Monday 29 February 2016

A Better Britain Outside the EU - WSJ

More in the Leave side of the argument.
It's been recently reported that the G20 meeting in Shanghai has strongly supported Britain staying in the EU. They claimed that Brexit would destabilize the world economy. As a previous chancellor commented: "that's complete nonsense". Indeed. And such transparently tendentious arguments by reps of the worlds's elite is not going to cut much ice, I reckon.

Sunday 28 February 2016

How the Left's Campaign Against Hillary Clinton Represents the Cannibalizing of American Liberalism – Tablet Magazine

Great essay by a man of the left on the regressive left...

Who do you thank, if you can't thank god?

I'd like to thank god for living in a safe place, Hong Kong, where you can practice your religion, or none, without having to worry you'll be killed for believing in the wrong God. Or even for saying "God", as happened to a poor Christian girl in Pakistan.
But how can I thank god, when it's the very belief in god that causes the murderous mayhem like that in Pakistan. There, if you are a Christian, or worse, if you convert to Christianity from Islam, you run the very real risk of being killed in a horrible way for having "insulted" Islam, by renouncing Allah, the god of Islam. And that poor Christian girl was indeed killed in a horrible way: she was burned alive. (I've just seen her brother choking up as he describes her death to a BBC reporter in a documentary on Christian refugees in Thailand).
So who do I thank? For I'm certainly most thankful for our safe space here, where we don't face religious (read "Islamic") lunacy, where we are not murdered for saying "God".
Perhaps I should just thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster....

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Hard living: Hong Kong scores 70th in rank of world cities, lags Singapore | South China Morning Post

[Hong Kong living: our dog, our local pond, our mountains]
What rubbish! [Link below]
Only if you include the criterion of BBTD could you come up with Vienna as the top city in the world in which to live! With Zurich second.
"BBTD" = be bored to death.
Zurich.... zzzz.
I've lived and worked in many of the cities on the list: Tokyo, Rome, Sydney, London, New York, and been to many of the others. We could live anywhere now.
But we choose Hong Kong.
Because it's truly international, a global cross-roads in the heart of the most dynamic region in the world, efficient, clean, safe, compact, yet with terrific hiking trails in one's doorstep, beautiful sailing grounds and wonderful food. We can be anywhere in the world within 12 hours max, from the 24/7 airport, regularly voted best in the world.
What's not to like? (Well, air pollution for one; then again all cities have a drawback or two).
This just shows the inanity of so many of these global surveys. Most don't survive the common sense test. Or the reality test.
Vienna?! Give me a break.

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Saturday 27 February 2016

Britain, better-off out of Europe

I'm a Brexit guy.
There's much written on both sides of this question.
Here's one, from the New York Times.
I don't think the arguments for staying in are strong.  The main ones:
Economic: but many countries deal with Europe without being part of it; the US, China, Australia
Security: but the UK would still be part of NATO and would continue to exchange information on potentials terrorists.
Immigration and control of borders: surely clear that it's best to determine these, not at the whim of a Mad Merkel "let them all in" policy.
Stops further wars: perhaps, but the UK was not a war-starter in the 20th century.  If France and Germany want to tie themselves together for that aim, fine.  But the UK doesn't need to.

Tim Cook's Bad Apple

Apple Inc is wrong in refusing to help the FBI crack the iPhone of a dead terrorist.
Sam Harris makes the best case against Apple's stance.
In simple terms it's this: that just as we allow intrusion into private homes as a result of a judicial warrant, we should allow the same for access to an iPhone.
He considers the case where there might be a room in one's house which no-one, no matter what the reason, could enter.  The only people helped by this would be criminals (and terrorists).
Or what if you could encrypt your own DNA? Again, the only people to benefit would be criminals.
Here is Sam on the topic (08'40" to around 19'0"). I find his argument compelling and not covered in other discussions on the topic. Strong suggestion to listen to it.
And L.Gordon Crovitz in the WSJ here.
LATER: Sam talks more, in reply to reactions to his earlier podcast on the ethics of encryption.  (0'40" to 07'20).  For those on the side of Apple, he has a new term: "The cult of privacy".
There are some even saying this: "dead terrorists have the right to privacy".
Response: no, they don't. That's insanity.  The insanity of the privacy cultists.

We'll always have Paris

At least I hope so.
We've just been in Paris and found it fine and friendly.  Great food, friendly folk, crowded cafes and restaurants.  Not a sign of scare in the wake of recent Islamist attacks.
This article in the New York Times was printed as "In Paris, a graceful defiance".
It makes the same point I make above, and rather more gracefully.  Toujours Paris.

Charlie n'est pas Charlie, one year later.

Friday 26 February 2016

The Sexual Misery of the Arab World

ORAN, Algeria — AFTER Tahrir came Cologne. After the square came sex. The Arab revolutions of 2011 aroused enthusiasm at first, but passions have since waned. Those movements have come to look imperfect, even ugly: For one thing, they have failed to touch ideas, culture, religion or social norms, especially the norms relating to sex. Revolution doesn’t mean modernity.

The attacks on Western women by Arab migrants in Cologne, Germany, on New Year’s Eve evoked the harassment of women in Tahrir Square itself during the heady days of the Egyptian revolution. The reminder has led people in the West to realize that one of the great miseries plaguing much of the so-called Arab world, and the Muslim world more generally, is its sick relationship with women. In some places, women are veiled, stoned and killed; at a minimum, they are blamed for sowing disorder in the ideal society. In response, some European countries have taken to producing guides of good conduct to refugees and migrants.

Thursday 25 February 2016

Fwd: Merkel’s open door for migrants takes Europe towards ruin

Douglas Murray. Clear and brave thinker. My thoughts exactly.
Has the road to modern Europe's future been paved with good intentions? Or did the opening of the continent's borders to the rest of the world constitute one of the most cynically destructive acts ever carried out on a democratic public? 
These are just a couple of the questions now being tossed around among European publics. But whichever answer you veer towards — naive decency or cynical destruction — there can be little doubt that the path on which its leaders have put the continent tends towards hell.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

"Good to learn simplified characters"

I don't understand the brouhaha over learning simplified characters ("Simplified characters rumour wrong", February 23). Surely this is a storm in a teacup. 
I learned Chinese at Peking University in the mid seventies. I learnt simplified characters. 
When I came to Hong Kong I was confronted with traditional characters. I quickly realized that many of the differences were logical and straightforward. For example, simplified radicals (such as  訁to 讠), based on pre-existing cursive forms in use for centuries, account for many of the differences. These are very quickly mastered. 
It took me just a few months of part-time study to be able to read Hong Kong signage and newspapers in traditional characters. 
Moreover, I suggest it's easier to go from traditional to simplified, than the opposite route I did. 
If an adult 鬼佬 such as me can quickly adapt from simplified to traditional characters, surely local mother-tongue Chinese speakers can go from traditional to simplified even more quickly. 
In short, Hong Kongers should stop moaning and get on with the the job of learning the written form that's used by the vast majority of Chinese. What's more, it's fun!

Peter F, etc...

LATER: published on 6th April 2016:
Good to learn simplified characters
I refer to the article by Raymond Young (“Traditional or simplified, the script is for communication”, March 30) and don’t understand the brouhaha over learning simplified characters.
I learned Chinese (simplified characters) at Peking University in the mid-1970s.
When I came to Hong Kong I was confronted with traditional characters. I quickly realised that many of the differences were logical and straightforward. For example, simplified radicals are based on pre-existing cursive forms in use for ­centuries. These are very quickly mastered.
It took me just a few months of part-time study to be able to read Hong Kong signage and newspapers in traditional characters.
Moreover, I suggest it’s easier to go from traditional to simplified, rather than the ­opposite route I did.
If an adult gweilo such as me can quickly adapt from simplified to traditional characters, surely local mother-tongue ­Chinese speakers can go from traditional to simplified even more quickly.
As for calligraphy, of course it will continue to be done in the more artistically felicitous traditional characters.
In short, Hongkongers should stop moaning and get on with the job of learning the written form that’s used by the vast majority of Chinese, and one that will enable reading Mandarin as it’s increasingly written outside China. It’s not about China trying another takeover route.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

Saturday 20 February 2016

Shame on Pacquiao

LATER: published in full on 24 Feb.
LETTER to South China Morning Post (printed 25th Feb 16)
Manny Pacquiao has clearly never met either any gay people or any animals ("Pacquiao doubles down on homophobic comments", February 20). To say that homosexuals are "worse than animals" is a disgusting calumny.
Had he met any gay people he would know that they are just like straight folk, with all their fancies and foibles. And if he knew any animals he would know that they are just as likely to focus their amorous attention on members of the same sex as are we Homo sapiens. (Ricky Gervais even has a show on the subject of homosexual animals!).
I speak here as a straight man who has had many gay friends over my seven decades of life and cohabited with countless dogs (and other animals) as well.
For Pacquiao to liken the LGBT community as "worse than animals" is both bigoted and ignorant.
He is not excused by quoting the Bible. Judging people based on a flawed three thousand year old hodge-podge of ancient prejudices? Surely one should base one's judgement on our modern understandings of sexuality.
Shame on you Pacquaio. You shame yourself, your country and your faith. You may be a "boxing great" but you're a moral midget.

PF, etc

Wednesday 3 February 2016

‘Why Muslim Integration Fails in Christian-Heritage Societies’, by Claire L Adida, David D Laitin and Marie-Anne Valfort -

An interesting companion to Christopher Caldwell's "Reflections of a Revolution in Europe". The whole issue, very big issue, of the problems of Muslim integration. Whether by self-segregation or discrimination by the host societies.

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Monday 1 February 2016

Her Father Shot Her in the Head, as an ‘Honor Killing’ -

The other day a well-spoken and erudite Muslim lady on BBC radio mocked David Cameron for having suggested that (some / many) Muslim women were repressed under Islamic codes. Why, she said, just look at all the capable high achieving Muslim women we have in this country [the UK] alone!
But the fact that she can point to some, even many, female Muslim achievers says nothing of the broader picture for women under Islam.
There is not a shadow of doubt that Muslim women are treated as second class citizens in places like Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Iran and Iraq. The Arab development report of some years ago makes this plain. And see my Page above on what sharia says about women.
In the article below is the story of Saba in Pakistan, whose father tried to kill her because she had stepped out with a boy the family hadn't approved of.
There are at least one thousand, and likely many more, such murders of young women in Pakistan alone, for attempting independence. It's the same in other Muslim countries.
The Koran, the Hadith, Sharia law and the life of Muhammad all codify and stipulate the repression of women in Islam.

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