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September, 2010:

The one where Nick sees the point of Diane Abbott…

… Almost. OK, she’s not the sharpest pencil in the box and would have been an hilarity if she’d won but alas we got a Millipede instead in charge of The Labour party. Apparently Neil Kinnock was an early adopter of Edpede which ought to be a suitable kiss of death to the new Labour leader. Alas Michael Foot is dead.

But… I have mocked Ms Abbott for running entirely on the basis of her pigmentation and ovaries (and flirting with Portillo!) and now it don’t look so funny. Why? All three major party leaders in this country are white blokes around forty. Is this a problem? In principle it isn’t but…

I’m not, absolutely not, going to go down the route of the silliness that is positive discrimination but a couple of things need to be said… I do think it peculiar that essentially we have squeezed down the parameters for party leader to the extent that we have done. My Mum stayed with me over the weekend and she couldn’t tell the Millipedes apart. My wife is similarly vague and quite frankly Nick Clegg could walk past me in the street and I’d pay him no heed.

That of course brings up another issue. Edpede is an atheist. So is the Cleggster. I would say that, practically speaking most Brits are so what? I’m an agnostic because I simply can’t be fucked either way but you can roughly lump me in. But what struck me is that this closet is the last one and Edpede was interviewed by the BBC over his non-belief and it was as tortuous as Nick Clegg’s “coming out” as a non-believer. Recall that? He was at pains to state that his wife was Catholic and his kids were being brought up as Catholics. It was painful to watch. I don’t have anything against the Catholic Faith. If I was concerned (which I’m not) it was more that those poor lickle kiddies were being brought-up Liberal Democrat.

I shall now answer my own “So what?” They are really all the same. The policies are micrometres apart and this is made even more evident when the faces are so similar. That the recent Labour leadership contest came down to two brothers who in the end couldn’t be separated by a cigarette paper says it all really.

Not quite, there is something else… Both Clegg and Edpede have only been members of parliament for a few short years. Edpede’s keynote speech at the Labour conference included the fact that he didn’t vote for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 because he wasn’t even an MP then. I think the phrase “Risen without trace” occurred to me then.

Anyway, just up the road from me is the local Conservative Club. Why not? I’m 37 [check], full head of hair [check], attractive wife [check], not whelping like there’s no tomorrow [problem - but she has adopted a bear, mind] and quite frankly if Mrs Clegg’s son Nicholas can get to be Deputy Prime Minister in such a short space of time then why not moi? I’d rather be a Timelord than First Lord of the Treasury (mainly because that only contains a note saying, “We owe China a bucking fundle”) but I can work on it. And the Jag would be nice. As would the Trident control codes. It would be brown trousers time in Tehran. I’d be prepared to nuke Qom on general principles.

Anyway, enough fantasy already! I’m not there yet.

But seeing as the only significant qualification for being a major party leader in this country is being a bloke around forty I could be and you should all be very afraid. Oh, and I can articulate my non-belief in God without going round the houses. That’s gotta be a winner.

And you want the kicker? I can do it in a way that doesn’t upset the faithful.

Because I’m not a crass go-getting twat. Best stick to computers then because I fail politics at the final hurdle. Bugger.

Just for Cats

This is Lindsay Lohan. Now you know you can retire that joke.

Dyke Break

Lesbian martial arts expert frees under age lover in Indonesia.

A lesbian martial arts expert has staged a jailbreak to free her under age female lover from protective custody where she was being “cured” of her attraction to women, according to reports.

That’s from the Telegraph!

Seriously though it does sound a nasty story.

Police are investigating the escape of the 15-year-old girl, who allegedly admitted to having a sexual relationship with her 26-year-old taekwondo teacher in east Jakarta.

Jakarta? Nah, she went of her own free will! Terrible joke but the point remains and it is nasty and I’m glad the lass was broken out (or whatever – I suspect it was a lot less kick-ass than I imagine). I shall leave you to ponder all that is wrong with this…

The girl’s father called in the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak) to “cure” his daughter’s sexual orientation and agreed to place her in protective custody.

Info search

I own great-britain.net, but I‘ve never been sure what to do with it. Anyone got any sensible suggestions?

I have considered setting it up as an aggregation site, or something.

Dunno.

Comments solicited.

Social networking? For Great Britons?

Ditto british-isles.net. Although that’s less interesting.

Millipedes

Ed Miliband will today take the audacious step of denouncing the hubristic boast of his patron, Gordon Brown, that Labour could abolish economic boom and bust, saying the assertion simply fuelled the anger of voters confronted by economic insecurity and joblessness.

How very political. Not what we do, what we say.

The attempt by Miliband, in his first leader’s speech to Labour conference, to swiftly distance himself from one of the central planks of his long-time boss is designed to show his leadership signals the arrival in power of “a new generation with different attitudes, different ideas and different ways of doing politics”.

I can’t wait!

But his efforts to show he can lead a united, re-energised party committed to redefining the centre ground of politics look likely to be hampered by the expected decision of his defeated brother, David, to leave frontline politics to give him the chance to lead on his own terms.

Ed Miliband is said to be still trying to persuade him to remain at the top of Labour politics, and insisted there was “no psychodrama” between them.

I’d prefer a cage fight Beyond Thunderdome but that’s just me. “Two Millipedes enter, one Millipede leaves!”

David Miliband has been offered the shadow chancellorship, but friends say he does not want it. More broadly, they say, he fears that if he remains the brothers will be ground down by rumours of splits, jealousies and factionalism that disfigured nearly a decade of Tony Blair’s premiership.

The former foreign secretary, and once the clear favourite for the leadership, is not expected to make an announcement until Wednesday, but his wife Louise – in tears at times yesterday – is said to be angry about Ed putting personal political ambition before family.

It’s like a really crap play isn’t it? Like I fucking care. The choice between the Millipedes was like a choice between having one leg cut off or the other.

David Miliband’s team, still trying to keep a lid on their anger, have advised former staffers: “If you cannot trust yourself do not go down to the bars, just go home.”

Are they expecting some sort of pagga? I’m just down the road. I’d be happy – for a small fee – to hand out half-time oranges.

In a piquant and brave address to conference, greeted by two standing ovations, David Miliband urged his party to rally to his brother’s leadership.

That sounds like something Jilly Goolden would say about a pinot noir.

The 20-minute rallying call was agreed in advance with Ed, and drew on some of the leadership speech David had planned to give.

Oh for fuck’s sake!

He said a new leader should mean “no more cliques, no more factions, no more soap operas. One united Labour party taking on one divided government”.

But no “war on clichés”, obviously.

“Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine,” he said before urging them to rally behind the new leader. He said he was “incredibly proud” of his brother Ed.

You know, I have never worried about Dave Millipede. Odd that. I mean I’ve never wished the banana-toting jackass any specific harm but… Well, apart from perhaps him getting it on with Hilary Clinton who apparently has the hots for the Mr Bean-faced loon.

“We have a great new leader and we all have to get behind him. I am really, really, really proud. I am so proud of my campaign. I am so proud of my party. But above all I am incredibly proud of my brother. I see Ed as a special person to me.

“Now he is a special person to you and our job is to make him a special person for all the British people.”

How precisely does one clean vomit from a keyboard? I mean I saw their staged embrace and for a moment I thought they were going to go for it with tongues.

The authority in his speech, ranging across foreign and domestic politics, will only put extra pressure on his younger brother today to convince the conference that they did not choose the wrong man, or let the unions in the electoral college do so.

Whatever! To say the Labour leadership is Byzantine is to piss on the grave of Emperor Justinian from the top of the Hagia Sophia.

One of his shadow cabinet allies insisted Ed Miliband was growing in stature as a leader by the hour.

Attack of the giant Millipedes!!!!

His aides say that, apart from introducing himself to the electorate, he will strike a strong note of humility in his speech. He will argue that during its time in office the party lost the trust of the voters, partly because it lost the ability to change and adapt.

Oh do please fuck off.

He will say: “Too often we bought old established ways of thinking and sometimes we even became the establishment.”

Yes, the government for 13 years is pretty much by definition the establishment. You utter flamingo molesting turd gargler.

He will also say: “It was courage that made us such a successful political force, but our journey must understand where it went wrong. How did a party with such achievements to its name end up losing 5 million votes between 1997 and 2007?”

Do you want me to draw you a diagram Ed?

In a stark admission of error, designed to reconnect with a disillusioned electorate, he will recant on a formidable trio of errors of the Blair-Brown era.

He will say: “When you saw the worst financial crisis in a generation, I understand your anger that Labour hadn’t stood up to the old ways in the City which said deregulation was the answer.

“When you wanted to make it possible for your kids to get on in life, I understand why you felt that we were stuck in old thinking about higher and higher levels of personal debt, including tuition fees.

“And when you saw jobs disappear and economic insecurity undermined, I understand your anger at a Labour government that claimed it could end boom and bust.”

What epic wank!

The final admission of error, one of the most repeated and central tenets of Brown’s economic policy, is the most profound. His aides did not make clear last night whether Ed Miliband was indicating that Brown had been wrong ever to claim that it was possible to abolish boom or bust, largely by using financial rules on borrowing limits, or whether he is simply saying the Brown’s boast merely intensified the anger of the voters when it proved to be untrue.

Just re-read the whole paragraph. Just do it. It shows a disconnect from reality outside of the narrow sphere of getting elected that is awesome.

In a marked difference from his brother, Ed Miliband is much more willing to attack the Labour record. David urged the party to look forwards yesterday.

Jim Murphy, one of David Miliband’s campaign managers, had advised just before conference: “If David wins he will be sharply focused on the future and our future plans. It’s not going to be about trashing Blair and Brown. The Blair-Brown days are gone. They are past.”

Ed Miliband is not expected to make any major policy announcements in his speech; he favours a long-term approach using semi-independent policy commissions.

Unlike the Millipedes me is speechless! Me is I tells ya!

ID

Intelligent design, about which I have learned far more than I would have liked, isn’t a theory at all. It’s the idea that when faced with the current frontier of detailed understanding of biological systems, we should stop researching, throw up our hands and accept it’s magic.

- Peter Risdon commenting here.

Yes, that’s right. ID isn’t science. It’s like an old medieval map that says we know the way from London to Bristol but much west, into the Atlantic, of Bristol “There be Dragons”. ID is a dismal attempt at codifying the limits of biological science on faux-theological grounds. I shall ignore the fact that it is merely the Sylvester Sneekley for Creationism’s Hooded Claw for the moment because let’s stick to the science for a bit before we get on to that. OK?

The Twentieth Century has seen many advances in physics and mathematics that are, or seem to be, about fundamental limits on human knowledge. Aspects of quantum mechanics, relativity and of course Gödel’s incompleteness theorems spring to mind. Now strain these ideas through the mind of a cracker barrel philosopher with a certain religious axe to grind and then apply the resultant filtrate to biology and you get ID. Of course we all know Einstein showed everything was relative (he didn’t) and that QM shows nothing can be known (it doesn’t) and that Gödel proved nothing can be proved (he didn’t) but let’s not let the technicalities of differential geometry or quantum commutators or even diagonal lemmas get in the way of what we just know to be true already. Oh, Lordy no! And then for an encore apply these utterly misconstrued precepts to biology by a half-assed argument by analogy. Biology doesn’t push the boundaries the same way math or physics does. It pushes different boundaries. It’s boundaries are not so much those of spacetime or logic but those of truly deep complexity. If you think about it that is obvious and the reason these things are different disciplines is much the same way that the greatest spin-bowler of all time isn’t the greatest centre-forward of all time and vice-versa or that Mozart and Maxwell despite both being geniuses were hardly interchangeable.

Anyway this is my tuppence on ID. It’s the pub bore’s (stands to reason, read it in The Express, must be true?) misapplication to biology of a misunderstanding of the physical and mathematical sciences where it’s neither wanted nor useful nor true in any meaningful sense of that word and the harnessing of an invented Zeitgeist to drag the thoroughly discredited concept of creationism into this century without it being laughed at out loud that much. It is deeply disingenuous in the same way Old Skool patent remedies are. I have much more time – much more – for people who simply say they believe the world was created in six days, “Because the Bible tells me so” than for these pseudo-scientists who dress the rotting corpse of their faith in The Creation in a frayed lab coat for yet another go at an argument they lost on scientific grounds a century ago**.

Creationists (and as Peter points out IDers are creationists) frequently claim “Darwinism” (like no other scientist ever worked in the field! – we have classical physics not “newtonism”*) leads to all manner of social ills and almost to a form of nihilism. I have never understood this. Science is morally neutral and it is the creationists who attempt to make it something other than that – essentially they “socialize” science and want it to aim for what is “good” rather than what is true. The truth sometimes hurts – get over it!

Certainly, to me, there is a greater grandeur to the Universe than anything in Genesis though I can understand why someone brought up on six days might be upset by the truth. There has to be more otherwise we have all been wasting our smiting time*** since the Bronze Age when, obviously, all was set aright by a bunch of bearded lunatics wandering around a desert. Why is it that religions have a tendency to arise in deserts and similarly inhospitable terrain? Might I suggest it’s because there is fuck all else to do other than to make shit up?

I feel sorry for the IDers. They are denying themselves the knowledge of truly exquisite beauty in favour of what my brother would call “best bollocks”. The user guide to this Universe was stolen by Prometheus and the fire is not in deliberately cryptic nostrums from burning bushes (I once set fire to a bush by mistake and she almost killed me****) but in The Calculus***** and in Darwin and all the rest of those cats.

The metaphor of bringing light into darkness is over used but science does bring light into the dark and ID is deliberate obscurantism and that is not and never can be science. Science is plus ultra or it is nothing. We can end up going back to shivering in the cave or sending spacecraft to Europa. The choice is that simple.

*”newtonian” is usually given the lower case. Well, you figure that out…
**The final nail in the coffin of creationism was hammered home by Hans Bethe. He demonstrated that the stars shone by nuclear fusion. Hitherto Kelvin’s theory had the stars shining by gravitational collapse. Kelvin was wrong. Bethe was right (or I really did waste a lot of time) and it shifted the time-scale dramatically. Sad story in a way. The day he got his theory down he had a date and his potential inamorata, as he was walking her home, said something about how beautiful the stars were that night. Bethe replied, “Yes, and only I know how they shine”. She wasn’t impressed. So Bethe didn’t even get tops and fingers that night but I guess the Nobel sort of made up for it.
***Kinda like Hammer Time but with less voluminous trousers.
**** In the garden. Does that make it better?
*****See *, there are many calculi but only one is capitalised. I never claimed science was consistent in it’s nomenclature.

It would be nice to have Mr Clive Crook of the Financial Times impaled.

I happened to look at the British Financial Times newspaper today (always a mistake) and read an article by their resident “moderate” Mr Clive Crook (actually he is a moderate by the standards of the history of the Financial Times – which has included many leftists, indeed even Marxists, on its staff over the years).

Mr Crook was arguing that President Barack Obama should stop trying to please the left  – as these people want to turn America into a Scandinavian style Welfare State, accept with less free trade and stronger unions added on.

This was a double mistake by Mr Crook – the left (for example the people who have so much influence in American universities – and, via this influence in higher education, have influence in the schools and the “mainstream” media) do not want to turn the United States into another Denmark or even another Sweden. They name their children after Communist revolutionaries (and wear their image on their clothing) – not after Scandinavian Social Democrats. “Critical theory” (and so on)  in such fields as diverse as English literature and law is based on the “insights” of Marxism.

Even in their fiction the American left do not outline a future of a private enterprise dominated economy that also has a lot of taxes and welfare schemes. From Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” way back in 1887 to “Star Trek: New Generation” the vision is of a time when goods and services just appear (free) from the state (or “the people”  0r whatever you want to call it), and greedy business is  a thing of the past – or of ugly looking aliens.  So, again, Denmark (and so on) is not what the left are aiming to turn America into.

The second mistake by Mr Crook was to imply that Barack Obama was somehow apart from the collectivist left – trying to please them. Actually Barack Obama has been part of the collectivist (indeed Marxist) left his whole life. Both his parents were pro Soviet, his maternal grandparents were “little Red Church” people (and no the nickname did not refer to a paint job on the building they went to in Seattle, Washington State), his childhood mentor was Frank Marshall Davis (the Marxist), Obama went to Marxist conference after Marxist conference whilst a post grad at Columbia, he went to Chicago for the express purpose of working with other comrades such as Bill Ayers (the idea was not to “help the poor” in any charitable sense, Barack Obama was not in the habit of giving much of his income or wealth to help poor people,  but rather to “organize” the poor – i.e. to use them as expendible political cannon fodder). And, of course, Barack Obama for twenty years was a leading member of the Marxist “black Liberation Theology” Chicago establishment of  J. “Audacity of Hope” Wright. “My individual salvation depends on collective salvation” as Comrade Barack has said so many times (a Marxist perversion of, and insult to, Christianity).

“But Barack has never carried a Communist Party card”  – for Pete’s sake (or for Paul’s sake) most American Communists have not done that for more than half a century, even since the “evil” Joe McCarthy showed what a P.R. problem it could be if a so called “liberal” or “progressive” could be shown to have been a formal member of the Communist party. Not having carried a Communist Party card does not mean that Barack Obama is not a life long Marxist, using nonCommunist Keynesians in the way that such people as Maurice Dobb and Pierro Straffa outlined before Barack was even born, spend-capitalist-America-to-destruction was an old idea even before Cloward and Piven taught it to Barack back in his days going to Marxist conferences in New York City.

Like the rest of the “moderates” in the MSM Mr Crook’s response to any evidence of Barack Obama’s life long Marxism (his hatred of the West in general and the United States in particular) is to put his fingers in his ears and chant “La, La, La”.

However, this is not the reason that the words that form the title of this post occured to me. In fact the following line was the reason.

“everyone’s taxes are going to have to go up over the next few years – the alternative is fiscal collapse”.

So that is the response of the “moderates” to the ever growing burden of government spending and debt – put taxes up. Put them up on small business owners (“the rich”, for it is small business enterprises, not the likes of George Soros, who would be hit by increasing the higher rates of income tax – small business owners tend to file under income tax) and on “everyone” else. This is supposed to prevent fiscal collapse. “But Denmark and Sweden have higher taxes than the United States” – so it is Mr Clive Crook (not the American left) who wants to turn the United States into a Scandinavian coutry.  Sorry it will not work – what a (up till recently anyway) homogenious community can tolerate (at least for some years) would cause chaos and collapse in a country as diverse and fractured as the United States (and NO leftists – this does not mean race, culture is NOT racially dependent – and it is the fractured culture that is the problem not the skin tone of the people in the culture, vast numbers of black and hispanic people are loyal Americans and some white people whose ancestors  came over the the Mayflower have less in common with, or loyality to,  the United States, or any part of the West, than they do with North Korea).

Also the capital structure of the United States is utterly distorted – distored by the vast credit money expansion by the Federal Reserve, and by the demented backing of home loans (and other such) by the Federal government via such government backed entities as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (at a level that even Sweden would think insane).

Of course over “the next few years” an increase in tax rates would lead to a decline in government revenue – the wild spending would not be financed, the collapse would simply be brought forward. It would be very much like what has happened in health care – Barack Obama inherited a mess (he really did) government subsidy schemes (such as Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP – which have a similar effect on costs as government subsidy of higher education has on tuition fees) and the vast web of regulations (such as the State level mandates on insuance companies, and the Federal 1980′s, yes Reagan era, regulation than any private hospital with an ER had to treat anyone who turns up and claims “emergency” treatment – private property rights? what are they?) have led to vast expansion in the costs of health cover.

So how did Barack Obama and Congress respond? They responded by vastly increasing the subsidies and regulations – costs will now go so high (by design) that over time private insurers will be driven out of health care for ordinary people  – who will drop into the lap of the government (employers are already dropping people as the costs are made to rise – and some private insurers are already withdrawing from the general market). “We did not want to take control, but we had to – over time most people had no health cover”.

Tax rises would have a similar effect for the economy as a whole – whether they are done in January 2011 or a year later. “All of a sudden there were vast numbers of people without any jobs – we had to……”

Mr Clive Crook did not fight against the “Stimulus” government spending orgy, or against the disgusting “Affordable Care” Act (although he made just enough reservations to preserve his reputation as a “moderate” who does not always keep to the leftist line), his only response to the crises of entitlement spending (or any other crises of government spending) is to demand that “taxes for everyone” be put up – as if he did not know that such action would create the very “fiscal collapse” he talks of.

This is why I was put in mind of Vlad the Impaler’s way of dealing with traitors (people who claim to serve one cause when they in fact serve the enemy – such as Mr Clive Crook with his claim to support free enterprise, whilst in fact supporting ever more collectivism) and other enemies. I can claim a legitimate excuse – I had seen an entertainment show on Vlad the Impaler only the previous day.

I do not agree with a lot of  what Vlad the Impaler did (I believe a lot of his line of policy both undermined the economy, with his taxes and regulations, and undermined the nobles, the people he needed the support of to make an effective long term fight against the Ottoman Empire), but there is no denying the impact of haveing one’s enemies have  sharpened wooden posts stuck up their backsides and then having them slowing raised so that the stake goes through their bodies and comes out via their necks. People would think twice over proposed treachery or wars of aggression (such as tax rate increases) if they knew this was the likely consequence for them.

If I was not a libertarian I would….” (which is what a libertarian always says when we are about to suggest something that violates the nonaggression principle) think it nice to see Mr Clive Crook impaled – and left to rot as a warning to other scum.

Before the complaints start…. I am, of course, just joking.

As “Jon Stewart” (the socialist comic – who hero worshipped Norman Thomas even as a child, when other children were more interested in astronauts) says when, for example, he is attacked for laughing along with guests who say that the Pope raped children, “it is just humour”.

You believe that “Jon Stewart” is “only joking” – so why will you not beileve me? Is it because I am not smileing? Impale Clive Crook and I will smile – again just joking, of course.

Job Creation

Am I the only person who, every time I watch the TV news, winces when something or other the government does or doesn’t do will create or destroy jobs?

Human progress has always been measured by job destruction but that just cannot be said out loud can it? It’s a bit like the libertarian concept of “negative liberty” – it just sounds nasty doesn’t it? Yet neither are… Job destruction is the reason ninety-odd percent of us (in the developed world at least) aren’t grubbing up fields with pointed sticks. It is the reason “horseless carriages” aren’t novelties and we have traffic jams in the streets rather than piles of shit. Pity all the poor tack makers and grooms and stable lads who are now web-designers, derivatives traders and CNC fitters. Any dynamic forward looking economy that is actually going places will resemble the quantum void with jobs being eternally created and destroyed. A useful thought experiment is to try and explain what you do to someone from 1810 (or Prince Charles if you have the misfortune to meet him). I guess some jobs are easier to explain than others and some are indeed eternal but even then if you get into “shop talk” in almost anything you’d be in trouble explaining. This applies as much to the eternal primary industries that have lasted throughout the history of civilization such as mining and agriculture. Those are practically speaking totally different in terms of the skills required these days. A modern farmer might (not in the good ol’ EU!) ponder which GM strain to plant for maximum yield whilst his ancient counterpart would be wondering what to sacrifice to appease the Rain God. In a nutshell that is why I hate Greenism (note the upper case) because whether it be Gaia or the Rain God matters little really.

Don’t get me wrong: job losses are painful but these are growing pains and if, as many do, you oppose them in principle then you have to ask yourself a very simple question, “Do you believe in human progress?” because it’s either to the stars or back to the cave and wondering what those lights in the sky mean. We now know what they mean and they mean nothing and everything.

Jobs are essentially a cost to an economy and in almost any enterprise are the biggest bill. Reducing that bill is a good thing because it enables people to have more and see more and achieve more and surely that is a good thing? It also enables people to work at more interesting things and moreover avoiding progress in order to maintain out-moded jobs as some form of “social good” is ultimately self-defeating because it is the road (or goat-track) to quite simply not being able to compete. The whole slow-motion destruction of the British volume car industry (with some notable foreign owned exceptions) is testimony to the fact you can only buck reality for so long until someone else comes along and hands it to you on a plate and that’s when it really hurts.

Some Thoughts On Islam

If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. Deuteronomy 22:23-24

You know what they say on the Internet; post in haste, repent at leisure.

I just posted a counterpoint to Cats’s post below showing some Islamic justice and its justification in the Koran; mine was a list of nasty “who to stone, and why” from the Bible. I posted it because it seemed Cats was sort of carrying on this argument over at Samizdata which started off about the elder brother of Charles I and ended up about Islam, via a thing about whether the current turmoil in the Islamic world is a parallel to the turmoil in Christendom during the Reformation. But then I thought it looked kind of pissy to have posted that here, like a spoiler to Cats’s post which, having repented at leisure I guess it was to some extent, so I’ve just taken it down again and praised the Lord for having admin rights.

Still, I think the question that developed at Samizdata- can Islam reform?- is really quite an interesting one. I think most of us here at Cats probably agree that Islamic “justice” and much of the nature of Islamic society as it currently stands is not something we find very admirable, to put it mildly. The question therefore is, “can Islam become something more admirable?”. That is, can you have a society which is muslim but also adopts western/enlightenment values?

Cats and various other posters say the answer to that is no. That is, that the nature of Islam is fixed by the Koran, which by being a clear and unambiguous set of rules which all Muslims must follow, fixes the society in stone, or traps it in amber, or some other such metaphor I’m struggling with right now. But I disagree. I think that the history of Judaism and Christianity; both brothers of Islam (well, Judaism is the father, or the mother) show that religions can change, and I do not think that Islam is actually any different. I think that buying into the idea that the current form of Islam is the only possible form plays into the hands of our opponents, the jihadis.

The extreme, violent, absolutist stylee of Islam is characterised by various Islamic sectors; Wahabbi, Deobandi and so on. But the particular Bin Laden form has a very clear pedigree, and a very recent one too. It is the form of Islam developed by the Muslim Brotherhood, a reactionary movement founded in 1928 by one Hassan Al Banana, with the intention, as with all fundamentalisms, of taking Islam back to some perceived “true, pure” root. The ideological basis though isn’t down to Banna anywhere near so much as down to a sad little twerp called Sayyid Qutb, who developed in a series of books the basic ideas that now drive Al Quaida. The central belief espoused was that only pure sharia is proper Islam, and anything else is “jahiliyyah”; not really Muslim at all. This reactionary philosophy was a reaction against the fact that the muslim world was evolving to modernity, becoming slowly more liberal under western influence, even discussing such issues as feminism.

But if we as western non-muslims accept this view; that there is only one possible path a muslim can follow, and any muslim who strays from Qutb’s purist sharia isn’t following the religion properly; and this view is widely espoused among anti-jihadists in the west, who insist that Islam has this particular character engraved into it by the Koran; then we shoot ourselves in the foot. We help the Islamists- extremists who are determined to lock their fellow muslims into a mediaeval ideological straitjacket- to achieve their aims. We are saying to the young muslim, “if you are a real muslim, you should follow violent jihad and desire a global caliphate, and you should wear the burka” and so on, and slamming the door on the muslim who says, “I just want to get on quietly with my life and go to the mosque like you guys go to church”. If we say that the only form of Islam is jihadism, can we blame them for saying, “oh well fair enough, jihadism it is then”.

Is there another path open to Muslims? I think there is. I do not believe that any set of words is immutable, and that is especially true of religious texts. Christians and modern Jews routinely ignore various clearly stated rules in the Bible. The Book Of Acts tells Christians not to eat strangled animals, but most Christians enjoy a turkey or goose at Christmas. The Jews no longer stone disobedient children, even though the Torah is absolutely clear on the need for that, and Judaism just as much requires obedience to the Torah as Islam to the Koran; indeed the nature of Judaic Law and Sharia are effectively the same since Islam is just Judaism for Arabs. The difference is that modern Jews take a different personal attitude to extremist muslims, that is all.

So to declare that Islam is inherently all the violence and nastiness of the Koran is wrong both logically and strategically. Islam isn’t going to go away. The hundreds of millions of believers aren’t going to suddenly become atheists. If we in the non-muslim world say that the only possible Islam is the one espoused by Al Quaida, we become their enablers. And we really shouldn’t want to be that.

Islamic Justice

At its compassionate best:

I haven’t given you any Words of the Prophet for a long time, so here:

Volume 8, Book 82, Number 816:

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

‘Umar said, "I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, "We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book," and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession." Sufyan added, "I have memorized this narration in this way." ‘Umar added, "Surely Allah’s Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him."

Mo used to torture monkeys to death as well.

H/T Jihad Watch

Breeds

Nick? You know anything about this?

C’mon, fess up.

H/T Legiron

Free Speech for all

Woah, good luck with that.

And I hope, for the sakes of all Americans, and by extension the rest of us as well, the IRS comes after you guns blazing.

ID’er discussed

A commenter on this site, Kinuachdrach, has made a few comments on this posting, making a whole load of assertions about Darwinism, none of which I recognise as being true of any Darwinist writing I have ever read, and being generically insulting to Darwinists, amongst whose number I count myself. I am hereby exercising my property rights and elevating this discussion to a posting of its own. So, feel free to join in.

I guess you should read his comments first.

http://www.countingcats.com/?p=7742&cpage=1#comment-25353
http://www.countingcats.com/?p=7742&cpage=1#comment-25378
http://www.countingcats.com/?p=7742&cpage=1#comment-25395

Ah, wtf, read the whole thread.

This is my reaction to his most recent comments.

So,

Kinuachdrach,

Darwinists and Anthropogenic Global Warmers are on the same actively anti-scientific page.

K, you keep using the term Darwinist to describe views I have never encountered in any discussion of Darwinian theory. Are you able to back this up, or is this just, to use your words, a straw man for you to whip with wet spaghetti? Seriously. You keep ascribing views to Darwinists that I find anathema. Either put up or stop insulting me, Darwinist that I am. Hell even having to use that title is absurd, after all, who describes themselves an a Newtonist or an Archimedian, an Einsteinist or a Lorenzist? I am a scientifically trained and logically minded individual who finds Darwins hypothesis attractive, the data convincing, and the implications mindblowingly glorious. How does that jibe with your characterisations?

And people who are brain dead can take classes in Darwinism that start from the unexamined assumption that random chance explains everything.

Where? Brain Dead? Sneering insult again? Ok, If that is what they are being taught then they are not being taught Darwinism, that assumption forms no part of the theory. If that’s what you have been taught Darwinism is, then you have been badly misinformed.

Darwinism makes no assumptions about the source of variation (genetics is a very different field of study) and the selection? It may be natural, but it’s neither random nor chancy.

It seems that most of the people who critique Intelligent Design don’t have a clue what they are talking about. They build a straw man out of their own misconceptions and then assault that straw man. Very leftist!

K, you keep making assertions without producing evidence, and making claims about Darwinian thought which are foreign to anything I have ever encountered, and then you issue critiques on them. And you accuse me of erecting and assaulting a straw man?

It’s a long time since I have been called a leftist, although it has happened, much to my amusement at the time. What you need to remember at sites like this is that the Left/Darwinist vs Right/non Darwinist dispute is peculiar to America. Once you leave those shores this becomes a matter of intellectual discussion divorced from politics. In general, here with me in Australia, or with Nick in the UK, most people, regardless of their politics, are as satisfied with Darwin as they are with Einstein.

There is no such thing as settled science — in contrast to what warm-mongers and Darwinists claim.

I repeat, and you accuse me of erecting and assaulting a straw man? Where do Darwinists make this claim? Seriously? I have NEVER seen it.

There are clear problems with the inability of Darwinism to make testable predictions,

Sigh, this is a Dracula argument. It doesn’t matter how often it is beaten down and staked, it keeps coming back:

I refer you to:

Theobald, Douglas L. "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: The Scientific Case for Common Descent." The Talk.Origins Archive. Vers. 2.83. 2004. 12 Jan, 2004 

In the following list of evidences, 30 major predictions of the hypothesis of common descent are enumerated and discussed. Under each point is a demonstration of how the prediction fares against actual biological testing. Each point lists a few examples of evolutionary confirmations followed by potential falsifications. Since one fundamental concept generates all of these predictions, most of them are interrelated. So that the logic will be easy to follow, related predictions are grouped into five separate subdivisions. Each subdivision has a paragraph or two introducing the main idea that unites the various predictions in that section. There are many in-text references given for each point. As will be seen, universal common descent makes many specific predictions about what should and what should not be observed in the biological world, and it has fared very well against empirically-obtained observations from the past 140+ years of intense scientific investigation.

and:

Scriven, M. Explanation and Prediction in Evolutionary Theory. Science, New Series, Vol 130, No. 3374 (Aug. 28, 1959), pp 477-482

and:

From that catchall for the lazy researcher, Wikipedia:

    • Genetic information must be transmitted in a molecular way that will be almost exact but permit slight changes. Since this prediction was made, biologists have discovered the existence of DNA, which has a mutation rate of roughly 10−9 per nucleotide per cell division; this provides just such a mechanism.[26]
    • Some DNA sequences are shared by very different organisms. It has been predicted by the theory of evolution that the differences in such DNA sequences between two organisms should roughly resemble both the biological difference between them according to their anatomy and the time that had passed since these two organisms have separated in the course of evolution, as seen in fossil evidence. The rate of accumulating such changes should be low for some sequences, namely those that code for critical RNA or proteins, and high for others that code for less critical RNA or proteins; but for every specific sequence, the rate of change should be roughly constant over time. These results have been experimentally confirmed. Two examples are DNA sequences coding for rRNA, which is highly conserved, and DNA sequences coding forfibrinopeptides (amino acid chains that are discarded during the formation of fibrin), which are highly non-conserved.[26]
    • Prior to 2004, paleontologists had found fossils of amphibians with necks, ears, and four legs, in rock no older than 365 million years old. In rocks more than 385 million years old they could only find fish, without these amphibian characteristics. Evolutionary theory predicted that since amphibians evolved from fish, an intermediate form should be found in rock dated between 365 and 385 million years ago. Such an intermediate form should have many fish-like characteristics, conserved from 385 million years ago or more, but also have many amphibian characteristics as well. In 2004, an expedition to islands in the Canadian arctic searching specifically for this fossil form in rocks that were 375 million years old discovered fossils of Tiktaalik.[27]
    • Evolutionary theory predicts that novel inventions can arise, while creationists predict that new "information" cannot arise, and that the Second Law of Thermodynamics only allows for "information" to be lost.[28] In an ongoing experiment, Richard Lenski observed that E. coli evolved the ability to metabolize citrate, which constitutes a novel invention, and an increase in the information of the DNA of the E. coli.[29]

The claim that Darwinism can’t make testable predictions is not just absurd, it is contrary to the evidence and insulting to the intelligence of the listener.

and with its inability to explain the punctuated equilibrium seen in the fossil record.

Now, this one really is a gift to me. Thank you. I don’t even have to go to Wikipedia.

I don’t know who trained you, but I do suggest you go get your money back. The punctuated equilibrium hypothesis is a Darwinian formulation, first put forward by Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge in a 1972 paper as an explanation for the observed gap in the fossil record you referred to. Personally, I think it is a brilliant piece of work. Brilliant in its simplicity. Like Darwinism itself. Not really any room for its details here, but I can go into it later if you wish. For reference, Gould, until his death, was one of the worlds best known Darwinian theorists, author of a vast number of popular articles on biology, and had a long term dislike of Dawkins argument that the gene was the unit of selection. Sometimes scathing in fact; he much preferred the more traditional view that the entire phenotype, as expressed in the whole body, was that unit.

See? Two experts, at the top of the tree, arguing about central issues. Nothing settled there.

Natural selection is a very reasonable hypothesis, but it fails to explain the world around us.

Given that both examples you have given for this failure have both failed as examples I suggest you rethink this statement.

Personally, I doubt that Intelligent Design does an adequate job of explaining the world either. But it may be that both Darwinism and Intelligent Design are blind men touching different parts of the same elephant. We need to stick to the scientific method, and gradually improve our understanding of the world.

You are right, we do need to stick to the scientific method. That’s why I am sticking with Darwinism until something better comes along. And from what I have seen, ID isn’t that something better.

In all of this you have knocked Darwinism with the most risible criticisms, but you have not given one single justification why Intelligent Design is an acceptable alternative, or co process. Can you? Or is your entire strategy for promoting ID based on nothing bar misrepresenting Darwinism?

The last thing we need is a libertarian version of left-wing anti-scientific Political Correctness, deeming certain things to be unalterable truths and other things to be impermissible lines of inquiry.

This is not the United States. This is an Anglo-Australian blog and on that basis it is exclusively a matter of science. To us there is nothing political about this issue. To us, left and right simply don’t come into it. But, if you insist in thinking in those terms, I am a right wing Darwinist, as is Nick, as, I suspect, will be most other people who come here (although I prefer libertarian or anti statist to right wing, these wing thingies are too simplistic).

No one is trying to shut anyone down, no one is being Politically Correct, but if you are happy to insult me to the extent you have, expect to be asked to justify yourself. And with something better than assertion.

Update:       I have read some stuff on ID, but not for a long while. I’ll do you a deal; I’ll read an ID book of your choice, no conditions, but I would regard it as courteous if you were to agree to read The Selfish Gene in return.

The Roman Empire destroyed by “Greedy bankers, foreign wars and climate change – sound familar?”

Thus went a line in the latest British television history series by Micheal Woods  – I do not even remember the name of the series (it was something like the “little people’s history” or some other Ellsworth Toohey style title), I turned it off and I will not be watching any more of this shit, but young people will get their view of history from it.

Of course the Roman Empire was not destroyed by “greedy bankers” (Roman law did not even allow fractional reserve banking – indeed a “deposit” under Roman law was literally that, it was money that someone “deposited” with someone else for safe keeping, they were not allowed to lend it out). Aggressive “foreign wars” – the Roman Empire had basically been on the defensive for centuries before it collapsed. And as for “climate change”  – no doubt all those nonexistant Roman cars and aircraft (as I turned thing off Woods was walking among mocked up abandoned cars and trucks talking about the collapse of our civilization “when the oil runs out” hardly history) really pumped out a lot of C02.

Before I got to the off switch Micheal Woods had already informed the viewers that the Anglo Saxons were the same people as the ancient Britons (so that is why this is being typed in Welsh) at least the modern inhabitants of England are genetically the same  as the ancient Britons  – not in the eastern parts of England you P.C. arsewipe. Micheal Woods also said that the Anglo Saxons were “economic migrants” (forgeting that he had just said that they were not new people) – “economic migrants” with swords, spears and axes (I repeat my point about “P.C. arsewipe”).

This is not an untypical example of how British history is being taught. This (I think) was an ITV (“independent” television) show – but the BBC is no better (if anything it is worse).

For example, the latest issue of the BBC history magazine readers are told that Christian Roman persecution of pagans brought “Britons and Anglo Saxons together” (hey I thought they were supposed to be the same  people). Evidence? Why would the BBC bother with evidence?

Then we are told that that the Roman Empire in Britain ended with “egalitarian social revolution” (held to be a good thing of course) led by such “Red monks” as Gildas.

Before Americans (or other people) start laughing too hard – how do you think your own history is being taught?

Modern Times in Toyland

No, Noddy and Big Ears are not getting a civil partnership… that I know of…

But I was flicking through the TESCO direct catalogue and alighted on the Lego pages. I noted this…

City Airport
Features revolving doors, check-in-desk, security checkpoint with X-ray machine and cafe in departure lounge. Also comes with plane, control tower, luggage cart and 5 minifigures. Age range 6yrs+

Good to see Lego are training the nippers for a lifetime of air-travel misery. They might prefer to travel in Barbie’s “fairytale” horse-drawn carriage which now boasts a flat screen TV….

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