Sunday, 26 October 2008

The Jewel of Medina, freedom of speech

I nearly forgot about this story, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the story of the book that nearly never was ..... "The Jewel of Medina" is a novel supposedly based loosely upon the life of the 'child bride' of Muhammad, A'isha.

As usual the followers of the religion of peace, have immediately issued threats and tried to commit acts of violence, with three men arrested for attacking the 'publishers' in the UK. The book looked to have been dropped in the UK, because all the publishing houses are terrified of the lunatics, who claim that we should treat Muhammad and his life as sacred ..... however one brave publishing house Gibson Square lifted 'again the tattered flag it found lying on a stricken field'.

The Americans followed a very similar route, with a Professor of Islamic studies Denise Spellberg, allegedly starting the controversy, which she refuted, but once again after initially being ditched, the book was picked up by Beaufort Books who pushed through the publication.

However just when it looked as though that was that and freedom of speech had been defended, came the news that the publication in the UK had been 'postponed' after attacks on the staff and offices of Gibson House ..... sad news for free speech and just a sign of the grip of the censorship by fear that Muslims now instill into the western societies.

The Muslims who treat Muhammad and his life as too sacred to touch, should actually look to their holy book the Quran (18:110), where, it's said, God instructed Muhammad to tell others: "I am only a mortal like you." ..... even Muhammad didn't think his life was part of the religion!

You can still be a radical Islamic person without violence and threat .... Sami Moubayed a Syrian political analyst, writes in the Washington Post about a controversy over 80 yrs ago, which I will loosely retell.

"In April 1928, a 20-year-old girl named Nazira Zayn al-Din wrote a book called "Unveiling and Veiling", saying she had read, understood and interpreted the Holy Koran.

Therefore, she claimed that she had the authority and analytical skills to challenge the teachings of Islam's clerics and that in her opinion 'the veil was un-Islamic'. If a woman was forced to wear the veil, then she should go to court to get her rights.

She also said that men and woman should mix socially because this develops moral progress, and that both sexes should be educated in the same classrooms. Men and women, she said, should equally be able to hold public office and vote in government elections.

They should study the Koran themselves (not via an old Mullah), and finally, Zayn al-Din compared the "veiled" Muslim world to the "unveiled" one, saying the unveiled one was better because reason reigned, rather than religion.

Her book apparently caused a thunderstorm in Syria and Lebanon. It was the most outrageous assault on traditional Islam, coming from Zayn al-Din, who was also a Druze (and therefore suspect as a Muslim, according to many Sunni scholar's).

However the book went into a second edition within two months, and was translated into several languages. The Muftis of Beirut and Damascus, wrote against her, arguing that she did not have the authority to speak on Islam and dismiss the veil as un-Islamic. Nobody, however, accused her of treason or blasphemy. They accused her of bad vision resulting from bad Islamic education.

Some clerics banned her book but others, such as the Syrian scholar Mohammad Kurd Ali, actually promoted it, buying 20 copies for the Arab Language Assembly and writing a favorable review.

However, and this is the important point, despite the uproar, which lasted for over two years, the Muslim establishments did not let the issue get out of hand. They did not lead street demonstrations for weeks, and Zayn al-Din was still free to roam the streets of Syria and Lebanon, without being harassed or killed by those who hated her views.

The leaders of Islam in 1927-30 were by far too busy to occupy themselves, and the Muslim community at large, with the ideas contained in a book. They had to attend to their mosques, run their charity organizations, answer theological questions, cater to Muslim education, lead political issues, and fight the French."

In other words oh Muslim world, grow up, embrace discussion and debate, and win the argument by logic, not violence, threats, and intimidation. Mr Moubayed also went on to say that

"After all, we in the Muslim world have not contributed anything to human progress in the past 500 years. We should write and promote our history, then concentrate on science, arts, literature, and freedom of the mind. We should learn to talk to, rather than demonstrate against, those who think and act differently, and those who wrong us."

It's a pity that his voice seems to be crying in a wilderness of ignorance and illiteracy, that so often surrounds any so called debate with Islam.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Charity Worker killed for being "Christian"

Finally, a short acknowledgement of the murder by Muslims of a 'Christian' (in every sense of the word) woman in Afghanistan. She was an aid worker trying to alleviate poverty for disabled people in a Muslim land (Muslims charities often seem to just build more Saudi sponsored Mosques), and her crime was "being a Christian".

What a sad way to end a largely blameless and selfless life, Gayle Williams, 34, was living in a nasty place, doing work that Muslims often won't do, and yet the Taliban felt was the enemy of Islam, and should die ... She asked to be buried in Kabul even though she is aware that the graves will be despoiled when the UK and US (aka NATO) leaves.

Sooner or later, someone in the Western Governments is going to get it, and realise that we are feeding, clothing and arming the mortal enemies of everything we consider 'civilised' ....

Riches to Rags US Style

In the run up to the US Presidential Elections, we hear nothing but the various visions of the American Dream, how hard work can take a man from "Rags to Riches" in a land of opportunity.

However there is a downside to this dream, an 'American Nightmare' if you will, that the two candidates will never allude to, except maybe in passing references to helping the poor (aka black), Americans rise up and grasp the chances afforded by US society. So it was with some interest to read a story about this downside, and how the ride from Riches to Rags can be spectacularly fast in a society, that has little by way of social safety nets.

The story concerns Bruce Richall an I.T. consultant who was based in the affluent Connecticut suburb of Westport and had the 'American Dream'. He had been a IT contractor (much like this blogger), but had decided that it was too unstable a lifestyle, and who had therefore taken a 'permanent' job with a bank.

However this years bank collapses have suddenly catapulted him into a spiral of poverty which has left him sleeping in his car and eating at soup kitchens. This story illustrates how quickly the dream can sour for even the white middle class exponents of it who are meant to flourish in it.

One part of this story did jar as odd though, I myself have been in I.T. as a contractor, and I am aware that if you are prepared to travel and live out of a suitcase (in B&Bs), there is always I.T. work, even if its not as well paid as it might be in an upturn. So its not clear why this man, who had been a contractor and presumably as aware of this as I, had apparently decided to just sit around until he lost his home.

The comments by BBC US readers, suggest that you can't just move around the US taking employment that's available, and that there are protectionist laws in the various states, and that you need "out of state papers" to work in each state, but I am not entirely clear on this point, if that's true then living in the 'land of the free', ain't all that free!

That oddity aside though, the story shows how quickly things can go to hell in a basket in the US.

However we should be careful not to be too smug in the 'Peoples Republic of Britain', because even in a welfare state such as the UK, I know of a single man who has been made redundant last month, and who can get no help with his housing costs, or any welfare benefits, despite getting no redundancy payments, or having any major savings .... he is getting the run around, and will likely lose his flat (apartment) unless he finds work soon.

I suspect that the common theme of these two stories are the words "Single", "White" and "Male" ..... so no help available.

Africans, the World and Democracy

In another of those little coincidences, the BBC also ran a story on whether Africans and Democracy could ever work ..... now for personal reasons I pay some interest in African politics (especially South Africa), so I have discussed whether democracy can ever work in Africa.

This debate made me think about non African black states, and whether 'democracy' had ever taken anywhere where blacks were the majority ....

  • Haiti, the first black independent nation in the Caribbean, the first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world, and the only nation whose independence was gained as part of a successful slave rebellion. It has never managed to install a democratic government since 1804, and is almost a template for 'black independence', followed by complete social collapse.
  • Ethiopia, is one of the worlds oldest nations and has largely remained independent of European or Arab rule. It was ruled by an Emperor until recently, and has had a succession of dictatorships since. It is currently nominally a democratic state, which has been described as a "Hybrid", situated somewhere between a "flawed democracy" and an "authoritarian regime".

Its position at number 106, out of 167 in league table of democratic states, suggests that there are at least 105 more democratic states.

In fact, a look at this "Democratic Index" suggests that

Most of the world has problem getting democracy to stick ... In this illustration the states marked in black the least, and those in light colours the most democratic. So the states to aspire to are Canada, Scandinavia and the Antipodeans .... the rest of us fail to reach the full standards of democracy to one degree or another.

So whilst its true to say that Black states and democracy are not successful, neither are many other races.

  • South Americans have a mixed and patchy record of democracy.
  • Only Japan and South Korea have managed to install democracy in the Asian area.
  • The Arabs have failed to install any form of democracy (in fact that's true of virtually all Muslim states).
  • Only India has installed democracy in the subcontinent

Three quarters of the world has never really taken democracy to its soul, and it makes you wonder if its a peculiarly 'White European' construct that can only be maintained in states based upon white majority populations, or in those post colonial constructs such as India, where its the only practicable way of ruling what was formerly several dozen states, or Japan and South Korea where it was imposed and maintained by US military might.

US Presidential 'Race' issues

Last week I picked up on the dormant "race" issue in the US Presidential Elections ..... as far as I know, I may have been the first to publicly note that a high ranking black Republican, who was a 'life long friend' of the white Republican candidate, was nevertheless going to vote for the black Democrat candidate.

His reasons were transparently weak .... 'the Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin didn't have the experience to be a possible President' .... well neither does Mr Obama, who shares a very similar political record with Mrs Palin.

I noticed on Friday that the BBC had picked up on this theme (modesty forbids that I claim a secret reader!), and was running a story on Democrats who would not be voting, or even voting Republican, for 'race' reasons.

As I have previously suggested in a blog on Obama, "the secrecy of the ballot box allows for many a private opinion to be exercised" and we may still see a wave of voters using Mr Powell's apparent decision to choose race over party as the excuse for them to do the same, with unpredictable results.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Et Tu Colin!

George W Bush, the 43rd and Republican President of the United States of America, is discovering that when you are down, you really find who your friends are .....

Today, a man he promoted to high office, Colin Powell, has betrayed him and the Republicans by declaring his support for the Democrat presidential contender Barack Obama. He is somewhat disingenuously claiming that its the appointment of Sarah Palin as VP contender by John McCain, that has led him to switch allegiance like this, because she "simply isn't ready to be president" but presumably Mr Obama is.

Just for the record
  • Sarah Palin entered local state politics in 1992 and entered national politics in 2006.
  • Barack Obama entered local state politics in 1997 and entered national politics in 2004.
That looks very similar to me, and in fact, if anything, Mrs Palin has five years practical experience more than the Ivy Leaguer Mr Obama, who spent his time editing the Harvard Law Review, instead of dirtying his hands in small council politics.

The fact is, that this looks remarkably like some sort of 'racial solidarity' in action, disguised as something else so as not to allow 'whites' to justify doing it openly as well.

However this may well come to be seen as the first split along the racial divide, with a top Republican, who was after all considered a possible black candidate for the Presidency on behalf of the Republicans (rumour has it that his wife dissuaded him, because she believed he would be assassinated), preferring to back a Democrat (who just happens to be Black), against a Republican 'personal friend' (who just happens to be White).

The reason I felt moved to blog about this is that on the radio this Sunday morning, a guest (either Kevin Day or Joe Challands - I think it was him), was just back from the 'States', said that there was a feeling over there, that a lot of whites, including Democrats, would not actually vote for Obama when they were in the booths, because they couldn't bring themselves to vote for a black man. He was implying that they were telling pollsters etc that they would vote for Obama so as not to seem 'Racist', but that they were not actually very keen on him.

Now I have long had a suspicion ('..... the secrecy of the ballot box allows for many a private opinion to be exercised') that this might be a factor on the day, however with only 2 weeks to go before the election, I was wondering if the "Race question" in the US may actually have disappeared, because there was no obvious sign that any doubts bases upon race were being expressed.

Now however, I am convinced that it will in fact be a big, if 'unspoken' factor in this election, and that the public defection of Mr Powell, on demonstrably very weak grounds, may free a lot of white consciences about what they were secretly thinking, because now a black man has broken ranks and apparently chosen race over party loyalties.

PC politics has meant that whites are not allowed to ever publicly mention race as a consideration, but the privacy of a ballot box still allows that Non-PC opinions can be expressed .... in a fortnight we will see if the white US still considers this to still be an issue in politics.

If its a very close result, then it will have been the word that dare not speak its name, that will have come into play.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Evolution 'has stopped', or 'not stopped' ...

Not long ago, everyone was talking about how humans would evolve into the future .... now comes a claim by Professor Steve Jones that we are the peak of evolution. In a recent lecture (Tuesday 7 October 2008 at University College London) he posed the question of whether the human race is in decline?

His thesis is that, due to the way we now structure our societies, plenty of people are surviving who once did not, or are having children when once they would have stayed celibate, and medicine can now offer treatment for many with damaged genes, that can then be passed on.

Many people are worried about what this might do to future generations. Professor Steve Jones, argues that everything we know about the process of evolution tells us that - at least in the developed world, and at least for the time being - human evolution has slowed down or stopped.

This is the exact opposite of the theory of Evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics who believes that humans are still evolving and in fact may be at the point of splitting again.

I guess, you pays your money and takes your choice.

"Its life Jim, but not as we know it"

Over Fifty Years ago, a chemist named Stanley Miller started a series of experiments to try and recreate the conditions on the early Earth, and to attempt to create the building blocks of life.

This year those early experiments (for which Miller never got a Nobel Prize), and some that he never publicised, simulations of other possible environment types such as gases released in volcanic eruptions, were rediscovered, and more sensitive analysis was undertaken.

Of particular interest was the 'other scenarios' which actually more closely emulated what we now believe to be the conditions on the early Earth, and guess what, Mr Miller had actually created more and a greater diversity of those vital Amino Acids.

It's likely that Mr Millers theory about how life, or at least the conditions in which life can develop, are correct and that he had the proof, lying in some old flasks.

If they ever decide to give posthumous Nobel Prizes, then surely this man should be the first one given ..... the 'father' of life on Earth, and most probably in the Universe as well.

The Queen is Googled

HRH aka Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom was Googled on the UK Google web site.

As this only happens once, I saved it for the peoples of the Empire, Commonwealth, and in the Breakaway colonies.

Silver Surfers Defy Ageing!

Good News!

If you are reading this you are halving your chances of developing Dementia ..... well according to this story ... if you are middle aged, not that I am .... ahem!

It has long been thought that activities which keep the brain active, such as crossword puzzles, may help minimise that impact - and the latest study suggests that surfing the web can be added to the list.

Areas activated by reading a book in the brain of an experienced web user

Web use stimulates much more activity in the same brain

Brain activity in web newcomers: similar for reading and Internet use.

The more you surf, the better the results .... so 'shine on', you "Silver Surfing" dudes and dudettes ....

Sunday, 12 October 2008

One Is A Magic Number

This story completes my trilogy of blogs on a loose 'relationship' theme where "One is a magic number" if you are a 'Desulforudis Audaxviator' (Bold Traveller) bug, which is a recently discovered form of life which may be the the 'loneliest living species known to science', and was found 2.8km (1.74 miles) beneath the surface of the Earth, inside a gold mine near Johannesburg.

This form of life, lives in its own universe with just its compatriots for company, and lives in total darkness at 60C (140F) heat, using water, hydrogen and sulphate for its energy needs.

This discovery almost certainly means that life can, and will develop anywhere in the Universe where it can, because this is the second life form found on Earth that has developed independently from our Solar powered one.

In the last few years, we have also found that bacterium life appears to have developed independently from us, in the superheated sea vents on the deep ocean floors (where no solar light reaches and under tremendous pressures), and this now raises the possibility that life has developed elsewhere in the solar system, as well as in other Solar Systems in the Galaxy.

The fact that ice water is on the surface of Mars and is now being studied, just adds to the possibilities of life there, at least in the past .... I say that because conditions on Mars, may actually be, or have been, much better in some respects, than deep inside the planet Earth.

A sentence in Latin from Jules Verne's novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth: "Descende, Audax viator, et terrestre centrum attinges", which translates as "Descend, Bold Traveller, and attain the centre of the Earth" is the neat basis of the new life forms name, and with Vernes interest in the Deep Oceans and Space travel as well, makes a nice link for the possibilities this bug represents.

Opposites Attract Then Repel?

This second blog on the same loose relationship theme, is "Opposites attracting" .... as I said in the earlier blog, I was thinking about the whole subject of relationships, when my eye was caught by the news that "Opposites may attract, but research suggests that initial spark of attraction soon fades, and does not make for a long and happy married life".

The story, that worldwide research has shown that, couples who are too opposite in nature and interests, may have a relationship that is driven along, on the sexual attraction of one or both of them, but that ultimately its not the basis upon which long-term stable relationships are created.

Oddly, the couple I was thinking of had no 'money issues', but in the bedroom, ahh, that was a different matter, and in this they, were going against the 'national type' uncovered by this international survey, which showed that sexual dysfunction in a partner or the relationship (either physical or mental), is tolerated more in Britain's couples than in most other countries. Compared to the US and Australia for example, UK couples are the least likely to be worried if their partner is regularly too tired for sex.

UK couples, also the data shows, consistently report greater satisfaction with the amount of consensus they experience in their relationship. Relative to the US, for example, happily married people in the UK tend to agree more on how to make major decisions, how family finances are handled, the division of household tasks, and how to deal with parents and in-laws.

However it should also be noted that in the UK research also suggests that around 45% of married women, and 60% of married men, are unfaithful at some time or another during their relationship.

However that fact remains that in relationships based on 'opposites', the sex side is the driver and if that ends, the rest of the relationship collapses unless there is something strong to underpin it.

The house that the lawyers built

There's a sort of theme to the next three blogs ...... relationships.

They have been on my mind a lot recently, after a scare about the current state of two friends marriage emerged last weekend.

This first comment is about how acrimonious a relationship can become when it goes bad. A couple in Cambodia, Moeun Rim and his wife, Nhanh, have been married for over 40 yrs, but after what can only imagine was the mother of all rows they split up.

Despite attempts to make them see sense by the local villagers they were adamant that was it was over and they split everything ........ including the house itself.

And the reason for this apparently mad approach to splitting the property? Lawyers and inept courts have made the actual costs, and length of time to settle Divorce cases in Cambodia, too much for normal people, so increasingly they just 'informally' divorce.

However there is a further 'health warning' to this kind of thing ... A local lawyer told said that dividing a property was legal if both parties had agreed to it - but that it did not mean the pair were legally divorced. "If in the future they have any disagreements, the provincial chief will not be responsible, as there had not been a judgment from the court."

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Nothing new under the sun .....

With the news that a fifth of all school teachers in the UK now want to bring caning (corporal punishment) back, my mind turned to peoples thoughts of teenagers, or youths as they were known before 1965, through the ages.

Most appropriate because of its final two words is this,

Our youths love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority –they show disrespect for their elders and love to chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up food, and tyrannize teachers.” Socrates, c.400 B.C (attributed to him by Plato).

and 1600 years later, this ....

"The world is passing through troubling times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behaviour and dress."~Extract from a sermon preached by Peter the Hermit in A.D. 1274.Probably apocryphal.

But as Machiavelli wisely says;

"Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results." Machiavelli

Youths or Teenagers have always been a worry to their elders, and no doubt always will be because there truly is 'nothing new under the sun'.

"Don't criticize what you can't understand, your sons and your daughters are beyond your command." - Bob Dylan

OJ gets his just Desserts

A little bit of good news is that the wife murderer OJ Simpson has finally received 'natural Justice' by being found 'guilty' on 12 charges of armed robbery, conspiracy to kidnap and assault with a deadly weapon by a court in the US city of Las Vegas.

I like many others (mostly white) commenter's, considered him to be very guilty of murdering his ex wife Nicole Brown in 1995. Without rehashing it all again, he was eventually freed by a mainly black jury, because his lawyer said that all the evidence against him was planted by white police to 'get' (for unspecified reasons) a black superstar.

It was significant that the family of Nicole Brown won a civil case for damages against Simpson a few years later, when a jury found he was responsible for her death.

Now, on the 13th anniversary (to the day) of his being found not guilty in that first trial, he has been found guilty of the crimes listed above. No doubt his lawyers will appeal and a media circus will ensue, but just for a brief moment he faces the punishment he should have got 13 yrs ago.


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A middle aged orange male ... So 'un' PC it's not true....