Paté de canard en croute

Josh Chavetz at Oxblog approves of the New York Times’s moral defence of eating expensive food.

I wonder if either Josh or William Grimes, the NYT writer, have read Moral Saints by Susan Wolf? It’s an excellent philosophy essay, which comes to the rather satisfying conclusion that (assuming certain premises that hair-shirted ascetics would generally accept), hair-shirted ascetics are morally less good than people who do things they enjoy…

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Annual Islamophobia Awards

For some reason, I found myself reading the proceeedings of the Islamic Human Rights Commission‘s Annual Islamophobia Awards. They’re annoying.

Islamophobia is a problem. There are people who are taken seriously in the UK and US who genuinely hate Muslims, say truly vile things about the religion and (far more importantly) its adherents, and need to be publically shamed. Unfortunately, few of the Islamophobia Award Winners are among them.

So BNP fuckwit Nick Griffin was a nominee for Islamophobic politician of the year, for saying Muslims were aggressive and corrupt and that they brought ethnic cleansing upon themselves. Fair enough. David Blunkett was a nominee for saying that 30% of British Asians didn’t speak English at home. Hmm. The two shared the award.

Then in the flagship ‘Islamophobe of the Year’ category, Bush’s “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror” was up against John Ashcroft “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you”. Now, the second of these appears somewhat Islamophobic. The first, err, is only relevant if you view Muslims as terrorists – a perception that I’d like to think these awards are against…

Perhaps the highlight of the awards was a speech from Sister Muddassar Arani, which needs to be read for one reason or another. Apparently the British police put guns to children’s heads to threaten their parents for being Muslims, and arrest Muslims for trying to get married.

If true, this allegations are very serious – not particularly for anything to do with Islam, but because they’re clear violations of all human rights laws and the relevant policemen ought to be thrown out of the force and into jail with great rapidity. But as far as evidence for their truth goes, err, well…

So well done, Islamic Human Rights Commission. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m reasonably sure it’s made up of self-promoting tossers who speak for the Muslim people about as much as Billy Graham speaks for Christians, then it would have actually managed to *damage* at least one British liberal’s perception of Muslims as “not being swivel-eyed moonbats”…

Update: the “some reason” is because Peter Briffa linked to it earlier. Sorry Peter…

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Say *what*?

An anonomous friend of Iain Murray has some more than slightly surprising claims about the swivel-eyed loons of the UKIP.

You cannot possibly understand from the US how much the announcement of Robert Kilroy-Silk as a candidate has boosted their cause – without him there is no way they would be polling as well and they wouldn’t have had half the press attention.

Surely even out of the set of people who’d consider voting UKIP, there can’t be many people deranged enough to believe that Robert Kilroy-Silk is other than a horrible embarassment…

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Ted Rall, one of the few American columnists to say true things about Ronald Reagan after his death rather than sycophantic lies, has published an excellent collection of hatemail on his website.

I especially like the guy who claims Reagan established the Department of Education, and the guy who suggests Mr Rall asks Margaret Thatcher for an honest appraisal of Reagan’s record…

More disturbing is the reaction to Mr Rall’s piece from the less unbalanced right and centre, who seem to think he’s saying terrible and inappropriate things. Was it Cassandra who was cursed to always tell the truth and never be believed?

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Bring guns unto nation

UK blogger Laban Tall is somewhat right-wing – but (or possibly ‘and’, to avoid charges of nonsequituring) he’s normally entirely fair and reasonable. You may be able to gauge from the previous sentence that I’m about to list a counterexample…

There’s a reasonable, if (to me) unconvincing argument that everyone ought to be allowed to have guns. There’s a reasonable argument that people shouldn’t. But no matter what your take on that debate is, the fact that the BBC may hire gunmen to protect its journalists in lawless war zones is in no way inconsistent with being opposed to the use of guns in general.

The current climate in warzones is different from anything experienced since the dawn of TV: one side genuinely no longer gives a fuck how it’s portrayed, and is therefore happy to slaughter journalists indiscriminately. There’s also a perception (I challenge someone with Chris Lightfoot’s patience and statistical ways to check the truth of this…) that the Allied side is also less willing than in the past to give journalists the benefit of the doubt.

In this context, unless you genuinely believe that a randomly chosen person in part X of Britain (assuming that said randomly chosen person isn’t a crack dealer) is even in the same magnitude of risk of violent death as a war journalist, the claim of hypocrisy here is nonsensical.

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Google cricket

An exciting new Googlebombing challenge pits the Jedi Knights of blogging against the Dark Side of Search Engine Optimisation… It’s amateurs versus professionals all over again, like the glory days of cricket. Except that this time the game is to be #1 hit on Google for the words “nigritude ultramarine“.

I have a horrible suspicition that the SEOs are going to walk this, but let’s see how it goes – apart from anything else, it’s interesting to compare the effectiveness of PageRank (blogs’ key advantage) versus optimised text pages… Does saying nigritude ultramarine again help with the Google ranking? I can’t remember.

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The dog ate my conspiracy

I wonder if the “the UN is unspeakably corrupt and Jacques Chirac took oil-for-food bribes” meme will be hit by the news that the Chalabi crony who broke the news has ‘lost all the evidence in a computer crash’?

I remember a few school and university deadlines where I ‘lost my completed essay in a computer crash’. I don’t think my teachers were terribly convinced then – and I’m not even wanted for fraud (nor have I ever lied to lead a country into war…)

Update: oops, forgot to hat tip the splendid Josh Marshall.

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Hopefully it goes without saying, but I feel I probably ought to say it anyway.

Infinite thanks and respect to the brave people who died or put their lives on the line 60 years ago for freedom, democracy, tolerance, civilisation, etc.

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Get yet another round in

As an update to the previous drinking post after having seen the BBC programme, their point does seem to be strongly provicial-towns-focused. Even so, it’s still a *very* tenuous one.

Their evidence from a Saturday night out in a large provincial town was:

* One poor guy who was badly beaten up by thugs with pool cues, in a local pub at 8PM. Rubbish, and lock them up forever, but not very relevant.

* Lots of drunken students doing silly things with roadwork signs. And we’re supposed to care about this why?

* A few daft girls passing out after eight pints, being well looked-after and taken to hospital.

* A couple of drunken fights between consenting fighters, in which no-one was very badly hurt.

Overall, the impression was one of daft puritans, lazy policemen who resented having to work late to deal with clubbers (never mind that we pay £20 billion in drinks tax to pay their wages…), lots of people having fun, and journalists desperate to spin a story together.

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