Monday, 28 June 2010

What's in my bag?

John on holiday so we go shopping yesterday.  That's the view from the ferry taken with my iPhone --  Hong Kong harbour as we cross to Kowloon; almost black and white, in colour....  Louring clouds, before water from the sky washes us down, wipes away the smog.

The bag I carry is made of sail material, kevlar and carbon laminate, with a couple of handles and a zip.  It was made by the sailmakers.  I've put my name and phone number on it, in case I leave it somewhere, but they've rubbed off a bit and would take some guessing.  So if I did leave it somewhere, an Honest Person, wanting to find its owner, would need to look inside.

The HP would find:
  • One pair of ear muffs -- the sort you use for noise abatement, not for the cold.
  • One pair of ear phones with speaker on a stick, jumbo size, "industrial activity, for use in".
  • One engraving tool, with a template of numbers and letters.
  • One used battery for a laptop computer.
  • One set of guitar strings.
  • Two little pieces of wire, white plastic coated and with special clips at each end, "unknown, for use of:".
  • One copy of the latest Vanity Fair magazine.  Shock, horror, a lefty mag, with story about Sean Penn in Haiti, he of the overwrought admiration for Castro and one I've loved to hate; but then I read about him in Haiti and learn that he's being practical and useful, doing stuff that wouldn't have otherwise have been done, and helping and saving people.  So, that's OK, then, as long as we don't have to put up with his diabolical ultra-left nonsense, which would have the US revert to sixties culturally revolutionary China penury.... It's ok, I guess, as long as he doesn't have the power to do "bigger things", that is, to put his grand millenarian goals into practice on a national level.  When he's helping in Haiti at ground level.  
  • And one book "What the dog saw", by Malcolm Gladwell, a collection of his New Yorker pieces; aha, another leftie magazine.  And in that collection, a story about Haiti, making the place sound the wonder that Penn had as well, despite the poverty, the corruption, the heat, the earthquake, the venality of some of the survivors, the energy, the red and blackness of the place.
So investigating the contents, a leftie then, interested in.... what? make of those bits and pieces what you will.  And leftie?  Down the bottom, scruntched up and dog-eared, so read already, last week's Spectator.  Hmm...  what does it all mean?  What is the bag-owner up to?....

Then home after the deluge, and to the park, dried out now, where we see, iPhotograph and argue about the colour of this beauty, turquoise or dark blue.  Dark blue says John, and he's right.
We have so many lovely butterflies in Hong Kong....

Article on Shariah Finance

Is Senator Sherry naïve or disingenuous? 

The case against Shariah finance in Australia.

I was disappointed to see that my old employer, Austrade, has been touting Shariah finance.  Austrade’s boss, Trade Minister Simon Crean, launched an Austrade publication earlier this year entitled “Islamic Finance”.  Crean’s colleague, Senator Nick Sherry, the Assistant Treasurer, has since been hard at work promoting Shariah finance with three speeches in as many months spruiking its virtues.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

"Support Israel: if it goes down, we all go down"

Below, from The Times online on 17th June, an article by José María Aznar who was Prime Minister of Spain, 1996-2004:

Anger over Gaza is a distraction. We cannot forget that Israel is the West’s best ally in a turbulent region.

McChrystal's auto-immolation

I wonder why he did it?  Why did McChrystal allow the comments ("kvetching", David Brooks calls it) to be on the record?  And he did that.  Indeed, Michael Hastings, the writer of the piece, the Runaway General, said that he passed a draft of the article to the General and his staff and they cleared it.  Nothing makes sense except that McChrystal thought so much of himself that he was "unfire-able".  That's certainly what Hastings thought.
Brooks said that Hastings made the "kevtching the center of his magazine profile".

Saturday, 26 June 2010

"Jakarta's deradicalisation plan flounders"

"Flounders"?  or "founders"?? (the above being the headline to this story in the South China Morning Post today).
In any case, my reaction: "gee, I wonder why?".  Could it be that in countering the views of the so-called "radicals" or so-called "extremists"  -- those I'd rather call "Islamists" -- they haven't got a very strong hand to play.  Sure, there are some peaceable verses in the Koran, but they're "abrogated" (called naskh) by the more numerous violent ones. The guys in the story below saying "what we are doing, God willing, will be good in God's eyes" are spot on the money.  They know the scripture and they know about naskh.  They also know about Taqiyya, the principle of deception which Abdullah Sunata was clearly adept in.  (That's him, the smiling deceiver above)
Not to say they should not try these "deradicalisation" programs.  Just they they're not likely to have much success.  The Nasir Abbas success story, below, is useful, but the rare exception.
And I wonder, when I see stories of these "deradicalisation" efforts, in Saudi Arabia -- where they've also been a failure -- or in Indonesia, I wonder what the deradicalisers say to the "radicals"....

"Brouhaha over trade surplus and weak yuan makes little sense"

I found the article by Jake I mentioned in the immediately preceding post.
This is further ammunition for my theory that China is on "our side", that our battle is not with China, but with the Islamist resurgence and its claims for a caliphate with the Koran to take place of western constitutions, written or not.
As part of that theory, there is it converse: that needless criticism of China -- and lots, thought to be sure not all, is needless -- is counterproductive to the west.
The "brouhaha" as Jake calls it, over the value of the yuan is particularly puzzling, given any major moves on the upside will impact US facilities in China, which are the major source of exports to the US: 80% as the chart above shows.
Jake says it better:

Chinese Yuan convertibility?

Interesting article in today's Monitor column in the South China Morning Post.
This after another interesting one from Jake van der Kamp last week sometime in which he showed that the bulk of exports from China to the US are from US invested joint ventures [PS: found it, post above].  Hence, the push to have China revalue the yuan will end up hurting US companies; he doesn't get it, and neither do I.  It's another case of a lot of energy being expended on criticising China, when China is in fact on "our" side: that is, one of the creators, builders, in the world, not one of the destroyers, or would-be destroyers of western, secular, participatory cultures.  I know, I know, ....

Friday, 25 June 2010

"Feeling Bleu"

Letter below in International Herald Tribune, the international edition of the New York Times.  Roger Cohen is a reliable dhimmi, who never met an apologia for Islam he did not like.  For example, he was recently on an Intelligence squared debate (around May) about the US policy in the Middle East and managed to talk for an hour or more without once mentioning Hamas.  Rather like talking of WW2 and not mentioning the Nazis.
In this article he talks of the problems of immigrants in France,....

Thursday, 24 June 2010

LEAP to a better policy on drug control

These people at LEAP do great work.  This is their latest e-letter to me, a touch out of date now, but useful for the reference to the Webb bill ...

Dear Peter,

TODAY - Wednesday, June 23 - is National Call-In Day:  If you are concerned about America's incarceration problem, please take a few minutes to call key senators who are in a position to do something about it.  Tell Senate leadership to support the Webb Criminal Justice Commission! 

Sharia Law tribunals in the UK

There are now over 100 of these, and there's pressure for more, but they do harm to the principle of one law for all, regardless of race, gender, faith.  Unless they are opposed, the banner on the left will indeed come true...
There was a guy on the BBC Radio a few days ago, saying that he wanted Sharia courts, because he didn't think the government should be interfering in his private affairs.  But that misses the point entirely, for there's no suggestion of the government interfering in his right to practice his faith, but just that when the law comes into play -- whether family or criminal law -- it should be the common law of the UK.  He can't beat his wife, for example, just because the Koran says he can.
I wrote to BBC Radio and they read it out; couple of days ago now....

One Law for All, new Report

Several hundred people joined One Law for All on 20 June at Downing Street to show their opposition to Sharia and religious-based laws in Britain and elsewhere and to demand universal rights and secularism.

A new report “Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights”  was published on the day to coincide with the rally. Human rights activist Gita Sahgal said of the report: “I think it is highly significant that in Britain there has been silence where there should have been condemnation. There is active support for ‘Sharia laws’ precisely because it is limited to denying women rights in the family. No hands are being cut off, so there can’t be a problem.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Vuvuzelas evevery where

A word we didn't know a few short weeks ago -- and most wish they still didn't -- and now we see it everywhere.  The latest Speccie has at least three mentions:
Deborah Ross, on the movie Ajami: "It isn't about teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony (minus the  vuvuzelas, obviously)."
Simon Hoggart on the World Cup: "He [James Corden] is a human vuvuzela, making loud and meaningless noises, because he can".
And the cartoon above.
I guess, like the World Cup, it'll be over soon, this rash of vuvuzela-ness, and that it'll fade into unhappy memory, if not quite as rare as the phrase "England wins!", then at least a rarely-sighted metaphor, for anything loud and meaningless.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Sharia courts operating "up and down the country"

BBC Radio's Rozina Sini reports that Sharia courts in the UK are being resorted to by non-Muslims.  Maryam Namazie of One Law for All is on the show [at 4:30], stating -- correctly -- that Sharia law is "fundamentally unfair, unjust and religious law has no place in the 21st Century".  Followed by Ms Sini finishing off the report with: "...despite the campaigns against them, Sharia Tribunals are operating up and down the country.".  Oh, that's ok then....
Imagine something we might all agree is bad, say Mafia gangs.  A guest on the show says "Mafia gangs are fundamentally unfair, unjust and criminal and have no place in the 21st century".  And the host signs off with "... despite the campaigns against them, Mafia gangs are operating up and down the country", and our take-away is supposed to be, "well, that's ok then."  Crazy, huh?

One Law for All

A new report by One Law for All has found Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals to be in violation of UK law, public policy and human rights.

Read the press release about the report

Download the full report

The report is being launched to coincide with a
20 June 2010 rally on the issue of Sharia law:  - (Please note last minute venue change made by police.)
The One Law for All Campaign was launched on 10 December 2008, International Human Rights Day, to call on the UK Government to recognise that Sharia and religious courts are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular and that citizenship and human rights are non-negotiable.

For further information contact:

Maryam Namazie
One Law for All
BM Box 2387
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731

"Muslims are the new Jews". Huh?

Author Aayan Hirsi Ali
One of the objections one often hears from one's libera-tolera mates, in objection to one's criticism of one or other aspect of Islamist nonsense, is that the criticism is "demonising Muslims", that the Muslims are being treated like the Jews in 1930s Germany.  Careful, one is warned, this criticism will soon be bigotry, and we all know where that can lead.  Just look at the jews in Germany.  Muslims are the new jews.
This is from the same cloth as those other objections: "the Bible has that same violent texts as the Koran, you can cherry pick from either of them", or "all religions have their extremist nutters, their terrorists".  And so on. All of these evanesce at the most cursory investigation.

The one about "Muslims are the new Jews" seems to be gaining traction, though it's also sheer nonsense.  I was going to write about it, but Robert Spencer has now done so, in his elegant pen.  In an article critical of a New Yorker hatchet piece on Aayan Hirst Ali he says:

Or in short, as the new saying goes, "Muslims are the new Jews." There is just one problem with this ghastly equation, which trivializes the mass-murders of Jews in Europe and defames Hirsi Ali: Jews never carried out terrorist attacks in Europe, and never boasted about how they were one day going to take over (in contrast to Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi's boast that Muslims would soon conquer Rome and all of Europe -- a boast that other Islamic leaders have echoed). The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a forgery, and there was no factual basis for all the conspiracy theories about Jews scheming to control the world, any more than there is today.
There is no open-ended, universal imperative in Jewish Scripture calling upon Jews to wage war against non-Jews and subjugate them under their rule (and the verses from Deuteronomy and Joshua that are always invoked to claim that there is such an imperative have never been understood that way by Jewish or Christian exegetes). But there is such an imperative in the Qur'an, and throughout Islamic history the mainstream understanding of that imperative has been that it is something incumbent upon the Islamic community as a whole. Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Shari'ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad, in his 1994 book The Methodology of Ijtihad, quotes the twelfth century Maliki jurist Ibn Rushd: "Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting with the People of the one of two things: it is either their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah." Nyazee concludes: "This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation" of non-Muslims.
I suppose Nyazee is an "Islamophobe"?
What's more, neither Ayaan Hirsi Ali nor anyone else is talking about rounding up Muslims and gassing them to death, or deporting them wholesale, or any such. It is a peculiar leap of logic to say that because one group was falsely accused of supremacist designs and was persecuted as a result, therefore any other group accused of supremacist designs must be falsely accused, with the accusers nursing genocidal aspirations.

Anyone that criticises Hirsi Ali is a bit suspect in my view.  This is a wonderful, brave and eloquent woman.  The fact that she's undergone savage mistreatment at the altar of orthodox Islam, and come out swinging the other side speaks to her courage and integrity.  She ought to be idolized by the Left, but instead -- because of the unspoken pact between the Left and Islam -- she's demonized herself.

Another fellow who peddles this nonsense of Muslims being "demonized" is Anwar Akhtar writing in the Guardian (where else?) and comparing critiques of Islamism with the witch trials dramatised in "The Crucible".  Of course that play was a satire of the McCarthy trials of the 1950s, based on falsified evidence of the alleged existence of "reds under the beds" of Americans.  The criticism of Islamism, by contrast, is based on the sayings, teachings, lobbyings of pollies and lobbing of bombs which are done by their co-religionists.  Those critical of Islamism are pointing out what it says and does; we are not making it up.  And yet the slander of "Islamophobia" is directed as the critics not the perpetrators.  That's the real demonizing.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

You say "tomayto", I say "tomaahto"; you say "Beijing", I say "Peking"

I'm sometimes asked why I refer to Peking and not "Beijing".  After all, say my questioners, didn't China change their names some time ago?

Well no actually, they didn't change the name of Peking, or Canton, Hong Kong, Tibet or China for that matter.  But rather than get into the technicalities of the romanisation of Chinese place names, the replacement of Wade-Giles by Pinyin, I've taken to saying...

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

An "enemy of the people"?

Norwegian-based writer Bruce Bawer [not him, at left] writes here that he's being condemned as an "Enemy of the People", referring to one Ibsen's most famous plays.
I acted in this play in 1994 in Hong Kong, playing the part of Captain Horster. The play is about a small town which "has recently invested a large amount of public and private money towards the development of baths, a project led by Dr. Stockmann and his brother, Peter Stockmann the Mayor. The town is expecting a surge in tourism and prosperity from the new baths...

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

"Hallowed Ground"

This from the Economist.  Another dhimmi piece on Islam, an awkward and uncomfortable piece, by turns jejune and disingenuous.  My comments left justified, maroon.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Any hope of peace in Israel-Palestine?

I'm pretty gloomy about the prospects of peace in the biblical lands. (Perhaps I ought to call them the "bibilical-koranic" lands, or even "Palestine", but I'll let my bias peek out: they were biblical first, after all...).  I think about the best Israel can expect is the status quo, and even that's increasingly difficult to hold, what with the increasing anti-zionist, growingly anti-semitic trends in the west and the unremitting enmity by all of its near neighbours.  And demographics, which will make jews a minority in Israel in the not-too-distant future.
But a touch of hope, watching the affable Mahmoud Abbas on Charlie Rose this morning...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Don’t drink the Sherry: Nick’s dangerous delusions

Since the letter I sent on Shariah Finance to Simon Crean and Nick Sherry, in my immediately preceding post, Sherry has made two more speeches on the subject.  Dave Clark has written a critique here.  I have written the [draft] article below, which I post here and hope to get out to various Aussie press.  If you have any comment, send to my email or to

Letter to Simon Crean and Nick Sherry

Below is re-post, for the record of the Open Letter sent to Trade Minister, Simon Crean, boss of Austrade and the Assistant Treasurer, Nick Sherry, who has been out and about talking up "Islamic finance".
Critics such as Dave Clark, myself and others have had some impact, in that we have been referred to in Sherry's recent speeches -- albeit as being "misinformed", "ridiculous", "egregious", and so forth.  The usual ad hominem when one doesn't want to allude to the issue at hand, or to acknowledge that the critic may have a point. I learnt in China in the seventies, when they talked about the "extremely small number of rightists" or, later after the overthrow of the Gang of Four it became the "extremely small number of leftists", that when the powers that be talk of "extremely small number", they've got a worry.
I sent this letter to Crean and Sherry and copied by snail mail to a couple of senior execs in Austrade.
If you have any comment on it, send to my email or to

We are the world, we con the people

Yay!  Jewish sense of satire and humour cutting to the chase here.  A video that the Israeli government first distributed then apologised for.  What's to apologise?  It's fun, funky.... and true...
(this doesn't seem to come out full screen on my computer, so if it doesn't just click on it for the full screen)
Postscript: don't bother clicking on it, cause YouTube has PULLED the video, having given in to pressure to do so, NOT because of the copywright problems as YouTube claims and as Carolyn Glick, editor of the video attests....  Shame on YouTube for pulling this perfectly spot-on bit of parody and shame on YouTube for lying about the reason why...  Ms Glick says....

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Guitars and Flowers

I've been relaxing, from time to time, getting away from the baleful job of reading about Islam, and have become a Luthier: a builder of stringed instruments, in my case electric guitars.   Here's my first one, a Les Paul style, but with headstock somewhat influenced by Fender.
And then walking out in the garden and our surrounding 40 acres of park, to smell the flowers, commune with the butterflies, note that we have a nesting Chinese red-vented Bulbul in our palm-fringed bamboo and just now a nesting Magpie Robin in our magnolia bush, has given her babies flight.
And that relaxes the mind, brings a big breath of cleansing air into the neurons.  

"Say what? Online archive holds clues to world accents"

Easing my way back into Hong Kong after a week or so away in Thailand, where we were in a yachting regatta and won our division which was great chuff.  If you're a friend, send me an email and I'll send you a link to the regatta report and some piccies of us.
Easing in with one of my interests: language.  Below an article on accents, which I copy in full, as the South China Morning Post requires you to log in: