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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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Farewell Fear
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Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
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Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
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Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
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Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
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An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky
















The Iconoclast

Sunday, 04 November 2007
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Pamela Geller interviewed Patrick Sookhdeo at the Brussels Counterjihad conference (transcribed at Gates of Vienna):

Q:   Mr. Sookhdeo. You just gave a very powerful presentation at this conference, and I wanted to discuss with you — just how far infiltration of Islam is in Western societies, particularly you focused on Britain.
 
A:   That’s correct. I think that its important that we separate out the countries because Islamic infiltration is dependant on a number of factors. And in some places, they have been able to make much more headway than in others. I think the UK is by far the place where they have made the most headway.
 
Q:   Why is that?
 
A:   I think there are several reasons. I think, firstly British policy of successive governments followed a policy of multiculturalism. It was politically driven and effectively enshrined Islam. Which meant, it was politically acceptable. It was allowed to develop socially and culturally. I think that’s a very big area, the multicultural. I think the second where the majority of Muslims came from, they came from the Indian sub-continent. British policy during the days of the hiraj was to allow the Muslims a degree of autonomy in terms of ‘how’ they could live out their religious lives, known as communalism. And so, when they came here, although initially they were part of society, gradually they began to develop much more, this communal position furthered by a British policy of multiculturalism. And I think that in the last forty years, Islam has rediscovered it’s roots. Classical Islam has rediscovered the Qur’an, the hadith, it’s Sharia and they have discovered an Islamic identity. I think these things together has projected them very much into a community which is distinctive.
 
Q:   So you would say that they have, not a choke hold but a strong hold in the UK.
 
A:   They have created blocks, you could say power blocks from which they can influence. And those power blocks are geographical. Where, in areas they form the majority — also in society, where they can lead a society in matters of government, where they can seek to shape government policy. So, I would say that they are present in many different aspects of British life.
 
Q:   How did they do that? What was their strategy? It wasn’t by accident, certainly?
 
A:   No no. It was very well thought out and fortunately, many had not done work on this. Back in 1979, there was the Islam in Europe conference, and one of their basic strategies that arose was that Muslims should NOT integrate as individuals in society but rather as communities. So they emphasized the development of Muslim communities — in other words, they would become majority in given areas and then they would go to the next stage which was to engage the political bodies in that area. If you had to reduce their strategy over the past 30 years it would firstly the creation of an Islamic consciousness, and all Muslim women would wear the hijab, everyone eats halal meat — those very basic things that gives visibility to the Muslim community. They know “who” they are. And their Sharia, their law, it now becomes operative within. Secondly, to create organizations and institutions. For example, an Islamic Woman’s Society, an Islamic legal society, an Islamic educational society… now, each of those societies sits down and works out it’s principles and sets “what are our objectives”, “where do we want to go”, “how are we going to get there”, “how does Islam fit within this”, and “where does our law come in”. Once they have that in place, they move to the third stage which is to say to their local authority “look, we have lots of Muslim children in school, should not the school cater for our children, in terms of dress, in terms of Ramadan, in terms of food, in terms of education ?” They’d say, politically, we’re here, should we not be present on national days, should we not be a part of everything. So what has happened is they’ve engaged the political structures at local, regional and national levels. Islam has now been accepted and brought into the center. That engaging also had to do with the media, social, cultural, religious bodies all operating in tandem so their presence was known, it was felt. And then there is the final stage which is the threat. If you don’t give way to what we want, then we are not to blame if you are attacked. Now in England, we have had our 7/7 and sadly, Muslim leaders came out and said, “It’s really British government policy is to blame because you/we are in Iraq killing Muslims. You can’t blame our young people. In other words, they are saying to the government, “ you have got to follow our foreign policy. We will tell you what to do”. So you’ve got that fourth stage which is where violence is threatened or utilized....

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Posted on 11/04/2007 7:46 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 04 November 2007
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Many years ago – I won’t say how many – when I was sweet and twenty, I was introduced at a party to a girl of twenty-three. Should that be “woman”? At the time I would have insisted on woman, but now I say girl. I thought she was younger than twenty-three, and said so. “Oh, I see,” she huffed, “You think I look old enough to want to look younger.” I was thinking nothing of the kind; then, as now, my thoughts are not so convoluted, and my observation was purely factual. Yet this girl took umbrage at being thought all of twenty-three. With such a thin skin, will she have made it to 2007? Umbrage is ageing, and thin skins wrinkle easily.

 

Age is a touchy subject, and not just for women in these days of moisturising metrosexual man. Labels don’t help. As I commented on this post, Nabokov’s Pnin is described as “elderly” at fifty-two. Nabokov must have known what he was doing, but it puzzles nonetheless. I don’t doubt that Pnin looked and dressed older than his age, but can someone of fifty-two look “elderly”? The novel was set in the fifties when people looked and dressed older than they do now, and before fifty became the new thirty and forty the new twenty. (Is thirty the new ten?) But I still don’t buy it. Elderly surely kicks in at seventy plus, perhaps eighty. Unless you’re Paul Newman, and few men are, though more men should be.

 

A Spectator reader in late middle youth writes to Mary Killen on this subject:

Q. I have twice recently had my day ruined when buying train tickets and being asked whether I have a Senior Railcard. I have a good 15 years to go until I qualify for one of these. The insults were, presumably, unintentional, but all the more wounding in the knowledge that they come out of a sort of instant appraisal as one arrives at the head of the queue. If it happens again, how should I reprimand the ticket-sellers for their lack of tact without coming across as vain and pathetic?

A.K., London W8

A. These ticket-sellers were in breach of protocol. They should simply ask, ‘Any Railcards?’ This allows for the flattery that one might even have a Young Person’s Railcard. Next time you are insulted give them a dose of their own medicine by answering, ‘No, I don’t have a Senior Railcard. Do you?’ When the inevitable reply comes, ‘No, I’m not old enough,’ you can laugh, ‘Well I’m not either. How funny that we should each have thought the other one was over 60!’

Now I think I have solved the problem of Pnin. The Spectator reader who looks sixty is forty-five. He therefore looks his age plus one third. If you increase Pnin’s age by one third, you get sixty-nine, which is just shy of my minimum “elderly” threshold of seventy.

No, it’s still silly. But I’m not ready for the scrap heap yet. Despite my advancing years, I have thought of a new idea – the perfect anti-ageing device for women. It’s called the burqa. Better still, let’s redefine and stay young: elderly, like middle age, simply means “older than you are now”.

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Posted on 11/04/2007 7:18 AM by Mary Jackson
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Sunday, 04 November 2007
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New Duranty: She spent her early years playing in the backyard of a small house in Reno, Nev., learning American Sign Language from the scientists who adopted her, and by age 5 she had mastered enough signs to capture the world’s attention and set off a debate over nonhuman primates’ ability to learn human language that continues to this day.

But on Tuesday night, Washoe, a chimpanzee born in West Africa, died after a short illness, said Mary Lee Jensvold, assistant director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, where Washoe had lived and learned for more than two decades. The chimp died in bed at age 42, surrounded by staff members and other primates who had been close to her, Dr. Jensvold said.

Scientists had tried without success to teach nonhuman primates to imitate vocal sounds when R. Allen Gardner and Beatrix T. Gardner, cognitive researchers, adopted the 10-month-old chimp from military scientists in 1966. The Gardners, skeptical that other primates could adequately speak human words, taught Washoe American Sign Language, encouraging her gestures until she made signs that were reliably understandable...

Language scientists around the world began their own projects, to try to replicate and extend the Gardners’ findings. But the excitement died down in the late 1970s, when Herbert Terrace, a cognitive researcher at Columbia, published a report on a chimpanzee he had been trying to teach language, named Nim Chimpsky. Nim could learn signs, but did so primarily by imitating teachers, Dr. Terrace found by reviewing videos of interactions.

“There was no spontaneity, no real use of grammar,” Dr. Terrace said. He analyzed a video of Washoe, who learned about 130 signs, and said he found evidence that she, too, was reacting to prompts, not engaging in anything like human conversation...

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Posted on 11/04/2007 6:55 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 04 November 2007
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Here is another illustration of the problem stemming from our failure to define the enemy and of constantly trying to separate the "people" from the "regimes."  If all Muslims polities could be seen as part of a hostile bloc that must be contained and opposed at every opportunity, the idea that we should oppose a regime while simultaneously giving aid to the people, would vanish. We gave aid to Germany and Japan after the war not during.

New Duranty: WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 — The World Bank, newly caught up in the Bush administration’s campaign against Iran, has had to suspend payments for earthquake relief, sanitation and other projects there in response to new American sanctions on leading Iranian banks, World Bank officials say.

Only $5.4 million in payments has been suspended for four projects, involving earthquake relief, water and sanitation, environment management and urban housing, the officials said, and they do not expect the suspensions to be permanent.

But the bank has no plan to resume payments because it is having trouble finding banks in Iran to handle them now that the United States has barred dealing with four of Iran’s largest banks, accusing them of involvement in terrorism, or nuclear or missile programs.

“At this point, the World Bank is looking for alternate ways to support these projects,” said a bank official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It is unknown how difficult that might be. It is not that easy to find alternatives. We have no answer on how or when at this point.”

American officials said they hoped that the decision by the World Bank would increase pressure on Iran, not necessarily by stopping humanitarian projects but by dramatizing the country’s economic isolation in light of its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment and negotiate with the West over its nuclear program.

The World Bank step, while small, illustrates the extraordinary reach of American sanctions, even though they were imposed unilaterally after the United States was stymied in its recent efforts to get the United Nations Security Council to approve wider penalties.

The payments for the World Bank projects have all gone through Bank Melli, one of Iran’s largest banks, but Bank Melli was accused last month by the United States of being involved in nuclear proliferation and terrorism. Also listed were two other institutions, Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat. Bank Saderat had already been listed by United States as being involved in financing terrorism.

Some Congressional critics of the administration’s Iran policies have called on the United States to block World Bank aid programs for Iran altogether. The World Bank has nine active projects in Iran and, by last year, had financed 48 operations worth about $3.4 billion, according to the bank’s Web site...

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Posted on 11/04/2007 6:31 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 04 November 2007
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The New York Times has a very simplistic article on the campaign to oppose the building of the proposed large mosque on the Abbeymills site in West Ham. They attribute the petition which Mary and I signed, and encouraged others to sign, to the BNP which is not accurate. They neglect to tell the readers of New York that many objectors are local Muslims who are suspicious of the effect that Tablighi Jamaat may have on their community and their small local mosques. You only have to look at what happened in Dewsbury  to be alarmed.
I believe that some of my US colleagues do not have the highest opinion of the NY Times.  I fear that this article lacks first hand research. 

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Posted on 11/04/2007 5:49 AM by ESmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 04 November 2007
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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In The Jailhouse Now (with Red Sovine)

I'm Walking The Dog

Back Street Affair  (Kitty Wells' answer is the second cut)

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Posted on 11/03/2007 5:47 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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"I don't think they can handle Betty Boop"
-- from a reader, who then offers a later, made-for-TV version of Betty Boop

I prefer the earlier Betty Boop voice (despite the unsuccessful outcome of the lawsuit against Max Fleischer), that of the inimitable and also imitable Helen Kane, as in this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VvQ48ulQ-A

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Posted on 11/03/2007 5:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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Annie Jacobsen says there are more suspicious shoes found [by airline security] - and more suspicious people let go - than you might think. -- see her article here

We are bringing "protected" by the wrong people, using the wrong rules. What is to be done? Who will protect us, intelligently, relentlessly, and with full clarity about the nature and duration and source of the menace? Who?

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Posted on 11/03/2007 5:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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Times of India (hat tip DW) KUALA LUMPUR: A top Malaysian minister has urged local authorities in this Muslim-majority country to immediately cease demolition of Hindu temples after a 100-year-old shrine was pulled down early this week.

Works Minister and head of the Malaysian Indian Congress Samy Vellu, who is of Indian origin, said that Hindu temples built on encroached land were still being demolished despite his appeals to the various state chief ministers.

Vellu said the Indian community had no choice but to build their temples on private or government-owned land, as they did not own any land of their own to build the temples.

Referring to the demolition of the Maha Mariamman Templea in Padang Jawa on Tuesday, Vellu said it had hurt the feelings of the Hindu community in the area.

Four people were reportedly hurt and dozens detained following scuffles between devotees and the city authorities over the century-old temple, the local media said.

"Temples are still being destroyed even though I have repeatedly brought the issue up during meetings with chief ministers," the minister said in a statement, the New Straits Times said today...
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Posted on 11/03/2007 4:20 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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In the Maghreb, which in Arab terms should include all of North Africa (save Egypt, a special case), but perhaps is best limited for the purposes of discussion to those may be limited to those countries with a former French influence -- Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia -- there is, in at least the first two, large Berber populations. In Morocco the Berbers outnumber those who call themselves "Arabs" -- many of whom are simply Berbers who have been thoroughly arabized. In Algeria they are concentrated in the Kabyle region. They have been discriminated against, persecuted, by the Arabs -- as they were not under the French, who sensed, correctly, that the Berbers, the original inhabitants of the area, because of their ethnic identification possessed an identity that did not reinforce Islam but worked against it. One French general even wrote a book, in the early 1950s, about the clear cultural superiority, the Europeanness, of the Berbers (when I find my copy I will quote from it here).

An intelligent policy, jointly Franco-American, would work to demonstrate, to the Berbers above all, that Islam is, and has always been, a vehicle of Arab imperialism. It is indeed the most successful and longest-running imperialism in human history, for it manages to convince many of those it conquers that they have no history or identity outside of Islam, and inside Islam, it is Arabs, and the Arabic language, and Arab culture, that must prevail.

When the French left Algeria, the position of the Berbers steadily worsened. They were forbidden even to speak their own language, the Berber language, Tamazight. Eventually, they began to riot -- riots in Tizi-Ouzou and elsewhere that were reported only in France, never in the world press. Few seemed interested then, few seem interested now, in the persecution and humiliation of the Berbers. A few years ago, the Algerian government did repeal that law, and the Berbers are no longer to be prosecuted merely for speaking the Berber language. But as always -- as in the Sudan with the black African Muslims in Darfur, and as in Iraq with the Kurds, as everywhere that both Arab and non-Arab Muslims come together -- the Arabs continue to dominate and, as by right, to treat the non-Arab Muslims with contumely and worse.

It would be good if the theme of Islam as a vehicle for Arab imperialism were to be focussed on, emphasized, repeated endlessly. It will do more than possibly any other argument that can be presented, to weaken the hold of Islam on the 80% of the world's Muslims that are not Arabs, and some of whose most advanced representatives now see Islam for what it is. And besides, the argument happens to be true.

It may also have effects in France. There, if the French could count on the loyalty of some Berbers, who at present make up almost entirely the membership of such groups as the "Maghrebins laiques," this population -- already more susceptible to the appeal of Christianity because of that felt resentment toward Arab supremacism contained within Islam -- could help to monitor, and contain, the Arab Muslims.

But all this requires, on the part of Infidels, their recognition of, and willingness to discuss, to make what can be called propaganda (based on the truth, not falsehood), the nature of Islam as this vehicle for Arab supremacism.

And then there is the famously mercurial Khaddafy. He sometimes says things that reveal someone fed up with what he calls "the Arabs." He is certainly more interested in his very own path, whether expressed as bizarrely as he has done so in the past, with his Green Book and Jamhariyya and all the rest of it -- than he is in the Arab League line, for he sees the Arab League merely as a handmaiden of the Egyptian government, a government he despises. Suppose Khaddafy could be made to see himself, as he sometimes does, as a Son of the Desert, but a Berber Son of the Tripolitanian Desert rather than an Arab one? And suppose he and his more advanced sons, especially the one who lived for a time in Perugia -- were to see the point of emphasizing this "Berberness" in opposition to the "Islam of the Arabs."

In any case, this is the kind of thing about which those who make policy in the Pentagon and the State Department and the White House, and their analogues in London, Paris, Rome, and Berlin -- ought to be thinking about. Are they? If so, could they please give us the slightest sign?

It would make us all feel much better.

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Posted on 11/03/2007 2:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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Posted on 11/03/2007 1:30 PM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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Overheard in a hospital corridor and reported by, I think, Nigel Rees:

"And she's been told that they'll never be any use to her again. Not as feet."

The same compilation of eavesdroppings includes:

"How's your husband?" "So so - he still has to stand sideways."

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Posted on 11/03/2007 12:51 PM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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The Spectator piece by Paul Johnson excerpted here includes a description of Charles Lamb by a “sharp-eyed Frenchman, Philarète Chasles," as "‘purely intellectual’ as his body was ‘ridiculous’, his legs ‘almost imperceptible’, ‘poor little spindles, clothed in stockings of Chinese silk, ending in impossible feet, encased in large shoes, which placed flatly on the ground advanced slowly in the manner of a webfooted creature…'”
 
Two great artists come immediately to mind:
 
Vladimir Nabokov, describing his eponymous hero in the first paragraph of “Pnin”:  
"The elderly passenger sitting on the north-window side of that inexorably moving railway coach, next to an empty seat and facing two empty ones, was none other than Professor Timofey Pnin. Ideally bald, sun-tanned, and clean-shaven, he began rather impressively with that great brown dome of his, tortoise-shell glasses (masking an infantile absence of eyebrows), apish upper lip, thick neck, and strongman torso in a tightish tweed coat, but ended, somewhat disappointingly, in a pair of spindly legs (now flanneled and crossed) and frail-looking, almost feminine feet."
 
And Fats Waller:
 
 
 
Whether frail-looking and almost feminine, or with pedal extremities that are colossal, it hardly matters, when Nabokov and Waller strut their stuff. Many will try to gratefully follow -- pedibus calcantibus -- in their wake. 
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Posted on 11/03/2007 12:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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Very often people announce that they are not going to do something only as a prelude to doing it. "I'm not one to gossip, but...." is followed by a piece of juicy scandal, as surely as "No disrespect, but...." is followed by an insult, or - and I'm not one to fall back on clichés - night follows day. So when Paul Johnson opened his Spectator article with "I don't want to know too much about writers," I was less than surprised to find a catalogue of absorbing details about the bodily and behavioural quirks of a number of famous writers:

A sharp-eyed Frenchman, Philarète Chasles, described Charles Lamb as ‘purely intellectual’ as his body was ‘ridiculous’, his legs ‘almost imperceptible’, ‘poor little spindles, clothed in stockings of Chinese silk, ending in impossible feet, encased in large shoes, which placed flatly on the ground advanced slowly in the manner of a webfooted creature’. After dinner he would fall asleep, but so lightly that the state of slumber appeared to descend on him like gossamer, and he never made the slightest sound of breathing. When he awoke, equally gently, almost imperceptibly, he would immediately say: ‘Diddle, diddle, dumpkins!’

[...]

[Thackeray's]  face was puffy and unformed, and his monocle, screwed in tight, gave it a comic twist. He had been forced to have a fistfight at Charterhouse, and had his nose broken in the combat. Later, travelling in France, he fell from a donkey and broke it again. It looked like a flat button, giving him an infantile look. He was described as ‘resembling a gigantic baby’.

I suspect the peculiar shape of Thackeray’s body in middle life made him accident-prone. He had many falls. Is there such a thing as a propensity to damage yourself? I would like to read a proper scientific study of the subject. Writers are certainly liable, the outstanding example being Ernest Hemingway. Like old Thack’s, his big body was an awkward shape, but he hurt himself badly as a small child, falling with a stick in his mouth and gouging his tonsils. He also caught a fishhook in his back and hurt himself playing football and boxing. In 1918, beside being blown up in the war, he smashed his fist through a glass showcase. In 1920 he cut his feet walking on broken glass, and fell on a boat-cleat which caused internal bleeding. He burnt himself painfully while smashing up a water-heater (1922), tore a foot ligament (1925), and had the pupil of his good eye cut by his son (1927). In 1928, drunk, he mistook the skylight cord for the lavatory chain and pulled the heavy glass structure down on his hand. The result: concussion and nine stitches. The next year he tore his groin muscle, damaged an index finger, was hurt by a bolting horse, and broke his arm in a car accident. In 1935 he shot himself in the leg while drunk and trying to gaff a shark, broke his big toe kicking a locked gate, smashed his foot through a mirror and damaged the pupil of his bad eye (1938). In 1944 he was concussed twice. There was another bad car smash the next year, a clawing by a lion in 1949, a boat accident in 1950 and in 1953 a series of serious accidents in Africa, leading to a fractured skull, two cracked spinal discs, a ruptured liver, spleen and kidneys, and paralysed sphincter muscles. Bad falls, usually while drunk, continued till his suicide.

Some writers get themselves epitomised in a short sentence. Anthony Trollope ‘had a voice like two men quarrelling’. George Eliot ‘had a head much too big for her body’. It made her, as Jane Carlyle recorded, ‘Oh, so slow!’ When I was a child I was told Gladstone chewed his food 39 times before swallowing it. That is the kind of information I like to have, if true. But was it true? Did Gladstone count? Each time? There is something to be said for Dr Johnson’s remark, ‘There is no piece of information, however insignificant, which I do not prefer to know, than not know it.’

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Posted on 11/03/2007 11:46 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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I have never particularly liked the expression "between a rock and a hard place". It means something like "between the devil and the deep blue sea", without the same connotations of danger, but also carries a meaning of "you've got me over a barrel/ by the short and curlies". All these variations are better than the colourless rock and hard place. Another reason to dislike the expression is that it lends itself to weary puns: "Iraq and a hard place", or "Northern Rock and a hard place". Yes, I committed the latter in a post a few weeks ago, but it was a bad day. I was pleased therefore to read in Dot Wordsworth's column that this cliché is no rock of ages, cleft in the Bible, but has been quarried fairly recently:

This impression is reinforced by the obscurity of ‘hard place’. We should not be surprised if it had been adopted by a biblical translator to render something from the Psalms, about the Lord as a rock, a stronghold, a fortress. But this is not the case.

The phrase is fairly new and American. The word place itself, by contrast, is old. It is found on the vellum of the Lindisfarne Gospels, which were written out in the early 8th century, though the English words were written as a gloss between the lines a couple of hundred years later. It comes in St Matthew’s Gospel (vi 5), where Jesus speaks of people who love to pray ‘on street corners’, in angulis platearum as the Latin says, or in Old English huommum thara plæcena. The late Latin platea, which the English borrows, could mean ‘street’, ‘market-place’ or ‘square’. The even older Old English word was stow.

As for the American rock and hard place, the earliest source found is a publication called Dialect Notes (1921), which gives the meaning ‘to be bankrupt’, adding, ‘Common in Arizona in recent panics; sporadic in California’. So the context seems to be mining. It is true that, in 1917, 1,000 striking copper miners in Arizona were deported, but the reference is doubtless wider.

Internet philologists try unhelpfully to make the phrase fit the tale of Scylla and Charybdis, from the Odyssey. Scylla does live on a cliff, but she is not a rock, she is a monster with six heads on long necks, each with three rows of teeth to ‘crunch anyone to death in a moment, and she sits deep within her shady cell thrusting out her heads and peering all round the rock, fishing for dolphins’, as Circe warns Odysseus, in Samuel Butler’s translation. Charybdis is the monster that operates the nearby whirlpool thrice a day. Circe advises Odysseus to keep to the Scylla side, ‘for you had better lose six men than your whole crew’. That’s what he does, but he is sickened by the death of his six men.

Perhaps it is a measure of our cultural poverty that we have dumped Scylla and Charybdis for a figure that is scarcely clearer but certainly duller.

I once saw a man in a pub in Bolton with a patch on each knee of his trousers. One patch said "Scylla" and the other "Charybdis". I am not sure what he was trying to say, and didn't get close enough to find out.

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Posted on 11/03/2007 10:48 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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As well as buying a copy of David Copperfield at Dickens’s World yesterday I also bought (for a child you understand) a rather cute cuddly toy rat with a curly, whirly tail, like wot infested the sewers of Dickensian England. Except when we got it home and examined the label I found I had actually invested in a honey possum.
“It was a cold dank night, down by London River, and a big brown honey possum was crawling up a ships rope when suddenly . . . ” 
No, it lacks something.
The second is a piece of spam I received this morning, offering a cut price herbal remedy to increase the size of my gentlemen’s appurtenances, if I had any such, from the aptly named Hubert Ponce.
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Posted on 11/03/2007 10:36 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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"The Pakistani government outlawed the group after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in an effort to purge the country of extremism, much of it anti-American."
-- from this news article

What a misleading way to put it. First of all, the Pakistani government did not make an "effort to purge the country of extremism, much of it anti-American." The "extremism" was the widely-shared "extremism" of all those who take their Islam seriously, and about that the Musharraf government did almost nothing, and what little it did do was purely in order to justify all the money and military aid it received, while it continued to allow the source of the terrorist threat -- the ideology that prompts it -- completely unchallenged.

Furthermore, Sipah-e-Sahaba is a Sunni group, in the main devoted to killing Shi'a. It is no more or less "anti-American" than other Muslim groups. A bit of googling would have supplied more information about Sipah-e-Sahaba, and further, a bit of study might have prevented the writer of this article from describing, inaccurately because incompletely, the group as "anti-American." It is anti-Infidel, and the Americans are hated because they are Infidels (what does the Qur'an say again? -- start with Sura 9 and go from there), and the Shi'a are hated by these Sunnis because they, too, are regarded as Infidels.

Every news report should be an occasion for further enlightenment, not further confusion. Most people are quite confused enough -- look at the incoherence of American, and Western, policy. An incoherence that has led to a fantastic squandering of resources, and the great harm being done to necessary policies (about domestic monitoring of a Muslim menace, about Iran's nuclear project) by this clearly misguided and vainglorious undertaking, that naive and counter-productive "bringing freedom" to "ordinary moms and dads" in Iraq and then, because Iraq was to have served as a Light Unto the Muslim Nations, to the greater Middle East.

Stupidity, timidity, rigidity, cupidity -- everywhere you look.

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Posted on 11/03/2007 10:18 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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Here is a YouTube of a WSB-TV report in Atlanta, Georgia. (hat tip: Gates of Vienna)

United Methodist Bishop Jones obviously hasn't studied Islam. He says that "Love your neighbor" is fundamental to "all three faiths." and that "your neighbor is any human being."  Wishful thinking.
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Posted on 11/03/2007 9:44 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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What was once thought of as Pakistan's "Switzerland" has succumbed to Islamic law. This is also the area where ancient Buddhist statues are being systematically destroyed.  (Thanks to Jeffrey Imm)

EarthTimes: Islamabad - Pakistan is considering enforcement of Islamic laws in Pakistan's north-western Swat valley to meet the demands of pro-Taliban militants who briefly seized and then released around 100 security personnel after nine days' fierce fighting that left more than 200 people dead. "The government is considering the implementation of Sharia law in the view of the demands of the local people," said Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai, governor of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in which the valley is situated.

"We are trying to resolve the issue through negotiations but if required force will also be used," the DawnNews channel cited him as saying.

The statement came as the Islamic militants said they had released 120 soldiers captured after the clashes in Swat, some 160 kilometres from the NWFP capital Peshawar.

Daily Times: PESHAWAR: The NWFP government has formed a committee, supervised by Additional Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastgir, to enforce Sharia law in Malakand Division, according to the Regulation of 1999, in order to overcome the worsening law and order situation in Swat.

Home Secretary Pacha Gul Wazir, Establishment Secretary Col (r) Ghulam Muhammad, Advocate General Pir Liaqat, Law Secretary Shahid Naseem and Peshawar High Court chief justice comprise the committee.

The provincial government has directed the committee to submit its report as soon as possible for swift implementation of Sharia law.

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Posted on 11/03/2007 9:18 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 03 November 2007
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday, state TV said, ahead of a crucial Supreme Court decision on whether to overturn his recent election win...

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking to reporters Thursday en route to diplomatic meetings in Turkey and the Middle East, said the U.S. would not support any move by Musharaff to declare martial law.

BBC: Paramilitary troops have been deployed inside state-run television and radio stations in Islamabad, witnesses said...

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Posted on 11/03/2007 8:41 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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