Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Amil Imani: Islam Is Misunderstood

Everybody just relax. Islam is badly misunderstood. The negative stereotype of Islam is the usual evil-doings of Zionists in America and their foolish fellow travelers, fundamentalist Christians. Please don’t listen to what these hatemongers say about Islam and hear us out. So implies the nationally-launched campaign of Muslim organizations in the United States.

Ads are popping up in newspapers and magazines proclaiming the magnificence of Islam and aiming to refute the “false allegations” of Islam’s ill-wishers.

Huge billboards are festooning major highways, such as the one along Highway 101 and Tully Road in San Jose, California, with crafty messages. Bold letters on the billboard proclaim: Islam You Deserve to Know. A toll-free number, 1-877-WhyIslam and website, beckon the public to get the real scoop about the religion of peace.

The billboard sneakily reminds the viewers about their kinship with Muslims. “Islam: The message of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad.”

Well folks—Christians and Jews—the overwhelming majority of the people in the United States, you need to relax about Islam. Muslims are family. They are your kindred through your shared progenitor, Abraham.

Having Abraham as an ancestor would demand that the “children” be loving siblings. That’s the message the American Muslims try to convey. And that’s the way they aim to keep us in the deadly slumber of complacency and the delusion of multiculturalism.

For one, multiculturalism and multi-religionism are not interchangeable and are not one and the same. Muslims and their frequently well-paid apologists use the multiculturalism umbrella only in non-Islamic lands to shield themselves from the torrent of legitimate criticisms that those who know Islam better shower on this cult of violence peddled as the religion of peace.

Don’t listen to me and don’t listen to these conniving dissimulators. Find out for yourself. See if the euphemism of multiculturalism is ever even mentioned by any Islamic leader, ever printed in the Islamic press, or ever appears in any form anywhere in Muslim countries. This multiculturalism gambit is Islam manufactured wool to pull over the eyes of the non-Muslims while the Muslims carry on with their unrelenting campaign of eradicating anything or anyone non-Islamic anywhere in the world.

Those of us, through reason and tremendous act of will, who have freed ourselves from the enslaving yoke of Islam placed around our necks from birth, know about all the heinous inside dirt of this plague of humanity. We hardly need to call a toll-free number to hear a phony canned message of deceptions and lies.

We have experienced Islam first-hand and up close from the inside. We have studied the Quran, the Hadith, and the Sunna. We have seen Islam in action where it wields sway. Some of us even tried desperately to cling to this security blanket that was wrapped around us from birth. Yet, the more we studied and the more we experienced Islam, the more our effort to remain in the fold became untenable.

We broke away from Islamic slavery and found it to be our solemn duty to expose this fraud of a religion, help other Muslims to free themselves from it, and warn the good-hearted and gullible non-Muslims against falling prey to it.

The Muslim organizations in America, generously financed by the oil-rich Muslim government and sheikhs, are directed to sell Islam Lite for long enough until the cult runs deep roots and the Real Islam is introduced. One can see how the scheme played out in Europe. Much of Europe is already past the stage of Islam Lite and knee deep into the quagmire of Real Islam. And that’s exactly where things are headed in America.

For a starter, remember the Somali Muslim cabbies of the Minneapolis airport and their refusal of blind fares with seeing-eye dogs, because dogs are unclean according to their belief? The same cabbies that had a virtual monopoly at the airport also rejected passengers who had alcoholic beverages in their possession. And the recent campaign of Muslims in New York to force the city to officially recognize Islamic holidays. These chosen people of Allah have more holidays than working days. No wonder they are among the most backward and unproductive in the world.

These “annoyances” aside, one has to be more than daft not to see for himself and not be sickened by the horrors Muslims in power and Muslim governments commit, wherever they reign in the world. Their barbaric acts are not isolated behaviors of some deranged individuals that one can find within any group. They are, in fact, mandated by the authoritative teachings of Islam and those who practice them proudly proclaim their actions as an implementation of Islamic teachings.

And they are correct in this claim. Let’s just see a sampling of the Islamic teachings that mandate the beastly treatment of women, human slaves, and all non-Muslims, including those that the Islamic Softsell in the West aims to bunch itself with as kin—Jews and Christians.

[Quran 4.34] Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the others and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you take no further action against them. Allah is high, supreme.

[Q uran16.75] Allah sets forth a parable: (consider) a slave, the property of another, (who) has no power over anything, and one whom We have granted from ourselves a goodly sustenance so he spends from it secretly and openly; are the two alike? (All) praise is due to Allah!

[Quran 5:51] O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust.

You may say that you know Muslims and you find them to be decent people, family people, hard-working people who are no different than any other group of people. However, these people are the Bad Muslims. Why so? Because they do not live the life the Quran commands them to lead. It is the Good Muslims that you don’t ever want to meet. These are the diehard jihadists, the terrible killers who spare no torture on infidels before decapitating them or hanging them while intoning Allah’s praise. These are the ones that don’t show the slightest mercy to their very own people who fail to toe the line.

These Real Muslims viciously and repeatedly rape women, and even men, arrested without even arrest warrants. One “lucky” victim who managed to escape the claws of these evils is Maryam Sabri arrested on phony charges and repeatedly raped in Iran’s Evin prison.

Acts of horrors committed in Islamic lands aside, it is disturbing to see Muslims dissimulate, sweet-talk and use any and all means in free non-Islamic societies to convert people to their cult. Yet, if a Muslim, on his own free will decides to leave Islam he is condemned as apostate and automatically sentenced to death. And right here in America the suffocating tentacles of Islamic bigotry are beginning to reach out to people. Just the other day, for instance, a teen-age girl had to run away from her Muslim family fearing being killed by her own father for having become Christian.

This Islamic Softsell is a replay of Muhammad’s own life example. He was peaceful and humble in Mecca among his powerful detractors. Once in Medina and with power, Muhammad slaughtered the Jews of Medina as easily as if they were sheep, plundered their belongings, and took the “sellable” women and children as slaves.

It is said that truthfulness is the foundation of all virtues. Islam not only condones, it encourages, lying and dissimulation—Taqqyeh—in dealing with non-Muslims. Hence the ads, the billboards and the claims of these liars are little more than packs of crafty propaganda.

No, there is no misunderstanding. No, it is not the Zionists and fundamentalist Christians who are misrepresenting Islam. It is Muslims and Muslim organizations who are guilty of dissimulation and fraud. Muslims act meekly when they lack sufficient power. Once in power, the Real Islam emerges from its shell of dissimulation and puts free people and their way of life to the sword.

Posted on 09/30/2009 12:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Rachida Dati And What, If Anything, Her Example Means

A relevant re-posting: 


Monday, 4 February 2008
Dati Datum Or Dati Data?

Philippe de Villiers was always the hope, and he didn't have a chance. Sarkozy is an intelligent man but also, alas, at times too excitable a sentimentalist. It is not his vie sentimentale, however, that matters -- though the Head of State has a responsiblity to see that his own privacy is protected, as an example to the rest of the country. He should not fling open the doors of his private life in some adolescent assault on "hypocrisy."

No, the sentimentalism here is that of confusing the individual with the collective, and in politics, and especially in a war (and a war is on, even if the instruments of that war are not recognized), the collective matters. He is sentimental about  individual success stories of Muslims, specifically Muslim women or women who were born into Islam, such as the thoroughly charming Rachida Dati, who has been promoted beyond what she merited (and in her Ministry, many as a result felt slighted, and departed, because of Sarkozy's need for a visible Muslim success story. But is Rachida Dati the most relevant Dati datum, or is the data based on the other ten Dati more significant in making sense of the Muslim menace in France today? What about those other ten siblings of Rachida Dati? Are we to pay attention to her alone, and ignore them, and their effect on the French state, French non-Muslims? At least two of them have been in prison. Several more appear to have been permanently on the French dole. Which is more important -- Rachida Dati, or the ten other Datis?

I suggest it is the Dati data, not the Dati datum, that matters most.

As for Carla Bruni, nothing more need be said of her, except to alert the public that the talented Italian comic Fiorello -- Rosario Fiorello -- does a very good parody of her on the RAI (with special attention to mocking her snobbishness about Italy and Italians), and  some of those imitations may be found here on YouTube.

 And the charm of Rachida Dati, with that dazzling ready smile,  can be seen here, and so can the imitative abilities of the French comic Canteloup as he does the politicians in different voices -- Sarkozy, Dominique de Villepin, many others.

Posted on 09/30/2009 11:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Rachida Dati's brother claims she 'brought shame on her Muslim family' by becoming single mother

No matter how senior in public life a Muslim woman becomes the family prestige is still only concerned with her chastity, not the criminal activities of her brother.  Presumbly a Minister of the French Government had security attendance, otherwise she may not have lived long enough to become an MEP.
Former French justice minister Rachida Dati 'brought shame on her strictly Muslim family' by becoming a single mother, a scathing book by her own brother claims.
Ms Dati, now a Euro MP in Brussels, was described as 'cold, egocentric and authoritarian' by Jamal Dati in a blistering attack on his sister.
His book, 'In The Shadow Of Rachida', tells how their staunchly Muslim father 'lost all pride' when his daughter's pregnancy outside wedlock became public.
Mr Dati, 42, said: 'For two months my father repeated that it was over, and he no longer wanted to see her. We have all been dishonoured by this. We are Muslims after all. My father is from the old school, and so fairly strict.'
Mr Dati said his sister also snubbed him and refused to take his phone calls after he was jailed for two months in 2007 for drugs offences.
He added: 'If I had the misfortune to call her, she would just hang up because I was her delinquent brother. She buried me. Not long ago I have a bracelet to her daughter Zohra and she didn't even thank me.'
Ms Dati is said by French political pundits to be planning a return to domestic French politics in fiver years time, with a bid to become mayor of Paris and possibly even stand for president.
She told French newspapers recently that Sarkozy was keen for her to play 'a much larger role' with his ruling UMP party.

Posted on 09/30/2009 9:26 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Sarah Brown - what a drip

Am I the only person to find Britain's WAG-in-chief Sarah Brown both dull and intensely irritating? Like Michelle Obama, all she's done is bag a famous man, yet everyone seems to think she's so marvellous. And as famous men go, Gordon Brown is surely the dullest. Bring back Margaret Thatcher.

Actually, I'm not the only one. Alice Thompson agrees. From The Times:

Imagine Cherie Blair trying to introduce her husband on stage in her white pixie boots and leggings — she’d have been vilified. Or Samantha Cameron praising her man for making the children porridge for breakfast. Even Denis Thatcher couldn’t have got away with raising a G&T to Margaret from the podium.

Yet Sarah Brown stands up at the Labour conference and everyone swoons. Isn’t she brave, doesn’t she look gorgeous? Who is her new hairdresser and make-up artist? “I’m just the little woman who knows nothing about politics,” she explains. “I don’t understand the environment or economics but I love my husband.” Gordon may be “messy and noisy” but “I know he will always put you first”.


Why should we vote for her man just because she fell for his brooding stare and floppy locks ten years ago? Does she realise that she has set the cause of women back by years? What’s the point in Harriet Harman introducing equality legislation, when Gordon’s wife is telling the girls to vote for Mr Brown because she still fancies him and he is a gentle soul, not because of his economic policy — figures are far too hard for the weaker sex to grasp.

Give me Miyuki Hatoyama, the Japanese Prime Minister’s wife, any day. She might talk about visiting Venus and being abducted by aliens but she is being herself. Carla Bruni demands to be seen as a model and singer in her own right.

Even Cherie Blair was a better example. She may have “dropped the ball” occasionally but at least she showed that a woman’s place in the 21st century is not just standing two steps behind your man.

If she's going to do the little wifey thing, she'd be better off staying in the kitchen. What a drip. Come to think of it, every Sarah I've known has been a drip. Must be the name.

Posted on 09/30/2009 6:07 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Begin and end at Calais

Talking of Labour's appalling record on immigration and asylum, the Calais crisis continues (h/t Alan):

FRANCE last night admitted it was fighting a losing battle against illegal migrants – and demanded Britain should open its doors to them.

A week after being forced from their shanty town, the asylum seekers were back, still seeking a passage to the UK. last night Calais mayor Natacha Bouchard said the Channel port would remain an immigrant dumping ground until Britain opened its borders and stopped asking France to do its dirty work.

Odd way of looking at it. These illegals are in France because they know Britain offers the most generous WELFARE provisions around. Under Labour we have become global welfare central.

These immigrants know that once they get it to the UK, chances are they will be allowed to stay. The French have NO right to ask us to take these people in but by the same token culpability lies with our Government for firstly allowing porous borders and secondly providing the welfare that these people seek out. Unemployment is SOARING in Britain and yet the tsunami of inward immigration continues. It's easy to see why. We need to enforce our borders, we need to throw out all illegals, and above all we need to axe the Welfare benefits that are the big magnet for these people.

Posted on 09/30/2009 5:37 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Dozy bint of the week

Not pro-Muslim, but a dozy bint nevertheless. Anne Applebaum fails to get to the core of the Polanski affair:

Of all nations, why was it Switzerland -- the country that traditionally guarded the secret bank accounts of international criminals and corrupt dictators -- that finally decided to arrest Roman Polanski? There must be some deeper story here, because by any reckoning the decision was bizarre -- though not nearly as bizarre as the fact that a U.S. judge wants to keep pursuing this case after so many decades.

Here are some of the facts: Polanski's crime -- statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl -- was committed in 1977. The girl, now 45, has said more than once that she forgives him, that she can live with the memory, that she does not want him to be put back in court or in jail, and that a new trial will hurt her husband and children. There is evidence of judicial misconduct in the original trial. There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age. Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom., has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else. He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers' fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.

He can be blamed, it is true, for his original, panicky decision to flee. But for this decision I see mitigating circumstances, not least an understandable fear of irrational punishment. Polanski's mother died in Auschwitz. His father survived Mauthausen. He himself survived the Krakow ghetto, and later emigrated from communist Poland. His pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered in 1969 by the followers of Charles Manson, though for a time Polanski himself was a suspect.

I am certain there are many who will harrumph that, following this arrest, justice was done at last. But Polanski is 76. To put him on trial or keep him in jail does not serve society in general or his victim in particular. Nor does it prove the doggedness and earnestness of the American legal system. If he weren't famous, I bet no one would bother with him at all.

It is difficult to know where to begin dissecting this nonsense. I thought Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag, was a good egg. I also thought she was a feminist, but perhaps she's one of those feminists who swoon over any man perceived to be in some way anti-American.

First, "statutory rape" was the plea bargain. Polanski's actual crime was to drug and rape a child, who pleaded with him to stop. His age, the time elapsed since the crime, his traumatic experiences and his alleged genius are completely irrelevant.

As to the claim, made much of in the media, that the victim has “forgiven” Polanski, two points. First, rape victims need to let go, or they will spend their lives consumed with hate. She wants to put her ordeal behind her, which is understandable. But that doesn’t make it any less of a crime. Second, she is not the only voice that matters – rape is an offence against civilised society, not just against the victim. The law should be impersonal.

A victim of burglary may feel that the burglar should be hanged. Should her feelings have legal effect? So if a rape victim thinks her rapist should get away with it, that is equally irrelevant.

Forgiveness has no place in a legal system. The idea that it should, like the idea that we should be lenient with child rapists, is more than a little Islamic. It would be interesting to see if the apologists for Polanski are also apologists for Islam.

Posted on 09/30/2009 5:13 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
A Musical Interlude: Truckin' (Ina Ray Hutton and Her Melodears)

G's should, of course, be dropped when such dropping is called for.

Listen here.

Posted on 09/30/2009 4:41 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
In How Many Different Ways Is This Speech Awful?

Print out the text below. Now take a pencil. Now edit away, to your heart's content. Perhaps hold a party, where friends and family can hold up each phrase for inspection, and make it subject to a  Banality Meter Reading, and then offer alternative possibilities.

When you get to the last line, to the phrase about "shared commitment," it may help your wielding of that pencil, and contribute to the general merriment,  to know that while Harvard has been firing people who work (as opposed to such people as that smooth operator, and her good friend (described by the  head of the English Department at the time, Stephen Greenblatt, as Harvard's "prize catch," Homi K. Bhabha, that professor of English who cannot write English, and who couldn't walk ten steps from his well-appointed office and secretary, to the conference room next door to listen to any of Carlo Ginsburg's three talks, no doubt because they  had nothing to do, bien entendu, with postcolonial discourse or hegemonic anything), Drew Gilpine Faust herself, whose enthusiastic embrace of "diversity" -- despite the damage this does to a university's true task --  presumably  makes up psychically for having had a life of privilege growing up on a Horse Farm in Virginia, has not as yet taken a pay cut, and apparently continues to receive, in faccia-tosta fashion, brazening it through,  her salary of $775,000 a year, with use of house and messuage thrown in. For had she taken a pay cut, had she participated in the "sacrifice" that others in the "Harvard community" have been asked to make as part of their "shared commitment," surely this would have been broadcast far and wide.

And she's not the worst, not by a long shot over the bow of the S. S. Naufragium.  But she's a representative, a symptom of a disease whose forme fruste was long ago diagnosed by Doctor Barzun in "The House of Intellect" and "Teacher In America." 


Speech of Drew Faust to "the Harvard community"  on September 24, 2009: 


Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for coming.

The past two Septembers I’ve shared my thoughts at the start of the year in a letter to the community. This September seemed a good moment to talk in person. We went through an unusually challenging year in 2008-09. But, thanks to a great many of you, it was also a year of real accomplishments. A newly launched program in General Education. A newly created doctoral degree in education leadership. A new institute for biologically inspired engineering. A strengthened commitment to the arts and to public service and to sustainability. A surge in opportunities for learning abroad. Seventy new members of our ladder faculty across the schools. Three outstanding new deans. And the enrollment of the most diverse freshman class in Harvard history.

We start this new year with a renewed sense of purpose and possibility — knowing we’ve made encouraging progress in adapting to our changed financial landscape, and understanding that difficult challenges remain. I want to talk a bit with you today about where we are and where we’re going. And then we’ll have time for some questions.

Let me say, first, how grateful I am for your hard work during these harder-than-usual times. It’s an old adage that adversity makes you strong. Our predecessors have steered Harvard through wars and depressions, epidemics and episodes of unrest. We are the beneficiaries of not just their resilience but their creativity — their commitment, as the song goes, to keep Harvard “rising through change and through storm.” We owe it to them to meet this moment with equal devotion.

There’s no question about the importance of our work. Economic uncertainty and financial systems in flux, climate change and threats to sustainability, infectious diseases and inadequate access to health care, persistent inequality as well as religious and cultural strife: What we do here can make a great difference in how these and other problems are understood and addressed — through research that generates fresh ideas, through the discovery of promising solutions, through the education of students we send into the world. While much of the world’s focus is so often on near-term results, we have a distinctive opportunity to take the long view — to see the issues of the moment in the light of history, and with eyes on a horizon beyond tomorrow’s headlines. And we have a distinctive obligation not just to serve but to doubt — not just to help shape prevailing wisdom, but to question it. At a time when higher education faces new financial constraints, our work here has never mattered more.



Let me turn now to those new constraints and how we have been navigating our changed financial situation.

As announced two weeks ago, our investment returns for the year ending June 30 were minus 27.3 percent — close to our forecast, but slightly better. In dollar terms, when you subtract what we spent from the endowment last year, and add in new gifts, the endowment fell from nearly $37 billion to $26 billion in one year’s time. That’s an $11 billion drop — in a source we’ve come to rely on for more than a third of our annual income.

What does that mean for our revenue picture? In a given year, a university commonly spends around 5 percent of its endowment’s value. So, to put it in highly oversimplified terms, losing $11 billion in endowment value would typically mean losing on the order of half a billion dollars in support of our annual operating expenses. In reality we’re aiming to spend close to 6 percent from the endowment this year, and then gradually less in future years — to make sure the impact of the endowment’s decline isn’t too abrupt and jarring. Even so, we have a serious set of challenges. We have grown rapidly, and have a structural revenue gap to confront. We have increasingly depended on income tied closely to volatile markets, and have learned costly lessons about risk. Expense reductions are a necessity, and a fact of life.

What about our revenue sources beyond the endowment?

Net student income — tuition and fees, minus our contributions to financial aid — actually dipped slightly last year, as we’ve tried both to moderate tuition growth and to provide generous aid.

Our fundraising results for fiscal 2009 were mixed. Gifts for current use were significantly up — but overall giving was down, in the range of 10 percent. We owe special thanks to our donors at a time when a great many of them were feeling their own financial pressures. Still, the results underline how the world has changed around us, and for us.

Sponsored research funding, especially in science, presents a somewhat brighter picture — up around 7 percent last year. But even there, as we compete aggressively for grants, we need to recognize the explicitly short-term and targeted nature of research funds tied to the federal stimulus plan — and make sure we don’t ramp up new activities in ways that will create a dangerous cliff two years down the road.



How have we begun to confront this changed economic landscape?

Last December, after the markets’ sharp decline, we announced that we anticipated likely investment losses of around 30 percent by the end of the fiscal year in June. Historically, Harvard has discussed endowment results only after the fiscal year ends. But in the extraordinary circumstances of last year, it seemed essential that our whole community begin to face the implications of this very important reality.

Then and now, we’ve recognized that — even with a skillful investment team and a reasonable rebound in the markets — it will very likely be a long time before the endowment recovers its steep losses.

And we’ve recognized that, in Harvard’s decentralized environment, our schools and other units face challenges that differ in both magnitude and kind — and they need flexibility to shape solutions locally.

At the same time, we’ve worked to ensure that local decisions take shape within a set of overarching university considerations.

We asked the schools and other units to budget for the current year assuming an 8 percent reduction in dollars distributed from the endowment. We also asked them to assume a likely reduction of at least that size for 2010-11.

Some schools have moved to absorb reductions as quickly as possible; others, more in phases. Some efforts have been essentially local; others, more institution-wide. We in the central administration cut our own budget by 8 percent. Across the university we made significant spending reductions in the course of the past academic year, and our overall financial results show meaningful savings against our original FY09 budget.

Realigning our personnel costs — roughly half our expenses — has been one important element of our response. We’ve taken four major steps. First, we’ve made aggressive efforts to slow both new hiring and the filling of vacant positions. Second, we offered voluntary retirement incentives for long-serving staff, and more than 500 chose to accept. Third, we undertook a painful but important round of reductions in force, affecting more than 275 of our colleagues, many of whom had served Harvard ably for years. Fourth, we have held salaries flat for both faculty and exempt staff.

At the same time, we have slowed our ambitious capital plans — most obviously, with regard to our long-term aspirations in Allston. Overall, we expect to reduce by roughly half the capital spending we had originally anticipated for the next several years.

We have probed how we can coordinate the purchase of goods and services university-wide, to take better advantage of our purchasing power. There’s nothing glamorous about changing how we do procurement. But we need to change it. Local decision making is important for certain things we need. But when each of us has discretion to decide which of 30 different shades of Crimson to put on our business cards, we’ve carried things too far.



Think of it this way. The university is the vehicle the world most relies on to educate students and advance knowledge. The vehicle we’ve built here has been enormously powerful and productive over many years. Now, in the spirit of the times, we’re challenged to ask ourselves: how can we create a nimbler, more modern, more fuel-efficient vehicle to drive us forward?

Let me articulate some of the principles that will guide us.

First, we need to protect priorities. That means always having in mind what we’re here for — education and research of the very highest caliber, which depends on attracting students, faculty, and staff of the very highest caliber from the broadest and most diverse pool possible. It also means considering tradeoffs and making choices. To succeed in supporting what is most important, we’ll need to decide there are certain things we will not do, and certain areas where we will have to make do with less.

Second, we need to move — promptly but thoughtfully — toward what others have called “a new normal.” That means not entertaining the illusion that, if we’d just close our eyes and wait a bit, our economic situation would simply bounce back to where it was.

Third, we must embrace the opportunity, and the necessity, to work more efficiently and cooperatively. This means distinguishing ends — education and research at the highest level — from means — the precise structures that we use to achieve those ends. We need to take a hard look at some practices we’ve come to take for granted. It also means finding new ways to work across institutional boundaries — to learn more from each other, to lower bureaucratic hurdles and maximize resources available for our core purposes. It means finding new ways, in a time of financial constraint, to benefit from what people in each part of Harvard can offer one another. In short, we must dedicate ourselves — individually and collectively — to harness the power of a more unified Harvard. At least since the time of Charles William Eliot — who ended his term 100 years ago — Harvard presidents have called for a more collaborative, more integrated university. I do so at a time when the intellectual problems we face, the evolving structures of knowledge, and now our changed resources make it imperative.



Our new economic circumstances may not permit us to grow as we have before, or to be all things to all people, or to say yes to every good idea. But, even as we find ways to adjust, we will also find ways to advance.

We will continue to bring the most talented people to this university — by seeking out the most outstanding scholars in the world, and by opening our doors as wide as possible to students of exceptional ability and promise. Providing broad access to a Harvard education is an essential expression of our meritocratic values — and of our responsibility to the nation and the world.

We will press ahead with the effort to encourage academic connections across our schools — whether the focus is the future of cities or the future of the global economy, stem cell science or climate change, the meaning of human rights or the interplay of politics and religion. More and more, our students and our faculty should come to see themselves not just as members of separate schools or departments, but as members of a university, with all it has to offer.

We will renew and extend our commitment to the liberal arts tradition — not only through our new Gen Ed program, but by encouraging all our students, at every level, to see the problems of the moment in their larger historical and intellectual context — by expecting them to challenge conventional wisdom — by bridging the divide between scientific and humanistic inquiry, and recognizing that creativity resides in both — by pressing back against any notion that pursuing knowledge for its own sake is somehow antithetical to creating knowledge for the world.

We will need to reshape structures and practices that create roadblocks to collaboration or tend to value individual prerogative at the expense of common progress. No easy or overnight task — but an important project that has become an urgent one, especially in a time of suddenly greater constraint.

And we need to engage the world, locally and globally — as responsible citizens committed to public purposes, as students and scholars ready to help solve complex problems with rigor and imagination, as people who live by the ethical standards we teach, as individuals who repay the privilege of being in a rare place like this by using our knowledge to help advance the well-being of people in the world beyond our walls.



Each one of us connects to these aspirations in different ways, from different angles, with different ideas and experience to add to the mix. How do we make these broad aspirations real? Let me move to a few concrete examples — some in areas that are largely administrative; others that are more purely academic.

Over the centuries, Harvard has — without question — built the greatest university library in the world, one of our proudest treasures. But the question remains, how do we optimally organize our libraries for the future? Our system now includes more than 70 distinct libraries. And curious practices have grown up as the system has grown — obstacles to sharing and coordination. Our collections are amazing; our staff is remarkable; but there are aspects of our structures and economic arrangements that don’t make sense. They create disincentives for our libraries to develop common platforms and services.

How can we rethink things in ways that put the highest premium on maximizing access to materials essential for education and scholarship? That capture the vast possibilities of a digital age while sustaining our commitment to the printed word? That ensure we invest in what really matters most to us, rather than spend our resources on what matters less? A task force of faculty and staff has taken on a range of these questions, and I look forward to reviewing and acting on its recommendations. Change in our library system is not a choice but a necessity; we need to ensure that we make that change in the wisest possible way. Maintaining our libraries’ pre-eminence will depend upon our ability to adapt in an intellectually, technologically, and financially altered world.

Information technology presents another opportunity. Some of our schools have excellent IT operations, and we need to keep them strong. Other schools are less well-positioned. And, despite goodwill and hard work all around, our highly decentralized approach has created a situation in which autonomy has often trumped compatibility and led to costly duplication — and in which collaboration, both intellectual and administrative, tends to be inhibited rather than enhanced.

The challenge of sharing resources to enhance opportunities is also at the heart of how we need to think about our academic programs. Harvard is a university with an unsurpassed collection of strengths. Look around the university — look around at the people in this room — and you’ll find a wealth and breadth of talent and imagination and experience that would be hard to match anywhere else. But Harvard also has a history of its parts not benefiting from one another as they might. At least in some areas, we’ve begun to change that history. Let me just cite two of what could be many examples — these two because they can illustrate broader points.

Consider the College’s new General Education program. It aims to connect learning more purposefully with life beyond Harvard. It aims to stimulate a new generation of courses and fresh approaches to teaching. It aims to prepare students not just for careers but for rounded, fulfilling, civically engaged lives — whether they’re learning how to design and carry out an experiment, or debating theories of justice and equality, or understanding why great literature or great art can move us to tears, or to action.

More than that, the Gen Ed program invites our faculty to join intellectual forces — and our students to trespass across the usual academic boundary lines. A biologist and a political philosopher together teach the ethics of biotechnology. A law professor and a labor economist examine the present financial crisis and its global repercussions. An English professor and a theater director explore dreams in Shakespeare — and connect the classroom experience to live performances.

As it evolves, Gen Ed stands to benefit from growing participation by faculty members from beyond the FAS. Professors from public health and medicine and divinity and law have already started us down that path. And our larger objective should extend well beyond the College. Across the university, we should be actively multiplying the occasions for faculty to teach — and for students to take courses — beyond their own schools. Faculty are eager to do so; students are eager to welcome them. Yet we have created bureaucratic hurdles that impede our own desires and purposes. We must change cross-school teaching and learning from a difficult challenge to a ready and widespread opportunity.

We’ve seen encouraging recent developments — like the new doctoral program in education leadership, and the recently created joint degree programs in business and government, as well as law and public health. Some of what’s happening is less conspicuous but, for the people involved, no less significant — whether it’s a landscape design student learning about green technologies at the Engineering School, or a divinity student studying Islamic law at the Law School, or a student of brain science becoming equally at home in both the Medical School and the FAS. Especially with our more unified academic calendar, our students increasingly should come to see themselves as full-fledged members of not just an individual school but Harvard as a university.

Take another example that reaches across our usual boundaries: our growing efforts in global health. Improving the health of populations at home and around the world is a challenge of immense importance to society. It’s an area in which faculty members throughout our schools have a tremendous breadth of expertise. It’s an area in which our students — graduate and undergraduate — have intense interest. And it’s an area where fields like medicine and public health come together with public policy and economics, with law and business, with knowledge of the history and values and mores of different societies and cultures, with expertise in environmental conditions and biostatistics and effective methods of mass education.

Individuals and small groups can accomplish a great deal in global health by working within their disciplines. But Harvard can accomplish a great deal more if we find ways to help faculty colleagues engage their common interests and enable learning across school lines. Thanks to an intensive planning effort, involving some 200 faculty throughout the schools, aspiration is converging with reality. New research clusters are multiplying — on chronic diseases, on children’s health, on innovative technologies. New courses are taking shape — on nutrition and global health, on the silent epidemic of cardiovascular disease in the developing world, on the imperative of basing health policy on the best available evidence.

Such developments are significant not just for global health. They point to a range of broader institutional goals: Modeling a culture of collaboration and creating structures to support it. Stimulating the interplay of basic and applied research. Connecting that research directly to the education of our students, including undergraduates, in the classroom and the lab and the field. Extending our global reach. Helping improve the human condition in ways that universities are uniquely well-positioned to do.

Global health is one important example — but just one. The larger point is this: Whether our endowment is $37 billion or $26 billion, there is a wealth of intellectual opportunity within this university. Much of it lies in probing deeper and deeper within the disciplines. But much of it lies in breaking out of our usual boxes and tapping into the resources we might find not just across the hall, but across the street, or across the campus, or across the river. We need one another to do our best work.

We will manage through our financial challenges. Doing so will involve difficult choices and sacrifices, but if we make them in a spirit of shared commitment, I am confident we will emerge from this period as an even stronger and more vital Harvard than we are today. But it will demand that each one of us be engaged. It will require us to renew our dedication to our core academic purposes, but develop greater flexibility about exactly how best to achieve them. It will require us to look for ways not to protect our own corner of the world, but to connect our work to that of our colleagues across the university. It will require, finally, that we take full advantage of a resource we have not always used as effectively as we might — one another. If we do, we may someday look back on our current financial necessities as our mother of invention.

Thank you.

- Drew Gilpin Faust


Posted on 09/30/2009 4:04 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Labour's Love Lost

Popular tabloid newspaper The Sun has a reputation for picking election winners. This is nonsense - it just senses the way the wind is blowing and goes along with it. Unsurprisingly it has now transferred its allegiance to the Tories. From the horse's mouth:

In 1997, "New" Labour, shorn of its destructive hard-Left doctrines and with an energetic and charismatic leader, seemed the answer. Tony Blair said things could only get better, and few doubted him. But did they get better? Well, you could point to investment in schools and shorter hospital waiting lists and say yes, some things did - a little.

But the real story of the Labour years is one of under-achievement, rank failure and a vast expansion of wasteful government interference in everyone's lives.


Britain feels broken . . . and the Government is out of excuses.

Blair took office with bulging coffers, an invincible majority and weak opposition, and he and Gordon Brown could have worked miracles.

But they FAILED on law and order, their mantra "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" becoming a national joke. Knife murders are soaring. Smirking criminals routinely walk free in the name of political correctness, while decent people live in a virtual police state of snooping cameras and petty officials empowered to spy and to punish.

Labour FAILED on schools. Yes, facilities improved - but four in 10 kids leave those shiny classrooms still unable to read, write or add up properly. We are plummeting down international league tables for maths and literacy, but every year "grade inflation" ensures record GCSE and A-level passes to fuel Government propaganda.

Labour FAILED on health - spending billions on clipboard-ticking target managers instead of on frontline care.

Labour FAILED on immigration, opening our borders without any regard to the consequences. Illegal migrants and bogus asylum seekers poured in.

Labour FAILED the children they claimed to have made their priority. After 12 years of Blair and Brown, Britain is officially the WORST country in the developed world in which to grow up.

Most disgracefully of all, Labour FAILED our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving them to die through chronic under-funding and the shambolic leadership of dismal Defence Secretaries like Bob Ainsworth.

Posted on 09/30/2009 3:43 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Puffed up joke

An inflatable pupil goes to his inflatable school and is having a really bad day.

Bored in his history lesson he gets up and walks out. Walking down the corridor he sees the inflatable headmaster walking towards him and he pulls a knife out and stabs him. He runs out of the school. As he gets outside he thinks again "I hate school" and pulls his knife out and stabs the inflatable school.

He runs off to his inflatable home. Two hours later his inflatable mum is knocking at his inflatable bedroom door with the inflatable police. Panicking, inflatable boy pulls out the knife and stabs himself. Later on in the evening he wakes up in inflatable hospital and sees the headmaster is in the inflatable bed next to him.

Shaking his deflated head more in sorrow than in anger, the headmaster gravely intones :- "You've let me down; you've let the school down but, worst of all, ..... you've let yourself down"

Posted on 09/29/2009 6:08 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Color me jaded

Or, colour me jaded if you prefer.  From the Sydney Morning Herald:

TANTA, Egypt: The Tanta Flax and Oil Co is quiet, the machines covered with dust. In the silent warehouses, Hisham Abu Zaid has found a power unlike anything he has experienced before.

For four months, the lanky, low-key father of three and his co-workers have staged a sit-in to demand higher pay. They have blocked a main highway for hours and demonstrated in front of the prime minister's office. Outside the shuttered factory's rusting gate, government security officers keep close watch.

Almost everyone in Egypt seems to have gone on strike these days - lawyers and judges, doctors and engineers, pharmacists and government employees, public transport workers and rubbish collectors. Fuelled by poverty, rising costs and lack of government responsiveness, this unprecedented wave of labour unrest is the chief means of venting frustration at a government that has survived for decades by clamping down on dissent.

How can one tell that they're on strike?

Of course, the poverty and failure of their society comes not from a lack of resources, or a genetic predisposition, or "colonialism" of the evil West.  It is a result of Islam and all its attendant atmospherics.  A change in administration will not change that;  striking against and shutting down companies surely will not change that.

The protests come at a critical time for Egyptian politics and US policy in the Middle East. Questions abound about the health of President Hosni Mubarak, 81, who has been at the helm for 28 years. Many are concerned that he will hand power to his son, Gamal, extending the life of an unpopular regime marked by repression and stagnation.

Yet the Obama Administration is relying on Egypt to help broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and improve America's relationship with the Muslim world, goals that President Barack Obama has made clear will help define his tenure.

'There is real social anger in Egypt,' said Ayman Nour, an opposition politician who was jailed on fraud allegations. 'In the womb of this social anger, there is political anger.'

The unrest, the latest indicator of a collective acrimony in the Arab world's most populous nation, has deepened in the four years since Mr Mubarak won Egypt's first contested presidential election amid widespread reports of fraud. Basic services and living standards are deteriorating; the global financial crisis has compounded the woes.

The jaded say the labour unrest is another futile exercise in the long list of failed challenges to Mr Mubarak's rule. But others are convinced the seeds of a revolution are being planted. 'Our rights, in a country like Egypt, can only be taken by force,' said Kamal Abu Ita, a union leader.

What is it about "countries like Egypt"  that their rights can only be taken by force?

Are these strikes the "seeds of revolution"?  Are these men the collective George Washingtons of Egypt, ready to usher in a new blossoming era of freedom and affluence?

Posted on 09/29/2009 4:17 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Andy Williams: Pop Singer

 (h/t Maggie's Farm): Ann Althouse, a prominent law professor, dismisses Andy Williams as too “square” even back in the ‘60’s to be taken seriously now, when he says President Obama is “following Marxist theory.”

Square? Oh, please. I have always been a fan of the great pop singers like Williams. They sing a straight melody with a subtle interpretation rarely - no make that never - found today. Click here to hear a great song, Henry Mancini's "Moon River" sung by a great singer, Andy Williams.

Am I the only person out there who misses melodies? Am I the only person out there who thinks lyrics are important and should be understandable? Does that make me square?

Posted on 09/29/2009 4:13 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Another G-droppin' musical interlude: Puttin' on the Ritz

Posted on 09/29/2009 3:31 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 29 September 2009

I've been called worse. From The Times:

So Lord Mandelson slags off David Cameron as a “shallow flibbertigibbet”. What a fine insult around which to wrap one’s fricatives. Every schoolchild (in Macaulay’s optimistic phrase) knows Flibbertigibbet from King Lear.

Enter Edgar disguised as poor Tom, a mad beggar. He speaks; or better, he shrieks: “This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet: he begins at curfew and walks till the first cock ... and hurts the poor creature of Earth.” Shakespeare took the name from Harsnett’s Puritan polemic, Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures (1603), where we are told of 40 fiends whom the Jesuits cast out. “And among there number was Fliberdigibet [sic].”

But before that a flibbertigibbet was a chattering or gossiping person. As usual, in the macho bias of language, F was a flighty or frivolous woman.

The earliest appearance comes from a sermon by Hugh Latimer before Edward VI in 1549: “These ‘flybbergybes’ another day shall come and claw you by the back and say . . .” This was presumably Lord Mandelson’s reference. He cannot be thinking of Mr Cameron as the Foul Fiend, can he?

The earliest recorded form is “flibbergib”: which is apparently an onomatopoeic representation of senseless chatter. Its later expansions are of a kind commonly met with in imitative words. The ending may be due to an association with the gibbet used for hanging.

The word moved on. Words do. Walter Scott (another wordsmith, like Shakespeare) introduces an impish-looking, mischievous, and flighty urchin called Flibbertigibbet in Kenilworth (1821): “Dickie Sludge, or Flibberigibbet, as he called the boy.” Other references indicate a person (always male) of grotesque appearance and restless manners. Elsewhere the name is apparently a synonym for Puck.

Cockney rhymers, hold your peace.

Political discourse usually deploys weary, stale, flat and unprofitable uses of the word. With Flibbertigibbet, Lord Mandelson has added class to the lexicon of political insult and the gaiety of nations.

Let's not forget George Galloway calling Christopher Hitchens a "drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay". Perhaps it sounds better in a red leotard.

Posted on 09/29/2009 2:59 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
A Musical Interlude: How Could Red Riding Hood? (Jan Garber Orch., voc. Harry Goldfield)

Listen here.

Posted on 09/29/2009 12:35 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Pseudsday Tuesday

Another day, another political meme:  overhumanism. Not to be confused with transhumanism - the two are as different as a pea in a pod:

Italian overhumanism is heavily influenced by the "Nouvelle Droite", a fringe political movement that emerged from the French neofascist microcosm in the late '70s/early '80s, and which attempted to bring far-right ideas into the mainstream by discarding the trappings of historical Fascism in order to convey a similar message in a less unpalatable form. In common with the Nouvelle Droite, it borrows heavily from the extreme left (anti-americanism, anti-clericalism, opposition to globalisation), and has adopted neopaganism as a religious stance. While affirming the importance of science in modern life, this hybrid offspring of neofascism also maintains more traditional far-right positions such as elitism, antiegalitarianism and an interest in ethnic identity that crosses into differentialist racism.

There is definitely something sinister about the Nouvelle Droite.

Nobody doubts that the overhumanists accept what could be called the Central Meme of Transhumanism (CMT), the affirmation that it is ethical and desirable to employ technoscientific means to fundamentally improve the human condition. However, this is only the lowest common denominator of transhumanism and can be adopted, and adapted to their own needs, by most political ideologies, bioconservative and neoluddite ones excluded. That obviously leaves enough room for manoeuvre for some far-right and far-left extremists. It could be argued that this is a strong point of transhumanism, but the other side of the coin is what we have witnessed with the emergence of overhumanism. The founders of modern transhumanism, conscious of these risks, attempted to anchor the CMT to concepts such as the respect of the individual, freedom, tolerance and democracy, underlining how transhumanism's roots are in the Enlightenment, in humanism and liberalism. [8] Extropians have gone further, trying to anchor the CMT to concepts such as spontaneous order at first, and open society later, [9] but it would seem that the overhumanists are more than capable of the ideological contortionism necessary to describe themselves as transhumanists, while maintaning their critique of human rights, their ethno-identitarian obessions, their "Eurasian" fantasies, the fixation with indoeuropean ethnicity, etc.

Those extropians always go too far. Overhumanism is from Italy, das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn. You’d think they’d have other things things to do - a little divine erring, for instance, followed by some human forgiving.

Posted on 09/29/2009 12:27 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
What A Fragment Of The Dead Sea Scrolls May Tell Us

Le parole che Mosè disse al popolo ebraico in fuga verso la Terra promessa sarebbero state rinvenute in alcuni frammenti dei rotoli del Mar Morto (le pergamene trovate nel 1947 in alcune grotte a Qumran, in Palestina, che contengono la versione più antica finora conosciuta del testo biblico).

In questi frammenti infatti vi sarebbe il testo autentico del Deuteronomio, una delle parti più importanti della Bibbia ed il quinto dei libri che formano la Torah ebraica.

Il libro del Deuteronomio consiste di tre discorsi che il profeta Mosè pronunciò poco prima di morire al suo popolo.

Il primo discorso è una ricostruzione storica, il secondo invece contiene il cosiddetto codice Deuteronomico, formato da una serie di leggi, ammonizioni ed ingiunzioni che il popolo eletto doveva osservare se voleva entrare nella Terra promessa, così come i Dieci comandamenti. Il terzo discorso sono le solenni disposizioni della legge divina, che se osservate avrebbero portato pace e prosperità al popolo ebraico.

L’eccezionalità della scoperta, di per sé già eccezionale, è data dal fatto che questa versione, che viene definita come quella “originale” appare diversa dalle versioni che le avevano fatto seguito, scritti che sarebbero stati influenzati dai dibattiti teologici delle diverse scuole rabbiniche.

A sostenere l’esistenza di un testo originario e precedente a tutti quelli finora conosciuti è James Charlesworth, professore di studi neotestamentari presso il Princeton Theological Seminary.

Nel frammento analizzato dallo studioso americano, Mosè prescrive a chi sarebbe entrato nella Terra promessa di erigere al di là della riva destra del Giordano, sul Monte Gherizim, un altare di pietra in onore dell’unico Dio. Nelle versioni redatte successivamente, il luogo indicato per erigere l’altare di pietra è il Monte Ebal.

E’ il particolare del Monte Gherizim che ha fatto pensare a Charlesworth che il testo trovato a Qumran sia quello che riporta le vere parole di Mosè.

La versione successiva, presente nel testo canonico, dovrebbe essere invece una soluzione di compromesso imposta nel corso di un acceso dibattito tra gruppi religiosi.

Il frammento del Deuteronomio è stato acquistato dall’Azusa Pacific University, in California, assieme ad altri quattro frammenti dei rotoli trovati a Qumran e venduti da un mercante specializzato in testi antichi.

Si tratta delle parti dell’ultimo libro del Pentateuco e di un papiro che riporta parte del Libro di Daniele.

Il Monte Gherizim ed il Monte Ebal sono due luoghi vicini. Nella foto, si vede a sinistra Gherizim e a destra Ebal. Di fronte si stende la città di Nablus.

Posted on 09/29/2009 11:59 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
'Potential terrorists' let into the UK by Croydon Home Office worker

From The Croydon Guardian, a little more of what I believe to be a rather chunky iceberg.
Nearly 50 potential terrorists or criminals were let into the UK after a Mitcham immigration officer doctored asylum applications and falsified computer records, a court heard.
Aliya Ali, 39, of Windemere Road, was sentenced to five years imprisonment today at Croydon Crown Court after pleading guilty to 12 counts of misconduct in a public office.
A total of 44 asylum seekers who should have been deported are thought to be unaccounted for in the UK as a result of the mum-of-two’s deception.
The court heard how Ali claimed she only broke the law to help Asian families settle in the country and earn a living.
But while handing down the sentence, Judge Ruth Downing said: “You say you only did it to assist because they wanted an honest life in this country. But you had no idea whether they fitted into that category or whether, hidden among them, were criminals, terrorists or the like.” She added: “I am genuinely shocked. This is a most serious offence. You single-handedly decided on a course of action that enabled people to break the rules. . . It was a breach of trust in a senior position and you were promoted in the course of criminal activity.”
Ali was employed as a senior Home Office case worker in the immigration department at Lunar House, Croydon.
The court heard how investigators had spent two months searching for information about the asylum seekers, mostly from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, that were helped by Ali. Only five of the 49 have been traced.

Posted on 09/29/2009 8:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Virgin on the ridiculous

There is an old theatrical tale about a director dispiritedly viewing a production of Henry VIII: "A little more virginity please, ladies." Somehow I doubt that he had in mind the virginity-faking device currently used in Egypt.

Time for an old joke:

Q: What is the difference between Brideshead and Maidenhead?

A: Only one of them is revisited.

Posted on 09/29/2009 8:34 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
An Egyptian Non-Musical Musical Interlude: The Swine Flu Song

Watch, and listen to, this troglodyte here.

Posted on 09/29/2009 7:29 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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