Friday, June 23, 2006

The "spoiled brat" theory of Islamism

David S Landes:

I have always thought that no one can really understand the economic performance of Moslem nations without studying Islam as religion and culture. The best indicator of the potential of growth and development of a nation is the status and role of women. Their exclusion means depriving the country of an important volume of workforce and talent. Moreover, their exclusion also undermines the desire of men to achieve success; spoiled from their childhood and treated as princes, men don't feel the need to prove themselves.

Theodore Dalrymple:

However secular the tastes of the young Muslim men, they strongly wish to maintain the male dominance they have inherited from their parents. A sister who has the temerity to choose a boyfriend for herself, or who even expresses a desire for an independent social life, is likely to suffer a beating, followed by surveillance of Stasi-like thoroughness. The young men instinctively understand that their inherited system of male domination—which provides them, by means of forced marriage, with sexual gratification at home while simultaneously freeing them from domestic chores and allowing them to live completely Westernized lives outside the home, including further sexual adventures into which their wives cannot inquire—is strong but brittle, rather as communism was: it is an all or nothing phenomenon, and every breach must meet swift punishment.

The Guardian:

Public opinion in Britain is mostly favourable towards Muslims, but the feeling is not requited by British Muslims, who are among the most embittered in the western world, according to a global poll published yesterday.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Don't boycott Palestine

Eric Lee writes:

Both the Canadian and British unions alike compared Palestine to South Africa, which has triggered some criticism. Obviously, the comparison will not be exact, but I can see where they are coming from.

After all, the central belief of the white racists in South Africa was that the races must live apart, and that one had greater rights than the other. This does describe Hamas' view of things fairly accurately. In societies where Islamic fundamentalist parties -- the sister movements to Hamas -- have come to power, they have imposed racist laws and suppressed ethnic and religious minorities. Imagining a Hamas military victory over Israel, I can see where one would expect the rise of a Palestinian-dominated apartheid state.

Of course it is equally likely that a Hamas military victory would result in a simple genocide directed against the Jews, in which case accusing Hamas of proposing apartheid is actually being generous.

I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Not losing weight? Try drinking more

You may have heard of this new diet, the Shangri-La diet. I read about it on the Web and was intrigued. I've successfully used the Atkins diet in the past, but found it too difficult to maintain, so the weight has crept back on...

Anyway, this one sounded like a cool hack of the body's appetite system. I read the author's research and found myself impressed. So I started it a couple of weeks ago. The idea is that you take either a tablespoon of sugar dissolved in water, or a tablespoon of oil, twice a day, with at least an hour between it and any food or drink (except water) on both sides. That's it. I started off with the sugar water in the morning and oil in the evening, but now I just take oil twice a day, it's much easier and quicker.

Does it work? Absolutely no doubt. Most of the time I feel no hunger, and no interest in food. I used to constantly snack at home, but now, after a few trips to the fridge out of habit, I look at food, shrug, and carry on. I only eat lunch now, no breakfast, no dinner, except the odd yoghurt or piece of fruit. And it's hard to explain, but you actually see food objectively. Last night I had a few spoons of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, and then put the tub back. Before, if I managed not to eat the entire tub after dinner, I felt I was doing well. I just wanted the taste, and that was enough. The craving for food is just gone.

The one slight hitch was the oil. The theory depends on using oil that is tasteless. In the US, it seems that extra-light olive oil (not extra-virgin) is entirely processed and has no taste. After a long search I found extra-light oil here, but it has a slight taste. The label says it has some virgin oil; apparently EU regs require this. But then I tried Floro sunflower oil. Perfect; virtually no taste.

Update: I'm not doing this diet any more; it doesn't work for me.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Piracy BAD! BAD Pirate! Bad, BAD Pirate!!

So I watched Diva again last night, courtesy of my Amazon DVD Rental by post subscription. It's perhaps one of the coolest films ever made, and holds up pretty well after 25 years. If you're not familiar with it, the plot revolves around young Jules, who makes a bootleg tape recording of a concert of his favourite diva, Cynthia Hawkins, purely for his own enjoyment, as she refuses to make any records (the film marginally predates the CD). He ends up with two sets of villains on his tail, both trying to get the recording (one for the wrong reason).

Now I could imagine the director facing a few problems if he tried to make the movie today:

JEAN-JACQUES BENEIX: Good morning, gentlemen.

FIRST MOVIE EXEC: Hi there Jacques, may I call you Jacques? I just wanted you to know how excited we are about doing your movie.

SECOND MOVIE EXEC: Oh, totally, totally excited. I mean, we're thinking, Orlando for the lead, and Walken for the police chief. Am I right?

FIRST MOVIE EXEC: Oh yeah. But, ah, Jacques, just before we get to that... about the opening scene....


SECOND MOVIE EXEC: Well, we've got this young guy, right, and he's sitting in the Paris Opera, and he's got a mini-disk recorder on his lap, right...


FIRST MOVIE EXEC: Well, he's recording the performance.

SECOND MOVIE EXEC: I mean, he's a fucking pirate, for God's sake. Little bastards just like him are sitting in movie theatres all across America, right now, taking bread from our mouths! (Wipes spittle from lower lip.)

JEAN-JACQUES BENEIX: But zis is ze central conflict zat drives ze story: as Jules is making love to Cynthia, he knows if she knew he was ze pirate who is causing her all zis trouble...

FIRST MOVIE EXEC: But Jacques, baby, we can't have the hero doing that! No-one will want to play him, I guarantee you! Forget Orlando, baby!

JEAN-JACQUES BENEIX: Actually, I was zinking of Johnny Depp...

SECOND MOVIE EXEC: Oh, fucking GREAT!! The Pirate of the Caribbean himself!

FIRST MOVIE EXEC: You know, I'm starting to think maybe this wasn't such a good idea...

SECOND MOVIE EXEC: Yeah, I mean, opera?? What were those guys thinking?

FIRST MOVIE EXEC: You know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking Da Vinci Code...

SECOND MOVIE EXEC: ...meets Pretty Woman!

FIRST MOVIE EXEC: No, you moron! Were you dropped on your head as a child? Listen to me...

EXECS walk off, arguing, leaving JEAN-JACQUES BENEIX alone. Very alone.