:

Yonden Lhatoo is surely correct to find it troubling that "some lives are considered more valuable than others" (In the post-Paris blame game, let's remember Muslims are victims too, 20 November).

More troubling though, is Mr Lhatoo's characterisation of the Paris killers. They have "twisted ideologies and demented notions of religion".  They are motivated by "resentment among downtrodden and alienated Muslim communities".

What is it Mr Lhatoo, ideology or grievance?  Well, let's take them one by one:

"Twisted ideologies"?  This is nonsense, because it is clearly wrong on the evidence, such as IS's multi-lingual publication, Dabiq, which explains their aims and motivations.  Dabiq is replete with Islamic doctrine, from the Koran, the Hadith, the Sunna and the life of Muhammad.   The leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is a PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Baghdad.  Sheikh Mohamad al-Arefe, the Saudi cleric, tweets to his 12 million followers (twice those of Pope Francis), which sound like a clarion call to the votaries of IS.  Why should we accept Mr Lhatoo's assertion that these Islamic scholars are "twisting" the religion?  What evidence can Lhatoo provide for that assertion?

"Resentment and alienation"?  The leader of the Paris murderers, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, went to an elite school in Belgium.  Like the London 7/7 bombers, the Paris murderers were middle-class people with middle-class jobs.  They were not "downtrodden" and "alienated".  Any resentment of society was of their own making.  Not shared, we should note, by other minorities such as the Sikh, HIndu, Jainish, Buddhist, or, even, we poor downtrodden atheists.

Remember that the killers said they murdered their fellow Parisians as punishment for their "decadent" and "disgusting" culture. They hated the freedoms that we value in the west. No mention of their having been "downtrodden", or "alienated".  

The reason they hated western culture lies in the core of Islamic doctrine, the hatred "infidels", which many (Muslims, ex-Muslims and non Muslims) say is the fundamental message of the Koran.   The concept of martyrdom and sanctity of armed jihad in pursuit of the battle with infidels are about as controversial within Islam as the resurrection of Jesus is in Christianity.  These doctrines need reform. 

As long as Mr Lhattoo and fellow travellers continue to deny the doctrinal evidence for this violence, the west will continue to fail to stop it, because the needed reform can't happen.

The human rights activist and ex-Muslim Aayan Hirsi Ali tweeted on Nov 14: "As long as Muslims say IS has nothing to do with Islam or talk of Islamophobia they are not ready to reform their faith."   She said:  "Reform Islam to save it from extremists".  Reform requires facing the facts.  It doesn't help to say that IS has nothing to do with Islam, that they are simply "twisting" an ideology, because they are "downtrodden" and "alienated".  

Mr Lhatoo concludes: "a life is a life". If only that were true.  Should we accept that the life of Abdelhamid Abaaoud was as valuable as any single one of the 129 innocents he killed? Well, I don't.

Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
9308 0799


Wednesday 18 November 2015

What most Americans think of Islam today - The Washington Post

Perceptions of Islam have turned sharply negative. And so they should have. It's a horrid ideology: sectarian, misogynist, hateful and violent.

"IS has nothing to do with genuine Islam": WRONG

Letter to South China Morning Post:

Hardly have the bodies been counted in the latest jihadi atrocity than the “IS-has-nothing-to-do-with-Islam” crowd renew their chant.  The latest example: “Islam is nothing to do with genuine Islam” (Kwok Hau-lam, Letters, 18 November).

This is dangerous nonsense.

It is nonsense, because it is clearly wrong on the evidence.  The evidence is in IS’s multi-lingual publication, Dabiq, which explains their aims and motivations.  It is replete with Islamic doctrine, from the Koran, the Hadith, the Sunna and the life of Muhammad.  This is not “cherry picking”, for the quotations are extensive.  And they are not wrong, for they can be checked.  The leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is a PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Baghdad.  Are we to believe that Kwok, joining the ranks of “nothing to do with Islam” crowd, knows more about Islam that al-Baghdadi? Or more than Mohamad al-Arefe, the Saudi cleric, whose tweets to his 12 million followers (twice those of Pope Francis), sound like a clarion call to the votaries of IS?

It is dangerous, because unless and until people recognise the issues within Islam, there is no hope for reformation of its problematic aspects. The concept of martyrdom and sanctity of armed jihad are about as controversial within Islam as the resurrection of Jesus is in Christianity.  These doctrines need reform. 

Of course most Muslims are peaceable folk, as Kwok has says.  I have worked in North Korea, in China of the Cultural Revolution and in the Soviet Union. All the people I met were fine and friendly.  But those ideologies weren’t. However nice and moderate the Muslims that Kwok met has nothing to do with the ideas within Islam.  The worst of those ideas need to be challenged.  The human rights activist and ex-Muslim Aayan Hirsi Ali tweeted on Nov 14: “As long as Muslims say IS has nothing to do with Islam or talk of Islamophobia they are not ready to reform their faith.” 

She later tweeted:  “Reform Islam to save it from extremists”.  Reform requires facing the facts.  It doesn’t help to say, even if well-meaning, that IS has nothing to do with Islam.  It doesn’t represent all Muslims, to be sure, but it does represent a large number, with ideas and an ideology, which are inimical to our open and tolerant societies.

For readers wishing to learn more about this, I recommend Muslim reformers like Maajid Nawaz (an ex radical Muslim), reforming ex-Muslims like Ayyan Hirsi Ali, and knowledgable non-Muslims like Sam Harris.

Their ideas, not the platitudes of Mr Kwok, are what may have some hope of change in radical Islam. It may take generations, but will be even longer if we turn our faces away from the plain truth in front of us.

Along same lines as my letter:
People who peddle this nonsense ought to wake up and feel ashamed of themselves. 

The attacks on Paris and Lebanon show, once again, the cold-blooded and shameless nature of members of the group known as Islamic State (IS).
They kill innocent people and, in the areas of Iraq and Syria they have occupied, they force many women into sexual slavery.
It is clear that governments from different countries have to do more than the air strikes on IS-controlled territories.
While air strikes might make some impact in the short term, the leaders of countries such as the US and France must work together to come up with a long-term solution.
We need to try and ask why IS exists in the first place. The group seems to thrive on sectarian strife.
There are still people with set beliefs who refuse to practise religious tolerance and respect religions other than their own. Some of them move towards extremism, preach hate and join groups like IS. Governments need to try and deal with religious intolerance within their own borders.
Some people see no distinction between Islam and IS. I think that is wrong.
I have communicated with Muslims and found they are nothing like IS. Most Muslims are sincere believers in their faith. But they are moderate and they condemn the evil cult of IS.
IS commits its atrocities in the name of Islam and "God", but its evil creed has nothing to do with Islam. I hope that in the near future, IS will be destroyed.
Kwok Hau-lam, Tsing Yi 

Saturday 14 November 2015

Paris shootings

BBC is doing wall to wall coverage of the latest shootings in Paris with about 200 or more apparently dead.
No mention, not a hint, of who could be responsible.
I'm going to take a wild leap in the dark and guess it's the votaries of the Religion of Peace. If I'm wrong I'll stop writing here.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday 13 November 2015

Harry's Place » The Good Guy – On Peter Tatchell and BDS

An excellent article. With reference, too, to the fact that it's the Palestinians who have rejected deals over the last seventy years that would have given them a state next to Israel. Because what they really want, implicitly agreed to by the Left, is the destruction of Israel, and, at least by Hamas, the killing of all Jews in the world.

Sermon on the Mount - Iron Chariots Wiki

Thorough the Friendly Atheist website I came upon a video of Matt Dillahunty tearing apart The Sermon on the Mount. Googling him later led me to the link below, which seems pretty much to be the work of Dillahunty.
The sum of it all is that the Sermon is a bit of a dog's breakfast: the odd pieces of good, if obvious, advice, interspersed with lots of rotten advice. Certainly not the work of an omniscient being to whom it's ascribed, via the mouth of Jesus.
All the more interesting as the Sermon is often held up, by atheists seeking to show how tolerant they are, as being a decent and well-argued morality. It's not. It's rubbish. And yet more proof that the bible is a work of fiction by fallible humans in the Stone Age.
And here is the link to the video.

Munk Debates - Progress: "Humankind's best days lie ahead"

A great debate between Pinker/Ridley (pro) and Gladwell/de Botton (con).
I thought the Pros won convincingly. The audience thought they won, though not so convincingly: only 2% changed their minds from con to pro.
I had the impression that Gladwell and perhaps even de Botton would rather have been arguing FOR the proposition.
Gladwell was given to rather unseemly ad hominem, I thought, especially in his opening statement.
Anyway, good fun if you have an hour or so.
(I'd never heard of these Munk debates before. Seem to be a Canadian thing. Found out about them from Sam Harris's Twitter).

Thursday 12 November 2015

The Knife Intifada on Vimeo

These are the people following the religion of peace and who are loved by the left in the west...

The Halloween Costume Controversy at Yale's Silliman College - The Atlantic

Extraordinary! And deeply troubling for the future of the academy.

Sent from my iPad

When Will Obama and the West Listen to Hamas?

What I've often said.  People don't listen to what the Palestinians are saying. Or at least the Hamas portion of the Palestinians.  They want the destruction of Israel and the killing of jews, no matter where.
Abu Marzouk's latest threats to eliminate Israel are not only directed against Abbas, but also towards President Obama and those in the international community who continue to support the idea of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel. What he and other Hamas leaders are saying is very clear: Even if a Palestinian state is established in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, Hamas and other Palestinians will continue to fight until Israel is completely destroyed.

Palestine: the Psychotic Stage

I thought I'd posted this article of 12th October by Bret Stephens in the WSJ, but seems not, so here's the article, as it's behind a paywall.

Climate change a partisan issue outside the U.S., too | Pew Research Center

Significant Partisan Divides in Other Major Economies
From Pew Research
Australia's Liberal (that is, conservative) supporters are amongst the worlds lowest percentage in agreeing with the proposition that "Global Climate change is a very serious problem". I wonder why that should be? And why should those on the right be more skeptical about this? Why should being in the conservative side of politics make one less trustful of science? I dunno.  Maybe it's not liking change. Any change, climate or otherwise.

Palestinian State of Denial - WSJ

I like this guy Bret Stephens and have posted his views before.
He calls out the clear responsibility of Palestinians for having themselves failed to get a two state solution. Yet the world never stops blaming Israel. And forgiving Palestinians, who are forever the victims.
Palestinians have had many opportunities since 1949 -- over twenty by some counts -- to make peace and have their own country side by side with Israel, but have rejected every one. Because that would mean making Israel -- and Jews -- former enemies. And they don't want that. They want the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews -- wherever they are. It's forever, this hatred of Jews, codified in Islamic doctrine, since the time of that horrid man Muhammad.
Full article below the fold.

Yale’s Little Robespierres - WSJ

Crazy stuff at US Colleges. The reign of the ultra Left...

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Time for us ALL to stop cringing before the Saudis

This letter was in the 5th November edition of the Financial Times.  Good on 'yer Yugo!
It's not just the UK that ought to stop cringing before the horrid Saudi regime.
Imagine that in Australia, we're being singled out for criticism on our sensible policy of sending boats back, by the UN Human Rights Council, which has as its most recent member, none other than Saudi Arabia, those head-cutters, throat-slitters, women-haters, gay-killers....Nice to be criticised by such wonders of human rights.

China is sailing into a sea of troubles -

One thing I don't agree with: calling "One Country Two Systems" a stale cliché.  It's in fact what keeps us here in Hong Kong as free as we are and distinct from our motherland.
Otherwise a great summary of the challenges facing China and the need for them to have some new approaches. Below the fold, as behind a paywall.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

A Revolt of the Coddled | commentary

Colleges have courted a reputation not for shaping young minds and molding them in preparation for entering the workforce, but for mollycoddling a student body that seems forever engaged in one long, defensive, threat display. It is a true paradox that institutions with the mission of exposing students to new ideas, which will inevitably include some offensive or even dangerous ideas, are increasingly under fire for doing their job. Prospective campus speakers like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Condoleezza Rice, are perfect examples of this phenomenon. These women of stature who fail to comport to the stereotype of victimization to which women and minorities are, in the progressive mind, supposed to conform were disinvited from their respective speaking engagements following a revolt of the coddled. It wasn't enough for those students to retreat to the Orwellian-named "safe spaces" that shield oversize children from discomfort. No, these aspiring totalitarians had to ensure that no one else could be exposed to these speakers' ideas or the example that they as role models set.
When confronted by the mere prospect that Sommers, a persistent critic of modern feminism and the invented crisis of "rape culture," the student editorialists at Ohio's Oberlin College helpfully confirmed their prolonged developmental process.  In an editorial entitled "A Love Letter to Ourselves," the students demonstrated their immunity to irony when they blamed Sommers for sexual violence. "Giving voice to someone who argues that statistics on sexual assault exaggerate the problem and condemns reputable studies for engaging in 'statistical hijinks' serves only to trigger obstructive dialogue and impede the progress of the university's commitment to providing increased resources to survivors," Georgetown University's The Hoya editorial board agreed. This editorial that denounced "rape denialism" paved the way for no less a figure than Hillary Clinton to express a similar sentiment. The likely Democratic presidential nominee recently averred that alleged rape victims have "the right to be believed," which asks Americans to subordinate constitutionalism and the prosecutorial process to emotionalism and mob rule. Neither these college papers nor Secretary Clinton made any accommodation for the Duke Lacrosse players or the University of Virginia fraternity brothers whose lives were forever altered for the worse when their false accusers were afforded the "right to be believed".
Far from being the pursuits of the enlightened, this manner of popular justice is a rejection of intellectualism. It is also, however, something simpler than that. It is a display of rage from underdeveloped young adults who have been thrust into a world they are unable to understand or navigate. One hapless Yale University student who had the misfortune of being featured in a viral video late last week best expressed this unlovely if not understandable sentiment.
In a perfect metaphor for the crisis being precipitated by America's cosseted young adults, a Yale professor found himself in the crosshairs of a mob of students for the capital offense of failing to elevate their minor concerns to superlative status. At issue was a controversy over the school failing to regulate students' Halloween costumes, which were said by some to be culturally insensitive. In response to an email from a student group requesting redress, the associate master of one of Yale's undergraduate communities instead told their students to confront the offending costume-wearer and relate their concerns. For this, the incensed students demanded this college official's job. In a video that exploded online, one of the students was filmed confronting American sociologist and physicist Nicholas Christakis. Displaying all the emotional maturity of a toddler, this student howled in indignation at the professor who found himself surrounded by a threatening number of overgrown children, all raging against the dying of their youths.
"It is your job to create a place of comfort for students," the outraged Ivy League co-ed exclaimed. "It's not about creating an intellectual space. It is about creating a home here."
The crisis on American campuses has never been better elucidated. It's not about cultural sensitivity; it's about ensuring that college students are spared challenges, and it is about the transference of power. This might be dismissed as a sad but isolated phenomenon if the professionally aggrieved students on American college campuses were simply dismissed. Instead, they routinely prove their clout.
The creeping tide of young victims claimed another scalp on Monday. Facing the serious charge that he had allowed a form of virulent racism to grow metastatic on his campus and amid increasing pressure from protesting students and even a few like-minded faculty, University of Missouri president Timothy M. Wolfe resigned. At issue was the claim that "a series of racist incidents" had simply been ignored by the university administrators, prompting one student to go on a highly publicized hunger strike. But a cursory review of those incidents affirms the notion that Wolfe's accusers had previously been shielded from life's sharp edges and unsavory characters.
According to a timeline of events at Missouri University published in the Missourian, the racial incidents that sparked protests were by no means innocuous, but nor did they merit the response they generated. According to the Facebook post of one student, he was traumatized when a pickup truck pulled alongside him and repeatedly shouted the "N-word" at him. "I'd had experience with racism before, like microaggressions, but that was the first time I'd experienced in-your-face racism," the student told a local reporter. An unknown individual who used racial slurs when he was asked to leave them alone reportedly harassed another group of black students. "There was a silence that fell over us all, almost in disbelief that this racial slur, in particular, was used in our vicinity," another student said. These two incidents sparked protests that resulted in the demands for Wolfe's job.
These students' statements alone make it clear that their exposure to real and vivid racism, as inexcusable and hurtful as it is, was so deeply wounding because it was so new. These were sentiments to which these students had never been exposed, and the shock was too much to accept. In their horror, they demanded satisfaction.
In an informative review of a sociological study by Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning, psychologist and New York University professor Jonathan Haidt recently wondered if American society had not begun to devolve. He postulated that the rise of the micro-aggressed was a harbinger of something more dangerous. It is worth a read in its entirety, but an oversimplified abstract of their observations contends that, as society confers power to victimization, more people seek that status out. As such, minor infractions and slights are lent undue gravity. The "culture of dignity," in which offenses were once outsourced to third parties like police or courts, reverts to a "culture of honor" in which the aggrieved is encouraged to take matters into his or her own hands. "This is the great tragedy," wrote Campbell and Manning. "This is a recipe for failure — and constant litigation — after students graduate from college and attempt to enter the workforce."
That might be wishful thinking. If a small minority of students with placards and empty bellies can get college administrators to resign or compel schools to shield students from the unfamiliar ideas of their more accomplished elders, perhaps the infantilized world these students are building for themselves won't be so hard to negotiate after all.

Sunday 8 November 2015

The Negative Association between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism across the World: Current Biology

So much for the oft repeated claim by religious people that one can only have values and morality by having faith in a god. Quite the opposite is the finding of this study in Current Biology. Religion makes kids meaner.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Syrian migrants hate the US, Jews and women

I followed this up on the links to the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies, which is here.
Ezra is a man I have a lot of time for.
It's surely of concern that the "refugees", really migrants cutting the queue, have thoroughly horrid views, on everything form Jews, to women and gays.  The Rebel's take is here

31% of Syrian refugees disagree with the objective of defeating the Islamic State terrorist group.
41% are Jew-hating, America-hating bigots.
97% are gay-hating, women-hating bigots.
I'd wondered about this earlier on, when the "refugees" (mostly, really, economic migrants, jumping the immigrant queues), had started the swarm into Europe, wondering who, if anyone, had been checking them. Of course, as one had suspected, no one was checking them. 
Don't we think this is building in, with naive deliberation, a huge problem for the future?