Feisal Abdul Rauf – champion of the American way?

Feisal Abdul Rauf - taking full advantage democracy?

Feisal Abdul Rauf - Taking full advantage of democracy - When it suits him

A mosque should not be built on ground zero in New York. I agree with Americans I have heard who say that Muslims have the right to build but that they should not.

Why? Because to do so would be grossly insensitive!

Over centuries Western democracies have managed to throw off oppressive religions and now take pride in freedom of speech. So much so that it is enshrined in the United States constitution. I recall seeing the great and the good protest about the film The Life of Brian by Monty Python and I recall the storm over a ludicrous piece of art named Piss Christ. But the uproar did not sop these things it merely drew attention to them.

Wikipedia informs me that it was Evelyn Beatrice Hall summarising the beliefs of Voltaire who wrote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” and this is oft quoted when defending freedom of speech.

Along with other peoples, Muslims now take advantage of secular society in Western countries. However, it cannot have escaped many people’s notice that they have an uneasy relationship with the concept of free speech. Recall the fatwah on Salman Rushdie and the uproar over a cartoon depiction of the profit Mohamed.

Though Western media take great pride in their lack of censorship I note that they refrained from the obvious course of action which was to reprint the offending cartoon. I imagine that they did this because of a mixture of sensitivity to Muslims beliefs and fear of being killed by Muslims.

As we all know, in 2001,  a bunch of bastards, claiming to be Muslims killed around three thousand people by destroying The World Trade centre in New York and since then Al Qaeda have been shooting their mouths off claiming to be killing Americans in the name of Islam. Now someone wants to build an Islamic Mosque on the site of the deaths of these people.

Since Muslims are very keen that respect and sensitivity be shown to their religion and beliefs one has to ask why they show so little sensitivity to the feelings of the friends, relatives and countrymen of those killed in 2001?

To my mind this stinks of hypocrisy.

If a madman dressed up as Ronald McDonald, took a machine gun and murdered a lot of people in a parking lot would McDonalds have the right to build a restaurant on the site? Absolutely! Should they? Hell NO! I would expect that McDonalds would not try to build because they would not want to offend people and because they realise that their relationship with people would suffer.

The guy behind the plan for the mosque is apparently Feisal Abdul Rauf and he must know that his plans will offend people and that Islam’s relationship with non-Muslims will suffer. Yet he presses ahead! Obviously he does not care about either factor. If he goes ahead with this mosque then I hope that this defender of liberty, champion of free speech and protector of the American Way will be out there defending the rights of all Americans to act without sensitivity. I hope that we never hear this man whingeing and taking offence in the name of Islam.

However, I am not holding my breath as I suspect that Feisal Abdul Rauf is an insensitive boor and an offensive hypocrite.

The building of this mosque will do nothing to help repair the rift that is opening up between Islam and Western countries and should be condemned.

I heard that, in India today, a high court has announced that the site of the Ayodhya mosque which is claimed as sacred by both Hindus and Muslims is to be divided between the two religions. What may have been more sensible would have been to build a joint religious building to be shared by both faiths. Similarly in new York, if Muslims had wanted a mosque in the area, it would have been more in keeping with their penchant for respect if they had offered to build some kind of religious centre to be shared by all religions.

..oh…and atheists too as I don’t want to leave myself out.

airplane hackney

airplane hackney

Milliband nitwits adopt Blairspeak

More T?

T for 2?

Over the past couple of days the media seem to be making a big deal over the fact that David Milliband did not clap when his brother said that Britain taking part in the Iraq invasion was a mistake. The supposed division between Ed and David is now the main themes in any discussion of the Labour leadership. The media are talking bollocks! David and Ed may be brothers but they are not clones. They will have different opinions. This is good. It would be far worse to return to the old days when Tony Blair filled his cabinet with yes men.

And speaking of Mr. Blair, when in power he attempted to ingratiate himself with ordinary people by imitating “estuary English”. This is an accent used by people who live along the Thames estuary and is characterised by “Glottal replacement” where a consonant, in this case a “T”, is replaced by a glotal stop To you and me this means dropping your T’s.

Dropping your T’s has long been a feature of working class accents in England but it took a real nob head like Tony Blair to attempt an accent by picking just this one feature. Consequently Mr. Blair became the only man on Earth to speak in a middle class English access with a glottal stop instead of a T. The effect was risible and made worse by inconsistency. Presumably he only put it on when appealing to the masses.

In opposition Labour look set for a rerun of the old power battle between Blair and Brown but this time staring the Brothers Milliband. As each brother struggles to differentiate himself, I find one interesting commonality: They both have that weird middle class accent with the inconsistent glotal stop – Just like Mr. Blair.

Not a good omen.

Are the Iranian leaders imbeciles?

Imbecile

Imbecile

I am not a fan of religion in politics and definitively no fan of Iran’s fundamentalist Muslim government. However, I was fairly non-comital when hearing verbal attacks on Iran by the United States on the grounds that the United States (and The UK) could not be taken seriously when arguing for democracy since they organised the coup which overthrew Iran’s first democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953. After the coup the “the shah” was installed to keep a lid on dissent to allow the oil to flow.

Even when Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened to wipe Israel off the map I was not too bothered. This is clearly a metaphor and could be construed to mean the dismantling of the state of Israel. We should remember that it was Israel’s first prime minister, Ben Gurion, who said “We must expel the Arabs and take their places.

Recently we heard that Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a speech at the United Nations in New York, just a few miles from ground zero, where he claimed that the attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11th 2001 were orchestrated by the United States government!

As if this insulting and imbecilic remark were not bad enough the story of the Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtian continues to run. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtian is an Iranian woman who has been senteced to stoning to death for adultery. But the stupidity does not stop there. Because of the international outcry the Iranian authorities are now saying that she has been convicted of murder and so will be hanged instead. Though even this is not clear as it is, apparently, not possible to get a definitive answer out of the muppets that call themselves the government of Iran.

Yes, there is a lot of nonsense on the web about conspiracies regarding the September the 11th attacks but everyone knows that America has conspiracy theories about every bloody thing that happens. It doesn’t make them true! When the BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was still leaking I heard one American expert claim that the oil would decimate the southern coast of America and stop the Gulf Stream which would plunge northern Europe into an ice age. (In case any Iranian government officials are reading this I should say that it didn’t happen). What you have to realise about America is that it has a lot of extremely knowledgable people who are very opinionated but have absolutely no judgement. This is why it’s such a great country for talking to nutters in bars. Does Mr. Ahmadinejad believe in Aliens and fairies too?

Iran, formerly called Persia, is an old country with a great history. The idea that their current president believes Micky Mouse conspiracy theories is very worrying and the idea that the outrage of decent people can be placated by changing a sentence of stoning for adultery to a hanging for a trumped up murder charge is infantile and bordering on the insane.

Lastly, there is an urban legend that Bob Holness played saxophone on Jerry Raffert’s Baker Street. Hey Ahmadinejad! It’s not true!

Stop Stoning!

Palestine – America’s shame

Does Israel apear sincere to you?

Does Israel apear sincere to you?

I hear that Israel will not extend it’s moratorium on settlement building in the West bank and the Palestinians, who have said they may pull out of the talks if the moratorium is not extended, are being encouraged to “compromise”. One wonders how much more they can compromise. They have given up half their country for the creation of the Jewish state. They have lived under occupation by Israeli troops for 40 years. They have seen Jewish fundamentalist settlers move into their land armed with machine guns funded by the American tax payer. Their land is crisscrossed by roads for the exclusive use of settlers. When they enter the land which is now Israel they are treated as second class citizens.

Now they are being told that they should accept the continued settlement of their land by jewish fundamentalists while they negotiate. The Man On The Radio (TMOTR) (BBC World Service) just said that between the start of the Oslo peace process and the date that it collapsed Israel doubled the number of Jewish settlers on Palestinian land.

To ask them to negotiate under these circumstance is unfair and perverse.

We are encouraged to believe that the Jewish fundamentalists in Israel are a minority and that average Israelis are fairly secular and believe in democracy. Settlement building is policy of ethnic cleansing driven by religious fundamentalists who believe that they are God’s chosen people. If Israel cannot even bring itself to confront this “minority” and disown this racist policy then one has question their sincerity. In fact one is forced to conclude that Israel does not want peace with the Palestinians, it wants a greater Israel populated only by Jews.

After September 11th America determined that it would address the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Since then they have invaded Iraq and forced regime change. They have invaded Afghanistan and forced the Taliban out of power. They have turned America’s tradition of freedom upside down from finger printing at airports to extraordinary rendition to water-boarding.

Yet they have taken no action against Israel and Israel has done absolutely nothing to help America.

That the United States cannot bring itself to pressure Israel to give up it’s racists policy betrays Americas core ideals and gives ammunition to Muslim fundamentalist. One has to ask what America gets from this one sided relationship?

Ed Milliband – Toadying pays off

Toadying pays off

Toadying pays off

So Ed Milliband has won the Labour leadership contest and I’m hearing a lot of nonsense about how experienced he is. If he has experience then he has disguised it well. His Wikipedia entry lists his experience thus:

“Born in London, Miliband graduated from Oxford University and the London School of Economics, becoming first a Labour Party researcher, and rising to become one of Chancellor Gordon Brown’s confidants, being appointed Chairman of HM Treasury’s Council of Economic Advisers. Miliband was elected the Member of Parliament for the South Yorkshire constituency of Doncaster North in the 2005 general election.”

University – Researcher – Advisor – MP. NIce work if you can get it. One has to ask why anyone considered that a man in his thirties who had never had a proper job would be worth asking for advise let alone parachuting into a Labour safe seat. Like many of the current bunch of political leaders, in all parties, Ed gained power by toadying to the powerful. Having said that, he’s probably a better choice of leader than his brother.

David Milliband was the obvious successor to New Labour’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and favourite to win the leadership. His supporters have been whining that brother Ed only won the contest because the union’s backed him. Hello! The Labour Party was founded by the unions and gets most of it’s funding from the unions. Like them or hate them they have the right, both technically and morally, to pick their leader. Had David won instead of Ed I don’t expect we would be hearing that David had only won because of the support of the party.

I hear that “close friends” of David Milliband claim that he said before the leadership contest that if he didn’t win then he would leave politics. Today the Guardian reported that David’s wife, Louise Shackleton, was “in floods of tears” and “furious about the manner of his defeat”. I am reminded that Tony Blair, after bullshitting us for years that he was “passionate” about everything in politics from schools to hospitals to freedom, he chose to give up his politics and become a banker when he left the Labour leadership.

All this goes to show that the main players in New Labour were, and are, arrogant narcissists interested only in power and not in politics. Good riddance to the lot of them.

Who are all these bloody people?

The Rover Jet 1

The Rover Jet 1

I went up to London today. Bloody train from Hove was packed and I couldn’t get a seat. Then they attached some more carriages at Haywoods Heath and I got a seat next to a bloke who insisted on hanging on like he thought we were about to go into free-fall. At Victoria station getting through the ticket barriers was like a bloody football match and then there was an enormous queue to get into the underground. I gave up and got a bus which got as far as Sloane Square and then stopped along with all the other traffic. We waited for about half an hour moving a couple of inches every now and then and I got out and walked.

I haven’t been to the Science Museum in a while and they’ve tarted it up. By this I mean that they have built a restaurant by the entrance, a restaurant at the back and a snack shop and a gift shop on the 1st floor. God forbid anyone should look at the bloody exhibits. In addition they have a lot of this interactive tosh with screens and whatnot. All geared to get the kids and the intellectually lazy into the museum and God it has worked. Pearls before swine. The politically correct appear to have taken over the first floor with exhibits about gender and race. One moronic piece consisted of a pencil drawing animation of a naked man’s torso and then naked woman’s torso. Drawn in simple line drawings. As they rotate faster, according to the bit of text, it becomes harder and harder to differentiate male from female and, again according to the blurb, by extrapolation this proves that men and women are not very different. What absolute bollocks!

OK, that’s got the rant out of the way.

The old cars and lorries were good. I remembered the fantastic Jet 1 from when I was a boy. This is a gas turbine powered old Rover – It’s still there! What a car! There were some interesting exhibits in the trendy section related to psychology. One that you put your hand into a hole which was stroked by a brush while an artificial hand in front of you was also stroked by a brush and just for second I thought that the hand behind the glass was my hand. Which, apparently, was the point.

The space section still has some great stuff. The real Apollo 10 capsule and a lot of rocket engines. All exhibited in a gallery painted black and lit with spot lights. Personally I’d prefer that they just painted the walls white and lit the entire room well so you could have a good look at the exhibits rather than have some bloody designer trying to give you their impressions of the subject……there I go again, ranting.

Old Ferranti Computer

Old Ferranti Computer

The aircraft section was good, of course, and they had some excellent very old computers from Babbages mechanical difference engine to a Cray 1. One ancient old valve machine consisted of wardrobe sized cabinets with handles like old car door handles. They built computers with attention to detail in those days. Strangely they had embedded a clock on the front and it amuses me that this old machine probably did not have the capacity to run a clock program yet today we have digital clocks in everywhere.

They also had a lot of consumer goods from the 1940s to 70s including old hand tools like drills, radios, hair dryers, telephones. All very strange to look back at when you’re as old as me. I also had a look around the section for ships with numerous models of old square riggers. Thankfully old ships don’t seem to be very fashionable and the babble of kids died away allowing one time and space to wonder around and appreciate what marvels these machines were.

After leaving the Science Museum I’d more or less had enough but I thought I’d take a quick look in the main half of the Natural History Museum which is around the corner housed in a beautiful gothic building. However, the queue to get in was enormous and one has to ask: Where the hell do all these people come from? When I lived in London it was possible to jump on a bus or a train at weekends and you had the whole city to explore. Now London seems flooded by tourists following each other around in great crowds gawping at the great wonders that exist here like a cow gazes at a tractor.

One of the worst trends of the late 20th and early 21st century is tourism. It floods the wonders of the world with people who really don”t care and just want to buy a book of pictures and drink a bloody latte. I wish they’d all go home.

rue Philippe de Dangeau

Groovy!

Groovy!

I spent last week in Versailles. Normally, when in Versailles, I stay at the Mercure Parly 2 but the only interest there is a shopping mall so this time I stayed at the Mercure Versailles Chateau. OK, we’re not talking luxury here. It’s small and basic but clean and the location is good. The breakfast is cold meats, cheese, yogurt and cereal but the coffee is hot and the soap has a wonderful smell of lemons.

The décor of the reception area is somewhat suspect from an Anglo-Saxon perspective. In the morning you will find besuited businessmen reclining at alarming angles on the super squashy sofas. The floor is slightly raised and the front and looks out on the street through a large plate glass shop window. With the sofas positioned at such a height and with the addition of gigantic lampshades straight from the swinging sixties the effect is like sitting in a furniture shop in Carnaby Street. Don’t rely on taxis either. I booked one for each morning and when it rained couldn’t get a taxi at all and on other days had to wait half an hour or walk to the station to flag one.

The Mercure Versailles Chateau is on the corner of rue Philippe de Dangeau and rue Montbauron and if you walk down rue Philippe de Dangeau there’s a cheap Pizza place and further down a series of restaurants and bars. Also within walking distance are the station and the Chateau de Versailles.

le Montbauron

le Montbauron

On Monday evening I ate a takeaway Pizza, then, on Tuesday, a fantastic Lasagne at an Italian restaurant while chatting to a Dutchman from Texas. Yes, the hotels nearby mean that the restaurants are frequented by foreign businessmen, of which, I guess, I am one. There’s an Indian, a Thai and a Japanese restaurant on rue Philippe de Dangeau but on Wednesday evening I returned to the Italian to eat a Tagliatelle while listening to the exploits of a table of American businessmen who turned up again outside my hotel window at 2am shouting “come on, let’s go!”. It’s odd, I have noticed this exhortation in every Hollywood film ever made but have never heard it in real life until that night in France. It seems that the night porter was not about and the Americans were locked out. Being a thoughtful type I got up, closed the window and went back to bed.

Leaving aside the obnoxious station staff at Gar de Nord, I find the French very friendly and weirdly, considering I only did about a year of French in school, I find that I am able to speak enough to get by. I particularly liked the ambience of Le Montbauron on the corner of Rue Jouvencel and Rue Montbauron. Like a British boozer without the noise and kerfuffle.

On Friday I took a cab back to Gar de Nord where I boarded the Eurostar to Ebbsfleet. I jumped in my car and took off for home. One tip on leaving Ebbsfleet and heading for the M25 in the afternoon: The sun will be in your eyes and you will be surrounded by juggernauts. A sign will appear in front of you seeming to say that the Dartford crossing and the M25 are both left and straight on. You will have about a second to make a decision and you will then reason that to join the M25 heading clockwise you should join the left hand slip road. You’d be wrong. This will take you in a large loop to join the absurdly long and slow queue heading north to the Dartford tunnel. You will sit in this queue fuming for half an hour before finally getting to a slip road leading to a roundabout the size of a thimble around which, seemingly, all the traffic in London has been forced to circumnavigate. Finally about three quarters of an hour after joining the M25 going north you will rejoin it going south……and if you complain nothing happens so you may as well not bother and when are we going to get summer this year……etc….you’re back in England – Get used to it.

hypocrisy is the burning issue

hypocrisy is the burning issue

hypocrits!

Today both Tony Blair and Barak Obama were in the news condemning small town Florida pastor Terry Jones for threatening to burn copies of the Quaran. I don’t understand why Channel 4 thought that Mr. Blair was an appropriate person to interview and I don’t understand why Mr. Blair thought he should comment. I suspect that, like a junky who has been in rehab for a while, Mr. Blair’s first taste of fame in the form of his autobiography was so good that he is going straight back on the hard stuff.

On the topic of the book burning: I am against the destruction of all books and specifically religious books as the act is designed to cause offensive and will offend not only the religions nutters planting IEDs in Afghanistan but peaceful Muslims. The pastor should be condemned but America is mot a oppressive dictatorship and so I see no reason for him to be prosecuted. In the UK I imagine that if he were to do this publicly and in a manor designed to cause a “breach of the peace” then he could be stopped or arrested and this sounds about right to me.

Having said that, the news this evening carried pictures of more shouting mobs in Muslim countries burning American flags and this is also offensive and should be condemned.

This leads me to wonder how it is that a unknown American pastor who only threatens to do something can cause two important statesman to wade in to dissuade him while offending American citizens while flag burning goes uncriticised by Muslim statesman.

It seems to me that there is a form of racism going on here. When mobs of idiots burn American flags we are encouraged to think that these are merely ill educated people who have been unfairly provoked. When a daft pastor behaves in a similar fashion we are encouraged to condemn the man as an awful intolerant racist who should know better.

The fundamental racism here is that all white people are well informed, intelligent masters of their own destiny whereas all non-white people are ill educated and at the mercy of events.

This is, of course, BOLLOCKS!

It is instructive to go to google images and type “burning Quaran” and then type “burning American flag”. The obvious conclusion is that it is deemed acceptable to insult Americans but not Muslims.

The American pastor should be condemned of course but in the same breath we should condemn everyone shouting their mouths off in a street protest while burning an American flag. I was told by a Pakistani friend that the shouting mobs who burn American flags are often hired by richer more intelligent people so it would be useful to expose these people to give the lie to idea that the flag burning can be blamed on lack of education.

It would also help if prominent statesman in Muslim countries were as strenuous in condemning insults to Americans as Obama has been in defending Muslims.

I recall the words of an Australian comednien on television recently. He was talking about offense in comedy and he said that it was unreasonable to expect not to be offended. He said something like: “So what if your are offended. Be offended. It’s OK. Nothing’s going to happen. Just be offended.”

Very wise.

Are Christians and North American’s cowards?

Inception

Free fall

Free fall

Isn’t it that I’ve seen the new movie Inception this evening?

The trouble with ‘olliwood these days is that they lack subtly. If this were demonstrated only by the way the plot plods along it would be bad enough but it is as if, once completed, the entire movie is then rechoreographed and explosions, car chases and machine guns inserted liberally to compensate for the lack of subtly in the script. I have come to theorise that most mature artistic media become reliant on technique and neglect inspiration and imagination.

OK, that is my pompous criticism out of the way. The story itself is about a bunch of people who can wrap little wrist straps on and become players in other people’s dreams. Hollywood has had this “what is real and what is not?” thread running for a while now inspired by the brilliant Phillip K. Dick. So this is really more recycling of the same ideas as Total Recall and other movies of that ilk.

Having said that the concepts were interesting. The idea of a “motif” as a small object carried and known only to the carrier which could be observed during a dream to determine whether one was dreaming or not was good. The sequence where one level of dream entered free fall and the only member of the team “awake” had to tie the sleepers together and drag them into a lift to be jolted back into life bordered on farce but was entertaining. In the film dream time is longer than reality so that a dream within a dream within a dream meant that an hour became many years, I liked that idea. The team’s planning seemed to leave a lot to be desired and partly consisted of a deliberate and considered plan to race around in a van with 5 sleeping team members in the back while being attacked by numerous protagonists sporting machine guns in cars and on motorbikes. All planned with split second timing of course.

Worth seeing but I’d prefer to see the same story tackled in a more thoughtful way. But then, what do I know.