Sunday, February 26, 2006
Frantic work before and afterwards - and a bit during - so little time to blog recently. Iraq depressing but possibly not terminal, UK politics will be a long slog but no General Election for 3-4 years. A lot can change by then.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
On slavery, it was entirely right that Christians got it abolished. Although it's hard to see that the descendants of the slaves shipped to the USA are significantly worse off than their cousins whose ancestors were left behind in Africa, so financial reparations don't seem to make much sense.
Friday, February 10, 2006
The by-election gives an additional air of decay to Labour. The World at One had, as the Minister to comment, a junior minister no-one had heard of from the department of Culture, Media & Sport. Luckless fellow, the presenter commiserated. Though I guess it was meant to send a message to the BBC - don't forget we decide your licence fee.
More work, but took time out to see delightful ENO production of the Mikado (set in Edwardian England) with Felicity Palmer as Katisha. I'd forgotten the evolutionary jokes in it (1885).
50 mile running week last week, only 40 to do this week. Toes suffering but losing weight and gaining fitness I think.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Of the cartoons in question, one (the turban bomb) arguably does show Mohammed as a suicide bomber, two show him trying to stop violence, one shows him brandishing a sword (which he did often in his life) and contrasts the (supposed) prohibition on his image with the (supposed) prohibition on islamic women showing anything but their eyes in public. One raises the issue of whether he is a force for good or evil, one seems a perfectly innocuous illustration of his early life, and 4 satirise the newspaper for wanting to publish such cartoons. I suppose therefore that 2 or the cartoons could reasonably be seen as offensive and you could argue that these two should not be re-published, but what's the objection to the other 80%.
An Islamic 'Moderate' on Sky condemned the death threats but demanded an undertaking that newspapers would never publish such cartoons again. So who exactly demands the right to censor European newspapers??
Politicians should tell them robustly to get lost.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
It increasingly appears that the "Muslim outrage" is carefully orchestrated by extremists.
According to The Guardian: On October 19 ambassadors from Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, demanded a meeting. They wanted the paper prosecuted. The PM gave them the brush-off, arguing that his government could not interfere with the right to free speech. At this point a group of ultra-conservative Danish imams decided to take matters into their own hands, setting off on an ambitious tour of Saudi Arabia and Egypt with a dossier containing the inflammatory cartoons.
According to Jyllands-Posten, the imams from the organisation Islamisk Trossamfund took three other mysteriously unsourced drawings as well, showing Muhammad with the face of a pig; a dog sodomising a praying Muslim; and Muhammad as a paedophile. "This was pure disinformation. We never published them," Lund complained. But the campaign worked. Outwardly the row appeared to be calming down. But in Muslim cyber-chatrooms, on blogs, and across the internet, outrage was building fast. From Denmark, the pictures were being pinged by SMS from Kuwait to Palestine. Then last week came the diplomatic explosion. Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Denmark for consultations, Libya shut its embassy.
I fear that the media are colluding with this, making it appear that all Muslims are protesting, when it's a tiny minority.
Friday, February 03, 2006
I finished Earthly Powers a couple of days ago - brilliant, and puts a lot of the 'secular society' discussion in context.
Daniel Dennett is giving a talk at the RSA to promote his book about the study of religion. They have McGrath as his intelocutor, so despite the unbearble Polly Toynbee chairing it whose anti-Christian rants are lambasted by Furedi I'll try to go - I'm on the waitlist. Dennett rather dents his credibility with Consciousness Explained when years afterwards it manifestly isn't
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Meanwhile the normally rather good Anaotole Kaletsky declares in The Times that 'Bush is a dolt'. I have emailed him:
I have long admired your work but on the question of George W I fear your judgement has become increasingly shaky. Leaving aside ones political views, it is clear from the reports that subsequently emerged about his complete inability to manage his campaign team that Kerry, whom I think you endorsed, would have been a hopelessly incompetent president. Of course Bush has made some mistakes, althoughthe primary blame for the disasterous incompetence around Katrina restssquarely with the City and State governments. But his strategic focus on democracy and R&D is surely sound, and the dems have no coherent alternative - look at the utter shambles over the Alito filibuster.
I know it's conventional wisdom amongst the euro-commentariat and blue-state america that George W is an idiot, who just happens to win elections with ever-increasing majorities. But at your best commentators challenge convetional wisdom, not swallow it whole. And you might want to apply the Churchill test - by the standards that you & your like apply to George W, Churchill was far far worse, a complete blunderer, incomtetent, dolt, who never even made it to Harvard. And yet ....
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Very sad that there have been 2 deaths of UK servicemen in quick succession in Iraq - possibly linked to increased pressure on Iran. But good news that the Commons defeated the Govt on their 'Religious Hatred' bill, that Sam Alito has been confirmed, and that George W wants to ban all forms of human cloning and patenting thereon.
Delicious bon-mot on Kerry calling (in vain) for a filibuster on Alito: "I think even for a senator, it takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps,"