Sunday, November 30, 2014

How Does He Know?

Nick Cohen writes about public complacency about government surveillance of internet users:

“It won’t be me,” I hear you say. And, of course, I accept you are not a criminal, after all. The worst you do online is post stupid comments when you are drunk and masturbate to porn when you think no one is watching.

To be honest it sounds like He's already monitoring my internet usage personally.

Friday, November 28, 2014


The former Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, has lost his libel action against the newspaper that claimed he called a police officer a pleb. It isn't obvious why he went ahead with the libel action after Michael Crick's documentary on the incident demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that corrupt police officers stitched him up. At that point he could have declared victory and gone ahead with his life, instead he put his reputation in the hands of Britain's libel courts.

The verdict seems perverse but by taking the matter to court he has empowered a judge make whatever flight of fancy he finds most agreeable the official version.

In all likelihood Andrew Mitchell did not call the policeman a pleb and the verdict is wrong but libel courts reward the likes of Jeffrey Archer, George Galloway and other chancers, putting your faith in such a court is a desperate and unwise move.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Shut Up" They Explained

There are two great articles on the assault on free speech on campuses, Heather Mac Donald how American universities capitulate to the intolerant bullies from marxoid halfwits while Brendan O'Neill tackles Britain's authoritarian student body and their enablers in authority:

The ‘no platform’ policy of various student unions is forever being expanded to keep off campus pretty much anyone whose views don’t chime perfectly with the prevailing groupthink. Where once it was only far-right rabble-rousers who were no-platformed, now everyone from Zionists to feminists who hold the wrong opinions on transgender issues to ‘rape deniers’ (anyone who questions the idea that modern Britain is in the grip of a ‘rape culture’) has found themselves shunned from the uni-sphere. My Oxford experience suggests pro-life societies could be next. In September the students’ union at Dundee banned the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children from the freshers’ fair on the basis that its campaign material is ‘highly offensive’.
I realise the student activists are not typical students but an unrepresentative fringe of obsessives but why do the officials allow them to intimidate opponents? Perhaps they agree with them or maybe they are acting out of self interest- feeding the crocodile with a sacrificial victim in order to give themselves a quieter life.

Personally I have never felt the urge to "win" a debate by shutting down opposing views but I can see why the activists, Social Justice Warriors and the like do it- because it works.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Muslims Discovered America

According to Turkey's Islamist president Recap Erdogan anyway.

Muslims discovered the Americas more than three centuries before Christopher Columbus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

He made the claim during a conference of Latin American Muslim leaders in Istanbul, pointing to a diary entry in which Columbus mentioned a mosque on a hill in Cuba.

Mr Erdogan also said "Muslim sailors arrived in America in 1178".

He said he was willing to build a mosque at the site Columbus identified.

The Turkish president - whose AK Party is rooted in political Islam - gave no further evidence to back up his theory, instead stating: "Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th Century."
There's actually quite a long list of supposed examples of pre-Columbian contact between the Old and New World, the Vikings are the only ones who've been confirmed but the Welsh, Irish, Basques, Romans, English, Egyptians, Africans, Chinese, Polynesians and Japanese have all had claims. Some of them are vaguely plausible- though probably still wrong- but most are not.

The Muslim discovery of America is not one of the more convincing theories but like a lot of psuedo-history appeals to the pride of a culture whose actual accomplishments have been rather modest since the Mongols sacked Baghdad. The former Chinese President Hu Jintao did something similar when he informed the Australian parliament that the Chinese discovered Australia back in 1421- a claim based on the ridiculous book by Gavin Menzies. Again it appealed to the pride of a culture that while once great, has lagged the West for centuries.

My favourite example of Islamists hijacking Western accomplishments is the widely believed story in the Middle East about Neil Armstrong hearing the Islamic call to prayer when he first set foot on the moon. In comparison reaching the Americas is lacking ambition.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

What's In A Word?

Female celebrities including Katy Perry, Megan Traynor and Salma Hayek often get criticised by self proclaimed feminists for refusing to identify themselves as feminists. Here is the Observer's Barbara Ellen on Hayek's recent disavowal of the term:

You have to wonder – what’s with these women and their seemingly all-consuming need to distance themselves from feminism? An unworthy thought crawls through my brain: is this a man-pleasing exercise – are they afraid that men might find even the slightest whiff of feminism a turn-off, so they bang on about “equality” to keep everything safely gender-neutral and “sexy”?

Or does it go yet deeper, darker, than that, into the realms of female self-hatred? Where the cause of womankind in itself is just not good enough, interesting enough and so men must be prominently included, feted and appeased, even at a female-celebrating event? While I’m all for inclusivity, something has to explain why some women seem to feel that good instincts to support other females have to be disguised and reframed for public consumption.
 I'm going to go out on a limb and have a guess as to what the actual reason for not associating with the word "feminism". The people who most prominently embrace the term are unfortunately often like Barbara Ellen whose views are rather anti male- see this piece in which she fulminates against men using equality legislation to challenge cases of sexual discrimination.

If people use "feminism" as a cover for politically sectional and rather outlandish views on sex they should no be surprised when others don't use the term to describe all those who believe in equal treatment and freedom from discrimination. 

If every other self proclaimed patriot demonstrated that they were in actual fact rabid xenophobes then patriotism would suffer a similar fate- with people who are thoroughly patriotic shying away from the word itself.

If actual feminists, in the sense of people who believe in sexual equality, no longer like the word "feminism" then the likes of Ellen should really look at themselves.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Unclean Unclean

During the Black Death, while plague killed a huge proportion of the World's population there were some places that managed to escape mass outbreaks all together- Poland and Milan most notably. Milan adopted a rather brutal but effective strategy of walling up the homes of anyone infected with the disease with the occupants inside, there seems to be less clarity over how Poland avoided it, but one theory is that they pretty much close the borders as well as a medieval state could.

The most effective strategies for countering the plague were the most offensive to individual rights and personal liberty. A major outbreak of an infectious disease is one of the few times where it is justifiable to put the collective good above individual rights. The outcry over a relatively minor quarantine period for those people who have been at the heart of the Ebola infected region of West Africa is not based on "the science" which is contentious, but on knee jerk ethical preening.