Mandarin and Putonghua or Standard Languages and Their Dialects

I recently received a comment, which I deleted due to tone, which asked how I could possibly state that Putonghua (Official Mandarin) is incomprehensible with “Mandarin”.
Truth is, there are 1,500 dialects of Mandarin. Putonghua is only an official form of Mandarin based on some of these dialects and instituted after 1949.  In time, Putonghua itself has changed so much that it is no longer intelligible with the pure form of the very dialect that it was based on! Furthermore, new forms of Putonghua have already developed that are incomprehensible to other Putonghua speakers!
The truth is that forms of a language may not be intelligible with each other. That is why I (with the assistance of some of the world’s top Sinologists) am working to redo the classification of Sinitic and carve new languages out of it based on intelligibility. As it stands, there are 14 Sinitic languages. Based on intelligibility, there are far more than that. The Chinese style of promiscuous use of the word “dialect” for both languages and dialects has been very destructive in terms of our understanding of what is really going on there.
Similar things occur in many large languages. Within Macro-Dutch, we probably have 14 different languages, Dutch, 10 forms of Dutch Low Saxon, Zeews and Flemish, and that’s just getting started. For one thing, Flemish is looking like more than one language. None of these lects are mutually intelligible. So there is “Dutch” and then 13 other languages under the “Dutch” rubric.
Within Macro-French, there are 4 languages, Standard French and three others – Cajun French, Walloon and Picard. None of these lects are mutually intelligible. Actually, there are quite a few more, but those are the only ones accepted at this time.
There are 20 different forms of Macro-German – Standard German, Eastern and Western Yiddish, Lower Silesian, Upper Saxon, Bavarian, Cimbrian, Mocheno, Hutterite German, Walser, Swabian, Colonia Tovar German, Schwyzerdütsch, Pennsylvania German, Kölsch, Limburgisch, Pfaelzisch, Mainfränkisch and Luxembourgeois. None of these lects are really mutually intelligible. Actually, there are more than that, but those are the only ones that are recognized. So we have “German” and 19 different languages inside of “German.”
Within Macro-Italian, we have Standard Italian and 13 other languages – Dalmation, Istriot, Neapolitan-Calabrese, Sicilian, Emiliano-Romagnolo, Lombard, Ligurian, Piedmontese, Venetian and four different kinds of Sardinian – Sassarese, Gallurese, Logudurese and Campidanese. None of these lects are really mutually intelligible. So we have “Italian” and 13 different languages inside of “Italian.”
These stuff drives laypeople and Internet cranks completely insane, but linguists look at all it and shrug our shoulders.
National chauvinists are particularly irked by this stuff. Italian nationalists say there is “Italian” and the other 13 languages are Italian dialects. Dutch nationalists insist there is one Dutch and the other 13 languages are Dutch dialects. German nationalists say there is German and the other 19 languages are German dialects.
There’s a tendency among these types to not accept that languages closely related to theirs are actually separate languages and not dialects. This is due to the consolidating, assimilationist, anti-liberationist agenda of the nationalist.
You can go around the Internet and see the wild debates ranging over whether Scots is a separate language or a dialect of English.
What’s interesting is that inside the field and especially in academia, all this stuff causes is just yawns and shoulder shrugs. But outside of the field, ordinary folks are driven mad by this.
This is one reason why people want you to get a degree in a field before you call yourself some kind of an expert. People who call themselves linguists, anthropologists and economists who lack degrees in Linguistics, Anthropology and Economics have a strong tendency to not know what the Hell they are talking about. Many are hacks, cranks and fringe nuts.
Within the fields themselves, especially in academia, there tend to be consensuses about a variety of things, a deep familiarity with the basics of the field and most importantly, a spirit of collegiality and professionalism.
I have nothing against autodidacts in principle, but they often lack all of these things.
Go to sci.lang on Usenet and look at all the autodidacts calling themselves linguists. They are passing themselves off as the world’s leading experts while having raging debates that you won’t hear one peep about in academia. None of these guys would last 10 minutes at a university.
It always pissed me off when people said, “You can’t be a [whatever] unless you have a degree.” But I’m starting to understand what they are talking about. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Interesting Piece on the Shining Path

Here from Al Jazeera. Includes a neat 11 minute minute. Here is Part 2 of the video.
It’s basically a bunch of propaganda crap, exactly what you would suggest. I have some serious issues with Sendero Luminoso, to put it mildly (I always supported a group called the MRTA instead), but this time around, they claim to be doing it right. As usual, Sendero is portrayed as some kind of narco-traffickers.
Barring the arrival of some sort of Chavez-type on the Peruvian scene, I can’t see why the vast majority of Peruvians have even one reason to support the Peruvian state. It’s a horribly racist society, with a completely evil socio-economic system. There’s only one way to get rid of it, I figure, and that’s through revolution. I don’t think the democratic road to power is going to work.
The Peruvian economy has been growing like gangbusters for 10-15 years now, but it has hardly touched poverty one bit. The population in extreme poverty is still around 51%. This reinforces my point about the potential meaningless about capitalist macroeconomics success stories.
Easily preventable deaths by children from obvious malnutrition are easily around 120,000/yr, minimum. That’s why I yawn when they say that Sendero’s war killed 70,000 people. Hell, the system kills more than in half a year, year in and year out. Why focus on Sendero? Who’s the real killer? The Peruvian state!
Sendero killed around 35,000 of those 70,000,  and supposedly the overwhelming majority were “civilians.” The “civilians” lie there is shown in the fact that almost all of those people were members of the rondas, press-ganged local militia that the state had directed to take up arms against Sendero.
Sendero says it realizes how it screwed up, and this time they are going to do it right and not kill the people (they did kill the people a lot last time around).
The US military is there, flying into poor villages and doing civic work, but that’s all counterinsurgency. The problems with the US military’s counterinsurgency civic ops is that they do some civic work here and there, but they never advocate the kind of deep structural changes that society really needs.
It’s like a guy is starving, you have loaves of bread to give him but instead you tear off a few pieces and throw them to him so he will shut up and put away the gun for a while. As soon as he puts the gun down, you won’t even give him crumbs and he gets to die.
That’s what civic ops is all about. Once the guys with the guns put them down, the counterinsurgency civic ops guys pack up and move on the next rathole threatened with armed socialism. The whole enterprise is just fake to the core. If the civic ops people were pressing the state to make deep structural changes to ward off revolution, that would be one thing. That might even make the guys with the guns put them down. But of course they never do it. That would be bad for business.
If Sendero proposed to fight an NPA-style war and advocated a project similar to the Chinese state or the Nepalese Maoists,  I could go along with it. But they were always so radical and extreme!

Don't Eat With Your Left Hand

What did people use before toilet paper was invented?
*Newsprint, paper catalog pages in early US
*Hayballs, Scraper/gompf stick kept in container by the privy in the Middle Ages
*Discarded sheep’s wool in the Viking Age, England
*Frayed end of an old anchor cable was used by sailing crews from Spain and Portugal
*Medieval Europe- Straw, hay, grass, gompf stick
*Corn cobs, Sears Roebuck catalog, mussel shell, newspaper, leaves, sand- United States
*Water and your left hand, India
*Pages from a book, British Lords
*Coconut shells in early Hawaii
*Lace was used by French Royalty
*Public Restrooms in Ancient Rome- A sponge soaked in salt water, on the end of a stick
*The Wealthy in Ancient Rome-Wool and Rosewater
*French Royalty-lace, hemp
*Hemp & wool were used by the elite citizens of the world
*Defecating in the river was very common internationally
*Bidet, France
*Snow and Tundra Moss were used by early Eskimos
Wow, impressive. Humans are so creative, always inventing new things. Sand? Snow? Coconut shells? Mussel shells? Straw? Hay? Grass? The Roman one, a sponge soaked in salt water on the end of a stick, seems like the best one of them all until Charmin came along 2000 years later.
Do it in the river? Terrible idea. In Africa, to this very day, they do it on the beach. Or maybe they wade out into the shallow water a little bit. They have some really beautiful white sand beaches in West Africa, but you really do need to watch where you step.
I believe that in Lagos, Nigeria, a so-called modern city, only 1% of the population has access to indoor plumbing. Where to go? I dunno. Sidewalk? Better watch your step in Lagos too.
In China they used to put it on the crops. I hope they composted it first. Farmers all over China where wheeling around wheelbarrows full of it 60 years ago. It was called “night soil.”
In the Middle Ages, you just went in a bucket. After a while, the bucket filled up. Then you went to the window and tossed it out into the streets. I’m not sure if you looked before you tossed or not.
To this day there is an expression in Mexican Spanish dating from Old Spanish from the Middle Ages – Aguas! means “Watch out!” Aguas means “waters.” This expression dates back to that period when someone was emptying their toilet bucket out into the street below. People down below would yell out, “Waters!” so they could get out of the way when the shit started to fly.

Response To Mike Campbell on Chinese Language Classification

An autodidact named Mike Campbell has issued a long critique of my Chinese language classification.
There are problems with his analysis.
First of all, Campbell says we need to defer to the Chinese on what is a dialect and what is a language. But top Sinologists in the West are saying that the Chinese are falling down on the job and not working according to the modern scientific definition of what is a language and what is a dialect.
The Chinese linguists operate, like Chinese medicine, according to a completely different format that is pretty much at odds with the one used in the West and in much of the rest of the world.
One element of this format is the fangyan. A fangyan has many meanings, but in Chinese it tends to mean “dialect,” or better yet, “topolect.” It also tends to mean the speech form of a given county. But the Chinese definition of the word “dialect” differs radically from the definition used by linguists elsewhere in the world. For one thing, questions of intelligibility with other lects are left out of the definition of fangyan.
Chinese linguists also use hua, which means something like “speech.” This tends to be more expansive than fangyan, but at the same time it can occur down to the level of dialect. Examples include Putonghua, Shanghaihua, Beijinghua, etc, but also Pinghua and Tuhua. It tends to be geographically based – the speech of a particular geographical location, however that geographical location can be expansive or very restricted. But this is not the case in Putonghua, which is just “average speech”, and is spoken all over China.
The third category is yu. Yu is probably the category that Western linguists would most commonly associate with “language” or even “language family.” Yu only refers to separate languages within Chinese. Outside Chinese, the word wen tends to be used. Examples are Wuyu, Minyu, Huiyu, etc.
No one seems to quite know exactly what the Chinese classification is at any given time.
According to Campbell, we must not do anything until the Chinese act first, but they only make a new language maybe once every few years, and they are failing even at that.
Campbell states that Scots and Bavarian are dialects, not languages. He says that Scots is a dialect of English and Bavarian is a dialect of German. However, Ethnologue says that Scots is a separate language and so is Bavarian. The intelligibility of Bavarian and German is only 40%. I lack figures for Scots, but clearly intelligibility is lower than 90%.
Ethnologue is run by SIL. SIL has been granted the task of assigning all of the new ISO numbers. An ISO number means that a lect has been officially recognized by the world linguistic community as a separate language. So SIL are the linguistic scientists who world community has given the task of deciding what is a language and what is not. Campbell is saying that SIL does not know what they are talking about.
Campbell states that mutual intelligibility cannot be determined by talking to speakers and simply asking them whether or not they can understand “those people over there.”
According to Campbell, this is inaccurate. He says the only way to determine intelligibility is through scientific testing methods looking for % in phonology, lexicon, morphology, syntax, etc. He also says that tonal differences are irrelevant for Chinese, because differences in tones do not impede communication, but I would beg to differ on that. Chinese speakers have told me that closely related lects with much different tones can be very difficult to understand, at least at first.
On Ethnologue’s Mexico page, extensive tests have been done on various lects spoken in small villages determining intelligibility between one lect and another. Intelligibility testing is commonly done by simply sitting a speaker of Lect A down in front of a recorded corpus of Lect B and see how much they can understand.
Campbell says that intelligibility testing on human informants is inherently erroneous because as speakers of Close Lect A hear more and more of Close Lect B, they can understand it over a period of time (the exposure factor). This is the problem of interdialectal learning.
Interdialectal learning (the tendency of closely related lects to hear each others’ lects and quickly learn to speak them and hence muddy the waters of intelligibility), trumpeted by Campbell as a reason that intelligibility testing cannot be done on human informants, is regarded by SIL as different from inherent intelligibility. Inherent intelligibility is best regarded as a test of the ability to use the mother tongue.
In other words, when two lects are said to be “inherently unintelligible” this appears to be referring to “virgin” speakers who have not yet had the opportunity to learn each other’s dialects.
Similarly, members of Lect A may simply be bilingual in Lect B, which also invalidates intelligibility testing. However, measures have already been developed to determine bilingualism and the degree of it. A favorite one is SLOPE. SRT is also used in bilingualism testing. Like other intelligibility testing instruments, they have been subjected to tests for reliability and validity over the years.
Further, testing has evolved to the point where we can begin to ferret out bilingualism from inherent intelligibility. In Casad 1974 the author describes testing done on speakers of Mazatec, a Mexican Indian language.
Intelligibility testing was done to see how well they understood Huautla, a related language. Three female speakers had scores in the 50-60% range, and three males had scores in the 90-100% range. Huautla is a local market language that is learned as a second language by many non-Huautla in the surrounding area. I would gather that 55% represents true inherent intelligibility and the 95% speakers represent practiced bilinguals.
At any rate, in the survey, the figures were averaged together so that Mazatec speakers had 76% intelligibility with Huautla and Mazatec and Huautla were said to be separate languages.
Campbell also throws out a red herring in the notion that certain members of a group may simply refuse to hear the language of another group and insist that they do not understand it. Although existent, this problem has little relevance in intelligibility testing. SIL does testing with cross sections of communities.
Furthermore, SIL notes that intelligibility is typically distributed evenly across a community with regard to sex, class and age.
The SD’s for inherent intelligibility in a community are narrow, less than 15%, whereas the SD’s for bilingualism are much higher. This is because in the case of bilingualism, communities differ. Some feel a strong need to learn the other language, others feel no need at all. Further, members differ in their access to an opportunity to learn the other language, even though they may wish to learn it.
This should throw out the notion that females, the aged, the young or the old, the wealthy or the poor, will automatically give us false data on intelligibility.
Campbell hints that intelligibility is poorly defined. However, SIL has listed a hierarchy of intelligibility. SIL says that intelligibility below 70% is “unintelligible” and intelligibility over 90% is “adequately intelligible” (this usually conforms to our ideas of a dialect). Between 71-89% is what SIL calls “marginally intelligible.” Lately, SIL throws most lects with under 90% intelligibility into separate languages.
Campbell recommends throwing out all intelligibility testing with informants as inherently inaccurate and focusing instead of measures of language similarity.
However, SIL notes that linguistic similarity is not an adequate single predictor of intelligibility. For instance, testing in the Philippines revealed pairs of lects with vocabulary similarity of 52, 66, 72 and 74% which had over 90% intelligibility (were inherently intelligible). Over 80% vocabulary similarity for lect pairs resulted in several cases of inherent intelligibility. So lexical similarity is not an adequate measure at all for measuring intelligibility.
In testing of Polynesian, Siouan and Buang, it was found that the higher the level of lexical similarity up to a certain point, the lower the intelligibility scores were. This is counterintuitive, but it shows once again that lexical similarity is poor measure.
Morris Swadesh was the founder of lexicostatistics, the study of lexical similarity. Lexicostatistics has its uses, but determining between closely related languages and dialects is apparently not one of them.
This myth seems to be dying a hard death. Robert Longacre and Sarah Gudschinsky were involved in long debates with Swadesh about the validity of lexical similarity measures, and they seem to have been proven right. The latest findings calculate that any study that uses lexical similarity alone to determine intelligibility of lects has a 4.5-1 chance of failing to do so with any reliability.
Word lists still have their uses. Where word lists show similarities between lects below 60%, odds are that we are dealing two separate languages, and there is no need to do any further intelligibility testing. And they have obvious uses in historical linguistics and in determining genetic relationships between languages.
Vocabulary similarity below 67%, though, typically reveals intelligibility estimates below 60%. Intelligibility below 60% is inadequate for all but the very simplest communication. Before any kind of even slightly complex or revealing messages can be conveyed, intelligibility usually needs to be over 85%. Casad found that 90% intelligibility on a narrative test was necessary before one could move to more complex kinds of communication. Here once again we get into the dialects.
Intelligibility is usually asymmetrical. In other words, Lect A can understand 80% of Lect B, but Lect B can only understand 70% of Lect A. There are arguments about the reasons for this, but one suggestion is that higher figures result from some sort of bilingual learning.
Campbell also points out that it is not uncommon that people speaking the same language cannot always understand each other. He asks how often we have heard a fellow English speaker of the same dialect say something and we did not catch what they were saying for some reason or other. The implication is that we need to throw out all testing with informants due to this.
SIL has actually examined this, and they often include a test called “home-town” in which people are presented with narratives within their own dialect and an intelligibility score is given for that. It is true that sometimes this is lower than 100%, but it is typically not much lower. Nevertheless, using the “home-town factors” of Lects A and B as controls in factor analysis helps greatly when moving on to actual intelligibility between Lect A and Lect B.
One thing to do is to throw out all sentences or questions that score less than 100% on home-town, since if the speakers can’t even understand these sentences well when their own people speak them, how can we measure how well they understand them when speakers of other lects speak them?
Campbell suggests that there are no tests available to use on human informants that pass the smell test of empiricism. This is not the case.
One test, the Sentence Repetition Test (SRT), has been used for decades, subjected to many papers and studies, and criticized and modified in many ways.
In this case of SRT, testing of group members individually has been shown to be superior to testing them in groups. The reason for this is because when you do intelligibility testing in a group of say eight people, you can run into a strong personality or high-ranking male in that group who might say he understands much more than he really does for some reason or another,  possibly to show off. The other less dominant group members then follow his lead and give false high readings on the intelligibility test.
Many linguists, led by SIL, have been leading the way in intelligibility testing for decades now. Some of the top figures in in this subfield are the couple Joseph and Barbara Grimes of SIL. Joseph Grimes is a retired linguistics professor from Cornell.
In addition, a number of computer programs have been created that help the researcher to test intelligibility.
Another charge, that intelligibility testing lacks adequate controls, has been shown to be false. Bias in both experimenter and subject has been shown to be a problem, as is the case in most or all science, and measures have been undertaken to deal with it.
The notion that this subfield of Linguistics, intelligibility testing, is unscientific should be laid to rest.
Ethnologue seems to place tremendous importance on mutual intelligibility, however defined. Mutually unintelligible lects are assumed to be separate languages by Ethnologue. Their criteria for splitting off a dialects into languages seems to be 90%. Below 90%, separate languages. Above 90%, dialects of a single language.
In conclusion, Mr. Campbell’s principal contentions in his critique are all incorrect.
First, he suggests that the very concept of mutual intelligibility between lects is impossible to define or prove. SIL has shown that the concept can be defined and tested by reliable instruments.
Second, he says that the use of human informants in mutual intelligibility testing is so prone to error that it cannot guarantee satisfactory results. This is not the case. SIL has proven, through decades of testing, that mutual intelligibility is best done, or possibly can only be reliably done, through intelligibility tests with human informants.
Third, he throws up a number of red herrings that supposedly prove the inherent unreliability of human informants in intelligibility testing. All of these are shown to be the very red herrings that I claim they are, although it is true that unrecognized bilingualism is a problem, but it can often be ferreted out.
Fourth, he says that the only way to reliably test for intelligibility is to compare lects via tones, phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon. This is an extremely complicated process utilizing math and computer programs and can only be undertaken by practiced linguists. In truth, such elaborate testing, while interesting, is entirely unnecessary.
Fifth, he suggests that any Western reformulations of Chinese language classification need to first defer to the Chinese. The problem here is that the Chinese have completely fallen down on the job. We cannot defer to the Chinese without upsetting our entire system of language classification. The Chinese are entitled to their system, but it is at odds with that used by the rest of the world.

References

Casad, Eugene H. 1974. Dialect Intelligibility Testing. Summer Institute of Linguistics Publications in Linguistics and Related Fields, 38. Norman, OK: Summer Institute of Linguistics of the University of Oklahoma.
Casad, Eugene H. 1992. “State of the Art: Dialect Survey Fifteen Years Later.”‭ In Eugene H. Casad (ed.), Windows on Bilingualism, 147-58. Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington Publications in Linguistics, 110. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington.
Grimes, Barbara F. 1992. “Notes on Oral Proficiency Testing (SLOPE).”‭ In Eugene H. Casad (ed.), Windows on Bilingualism, 53-60. Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington Publications in Linguistics, 110. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington.
Grimes, Joseph E. 1992. “Calibrating Sentence Repetition Tests.”‭ In Eugene H. Casad (ed.), Windows on Bilingualism, 73-85. Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington Publications in Linguistics, 110. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington.
Grimes, Joseph E. 1992. “Correlations Between Vocabulary Similarity and Intelligibility.”‭ In Eugene H. Casad (ed.), Windows on Bilingualism, 17-32. Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington Publications in Linguistics, 110. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington.

Bring Em Young

Ee gads. I swear this is bordering on child abuse.
Ee gads. I swear this is bordering on child abuse.

Little kids are so cute! Eeek.
The Nazi virus is a terrible illness, and it even strikes young children. Of the kids in the photo, focus on the two on the right. Notice the alien, Vulcan-like red eyes. The red eyes are a sure sign of an infection of the Nazi virus, an indication that any last shreds of humanism have long departed the hollow Nazi soul of the afflicted child.
From Finland.
Those are three young Finnish brothers, posed by their neo-Nazi mother. I was starting to get worried about why so many Finns were going to look at that famous Russian neo-Nazi video on the old site. Now some of my worst suspicions are being realized.
The USSR was so damned aggressive in WW2, attacking Finland and the Baltic states, attempting to annex Finland and actually annexing the Baltics, that it left a long-term bad taste in the mouth of these blond and blue northerners. Hatred of Communism and the USSR often goes along with seeing Nazis as liberators, if only from the hated Soviets. I always thought the Winter War (USSR vs Finland) was retarded. Anyone want to try to justify it for me?

A Look at California Street Gang Structure

According to the FBI, there are 1 million gang members in the US, an increase of 200,000, or 25%, from four years ago.
That 1 million figure must be far too low.
Who is and who is not a gang member is very hard to determine. For instance, in this area, there are three levels of the gang.
There are the real hardcore Nortenos – level 1. Those are older guys and they are actually allowed to have Norteno tattoos on them. They have all been jumped in, probably in prison.
Then there are younger guys who have “wannabe” gangs, around here wannabe Norteno gangs – level 2. The one around here is called something like 601 Kings. They claim territory, spray a little graffiti and sometimes fight with the other young wannabe gangs.
But I told my neighbors about this gang and they started laughing and said, “That’s so stupid!” They said that’s not “the real Nortenos” and if these kids went to jail or prison and tried to claim Norteno, they would get beat up just like that. Plus no way are they allowed to be caught dead in jail or prison with an unauthorized tattoo.
I’m dubious if you even have to be jumped in to be a member of a level 2 gang. These level 2 gangs are best thought of as just the local neighborhood kids from wherever forming a set, calling themselves the whatevers, and then trying to “make a name for themselves” so to speak. But the real hardcore Nortenos will just ignore them, laugh at them and have nothing to do with them. Level 2 is like the upstarts. No way are they the real deal.
I know a lot these characters around here, and some of these young guys are actually sort of ok in a gangsterish way, but others are no good. Mainly, no way can you openly insult their gang or support the opposing gang. Some of them, if you respect them, they respect you, pretty much.
Even below level 2 is level 3, which probably represents most of the characters around here. They wear Norteno colors and gangster attire, sometimes spray graffiti, and sometimes they fight with opposing gangs, but they aren’t really even level 2 gang members as far as I can tell. I guess they are what you call associates. Truth is that just about all the young Hispanics around here “claim” or “represent” Norteno. That doesn’t mean they are in any gang.
This is a Norteno hood, so everyone here pretty much claims Norteno by default. That is, they sort of root for them at least or if not, at least don’t support the Sureno enemies. It’s sort of like rooting for the Dodgers if you lived in Brooklyn. They support the home team. Heck, I practically claim Norteno on that basis!
The level 3 group represents a vast number of people, and if you include them, the figure must be dramatically higher than 1 million. Furthermore, I believe that most of the graffiti crews around here are at most these level 3 kids.
As far as what crime they are involved in, level 2 gangs sell dope sometimes, possibly deal in stolen property, spray graffiti, and sometimes fight with rival gangs. That’s about it from what I can tell. You can actually live in a place like this, as long as you don’t get involved in the gang crap yourself and avoid making friends with these characters. Just choose your friends very carefully. For the most part, they don’t bother people who are outside the gang thing.
These levels of distinction are not represented very well outside of gang insider clique circles, certainly not in the media.

Gays Got Culture, Straights Got Stupid

And then it went the other way around.
From a great essay by Edmund White, a fine gay writer.
Speaking of men here, not women.
Gays got culture, straights got stupid.
That was in from at least the 1950’s through about the 1970’s.
During this period, gays were very much into culture, ballet, the opera, reading literature in the original foreign language, spent two days in the kitchen on single dishes, indulged in makeup, hair and clothing as much as a woman, listened to jazz and the best classical and loved to go to the burlesque show.
At this time, straight men were expected to never read, cook only on an outdoor grill if at all, willfully cultivate huge beer bellies, slump on the couch drinking beer after beer watching the game, be unadventurous in bed, care noting about clothes, refuse to dance and listen to crappy music if any. That was what being a real he-man was all about. Anything less and you were a pussy, if not an out and out homo.
And then it went the other way around.
In the 1970’s and 80’s, all of a sudden, a straight man could cook, speak a foreign language, wear nice clothes, spend money on your hair, work out at the gym, learn to cook in the kitchen, be an artist in bed with women, listen to classical music and jazz, read great literature, go to art museums and the opera, go to self-examination workshops on the weekend, go on diets and eat healthy foods, know their wines, and lately even, God forbid, use cosmetics and dye your hair. All without most folks thinking you were a faggot.
And now it’s gays who champion shallowness and stupidity, and gay culture is all about sex, big dicks, more sex, getting high, working out all the time to get the perfect body and spending the weekends clubbing. Gays read nothing but magazines and David Sedaris, if anyone. Multiple languages, skills in the kitchen and being a culture maven gave way to the cult of instant gratification.

Finn Joke

Lots of ethnic groups get insulted, but no one ever insults the Finns. This is grossly unfair. They have very high rates of depression and heart disease, never smile, hate Russians pathologically, like to dive into freezing cold water in the middle of winter like lunatics, have no gourmet foods to speak of, and have an insanely difficult language that is frankly incapable of being learned by anyone not a native speaker.
It’s time to dog on the Finns!
Hey, did you hear the one about the Finns?
They were Finnish before they even started.
Har har.
I used to date this 1/2 Finnish, 1/2 Russian girl named Tami, and damn was she beautiful! Blonde hair, blue eyes, smart, happy, friendly, oh yeah!

Barack Obama, the Sixth Black President

Check it out.
Not sure what to make of it, but the first five could indeed have been “high yellow.”
Perhaps we will never know. Anyway, Obama is the first President who actually looks Black and is actively working to help Blacks from a position of Black identity (except possibly Lincoln), which pretty much renders to genetics of the others moot.

An Inquiry Into Roman Antisemitism

In the following excerpt from the great historical novel, Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian, we see the so-called anti-Semitism of the Romans. Super-Jews usually interpret this sentiment as an example of the age-old mindless genocidal hatred of the Jews.
As we can see though, the pragmatic Romans had their reasons for their anti-Semitism, and they were not really mindless reasons at all.
The Jewish New Year celebrations were banned because they were causing violent riots every year.
For similar reasons, probably because it also led to violent riots, the authorities also forbade the public reading of the Story of Esther, the basis for Purim holiday, but which the Romans regarded as a perverse celebration of  horrendous mutual massacre on the part of both the Jews and the Persians.
Jewish paranoia is already evident, as a harmless logo of a Roman legion, a boar, is interpreted as a deliberate insult to the Jewish religion’s prohibition on eating pork.
In a spirit of universalism, the Roman governor forbade circumcision. The reasons are not quite elaborated, but apparently he wanted to assimilate the Jews into the rest of the Empire. We see already the Jews’ refusal to assimilate. This refusal has been the cause of a tremendous amount of anti-Semitism over the centuries, but anger over refusal to assimilate is hardly mindless.
Furthermore, it appears that the Romans regarded circumcision as a barbarism along the lines of castration, which they had just previously forbidden. In this the Romans mirror movements, some of them even regarded strangely as progressive, to outlaw or at least discourage circumcision, especially in the West. These movements have actually managed to attract a lot of support from physicians.
Keep in mind that the Romans considered themselves the ultimate in civilized folks, and regarded many of their subjects as barbarians of one type or another. Along the same lines, the Romans required little of their subjects beyond taxes, but they did request that the subjects, whatever their religion, also accept the Roman Gods. Almost all subject peoples just went along with this as one of the prices for being a vassal state.
The Roman elite, it should be noted, were very secular (and nearly pre-scientific) folks, and many of them hardly even believed in the Roman Gods themselves, regarding it instead as some sort of opiate of the people thing to keep the peons satisfied.
The Romans also accuse the Jews of hatred and contempt for non-Jews. This is an age-old charge, and obviously there must be something to it or it would not be repeated endlessly.
Hadrian wished to turn Jerusalem into more of an international city, mirroring the progressive efforts of today to make it an international city under the auspices of the UN as part of a peace settlement of the Middle East conflict.
The Jews, mirroring the Zionists of today, seemed to want to keep Jerusalem as a Jews-only city. The Romans introduced classes in Greek literature to Jerusalem (the ultimate in civilized standards of the day). The Jews reacted with violence to this, or any other tainting of their Jewish city and lives with “foreign influence.” One famous Jew even allowed his child to die rather than to be treated by a famous Greek doctor sent to try to save his life.
The Romans tried over and over, exasperated, to mollify these fanatics, but were thwarted at every turn. Eventually the famous Jewish Bar Kokba Rebellion erupted around 150 AD, the result of which was the razing of Jerusalem to the ground.
So we see here that Roman anti-Semitism was not based on irrational hatred or evil, but with the frustration of the uber-civilized Romans with a religious-ethnic group whom they regarded as steeped in barbarous fanaticism.
Looking at it from a more pro-Jewish POV, we can see the Jews as the ultimate rebels who would never submit to any other outside authority, especially in matters of religion.

The Tenth Legion Fretensis has a wild boar for its emblem; when its standard was placed at the city gates, as is the custom, the populace, unused to painted or sculptured images (deprived as they have been for centuries by superstition highly unfavorable to the progress of the arts), mistook that symbol for a swine, the meat of which is forbidden them, and read into that insignificant affair an affront to the customs of Israel.
The festivals of the Jewish New Year, celebrated with a din of trumpets and ram’s horns, give rise every year to brawling and bloodshed; our authorities accordingly forbade the public reading of a certain legendary account devoted to the exploits of a Jewish heroine (Easther) who was said to have become, under an assumed name, the concubine of a king of Persia (Iran), and to have instigated a savage massacre of the enemies of her despised and persecuted race.
The rabbis managed to read at night what the governor Tineus Rufus forbade them to read by day; that barbarous story, wherein Persians and Jews rivaled each other in atrocities, roused the nationalistic fervor of the Zealots to frenzy (a feast of Purim).
Finally, this same Tineus Rufus, a man of good judgment in other respects and not uninterested in Israel’s traditions and fables, decided to extend to the Jewish practice of circumcision the same severe penalties of the law which I had recently promulgated against castration (and which was aimed especially at cruelties perpetrated upon young slaves for the sake of exorbitant gain or debauch).
He hoped thus to obliterate one of the marks whereby Israel claims to distinguish itself from the rest of human kind.
I took the less notice of the danger of that measure, when I received word of it, in that many wealthy and enlightened Jews whom one meets in Alexandria (Egypt) and in Rome have ceased to submit their children to a practice which makes them ridiculous in the public baths and gymnasiums; and they even arrange to conceal the evidence on themselves.
I was unaware of the extent to which these banker collectors of myrrhine vases differed from the true Israel. As I said, nothing in all that was beyond repair, but the hatred, the mutual contempt, and the rancor were so.
In principle, Judaism has its place among the religions of the empire; in practice, Israel has refused for centuries to be one people among many others, with one god among the gods.
The most primitive Dacians (Bulgarians) know that their Zalmoxis is called Jupiter in Rome; the Phoenician Baal of Mount Casius has been readily identified with the Father who holds Victory in his hands, and whom Wisdom is born; the Egyptians, though so proud of their myths some thousands of years old, are willing to see in Osiris a Bacchus with funeral attributes; harsh Mithra admits himself brother of Apollo.
No people but Israel has the arrogance to confine truth wholly within the narrow limits of a single conception of divine, thereby insulting the manifold nature of Deity, who contains all; no other god has inspired his worshipers with disdain and hatred for those who pray at different altars.
I was only the more anxious to make Jerusalem a city like others, where several races and several beliefs could live in peace; but I was wrong to forget that in any combat between fanaticism and common sense the latter has rarely the upper hand.
The clergy of the ancient city were scandalized by the opening of schools where Greek literature was taught; the rabbi Joshua, a pleasant, learned man with whom I had frequently conversed in Athens, but who was trying to excuse himself to his people for his foreign culture and his relations with us, now ordered  his disciples not to take up such profane studies unless they could find an hour which was neither day or night, since Jewish law must be studied night and day.
Ismael, an important member of the Sanhedrin, who supposedly adhered to the side of Rome, let his nephew Ben-Dama die rather than accept the services the Greek surgeon sent to him by Tineus Rufus.

References

Yourcenar, Marguerite. 1954-1963. Memoirs of Hadrian. Translated from the French by Grace Frick. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

2005 Nobel Prize in Economics Winners

Two nasty Nobel Prize winners.
The two men, Thomas C. Schelling and Robert J. Aumann, won for Game Theory, but unfortunately, they applied much of their Game Theory to wars, especially the most immoral wars, cold and hot, of the US and Israel.
Mr. Schelling was long involved in trying to win a nuclear war against the USSR, then with the collapse of the USSR, advocated for the overthrow of other nations the US wants to regime change, often through nonviolent revolutions. His theory was most recently used in the “color revolutions of Lebanon, Georgia and Ukraine.
Mr. Aumann is most unpleasant. A Super-Jew and Super-Zionist, he opposed the withdrawal from Gaza and has long advocated the annexation of Gaza into Israel, although I assume that the Palestinians will not receive any state benefits, nor will they be able to vote. His game theory was used in the recent blockade of Gaza intended to force the Gazans to overthrow Hamas.
Nice people, these Nobel Prize winners!

Why Were There Survivors in the Concentration Camps?

Some charming Holocaust Deniers in the comments threads (They are nicest people!) have mocked the Holocaust, asking why there were survivors at all from the death camps.
The answer is complex.
The camps were not necessarily set up for immediate extermination. Even at the death camps, some were selected for the gas right away and others were selected to remain alive at least for a while. These were worked as slave labor, given very little food, and packed together. Many died of starvation and disease, but that was the idea. The idea was to torment them, get some work out of them, and slowly kill them.
Other camps were full on labor camps. Auschwitz was pretty much a gigantic factory. At some of these camps, people managed to stay alive for a long time, possibly years. Some also become favored Jews, kapos, or developed relationships, including sexual ones, with camp staff, and stayed alive that way. The guards needed to have some inmates on their side, kind of like in a jail where they have trustees and whatnot.
As you can see in the photos on liberation, many of the inmates were not in very good shape, to put it mildly. At the end, they emptied the camps and made them go on death marches, where a lot of them died or were murdered. I suppose they could have just lined them up and shot them in the camps, but they did not do that. There was a large element of sadism, perversity, torture, torment and slow death to the whole enterprise.
Further, the Nazi project regarding the Jews was of two minds. Part of the project dealt with killing Jews immediately, and another dealt with keeping them alive, but usually slowly killing them, in the camps over a period of time. And some Jews were just left alive – kapos, girlfriends of guards, etc. The Holocaust was not so much a master plan but an act of madness. As such, its purposes frequently clashed, and in many cases, were poorly developed and even contradictory.
The Shoah also seriously hampered the war effort, especially towards the end when trains needed for the war effort were diverted in order to kill Jews, seriously harming the military. So the Jew-killing was not even rational from a military POV. The Nazis were almost afflicted with a Jew-killing psychosis.
The notion of exterminating some, leaving others to perish of starvation and disease, and packing others in camps to work them to death until starvation and disease took them over can be seen in the Generalplan Ost intended for the peoples of Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Belarus. So the Shoah and Generalplan Ost were actually similar, and in Generalplan Ost we have a model for the Shoah, though a much more merciful one. A better analogy would be that Poland and its quisling General Government were Generalplan Ost in praxis.

Mediterranean Sardines on Rice

Ok, I think I am finally getting the sardines thing down. I have tons of sardines and lots of rice, so I am trying to figure out something to make with them. This was by far the best one of them all:
Ingredients:
2 tins sardines
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup canned spinach
1 small onion, yellow or white, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup black olives, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Basque fish sauce
2 Tbsp chili sauce
1 Tbsp red wine garlic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
1 Tbsp capers
1 slice lemon
20 shakes of pepper
Directions:
Cook the rice. Boil 2 cups of water in a pan and add 8 oz. rice to boiling water. Turn to low, cover and cook 15 minutes or until water has boiled away. Set rice aside.
Peel the onion and garlic clove and remove 2 cloves. Peel the 2 garlic cloves. Chop the onion and garlic cloves on a board and set aside. In a large pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil on medium high. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook on medium high until caramelized (light brown).
Turn heat off. Drain and chop olives and add. Add fish sauce, capers, mustard, vinegar, chili sauce and sardines to pan. Set one sardine aside to add as a garnish. Turn heat back on to medium high and cook, stirring. Break up sardines as you stir. Stir until well-cooked.
Drain spinach and add to the mixture. Cook spinach on medium high with the rest of the sautee. Add 20 shakes of pepper and stir in. Now add rice to mixture and cook on medium high. Stir rice in well with the mixture until the rice is sort of a greenish-gray color. Add spices to taste.
Can be served hot or cold, but I ate it hot. Add slice of lemon on top. I squeezed the lemon out onto the rice. Add final sardine as a garnish on top. Eat away!
This was the best meat and rice dish I have cooked so far. I was dubious about the chili sauce, but chili sauce is used with seafood and in shrimp cocktails, so I decided to take a chance. I hardly knew what capers were, but the capers go with sardines perfectly and the capers just about make the dish! I was also unsure about the spinach, but the spinach went fantastically with the whole dish. You can definitely add some Italian parsley, but I didn’t have any.
It has a really strong, Mediterranean, fishy smell and taste, so if you don’t like sardines, you won’t like this.
Capers are little things in a jar that look like miniscule olives. They’re cheap – about $1.50/jar. The chili sauce is cheap – $2/bottle. A good bottle of vinegar will set you back $3. Extra virgin olive oil is expensive, but worth it, at around $7-8 bottle. The lemon, onion and garlic bulb cost almost nothing.
The Basque fish sauce, sardines, olives and spinach were lying around. Rice is cheap. Sardines are cheap too.
Keep in mind that to get 2 cups of rice, you use I cup of rice and 2 cups of water, because rice expands in water.
You need to wear an apron because stuff splashes around a lot.
Cooking isn’t gay, it’s macho! If you’re a bachelor, you either learn to cook or you eat like a dog. Real men cook!

About Those Tunnels

The tunnels in Gaza are supposedly being pounded by the IDF because they are used for smuggling weapons. However, most of the tunnels are just being used to smuggle food, medicine, household appliances, cooking gas, etc. The tunnels are run by underground business concerns in Rafah, and are quite lucrative. Each of the armed groups has their own smuggling tunnels for smuggling weaponry and whatnot.
I find it hard to understand why tunnels that smuggle goods for the civilian population of Gaza must be bombed. The whole idea here, as from the very start of the blockade after Hamas won the election, is about punishing the civilian population for voting for Hamas. As soon as Hamas won, demands were placed on it by the Group of Four, apparently the US, Israel, the UK and the EU (So much for the anti-Semitic Europeans!). These demands were quite unreasonable.
Among them were the recognition of Israel and the renunciation of violence. It should be pointed out that no one is demanding that Israel recognize Palestine or renounce violence. Anyway, an occupied people have the right to armed resistance. Since Hamas refused to obey, a cruel embargo was slapped on them, intended specifically to punish the people of Gaza for electing Hamas.
This embargo resulted in over 50% of Gaza’s children suffering from malnutrition, along with serious deficits in medicines and medical equipment. Outrageously, Egypt went along with this embargo.
The power plant was bombed – the plant which ran the sewage treatment plant – so raw sewage has been pouring out into the ocean and is now seeping into the aquifer, threatening to contaminate the water supply.
The rocket attacks pretty much started when Israel refused to lift the embargo. After Israel pulled out of Gaza, it retained control over Gaza’s borders, including the borders at Egypt and the sea. Israel even retained control over Gaza’s population registry list. As a starting point at working towards a cease-fire, Israel could have offered to lift the blockade in return for a halt in rocket attacks.
In Operation Cast Lead, it looks like Israel bombed that American school in Gaza, the crown jewel of Gaza’s education system, on purpose. Once again, the reason here is just to punish the civilian population for electing and supporting Hamas. There were no rockets being fired from anywhere near that school.
The superb Norman Finkelstein has an excellent roundup (long) of the issues surrounding Operation Cast Lead 2008-2009 and the Lebanon War 2006, the real reasons for both of which were to “restore Israeli deterrence capacity vis a vis the Arabs” and to head off a potential peace settlement on terms that Israel considers to be unfavorable. The piece also deals with many issues surrounding the events leading up to Operation Cast Lead.
Dem Arabs gittin a bit uppity, have to put dem in dey place.

Where Did All That Wall Street Money Go?

The US economy, or the world economy, lost…What? Hundreds of billions? Trillions? …of dollars when Wall Street firms and banks went belly-up. Many are asking where the money went. Obviously, somebody raked in the loot. Who? The helpful commenters on Xymphora suggest…two guesses? The Jews! How did you guess?
Leaving aside for the moment whether or not “the Jews” got rich off Wall Street getting its clock cleaned, we should deal instead with the issue of whether anyone at all got rich off the massive losses on Wall Street, or whether the billions or trillions of losses went into anyone’s pocket.
My position is that no one got rich off the Wall Street crash and burn, as the money lost never even existed in the first place. You know, paper money, paper profits, all that.
Any readers have any thoughts on this?

Why Egypt Cooperated With Israel on the Gaza Operation

This question has probably mystified many people.
The Ikwaan. And, in the Egyptian context, specifically.
Hassan al-Banna.
What does this have to do with Hamas? It is not well-known, because the MB is unpopular, along with fundamentalist Islam (yes, it is true, forget the Zionist lies), in Palestine, but Hamas is nothing other than the Muslim Brotherhood-Palestine (see 2nd paragraph). Also see here, under Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
MB-Palestine is nothing other than a wing of MB-Egypt. The MB connection makes Hamas’ very close alliance with Syria all the more perverse and odd.
Lots of hard feelings, shall we say, between MB-Egypt and many successive regimes. MB-Egypt has a necessary and sufficient relationship with Al Qaeda itself. Al Qaeda’s leading philosopher (deceased) was a member. One of the philosopher’s most ardent followers is this man, still alive and broadcasting regular videos, including one in which he proudly claims the 9-11 attacks and castigates those who blame the US and Israel as underestimating the great capabilities of the Sunnis.
This man is not well-liked by the Egyptian state.
This war with the Egyptian state has been pretty much resolved.
Egypt mass-arrested most of the members, took them out to the desert, tied them to stakes with no food or water, and requested that they talk. Those who did not give in to interrogators experienced the wrath of the desert met with a man armed with neither food nor water. Death in a day or two. 1000 or so were killed in this charming way. We see how the Arab conducts counterinsurgency. Can you imagine the outcry if Israel deigned to emulate the hated Arabs?
Saudi Arabia is one half of the Al Qaeda equation, in terms of its birth anyway. MB-Egypt, etc, etc, is the other half. Failure to understand this essential aspect of the Al Qaeda birth process and continuing influence results in a failure to understand AQ. Why should Americans understand Al Qaeda? 9-11 is an emergency phone call number.

References

Wright, Lawrence. 2006. The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Highly recommended; great read!

Some Thoughts on Central Planning

Project Cybersyn.
Fascinating stuff.

It consisted of Telex machines located in workplaces communicating information in real time to a central control system.

It even had a control room! And supposedly it worked pretty well, too. Surely, with Moore’s Law and all and the advances in software and programming theory, not to mention various forms of AI, computing is now vastly more advanced than it was 36 years ago? Via Eastern Star, a link to a book called Towards a New Socialism (1993) by W. Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrell.
From the site:

Update on computer speeds: One of the themes of our work is that the speed of modern computers makes a real difference to the feasibility of efficient economic planning.
In Socialist Planning After the Collapse of the Soviet Union, for instance, we assess the time-order of the calculations required for planning in detail a ten-million product economy. We use for reference the figure, at that time on the cutting edge, of one billion calculations per second for an advanced multiprocessor.
Such figures date quickly. IBM recently announced (Feb 12, 1998) the signing of a contract with the US Department of Energy and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for the delivery, by the year 2000, of a computer capable of 10 trillion calculations per second — 4 orders of magnitude faster than our 1993 benchmark.

Their argument is that the new computer speeds means that the argument over the inefficiency and unworkability of central planning in an economy is now in a whole new ballpark.
This is said to be an answer to the Economic Calculation Argument by Mises, Von Hayek, Friedman, etc. that says that a centrally planned economy can never work. The free marketeers actually have some interesting arguments to throw out there, and you can argue that they have history on their side.
At the collapse of the USSR, it was said that Gosplan was only able to calculate prices for some 500,000 of the 3 million products (!) being produced by the “failed socialist state”. First, I wonder how a failed system even produces 3 million different products a year, but anyway…it’s clear that Gosplan was overwhelmed.
Socialists who agree with the free marketeers’ argument have countered with “market socialism”, which I am not necessarily opposed to at all, except no one seems to know exactly what it is.
One way of doing this, according to a journal article I read, is to devolve control of the workplaces to the workers, but with control over investment versus profit-taking left to the state. Plants that started losing money would simply close, thereby avoiding the problem of money-losing state firms.
Control over workers’ investment decisions was necessary because the Yugoslavian experience showed us that workers, given the chance of reinvesting profits in plants versus taking them home in their pockets overwhelmingly preferred to take them home. This resulted in deinvestment in the plants and resulting breakdown of the infrastructure, eventually making the plant unable to function competitively, or at all.
In the Mondragon Cooperatives in the Basque Country of Spain, plants are owned by workers technically, but actually they are owned by large regional banks. The banks make the decisions of whether or not to take home profits in workers’ pockets or to reinvest in the plant. This non-capitalist form of ownership has worked very well!
My father always counters by saying, “Ok, so then why isn’t everyone doing it?” Hey! It’s a non-capitalist form of ownership. Capitalists run the planet. They don’t like non-capitalism forms. They can’t make money off them. Duh.
In China, there is already something like this. The #3 producer of TV’s in the world is actually a Chinese publicly-owned firm , and it’s competing quite well, if I do say so myself. China has devolved many public enterprises to the level of local municipality and labor collective, the forms that actually run these plants. Much of China’s explosive economic growth in the 1980’s and early 1990’s was actually coming out of these publicly-owned firms.
In China, I believe that Chinese firms still must technically be owned by the workers. This is described by Time Magazine as a “Maoist-era anachronism” (Mao insisted, evil bastard that he was, that workers actually own the firms – evil seems to know no limits) that the capitalist roaders (yes, that is what they are) in China are chafing to get rid of. I don’t want them to get rid of it. Worker ownership in China is a good thing.
Now many plants are actually run by municipalities. Cities run them either well and make lots of money or poorly and don’t make much money, so there is competition within the socialist sector in China. The ones that do well can expand, pay and house their workers better, so workers flock from all over to these cities to try to get jobs with the firms that are doing well.
In one city that was written up, control of profits versus investment was run by the municipality, and they required that workers plow back in 95% of their profits over and above their salaries to the firm. Once again, workers can’t really be trusted to make rational decisions about how to run an enterprise, which pretty much proves Lenin right in his argument against strict worker control.
Cuba has recently found that there are some efficiencies (!) in large state farms for certain crops (sugar cane, potatoes, beef and poultry) versus having them grown by small farmers in plots of 10 acres. Cuba is now making plots of up to 10 acres available to any small farmers who wish to take them up, and there has been a flood of applications, but the small farmer way is not necessarily Utopian.
Back to Cockshott and Cottrell’s book again, although they claim to have solved Hayek’s “calculation objection” (see the Economic Calculation Argument link above) which theoretically makes any planned economy doomed to failure. That’s a good step forward right there. C & C argue that socialism was able to overcome the calculation objection by the mid-1980’s due to the increase in computing power.
Nevertheless, the planned economy still has problems, many of which are economic and hence nearly beyond the reach of the average reader. But we will go into them nevertheless.
C & C offer no plausible solutions to any of the following dilemmas:
The problem of lack of incentives in a socialist society remains. Che Guevara’s famous “moral incentives” crusade never really worked out very well.
Innovation, lack of it, or lack of incentives for innovation are also a crucial problem in socialism (in my view, nearly fatal). I would argue that assuming that the state has to money to do so, persons making critical or groundbreaking innovations in society should be rewarded warmly – possibly with awards of say 1 years salary for each significant breakthrough.
There is a problem in that economic planning and centralization seem to engender social planning and political centralization, making the planned economy almost automatically undemocratic in praxis. They offer a plan to allow regular citizen referenda on all sorts of things, done via touch-screen TV’s in every home.
The problem of the nearly inevitable development of a capitalist black market in any planned economy remains.
As does the problem of an inevitable brain drain of the best and the brightest to capitalist countries where the labor rewards are so much better.

Anti-Semitic Chicken Nazis Threaten Jews

Prior to the latest Gaza War, one of the worst threats facing the Jewish state today was a tribe of Islamo-Nazi super-chickens being raised in Gaza by a suicidal chicken death cult to be suicide chickens and kill every single Jew in Israel. According to the Chicken’s Founding Charter, “not one Jew will be left in Israel.”
The chickens had recently taken over Gaza in a chicken coup (hehe), killing many moderate chickens in the process and instituting a chicken dictatorship over other animals. Lately, the chickens had been launching chicken poop rockets at Israel on a daily basis.
Although there were no casualties, the chicken poop launched at Sderot caused many cases of shock in the Israelis living near the Chicken Terrorist Haven of Gaza. Further, it is said that two Jews, one 85 and the other 87, forgot to take their heart meds and nearly had fatal heart attacks when the chicken shit was really flying over southwest Israel.
The chickens refuse to accept any past agreements with Israel and refuse to recognize the Jewish state, since it grants no rights to chickens. Further, the chickens say that Jews stole the land where they used to strut and fluff their feathers.
The chickens have also refused to renounce violence, and the roosters have been fighting a lot lately. There aren’t any Jewish chickens around to kill, so they turn on each other in a fratricidal chicken war in Gaza.
Israel has blockaded the chickens, putting them on a starvation diet and making for some awfully slim boneless fryers.
One of the great things about Israel is the US gets to use it as a testing ground for new weapons. Chickens, unlike humans, have proven impervious to most of the techniques yet developed by “USreal” to kill them. However, in the latest Gaza War, Israel used new weapons called “chicken hawks” to decimate the chickens. From the article:

Samir Sawafiri pointed at several dozen hungry chickens scavenging for food between the crushed bodies of nearly 65,000 other birds strewn across a destroyed farm in Zeitoun in Gaza City.
“They are all that is left and I have nowhere to put them,” he said. The poultry farms around Zeitoun used to be the Gaza Strip’s main provider of eggs, according to Oxfam. Little but twisted metal and crumbling concrete now remains of the poor suburb on the eastern outskirts of Gaza, one of the areas hit hardest during the war.
“I evacuated on January 9,” Mr Sawafiri said. “Three days later, on January 12, tanks came with bulldozers and leveled the fields. They wanted to spoil the economy – that is the only answer. There is no justification for what they did.”

In the war, at least 65,000 Palestinian terrorist jihadi chickens were killed by the IDF in just this one raid. All of the chicken counterattacks killed only 13 Israeli birds. Operation Plucked Chicken was declared a success by Ehud Olmert, though there were worries that the chickens would rebuild their coops and try to re-arm to fight another day.
The questions that remains is why the chickens turned into anti-Semites. It seems that not only have the Jews been hated forever by all other humans, but they have also been hated by most other animals, not just humans. It was a matter of time before Euro-weenies, the Far Left and radical Islam roused the chickens to join in the world’s oldest sport, hatred of and war against the Jews.

The Morgenthau Plan

I can’t believe that we actually did this. Reading this Wikipedia article, one assumes that the Wiki piece must have been written by neo-Nazis. Surely that could not be the case. The truth, then, resembles neo-Nazi propaganda about US aims and behavior in the first half-decade after the war.
It’s funny because you go looking for research on the case and mostly all these neo-Nazi sites come up. You read through them and think, “Yeah, but their Nazis, so you know they’re lying.” I think they are definitely exaggerating, but I was blown away by how close the neo-Nazi sites’ descriptions of this plan mirrored its actual implementation.
Not that I sympathize with Nazis. My general rule is when you start reading neo-Nazi stuff and you have to nod your head and say, “Wow, these guys are definitely not good for the Jews, but how can we deny that what they are saying is true,” that means not that Nazis are cool but that something is rotten in Denmark.
When you read Who Rules America, and nod your head at the Nazis’ analysis of Jewish media power, that’s not good. When you read William Pierce on Russian Jews bleeding Russian dry and participating in a White slave trade of East European Orthodox Christian girls to Israel and nod your head, that’s not good. It’s not good when the Nazis are right. Not good for the Jews. Not good for anyone.
Same with this Morgenthau Plan. Not that Nazis, or Germans (What was the difference, anyway? Most Germans, but not all for sure, were Nazis all right) didn’t more or less deserve it. Yeah, paybacks are a bitch and all that. But I also think you should give people a good reason to surrender.
Surrender to we can enslave you, starve you to death, let you die from disease, de-industrialize your country and maybe kill 20 million of your countrymen is not a very good reason for me to put down my gun and quit shooting. If there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to kill me anyway, why not die on my feet, gun blazing, like a man. That was the mindset of the Warsaw Ghetto, a tragic but noble one.
Give people a reason to live, for Chrissake.
Same reason I’ve always opposed beating up people who are arrested. Having been cuffed a couple of times and manhandled by the cops, I figure the cops want to beat up everyone they arrest. What’s the point? Getting arrested is bad enough. Being imprisoned is bad enough. Losing in a war is bad enough. You should treat your former enemy kindly enough so he does not want to take up arms against you again.
I also think that there was something just intrinsically wrong about starving all those Germans to death and raping all those German women. Whether they deserved it or not, I still don’t think it was right to do it to them. As above, there’s no point to punishing the defeated in war. Defeat alone is punishment enough.
The neo-Nazi sites claim 13 million excess German deaths 1945-50 via this plan. Wiki doesn’t give a figure, but you wonder if the Nazis are right on that one too. Remember. Anytime Nazis are right, it can’t be good.
Ross Vachon’s Semitism Run Wild is an excellent exploration of the Morgenthau Plan, drawing analogies to the neocons as latter inheritors of the Morgenthau throne.

The Whole Place is a "Settlement"

An pro-settlement Israeli commenter on Ha’aretz, the voice of Israeli liberalism (see comment 7 by a transplanted Dutch Jew in far northern Israel):

Settlement on the land, Hityashvut, has been the backbone of the Zionist endeavor since the first colonies were begun over 120 years ago. In the time of the British, it was especially necessary to create “facts on the ground” in places where the British discouraged settlement, in order to ensure that these locations would remain part of the state of Israel.
Today however, the government is us. Settlers who create illegal “facts on the ground” in Judea and Samaria help our own government and our own IDF – us. It is constructive to assist the Israeli government and the IDF with establishing settlements in places that have a large and hostile Arab population.
Large parts of the Negev and the Galilee remain sparsely settled and it is also important to invest our efforts in developing these lands. Facts, arguments and reasoning based on moral and historical rights are never obsolete and are still valid today. As to our historical rights: see here.

Sometimes there is no need to put words in their mouth. The horse’s mouth opens and speaks for itself. Not much to add here.
This is my beef against Zionism. “The settlements” and “normative Zionism” are properly conflated. Truly, they are an extension of one another. Focusing on “the settlements” while ignoring that the whole damn place is really a gigantic settlement creates a false distinction and whitewashes the Zionist project while legitimating it.
Note the comments about the Galilee and the Negev.
Israel has been engaged in something called “the Judaization of the Galilee” for many years now. This involves refusing to allow Arab cities and villages to expand, while surrounding them, as if they were bacterial infections,  with the antibiotic of government-funded Jewish communities.
The Judaization of the Galilee is discussed even in liberal Ha’aretz as if it were the most normal and proper thing around. The Israeli Left, those who decry “settlements”, seem to have nothing to say about the Judaization of the Galilee.
Couple of questions.
Suppose the US government regarded the Black areas of the South with alarm, refused to give Black towns and cities the permission to grow, shorted them on government aid, and surrounded them, as if to isolate them, with lavishly funded all-White towns and cities. Who would not call this out for the White Supremacism that it is?
It is this staunch anti-racist banner that I lift high when I oppose Zionism. It’s the only reasonable position for any anti-racist or non-racist to take.
Unless someone can make a case that Jews get to be super-racists while this project is denied to everyone else. Anyone takers?

More "Jews Got Warned on 9-11" BS

Some commenters are continuing to beat the dead horse of “Jews got warned on 9-11”. Well, 450 Jews obviously never got warned, and they got killed in the attack. And the 1 or 2 Israelis killed in the attack never got warned either.
One piece of evidence is that supposedly Odigo Headquarters in Israel sent out warnings to its NY subsidiary 2 hours before the attack warning of an upcoming attack.
I think this has been misrepresented. Odigo is just an instant messenger. It’s like Yahoo Messenger. That’s all it is. Tons of messages go out over it all over the globe all the time. I’m not sure of the details of this warning, but I believe that there were just some instant messages sent out over the Odigo network a couple of hours before the attack.
There were like 2 or 3 instant messages sent out on Odigo. I’m not sure who sent them out, or to whom they were directed. I am not sure that Odigo actually did evacuate its NY office as a result of some forewarnings.
I have done a lot of research into 9-11 myself. Keep in mind that tons of Arabs and Muslims also seem to have had some news of this impending attack before it happened, including knowledge of the attack even months before it went down.
Some notable cases were a case in Texas where an Arab elementary schooler was brought to the principal’s office several weeks before the attack crying and saying that they were going to blow up the WTC. The Principal’s office took the kid in, shrugged their shoulders, and sent him home.
In an English class for ESL students in NY a week or two before the attacks, a student went to the window and pointed to the WTC during class. He said, “See that building? In two weeks, it’s not going to be there.” Some of the students nodded their heads. I think the teacher reported it, but nothing happened.
It was later said that many Arabs and Muslims sympathetic to Islamist terrorists around New York had heard that the WTC was going to be attacked. It’s not known if they told anyone.
I also found that there were many Muslims, especially in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Pakistan, who seemed to have some foreknowledge of this plot in some way or another.
It’s a monument to anti-Semitism that the “9-11 truth” anti-Semites focus solely on Israeli foreknowledge, and don’t say one peep about the tremendous evidence for Muslim foreknowledge.
There are continuous rumors of upcoming terror attacks all over the globe. Most of them are complete bullshit. So most people just dismiss them.
Most people I talk to about this don’t recall this, but I recall that in the few years before 9-11, I kept hearing reports on cable news that “bin Laden is trying to attack the US.” They would show his picture and say his organization is trying to attack us. This according to US intelligence reports. After a while, I got so sick and tired of hearing, “bin Laden is trying to attack us,” that I figured it was like the boy who cried wolf. Then 9-11 happened. So a lot of folks knew something was up, but they just didn’t know what.
It is true that  Israelis were warned before the UK 7-7 and Jordan Amman hotel terror attacks. All they were told is that a suspected terror plot was about to go down in the country. They didn’t have specifics about where, when or whom.
Keep in mind that there are near-constant warnings of upcoming terror attacks on one type or another all over the globe. These reports are called “raw intel”, most of them are either fake or never happen, and most are just dismissed by intel agencies. Sorting through “raw intel” and separating the wheat truth from the chaff BS is the job of intelligence agencies, and it is not so easy.
It’s interesting that Israeli Zim Shipping moved out of their WTC offices in the months before the attack.
Both US and Israeli sources say that Israel caught wind of some kind of a big plot a few weeks before the attack and tried to warn the US, but the US pretty much blew them off, since there were continuous warnings of such attacks at the time.
The behavior of Israelis, in particular the art students and the moving companies, in the events surrounding 9-11 is suspicious indeed. In particular the Israelis who were dancing on top of a building cheering while photographing the burning towers.
After the attacks, a number of Israelis were rounded up as possible suspects in the attacks. Also rounded up were many Muslims. After a while, all of these Israelis were released. I think some of them went on TV to vociferously state their innocence. Almost all, or all, of these Israelis seem to be connected to Israeli intelligence in some way or another.
It’s clear that Israel has attacked the US sometimes. They did in the US Liberty attack in which 36 sailors died. They did in Egypt in some bombings of US offices in the 1950’s.
In addition, they had knowledge of the Hezbollah attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon but failed to warn and just let it go down. I assume they realized at the time that some US Jews may have been possible victims on the Liberty and in the barracks. On the other hand, Jews are dramatically underrepresented in the US armed forces.
One of the things I find so difficult to believe about the Israel knew about 9-11 thing is the idea that Israel would let the attack go down, knowing full well that huge numbers of US Jews were going to get killed. Jews are 2% of the US population and were 15% of the US victims. They warned Israelis but not US Jews? Huh?
Fox News did some excellent coverage on this issue and said that US intelligence agencies suspected Israel of foreknowledge of the attacks and failure to warn. That coverage was quickly pulled off Fox, and all transcripts of it vanished. Fortunately, I think you can find it in Youtube.
All US officials talking about their suspicions about Israel would only do so anonymously, as they said pushing such a theory was career suicide. Many had been ordered by superiors to stop pursuing the investigation of  Israel and 9-11.
Further, the US Army War College issued a report on Mossad calling them a total wild card, perfectly capable of pulling off a terrorist attack and then blaming it in Arabs or Muslims. Mossad has done this at least once in the past, in the Lavon Affair in Egypt in 1950’s.
Let’s be clear though that I think that Al Qaeda did 9-11. The question with the Israelis and others is one of foreknowledge and failure to warn. I don’t suspect Israel of doing 9-11. That’s just absurd, and anyway, the evidence for Al Qaeda doing it is overwhelming.

The "Jews are Khazars, Not From Palestine" Nonsense

The age-old “Jews are Khazars, not from Palestine” thing has come up in the comments again. It’s too bad we have to refute this thing. It’s actually an interesting question, and Alfred Koestler, Jewish, wrote an interesting book on it called The 13th Tribe. Unfortunately, anti-Semites and especially anti-Zionists have gotten a hold of it and use it to say that Jews do not come from Palestine and hence have no right to it.
Ok, first of all, whether or not Jews come from Palestine or Khazaria 2000 years has no bearing on whether they have a right to colonize Palestine and throw out the natives. They have no such right. 2000 year old land deeds not being redeemable and all.
I know this guy, and he has done some excellent work on this stuff – it’s the best out there. He’s Jewish, his name is Kevin Brook, and he started out believing in the Khazaria thing, but his research led him to more or less refute it.
Let us put this another way. 13% of Ashkenazi Jews have some Khazarian genes. About 3% have considerable Khazarian genes.
There have been an incredible number of genetic studies of Jews recently (many or all of them are summarized on the Khazaria page). The results are very confusing, but the best summary is that Ashkenazi Jews are mostly from the Middle East, and in part from whatever country in Europe they come from.
They are most closely related to Palestinians, Syrians, Iraqis and Lebanese Arabs – the Arabs of the Levant and Mesopotamia. Before that, there is a strong relationship to the Kurds, Turks and Armenians. This follows Biblical teachings that the Jews originally came from northern Iraq before they settled in Middle East. There are a few Ashkenazi Jews who are pure Slavs and are related to the Sorbs and the Belorussians.
The Ashkenazi Jews left the Middle East between 1 and 500 AD and settled in Southern Europe, then moving up into Europe. In the first 500 years, there was some interbreeding with European populations, mostly Jewish men mating with Gentile women. Then after about 1000 AD, Talmudic Judaism took hold, and Jews bred almost exclusively among themselves.
The Ashkenazi Jews are Khazars, not from Palestine, thing has been refuted.

Civilization and Evolutionary Progress, or Otherwise

Congenial Times is an interesting, albeit conservative, blog. He’s also gay and a race realist, of all things.
A recent post is on a book by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, The 10,000 Year Explosion. The subtitle of the book is “How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.”
Much of the book is spent on agriculture and how agriculture has driven human evolution, made us more civilized in a variety of ways compared to hunter-gatherers, etc. Congenial Times accepts this reading, comparing Europeans to Aborigines.
There are some problems with this analysis.
One of the oldest areas on Earth for agriculture is Africa. It probably goes back 8-12,000 years. Ditto with New Guinea. Both populations not only have low impulse control and foresight, but low intelligence.
Further, in both, agriculture has in fact selected for higher testosterone because primitive agriculturalists tend to be polygynous and primitive hunter gatherers tend to be monogamous and lower testosterone. Hence, you get elites with huge harems in both Africa and New Guinea and lots of guys who aren’t getting any.
Also, in Africa, along with the testosterone came large body size and great athletic ability in Blacks. Unfortunately, combined with high testosterone, this large body size is often put to less than social uses. So in this way, agriculture selected for less civilized traits (high testosterone, polygyny, large body size, physical aggression) while hunter gatherers selected for more civilized traits.
So in Africa, the hunter-gatherers remained low testosterone, with more androgynous, less physically exaggerated physiques and increased monogamy. Similar traits in Asian males are tossed out as a reason why Asians are the most highly-evolved race – if that is so, then why is the same not true of the Khoisan?
Monogamy is said to be one of the defining building blocks of civilization. So why do we see it in African hunter-gatherers but not in African agriculturalists?
Ag is not all it is cracked up to be.
The book also claims we are getting smarter. It’s certainly possible, but no one really knows. It’s not entirely clear that we are getting smarter, though it’s possible. Our brains were much bigger 10,000 years ago. One of the largest brains ever seen in modern man is from an extinct race that seems similar to the Khoisan – the Strandwalkers of SW Africa who went probably went extinct for the most part 3,000 years ago.
Congenial Times then riffs on dysgenics, noting that in modern society, the dumber you are, the more kids you have, and the smarter you are, the fewer kids you have. These trends seem obvious to me, at least in the USA (not so sure about Europe and other places). Nevertheless, the much-heralded by the Right Dysgenics Trend has not (yet) occurred.
Not only that, but our IQ’s have been rising at 3 points/decade since 1930. In addition, but there is evidence for genetic selection in both US Blacks and Whites in the last 200 years (Blacks in only the last 100 years) towards a more progressive phenotype and probably higher intelligence. The notion of dysgenics re: IQ is logical theorywise, but it doesn’t seem to be panning out that way in meatspace.

MRSA

Fascinating stuff.
I don’t know about you, but that bug is really creeping me out. How do you get it? Contact with other humans? So what are we supposed to do, become hermits?
By the way, I don’t have germ OCD. I do wash my hands a lot though, but not like an OCD nut. Maybe we all should.
Anti-Semites are kindly encouraged to find the obvious Jew-link to this nasty disease. C’mon guys, there must be one somewhere. Get crackin’, Judeophobic Sherlocks!

4000 Israelis Stayed Home on 9-11, and Other Bullshit

The 9-11 attacks really hammered the NY Jewish community hard. 3,000 people were killed, and about 450 of them, 15%, were Jews. That figure is from the ADL, so you are free to dismiss it. However, to argue that the ADL is so evil as to make up out of whole cloth the deaths of 450 Jews on 9-11 is to accuse them of a particular evil that I think even they are not capable of.
As supporting evidence, a while back, I had access to a list of the names of the people killed in attack on the towers, and I was interested in the “no Jews got killed on 9-11” thing, so I started going through and counting all of the obviously Jewish names. I got to around 300 or so and then I just gave up.
Manhattan is swarming with Jews, and I think one of the companies on the towers was called Cantor, Inc. It’s owned by a Jew, Cantor, and it had lots of Jewish staff. They got creamed in the 9-11 attack; the office just got decimated.
The 4000 Jews or 4000 Israelis or whatever staying home that day is one of the biggest lies of them all.
It comes from the fact that the Israeli government said that there were 4000 Israelis, or dual citizens, or whatever the Hell they were, living or working within an X-mile radius of the Towers at the time 9-11 hit. You know, the Israeli government freaks out whenever one Jew anywhere on Earth gets killed. So they just said 4000 Israelis or dual-citizens were missing. I specifically remember that announcement on the day of the attacks 8 years ago.
It’s also quite possible, as New York is Tel Aviv West, that there were 4000 Israelis or dual citizens situated in Lower Manhattan when the planes hit.
Well, it turned out almost all of them were ok, except one or two guys. One of them was on board one of the planes, so the anti-Semites peddling this tripe morph this poor Israeli guy into “one of the pilots,” as suicidal, well-armed Saudi Al Qaeda young men are such peaceful folks that they could never do such a thing, bless their Takfiri hearts.
But even if  “4000 Israelis got warned,” lots of NY Jews got killed, so that means that Israelis are so evil that they warn their own Sabra kind but piss on Diaspora Jews as kapos or something.
Bullshit.
Jews protect Jews, everywhere. That’s part of what being a Jew is all about. In fact, the prohibition against Jews killing Jews is supposedly based on a Jewish religious prohibition on suicide, so a Jewish friend of mine told me. This implies that in Judaism, all Jews are part of a whole, a body politic, and to kill a fellow Jew is to kill yourself.
The whole “Israelis got warned” shit is all based on the above, the Israeli government saying 4000 Israelis were missing, simply because they could not immediately account for them. Since they almost all turned up ok after people checked on them, this morphs into “4000 Jews/Israelis/whatever got warned and stayed home that day,” except they didn’t bother to warn the 450 NY Jews who got Shoah’d in 9-11.
Yeah right!
Anti-Semites are so stupid sometimes.

HR 362 – Beware the Monster

US House Resolution 362 was introduced last spring by Gary Ackerman, a New York Democrat. Text of the resolution. The resolution apparently imposes some sort of a military blockade on Iran. In particular, this part of the resolution here:

…imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran…

Looks a Hell of a lot like a military blockade to me. We are going to intercept all vehicles, ships, planes and trains attempting to enter or leave Iran to see if they have anything naughty on them? Whoa. That’s a blockade. A blockade is generally thought of as an act of war, and if a country is subjected to a blockade, I believe that under the laws of war, the blockaded country has a right to attack the people who are blockading them.
Well, yes, Gary Ackerman is Jewish, sure. There is a lot of talk about all sorts of folks who want to attack or fuck with Iran for various reasons outside of Zionism, but at any rate, HR 362 appears to have been drafted by AIPAC itself, and they are the main ones pushing it.
Amazingly, the House tabled this resolution when it came up last year. Mr. Ackerman has promised that he will reintroduce the resolution this January when Congress reconvenes (has that happened yet?). The Stop AIPAC website has some good updates on this resolution.
If Iran is intent on developing a nuclear bomb, and if Iran really is going to shoot a nuke at Israel, it seems reasonable that a blockade or even an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by Israel, the US or other interested parties would be a good idea. I certainly don’t want to see Iran lobbing any nukes at Israel.
However, it seems that even if Iran is trying to get a nuke (I believe that they are), they are just trying to get one for self-defense, since the lesson that came out of the Iraq War 2003 was that countries without nukes can get attacked any time by the US, or I guess Israel.
It’s pretty amazing that Israel actually asked Bush for permission to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites last year, but Bush refused to grant flyover and other permission to do so.
Turkey was a major part of this Israeli plan (part of the attack would be launched from Turkey) but with this Gaza attack, Israel-Turkey relations are at an unbelievable low.
It’s also quite possible that Israel was grooming the new pro-West Georgian government as a place to launch the attack on Iran, but the Russian war with Georgia which resulted in the de facto independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (which this blog supports, and we supported Russia versus Georgia in the war), seems to have put that on ice too. From the link:

There were reports that Israel wanted to use bases in Georgia to attack Iran and one of Russia’s aim was to preempt that. Interesting to note – Israel got wind of the Russian attack a week before the attacks and left Georgia with its advisers (note: USA stayed behind).
The Israelis went to Russia and admitted that arming Georgia was a mistake and implored Russia NOT to arm Hezbollah and Iran with sophisticated armaments and missiles.

Unfortunately, the new senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, taking Hillary Clinton’s place as Hillary moves to Secretary of State, is a strong supporter of HR 362, in fact, she’s a co-sponsor of the bill. Gillibrand’s face was on the front page of the New York Times today, so she’s definitely in the news. She’s in AIPAC’s pocket all right.
How do I feel about Iran getting a nuke? I hope they get one. As per the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the nuclear powers were supposed to get rid of their nukes on the basis that non-nuclear powers would not be allowed to get nukes. The nuclear powers are not upholding their end of the bargain, so screw it.
Any reasonable and sane country (Iran is one) who is being threatened by nuclear weapons has a right to get nukes themselves (I believe there is even a provision in the treaty that allows that). Iran’s being threatened with nukes by both the US and Israel, so Iran gets to get a nuke for deterrence. The nuclear powers could have avoided this whole mess by fulfilling their end of the bargain. They have not, and in the foreseeable future, they will not.
How worried am I that Iran will lob a first strike nuke at Israel, Europe, or anyone for that matter. Not at all. If I were the least bit worried, I wouldn’t support them getting a nuke.
Support Iran’s effort to get a nuclear bomb!
Whoa, is that a radical statement or what?

Does Israel Have a Right to Defend Itself?

This is the typical question lobbed by the pro-Israel crowd. What we are saying is that Israel doesn’t have a right to defend herself. This is supposedly an aspect of the New Anti-Semitism, in that everyone has a right to fight back but Jews. Jews have to just sit there and let people kill them, like in WW2. Maybe someone is saying that, but it sure isn’t me.
Let’s get things straight here. Everyone has a right to self-defense in wartime (Article 51 of the UN Charter), and possibly in peacetime.
If you haven’t shot at cops, but cops are shooting at you (assuming you are not pointing a weapon at them) I assume you have a right to shoot back at cops. This is basically what Leonard Peltier is accused of doing, although the Indian who killed the FBI agent is not Leonard but another guy.
During the AIM vs. BIA wars of the early 1970’s, some FBI agents pulled into the Pine Ridge Reservation Sioux reservation in South Dakota, got out of their cars, and started shooting at the Indians up on the ridge. The Indians took cover, grabbed some guns, and started shooting back. Peltier was shooting, but he wasn’t the one who shot the agent, some other Indian was. This is exactly what I think happened.
So let’s get clear on this. Everyone has a right to shoot back. Including Nazis. Including Japs in WW2. We were shooting at them, so they had a right to shoot back. They had a right to attack us even when we were not shooting at them, since we were hostile forces at war with them. So of course Israel has a right to fight back, and even to attack Palestinian forces in Gaza who were shooting rockets at Israel.
What about proportionality? Israel killing 1,400 Palestinians while only 13 Israelis got killed is said to be the war crime of lack of proportionality. Actually, this is a difficult case to make.
Disproportionality can be a war crime, but even this is uncertain. There are laws against collective punishment, but it’s uncertain if disproportionality is included. There is stuff about disproportionality in the Draft Articles in State Responsibility, recently adopted by the International Law Commission (see December 29, 2008 1:02 PM comment), but that’s not international law yet.
What that means (see December 28, 2008 1:18 PM comment) is that if you have a town where there is one building in the town with some fighters in it shooting at you, you don’t have a right to blow up or level the whole town to get at the one building. You can blow up the building, sure. So it’s hard to argue that Israel committed the war crime of disproportionate response in this case.
However, the UN is complaining that what Israel did is to lock the civilians into Gaza, prevent them from fleeing, and then attack. I’m not sure on international law, but I’m pretty sure you have to give civilians the right to flee the fighting? Egypt and the US are also at fault here, since the US, Egypt and Israel all control the Rafah checkpoint, and terrified Gazans were not allowed to flee to Egyptian safety in this latest war, held back to gun-wielding troops.
I will point out that the US did much the same in Fallujah. Right before they invaded, scores or hundreds of civilians, mostly unarmed young men in civilian clothes, tried to flee the city, only to be turned back at gunpoint by US troops. How cruel can you get?
In the Gaza case, even worse from my point of view is that they dropped leaflets on Gaza telling civilians to leave the area as it was about to be attacked, then the Israelis went ahead and attacked them anyway after they fled to UN shelters and whatnot.
I guess that is some kind of a super-cruel Israeli joke. “Flee! Flee! Civilians get out! We are going to attack the area!” Then later, “Haha! Just kidding! You fell for it. Suckers! Here’s a bomb on your head!” The punch line is there’s no escape.
It’s like throwing a Surprise Birthday Party for a guy at work, and then the boss barges in and says, “Happy birthday! You’re fired!” And the whole room erupts in gales of laughter as birthday boy shrivels up. Downright hilarious.