Friday, 27 April 2007
Radio Derb...
clear up.
Posted on 04/27/2007 6:14 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 27 April 2007
The Boy Who Cried Wolf Problem
BAGHDAD — The commander of the foreign operations wing of Iran's Revolutionary Guard met with Sunni Kurdish jihadist leaders in April 2005 to encourage them to launch attacks in Iraq.
News of the meeting was disclosed Tuesday in an interview with Osman Ali Mustapha, a former Kurdish police officer who was recruited by Iranian intelligence in 2004 to spy on American bases and eventually help facilitate the assassination of a Kurdish police chief in Halabja.--from this news item

There is, of course, the Boy Who Cried Wolf problem. The Administration is less likely to do what it should in Iran -- and what it should do has nothing to do with preventing the Shi'a Arabs from holding onto their new power in Iraq, and nothing to do with "invading" Iran, but everything to do with damaging, from the air, with or without the obvious ally, Iran's nuclear project. Otherwise, let the Shi'a threaten or seem to threaten the Sunnis, with their conventional forces, in Iraq. That may concern the Sunni Arabs of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, now moving heaven and earth to keep the Bush Administration convinced it should remain in Iraq. But it should be no concern of ours. We are Infidels. We wish to encourage internecine strife in the Camp of Islam. But for our own reasons, we cannot allow either side to acquire weapons of mass destruction. They can kill each other with lesser weaponry. That way, the Infidels will not have to worry as much.

Posted on 04/27/2007 3:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 27 April 2007
Sins of omission

Do we need yet another reason to leave the EU? Reason not the need. The reasons just keep on coming.


The latest piece of nonsense to come out of that execrable organisation is reported in today’s Times. Generally diktats from that quarter are rigidly and enthusiastically obeyed by the Germans, reluctantly but scrupulously adhered to by us, and brazenly flouted by the French and Italians. However, Britain's theatres are thriving, and I think this latest restriction – for the killjoy EU always restricts - will prove as unenforceable as New Labour’s absurd ban on fox hunting.  

Devious promoters who try to attract theatregoers by quoting selectively from reviews face prosecution under new European laws.

The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, which comes into effect in Britain next April, bans promotions that are “likely to deceive the average consumer, even if the information is correct”, provided that it is likely to cause him to buy a ticket. The legislation specifically bans commercial practices that impair appreciably the consumer’s ability to make an informed decision.

For example, the editing of a reviewer’s description of the West End production of Saturday Night Fever from “if it’s an all-out retro romp you want, this only fitfully delivers” to “an all-out retro romp!” would be a criminal offence, lawyers claim.

Devious promoters? It’s advertising, stupid. Of course promoters will quote selectively from reviews. Of course they will try to make the show seem better than it is. That is their job. If they quoted the bad stuff they wouldn’t be promoters - they’d be demoters. And if the theatre-going public cannot see this, and cannot make up its own mind, then it deserves to be fleeced.


The Times piece has examples of selective quoting, the selective quote being in bold:


Fans of Alyson Hannigan and Luke Perry will be ecstatic – their companions will just have to fake an interest”

Time Out on When Harry Met Sally

“Frank Loesser’s great musical from 1950 is hilarious . . . Grandage’s production often falls somewhat flat . . . The orchestra sounded as if they were all trapped in one loudspeaker”

Independent on Sunday on Guys and Dolls

Dancing in the Streets will be perfect for hen parties, Motown addicts and for a sweaty summer bop. But it is not drama, may not even be proper art, and real music lovers will get a more satisfying hit from attending a proper concert”

      Daily Mail on Dancing in the Streets

Selective quoting is nothing new. It has long been a regular feature of book jacket blurbs. The practice was parodied superbly in Sellar and Yeatman’s 1066 And All That, which quoted some “press opinions” of the book, among them the straw-clutching:

            “This slim volume…” Bookworm

Posted on 04/27/2007 2:29 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 27 April 2007

I agree with Robert. "Indians" is what it has always been.  Cowboys and Indians. The Indian tribes, not the Red Indian tribes. "Circle the wagons, the Indians are coming." Not "Circle  the wagons, the Red Indians are coming."

The word "red" does come into play, however, in a word that one should be wary or chary of using nowadays: "redskins." It survives longer in literature, especially literature about the exciting Indians of the Wild West in the books for boys of distant, European origin: les peaux-rouges,  i pellerossa (see Tex Willer), all the stories of unsavory Karl May and innocent Mayne Reid.

And what about Indians from India? Should they be offended or worry about confusion? No. How many descendants of Oglethorpe's Englishmen, in Milledgeville or Atlanta, worry about possible confusion with those yogurt-eating smiling Georgians sitting for their portrait, or perhaps later giving a tamada-provided toast to the kind American advertisers who came from so far away to snap their pictures, and all because they happen, those Georgians on their diet of lactobacillus bulgaricus to live, every man jack of them, into their 90s -- or for that matter,  how many of those Georgians in their mountain redoubt worry that, in English, some might possibly confuse them with the Oglethorpe, or the Flannery-O'Connor, or the Atlanta Chamber-of-Commerce kind?

Posted on 04/27/2007 2:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 27 April 2007
Let Us Skip Sex

In reference to Mary's post here, from the interview by Alvin Toffler with Vladimir Nabokov, published in Playboy:  

Many readers have concluded that the Philistinism you seem to find the most exhilarating is that of America's sexual mores. 

Sex as an institution, sex as a general notion, sex as a problem,  sex as a platitude-- all this is something I find too tedious for words. Let us skip sex.

Posted on 04/27/2007 2:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 27 April 2007
A Silly Policy, Obstinately Pursued

"You cannot convince me, however, that pulling out of Iraq is even an option right now. The ensuing human disaster would dwarf what occurred after we abandoned South Vietnam. Worse, we would then have to deal with the Texas sized terrorist base camp Iraq would become. " --from reader Bram below

"Human disaster" for whom? For the camp of Infidels? for whom? Ali Allawi thinks that the Shi'a have already inherited Iraq, and they will simply fight the Sunnis using the kind of tactics that will have an effect.

We don't have the money, nor the support for this Tarbaby Iraq venture, which -- I repeat -- makes no sense if the goal is, as it should be, defined as Weakening the Camp of Islam -- to continue this farce.

You are ignoring what is happening in Western Europe: 15,000 Muslims in Holland in 1970, now one million. 5-7 million in France. And so on. You are ignoring the world-wide ac ts of aggression, against Hindus and Christians in Pakistan, Hindus in Kashmir, India, Bangladesh, and Bali, Christians in the Moluccas and southern Philippines and southern Sudan, Buddhists in southern Thailand.

You have apparently not permitted yourself the study either of the tenets of Islam, nor the history, over 1350 years, of Islamic conquest of Infidel lands and subjugation of those Infidels -- a history that is remarkably identical, in time and space.

You appear to think that the main "war" is one involving bombs and tanks and planes. You are quite wrong. It is at this point primarily a war to alert and educate Infidels, to halt Muslim migration into, and infiltration of, Western societies at every level.

You think we owe some kind of duty to the people of Iraq (not "the Iraqi people"). Why? The Sunnis have been persecuting the Shi'a since the first century of Islam. The Shi'a, in turn, have no love for Infidels, and are our enemy just as much as are the Sunni Arabs. The only group that deserves our support, and not out of sentimental reasons but out of other, hard-headed reasons, are the Kurds, because an independent Kurdistan would, or could, inspire, not only Kurds in Iran and Syria, but also others, including the Baluchis, Arabs, and Azeris who with the Kurds constitute half the population of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also other non-Arab Muslims, such as the Berbers or the black African Muslims of Darfur, who might find heartening the spectacle of a non-Arab Muslim people throwing off the Arab yoke. Yes, I know that Turkey would not be happy, but there are ways to obtain Turkish cooperation, not least by guaranteeing that an independent Kurdistan would have to promise (to the Americans, their backers) not to make any territorial demands on Turkey, and without American aid, that independent Kurdistan could do nothing.

It is a pity you are following they party line so loyally. Other soldiers have seen, and more are seeing every day, things quite differently. And those who voted for Bush (as I did, twice) and who have no desire to be kagan-kirstol-krauthhammer-hanson loyalists, are disgusted at the squandering and the misapprehension of Islam.

I care as little for what happens to the "Iraqis" as I would, during World War II, have cared what happened to Germans during the bombing raids over Berlin, Dresden, and Hamburg, or to the Japanese civilians who died because the war needed to be brought to an end, to same  hundreds of thousands of American lives.

When did war become so sentimental? An extension of social work? We can't afford the luxury of such sentiments at this time, with the kind of threats that surround us.

We need to weaken the Camp of Islam, and Iraq is the best place at the moment. The Sunnis will never acquiesce in their new position, and the Shi'a will never give them what they want. No matter what. Once all the "counter-insurgency" experts, the kind who think that there is "the lesson of Algeria" or "the lesson of Malaysia" or "the lesson of Kenya" or "the lesson of Greece" start thinking clearly about Islam, and the instruments of Jihad --- one wonders if they have the necessary leisure to do so -- then we can stop with these limited views of war and these dutiful attempts to execute a silly policy, obstinately pursued.

Posted on 04/27/2007 2:14 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 27 April 2007
Re: War Costs

Other things to consider:

What has been the effect on weakening the Camp of Islam by spending this $880 billion, and how else might it have been spent to weaken that Camp?

For example, on the building of nuclear plants (on the model of what the French government has done), on subsidies to solar and wind energy projects, or for mass transit. Suppose $300 billion had been spent on all that?

And suppose some of the rest had been spent on propaganda, broadcasting akin to Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, not to tell Muslims how much we like and respect them, nor how well-off Muslims are in our country, but rather to tell other Infidels about Jihad News around the globe (the kind of thing one finds gathered at Jihad Watch every day, but on a much larger scale, disseminated hither and yon). Or  what if the American government  had also beamed into Muslim countries the voices of Wafa Sultan and Ali Sina and Ibn Warraq and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, both in English and whatever other languages they choose to broadcast in, about their own "spiritual journey" out of Islam. What if there were, on these satellite channels beamed into Dar al-Islam, discussions by scientists on what is necessary for the development of science -- the free and skeptical inquiry so discouraged, even punished, in Islam? What if there were figurative artists and sculptors and art historians discussing their art, and the lack of such means of expression in Islam? What if archaeologists came on to discuss how the civilizations of the Near East were re-discovered not by the Muslims, but by such Westerners as the Assyriologist Austen Henry Layard, and Leonard Woolley at Ur, and a succession of Egyptologists -- Champollion, Lepsius, Howard Carter -- from everywhere but Egypt itself.

But there is no propaganda campaign. There is no large-scale effort, or even a small-scale effort, or even the hint of serious imposition of taxes by the American government on gasoline and on oil, to do as much damage to OPEC, and to raise the price of oil and gasoline as much as possible, thereby to encourage conservation and new technologies and new sources of energy.


There is only the idiotic squandering of men, money, and matériel, on and on and on, world without end, in Iraq, to bring "freedom" to "ordinary moms and dads" in the Muslim Middle East, and somehow to make of Iraq a unified state, instead of what we should be wanting, which is to create a permanent fault line between Shi'a and Sunni running north and west of Baghdad, a line that the Sunnis will never acquiesce in.

Oh, it's a policy all right. It's Boots on the Ground. It's soldiers, taught never to question but only to execute. It's destruction of morale, military (at least among the soldiers who can think for themselves, can take in the nature of Islam, and of Iraq, and of Iraqis) and civilian (ditto). It's not the way to combat, it does nothing to halt, the instruments of Jihad that really count: Da'wa, demographic conquest, and the money weapon.

It's a policy begun by those who did not know about Islam and about Iraq, and still refuse to learn. It makes no sense.

Did I mention that in January 2006 the economist Joseph Stiglitz, with a collaborator Linda Bilmes, estimated the cost of the war at between one and two trillion dollars? Or that this past January, Linda Bilmes offered different estimates, based on different assumptions, for the lifetime costs of caring for those wounded in Iraq, and for that alone came up with a separate figure (google "Linda Bilmes" and "Iraq War") of several hundred billion?

The 2 trillion dollar figure was admittedly calculated on the basis of macroecnomic costs (such as changes in the price of oil) and I left those out of my own figure because I assume that at this point an American withdrawal will not cause the price of oil to go down, given a hoped-for continued instability. On the other hand, as you know, during the eight -ear Iran-Iraq War, from 1980 to 1988, the price of oil steadily declined.

I think the war will certainly top one trillion dollars. And the only way to get a return on our investment is to make sure nothing is done by the Americans to prevent those Sunni-Shi'a hostilities from continuing, and having spillover effects elsewhere. We need, we deserve, a return on this fantastic investment.

Posted on 04/27/2007 2:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 27 April 2007
Re: Single Most Important Issue

A reader:


Premise 1:

Immigration and defense are the two most important issues in the
presidential contest.

Conclusion 1:

No Democrat is acceptable.

Conclusion 2:

McCain, Rudy, and Mitt are essentially indistinguishable when it
comes to defense, and fighting radical Islam — they all understand
the dangers and are willing to face up to them.

Rudy and McCain are both weak on immigration.  Mitt must be your man.

The only way Mitt could not be your man is if the sum of the
importances of the lesser issues is greater than the single importance
of immigration.

I warmed some more to Mitt after reading the Boss's piece in the last (Apr. 30) issue of National Review.  Yeah, I could go for Mitt. If I could just get rid of my Tom Tancredo fixation.

Posted on 04/27/2007 2:04 PM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 27 April 2007
Five lesbian wives flee Sharia
This is in several news sites but I’ll take it from the BBC.
A Nigerian lesbian who "married" four women last weekend in Kano State has gone into hiding from the Islamic police, with her partners.
Under Sharia law, adopted in the state seven years ago, homosexuality and same-sex marriages are outlawed and considered very serious offences.
The theatre where the elaborate wedding celebration was held on Sunday has been demolished by Kano city's authorities.
Lesbianism is also illegal under Nigeria's national penal code.
Nigeria's parliament is considering tightening its laws on homosexuality.
Kano's Hisbah board, which uses volunteers to enforce Islamic law, told the BBC that the women's marriage was "unacceptable".
The BBC's Bala Ibrahim in Kano says Aunty Maiduguri and her four "wives" are thought to have gone into hiding the day after they married.
All five women were born Muslims, otherwise they would not be covered by Sharia law.  Islam says a man can take up to four wives if he is able to support them. "As defenders of the Sharia laws, we shall not allow this unhealthy development to take root in the state," the Hisbah's Malam Rabo Abdulkarim told Nigeria's This Day newspaper.
The Hisbah group, which is run separately from the police, receives state government support.
I’m not in favour of polygamy, but it’s funny how turning a convention on its head can expose all sorts of prejudice and absurdities.
Posted on 04/27/2007 12:24 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 27 April 2007
A Thing Of Beauty

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

It falleth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest.

It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.


God, wasn't Keats great?

Posted on 04/27/2007 10:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 27 April 2007
Disco Endorsement

From a reader:

Dear Mr Derbyshire—-Thank you for your warm appreciation of Saturday Night Fever. I've never seen it; but I'll put on the Netflix queue.

Since you ask what disco is good for, I'll tell you. My sister studied deaf ed at Flagler College in Florida, during the disco years. She and her fellow students used to go disco-dancing — both those who could hear, and the deaf. The deaf students *loved* disco — they could feel the bass and so dance in time with the music. Thereby
proving the universality of dancing.

Not exactly a sterling endorsement — 'Disco: The Favorite Music of the Deaf!' — but since you asked, there it is.

Posted on 04/27/2007 10:38 AM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 27 April 2007
War Costs

"Please provide inflation adjusted sources for your first paragraph." --from reader Bram commenting on this post

For the cost of previous wars, inflation-adjusted figures as of 1990s (Nota Bene: of the $61 billion est. cost of Gulf War, $54 billion was reimbursed to the U.S. by other states immediately threatened):

III. Financial Cost

Conflict                            Cost in $ Billions  
                                    Current      1990s    
The Revolution (1775-1783)             .10         1.2  
War of 1812 (1812-1815)                .09         0.7 
Mexican War (1846-1848)                .07         1.1 
Civil War (1861-1865): Union          3.20        27.3 
                     : Confederate    2.00        17.1  
                     : Combined       5.20        44.4  
Spanish American War (1898)            .40         6.3  
World War I (1917-1918)              26.00       196.5   
World War II (1941-1945)            288.00     2,091.3 
Korea (1950-1953)                    54.00       263.9 
Vietnam (1964-1972)                 111.00       346.7 
Gulf War (1990-1991)                 61.00        61.1 

The table compares the cost of America's principal wars since 1775 on the basis of then current and 1990s dollars. Current dollars are the actual numbers spent at the time. Thus, a 1775-1783 dollar had the equivalent purchasing power of $10.75 in 1990s terms. Actually this conversion is only a very rough guide, but at least gives some idea of the relative costs of the ten wars on an adjusted basis. However, it is not possible to take into account drastic changes in social structure (most Americans were farmers in 1775, and didn't use much money), and the increasing affluence of American society over the two centuries covered by the table.

Note that the figures are for direct costs only, omitting pension costs, which tended to triple the ultimate outlays. The table also omits the cost of damage to the national infrastructure during those wars waged on American soil. Confederate figures are estimated.

For the Gulf War it is worth noting that various members of the allied coalition reimbursed the U.S. for 88-percent ($54 billion) of the amount shown, so the actual cost to the taxpayer was only about $7 billion, roughly the same as for the Spanish-American War, and on a per capita basis only $26.92, arguably the least expensive war in the nation's history.

If one adds all the figures in the second column, taking care for the Civil War to use only the $44.1 billion dollar figure for both sides (and not inadvertently double-counting), and for the Gulf War not the total cost of that war ($61 billion) but rather the cost of that war minus the amount reimbursed by others (88%, or about $54 billion), that is $7 billion, one arrives at a figure of $867.5 billion, as the Total Cost of All American Wars, exclusive of World War II -- that is, all American wars except for that continues, unabated, in Tarbaby Iraq.

I rounded it off, in my head, $880 billion. But what's a billion here, or a billion there, or even my overestimating the cost of all those wars by ten billion, given the magnitude of the current mess?

Posted on 04/27/2007 9:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 27 April 2007
The Single Most Important Issue

Interviewer:  "What do you see, when you go out there and campaign, let me ask you, Mrs. Romney, what do you see as, like, the single most important issue for Middle America.  When they sit down at the dinner table at night..."

Ann Romney:  "Well, I know that the issue that gets the most response where we are, even in Iowa, is immigration right now."

Watch the whole clip here.

Posted on 04/27/2007 9:24 AM by John Derbyshire
Friday, 27 April 2007
Red Indians continued

We too played cowboys and Indians, but Red Indian was, at least to the politically incorrect, a common term in the UK until relatively recently. Perhaps we had more need than Americans to distinguish between types of Indians. Indians, in the absence of any qualifier, would be assumed to be from India.

I was on holiday in South America once. We were told that we were going to be eating at a local Indian restaurant. I reflexively visualised flock wallpaper, Chicken vindaloo and Cobra beer. I was wrong.

Posted on 04/27/2007 8:00 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 27 April 2007
A thing of beauty is a what?

A joy for ever, of course. But if Keats had been American, perhaps he would have written "a joy forever".

And if I were American,  I would probably have put the quotation marks after the full stop in the sentence above, and I would have called the full stop a period.

All this won't matter for much longer, certainly not for ever. Soon we will all be writing 4eva, and quotation marks will go the way of all flesh.

I'm not completely sure about the "forever" business. What about "forever and ever"? That must look wrong to Americans too.

A thing of beauty is a garden is a lovesome thing. God wot rot. But it's better than some corner of a foreign field that is... er.....forever England. Forever England and England for ever. Confused? You should be.

Posted on 04/27/2007 7:39 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 27 April 2007
An Enormous Commitment

"It is an endeavor that clearly is going to require enormous commitment and commitment over time"--  General Petraeus

How much of an "enormous commitment"? The American government has already spent, or committed, $880 billion. That is more than the total cost of all of America's previous wars, except for World War II. What have we gotten for it? What could have been done with that $880 billion, if it had been spent otherwise, on energy projects, and propaganda throughout the Infidel lands and even within Dar al-Islam, to force Muslims to begin to make the connection between their own political, economic, social, moral, and intellectual failures, and Islam itself. And what if just a bit -- ten billion or so -- had been spent on  military aid to such countries as Ethiopia and Israel and Thailand and the Philippines, actively under assault from assorted local Jihads, and even the intelligent use of military power to seize Darfur and the southern Sudan (and thus be seen in black Africa to be rolling back the otherwise seemingly inexorable march of Islam southward).

What "commitment over time"? Doesn't General Petraeus understand that all his bright counter-insurgency experts are not expert at all in Islam, and when you leave out Islam, when you leave out the possibility, in Iraq, of weakening the Camp of Islam by leaving Iraq, not by staying, you are essentially irrelevant to the matter at hand.

And does General Petraeus not understand the tremendous unpopularity of this war, an unpopularity it richly deserves, even if not all of those who are opposed to it, and who wish the American withdrawal to have begun yesterday (I think the latest sensible point was March 2004), necessarily realize that such a withdrawal will provide the American government with the only "victory" in Iraq that makes sense: that is,a "victory" properly defined as leaving the Camp of Islam more divided and demoralized than it was before. Keeping Iraq together, trying to force un-Islamic behavior -- that of sweet-reasoning compromise -- on Muslims, will never happen. Never. It is a fool's errand, and anyone in the military who thinks he can get away with echoing the Bush-Cheney line, indefinitely, will see his career utterly ruined. It is those who, despite the hallucinating civilians, have had enough experience in Iraq to begin to grasp the nature of Islam and of Muslim peoples and societies suffused with Islam, who will inherit the military commands --- and it is right that they do so.

Petraeus is soldiering on. He has not allowed himself the luxury to question the entire policy, but merely sees himself as the one who must try to execute that policy. But that policy makes no sense. It is directed at the wrong goals. Petraeus may charm some, but he is making a colossal error in continuing with this folly, this absurd "surge" that will not lead -- and cannot lead -- to any benefit to the Camp of the Infidels.

And others, those soldiers, regular army and in the civilian army, who are being thrown in, their lives put at risk, for the obstinacy and stupidity of Bush and Cheney and a few others, will not forget or forgive.

And why should they?

Posted on 04/27/2007 7:18 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 27 April 2007

From a series of entries by Richard John Neuhaus at On the Square:

Multicultural, interracial, nonsexist massacre. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, in the immediate aftermath of the rampage at Virginia Tech, reflected on those killed: “I am struck by their diversity. They ranged in age from 18 to 76; they came from nine states, along with Puerto Rico, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Romania. They were male and female, African-American, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Caucasian.” You were probably struck by the fact that they were dead. I am sure that Mr. Wallis did not mean to imply that there is anything mitigating, never mind admirable, in a politically correct slaughter. It has been suggested that people should be forgiven for what they say under the pressure of being confronted by a horror that leaves them not knowing what to say.

Posted on 04/27/2007 7:19 AM by Robert Bove
Friday, 27 April 2007
Peggy Noonan OD's on TV

From her column today:

Click. Smug and menacing rappers.

Click. "This is Bauer. He's got a nuke and he's going to take out Los Angeles."

Click. Rosie grabs her crotch. "Eat this."

Click. "Every day 2,000 children are reported missing . . ."

Click. Don Imus's face.

Click. "Eyewitnesses say the shooter then lined the students up . . ."

Click. An antismoking campaign on local New York television. A man growls out how he felt when they found his cancer. He removes a bib and shows us the rough red hole in his throat. He holds a microphone to it to deliver his message.

Don't smoke, he says.

This is what TV will be like in Purgatory.

FYI: Great list, except for Bauer.  He's the guy who wacks bad guys with nukes.

Posted on 04/27/2007 6:50 AM by Robert Bove
Friday, 27 April 2007
When do we get to kiss off the Casa de Saud?

Steve Martinovich has had it with the humorless blood-soaked hair-dyed knucklheaded boys of Araby:

The burqa is as Pakistani as I am Chinese

Lawmakers in Pakistan have banned a satirical play about burqas -- yes, that is correct, burqas. Said one politician, "The burqa is part of our culture. We can't allow anyone to ridicule our culture."

Well, I hate to take issue with Culture Minister Sayed Ghazi Gulab Jamal, whom I am sure is a very nice man, but the burqa is part of Saudi culture, not Pakistani. It was exported by Wahabists as part of their wacko attempt to reintroduce the 7th century (a time when burqas were non-existent mind you) to the world.

But hey, never let a fact get in the way of a good rant.

Read on.

Posted on 04/27/2007 5:45 AM by Robert Bove
Friday, 27 April 2007
Limits of sexuality

I don't like the word "sexuality" but I'm not sure what word to use in its place, so it will have to do. Charles Moore reports on a recent box-ticking exercise:

A friend shows me a questionnaire issued by Councillor Matthew Offord, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport for Barnet (Conservative) Council entitled ‘Reviewing the Golders Green Controlled Parking Zones’. It is six pages long. The whole of page five tries to ascertain your age, gender (‘Tick one box only’) and ethnicity (you can be white British, white Turkish, white Greek Cypriot, black Caribbean, Asian Bangladeshi, Chinese etc., but not, though this is Golders Green, Jewish). Page six is devoted to your disability (ten different categories specified), your faith (here you can be Jewish and, again, must ‘tick one box only’) and, finally, your sexuality. You can be bisexual, gay, heterosexual or lesbian; but although, yet again, you may ‘tick one box only’, the questionnaire loses its nerve and adds, ‘In addition, if you prefer to define your sexuality in terms other than those used above, please let us know.’

I think in this last case having only one box to tick is appropriate. Surely people are heterosexual, homosexual (why don't lesbians count as gay?)  or bisexual. Even the polyamorous are one of these three. What else is there? There is nothing else as far as I know. Then again, I'm from the north, and we never had sexuality and suchlike carryings on up there.

Posted on 04/27/2007 5:40 AM by Mary Jackson
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