Archive for November, 2005

Juan Cole on Mark Steyn

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

Juan Cole does a far better job taking Mark Steyn’s argument apart than I could hope to. Here’s a nice exerpt:

Steyn wants to create a 1300-year struggle between Catholic France and the Muslims going back to Tours. This way of thinking is downright silly. France in the 19th century was a notorious ally of the Muslim Ottoman Empire, and fought alongside Muslims against the Christian Russians in the Crimean War. Among contemporary French, 40 percent do not even believe in God, and less than 20 percent go to mass at all regularly. Many of the French of non-European heritage are also not religious.

The French repaid the compliment of Tours by conquering much of the Middle East. Bonaparte aggressively and viciously invaded Egypt in 1798, but couldn’t hold on there. But in 1830 the French invaded Algeria and incorporated it into France. Algeria was “French soil.” They reduced the Algerian population (which they brutalized and exploited) to marginal people under the colonial thumb. The French government of Algeria allowed hundreds of thousands to perish of famine in the 1870s. After World War II, given low French birth rates and a dynamic capitalist economy, the French began importing Algerian menial labor. The resulting Beurs are no more incapable of “integrating” into France than the Poles or Jews were.

So it wasn’t the Algerians who came and got France. France had come and gotten the Algerians, beginning with Charles X and then the July Monarchy. They settled a million rather rowdy French, Italians and Maltese in Algeria. These persons rioted a lot in the early 1960s as it became apparent that Algeria would get its independence (1962). In fact, European settler colonists or “immigrants” have caused far more trouble in the Middle East than vice versa.

The kind of riots we are seeing in France also have occurred in US cities (they sent Detroit into a tailspin from 1967). They are always produced by racial segregation, racist discrimination, spectacular unemployment, and lack of access to the mainstream economy. The problems were broached by award-winning French author Tahar Ben Jalloun in his French Hospitality decades ago.

But read the whole thing.

800,000th visitor

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

And the 800,000th visitor is, I believe, Simon. I think so because he left a comment around the right time. Your prize is in the post Simon ;-)

Orange revolution in Azerbaijan?

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

Rather large protests indeed, but not as many as the opposition expected – they say thanks to police intimidation.

The government of President Ilham Aliyev allowed the opposition to stage a three-hour rally in the outskirts of the capital, Baku. Election officials have ordered re-runs in two districts and one recount.

About 15,000 protesters attended the march and rally, many wearing or waving orange flags in a reference to the success of the “orange revolution” that brought President Victor Yushchenko to power in Ukraine after disputed elections.

The numbers fell far short of the 30,000 to 50,000 the opposition had hoped for.

This could fester.

McSweeney story

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

Featuring on Matt Cooper on TodayFM right now…

The current speaker, Vicki Philips is from, who run the Diploma Mill police. They have a helpful top 10 signs of Diploma Mill.

The issue has been risen of the accreditation versus approval –

Publish and be damned (or possibly lose your house!)

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

Tom Raftery brings up the subject of blog libel, and how it applies to Irish blogs.

He notes:

TJ McIntyre told me that simply by publishing an article, you can lose your house. “It doesn’t matter if the article is defamatory or not – if someone decides to take a case against you, the cost of solicitors and barristers will run into the tens of thousands. Very few bloggers can afford that.? And if you have no house or tangible assets? I asked. Then, the courts can make an arrangement to have the amount deducted from your salary until it is paid off, TJ informed me. They are very flexible like that. He’s just trying to scare-up a few more clients, I thought!

Is your house not something protected by the constitution? I think you can claim to be a ‘man of straw’ and inability to pay. Anyway the point still stands about the nature of libel laws in Ireland.

Will a Press Council, as it is currently being envisaged, even know what bloggers are?

C.I.A. Asks Criminal Inquiry Over Secret-Prison Article

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

As John speculated in a comment on here last week, the CIA are seeking information about the leak.

Notes the NY Times:

The Central Intelligence Agency has asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation to determine the source of a Washington Post article that said the agency had set up a covert prison network in Eastern Europe and other countries to hold important terrorism suspects, government officials said on Tuesday.

The C.I.A.’s request, known as a crimes report or criminal referral, means that the Justice Department will undertake a preliminary review to determine if circumstances justify a criminal inquiry into whether any government official unlawfully provided information to the newspaper. The possibility of this new investigation follows by less than two weeks the perjury and obstruction indictment of I. Lewis Libby Jr., then Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, in a leak case involving other news reporting about a national security issue.

More on Brian McSweeney

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

Griffith College Law lecturer Fiona de Londras will be on the Right Hook on Newstalk 106, it’s on now. The subject will be the McSweeney PhD controversy.

Fiona was also quoted in today’s Examiner in a story by Michael O’Farrell.

O2 to offer UK ‘super 3G’ data network by Q3 06

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

If mobile speeds are going this way, as they seem to be, DSL is going to have to do some serious work to keep up. I heard a rumour of the default DSL service going from 1Mb to 2Mb, with an increase in upload speeds included. Also noted are plans by Magnet to roll out ADSL2+ in Dublin at least – with a theoretical upper limit of 24Mpbs (if you live right beside the exchange).

HSDPA upgrades 3G to improve the network’s data performance, taking downloads speeds up to 1.4Mbps in its current form, though O2 is looking to improved data rates that should push 3.6Mbps by the time the technology goes live outside the Isle of Man. Upload speeds should hit 384Kbps from today’s 128Kbps.

Come early 2008, and the download speed is set to rise to 7.3Mbps before hitting 10.2Mbps in late 2009.

Kansas school board redefines science

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

More on science and religion, the Kansas Board of Education has approved new public school science standards yesterday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution. Notes CNN:

The challenged concepts cited include the basic Darwinian theory that all life had a common origin and the theory that natural chemical processes created the building blocks of life.

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.

I just feel sorry for the students.

The BBC report on it here:

The new standards include several specific challenges, including statements that there is a lack of evidence or natural explanation for the genetic code, and charges that fossil records are inconsistent with evolutionary theory.

It also states that says certain evolutionary explanations “are not based on direct observations… and often reflect… inferences from indirect or circumstantial evidence”.

“This is a great day for education,” board chairman Steve Abrams told the Reuters news agency.

My Lovely Horse

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

An all time classic clip from Father Ted -WMV video file. [via TCAL]

Curious referrals

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

It’s always good to know that I am ranked in the top 10 in Google for the phrase you read when you click here.

I hope whoever it was, in Vienna, Virginia, in the US found what they were looking for.

Evolution in the bible, says Vatican

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

I think the phrase here is ‘flip-flop‘:

Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin’s theory of evolution were “perfectly compatible” if the Bible were read correctly.

His statement was a clear attack on creationist campaigners in the US, who see evolution and the Genesis account as mutually exclusive.

“The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim,” he said at a Vatican press conference. He said the real message in Genesis was that “the universe didn’t make itself and had a creator”.

WordPress move

Monday, November 7th, 2005

The exceptional Sarah Carey has moved from Blogger to WordPress. You can now catch her over at, update your links!

Corruption in Ireland

Monday, November 7th, 2005

A few months in and I am happy with the way is ticking over. Thanks to an internet outage, Anthony has been unable to post this weekend, but has some stuff to post once his internet is fixed.

October was the best month so far for the blog – and I am measuring growth purely by traffic, I believe it is the type of blog that relies on traffic and search status rather than inlinks as most blogs do. Most people will find it through a search engine and this will be reflected in traffic numbers.

If anyone would like to make any suggestions on how to improve the blog, please leave a comment or drop a mail.

Wake up, Europe, you’ve a war on your hands

Monday, November 7th, 2005

So says Mark Steyn in today’s Chicago Sun Times. As usual he starts by patting himself on the back

Ever since 9/11, I’ve been gloomily predicting the European powder keg’s about to go up. ”By 2010 we’ll be watching burning buildings, street riots and assassinations on the news every night,” I wrote in Canada’s Western Standard back in February.

Silly me. The Eurabian civil war appears to have started some years ahead of my optimistic schedule.

He continues with well thought out considered analysis like:

The notion that Texas neocon arrogance was responsible for frosting up trans-Atlantic relations was always preposterous, even for someone as complacent and blinkered as John Kerry. If you had millions of seething unassimilated Muslim youths in lawless suburbs ringing every major city, would you be so eager to send your troops into an Arab country fighting alongside the Americans?

So that’s the reason France didn’t think the war was a good idea. I thought it was their fingers in the Oil for Food programme, oh wait American companies were involved too. I thought it was that they supported the Ba’ath party and al-Qeada. But no, now it’s because of their Muslim populations.

Steyn then mentions in passing the battle of Poitiers, an era of Europe I coincidentally am studying at present, and a time that featured on a BBC documentary over the weekend. What he fails to mention was that the Muslim foothold in Spain at the time was the only Muslim colony that failed to remain permanent. Nor does he mention the civilising aspect of that Muslim world, their culture, architecture and inter-marriage with Christians in Spain – something that was written out of the history books by Christian families later on. But that’s all to complicated for Steyn, better to be black and white I suppose.