29 April 2006

Why Not So Independent or Rational?

There is a good article by David Hirsh on Independent's publication of a 'Jewish Stars and Stripes'.

David Hirsh’s article is first class but the reaction to it, just plain silly, but why ? Looking through the comments and points raised one thing stuck me: the irrationality of it all.

Not for the first time do we find conspiracy theories, but why in this modern age? Are they a substitute religion? Or a way of rationalising seemingly conflicting events or information? A surrogate ‘Satan’ or ‘witch’? A focus for people’s inner hatreds and loathing? The need for an eternal bogeyman?

I wonder if some psychiatrist could explain the prevalence of conspiracy theories in modern political thinking, albeit on the fringes of reality?

From the story of five dancing Israelis (were they doing the rumba?) to “dynamiting” of the WTC and beyond, why do smart people believe this nonsense?

Is it some medieval impulse that seems to draw people back to the intellectual dark ages?

I am at a loss to understand the craven irrationality behind these views.

Why do otherwise intelligent people believe such baloney? And to what purpose?

Surely, anyone familiar with the “Protocols” etc, should see through the absurdities and draw the historical connections?

Or is there some deeper psychiatric complaint in humanity, which explains it?

28 April 2006

History and Elections

As the local elections approach and according to the Times:
"THE BNP is fielding 356 candidates as it seeks to more than double its 20 council seats. Yorkshire has the largest number of far-right candidates (105), followed by the West Midlands (86), the North West (55), the North East (44) and London (37)."

My mind went to this day in 1945:
"1945: Italian partisans kill Mussolini.

Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy until his downfall in 1943, has been killed by partisans along with his mistress, Clara Petacci, and some close associates."

24 April 2006

To Upgrade or Not?

Ever feel like Dilber's mother?

22 April 2006

American Freedom of Speech

Americans value freedom of speech and the recent rally in New York by the Islamic thinkers society is a prime example:

"Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) Newswire - April 21, 2006 : The Queens-based Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS) held a rally yesterday outside of the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan. Members of the Islamic Thinkers Society are easily identified by their Khilafah flags and provocative signs as well as rhetoric against homosexuals, Jews, Christians, Danes and others, depending on the hot button issue at the moment. Yesterday's rally was held in response to Monday’s Tel Aviv bombing that killed 9 and injured scores. While carrying signs including “Islam will Dominate” with a picture of an Islamic flag over the White House, the small but loud group of men chanted threatening slogans (video of the rally will be posted on the Counterterrorism Blog soon):"

See the excerpts here:

scarey or what?

21 April 2006

The Dating Game?

The realpolitik Dating game !

AbbaGav links up some dictators/strongmen with Condi Rice, what a show!

20 April 2006

The Amnesia is Finally Breaking Down?

60 years on and Germany looks like finally opening the historical archive containing the record of crimes under Nazi rule, according to recent reports:

“Germany has agreed to allow access to a huge trove of information on what happened to more than 17 million people who were executed, forced to labor for the Nazi war machine or otherwise brutalized during the Holocaust.

The German government announced at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum here Tuesday that it was dropping its decades-long resistance to opening the archives, kept in the town of Bad Arolsen. The files, which make up one of the largest Holocaust archives in the world, are more than 15 miles, or 24 kilometers, long and hold up to 50 million documents, some seized by the Allies as they liberated concentration camps.

"We now agree to open the data in Bad Arolsen," Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said at a news conference here. She said her country would seek revision of an international arrangement that governs the archives, The Associated Press reported.”

60 years of amnesia is a bit much? Surely they have nothing to hide?

19 April 2006

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

19th April 1943 saw an unprecedented uprising against Nazi Germany, led by ZOB and ZZW fighters.

They fought with a few light weapons, grim determination against overwhelming odds and:

"They had actually been preparing for this, and had convinced the Germans to let them build 631 air-raid shelters. Bombing was going on all around them, and the Germans needed their slave laborers so, to keep them safe from Allied bombings, the Germans had allowed them to do this. Now the people used those very shelters to fight against the Germans."

This article from ARC gives a good background to the uprising.

See photographs of the uprising, which lasted from 19th April to 16th May 1943.

The Jewish Virtual Library has a detailed breakdown of the Warsaw Ghetto.

18 April 2006

Route 66 to Iraq?

Michael Totten's account of his road trip to Iraq is well worth reading, I was struck by this passage:

“From a distance it appears that the biggest problem in the Middle East is Islamism. That’s probably because Islamism is the worst of the Middle East’s exported problems. Up close, though, the biggest source of conflict seems to be ethnic nationalism. The crackup of the Ottoman Empire has still not settled down into anything stable. Arab nationalism, Turkish nationalism, Kurdish nationalism, and Zionism everywhere create bloody borders and internal repression. And that’s just for starters. Lebanese went at other Lebanese for fifteen long years. Arab Sunni and Arab Shia are slugging it out in Iraq right now as you read this.”

14 April 2006

Of Train Stations and Politics

The Euston Manifesto which received prominent publicity recently at Harry's Place, Norm's and CommentIsFree seems a worthy endeavour.

Initially, my attention has been drawn to a few things:

" 2) No apology for tyranny. We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently 'understand', reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy - regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces.

7) For a two-state solution. We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute.

11) A critical openness. Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the 'anti-war' movement with illiberal theocrats), we reject the notion that there are no opponents on the Left. We reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no opening to ideas and individuals to our right. Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle for human progress.

Irrespective of its commendable aims, I wonder if the material conditions for this venture to be successful might not exist, at the moment.

The crystal ball is cloudy and I would suggest that the perception of the some of the Left as shifty, cult-like, combined with their innate middle-class nature will limit their impact in a wider sphere, unless they can find some significant issues to congeal around.

But who can tell? Fortune telling is not a valuable political pastime and prone to error.

13 April 2006

What Next Saudi?

Remember the song? “what the world needs now is nukes sweet nukes?” a modern remake of the 1960's favourite.

After Iran’s quests for nukes, now we have Saudi Arabia thinking about them, according to reports:

“DOHA - Kuwaiti researcher Abdullah Al Nufaisi told a seminar in Doha, Qatar, that Saudi Arabia is preparing a nuclear program, the Middle East Newsline reported. He said that Saudi scientists were urging the government to launch a nuclear project, but had not yet received approval from the ruling family.

Riyadh denies any intention to establish a nuclear energy program, but Gulf sources told the Middle East Newsline that Saudi officials have been discussing a nuclear research and development program - and that the program would be aided by Pakistan and other Riyadh allies. "Saudi Arabia will not watch as its neighbors develop nuclear weapons," a Gulf source said, adding, "It's a matter of time until a Saudi nuclear program begins." ”

Whatever happened to the campaign against the proliferation of nukes?

a forgotten dream now? Where are they now? Soon to be re-named Campaign for the proliferation of Nukes in the Middle East? Or Campaign for Nuclear Enrichment (as long as it happens in the Middle-East)

12 April 2006

Site(s) of the Week/Month 16

Time is shifting and weeks become months, months become years, so I will post my top tips for web sites on a less frequent basis, but hopefully a wider selection.

This week/months pick:

Old Demons, New Debates: Audio Archives

Free Classic Literature in the Public Domain

English Server

(with some 34,503 works available, I liked History and Historiography section)

Online Books Page

11 April 2006

Help With Reform?

MEMRI comes in for a lot of criticism, and as far as I can see most of it unconvincing or examples of sour grapes.

I think we should have a daily-translated summary of the Arabic media, to keep abreast of the output and issues, but until that happens, let’s use MEMRI

One of MEMRI's new projects is Reform:

"MEMRI's Reform in the Arab and Muslim World focuses on advocates of reform, and the debate surrounding it, within the Middle East and Muslim world. The project is divided into four main categories: Social Reform, which will focus on women's rights, civil society, and educational systems. Political Reform, which includes debates on democracy and the rule of law, protection of the individual, and freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. Also, Religious Reform, which covers the debate on reform in Islam, as well as the misuse of religion. Finally, the Reform Project will cover Economic Reform, which examines issues of free market economy, globalization, and modernization."

10 April 2006

Books III

A bit late, but yes in my comparison of book reference, cataloguing systems: Librarything.com won out. I even paid for a life subscription, the rest were rubbish.

I like books but sometimes finding them is a pain, so I tend to use bookbutler when I can, and TheBookGuide is handy too, enjoy!

08 April 2006

Hate What?

Lock & Loaded published an ugly email which was received, it contains the usual nasty anti-gay insults and threats concluding with “Sick gay fuck, die and burn in hell, I would gladly torture and torment you, how does that make you feel, boom bye bye batty bwoy!”

The imbecile that sent the email is easy to find, just put his email address: don5383@hotmail.com into Google and see the results.

Simply unbelievable

07 April 2006

Chat with the Great Man

Are you confused about the world? Worried by political developments? Can’t make head or tail of things?

If so, why not ask the Great Man himself: Noam Chomsky

He is open 24 hours day and never without a retort

04 April 2006

Germany Sense of Humour

And who said that the Germans have NO sense of humour ?

01 April 2006

Witness to Auschwitz

Rudolf Vrba has died, as reported by CBC, Canada:

"Rudolf Vrba, an Auschwitz death camp escapee who is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives, has died in Vancouver. He was 82.

Vrba, a Czech Jew, was imprisoned in Auschwitz at age 19. He was put to work removing the dead from trains arriving at the camp.

Rudolf Vrba warned the world about the atrocities at Auschwitz.

In 1944, when he learned that a million Hungarian Jews were about to be sent to Auschwitz, he decided to warn the world.

Vrba and fellow prisoner Alfred Wetzler hid inside a construction wood pile for three days."