Freitag, März 31, 2006
Law of Mechanical Repair:
After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch or you'll have to pee.
Law of the Workshop:
Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.
Law of Probability:
The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.
Law of the Telephone:
If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal.
Law of the Alibi:
If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire.
If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will start to move faster than the one you are in now (works every time).
Law of the Bath:
When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.
Law of Close Encounters:
The probability of meeting someone you know increases when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with
Law of the Result:
When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.
Law of Biomechanics:
The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.
Law of the Theatre:
At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.
Law of Coffee:
As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.
Murphy's Law of Lockers:
If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.
Law of Rugs/Carpets:
The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor covering are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet/rug.
Law of Location:
No matter where you go, there you are.
Law of Logical Argument:
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
If the shoe fits, it's ugly.
A closed mouth gathers no feet.
As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it.
Mittwoch, März 22, 2006
Sorry, blogging has been way down on my list of priorities as my usual quarterly deadline encroaches.
But here is an article in today's FT that should be read. Unfortunately it's behind the usual barrier.
But what is relevant is that he's right: the idea that bloggers can replace the MSM as a source of news is severly mistaken.
Bloggers can, at best, be fact-checkers and opinion-writers. In other words, bloggers are, at best, editors.
But they're not the people who actually go out and write up the news.
Good point from John Gapper.
The reason that people like La Huffington think that they are a source of "news" is that for many, far too many, there is little or no distinction between news and opinion, since they think that they, the journalists, must tell people what reality is rather than "merely" to report it. The liberal media - The New York Times, Time, Newsweek - are particularly guilty of this, with scarcely a proper reporting without spin visible.
And that is where the MSM can still shine and why it still makes sense to actually read old news on dead trees. Local news is the alpha and omega of success here, whereby Gapper most properly points out that "local news" can also mean local in the sense of specialized interest groups. Me, I'd love to have such a feed on vintage watches (actually, I do: I am a co-moderator on WatchUSeek's vintage watch forum and have another blog where I occasionally write about my vintage watches and why I like them. Rather pathetic for most people, but then again, WIS are often seen that way...)
Will be back to blogging more seriously at the beginning of April...
Dienstag, März 14, 2006
Now this is great, the real reason that the Internet is God's gift to thinking people everywhere.
It's not just that the guy's picture looks exactyl like Sgt. Rock of comic book fame (couldn't find a drawing, but you get the idea...).
It's just the best fisking of the basic story line of Syriana I've seen.
Hollywood and the collected barking moonbats that seem to populate it no longer make dreams reality, they're no longer the dream factory of yesterday.
Instead they're now clearly what they always have been: films are vehicles to tell a story.
It's just a question of whether the story is coherent and sensible, or merely a mayhem of mishaps and mistakes.
Unfortunately, those making movies, reaping enormous monetary rewards, have come to think that making lots of money means that what you do actually means anything, and that their opinions need to be listened to as carefully as the words of scholars and experts.
Reality needs to feed those who feast upon the soul of Hollywood a good ass-whuppin' so as to establish that these maggots are the not reality, but rather, to paraphrase Monthy Python, very silly people.
This post on, of all places, the Boston Globe's web site, is an excellent overview of what is at stake with Iran: it is a slow, slow unfolding of a nuclear crisis.
What is different between the Cuban crisis and this one is the difference between someone yelling and taunting you directly (Krushschev) and a Kuang Grade Mark Eleven (the impenetrable and shadowy Iranian administration for outsiders).
Kuang Grade Mark Eleven?
If you don't know what that means, let me take you on a slight exegis. But NOT into the world of Gibson, where the Kuang Grade Mark Eleven is an anti-ICE program, a slow virus.
But rather here.
You see, the Kuang is a real tool in attempting to take over a computer system that doesn't work with holes in the system, but rather, as SU-Kuang, finds mistakes in the protection configuration. It is an attack-oriented tool that exploits how security people, those in charge of ensuring that no unauthorized users gain access to a system, make mistakes in how they give authorized access to the computer, enabling the SU-Kuang to acquire superuser rights (hence SU for superuser).
And acquiring superuser rights is simple: it's a procedure to achieve a true state for the rules of the system. It's the procedure by which to achieve goals you set subgoals, where a rule is evaluated to achive a subgoal that leads to the final goal. It's the classic salami tactics of regime destabilization, of taking power very slowly, one single small step at a time, consolidating only to move on to the next step.
To express it another way, in order to implement a Kuang you create a list of groups accessible to the attacker and the target goal. The SU-Kuang then examines how the targets are protected and compiles then a lost of way that target goals can be achieved from the initial state.A goal-tree is built from an empirically derived set of rules of how to gain control. Once the blueprint, the goal-tree, is establised, then sequences of steps can be worked out of hot to get from A to B.
This is what we are facing: not an in-your-face Soviet challenge (although there are some aspects of this as wlel), but more fundamentally a slow and deliberate destabilization according to Iran's interests. Hence the completely deniable but clearly present interference of Iran in Iraq; hence the completely deniable yet clearly present financing of Hamas, with the destabilization of Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza as the direct corrolary. Why would Iran be interested in this destabilization? Because it doesn't allow its enemies to have their own borders be stable and points to the supposed role of Israel as being disruptive to the peace of the region.
Am I making the Iranians too sophisticated, too clever?
Not at all: they are not dumb. According to our standards, they're stone bonkered crazy, but they aren't dumb. It would be a major, major error to assume that.
Montag, März 13, 2006
Yep, back again to this briefly. It's something that is still percolating through the back of my mind, not entirely ready for prime time...as it were.
This links to those fabulous cartoonist, Cox and Forkum.
This links to Threat Watch, one of the more interesting web sites around.
What is the link between the two?
Both underscore the culture of deception that is slowly bringing the conflict of civilizations to forefront.
On the one hand, you've got CAIR, a lobby group "just like" any other lobby group, with one exception: they are engaged in systematic deception as to their true goals.
On the other hand, you've got now clear evidence that the Iranian government is and has been intending to deceive the West about its plans to weaponize nuclear technology.
What's the connection?
Deception is one of the core political principles of Islam: here is a list of what the Koran says: my response is in italics...
Bukhari:V7B67N427 "The Prophet said, 'If I take an oath and later find something else better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath.'"
In other words, the political expediency of deception.
Bukhari:V4B52N268 "Allah's Apostle said, 'War is deceit.'
In other words, the military expediency of deception.
Koran 4:142 "Surely the hypocrites strive to deceive Allah. He shall retaliate by deceiving them."
In other words, the epistemological expediency of deception.
Bukhari:V7B71N661 "Magic was worked on Allah's Apostle and he was bewitched so that he began to imagine doing things which in fact, he had not done."
In other words, the psychological expediency of deception.
Koran 74:31 "We have appointed nineteen angels to be the wardens of the Hell Fire. We made a stumbling-block for those who disbelieve and We have fixed their number as a trial for unbelievers in order that the people of the Book may arrive with certainty, and that no doubts may be left for the people of the Book, those in whose hearts is a disease. And for those to whom the Scripture Book has been given, and the believers, there should be no doubt. The unbelievers may say, 'What does the Lord intend by this?' The Lord will lead astray whomever He pleases, and He will guide whomever He pleases: and none can know the armies of your Lord except He, and this is no other than a warning to mankind."
In other words, the religious expediency of deception, but with a twist: God himself is the master of deception and does as he wills with no regard to truth. What a different concept from the Jewish or Christian tradition of God, who despises deception and says clearly: The Truth Will Set You Free.The banning of Adam and Eve from the garden was punishment for deception: both were told not to eat of the fruit of knowledge, and when asked they denied that they had done so.
Bukhari:V2B24N555 "I heard the Prophet say, 'Allah hates for you for asking too many questions.'"
This borders on comedy writing...
Ishaq:519 "Hajjaj said to the Apostle, 'I have money scattered among the Meccan merchants, so give me permission to go and get it.' Having got Muhammad's permission, he said, 'I must tell lies.' The Apostle said, 'Tell them.'"
The economic expediency of deception...
Koran 8:58 "If you apprehend treachery from a people with whom you have a treaty, retaliate by breaking off relations with them."
What's good for the goose isn't good for the gander, in other words...deception is only for the true believers...
Koran 5:41 "Whomever Allah wants to deceive you cannot help. Allah does not want them to know the truth because he intends to disgrace them and then torture them."
Again, the religious expediency and the repeat of what is apparently the picture of a vengeful and capricious God.
Ishaq:365/Tabari VII:94 "Muhammad bin Maslamah said, 'O Messenger, we shall have to tell lies.' 'Say what you like,' Muhammad replied. 'You are absolved, free to say whatever you must.'"
Again the political expediency of deception...
Bukhari:V5B59N369 "Allah's Apostle said, 'Who is willing to kill Ka'b bin Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?' Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslamah got up saying, 'O Allah's Apostle! Would you like me to kill him?' The Prophet said, 'Yes,' Maslamah said, 'Then allow me to say false things in order to deceive him.' The Prophet said, 'You may say such things.'"
Again the political expediency of deception...
Ishaq:442 "By Muhammad's order we beguiled them."
Absolving the deceivers of the responsibility for their deception...
Tabari VIII:23 "The Messenger and his Companions continued in the fear and distress that Allah has described in the Koran. Then Nu'aym came to the Prophet. 'I 've become a Muslim, but my tribe does not know of my Islam; so command me whatever you will.' Muhammad said, 'Make them abandon each other if you can so that they will leave us; for war is deception.'"
Again the political expediency of deception: deception to create disarry within your enemy's ranks...
There are other quotes given in the link, but they merely repeat and underscore.
This fundamentally deceptive thread in Islam is not accidental: it is deliberate. It belongs to Al-Taqiya, a fundamental strategy of Islam. And while the above links are from non-Islam sources, this one isn't: it's about the core of deception, of lying.
What is not allowed: lying to and about God, lying to and about Mohammed.
Everything else? Whatever serves the purposes of Islam, whatever they might be. There is even a word for it: kithman. To deliberately deceive about one's beliefs. This is particularly true for Shi'a moslems, but does apply to all.
Getting back to Cox & Forkum: they clearly mention that CAIR is fundamentally deceptive, presenting one face to the world and having a hidden agenda.
The link at Threats Watch also underscores what this very real problem with deception is: Iran has built large-scale underground bunkers that are part of the move to build nuclear weapons that the current Iranian government has been pushing for the last 18 years.
Think of that: no wonder the government of Iran is behaving like it does. They've been working on decieving the West for 18 years. Eighteen years.
It's not as grand a deception as the Soviets or the ChiComs led, but it's way up there on the list of long-term deceptions. How many millions will die as a result?
Sonntag, März 12, 2006
Right now, the UN listens to the US to the extent it does by the fact that the US pays the lion's share of the UN's budget. Without the US income, the UN would be bankrupt.
Now the UN, or more exactly that mass of parasites that live off the UN, is trying to break with this terrible burden.
They want to start taxing the world in order to finanace their current and future operations.
Let's see what they are thinking: they want to skim off a tiny, tiny amount from world currency transactions. Since the volume of international currency transactions is huge, trillions of dollars every day, we're talking about millions of dollars every day.
To do what?
Call it what they want to - "financing for development" is one term - it is nothing less than that the attempt to initiate what is euphimistically called a "global redistribution of wealth".
But what they really want - and the "they" is the 18 international organizations and the 60 NGOs that were at the Paris meeting linked to above - is to control this money.
Because by controlling it they can spend it where they see fit, manipulating aid for their own political purposes.
This is appalling: in the name of aid, corruption and political incompetence will be rewarded; there are no incentives for these people to end poverty by giving domestic economies a kick-start, but rather to institutionalize endemnic poverty by rewarding incompetence.
And they will be under no control whatsoever. That's the real problem: giving the UN, that paradigm of financial responsibility, massive amounts of money with fundamentally no controls over what they do with that money.
The beneficiaries? Groups which do not file financial statements and whose responsibility is, at best, tenuous.
They want taxation? Not without representation, not without control over what they do.
Which is the last thing these members of the "international community" want: these parasites don't want their hosts having a say about their existence. Which, given the degree that these folks seem to be dedicated to undermining international norms of behavior - rules of behavior between nation-states - means that if the hosts were to wake up, they'd be more than slightly inclined to eliminate the parasites.
So the parasites are planning on taking control away from the hosts.
I've alluded to this before.
One of the problems facing Europe is the lack of integration within their borders of the sizeable immigrant population. It's not so much that they don't try, it's more a fact that the governments in Europe have been in active denial over the last 20+years that there is even a need to integrate non-ethnic Germans into German society. In some ways the "multi-kulti", i.e multicultural, policies of most European countries is a craven admittance that they don't want to be bothered.
Putting their heads in the sand.
You see, this link shows you something that apparently the Telegraph has withdrawn "for legal reasons". I'm putting the archived article up here in case the link goes bye-bye:
ENGLAND: The day is coming when British Muslims form a state within a state
By Alasdair Palmer
The Telegraph Group
February 19, 2006
For the past two weeks, Patrick Sookhdeo has been canvassing the opinions of Muslim clerics in Britain on the row over the cartoons featuring images of Mohammed that were first published in Denmark and then reprinted in several other European countries.
"They think they have won the debate," he says with a sigh. "They believe that the British Government has capitulated to them, because it feared the consequences if it did not.
"The cartoons, you see, have not been published in this country, and the Government has been very critical of those countries in which they were published. To many of the Islamic clerics, that's a clear victory.
"It's confirmation of what they believe to be a familiar pattern: if spokesmen for British Muslims threaten what they call 'adverse consequences' - violence to the rest of us - then the British Government will cave in. I think it is a very dangerous precedent."
Dr Sookhdeo adds that he believes that "in a decade, you will see parts of English cities which are controlled by Muslim clerics and which follow, not the common law, but aspects of Muslim sharia law.
"It is already starting to happen - and unless the Government changes the way it treats the so-called leaders of the Islamic community, it will continue."
For someone with such strong and uncompromising views, Dr Sookhdeo is a surprisingly gentle and easy-going man. He speaks with authority on Islam, as it was his first faith: he was brought up as a Muslim in Guyana, the only English colony in South America, and attended a madrassa there.
"But Islamic instruction was very different in the 1950s, when I was at school," he says. "There was no talk of suicide bombing or indeed of violence of any kind. Islam was very peaceful."
Dr Sookhdeo's family emigrated to England when he was 10. In his early twenties, when he was at university, he converted to Christianity. "I had simply seen it as the white man's religion, the religion of the colonialists and the oppressors - in a very similar way, in fact, to the way that many Muslims see Christianity today.
" Leaving Islam was not easy. According to the literal interpretation of the Koran, the punishment for apostasy is death - and it actually is punished by death in some Middle Eastern states. "It wasn't quite like that here," he says, "although it was traumatic in some ways."
Dr Sookhdeo continued to study Islam, doing a PhD at London University on the religion. He is currently director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity. He also advises the Army on security issues related to Islam.
Several years ago, Dr Sookhdeo insisted that the next wave of radical Islam in Britain would involve suicide bombings in this country. His prediction was depressingly confirmed on 7/7 last year.
So his claim that, in the next decade, the Muslim community in Britain will not be integrated into mainstream British society, but will isolate itself to a much greater extent, carries weight behind it. Dr Sookhdeo has proved his prescience.
"The Government, and Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, are fundamentally deluded about the nature of Islam," he insists. "Tony Blair unintentionally revealed his ignorance when he said, in an effort to conciliate Muslims, that he had 'read through the Koran twice' and that he kept it by his bedside.
"He thought he was saying something which showed how seriously he took Islam. But most Muslims thought it was a joke, if not an insult. Because, of course, every Muslim knows that you cannot read the Koran through from cover to cover and understand it.
The chapters are not written to be read in that way. Indeed, after the first chapter, the chapters of the Koran are ordered according to their length, not according to their content or chronology: the longest chapters are first, the shorter ones are at the end.
"You need to know which passage was revealed at what period and in what time in order to be able to understand it - you cannot simply read it from beginning to end and expect to learn anything at all.
"That is one reason why it takes so long to be able to read and understand the Koran: the meaning of any part of it depends on a knowledge of its context - a context that is not in the Koran itself."
The Prime Minister's ignorance of Islam, Dr Sookhdeo contends, is of a piece with his unsuccessful attempts to conciliate it. And it does indeed seem as if the Government's policy towards radical Islam is based on the hope that if it makes concessions to its leaders, they will reciprocate and relations between fundamentalist Muslims and Tony Blair's Government will then turn into something resembling an ecumenical prayer meeting.
Dr Sookhdeo nods in vigorous agreement with that. "Yes - and it is a very big mistake. Look at what happened in the 1990s. The security services knew about Abu Hamza and the preachers like him. They knew that London was becoming the centre for Islamic terrorists. The police knew. The Government knew. Yet nothing was done.
"The whole approach towards Muslim militants was based on appeasement. 7/7 proved that that approach does not work - yet it is still being followed. For example, there is a book, The Noble Koran: a New Rendering of its Meaning in English, which is openly available in Muslim bookshops.
"It calls for the killing of Jews and Christians, and it sets out a strategy for killing the infidels and for warfare against them. The Government has done nothing whatever to interfere with the sale of that book.
"Why not? Government ministers have promised to punish religious hatred, to criminalise the glorification of terrorism, yet they do nothing about this book, which blatantly does both."
Perhaps the explanation is just that they do not take it seriously. "I fear that is exactly the problem," says Dr Sookhdeo. "The trouble is that Tony Blair and other ministers see Islam through the prism of their own secular outlook.
They simply do not realise how seriously Muslims take their religion. Islamic clerics regard themselves as locked in mortal combat with secularism.
"For example, one of the fundamental notions of a secular society is the moral importance of freedom, of individual choice. But in Islam, choice is not allowable: there cannot be free choice about whether to choose or reject any of the fundamental aspects of the religion, because they are all divinely ordained. God has laid down the law, and man must obey.
'Islamic clerics do not believe in a society in which Islam is one religion among others in a society ruled by basically non-religious laws. They believe it must be the dominant religion - and it is their aim to achieve this.
"That is why they do not believe in integration. In 1980, the Islamic Council of Europe laid out their strategy for the future - and the fundamental rule was never dilute your presence. That is to say, do not integrate.
"Rather, concentrate Muslim presence in a particular area until you are a majority in that area, so that the institutions of the local community come to reflect Islamic structures. The education system will be Islamic, the shops will serve only halal food, there will be no advertisements showing naked or semi-naked women, and so on."
That plan, says Dr Sookhdeo, is being followed in Britain. "That is why you are seeing areas which are now almost totally Muslim. The next step will be pushing the Government to recognise sharia law for Muslim communities - which will be backed up by the claim that it is "racist" or "Islamophobic" or "violating the rights of Muslims" to deny them sharia law.
"There's already a Sharia Law Council for the UK. The Government has already started making concessions: it has changed the law so that there are sharia-compliant mortgages and sharia pensions.
"Some Muslims are now pressing to be allowed four wives: they say it is part of their religion. They claim that not being allowed four wives is a denial of their religious liberty. There are Muslim men in Britain who marry and divorce three women, then marry a fourth time - and stay married, in sharia law, to all four.
"The more fundamentalist clerics think that it is only a matter of time before they will persuade the Government to concede on the issue of sharia law. Given the Government's record of capitulating, you can see why they believe that."
Dr Sookhdeo's vision of a relentless battle between secular and Islamic Britain seems hard to reconcile with the co-operation that seems to mark the vast majority of the interactions between the two communities.
"Well, it isn't me who says Islam is at war with secularisation," he says. "That's how Islamic clerics describe the situation."
But isn't it true that most Muslims who live in theocratic states want to get out of them as quickly as possible and live in a secular country such as Britain or America? And that most Muslims who come to Britain adopt the values of a liberal, democratic, tolerant society, rather than insisting on the inflexible rules of their religion?
"You have to distinguish between ordinary Muslims and their self-appointed leaders," explains Dr Sookhdeo. "I agree that the best hope for our collective future is that the majority of Muslims who have grown up here have accepted the secular nature of the British state and society, the division between religion and politics, and the importance of allowing people to choose freely how they will live.
"But that is not how most of the clerics talk. And, more significantly, it is not how the 'community leaders' whom the Government has decided represent the Muslim community think either.
"Take, for example, Tariq Ramadan, whom the Government has appointed as an adviser because ministers think he is a 'community leader'. Ramadan sounds, in public, very moderate. But in reality, he has some very extreme views. He attacks liberal Muslims as 'Muslims without Islam'. He is affiliated to the violent and uncompromising Muslim Brotherhood.
"He calls the education in the state schools of the West 'aggression against the Islamic personality of the child'. He has said that 'the Muslim respects the laws of the country only if they do not contradict any Islamic principle'. He has added that 'compromising on principles is a sign of fear and weakness'."
So what's the answer? What should the Government be doing? "First, it should try to engage with the real Muslim majority, not with the self-appointed 'community leaders' who don't actually represent anyone: they have not been elected, and the vast majority of ordinary Muslims have nothing to do with them.
"Second, the Government should say no to faith-based schools, because they are a block to integration. There should be no compromise over education, or over English as the language of education. The policy of political multiculturalism should be reversed.
"The hope was that it would to ensure separate communities would soften at the edges and integrate. But the opposite has in fact happened: Islamic communities have hardened. There is much less integration than there was for the generation that arrived when I did. There will be much less in the future if the present trend continues.
"Finally, the Government should make it absolutely clear: we welcome diversity, we welcome different religions - but all of them have to accept the secular basis of British law and society. That is a non-negotiable condition of being here.
"If the Government does not do all of those things then I fear for the future, because Islamic communities within Britain will form a state within a state. Religion will occupy an ever-larger place in our collective political life. And, speaking as a religious man myself, I fear that outcome."
Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2006.
The critical point here is that there will be no attempt by Islamicists to take over Europe via democratic methods, but rather alone by demographic methods. They will abuse the basic principles of self-determination to demand that it is their right to have a state within a state.
And as such European governments are right now faced with a de-facto segregation between these immigrant communities and the fundamental nature of what nations are all about: the sovereignity of the modern nation-state is being deliberately undermined by those who want to use the state to protect what is fundamentally an attempt to destroy the state.
Rather anarchistic when you get down to it: reminds me of the anarchists I knew as a student who, if they didn't have a rich parent financing them, all lived on the dole.
To parahrase Lenin: What Must Be Done?
First of all: the break between rights and duties need to be resolved. If you move to Germany, for instance, you enjoy all sorts of rights as a foreigner: cheap health insurance, free education, subsidies for retraining, and generous unemployment and welfare payments. If you have a residency permit, you can't easily be thrown out of the country, and the Germans, with their highly developed "social conscience" won't allow you to be thrown out on the streets to starve if you are chronicaly unemployable. This practically begs for abuse: I've met enough "political refugees" - including one from Spain! - who were simply exploiting the system to have a life of leisure to say that the number of true political refugees, which Germany, given its history, has chosen to provide safe havens for, is vastly outnumbered by the fakers who just want a life of leisure. But these rights are not balanced by an according, explicit duty to integrate into German society without exception: if those wanting to come here knew that their wives and daughters would, effectively, burn their bras and have the freedom to live like German women, removed from their current effective chattel slavery, then you'd probably find that there are a lot fewer takers.
I've written here before on the general assault on the nation-state as actor on the international scene, led largely by NGOs and the internationalists. This is another case of how the nation-state is being undermined.
Freitag, März 10, 2006
This is too good not to share.
Seems that there is a German film fund, a closed fund that finances films. In order to take advantage of tax laws, they (claim to) do so as producers of the film, i.e. they are part and parcel of the act of making the film, not mere financers of said film.
That way investors can take losses off their taxes, since they are part and parcel of the production process. You do a simple income-expenses calculation and you've got a nice negative cash flow while a film is being made, before it heads out to the market. If the film makes money, you pay taxes on the income. As we all know, film accounting rarely shows real profits (but it can happen: similiar funds financed Terminator 3 and made a killing for their clients).
Now these folks financed a little film called LA Crash.
Which of course won three oscars.
Apparently tax people in Germany watch TV too. They also noticed that the company in question - remember, they are claiming to be the producers of this film - aren't listed anywhere as actually being the producers of this film.
Which means that they are financing the film and that the income generated cannot be deducted from taxes.
Which means that the company mentioned in the link is apparently going to go up on charges of fraud, and that all of the investors will be getting a friendly letter from their local tax authorities "correcting" the income tax statements of the appropriate years and maybe even a little charge of ... tax evasion.
Fraud because they claimed to be producers when they weren't, tax evasion because they took tax breaks they weren't entitled to.
There is a term in the movie industry called " stupid German money", which Edward Jay Epstein does a great job describing not only here, but here as well.
Guess these Germans will find out how stupid they've actually been...
Want to know what European politicians are thinking?
One of the more typical examples of your average wooly-brained clueless pseudointellectual European politicians - sorry, I repeat myself - is Angelika Beer.
She's a Green politician, one of the early greens. The only other job she's ever held was as an administrative assistant.
For her various sins over the years she's been sent to Brussels and is considered to be the Green's expert on Iran. She chairs the European Delegation on Iran. Chairs it.
So there's this little interview where she's asked what should be done about Iran. Sorry that it's only in German, but it's an interview with German radio and I can't seem to find it translated anywhere.
But it's not the interview alone - I'll come to that - but let's go back a tad. I looked her up on the Internet - duh - and this is what I've found:
This is where she pleads that while the Iranians continue to stone people to death and to execute juveniles, it's really, really important to set up a inter-parliamentary commission to set up the conditions where a dialogue might be opened up to start to discuss what the Europeans can do.
I'm not making that one up.
Here is where she talks about Iran: she recognizes that there is a challenge from Ahmadinesdschad, that he wants to break with the west and build up an islamic region with himself at the head, that he is manipulating the national pride of Iranians. And she asks what is the answer of the Europeans?
I'm gonna translate/paraphrase (ellipses mean I'm leaving something irrelevant out):
I await that we use reason and clear analysis to guide us. ... we need new dialogue partners, we need to be active, in order to return diplomacy to the forefront.
I expect from those (planning military options-JO) a definition of how they plan to use military escalation, and whether this will enable us to reach our political goals, which is to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and to secure the existence of Israel: I do not believe that this can be the case.
For this reason I now appeal that our argumentation with Iran - which are not open to debate - abandon military options ... and that we put diplomacy once again in the forefront, despite the hate-filled talking of Ahmadinedschad.
The question of whether to implement sanctions, which sanctions should be used, and whether world peace is endangered, is not something that Mr. Chirac is responsible for, who all of a sudden threatens the use of French nuclear weapons; it is also not a question for Ms. Merkel to decide. This critical quesiton is one that can only be answered by the UN and we cannot pre-guess what they will do.
But notice two things: first she fails to actually say anything positive: she demands, instead, that her opposites deliver their arguments before she herself will react to them, classic passive-aggressive behavior. I've deliberately taken a non-clinical definition here to underscore that what we are seeing here is pathological behavior, besides being a pain in the ass.
But is it really pathological?
Back to the interview, I say.
Asked if the Europeans should turn off the flow of money to the Palestinians after the election of Hamas, she says:
Oh, that would be completely wrong. I don't have a patent recipe for what we should do, but the demand for financial sanctions, breaking diplomatic relations, shows the political helplessness regarding the question of whether this is the clash of cultures and how do we deal with this? Cutting off the money would be the false path, would leade to further escalation.
When asked what she says to those who, regardless of political party affiliation, can't see giving European tax money to terrorists, she replies:
I think you have to see that people's rights are unassailable. What does this mean for accepting other cultures and religions, and what have we failed to do to be informed? Where is the dialogue? You can see this in Germany in the discussion about integration, of requiring German to be spoken in school yards during recess, we have to see where we've made mistakes.
That's her entire answer.
When called on this, she says:
You're right. The dilemma right now, is that the cartoons have created a mood which isn't just a reaction, but is being politically instrumentalized. We see that worldwide in the muslim and arab countries. But we need to ask: how did this come about? When I speak to muslims here in Belgium I get answers that go far, far, far back: they say that they refuse to understand. What happened in Iraq? What happened with the Koran? The Koran was flushed down a toilet using american pressure, people were kicked. They say that it is the tip of the iceberg, where they don't want to see violence escalate, but they don't know how to influence things, but look at the positive side, in Germany, where muslim groups are trying to de-escalate the situation.
When asked whether the cartoons should have been prohibited:
I am of the opinion, that freedom of the press in Europe shouldn't be limited. But I believe that the preparation for a multicultural world, also by journalists, means that you have to consider what the cartoons meant and how they provoke, because political cartoons are there to provoke where the limits are, where they are crossed. And, now speaking as politician that we didn't see the dimension, we thought, OK, not so good, but it shows we didn't understand well enough, that it's not the right time to call for sanctions, we must really try to understand, and if it is the clash of cultures that so many fear then we need a world-wide answer. And then the UK, Kofi Annan, perhaps can call for an initiative, where the Europeans can say that it wasn't intended, but we're not going to limit our freedom of the press, but let's all go, right then, together to sit at a table to talk about this and integration and multi-cultural and multi-religion issues.
I'm going to stop here because the rest of the interview is simply too bizarre. Suffice to say: her answer to the question is that Europe should enter into a dialogue with Hamas, but the terror against Israeli citizens has to end, but we need to sit down and talk.
But do you see the pattern of behavior?
First: avoid stating a position where you have to actually be for something. Rather, toss the ball back and demand that others give answers so that first the other side is dissected before any position is formulated. In other words, a purely reactive policy of refusing to be for anything without knowing what the other side is for.
Second: at the same time taking, in advance, the blame for whatever has happened, as a matter of course: never admit that the other side has something that could be irreconcilable. It's also the classic US-liberal position, of always seeking the blame with your side for having a problem come up. Highly neurotic behavior, to put it mildly.
Third: the only concrete proposal is to get everyone to sit down and talk about it. What does this mean? Only one thing: she doesn't have the faintest idea of what is driving the other side and because of this there can be no plan of action.
Now this might be acceptable if she was just some woman at the office who says something like this.
But it's not: this is the European Union's chairperson for Iran .
She's the one who should have a deep understanding of what is going on in that country, why it is a threat, what are the motives of the Iranians, what can the EU do, what are the options.
In other words, the European Union's policy for Iran is being formulated by someone who admittedly knows nothing of what is going on, doesn't understand why Iran is behaving like it does, wants to sit down to talk about it, who is incapable of even considering any military options, who sees first that the West has made mistakes and has to come up with a solution.
Folks, you can write off the EU for the current cycle of confrontation with Iran. The lunatics are not only in control in Iran, they are also in control in Europe.
And Angelika Beer will never understand that it will be her fault for the Europeans not having a policy in regards to Iran. That it is her fault that the Iranians will not take the Europeans seriously under these conditions.
Which means that instead of being able to make a positive contribution to the problem, she is making things words. And understands nothing of that.
And if this is the best Europe has to offer, then good night.
The collapse of the dream of an effective European Union will not be the result of American hegemony, or Russian pressure, or insurmountable problems.
It will be the result of gross and negligent incompetence. Heck, gross and negligent is not doing the incompetence here any justice. It's much, much worse than that.
The coming catastrophe with Iran will be based on wishful thinking, good intentions and massive incompetence of the Europeans. That's more than just a tragedy.
Sorry, tied up in writing texts for 170 industries...
But let me say a "I told you so". The author makes it clear that Iran has outmanouevered the West, largely because it understands the area better and is able to better exploit a bad situation to make it effectively worse for the West.
What we are facing is most emphatically not the failed policies of a single administration or government, but the collective failure of the West in dealing with the failed Middle East. Of all the countries of the Middle East, there is really only one country that comes even close to western standards of effectiveness, productivity, rule of law and respect for human rights, and that is Israel. All others, without exception, are in one way or another failed states, with populations kept in poverty and ignorance (West Bank and Gaza: thank you UNRO for that disaster), kept under close control under religious rule (Iran especially, but Saudia Arabia as well) or simply charachterized by despotic rule and systemic corruption (pretty much everyone else).
It's not the failure of the US: it is also the failure of the UK, France, Germany, Italy etc. Western Europe's appeasement and obsession with stability has led to a situation of permanent instability that the US intervention in Iraq has stirred up. The criticism that that US has reaped for this is extraordinarily hypocritical, since we've reached the point where the problems, the failure of Islam to provide for its population and the resentments that are artificially driven to a frenzy in order to hide the fundamental failure of Islam in this area, would be getting significantly worse if the US hadn't intervened.
The problem is that the Europeans haven't realized that they must make the choice between shitty alternatives. The US has already made this, and while things could have gone better, they could've been a LOT worse. Europeans still think that they can negotiate their way into another period of pseudo-peace, thinking that they can ride out whatever wave of populism comes out of the Middle East.
In other words, they're living a fantasy.
On a more positive note, I was wondering when someone would notice this.
The democrats and their radical supporters have been spending millions and millions to achieve their goals: they haven't won once. Not once. I like saying that so much: not once. :-)
So what will these people do when Soros decides to cut his money and stop their gravy train? That thought frightens them almost as much as their fantasy interpretation of George Bush.
And this is indicative of the failure of Islam. It's a rather pathetic attempt to relevatise the achievements of the age of discovery in Europe, where the Europeans went out to discover the world, by insisting that it wouldn't have been as successful as it was without "the great scientific legacy" of Islamic scholars.
Great, nice to know, fella: so what have you done lately?
All that I can see is a fantasy world, as can be seen here. According to the chap, a Lebanese cleric, AmerIndians spoke Arabic.
Right. And monkey fly out of my ...
Enough: the failure of Islam should now be apparent. There was a great heyday of Islamic philosophy and science. It's over, guys, it's been over for more than 1000 years. What have you done lately?
What modern Islam has to offer is?
A overmagnified sense of injustice and inhumanity to thrash ignorant masses into a frenzy? Servitude and slavery for women? Denial of human rights?
It's not hard to have a negative image of Islam. It's really more difficult to have a positive one.
Dienstag, März 07, 2006
Here a Dutch journalist asks the question "What sacred values are worth defending at such a high cost?"
Simple. For the Europeans, there are none. Except for maybe the welfare state.
On the one hand, NATO and the post-war period bred aggression out of the body politic. Everything was dealt with by negotiations.
That is how NATO works. The old resentments and conflicts were talked to death.
But the ignorance of the European is vastly more criminal than any supposed hubris of the Americans: by insisting on having a role, by insisting on trying to peddle their "soft power" nonsense - and let's face it, soft power is nonsense, it is nothing more than bluff - they have handed the Iranians carte blanche.
This, for me, is what follows:
Only Europe lacks core values that it holds sacrosanct and that it's willing to defend at the highest cost. It will continue to operate on the diplomatic field and cling to soft power even though this is the path of certain defeat when confronted with power players burning with geopolitical and religious ambitions.
Thanks to European illusions about soft power, the free world has two options left on Iran: disaster or catastrophe. America and Israel will bleed for Europe's lack of conviction.
And it's not so much Israel and the US: the EU will bleed as well.
And the sad part, the truly tragic part, is that when push comes to shove, the Europeans will have finally made themselves not merely irrelevant, but downright reckless and foolish. If anything, they're the ones with the superiority complex, based on feelings of inadequacy. The dangers of the world are being aggravated by EU policies, policies brought by reckless and ignorant politicians in a desperate attempt to cover up the fact, the damning fact, of their own inadequacy.
It's not merely the inadequacy of money being spent on the military - barely that which NATO requires and not a cent more - but rather an inadequacy of morals, an inadequacy of moral fiber, an inadequacy of being able to even understand that there is a right and that there is a wrong. It is the inadequacy of an entire generation, the generation of 1968, which has fought to tear down what Europe has and has succeeded.
Leaving only an empty shell full of rhetoric, which in the hands of ignorant politicians has led to the chasm that we now are looking at.
Of course, the classic Adlerian therapeutic tool is to work with the patient to identify the feelings of inferiority and to change unrealistic expectations.
What are the unrealistic expectations of the Europeans?
That they still have a role to play in world politics.
The tragedy will be that it will probably take another war to disabuse them of this notion. When the war comes, they will sit it out and lament how could it have come to this, they will lament the loss of life and destruction, how terrible everything is, without realizing, actively denying, that they have been major players in bringing this about. And when the war comes to them - terror, Iranian missiles, whatever - they will blame it all on the US and Israel.
First in the aftermath, after the dead are counted and the rules of the game written anew, will they realize just how much they have lost: those in charge simply won't be willing to listen anymore and what role the Europeans could have played, could have played to avoid the problem, will have been pissed away in the winds of change.
This is the tragedy of the beginning of the 21st century.
And what could the Europeans do?
It's simple. Move a German division into Turkey for "exercises". Move a French division into Oman for "exercises". Move a Dutch brigade into Afghanistan for "exercises". Move the Italian airforce to Iraq for "exercises".
Then the Iranians would start to listen. But the Europeans are completely incapable of such an exercise in force projection, not because they can't - they could if they wanted to, it'd be hard, but doable - but because they don't want to. They are too afraid of conflict, too afraid of their own history, too afraid of having someone consider them to be the bad guys because they went to war for something they believed in, something central, a core value.
There's that old Brecht quote: "What if they gave a war and no one came"?
Here is the entire quote:
"What if they gave a war and no one came?
Then the war will come to you.
He who stays home when the fight begins
And lets others fight for his cause
Should take care. He who does not take part
In the battle will share in the defeat.
Even avoiding battle does not avoid
Battle, since not to fight for your cause
Fighting on behalf of your enemy's cause.
- Bertholt Brecht.
This is the fate of Europe as it stands today. When it is all over, Europe will stand beneath contempt: it will be reduced to irrelevance.
And that is the tragedy.
Montag, März 06, 2006
Sorry, been busy wth follow up rating after the forecast.
Not that there hasn't been a lot going on. There is.
But the Europeans continue not merely hiding their head in the sand, but marvel at how great the view is and congratulate themselves on being so clever in finding it.
Like I've already said: we're being lied to. But for the nattering nabobs of negativism, lies only count if they are uttered in the White House. For these hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history - damn but Safire could turn a phrase.
And I couldn't care less about the Oscars. Kids forgot to program them, which is fine with me. Means I can watch TV this evening with the SchizoidWife instead of withdrawing into the shell of my study.
Blogging will continue its regularly scheduled appearance when I get sufficiently worked up about something. That's what it's here for...
Mittwoch, März 01, 2006
Sorry that this one is in German, but thought I'd document what I wrote.
This is the letter to the Editor that I wrote to the German newspaper "Die Welt" regarding an editorial from Jeff Gedmin:
Zu: "Amerika als Alptraum"; WELT vom 1. März
Sehr geerhte Damen und Herren!
Als Amerikaner, der 22 der letzten 26 Jahren hier in Deutschland studiert und arbeitet, der hier 2 Kinder großzieht und hier unmengen an Steuergeld bezahlt, kann ich das Anti-Amerikanisches, das Herr Gedmin beschreibt und zur Recht beklagt, nur bestätigen.
Meine beide Kinder, die amerikanische Staatsburger sind, mussen fast tagtäglich solches Unfug in der Gymnasium über sich gehen lassen, da sie beiden resigniert haben, die klaffenden Unwissenheit sowohl der Lehrer als auch die Mitschüler zu korrigieren und besseres zu belehren.
Es ist in der Tat eine Unverschämtheit, wie aus billigen politischen und polemischen Gründen nicht nur Unwissen verbereitet wird, sondern aktiv das Land und seine Burger verleumdet und angefeindet wurden. Um es zu wiederholen: dies geschieht nicht aus irgendwelche vorgetäuschte \"moralische\" Gründe, sondern aus reinste innenpolitische Kalkul, da es viel dienlicher ist, als mit den eigenen Probleme zu kämpfen.
Herr Gedmin has absolut recht: so lange es die Leute mit billigen anti-amerikanischen Ressentiment gut Karrier machen und Zeitungen verkaufen, wird es so bleiben, egal was für Schaden diese Entwicklung langfristig bedeutet.
Das Problem mit Deutschland ist es, das Deutschland keine kritische Denker mehr, sondern nur die Parteilinie der 68er Generation duldet. Kritisches Denken bedeutet nicht, andere rechthaberisch und besserwissend anzuprangern - Deutsche Amerikapolitik seit Rot/Grün - sondern vor allem sich selbst kritisch zu betrachten und die Probleme kritisch zu betrachten, jedoch nicht um zeigefingerhebend die Welt was besseres zu belehren, sondern um die Probleme zu lösen.
Die deutsche Einstellung zu den fundamentale Probleme internationaler Politik wird durch beflissentliche Weg-Gucken und Verleugnung der Probleme gekennzeichnet: während die Deutschen ewige Gespräche führen, um ihre eigene Geschäftsinteressen bloß niemals zu schaden, werden Menschenrechte mit Füßen betreten (China, Darfur, Rußland).
Vielleicht das wesentliche Merkmal moderne Deuschen Politik ist heutzutage Heuchlerei. Ausnahmen gibt es, aber dafür muß man lange suchen.
Quick english translation:
As an American who has spent 22 of the last 26 years in Germany, studying and working, who is raising 2 children here and as someone who pays a lot in taxes, I can only support what Mr. Gedmin has said, correctly, about anti-americanism.
Both of my children, who are American citizens, have to deal daily with such nonsense in their school. Both are resigned to accepting the fact that they cannot change the glaring ignorance of the teachers, as well as the students, and to let them know how things really are.
It really is outrageous, how ignorance is spread on the basis of cheap political and polemican grounds and even worse, how the country and its citizens are attacked and made into enemoes. To repeat: this doesn't happen because of the supposed "moral" grounds, but rather on the basis of pure internal political calculation, since it is so much easier to do that to deal with domestic problems.
Mr. Gedmin is absolutely correct: as long as people can help their careers with cheap anti-american resentment and sell papers, such behaviour will remain, regardless of what kind of damage this will do in the long-term.
The problem with Germany is that Germany doesn't have any critical thinkers any more, but insists on the party line of the 1968 generation. Critical thinking doesn't mean to denounce others with impugned superiority and purported legalistic arguments - Germany's foreign policy since Red/Green - but rather to be self-critical and critically analyse problems, not in order to teach the world with raised finger, but rather to solve problems.
The German stance for the fundamental problems of international politicals can be seen as practiced ignoring of the problems and denial of the problems: whilst the Germans engage with endless discussion, in order never to damage their business interests, human rights are abused (China, Darfur, Russia).
Perhaps the fundamental charachter of modern German politics is hypocricy. There are exceptions, but you really need to look for them.
Who knows, maybe they'll even publish it.
One of the really big problems facing Europe today - besides institutionalized corruption, failing social states and obscene unemployment that is made worse by labor departments - is the problem of ethnic minorities, almost invariably immigrants. France has the problem with immigrants from its former colonies; Germans have it with the Gastarbeiter; Italy has illegals coming out of every corner; the UK has the problem with its former colonies as well; Spain with Africans; you name it, they got it.
Now, as nice and proper socialist democrats - i.e. those who are socialists, but are willing to be voted out of office - the governments of Europe have been trying to integrate these folks into European mainstream society as productive members. Sometimes this works, but usually it hasn't.
This is based, unfortunately, on a slight misunderstanding.
The misunderstanding is enough immigrants actually want to become productive members of society.
The problem of the demographics in Europe are well known: low birth rates, which will, in the 21st century, lead to lower populations. Smaller populations, not lower growth rates. Negative growth rates: there will be fewer Europeans around.
Immigrant growth rates, on the other hand, are significantly higher.
But there is one factor left out of the equation.
The vast majority of immigrants are not citizens of the country that they live in. Nor do they want to be.
What many want is the European welfare state to pay them to be in Europe (working is fine, otherwise on the dole), to have their kids, but never, ever, ever to force them to become citizens of the countries involved. You see, acquiring citizenship means not merely enjoying the rights and priviledges, but more importantly it means having to accept the duties and the legal framework of the country they live in.
And that is the last thing the radical immigrants want: they want a disenfranchised underclass to demand - and usually get, in order to avoid riots - special rights. They do now want assimilation.
What they want is ownership. You see, they think that when they achieve a certain percentage of the population of the country, then the government has to listen to them and obey the will of the people: after all, that's what democracy is all about, right?
This is the misunderstanding: in a democracy, those who have the rights and duties of citizenship have the right to be listened to.
Those who merely live there do not.
And this is where the conflict will grow: you will have large minorities, getting larger over time, who want to live according to their laws and customs (sharia, for instance). They aren't citizens of the countries involved, so they are disenfranchises (per definition).
Granting them sharia amongst themselves would be effectively the nullification of the state over these minorities. Which is, ultimately, what the radicals want: they want the state and the citizens of any given country to give them shelter, feed them, allow them to work, not demand integration and assimilation according to the norms of the host country, and pay for their health care, their retirement benefits, everything. But they want at the same time to be, basically, separate and equal, with their own norms and customs (female genital mutilation paid for by the health care system, for instance): they want a kind of apartheid, a voluntary apartheid imposed by themselves upon the citizens of the host countries.
And European politicians, terrified of confrontation, terrified of the monster that they have created in their midst, terrified of sending police into the local equivalent of the banlieus - and they are in every European city, most are simply better hidden - and terrified of having to tell their populace that their immigration policy of the last 50 years has failed miserably, are ultimately giving in to these demands, slowly but surely, allowing this to happen.
A slight misunderstanding.
There aren't any simple solutions to the problem. Europe has to realize that the growing immigrant problem is going to get a lot worse and may never get better: the lumpenproletariat is not only there, but steadfastly rejects the idea of becoming partners in society, prefering instead to demand their place outside of the society that has hosted them for so long.
A slight misunderstanding.