Friday 30 November 2018

Bannon channels Bernie

I'm not a big fan of Steve Bannon, but I do respect his resume: Marine, MBA, worked for Goldman Sachs, successful entrepreneur, edited Breitbart.
And in this talk, he says many things that crypto-socialist Bernie Sanders wouldn't argue with.  Especially care and concern for the working class. That I agree with, cause I think they've been forgotten by all parties.
A reader comments, below the fold...

The Left and the Right are agreed ...

Occasionally even duplicitous Hill is right

.... they all hate Hillary!
Well, at least for her recent immigrant comments. Comments that Europe must control its immigration to stop rightwing populists.
Here's how it goes:
  • The Left: How dare you, Hillary? You're throwing deserving immigrants, refugees and others, under the bus to appease the "far right".
  • The Right: How dare you, Hillary? Suggesting that it's only the immigration issue that brought us these victories, from Brexit to Trump. It's more that that; we're a broader church.
Fair enough.
But I think this is all because people just don't like Hillary.  Even the Left.  Though some adore her.  But many to most don't.  And I certainly don't like her, even if I would have voted for her, were I American, largely because of her mishandling and lying about the Benghazi attacks.
And of course the Right hates her.
But it happens that she's finally said something right, just like the stopped clock that tells the correct time twice a day.
Occasionally, the Hill tells the truth....

Wednesday 28 November 2018

‘You’re not fit to call yourselves men,’ Sarah Hanson-Young tells senators - YouTube

Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young's magnificent put down of misogynistic men. Worth several views...
Finally, I agree with the Greens on something: she's the Greens Senator for South Australia.  (But certainly not everything).
(But.... dodgy dress... Black, ladies,  black! You’re never wrong with black.  (Is that misogynistic?  mansplaining?))
The Libs seem to have a real problem with bullying women. And ScoMo is not helping with crudenesses like his Pamela Anderson comment. 

Tuesday 27 November 2018

“True Islam Does Not Kill Blasphemers”. Not... (critique of Mustafa Akyol)

Ireland ditched its blasphemy law last month, while a European court found
for Sharia at the same time. Irony, much?
Even if it were true (which it isn't), that Islam doesn't kill blasphemers, the European Union has itself decided that it will punish blasphemers. Only those who speak ill of Muhammad, mind.  Not the Jesus pissers, or Buddha blasphemers; they get a free pass.
I've written about Mustafa Akyol before, putting him in a moderate Muslim category. He's the author of the recent New York Times article critiqued here.
There is a sense in which even if what he says (“True Islam Does Not Kill Blasphemers”) is not quite true, as Robert Spencer shows is clearly the case, it ought to be true, and if more Muslims lived as if it were true things might be a lot better.  After all, many Christians remain Christians while ignoring the bits about killing blasphemers, stoning adulterous women, and so on. That's what I said six years ago, and it remains true today.
The full article, critiquing Akyol, is below the fold. Note the headline, as above. It's a version of the  "no true Scotsman fallacy". These Islamic countries kill blasphemers? Well, they're not "true Muslims", then.  Not true Islam. It's a formulation that can't be gainsaid, but has to be rejected in its entirety.

Monday 26 November 2018

“The Woman Who Still Finds Louis C.K. Lovable” | NYT

Blanche Gardin at the Cesar Awards, Paris, 3/18.
Wearing Louis C.K.Pin
Some sense and sanity amongst the madness of #MeToo (some madness. Just some. Hand on heart, it's a needed movement. Really!). 
Blanche Gardin comedian from France:
Ms. Gardin defended Louis C.K. after his fall from grace. "Obviously, people need to speak up. Women should feel free to make denunciations," she told the magazine Télérama. "But the fact that we put a producer who rapes actresses in the same bag as a guy whose fetish is to masturbate in front of women, after asking if he can do it, means our modern society has a big problem with nuance."
She argued that it's hypocritical to shun Louis C.K. His humor, she noted, "explored his dark side, his perversions, and deciphered the darkness of the human soul." 
"People loved him for that," she said, "because it made them feel better about their own dark sides."

“This easy-to-build bamboo house could solve Asia’s slum problem” | SCMP

The Cubo house takes four weeks to manufacture and four hours
to assemble on site, costing $US77 per square metre
This is a great story. Young Filipino Earl Forlales, just 23, wins a major architectural prize for a bamboo house you can put together in four hours. 
A 100 square metre "Cubo" (=1,000 sq ft, or 10 squares), would come in at just under $US8,000. Super cheap.
Bamboo is a great material. We grow it in our yard and have used it to make benches and bread boards. I looked at building a bamboo bike, until I realised I already had too many bikes. 
Bamboo ought to be used more on boats, sailing yachts, like for flooring below decks or on decks instead of teak. 
It's quick growing, has greater tensile strength than steel and produces 35% more oxygen than trees. And completely renewable. 
Wonder material. 
In Hong Kong and China it's famously used as scaffolding: lighter, stronger and more environmentally friendly than steel scaffolding. I've often wondered why the rest of the world doesn't use it and guess it's down to "elf 'n safety", innit?
The Chinese character for bamboo is a nice little pictogram of bamboo stalks: 竹.  Pronounced "zhu", second tone. 
Earl is going to build more bamboo Cubos north of Manila. 
Well done Earl!
Forlales' house could be manufactured in a week, constructed in four hours and costs £60 per square metre. Its use of bamboo – which releases 35 per cent more oxygen into the environment than trees – was praised by the judges. The ability of the houses to be constructed in any bamboo-producing area was one of the key attractions.

Sunday 25 November 2018

“A deal on tariffs won’t end the US-China economic Cold War” | SCMP [last week]

Who will blink at Buenos Aires?  Anyone? Noone? 
I like Tom Holland. He's a good analyst with long history in this part of the world. 
In today's print edition article "This could go either way. Either way, it's bad" (not yet online) he ends up with this scary prediction:
"... it matters little whether Trump and Xi manage to strike a deal in trade tariffs in Buenos Aires next week. The US and China are heading for an epochal economic Cold War that will sour international relations for a generation to come." [my emphasis]
And in the article headlined above and linked here, from last week:
And while it is debatable whether globalisation was ever quite the force in averting international conflict that its advocates claimed, it is a safe bet that de-globalisation is never exactly going to promote the cause of peace and harmony between nations. Protectionism on national security grounds is a threat to everyone's security. 
I'm hoping Tom's got this wrong. But if not, then in my old-old age I'm going to be asking "was it worth it?". 
The whole Trump taking on China because "protectionism is good" and "winning a trade war is easy" thing .... was it worth it?
As Trump says "we'll see". So far, not so good...

Saturday 24 November 2018

“Trump has tapped into American disdain for China’s authoritarianism” | SCMP

I was going to write something about David Dodwell's recent article about how China and America were both serial trade offenders and so Trump's attacks on China are a case of pot and kettle. Tu Quoque. I was going to say that, sure, both are at fault, but China’s faults are bigger and worse. A serial killer and a shoplifter are both criminals. Right....
But as so often my sloth comes to assist, as I.M. Wright of Happy Valley has done the heavy lifting for me in the letter to the editor, copied below the fold.
Another case of the wisdom of Taoist Wu Wei philosophy. ("do nothing").
The letter:

“Cultural Revolution era stamp sells for US$2 million” | SCMP

Spot the mistake. Answer below

LETTER TO SCMP's Laurie Chen

Dear Laurie, 
(cc Letters to editor),

A couple of things about your article today on the $US2 million stamp:

1. The translation of 无产阶级 is not "without the bourgeoisie".  It is "proletariat". The whole phrase on the stamp, well known in China especially by people of a "certain age", is "Long Live the total victory of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution". 

2.  More seriously: you don't mention the real reason this stamp is worth $US 2 million: the island of Taiwan was printed in white, not red like the rest of China! [its there looking like a egg above the head of the woman just behind the guy holding aloft Mao’s Little Red Book]. 
Taiwan is an "inalienable part of the motherland" and should have been printed in red. 
This was a dramatically serious mistake and the post office officials were appalled when they realised their grievous error. Some were later imprisoned. 
As soon as the mistake was realised, the stamps were recalled and pulped. Only nine are known to have survived with this one as the best of the nine. 
And that's the reason it's worth $US2 million!

Peter Forsythe
Discovery Bay 
9308 0798
Cultural Revolution era stamp sells for US$2 million

Friday 23 November 2018

“Hillary Clinton Says Europe Must ‘Get a Handle’ on Migration to Thwart Populism” | NYT

World Net Migration. Blue inflow. . Orange outflow

This happens again and again. The Left has some dopey policy or other. They'll claim a high moral ground and excoriate anyone daring to question their view. Then there will be some awakening, because: mugged by reality. Then they will adopt the policy of their opponents, but with no acknowledgement and no apology. 
So now. Here's Hill!
Hillary Clinton has shocked the Left with some truths. Truths that have been known and pointed out by more centre oriented folk for some time. And which have been taken over by the dreaded alt-right because the centre and centre Left ignored them. 
The issue: immigration. 
She rightly (finally!) identifies unrestricted immigration into Europe for resulting in far right parties in Europe and for the Brexit vote. 
Mrs. Clinton said that while the decision of some nations to welcome migrants was admirable, it had opened the door to political turmoil, the rise of the right and Britain's decision to withdraw from the European Union.
"I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame," Mrs. Clinton said in the interview with The Guardian, which was conducted before the United States midterm elections this month.
"I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message — 'we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support' — because if we don't deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic," she said.
And yet, the Left still pushes back. It wasn't concern at immigration but austerity. Oh yeah? 
Here's a professor, being either a knave or a fool. Trying to mislead or simply being ignorant:
Tanja Bueltmann, a history professor at Northumbria University in Britain who focuses on migration issues, said Mrs. Clinton's perspective was "tragically misjudged."
"Ultimately, immigration is not actually the problem that inflamed voters: Much more foundational issues, such as austerity, are the real reason," Professor Bueltmann said. "Immigrants and refugees are simply the scapegoats populists have chosen to use to drive forward their ideas."
A simple google search gives YouGov results:

Summary: Hillary has not "tragically misjudged". She is spot on. 
The number one concern for Europeans is Immigration. Immigration. In nine of eleven European countries its the number one concern.  And in the other two, it's the number two concern. 
"Austerity" doesn't even figure. Unemployment and the Economic situation, proxies perhaps for austerity, are way down the list. 
So, in complete refutation to professor Bueltmann, the single most important issue for European (and of course British) voters is immigration. Not only is it not "not actually the problem that inflamed voters".  It is the issue that inflamed voters.
But the Left will think and say that to take these concerns into account is "populism" a term they've managed to make pejorative. 
And so the Left will take some time to catch up even with the slothful Hillary. 

Mrs. Clinton, in an interview with The Guardian, argued that migration policies contributed to the rise in right-wing populism in Europe.

Read More... 

“Where Will Science Take Us? To the Stars” | NYT

I'm wanting to go to Chile next year for a  total eclipse and then to the high country for some amateur astronomy. So this is a fun article on wandering around some of the world's best telescopes. 
That first night in the Atacama, arguably the best place in the world to see the night sky, the Milky Way proved true to its name: a milky-like smear stretching from horizon to horizon. The Southern Cross shone bright as candlelight. Both the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud galaxies glowed like stickers on a child's bedroom ceiling, and Jupiter's bands were easily visible with an amateur telescope, as were four of its moons.
A monthlong visit to observatories in Chile, Hawaii and Los Angeles revealed spellbinding visions of the heavens.


“Save Us, Al Gore” | NYT

Gore, Bush and Nader 2000. Nader handed the presidency to Bush
I ran a counterfactual a while back. 

1.  If Nader had not run in Florida in 2000 Al Gore would have been president of the United States.  
This I think is inarguable. 
Nader ran as a Green and took 97,000+ votes. Gore only lost by 500-odd votes to W Bush.
Since Green votes would have gone to Democrats, Gore, not Bush, would easily have won Florida and the presidency, since those Florida electoral votes were plenty to have him trounce Bush in the electoral colleges. 
Hence President Gore and not President Bush (II). 

2. As President, Gore would not have invaded Iraq after 9/11. 
This consequence I'm not so sure of anymore. 
I recalled, I thought, Gore saying at the time that the best thing to do following 9/11 would have been to send in Special Forces to find and kill Osama bin Laden. And that was the way he was got in the end. [I wonder sometimes, is he enjoying his 72 virgins? Are they virgins still? What happens when they’re not?]
But it seems Gore did flirt with the idea of invading Iraq. So second point of this counterfactual is uncertain. 
And Gore himself is gracious enough to say in this article, not that he wouldn't have made W Bush's mistakes, but that he would have made "different mistakes". Therein self-knowledge and wisdom. 
I heard a podcast of a talk Gore had recently with Frank Skinner the British comedian and broadcaster. Gore comes across as amusing and self deprecating. 
Another Florida recount prompts appreciation of a man nothing like Donald Trump.


Thursday 22 November 2018

“Two Decades After 9/11, Militants Have Only Multiplied” | SCMP

This is pretty depressing — that there are now four times as many Sunni Islamic terrorists than there were on 9/11. 
There's plenty of blame to go around, most of it being ladled liberally onto the US, by the article itself ("American policy failures") and its commentariat.  One of the commenters, an Aussie I'm sad to say, claims absurdly - and startlingly ignorantly - that there was no terrorism in the decades before the US invasion of Iraq in 2002! (actually 2003). Somehow forgetting about 9/11 itself. Oh, that!!
And as for claims that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 caused the surge in terrorists? I was against the invasion. I remember Colin Powell's presentation of "evidence of WMD" to the United Nations and not being the least convinced by it. And I liked Andrew McCarthy's characterisation, that invading Iraq after 9/11 was "like invading Mexico after Pearl Harbour". 
But still, I've learnt since then, that Saddam Hussein had been developing a corps of Islamist holy fighters well before the 2003 invasion. And that would have continued more speedily and unchecked without the invasion. So there's that. 
But still: America! America! Amerika! You horrid, horrid, fascist country! You cause of all the world's ills!
Then there's the usual panoply of the Islamic world's "grievances" — Palestine, of course, Syria, Kashmir and the rest. If only these were sorted, terrorism would vanish. 
No it would not
People need to read and re-read the ISIS manifesto: "Why We Hate You, and Why We Fight You" (Dabiq, July 31, 2016). This makes crystal clear that even if every Muslim "grievance" were sorted, Sunni Islamists would still "hate and fight" we non-Muslims. Including non-Sunni Muslims, like the hated Shia. Because we and they are not "believers". Sunni Islamists will fight for Allah and kill for Muhammad until the "end times", grievances or no. 
And so, it's depressing that an analysis of Islamist terrorism by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, while mentioning the failure to come to grips with "the causes of terrorism", itself fails even to mention the single most important cause: the ideology of Islam

As many as 230,000 Salafi jihadist fighters are operating in nearly 70 countries, a study finds, underscoring terrorist groups' resilience and American policy failures.

“USS Ronald Reagan visits Hong Kong as China offers olive branch” | SCMP

Now this is pretty zippy!
The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan pulls into Hong Kong. We will pass by it this afternoon on the ferry to Central. 
This just after recent joint US-China drills in Shanghai to handle international natural disasters. 
What's China up to? Simple sucking up to Trump before their meeting in Argentina on December 1?? Or something deeper? 
There are all sorts of wild theories in the comments to this story below, which, as usual, are a mixed bag of violent anti-US vitriol and outright ignorance. And, of course, "the Wanchai bar girls will be happy."  (as indeed they will...). 
The print version has a nicer picture of the Ronald Reagan passing by Lamma island just south of Hong Kong, and where we are often found cruising or racing yachts.  
I don't know why the press insists on having very different pages print vs online. I don't get that. 
More pics in the online story below including of senior Chinese naval officers onboard the carrier. (But not of passing Lamma, grrr). 
USS Ronald Reagan visits Hong Kong as China offers olive branch

Wednesday 21 November 2018

"The Dangerous Naïveté of Trump and Xi” | NYT

Donny the poo and Winnie the Pooh
Trump is right (I can’t believe I just wrote those three words!) 
Thus spake Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times.
To which I add:
Kristof is right (I can't believe I just wrote those three words!)
Kristof is a fine man doing many good things, but I got turned off him at the Sam Harris / Ben Afflek imbroglio where he sided with the crazy Islamophilia of Afflek's. How could he?
But here he's right.
He goes on
Why have I and so many others soured on China?
And the same with me. And the answer is largely: Xi Jinping. This Winnie the Pooh, this devil in bear's clothing, this nasty revert to the worst of Maoism, he's the one who "sours us on China".
I don't hate China. I hate Xi.
Below the fold, because it's behind a paywall

“Three arrested over plan for mass terror attack in Melbourne” | SCMP

Quote from below article: 
Shire Ali, like the three men arrested Tuesday, had his passport cancelled to keep him from joining ISIS in the Mideast, and [Victorian Police Commissioner Graham] Ashton said this may have led to their actions at home [Melbourne]. 
An Australian federal counterterrorism expert, Ian McCarthy, added that if it's difficult for would-be terrorists to get to a conflict zone with ISIS, "often the view will be to change tack and commit an act in the country in which they live."  
This begs the obvious question: why cancel their passports to prevent them leaving the country?  Why not wait until they have gone overseas to join ISIS and then cancel their passport to prevent them returning ?  
I hope this is the policy of our own government here in Hong Kong.
Pf, etc...

Cancel their passports *after* they join ISIS


Shire Ali, like the three men arrested Tuesday, had his passport cancelled to keep him from joining ISIS in the Mideast. Victorian Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said this may have led to their actions at home.
A federal counterterrorism expert, Ian McCarthy added that if it's difficult for would-be terrorists to get to a conflict zone with ISIS, "often the view will be to change tack and commit an act in the country in which they live."  
This begs the obvious question: why cancel their passports to prevent them leaving Australia?  Why not wait until they have gone overseas to join ISIS and then cancel their passport to prevent them returning to our country? Where they seek to wreak their murderous rage on our own innocents?
Presumably the human rights issue regarding passports' cancellation has already been sorted. It's just a matter of the timing. 


Tuesday 20 November 2018

The alt-right’s favourite meme is 100 years old | NYT

I did not know this. I did not know that the phrase "cultural Marxism" is a construct of the conspiracist far right and anti-semitic far right.
I'd just thought it meant the influence of Marxism on academia in particular. Which is pretty much a given. But I think I have to accept the analysis of Samuel Moyn in his article below that It is longstanding and rather not nice bigotry. It's in the area of judeobolshevism: Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and all that.
Oh well, live and learn.

Monday 19 November 2018

Aussie food beats the rest. Hands down

Mark Best is the Aussie chef on the new Netflix special, The Final Table. He's got three Michelin Stars so he knows his schnitzel from his schinken.
Perfect name, cause it's Aussie that's the Best.
He was just on Australia's ABC radio and said that after three months in Spain you hanker after getting back to Sydney for its vibrancy and variety. 
Mark, mate, you're absolutely right! 
My subject line should really read "cuisines", not "food". Spanish food in Spain is good. And Italian food in Italy. But if you want variety of cuisines you gotta go to Sydney. Or Melbourne. Or London. Or New York. Or our very own Hong Kong. 
Once you've been lucky enough to live in one of these cosmopolitan cities with their wealth of cuisines, Italy seems monochrome. Pasta and fried fish. Fried fish and pasta. Spain: tried our tapas yet?  Nothing wrong with that. Just that you hanker, as says Mark Best, after some variety!
Even in our little HK suburb of Discovery Bay (pop 18,000) we have within a mile of our front door: Korean, Cali-mex, western bistro, Italian, French, Mexican, Japanese, noodle house, wood fired pizza house; Indian; and of course Chinese. Even Aussie oysters flown in live and fresh, every day. 
Long live variety!

Sunday 18 November 2018

“Nationalism works: the rise of China is proof” | SCMP

 I popped over to the Zhuhai International Aviation Expo.A bit boring TBF. 

Some good points in this letter below, by one Jack Ravenswood of Shenzhen. But we're left with the uncomfortable fact that what Trump and co — and many on all sides who support his anti-China trade moves — what they are trying to do is get China to change the very behaviour that is driven by the sort of nationalism mentioned here. To change, that is to say, its protectionism, IP theft, its predatory mercantilism and the rest of it. 
Ravenswood mentions Chinese women's bound feet. Happens we were discussing this last night. Wife's granny had had bound feet. Or partially bound feet, as the emancipation happened during granny's early years. Granny's own father had ripped off the binding cloths. The whole thing about bound feet had been about showing status — proof that one didn't need to do work involving a lot of walking, but had instead the luxury to stay at home. 
Later the status reason for binding morphed into a more sexual attraction. Men came to love small feet, the smaller the better. Weird, what?  
Anyway, to take Ravenswood's point, imagine if all they learnt about in China were the horrors of foot binding and the depredations of the Boxer Rebellion. And so, what a horrible country China is. 
Fair enough, but a touch more learnt about the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and June 4th Tiananmen massacres, might be good. . No?  But maybe that's the price to be paid for this robust and successful nationalism of Beijing. Maybe it’s only one or t'other. Self-hate or self-love. Yi Fen Wei Er. I wonder. 
For sure, what's happening in China is the Great Forgetting. Not a one I meet on my regular jaunts across the border , no one under 60, knows of the Great Leap Forward famines let alone the Gang of Four and Tiananmen. 
Now read on, the letter in today's Post:

Saturday 17 November 2018

Asia Bibi refused asylum. Islamist fanatics are out to kill her, not just in Pakistan.

Blasphemer! Stone her!
Asia Bibi, a Catholic, got into an argument with some Muslim women at a well in rural Pakistan. It didn't go well. 
They refused to drink from the same cup as a hated infidel. So wattya do? Accuse her of blasphemy of course!


I wonder: why don't you give more coverage to the U.K. government's refusing asylum to Asia Bibi?
If there ever were a deserving case it's hers. 
Yet... silence...
I wonder, why?...*
The media is culpable in not putting the government's feet to the fire. 

Yours etc,
Peter Forsythe 
Hong Kong 

* Here's a clue: the U.K. has given free and easy asylum to the very people that would kill Asia Bibi — the "security threat from certain sectors of society", cited by the U.K. government, as to why they can't agree to her asylum request. Asia Bibi was jailed in solitary confinement for nine years! For the alleged crime of blasphemy. What a shocking ideology Islam is.
Dear oh dear oh dear....

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Trump Is Right About Nationalism | WSJ

I was going to write about the "nationalism" brouhaha and may as well do so on the back if this article in the WSJ. It's Marco Rubio, but that alone doesn't make it wrong. The first several paras seem spot on. 
When Trump first used the term in one of his midterm rallies, I wondered if it was wise. So I looked it up both on Google and Dictionary. In both, the first definition is that it's a synonym for patriotism. A synonym. Not the opposite, as Macron claimed on Armistice day in Paris. Other definitions include the desire to have ones own independent nation, like Scottish nationalism or Kurdish nationalism. Surely those are nationalisms we all support.
Only one definition is the nasty one alluded to by Macron. But that's always prefaced by "far right".
No such nuance for Macron. He just went ahead and elided all the meanings into one nasty one, just so he could trash Trump... at a remembrance ceremony.
Hence the twitter tirade from Trump. Not that that's wise, necessarily, but then it's Trump after all. Trump Is Right About Nationalism

Tuesday 13 November 2018

California’s Paradise Lost | WSJ

I was a touch tough on greenies yesterday. It's a bit more complex than I said, although the basic story remains the same: well-meaning policies to protect the environment have had the unintended consequence of fuelling raging wildfires in California.
A follow-up problem is that the greenies won't learn from this. They won't admit consequences even if they're unintentional. They are already excuse-finding. It's the fault of Trump because he pulled out of the Paris climate accord and so: global warming. And global warming, so: forest fires, hurricanes and floods. And never mind that if we hadn't had the greenies, in the shape mainly of Greenpeace, stop the development of nuclear power in the 70s, we wouldn't have had the rise in CO2 and consequent global warming, in the first place.
Greenies never admitted that the 1970s nuclear scaremongering was wrong. Even if the science says it's wrong. And remember they always say they believe in science. Like the science of global warming. We must all accept it.  But the science, if it's about nuclear, or GMOs, fuggedaboutit.
So, even if Trump's tweet on the fires was wildly inappropriate, it's true. But to greenies, it's Trump, so... wrong.
Here's the WSJ on the issue:

Monday 12 November 2018

What happened when I wrote about Islam in Britain | Spectator USA

How is this contributing to our cultural fabric?  Women showing their sons
how women should be clothed
A follow up to Andy Ngo's article I posted recently. He's right about the islamisation of Britain. I've seen it with mine own eyes. It's a kind of multiple monoculturalism. Not multicultural, but like little Balkan states. The dream of the tapestry of tolerance and inclusivity is dead. And in some of the Muslim areas it's dangerous for a non Muslim to visit. Unlike the Chinatowns of yore. 
What can be done? Very little, I fear. Even with a will, the entrenched interests are too strong. And there's not even the will. As the reactions to Ngo's earlier article show. Ignorance and wilful blindness rule the day.  
Farewell, England.  Sic Transit Gloria Brittania.
The country, the kingdom, your veterans fought and died for, immortalised yesterday, is disappearing. 
It's not that I have any racial issue. I live in a multicultural multi-racial society here in Hong Kong and it's fine.  I have issue in the UK with how it's working out as "plural monocultures,". Or maybe "multi mono cultures". Separate and unequal.  And that way because of the votaries of the intolerant ideology of Muhammad.
Andy NGO:

Greenies are responsible for the deaths in California wildfires

Greenies, take a bow

These wildfires in California are the fault of the Greenies. It was Greenies who demanded the "wilding" of California forests. Leaving them natural, with no cutbacks and no clearing. That's kind of fine, but the killer is that they also opposed the occasional natural fires that would have burnt out underbrush. Natural fires were suppressed.
Result: a huge build up of flammable materials.
So that when the weather turned hot and dry and some idiot tossed out a cigarette butt the result is our current fiery hell.
The Greenies bear responsibility for this. Not Republicans, not Democrats, but Greenies. They pushed and pushed and got local authorities to serve their bidding.
They bear responsibility. The Greens.
Just as the Greens bear responsibility for our high carbon dioxide levels (with their anti-nuke policies) and for the war in Iraq and subsequent Mid-east chaos (with Nader's ill-advised run in 2000).
Sure they meant well. So what? The road to hell is surely paved with good intentions. And our road to today's fiery hell is paved with greenies' wilding intentions.
I used to be a greenie. I was an early member of the Australian Conservation Foundation, back in the 1970s.
Now I'm ashamed of that.
Ashamed that I bought into such a well-meaning but destructive ideology. Ashamed that I bought into the naivety and harmfulness of it all.
For all they mean well, the Greens have consistently harmed our planet.
And killed people.

Do women add value?

That was the question on BBC's World Service this morning.
Specifically: do women on company boards add value to the company? In economically measurable ways, that is. 
The woman being interviewed, whose name I didn't catch, talked about research that she and a colleague had done into the boards of hundreds of public companies. Their conclusion? That women on company boards did not necessarily add measurable economic value to the company. If the company was in need of tough love then women added value because they tended to be tougher on issues than men (that, I kind of knew, but interesting to have some data put to it). If, on the other hand, the company was already being driven tough then women did not add value. (I suspect this is a glimpse of the obvious, but it's not me making the point). 
She thought it best to argue for diversity on boards in the basis of morality and fairness, rather than in the basis of economic value-add. 
Next came another woman, again whose name I didn't catch, who said that there was "no doubt" that women added value to a company board. 
Now, we had just heard — with data and charts and circles and arrows — that this was not the case. That there is "some doubt". That "it depends". Typical BBC, the presenter did not push back. 
This second woman said that she was on a company board herself and felt she had added value partly because she was a woman, as women have different perspectives. 
I reckon that's true — that is, that women add economic value to a company, even if "it depends" to some extent. Women do add different perspectives and that's a strength and value in itself. 
But here's the thing: in other contexts if you make the same point — namely that women are different from men and have different perspectives —  you're liable to find yourself in hot water. Because women are the same as men, don't you know. They are not different from men. 
Ask James Damore, author of the famous "Google memo", how he got on suggesting — with data and charts and circles and arrows — that women are somewhat different from men, maybe have somewhat different preferences and somewhat different aspirations in life. How did Damore get on? Answer: he was sacked from Google and roundly condemned by his boss his colleagues and by SJWs of every sex (and none). 
What I'd like to see here is some consistency. 
For me, the consistency would be something like this: women and men are different physically and mentally, but with huge overlaps in the bell curve. 
That used to be a platitude. But if you're still in employment and especially in academia, you better watch out saying that. Could be a tenure buster. 
I can say it 'cause I'm retired. Hah!

Sunday 11 November 2018

“100 years since end of first world war: how Hong Kong celebrated” | SCMP

Hong Kong harbour just before WW1. Kowloon at top. Naval shipyards and
Bowen Street military hospital foreground.
I woke up this morning to the sounds of silence. One minute’s silence to honour the end of the First World War.
Lest We Forget. 
When I turned on ABC Australia's Radio National it just happened to be 11:11 in Australia. 11:11 of our eleventh month.  11,11,11.  Of 1918-2108. 
So, one hundred years since the First World War ended and ABC was honouring a one minutes silence, but with tweety birds. Birdsong the only hint that I was actually connected. 
And then came on two women talking about how they'd made 62,000 silk poppies with bamboo stems that they'd planted in the gardens of the Australian War Memorial. That War Memorial that I remember visiting on my bike in 1958, riding down from nearby Ainslie suburb. 60 years ago. 
It's one red poppy for every Australian soldier killed in the Great War. 
Making Australia a country that lost amongst the most, per capita. New Zealand a bit more. So the ANZACs sacrificed hugely, especially given we are half way around the world. 
My grandfather was lucky not to be one of today's poppies. 
He served in that "Great" War. My grandfather. My mother's father. My children's great grandfather. My grandson Rocky's great-great-grandfather. 
Bruce Anderson from Cambridge, New Zealand. 
He fought in the New Zealand mounted division in Egypt. He was a farmer, so they put him together with horses. So I learned from the Military Museum in Auckland, from the very friendly staff there and their now computerised records. The family lore was that  Bruce had been in Gallipoli. It may be that he was, since most ANZACS who stormed its beaches took off from Egypt.  
Bruce Anderson was wounded and shipped back to New Zealand. Family lore has it that he said "well if that's overseas, I think I'll stop home". 
"100 years since end of first world war: how Hong Kong celebrated"

Check out the internal link to the story of the German ship in Hong Kong just before WW1. 

Sent from my iPad

“In Hong Kong, filtered water should flow and plastic bottles should go” | SCMP

Christiano Ronald: Getting rid of bottled water 
My letter re tap water was published in yesterday's Post along with a couple of others making the same point: Hong Kong water is safe to drink from the tap. I've been doing so for over forty years. 
Yet the bottled water industry has got Hong Kongers' thirst firmly in its grip. I can't even get members of my own family to take tap water. 
The Letter:
"In Hong Kong, filtered water should flow and plastic bottles should go"

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Saturday 10 November 2018

Broward Brouhaha

Clowning around in Broward county
It's on again in Broward county Florida.
Remember Broward? It was ground zero for the recount of the vote in Bush v Gore 2000.
Now it's ground zero for a couple of consequential midterm elections, for governor and senator.
What's with Broward?
Some are talking of the parallels with 2000, but not making the obvious point.
The obvious point being Greenies' responsibility for that result. Obvious to me anyway. Not, it seems, to the MSM or even the blogosphere, as noone is taking about it.
You remember that 2000 recount was stopped by the Supreme Court on the matter of equal treatment? The court found that there was not a consistent way of counting a vote — what with hanging chads, pregnant chads, poked and prodded chads — so equal treatment required that the vote recounting stop entirely.
Result: W Bush won by 90 votes. The number he'd been in front at the start of the Broward recount.
90 votes. Keep that in mind. [Later: actually 538 votes.  But still, my point remains]
Because here's the thing: there was a third party in the race. Remember Ralph Nader? He stood for the Green Party.
Nader won about 90,000 votes in Florida. (IIRC. I'm not going to Google it because the number is about right and will do for my point.  Later: 97,488 votes).
If Nader had not been in the race pretty much all of those votes would have gone to Gore. Greenies tend Democrat not Republican, if they don't have a Green candidate, I think that's pretty well accepted.
But it didn't need all those votes to go to Gore. It didn't even need 10% (9,000). Or even 1% (900). Just 0.1% of those votes going to Gore would have put Al in the White House.
(Later:  given the corrections above, the figure is more like 0.55%.  But still, makes the point, because closer to 100% would have gone to Gore, from Nader)
So it's pretty clear to me that Nader kept Gore from the White House.
If Nader had not stood, and with President Gore in power, when 9-11 happened, the response would have been, not war with Iraq, but sending Special Forces to Afghanistan to rout Osama BIn Ladin. How do we know this? Because that's what Gore said at the time. And also what made sense.
Imagine the different world we would be in if the US had not invaded Iraq.
That we don't have that different world is down to the Greenies. It's absolutely down to the Greenies. Not that they meant that to happen. But good intentions don't matter. What matters is the actual result in the real world.
It's telling that, to this day, Nader desperately denies that his candidacy had had any effect on Bush v Gore.
He's feelin guilty, innit?!
Cause he did. He did impact world history. And not in a good way.
No doubt about it.

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Friday 9 November 2018

One divides into two 一分為二

Me and my teacher, Gao Laoshi, Guilin 2 March 1977.
On our way to Mao's birthplace, Shaoshan, Hunan

When I arrived in China in September 1976, it was to attend what was then known as the Peking Languages Institute, the PLI (北京语言学院) [I don't know what it is now; I can't find it on Google Maps.. yikes!].  
I was being shown around the campus by a young lady, Miss Li, all pigtails and mao suit.  She spoke good English, necessary, as at that stage I had just arrived in China to study Chinese, but knew not a word on that first day.
So, there's Miss Li and me, wandering around the grounds as my introduction to the PLI, in north west Beijing. It was -- then -- quite far out of the centre of Beijing and I asked her why it was so far out. She said, and I quote this pretty accurately from memory because it was so unusual and arresting: "Chairman Mao said 'One divides into two'".  Huh? 
Later I learn it in Chinese:  一分为二  (you can see the "one" at the beginning and the "two" at the end).  And I learned that it was Mao's take on Hegelian dialectics, Mao being, if only in his own estimation, something of a peasant philosopher, though maybe not so "peasanty" (his parents were landlords in his home village of Shaoshan).  
In any case, I didn't quite get Miss Li's point, let alone Mao's and asked her what that meant.  She said that the PLI used to be an institute for the study of the petroleum industry and Mao had decreed -- apparently according to the "one divides into two" philosophy -- that the petroleum institute ought to be as close to the petroleum industry as possible.  Hence on the outskirts of the city. Only later that institute was moved somewhere else and this one was given over to Languages.  One divides into two.
I still wasn't sure that I got it, but I accepted it and we moved on.  But since that time, I've thought how true it is that "one divides into two".  No matter what: man and woman, light and dark, liberal and labor, democrat and republican, dog and cat, sunni and shia.  Take that last one.  An aim of Islam is to make the whole world accept god's last word, that of Muhammad the prophet of Islam.  Even if that were to happen the Sunni Shia split would carry on.  Even if the Sunni killed off all the Shia, there would then be a split withing Sunni to Salafi and Wahhabi.  And if Salafis killed all the Wahhabis the Salafis would split into "early" and "late" Salafi.  And so it goes.
Which is why I'd now add something to the wonderful Ann Althouse's "civility bullshit".  I'd add: "unity bullshit".  There's no such thing. And the only places that try to impose "unity" are totalitarian: fascist or communist.  I'm pleased to say, the late, the great Christopher Hitchens thinks the same (@ 1'20").  
In any case, I tried to find out a picture on Google of young Miss Li, as in a young Ms Li stand-in.  Someone who could stand in for my memory of that Ms Li.  I googled "1970s chinese girls" which comes up with some fun stuff, including Green Girl, which I had not known of before, apparently used to be a must-have bit of kitsch, like flying ducks or garden gnomes.  But really, isn't she lovely??  I love her, anyway. 

The Green Lady
Then I googled "girls in pigtails", because that was the original Ms Li, and one of the images was this one, which could indeed have been Ms Li.  I just wish I'd kept some of the revolutionary posters, so many like this, and now collectors's items:
Miss Li looked kinda like this
And then "China in the seventies" came up with this image, inter alia, and I'd say these are pretty damn typical of all the Chinese I met back then...  And like me, if you see the photo above.
And this is a typical look for the 1970s
And so, finally onto this one below, in which the young lady in the middle is pretty much Ms Li.  She'll do as my Ms Li stand-in.  I'll leave it at that.
Ms Li was a bit older than me in 1976, so she must be in her early seventies now. I wonder where she is.  And if she ever remembers that she tought a young Aussie student his first words of Chinese, which happened to be a Mao take on Hegelian dialectics: yi fen wei er:  一分为二 

Typical 70s.  The lady in the middle is close to "my" Ms Li

The Sleep of Reason produces monsters

I wrote the other day about the harassing of professor Roger Scruton. And how he was being pilloried for statements that are demonstrably true.  Truth is no defence in today's Europe.  See the recent European Court of Human Rights (sic!), which found that statements calling Muhammad a paedophile were a "crime", because they "hurt the feelings" of Muslims.  Not that the statements were false (they aren't), but that they upset the delicate sensitivities of our Muslim co-residents.
And so now with professor Scruton, he gets the Leftist treatement.
The good, the sound Melanie Phillips, tells it hard here, below the fold also.

Thursday 8 November 2018

Hearts and Heads on Immigration

From "March of the migrants poses dilemma for America"
I've often thought the difference between Dems and Reps is that the former are driven by the heart and the latter by the head. Meme or mind. Feelings or Law. 

Take immigration. The heart says "let them all in".  The head says "yes, but only according to the law". 
Dem: Let them all in because if you listen to their stories they're all pitiful and deserving. 
Rep: yes, but. Make it according to the law; it's not that we're against immigrants just that there's a process and they should get in line. 
Lionel Shriver has good points in the article below. The future may not be a straight line from the past. Refugees from the World Wars and from the Soviet Union: that's a past story. The future may well be vast numbers seeking the better life in the West and all at once. And you don't need to be a catastrophist to think that. Just look at trends. And read Shriver's scenario.  
And then which do you count on, heart or head? 
Shriver concludes:
If in the next few decades we're looking at migration on the scale I think we are, we may be required to develop a hard heart, or simply surrender to forces larger than we can control. I'm not sure which is worse.

It's an issue that needs more than the Dems "everything is fine" vs the Reps "everything is crisis". 
In favour of the more conservative view of this (the mind vs the heart) is that the Dems policy leads to dramatic and irreversible changes in society — some good no doubt, an unknown number not so good. Whereas the Reps policy does not, while allowing that some immigration take place on a controlled basis. That ought not be viewed as xenophobic or racist. 
Anyway here's Shriver's article in full, below the fold. 

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Sack Roger Scruton over Soros comments, demand Labour MPs |The Guardian

The quote below from this article is supposed to make us think, I think, "oh my goodness what a horrid and Islamophobic thing to say"!".  But it is in fact a true statement. I've written elsewhere about the correlation between the percent Islamic and the civil and political rights of countries.

Here is the quote, referring to a speech Scruton made in 2014:
The lecture, first picked up by the Red Roar website, also argued that the nation-state is a Christian, European construct, which explained why a country such as Pakistan was a "failure". Focusing on Islam, Scruton wrote: "The same is true of many other countries in which Islam is the dominant faith. Even if such countries do function as states, like Pakistan, they are often failures as nations."
Now, it is true that the Peace of Westphalia created nation states in a then Christian Europe. Therefore it is true to say it's a "Christian, European construct...". And it's also true that Islamic states are laggards if not failed states. 
But to The Guardian, this is heresy.  They won't even touch whether it's true or not. We're supposed to yell, in unison, "bigot!"