Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Speaking truth to power . . .

Onion style:
"Carney is where I was born and raised, and it remains a tight-knit community," said Foundation chairman Althea Hynes at a fundraising block party held Monday on a broken bottle- and condom-strewn stretch of Carney Avenue where the money-grubbing Messner wants to put a soulless indoor food court. "Lots of young kids still play in the empty lots around here."

Messner, 54, a three-time Chicagoland "Builder of the Year" and all-time unbelievable scumbag who made his fortune in the 1990s converting public parks and cheap, blighted properties into high-rise luxury residences, is seeking to "revitalize" Carney Gardens by razing it and replacing it with a damned cookie-cutter mixed commercial-residential development that would benefit no one who lives there now.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there. I went to the pool with the kids, and we had a blast. I hope everyone had as good a day. Enjoy your kids -- they are the best. I know mine are.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Meanwhile, in Malaysia . . .

People are not permitted to leave Islam, ever. Under any circumstances.
Joy, an ethnic Muslim Malay born Azlina Jailani, began attending church in 1990. Eight years later she was baptized. Although the government accepted her name change, it would not replace “Muslim” with “Christian” on her national identification card without an apostasy certificate from a sharia court. “As a Muslim, bound by the shariah laws,” explained government counsel Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid, Joy “cannot apostasize at will.” If you are born Muslim, you stay Muslim, at least until a sharia court decides otherwise, which is never.

Joy went to civil court. Her attorney, Datuk Dr Cyrus Das, argued: “the multi-racial and multi-religious people of Malaysia exist in harmony under the guarantees given by a single common document called the Federal Constitution.” In contrast, Yusri Mohammed, head of the Muslim Youth Movement, contended that the constitution “cannot simply be understood as giving unlimited freedom to change one’s religion.”

Alas, Joy lost at the trial and appellate levels. The federal court heard her case last year. She was supported by several NGOs. The government attorney criticized these groups for mounting a “sustained attack on Islam.”

On Wednesday the court, by a two-to-one vote, rejected her appeal. Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim opined: “Apostasy is a matter linked to Islamic laws. It’s under the jurisdiction of the sharia court.” But for Joy to go to sharia court would be to invite criminal punishment as an apostate, something that (non-Muslim) dissenting Justice Richard Malanjum correctly observed was “unreasonable” to require of her.
Merely to suggest that persons should be permitted to change their religions as they see fit, well, that's just an "attack on Islam." Doesn't it appear that we should start taking all the Muslim claims of creation of a worldwide caliphate seriously? They are taking a reasonably successful country and are making it less free, and therefore less able to maintain itself on the stage. The paranoia of these Muslims is patent.

And people fear the creation of a "theocracy" in the US -- well, show me when our government, under any president, would honor the ruling of a "sharia court" when it comes to questions of the freedom of a person to convert from Islam to some other religion.

I am starting to think a friend of mine is correct -- the impact of religion on political and social affairs is uniformly negative.

Monday, June 04, 2007

I am afraid this dude's right.

Do we really need the middle east for much of anything?
Yes, it would be nice if Israelis and Palestinians could settle their differences, but it would do little or nothing to calm the other conflicts in the middle east from Algeria to Iraq, or to stop Muslim-Hindu violence in Kashmir, Muslim-Christian violence in Indonesia and the Philippines, Muslim-Buddhist violence in Thailand, Muslim-animist violence in Sudan, Muslim-Igbo violence in Nigeria, Muslim-Muscovite violence in Chechnya, or the different varieties of inter-Muslim violence between traditionalists and Islamists, and between Sunnis and Shia, nor would it assuage the perfectly understandable hostility of convinced Islamists towards the transgressive west that relentlessly invades their minds, and sometimes their countries.
I hate to admit it, but fatigue with muslims and their insane governments, political parties, terrorist organizations, etc., is leading me to the conclusion that the US's attempt to bring some semblance of decent government to the middle east is a completely lost cause. And, now that we know that we can absorb the economic consequences of simply ceasing to do business, what are we there for? And then there is this:
The third and greatest error repeated by middle east experts of all persuasions, by Arabophiles and Arabophobes alike, by Turcologists and by Iranists, is also the simplest to define. It is the very odd belief that these ancient nations are highly malleable. Hardliners keep suggesting that with a bit of well-aimed violence ("the Arabs only understand force") compliance will be obtained. But what happens every time is an increase in hostility; defeat is followed not by collaboration, but by sullen non-cooperation and active resistance too. It is not hard to defeat Arab countries, but it is mostly useless. Violence can work to destroy dangerous weapons but not to induce desired changes in behaviour.

Softliners make exactly the same mistake in reverse. They keep arguing that if only this or that concession were made, if only their policies were followed through to the end and respect shown, or simulated, hostility would cease and a warm Mediterranean amity would emerge. Yet even the most thinly qualified of middle east experts must know that Islam, as with any other civilisation, comprehends the sum total of human life, and that unlike some others it promises superiority in all things for its believers, so that the scientific and technological and cultural backwardness of the lands of Islam generates a constantly renewed sense of humiliation and of civilisational defeat. That fully explains the ubiquity of Muslim violence, and reveals the futility of the palliatives urged by the softliners.

The operational mistake that middle east experts keep making is the failure to recognise that backward societies must be left alone, as the French now wisely leave Corsica to its own devices, as the Italians quietly learned to do in Sicily, once they recognised that maxi-trials merely handed over control to a newer and smarter mafia of doctors and lawyers. With neither invasions nor friendly engagements, the peoples of the middle east should finally be allowed to have their own history—the one thing that middle east experts of all stripes seem determined to deny them.

That brings us to the mistake that the rest of us make. We devote far too much attention to the middle east, a mostly stagnant region where almost nothing is created in science or the arts—excluding Israel, per capita patent production of countries in the middle east is one fifth that of sub-Saharan Africa.
One-fifth of subsaharan Africa? Impossible to believe. What to do?