Monday, June 10, 2002

Good. Permalinks were enabled, but in a non-obvious way. They're a bit more explicit now.


Just noticed that permalinks aren't working. I'll do my best to add them within the next 24 hours.


This report in the Daily Telegraph is worrying. Apparently British Muslims are sending up to £5 million a year to Islamonazi terrorist groups in Kashmir and elsewhere. One of them, Jaish-e-Mohammed, is believed responsible for the murder of Daniel Pearl.

Muslims in the West are playing a dangerous game. The choice is really very clear: either integrate fully (which means severing ties with groups that plot the murder of your host citizens), or face the consequences. I saw a ridiculous debate tonight on CNN about the entirely reasonable proposals to fingerprint visitors from seven pro-terrorist nations. There was some pinguid oaf called Hussain Ibish protesting that this was racial profiling. Of course it is. Get over it, lard-bucket. When Brazilians start flying jumbo jets into the Sears Tower, for damn sure we should crack down on them, too. If you don't like being treated like second class citizens, then stop fucking killing us.

Not all Muslims are terrorists. Yeah, whatever. Not interested. To a first approximation, all terrorists are Muslims. If there's a repeat of September 11th (or, God forbid, something worse) then the Arab populations in the US and elsewhere had better watch out. Obviously it would be grossly unfair to victimise the vast majority of Middle Easterners in the West for the actions of a minority. But it'll still happen.

I used to live in Bradford in the North of England. It has a very large, predominantly Muslim immigrant community. Bradford University, where I used to work, was an active recruiting ground for the Islamofascist organisation Hizb-ut-Tahrir (until it was banned from campus). Around the time of the 1997 General Election, flyers were going up in bus shelters saying that voting was haram (forbidden). Obviously most of the Muslim population treated this as nonsense (a goodly proportion of local councilllors were Asian.) Fine. But the proportion of the immigrant population that did not treat this as rubbish, indeed sponsored and endorsed it, was significant. This is a recipe for disaster. And not for the host populace. Even in Bradford, the immigrant population was a minority. Any flare-up between the Muslim 'community' and the wider world would redound disproportionately on the immigrants. The situation in the States is similar. It is in the best interests of Muslim populations in the West to not antagonise their hosts. If a backlash were to come, it would be horrible. If Muslim groups like CAIR (or the ACLU for that matter) are perceived as having hindered prevention of another outrage, then God help them. Because for damn sure no-one else will.

Sunday, June 09, 2002

Mmmm. Pan-fried goujons of chicken marinated in lime juice, wine, soy sauce and Tabasco, fettucini al olio, and a very respectable '99 Macon Blanc Villages. I love Sunday evenings at home.


This post on Libertarian Samizdata encapsulates exactly what I, as a pretty radical libertarian capitalist feel about the difference between a society and a state. I was delighted when England won against Argentina, even though I'm not much of a football fan. It was even better when England beat Germany 5-1 and Costa Rica beat the U.S. to qualify for the World Cup, both on the same day (my birthday!)


And then there's my Screwdriver de luxe:

In a large highball, 2 oz. of chilled vodka (I like Stoli 100 but Absolut is wonderful too), 1 oz. of Cointreau, 1 oz of Seville orange juice (very bitter) and a squeeze of lime. Then top up with chilled, freshly pressed orange juice. Stir. Imbibe. Repeat. Magic!


As an expat Brit, I have to do my bit to fly the flag. To that end, here is the recipe for my kick-ass Gin and Tonic:

In a cocktail shaker, put 2 oz. of gin (a good brand like Tanqueray or Beefeater), the juice of half a lemon or lime, and the squeezed lemon (or lime) cut into strips along with four or five big ice cubes. Shake hard for a minute or so and strain into a highball. Add tonic to taste, without any ice (you do keep the tonic in the fridge and the gin in the freezer, don't you?).

This makes a really zesty G&T, and no need to add additional ice which waters it down. Yummy. I am about to make another one...


One little gripe I have with blogger is it specifies its timezones in the 'Settings' thus: GMT-6.00 (Central Time). But Central Time is not GMT - 6 hours. It's more like BST - 6 hours. Costa Rica, on the other hand, really is GMT - 6 hours. This close to the Equator, summer time makes no sense (sunset varies by about 40 minutes throughout the year). So posting times are off by an hour when the US is in daylight savings time. Yes, I could set it to Mountain Time. But then I'd forget to change it back.


Pejman Yousefzadeh links to the following full-cavity Fisking in FrontPage Magazine. In it, Marc Levin rips apart the commencement address given by radical lesbian Professor bell hooks [sic] at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. Presumably hooks eschews capital letters as a tool of the patriarchy because, well, the two-dollar word for capital letter is 'majuscule', and that, like, you know, sounds like 'masculine', thus like totally showing the influence of capitalist oppression and the enslavement of womyn on English orthography. In the process she makes herself sound like a bit of ironmongery: "a box of #8 x 2 1/2" wood screws, please - yes, the japanned roundhead ones, and, oh, half a dozen bell hooks. Thanks." What a maroon. It's like a teenager announcing at breakfast that's she's no longer 'Stacey', now she's 'Staci', with an 'i'.

When I was at school, one of my friends, a very bright guy, used to subscribe to 'The Morning Star', which was the in-house publication of the Communist Party of Great Britain (circulation: about 12). I was scandalised at the time - I couldn't understand why he was so blind to the evils of Communism, especially in the privileged surroundings of the very expensive public (i.e. private school) we attended, with all its access to newspapers and educational resources. Of course that was the point. He no more believed in Communism than I do in whack-job stuff like Scientology or Crystal Healing. It was a pose, solely pour epater les bourgeoises (mainly his parents). Given the credence that viewpoints like hooks' receive in the Real World™, a speech like the one she gave is no more significant than a small child saying 'pee, po, belly, bum, drawers' in church, and should be given as much notice. I mean, really, you can't beat any sense into people like hooks with a baseball bat, although that by no means should discourage us from trying.


English usage bugbears, part II:

More entries in this quixotic, snobbish and extremely pedantic series as I think of them.


Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs links to this story in the New York Times. It's about the attempted suicide bomber who partially blew himself up and was then carted off to hospital in Israel for surgery after being checked out by a British-made bomb-disposal robot (an Alvis Wheelbarrow, Alvis having recently been acquired by Northrop-Grumman). One of the standard fittings on the British Army version was a shotgun, used to disrupt timers and wiring. The operator of the Wheelbarrow could simply have 'made the bomber safe' by spraying his brains all over the road. Instead this worthless piece of human filth is being looked after in the kind of modern hospital that his ilk could never design in a million years. A few doors down are some of the survivors of the Megiddo car bomb.

I am not saying the EOD operator should have killed the bomber. He might have been a useful source of intelligence. However now he has been fully debriefed, he should be summarily executed. He is an irregular from a hostile power, and thus not covered by the Geneva or any other convention. That he did not kill anyone is blind luck.

It's all very well to say that Israel is taking the moral high ground by behaving like this. So what? It didn't stop the Megiddo car bomb. Rounding up as many Palestinian guerrillas as possible and shooting them en masse might well have done.

When the Germans summarily executed partisans during WW II, they were acting wholly within their rights under the laws of war. Where they exceeded those powers was in executing non-combatant hostages. Likewise, if an infiltrator was caught behind Allied lines, his execution was usually not too far off.

Bullets, in the quantities that militaries purchase them, cost a few cents. Keeping someone in jail costs a fortune, in addition to making them a bargaining chip in any future hostage-taking. But 125 grains of lead and copper in the back of the neck get the problem out of the way for good.

And remember: the best thing about martyrs? They're dead.


There's been a thread about Intelligent Design (ID) running across several of the blogs I would normally consider 'warblogs' (although pace Dave Winer and his blogger taxonomy I don't think there is a simple split between any different genre of blog). The arguments have been flying thick and fast. There been a big discussion at Rand Simberg's Transterrestrial Musings. The original post that kicked it off is here. In the pro-ID corner is one Melissa Dulak. I posted a fairly lengthy comment on Rand's site pointing out what I believe is the biggest flaw in the whole ID edifice. So here it is again:

Michelle Dulak writes, "Suppose that Behe's hypothetical "designers" are stipulated to be, not God (or gods), but organic beings like ourselves, only vastly more intelligent and vastly more advanced technologically. Yes, of course this only pushes the problem back a level (i.e., "where did *they* come from, then?"), but my point is that there is now nothing "supernatural" in the hypothesis."

This is precisely where problems with a 'designer' come from. You can't just hand-wave and put the origin of the designer(s) in the 'too hard' pile. If you are attempting to explain the existence of complexity by appealing to a 'designer' then you are simply stuck in an infinite regress. Sure, if we were created by beings vastly more intelligent than ourselves, then that removes the element of the supernatural from our creation. But shunting the problem one level higher simply will not do. This is begging the question: that there ever was a 'designer' in the first place.

ID falls down because it posits, a priori, some entity that cannot itself be adequately explained in terms of ID, unless one is content to accept an infinite regress. Evolutionary theory, on the other hand, coupled with abiogenesis, does not suffer from this flaw. Naturally, theories of abiogenesis are not testable in the sense that we can run them through an experiment and say, 'this is the way it happened'. But we can potentially observe, through the laws of physics, that with certain reasonable assumptions a given theory of abiogenesis results in a situation whereby life as we know it could have arisen. One day I believe we will have a theory, with an experimental corpus, that will allow us to say, 'this is how it could have happened.' If and when we do that, it's over for ID. ID is attempting, au fond, to show that there is no physically realisable set of events that could have given rise to life as we know it without the intervention of some supernatural force (at some point, maybe not at our creation, but previously to make our 'designers'). Occam's razor leads us to reject ID in the presence of a plausible, naturalistic explanation.

Needless to say, nothing science has done or ever will do can disprove the existence of God (or whatever). ID falls between two stools. It is neither placing itself as a quasi-religious theory of origins (although that is the ulterior motive of many of its advocates), nor is it placing itself firmly within the camp of the empiricists. It is pseudo-scientific, in the most accurate sense of the phrase. It is an exemplar of Feynman's cargo cult science - it has the superficial gloss of science, but underneath the structure is rotten.

Aside: it's funny, but very few (none, as far as I know) of the people who are contributing to this discussion in the Blogosphere are evolutionary biologists, molecular biologists, biophysicists or what-have-you (me included). Now why aren't there any blog threads about the relative merits of E(8)xE(8) and O(32) superstring theories? Seems everyone's an expert on evolution.


Jeez, Blogger is slow today. It hasn't actually eaten any of my posts, but the one below took 20 minutes to publish. They need more bandwidth and hardware, badly. It's OK for a dilatory and desultory blogger like me, but I can see why the Prof moved to a different system.


Instapundit, Rand Simberg and others have linked to the Voluntary Human Extinction website.

My immediate response on browsing through this site was that I would pay money to avoid these people. They come across as the most sanctimonious, whining bunch of orthopaedic shoe-wearing, lentil-scoffing morons. But then I read some more, and I started to get really angry. Their site is one of the most repellent exampes of fluorescent green fascism dressed up as 'concern for the environment'. And of course if you disagree with them, you must be lacking in intelligence or logic skills.

It would take weeks to go through a point-by-point refutation of this bilge. Fortunately Julian Simon, Bjørn Lomborg and Ronald Bailey, among others, have already done this for us.

The biggest problem with freaks like this is of course that the 'voluntary' element will steadily become less and less important to them as time goes by. Single-issue fanatics of this sort of totalitarian stripe are never content with voluntary action. Sooner or later, when they realise that rational people are never going to go along with their idiocy, persuasion gives way to coercion.

I hesitate to use a Tom Clancy novel as an argument, but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a radical eco-fascist movement could attempt to cook up a human-specfic plague. If one actually reads the published views of the most extreme 'deep ecology' advocates, one sees an horrific level of human-hatred. These people genuinely believe that the deaths of billions of humans would be a good thing. I have to say as a representative of, no doubt, one of those billions, that the feeling is entirely mutual.

The most salutary effect this website had on me was a desire to get off my butt, start looking for a wife, and get down to the business of punching out babies. I once thought two would be nice, but I come from a large family myself, I live in a country where big famlies are normal (I hardly know any Costa Ricans who are only children), and now I'm leaning towards the idea of four or five.

Musings from Costa Rica

Contact me: d a g g i l l i e s @ y a h o o . c o m 

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