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June 2007

Bad Day for the Befuddled Left

Zombietime has posted video and transcripts of Christopher Hitchens’ recent debate with the leftwing jihad apologist and author of American Fascists, Chris Hedges. I urge you to watch the brief “Hitchens Highlights” clip below. A second compilation can be found here and a much longer exchange, in 7 parts, can be seen here with photos, transcripts and commentary. Needless to say, Hitchens does a fine job of highlighting the sneery, morally contorted posturing that now defines much of the left.

“The decline - not to say the moral eclipse - of the secular left has just been illustrated on this very platform by someone who makes excuses for suicide murder and tries to trace them to a second-rate sociology... Every member of the 82nd Airborne Division could be a snake-handling congregationalist, for all I know. But these men and women, though you sneer and jeer at them, and snigger when you hear applause and excuses for suicide bombers - and you have to live with the shame of having done that - these people are guarding you while you sleep, whether you know it or not. And they're also creating space for secularism to emerge, and you better hope that they are successful.”

Someone buy that man a drink. More sneery posturing here. Related: this.

Not Quite Adorable

Developed by Japan’s Science and Technology Agency and unveiled last week at Osaka University, CB2 is a 1.3 metre robot toddler. This sexless automaton is fully jointed, equipped with hundreds of optical, auditory and tactile sensors, and, just like human babies, is moved with compressed air. It also has grey silicon skin, which only adds to its appeal. As the videos below demonstrate, CB2 approximates a 1- or 2-year-old toddler and can stand with adult assistance. CB2 can also blink, roll over, wave its legs in the air and make a slightly disturbing “eh” noise.

More of CB2 in action here. (H/T, Lepton.) 


Is it me, or has the amount of junk mail dropped dramatically during the last few days? I mean, by about 80-90%? My inbox is now littered with only a small fraction of the usual solicitations for ways to increase my “volume” or to enlarge some part of my anatomy to superhuman proportions. Looks like this guy was indeed one of the so-called Kings of Spam. Let’s hope that once in prison Mr Soloway winds up as some burly guy’s sexual plaything. Make that several burly guys.

Just imagine the “volume” then.

Empty Gestures

This article on Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Laila Lalami has prompted a reply from a reader, Suhail Shafi:

“Ms Lalami's article… [takes] a firm stand against the oppression of women in any way shape or form… Believing in equality for women without insulting or vilifying anybody's religious sentiments… strikes as being far more constructive than the factually questionable (at best) rant of the likes of Hirsi Ali. Yes, ‘eminently brilliant’ is quite an appropriate label for Ms Lalami's work.”

Setting aside the matter of Lalami’s “eminent brilliance”, an obvious problem springs to mind. It seems rather difficult to “take a firm stand against the oppression of women in any form” without challenging the specific religious ideas and specific religious laws that are used to justify and perpetuate the oppression one is supposedly taking a stand against. How, for instance, does one deal with the “respected” Andalusian imam, Mohammed Kamal Mostafa, whose book, The Islamic Woman, advises Muslim men on how to beat “rebellious” women without leaving visible signs of injury, in accord with Muhammad’s teachings? How, exactly, does one challenge Mostafa’s assertions - and the assertions of others like him - without also challenging the “sacred” ideas that are invoked as an unassailable religious mandate? And how does one take “a firm stand” without suggesting, at least by implication, that those “religious sentiments” are wrong and disgusting on very important issues?

“Believing” in the equality of women is very easy and conveniently vague, especially if one is unwilling to challenge the means by which cruelty and coercion are perpetuated, justified and enforced. Unless one is prepared to address the theological nuts and bolts of the matter, and prepared to risk offending some religious “sentiments”, it’s hard to see what kind of “firm stand” has actually been taken.

Elsewhere, Tim Blair highlights the flummery of some multicultural “feminists” when confronted with female genital mutilation. One particularly conflicted soul says, “It would seem to me counterproductive to have loud denunciations of [FGM] - the key thing should be to convince people it is wrong.” Quite how one makes a compelling and realistic argument while studiously avoiding “denunciation” of any kind isn’t exactly clear. Apparently the words “barbarous” and “stupid” are frowned upon. But again, it isn’t obvious how such practices can be challenged in any meaningful way if one is obliged to flatter the “sentiments” of those who wield the clitoral scissors.

Update: Some of the comments are quite illuminating. Related: this.

Friday Ephemera

Joi Lansing is trapped in the web of love. Bird cages, cannibalism and a switched-on blonde. // If the volume of crap in your inbox has dropped recently, this could be why. “Soloway could face decades in prison.” Being punched, one hopes. // The world’s, erm, greatest album covers. Bow ties, bikinis, sweater girls. (H/T, Warren Ellis.) // Via Bloody Scott, the rules and history of Victimhood Poker. // Flags of the world by colour usage. Guess, then click. (H/T, Coudal.) // Sketchfighter! Blast those ladybugs to atoms. // Venture. The plug-in 3-wheel tilting hybrid. Did I mention it tilts? // Pop-up pulp dioramas. Cowboys, detectives, sirens and boxers. // 70’s shoe designs. Pop art platforms, 11-inch heels. // Platform footwear of the 1600s. // The virtual shoe museum. // The time fountain. Strobes pulse, causality defied. More here. // The Moon and Saturn. An illusion of proximity. // Robert Spencer on America’s “tiny minority” of 300,000 people. // World history. All of it, just about. // The evolution of speech balloons. From 300AD to the 20th century. // The Acme Catapult. Hurls fridges, cookers, dryers, most large appliances. // Jacket cuff lights. Find keyholes, fight crime, look dramatic. You know you want them. // If apes could jive.