Tuesday 31 October 2017

“Western praise for Xi Jinping seemingly knows no bounds” | SCMP October 31 | Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson is right to cast doubts on the west's fawning encomiums of Xi Jinping ("Western praise for Xi Jinping seemingly knows no bounds", October 31). 
More telling are the views of China's Asia-Pacific neighbours towards President Xi and to China's rise. 
A recent Pew poll (reveals that only 34% expect Xi to "do the right thing" regarding world affairs. 
Nine in ten believe China's increased military spending is a "bad thing" and 47% believe that China's rise is a "major threat" to their country. 
Despite Xi's authoritarian tendencies, the rise of social media means he has to take more notice of the Chinese people. So he vows to "develop consultative democracy ". 
Let us hope that he will also take notice of the people in our region and develop "consultative democracy" with them as well. 

LATER: Published in SCMP on 6 November 2017

Monday 23 October 2017

Trump the “master persuader”; but persuading to what?

Scott Adams, creator of "Dilbert" cartoon and analyst of
Donald Trump
Scott Adams identified Trump as a "master persuader" way back in late 2015, and one who would win the election because of this skill (he sure was right there).
Here he is talking to Dave Rubin and predicting a win for Trump (by a "landslide", which it really wasn't*); here he is talking to Joe Rogan and to Sam Harris, all essentially the same story: how he, Adams, apart from having invented "Dilbert" -- which made him rich, is still going and is an amusing story of how he made it successful -- apart from that he is a qualified hypnotist and student of persuasion (persuasion being a key skill of the hypnotist).  I enjoyed these talks.  And I've enjoyed watching Scott ever since, on his daily Periscope talks.  He's fun, amusing, witty, intelligent, often with a unique take on issues of the day.
But I remain to be convinced of his signature claim about Trump: that he's a "master persuader".
Adams says he recognised early on Trump's ability as a master persuader.  And before mocking that concept, it's well worth listening to one of the videos linked above.  He makes a strong case.
I don't think, by the way, that Adamis is a natural Trump supporter -- he is very liberal in many areas that Trump is not. Rather he's an "explainer" of Trump and why he won.  He enjoys Trump, his sense of humour, his turning things upside down in America and the world.  But a supporter? I'm not sure.  He says he didn't vote for Trump, as he is, by inclination (Scott, that is) a classic liberal and a libertarian.
Anyway, I've enjoyed listening to his case for Trump the persuader.
But in the end, I don't really buy it.  After all, it's one thing to persuade enough people to vote for him, by a combination of cunning and subterfuge (which is what it amounts to).  It's another thing to persuade members of Congress -- the majority of whom are from your own Party! -- to pass laws that you told your adoring public you would. And if he can't do that, even with his own party members, that counts as not much of a persuader, in my books.  At least not a persuader in the area that really matters.
Even allowing -- which I don't -- the concept that he is indeed a "master persuader", then one could and should make the obvious point that there have been plenty of master persuaders in world history and they haven't always persuaded people to do good things.  Stalin, Mao, Pot Pot, come to mind, let alone the amusingly mustachioed Austrian, whose name we daren't mention for fear of being accused of having broken (or proven?) Godwin's Law.
So, a quick review of what Trump "persuaded" his followers were good ideas, with my severely curtailed comments in purple:
  • Pull out of the TPP.  Bad idea; gives China strategic advantage
  • Obamacare, repeal and replace.  Nothing happening.  Also: bad idea, better to improve it.
  • Gorsuch.  Good only if you're in favour of conservative judges.
  • Tax reform.  Nothing happening.  Failure of persuasion
  • Build a Wall. Bad idea; useless
  • Pull out of Paris climate accord.  Probably bad idea
  • Muslim ban.  Bad idea and useless.
  • North Korea. A curate's egg.  No advance
  • ISIS.  Yes, some good marks on this one, for having them on the run
So that's about it from me on that one.
In sum:
I'd not convinced that Trump is a persuader, let alone a master one.
Even if he is a great persuader, most of the ideas he persuaded people to vote him in for, are bad or useless...
Still!  I'm not for the hysteria of many on the left about Trump. I'm more like Ann Althouse, who says she neither loves Trump nor hates him (which binary is the current Rep/Dem split, by and large).
And in the meantime, yes, he's amusing.  Think of what things would be like with Hillary.
Well, yes, do think about that.  More boring, for sure, but more constructive likely too.
Trump's win was not a landslide.  In the electoral college, his win margin is 46th out of 56 elections.
In the popular vote, he lost by the largest margin, by a long way, of any president who won the election.  Six times more than George W!
Adams says Trump won in "the only vote that matters" -- the electoral college.  Sure, but.... Clearly Trump himself was upset by his popular vote loss, as he kept banging on about it after the election -- "voter fraud" and so forth...

Sunday 22 October 2017

"Burqa Ban is Just Another Way of Oppressing Women and Restricting Freedoms” | Huffpo, Atif Rashid

This is the photo that fronts Rashid's story. Note that it's not even a burka
nor taken from the front.  As if he's embarrassed to show the burka,
as he should be, as HuffPo should be.  It's a horrid item
Yea, right. And banning chains is just another way of oppressing slaves. 

I hadn't heard of this guy Atif Rashid, so I googled and found he's the font of many a lie in the name of Islam. He's a serial apologist and serial liar about the contents of Islam.
Some of these other posts of his have so many lies, that I just don't have the patience to go through them all. Save to say that you pretty much can't believe one word of his apologist nonsense.
There's a bunch of his writing over at the Independent, here.  But if you are taken in by any of his duplicity, shame on you. You need to read more: specifically of the Koran. And the Sirah: the life of Muhammad (Contumely be upon him).
The Independent, by the way, has fallen low. Their recent story about Islam being the saviour of sexual predation received well-deserved scorn.
Meantime, here's a rather more rational take on the burka/niqab issue, from Qanta Ahmed, a female Muslim, who wears (or used to wear) a burka. In the Speccie:
Rigid interpretations of the veil are a recent invention. They’re derived not from the Quran or early Islamic tradition but from a misogyny which claims a false basis in the divine. So when the ECJ  [European Court of Justice] supports employers who ban the hijab, it is categorically not impinging on anyone’s religious freedom. The veil has more to do with a set of quite new cultural mores. 
The Islamists wish to say: we Muslims are different from the West. Increasingly, we don’t look like you, or act like you. For Muslim families who have lived in Europe for generations, this is a strange and ugly trend. The men and women agitating for the right to wear headscarves in Europe would do well to remember our own history in the Muslim world. In the 1920s, with the rise of secular states in Egypt and Iran, Muslim women began to organise in pursuit of their rights. In 1922, these activists, led by Huda Shaarawi, founded the Egyptian Feminist Union, and discarded their veils. Within a decade, countless women followed suit, and slowly, they forced their way into the Egyptian academe. Eventually Iran and Turkey forced women to de-veil as official policy. Link. [PF: but then things changed back].....
Which brings to mind the (in)famous diptych:
Cairo University graduates 1978

Cairo University graduates 2005
From Nonie Darwish

Thursday 19 October 2017

One Hundred Years of Evil

Oh, you poor, naive young ones!  Spend time in a communist country
to cure you of this delusion!
The indefatigable, the redoubtable Douglas Murray, chases the question of why communism still exerts its baleful allure.
My cure for it: spend time in a communist country.  In my case, it was China in the last days of its Cultural Revolution. You couldn't get any consumer goods; staples, like rice, flour and cotton, were rationed. And look what happened to China when it took the dead hand of the State off the economy.  It roared, in an unprecedented creation of wealth: the World Bank estimates 500 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty in the Great China Boom, which began when I was there, in 1979 (ironically, the same time as the Iranian revolution did the opposite and took that country from secular sanity to stifling theocracy).
I'm well aware of the extent to which China is still a Leninist control system -- often nasty -- awere of its censorship 'n all --  what the BBC credits Xi Jinping with calling "socialism with Chinese characteristics" (the phrase was actully coined by the brilliant Deng Xiaoping in 1978).  But China did loosen up a lot. Contrary to what's going on in places like Venezuela, where the socialists call for it to move even further left!  As if it wasn't socialism, would be communism, that impoverished it...
Over to the felicitous pen of Douglas Murray:

Angela Merkel & Europe: Legacy Includes Brexit, Rise of Far Right | National Review

Merkel at the EU summit in April this year

Her legacy includes Brexit, the rise of far-right parties, and border walls

Merkel has practiced what Business Insider's Josh Barro calls "no-choice politics." During the euro crisis, she relied on there being no choice to exit the currency union. During the run-up to Brexit, she relied on the fact that Cameron had no choice but to argue for Remain, no matter how little she offered. She relied on there being no choice to her right in Germany. It hasn't worked. Merkel took responsibility for Europe over the last decade. And Brexit, her party's diminished majority, the border walls rising, and the advent of populist alternatives are her legacy.

I've excoriated Mad Mutti Merkel before.  And here, Merkel ignores the problems of ordinary Germans, in favour of virtue-signalling for refugees. 
Why the Germans continue to vote for her is beyond me.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Harry's Place » Fathom 18 Out Now!

There's a heap of reading here. I get a lot of value out of this Fathom 18 stuff. I don't mind if it's "biased"; everything in life is. It's the angle one views it from that counts...
I must say some of what passes for scholarly work here seems to me to be glimpses of the obvious. E.g.: that Israel would react positively to a Palestinian shift to peace and recognition. Gee, d'ya think?  A warmed over version of the trope I heard years ago: "if the Palestinians laid down their arms there would be peace. If Israel laid down its arms it would be wiped out"[*]. Nothing in the 20-odd years since I first heard that has changed. 
And why is it that American administrations have to come to " understand" that? Isn't it obvious?
Go on, then, saddle up your own confirmation bias!
[*] Later: It was Benjamin Netanyahu and the proper version is:

“If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more ‎violence. If the Jews put ‎down their weapons ‎today, there would be no ‎more Israel'‎”.  (can't find the date)

"Political Islam After the Arab Spring”. Between Jihad and Democracy | Foreign Affairs, Olivier Roy

Praying in unison is part of the Islamic memeplex.
Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo, June 2012
"Although terrorist groups generate headlines, more moderate Islamist groups enjoy far deeper and broader support in the Muslim world."

A scholarly review of the book "Rethinking Political Islam", by Shadi Hamid and William McCants, in the journal Foreign Affairs.
At the beginning, it makes the point (quoted above) that I've made over many years. That it's not terrorism -- or not just terrorism -- that is the real threat to the west and western liberal values. It's pious Islam -- or what they call here "political Islam" and "Islamism".
Remember the concentric circles of Islam: with Jihad in the centre -- the smallest group, but the most lethal.  The next circle, around terroristic jihadis, is "Islamists", those who want Islam to spread, and eventually rule the world via Sharia (when there will be "Peace" hence why the Islamists can say that it's a "Religion of Peace"), but who don't want -- or not necessarily or by default -- to do it through violence.  Then on the outermost circle represents those Muslims who are "moderate" in the sense that they don't want to spread Islam -- though no doubt they are happy if it does -- and are more like "cultural Muslims", that is Muslims by birth or simply by culture.  These are the Muslims that just "want to get on with life, like the rest of us",  we so often hear about. The "vast majority" of peaceful Muslims.  In fact the first two circles amount to anwhere between 15% and 25% (various studies) of all the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, and hence quite a large -- one might say huge -- minority of between 225 million and 375 million.
Plenty, that is, to be somewhat.... troublesome... shall we say... At least to those of us who think the values of Islam have little if anything to offer the post-Enlightenment Western values.  And yes, there are differences between cultures and some of them are better than others.
The review is a great tour of Islam and Islamism in the last century.
Here's a quote from the beginning of the essay which makes that point.
... the book’s focus on mainstream Islamists is warranted, because although terrorist groups generate headlines, more moderate groups enjoy far deeper and broader support in the Muslim world—and thus pose a more profound long-term challenge to secular states of all kinds. They are genuine social movements with concrete, near-term goals: if they support the idea of a global caliphate, they consider it a distant dream. In the here and now, they seek accommodation with existing institutions and build support by setting up charities that fill the gap left by poor governance in much of the Muslim world. With the goodwill this generates, they try to persuade people to “return” to Islam through piety: attending mosque, praying openly in public spaces, and, for women, wearing the veil. They do not overtly contest the legitimacy of secular governments but instead try to influence them; they enter into the electoral arena when allowed to do so and are open to contacts and negotiation. 
The article is a good corrective to a recent Economist article, which asked "Can political Islam make it in the modern world?"
That article tended to see Tunisia as a positive example of what could happen in the Arab world. But Roy's article is more downbeat, and with my own observations of what's happened to Islam in Islamic countries, I'm also on the gloomy end of these predictions.  That is, I'm more of Roy's outlook than the Economist's.
Here's Roy's concluding para:
It seems unlikely that the secularization of Islamic politics will be accompanied by a drift away from traditional values in Muslim countries, at least in the foreseeable future. (Tunisia is not likely to legalize gay marriage anytime soon.) But separating mosque and state poses a more acute short-term risk for Islamist parties such as Ennahda: it could provide an opening for jihadist extremists, who often refer to themselves as “foreigners in this world.” That phrase comes from a well-known chant, or nashid, popularized during the trials of members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1960s. It is an expression of the idea that, in their ideological purity and refusal to accommodate secular norms and institutions, jihadists represent the only true Islamists—and, perhaps, the only true Muslims. The danger is that if mainstream Islamists purchase inclusion in the secular state at the price of separating their political goals from their religious and social ones (as in Tunisia), or suffer exclusion from the state owing to their own overreach and a repressive backlash against it (as in Egypt), young Muslims seeking “authentic” religious and political identities might look elsewhere. And the jihadists will be waiting for them.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

“Snag for green energy” | NYT Print. (Online: "Germany’s Shift to Green Power Stalls, Despite Huge Investments")

Not all of Germany's move to renewables has worked.  In fact most has not.
I'm all in favour of greener energy.  One of those is nuclear, and Mad Mutti Merkel did away with those for Germany on the stupidly spurious ground of Fukushima which, recall, killed not one person, despite being a once in a generation tsunami hitting a 70s era facility.  If Fukushima proved anything it was not that nuclear energy is dangerous, but that nuclear energy is safe -- even in the worst circumstances and they have only got much safer in the 40 years since Fukushima was built.  Result of closing all its nuclear plants, Germany now has growing carbon dioxide emissions.  Smart, mad mutti!
 Over the past two decades, Germany has focused its political will and treasure on a world-leading effort to wean its powerful economy off the traditional energy sources blamed for climate change. The benefits of the program have not been universally felt, however. A de facto class system has emerged, saddling a group of have-nots with higher electricity bills that help subsidize the installation of solar panels and wind turbines elsewhere.
Germany has spent an estimated 189 billion euros, or about $222 billion, since 2000 on renewable energy subsidies. But emissions have been stuck at roughly 2009 levels, and rose last year, as coal-fired plants fill a void left by Germany’s decision to abandon nuclear power. That has raised questions — and anger — over a program meant to make the country’s power sector greener.

Hong Kong in the Great Game

USS Ronald Reagan in Hong Kong harbour, October 2017
Tall building: the International Commercial Centre in Kowloon
The USS aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, the largest in the US fleet, was in Hong Kong harbour 4-6 October, and I've just got around to posting the photo, cause I like it and I'd forgotten about it, and was about to delete it in housekeeping, but thought better to post it before deleting.
I went by the Ronald Reagan on the way to town on our ferry from Discovery Bay, Hong Kong, to Central, while she was here. But no way we could be that close.  If only!  That photo above is by China's press agency Xinhua.
This is all part of the Great Game, as China wants to show Little Rocket Man, North Korea's Kim Jong-un, that China is with the United States, so watch out.
Things since have got a bit more tense, but still neither side, neither the US, nor North Korea, is prepping its forces.
Fingers crossed; toes too.... a fight in this part of the world between US and NK would be a disaster, plain and simple.
The only way forward seems to be to treat it as we did the Soviet Union in the Cold War: contain and deter.

Monday 16 October 2017

Sweden's Sexual Assault Crisis Presents a Feminist Paradox - Quillette

Wow!  United Nations figures.  From "Sweden is nowEurope's official rape capital"
More on the dire Swedes from the online magazine Quilette.
Note the police don't even keep statistics on ethnicity of rapists, because they would be damning -- and, of course (!) "Islamophobic". Showing the extent to which rapes and gang crimes are being done by Muslim immigrants. (How do we know this if stats are not kept? By careful inference and extrapolation, by people involved in trying to keep Swedish women safe from the scourge which the dear, well-meaning, naive Swedes have brought on themselves).
Sweden may never again be the lovely, open tolerant and safe place it was when I visited.

"How the teachings of Islam could help us prevent more sexual abuse scandals" | The Independent

Women, liberated under Islamic Sharia
Yeah, right!

This article in the Independent is complete nonsense, and highlights just how far down the previously independent Independent has fallen.

As the first commenter on the article says: “Next in the Independent: How Nazism can prevent anti-semitism”.

Another commenter, Badger1 makes the point I was going to make here: namely that the quoted verses don’t say anything like the writer Qasim Rashid claims.  And one quoted, 4.35, is preceded by 4.34 which enjoins the man to beat his wife if she is “disobedient”, a call which we know many a Muslim man has heeded, and is hardly likely to "prevent more sexual abuse scandals".  

Of course, of course, there’s domestic violence in the west; but in Muslim countries, it is far more prevalent, and there’s virtually no movement against it.  Indeed women are only just being allowed to drive a car in Saudi Arabia. 

Badger1 asks, reasonably, “does the Independent do any fact-checking at all, any more?”.  It’s super easy to do, and Rashid should not have been allowed to get away with simply outright false claims.

For more on women in Islam, have a look at my series here

German Towns Filled With Refugees Ask, ‘Who Is Integrating Whom?’ | WSJ

Nadine Langer's two daughters are the German-born in their class
in Lebenstedt
In the comments, to this article:
Douglas Murray reckons ("The Strange Death of Europe") that the reason Mad Mutti Merkel said "we can do it", and let them come in willy nilly, was that she -- and her fellow travellers -- were worried about what it would look like to have German soldiers at the borders turning back refugees.
Sounds about right to me....
I recall seeing her in a Town Hall, a few years ago, when this whole refugee disaster was unfolding, and a fellow shared his concern about the refugees, their uncontrolled numbers, their different culture, etc, and her response was to sneer about "who are we to say our culture is better than theirs" (or words very close to that effect).  She *sneered* at him.  No-one picked her up on that. So..... result: Germans were horrid to Jews 70 years ago, so now their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren have to put up with the results of Merkel's guilt feelings.
What a way to make policy!! Especially when it's so consequentia
The article is behind a paywall, but PDF is here.
LATER: text below the fold.....

Sunday 15 October 2017

Citizen Warrior's Introduction - WikiIslam

The above is from a debate between British journalist Mehdi Hasan
and Prof Richard Dawkins, in 2012.
Of course, it should be "winged" not "wind" horse.
For the record and for study. Countering objections to criticism of an ideology.

LATER: When I had a close look at the suggestions for countering objections to one's criticism of Islam (objections like "but the Bible is also violent", or "I know Muslims who are very friendly" or "It's only a tiny minority", etc, etc, I find I do know most of the counters, as surely I ought, after so many years.  Though I did find some of them a bit long-winded and noone could surely be expected to recall them all.  Perhaps a super simple version would be useful.

PS: the Chinese also have a "winged horse" tradition, called "Tian Ma", but they don't make the mistake of believing it really really exists, as do pious Muslims, even the likes of the otherwise intelligent Mehdi Hasan. 

The shocking secret plan for a Muslim state in Australia | Daily Mail Online

Australian Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, warns Australians about
the dangers of his correligionists.  Does that make him an "Islamophobe"?
Imam Mohammad Tawhidi in Australia has been getting quite a bit of press recently as a Muslim moderate and reformer. He speaks out refreshingly on problems within Islam, on the link between doctrine and violence. "Ideas have consequences", as Sam Harris is fond of saying. And the key ideas of Islam are to impose sharia on the world, step by step and rule the infidel. 
Anyone like imam Tawhidi trying to tread a fine line in that doctrine to find support for a more peaceable Islam must be supported. 
Here Tawhidi makes troubling allegations about Islamists' plans to establish Islamic sharia areas in Australia, allegations which are reported in the Daily Mail. 
I wonder if it will be covered in the liberal media, the likes of The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Canberra Times, or the ABC.
I doubt it somehow. The very fact that it's carried in the Daily Mail may consign the story to the untouchable corner. You know, "right wing rag", an' all. 
Instead, I expect there will be attacks on Tawhidi by Islamist Australian Muslims and the apologetic Left. And these attacks will be carried in the liberal media.  And the Daily Mail will be labelled "islamophobic" and "racist". In other words yet more killing of the messenger. 
And the shariafication of Australia will proceed, placidly, ploddingly perhaps, but perpetually, purposefully.

Is Southeast Asia going backwards when it comes to gender equality? | SCMP

There's a bit of a tendency in trendier areas of the west to normalise polygamy. Swedes especially.  It's cultural, doncha know, and who are we to say that one culture is inferior to another? Especially when it derives from Islam, which is immune from criticism of the western Left or western feminists. 
I read a book on polygamy by a Muslim woman who had been subjected to it before escaping to the west. I think it was Nonie Darwish. What I recall is her description of it as simply horrid for women. Something which western "feminists" simply ignore. 
Same thing happening with the hijab. It's "women's freedom of choice" doncha know? 
This article below is in today's South China Morning Post, and tackles polygamy much more honestly and head on. 
"Polygamy is a type of violence against women", says Yuniyanti Chuzaifah. 
There's more, much more. 
Good article!

Is Southeast Asia going backwards when it comes to gender equality?

Sent from my iPad

Dateline London. BBC World Service


This week not even a mite or a tittle of pretence at evenhandedness. 

Every single one of the panel today is Left wing. From the squishy Left (Poirier) to the Hard Left (Alibhi Brown). And in the Left-left, in the "middle", one might say if one were the BBC, Michael Goldfarb and Celia Maza de Pablo rounding out the "diversity" of opinion. (/sarc). 

The "diversity", such as it is, manifests in  "disputes" the likes of "is the United States simply bad or is it really really bad?". "Is Trump a horrid racist or a detestable misogynist?". (Both! Both!).

Please please — a plea from an an old style leftie and now a liberal centrist — some balance from at least the political centre or somewhat to the right of centre. 

Otherwise Dateline London is become a very tedious show. I'm increasingly taking the option of switching channels when I see the same old same old tired leftie voices on the show. 

(Mind you, Michael Goldfarb seems a decent bloke; my age, too!). 

Peter Forsythe
Siena One
Discovery Bay 
Hong Kong 

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Guns deaths vs Gun control

Source: my own calculations, which are here.
US States with one party in power for 4+ terms

I went looking for a chart of gun deaths vs gun control.  There are heaps which show gun deaths vs the number of guns, per US state.  But none -- that I could find -- that put gun deaths per state vs the strictness of gun laws in those states.  The reason I was looking is that the whole argument -- repeated every time there's a mass shooting in the US --  is whether gun control works or not.
So I made my own chart, as above.  The "deaths per 100,000 population" comes from Wikipedia.
The gun control comes from this site, which includes only those 26 states which have had one party in charge of that state for at least four election cycles, presumably on the rationale that it takes more than one term to set a pro/anti gun control policy in place.
[My poor Excel skills means I wasn't able to label all the dots (at least not easily) with the individual state name; but it doesn't really matter to the main point, which is the relationship between deaths and gun control].
I then did a correlation calculation which came to minus 0.78 (which I've converted to "78%" above).  That shows what you might expect as a gun control advocate: namely that the stricter the control, the fewer gun deaths.  In other words, a negative correlation. In this case a "very strong correlation".
Now, the anti-control folks will say "of course correlation is not causation".  Indeed that's correct.
But in this case, what could be the other factors that make the red states above have figures of gun deaths of up to seven times that of the blue states?
What is it? Demographics? Religiosity?  Distance from Washington DC?
Fact is, the logic behind the correlation also being causation is so commonsensical that the onus is on the anti-gun-control folks to come up with why that chart above is not showing any causation.
The "Brady score" comes from the Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence.   Jim Brady was with President Reagan over 30 years ago, when the assassination attempt was made on Reagan, and Brady was shot and paralysed. On the situation of gun control per state in the US, his Foundation has become the go-to source.
SUM:  just have a look at the cluster of Red States (Republican) in the top left!  This means simply this: those states all have very low gun control; and they all have average gun deaths way above the national average.  Up to seven times of the lowest of the Blue States (Democratic).

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Science in Islam: E03 - Ash'ari Predestination - IslamiCity

Not at all bad! A great summary of the rise and fall of Islamic science. How the Muslim mind closed.
See also "The closing of the Muslim mind", by Robert Reilly.

The rise of the west and western science, at the same time that so-called Islamic golden age of science declined, has driven modern Muslims mad.  They are always looking to brag about having invented this or that.... The number "zero" for example, or algebra, or medicine itself.  Most of these are bogus, but still they pursue this myth of the Islamic golden age. With some success: museums in the west will from time to time have exhibitions showing the "brilliance" of Islamic science.  Barack Obama included some "Islamic inventions" in his 4th June 2009 Cairo speech, including obviously incorrect ones such as the compass. (which everyone knows is from China, surely!).

Note at the end of this video: that YouTube has demonetized the channel because it's "too sensitive".  That's patently crazy.  The video is scholarly and ought to be allowed to discuss Islamic science, for goodness sake!  

Islam apologists

Some amusing comments at the site of this bingo...
Another example of nonsense apology for Islam. It's not because we know nothing about Islam that we criticise its ideology. It's exactly because we know something about it that we criticise it. For it does indeed call for the subjugation if we infidels and the imposition of sharia law across the whole of mankind. Then there will be peace....
Meet some Muslims and find they're nice people — which they will be — says nothing about Islam. Just as my meeting some very nice congenial Chinese while China was still communist said nothing about communism.
And who do they have running this campaign? None other than the oleaginous, the lying, the duplicitous apologist for Islam Reza Aslam.

Monday 9 October 2017

Che Guevarra .... Cuban hero and ...

A totally fair summary of Che.  Yet, this was removed from
a Facebook page because it "violated standards"!

.... not a single mention of his mass murder of opponents?? Not a hint nor a tittle of his dark side?? Of his baleful influence on Cuba's future? His Marxism, his dictatorial nastiness?
Nothing?? Nothing but what a "hero" he is to the Cuban people.
And this is the BBC that advertises its commitment to the truth?!
How about googling Che and next time around giving us something more truly balanced than the fawning hagiography you just foisted in us?


Sunday 8 October 2017

Mainland China’s ‘transformation’ nothing to shout about | Jake van Der Kamp | SCMP

Jake doesn't often trumpet Hong Kong so this article is an outlier for him. As always, he gives data to support his view. Which I share: that Hong Kong still beats the mainland. 
I see that every time I cross the border. Fun times to be had. Fun people to be met. But always a relief to get back home to Hong Kong. It works better, cleaner, faster, and more openly than the mainland. 
I don't normally bother much with this sort of China-good-Hong-Kong-bad talk, but its persistence does fool some people into thinking it might be true. Let's set things straight.
As the chart shows, over the past 30 years Hong Kong has made a huge economic transformation from a manufacturing into a services centre.
For the avoidance of doubt, I have excluded tourism from these figures on net services trade. I have only included those sectors in which Mr Tao says we failed to benefit. Some failure.
The mainland never made such a transformation. The hi-tech successes of which you hear so many boast are mostly anomalies. The huge majority of mainland economic production always was, and continues to be, based on low-tech drudgery.
This includes most digital devices, by the way. They are hi-tech in design but low-tech in assembly, which is what the mainland mostly does and one reason it has to pay the rest of the world a fast-rising US$27 billion a year in intellectual property royalties.
Nor do we in Hong Kong exploit 150 million or so of our own people with trifling wages and wretched living conditions because they do not have official registrations for the places they work.
Related: Beijing tries to win over entrepreneurs with praise and promises

Saturday 7 October 2017

Re: Denmark put its foot down

"No more burka for me!" says Little Mermaid.
From: "Little Mermaid gets burqa cover-up"

It seems Denmark has been far more sensible in relation to the refugee issue than neighbour Sweden.  Norway has been robust as well: they deport asylum seekers that don't pass muster. (In Germany they just stay there).
Australia is not so sensible. Parliament talks of "religious freedom" as the reason we don't ban the burka. 
But we don't allow Mormons to marry multiple wives. We don't allow Hindus to commit suttee on widows.  We don't even allow Muslims to genitally mutilate young girls.
What is particularly crazy in Australia is that the burka issue has come up again recently: parliament is talking about having face recognition software for drivers' licences, for better security. But guess what... burkas don't work with that; of course. So members of the one group that are the most... shall we say... "problematic", in relation to terrorism, are exempt
And all for the bogus excuse of religious freedom in a secular country. "Bogus" because there's already precedent for secular laws having primacy over religious laws. In Australia it's alll about osculating the Religion of Peace. 
I remember when I was a motorcycle delivery boy in London (1972) you weren't allowed to wear your helmet into buildings — a security matter. And we bike boys all understood that.  I think it's the same in Australia. But wear a burka? Fine. It's "Religious freedom"! 
And we know of many cases where men have worn a burka to escape detection. 

On 7 Oct 2017, at 3:55 AM, P.... wrote:

Thursday 5 October 2017

If Only Stephen Paddock Were a Muslim (i.e., it’s about “gun control”)

From WhyEvolutionIsTrue. I hope I'm not making the dumb mistake
FoxBusinss makes above....
LATER (7 Oct): I wrote the below on my iPhone in a bit of a rush and I realise it may seem like I'm some kind of gun nut, or gun apologist, and making the mistake as the tweet above.  But I've never owned a gun and never will. And I support gun control: eg as in Australia, as in Europe.  My main point is that all the gun control that Democrats want will not achieve what they seem to think it will: a major drop in gun crime and homicides by gun.  Any reduction is good, of course, but the feeling seems to be -- at least that's what I infer from all the palaver in the wake of the latest atrocity -- is that "gun control" would rid the country of mass shootings and jihadi attacks (and here I could be accused of a straw man argument).  Particularly in the case of jihadi murders, if they don't have guns, the can make do with trucks and knives.  In the case of mass shootings, these people are going to be able to get a hold of guns, no matter what the laws.
What I didn't know until recently about gun control in the US is that no one -- not Hillary, not Bernie, not Elizabeth Warren, even, are talking about control of HAND guns.  It's all about control of automatic rifles.  Of course, it was rifles in LA.  But most gun killings even mass shootings, are done with handguns.  This alone means that any realistic gun control measures in the US is going to have limited effect.
Anyhow: to repeat: I'm in favour of gun control.  Just against the reflexive call for "gun control" as some sort of panacea.  It's not, and never will be.

This article  by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman seems like a sensible argument at first glance. And I've liked Friedman often what with his facile pen 'n all. 
But then consider this. What if the weapon you're talking about is not guns but cars? People kill vastly more innocent people with cars ("cars" = any motor vehicle) than they do with guns. And average people kill vastly more innocents than all the jihadis put together at the wheel of a car. Yet we go after the jihadi with a car more intensely than we do the average car driver. [*]
The same goes for guns. The jihadi is inspired by an ideology. The likes of a Sandy Hook or an Aurora or a Las Vegas are random acts of random gun madness. In some of these cases, tighter control may have had some effect. But in most cases, it would have made no difference. At least not any gun control that would realistically get through Congress: which will never, ever, cover handguns.
So the reflexive call for gun control may make the likes of Friedman feel better and may stoke liberal outrage.  It's beside the point. Which point in the LA mass shooting, granted, is rather hard to see. And we can also grant that a ban on assault rifles may have made it more difficult foe Paddock to obtain the arsenal he did. Then again most mass shootings are done with guns that would be available even with the tightest controls we can imagine an American Congress passing. 
Meantime with jihadists, it's easy to see what the motive is. Eg: Orlando.  It's an ideology which must be fought against with rigour and fortitude no matter what the weapon they have at hand. In sum, it's the ideology, not the weapon, stupid. 

[*]The obvious counter is that we've tackled car deaths by more safety in the vehicles, driver ed, and so on. Which, granted. But there are vastly more car deaths than gun deaths; even draconian gun controls are not going to save anything like the numbers that have been saved by improved car safety. Every life saved is precious, of course. But gun control is no panacea.

The future belongs to blasphemers

From the One Law for All people and the head of Ex Muslims Council, Maryam Namazie.
Liberals should surely be supporting the right to freedom of conscience. The freedom to decide if to follow Islam or if to leave it.  And the right to free speech: even when it is used to criticise an idea or ideology like Islam.
But they don't. That's the scandal of today's Left.
Some will ask why we must celebrate blasphemy when it is "hurtful" and "offends".
The answer is simple:
Because people can be killed for blaspheming and human life is more important than hurt sensibilities and offence.
As the Jordanian atheist, Mohammed Al Khadra said at the largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history, "Where are your priorities? While we die, you are all thinking about Islamophobia?"

Wednesday 4 October 2017

In Interview, Top Indonesian Muslim Scholar Says Stop Pretending That Orthodox Islam and Violence Aren't Linked

Via Aayan Hirsi Ali who comments sardonically: "...and will this Muslim scholar be accused of Islamophobia".
What she means is that non-Muslims who criticise the doctrines of Islam -- which are ideas, after all, not people, and thus subject to scrutiny and criticism -- are routinely smeared as "Islamophobes" with the aim of shutting them up. For good measure, they'll toss in "racist"' "xenophobe"', " bigot" and most recently "white supremacist", even if you're not white (Ben Carson, for example).
And here is a Muslim scholar who makes the clear and simple point that the doctrines of Islam do indeed prescribe violence, just as we critics of Islam have been saying for a long time, to a chorus of raspberries and the above-mentioned contumely.
This is an honest scholar. What he says is irrefutable. Islam = violence.
You islamophobe!

Sent from my iPad

An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates | commentary

This is a great article written as an open letter by Jason D. Hill to the famous, the infamous, the notorious, Ta-Nehisi Coates "An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates", in Commentary Magazine.
Coates has become a something of a darling of the Left, according to whom nothing has improved for people of colour in America since slave days.
This is the corrective.
Via Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
LATER (3 Nov 2017): listen to Sam Harris AMA#9 at 1 hour 17 minutes et seq.
Coates is creating a "pornography of anger" says Sam.  He says that failing to note the progress that has been made in racial relations in the last fifty years is "delusional".

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Fwd: Norway’s Immigration Minister: Norwegians are “experiencing now the fear that Israelis have experienced for decades”

Other countries in Europe should take their lead from Norway :
The conservative minister reduced the number of immigrants arriving to the shores of Norway from 30,000 in 2015 to 1,000 in 2017. Those who come are expected to adapt to the culture and norms of Norwegians: a people who drink alcohol, eat pork, and do not believe in veils.
Speaking to Ynet, Minister Listhaug stated that, in her view, the reason fewer people wish to come to Norway illegally is that Norway – unlike other countries in Europe – sends undocumented migrants back to their countries of origin.

Monday 2 October 2017

Islam in Africa

Nigerian Muslims at prayer. Their ancestors were forced to convert.  Look
at them now, the most ardent of the faithful Muslims
This reads like a rant. But only because the dreary truth is so horrible. This anonymous Nigerian author of the post knows whereof they speak.
Islam is arguably the most bloodthirsty and conquest-driven ideology in history. It demands complete loyalty from its adherents and rarely wins converts by charm or persuasion. And nowhere has Islam belied its purported nature as a "religion of peace" more than in Africa.

Red Pill Black (Candace Owens) on her Political Journey from Left to Right

Listen to Red Pill Black (Candace Owens) on her Political Journey from Left to Right on The Rubin Report.
Interesting podcast (you can also see it on YouTube) I agree with pretty much everything she says apart from her love of Trump! (I still don't get that!)

Sam Harris is Triggered

Hi P,
A while back you asked what I thought of “Triggered”, the podcast of Sam Harris talking to Scott Adams.
First up, by the way, I do get Sam’s podcast notifications direct as I’m a supporter (financially!). I support a couple of other podcasts, like Dave Rubin. I value them; they rely on users, not advertisers; they’re doing a great job of speaking to a wide variety of people in a free and open way (no identity politics for these guys).
I enjoyed the talk Sam had with Scott. It was a very polite exchange, which might have, in other hands, descended into acrimony. You could feel themselves at times hauling in their frustration with each others’ views. They managed. Good on them, in these days of instant insult.
Sam said that the person his Trump-supporting listeners (“Trumpkins”) most wanted Sam to interview was Scott Adams. Having heard the podcast I wonder why.
After all, Scott didn’t really say anything supportive of Trump, let alone his policies, such as they are or may be. Instead, what it amounted to was Scott saying that Trump was a great “persuader”. Perhaps the greatest he’d seen. Another term for “persuasion” is “deception". Whether persuading or deceiving or conning, it seems odd to me that Trump supporters would want this to be the thing that is talked about. After all, is it good to be seen as someone persuadable, let alone someone who will swallow a con, allow oneself to be deceived?
I listened to the podcast early on, and read some of the comments early on. Here are some of the ones I noted. Last I saw there were over 1,000 comments, mostly, interestingly, on Sam’s side. Very few Trumpkins seem to have joined in the discussion. Wandering around the comments for a bit may be worthwhile.
I thought Sam won the debate, even though it wasn’t strictly speaking a debate. But some of the commenters thought the other way. Some also faulted Sam for missing some opportunities to make a point, and I agree, though I can’t recall specific instances.
Note an inconsistency in Scott: he picks on Sam for using analogies. But his main point is an analogy: people were in the same movie theatre, but watching different movies. Another note: Scott talks of “pacing and leading”, as the technique of persuasion. It appears this is a part of Neuro Linguistic Programming, which is a controversial subject, some saying that it’s been disavowed by scientists. Here’s an interesting take on NLP.
I remember my main impression when I first heard the podcast was to thing: “ok, he may be a great persuader; but so was Mao, so was Stalin, so is Derren Brown”. (I didn’t want to mention —even in my mind — that most infamous mustachio’d persuader, as I didn’t want to invoke Godwin’s law).
Final point: some while ago I stopped reading Dilbert, Scott’s cartoon. I used to like it, for a bit. Then I got tired of its incessant cynicism. That’s pretty much Adams, I think. A cynic. And doing anything, saying anything, to win power is ok. And that’s what Trump did. The man who is not just a con-man (oh… sorry, “persuader”…), but also, kinda crazy.

My Detention in Malaysia (print) | A proposal for Islam (online)

Moderate Malaysia? Sharia is spreading, and it ain't the good sort
Mustafa Akyol is a commenter I’ve mentioned before. I’ve never been quite sure if he’s a true Muslim reformer, or a crafty Islamist, usually leaning on giving him the benefit of the doubt.
In “My detention in Malaysia”, in the New York Times, he reports on his arrest while on a scholarly visit to Malaysia, a country often sited as a “moderate Muslim country”.  It’s not and never was, an indication of how hard it is to find a place which synthesises democracy and Islam.
For example, there was the case recently of a bunch of Malaysia atheists, who’d posted a picture of their get-together, which led to a witch hunt from the authorities to find and “re-educate” them.
Akyol plays with us here.  In his last para he comes within a whisker of saying “blow it, it’s a crazy religion, I’m done with it”.  If he had, he’d not be the first, as apostasy from Islam is increasingly common, despite the dangers.
But no, he doesn’t.  He wiggles back in: “I hear you and I trust in you, God”, he says, a symptom of evidence-free faith.
Still, interesting story of his detention in Malaysia, that “moderate Muslim country”, where they don’t like what he says.
What he says, in the headline of the online version is:
By policing religion, the authorities are not really protecting it. They are only enfeebling their societies, raising hypocrites and causing many people to lose their faith in or respect for Islam.
Well, good luck with that, Mustafa.
The full article is below the fold, as it’s subscription only on the Times site.

"Trump's belligerent stand not the best way to rein in North Korea" | Letters, 2 October

That's the North. Note the bright lights of Seoul, near the border, hence concerns 
about a unilateral attack on the North.  Seoul would be hammered. NASA photo

LETTER TO SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST: [Attention: John LEE: the bits in [square brackets] are side-comments, easily cut if you wish)

A. W. Jayawardena says that had the US not intervened in 1950, Korea would have been unified under the North. ("Trump's belligerent stand not the best way to rein in North Korea" | Letters, 2 October).

That is almost certainly true. [Though to be precise, it was the U.N. and not the U.S. which "intervened"]

What is most assuredly not true is that this would have been a good thing. 

I visited North Korea six times on business during the 1980s. I can confirm from personal observation that it was (and remains) a severely poor country, pathetically so in contrast to its southern neighbour. 

Had the North controlled the whole peninsula, that famous satellite night photo of the Korea — in which the North is pitch black, while the South blazes in capitalist glory — would have been all black. The population of the whole peninsula would have suffered the malnutrition and stunted growth than affects the North today. 

The North's attack on the South in 1950 was unilateral and unprovoked. It was enabled by a dubious Stalin giving in to the vainglorious wishes of the [then Chinese-speaking] "Great Leader" Kim Il-sung to unify Korea under a Workers' dictatorship. [Kim's grandson Jong-un continues the family tradition of vainglorious dictatorship]. 

The US involvement in 1950 was the result of a United Nations Security Council resolution. The US provided most of the forces, but a total of 16 countries participated including my own, Australia. 

Thus the counterattack to avoid a dictatorship in Korea was morally [1], legally [2] and geo-strategically [3] justified. 

To claim otherwise, as does A.W. Jayawardena, is to indulge in revisionism and gratuitous America bashing.

Pf etc
[1] Morally: the morality of not leaving what were then 20 million people in the South to the depredations of a murderous communist dictatorship.
[2] LegallyUnited Nations Resolution 82, et seq.
[3] Geo-strategically: A counter to unilateral moves by the Soviet Union and China to expand their influence via a proxy.  The Cold War, remember.
PS:  A curiously confused comment from North Korea, defending its Black Nights: "The essence of society is not on flashy lights" (i.e., darkness is good).  But then goes on to predict that the US would be "meeting its sunset" and "… can't avoid its dark fate." (i.e. darkness is bad).  So: living with candles…. good or bad??