“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for August 2007

Site(s) of the Week/Month 26

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My sites of the week/month is a bit different, it is a radio show (podcast) and the organisation behind it.

According to wiki, the Center for Inquiry is “dedicated to promoting and defending science, reason, and free inquiry in all aspects of human interest.” That is my kind of organisation!

It has a radio show and podcast, Point of Inquiry

They make excellent use of modern technology and their player, which brings up previous shows, is a joy to use, I particularly liked the Truth Matters programme with Ophelia Benson. She is one of the forces behind that great site: Butterflies and Wheels

So my sites of the week/month are: Point of Inquiry and the Centre for Inquiry.

Written by modernityblog

31/08/2007 at 02:17

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Conspiracy Theories and Selective Distrust

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In an age of pop stars and celebrities, where the utterances of Paris Hilton are often taken as Delphic pronunciations, the phenomena of conspiracy theories and selective distrust of scientific evidence is disturbing.

The scholarly journal Public Library of Science Medicine describes another alarming episode, HIV Denial in the Internet Era:

“That HIV is the primary cause of AIDS is the strongly held consensus opinion of the scientific community, based upon over two decades of robust research. Deniers must therefore reject this consensus, either by denigrating the notion of scientific authority in general, or by arguing that the mainstream HIV community is intellectually compromised. It is therefore not surprising that much of the newer denial literature reflects a basic distrust of authority and of the institutions of science and medicine. In her book, Christine Maggiore thanks her father Robert, “who taught me to question authority and stand up for what’s right” [10]. Similarly, mathematical modeler Dr. Rebecca Culshaw, another HIV denier, states: “As someone who has been raised by parents who taught me from a young age never to believe anything just because ‘everyone else accepts it to be true,’ I can no longer just sit by and do nothing, thereby contributing to this craziness” [17].”

I suppose that basic denier’s methodology applies across a range of bizarre views (9/11 Truthers. Holocaust denial, etc)

(Hat tip: Mrs. Trellis)

Written by modernityblog

28/08/2007 at 15:06

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True Boycotters’ Motives?

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It was just a matter of time, but the boycott Israel campaign have a new ally, as Engage reports:

“A nationalistic party in Ukraine issued a press release calling for the boycott of Israeli and kosher goods since “buying them helps the Jews and Israelis conquer and destroy Ukraine’s economy”

The filthy antisemitic picture says it all, welcome to the real world of the boycott.

antisemitic filth from Ukrainian Nationalist Party

I wonder when David Duke will lend his support to the boycotters’ endeavours?

Written by modernityblog

27/08/2007 at 19:16

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On The Cards

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This is a very worthwhile endeavour, the Committee for Advancement of Refugees from Darfur (CARD) which is:

“campaigning on behalf of the 1300 Refugees from Sudan, who entered Israel over the past few years. Upon their arrival, refugees from Sudan are arrested and detained due to their status as nationals of an enemy state. The Committee’s various member organizations work tirelessly to release these Refugees temporarily to Kibbutzim and Moshavim until a permanent solution in their matter is found. In addition, the Committee oversees the various humanitarian efforts aimed at improving the lives of the refugees during their detention.”

Written by modernityblog

26/08/2007 at 22:16

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Oh The New Statesman

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I like a read, a nice relaxing read and I am often tempted to buy the New Statesman, which has improved immeasurably since the 1970s. The New Statesman’s changed format is better, more readable and it has higher quality production values, overall very enticing.

Well, I would be tempted, but alas not, if the New Statesman is going to put out nonsense like Pilger’s latest article, which starts “Those calling for a boycott of Israel were once distant voices. Now the discussion has gone global. It is growing inexorably and will not be silenced.

Jon Pike corrects many of Pilger’s worst mistakes, but the comment boxes are full of barely concealed contempt for Israelis.

It is sad the New Statesman and many of its readers have come to this.

The comments from Philip Mendes of Australia are most apt:

“However, his pro-Palestinian bias leads him to simplistically portray the Middle East conflict as involving powerful and evil Israelis oppressing defenceless and innocent Palestinian victims. In reality, this complex national conflict involves good and bad and extremists and moderates on both sides.

Pilger also proceeds to endorse calls for an academic boycott of Israel, and even implicitly urges the destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement by a single democratic state which is code for an Islamic Arab State of Palestine. These recommendations are based on the ethnic stereotyping of all Israelis, and suggest a hatred of the Israeli people.

They are also totally disconnected from reality. If Israel is really the world’s fourth biggest military power as alleged by Pilger, then why on earth would the Israelis voluntarily give up their sovereignty to live in a state dominated by their mortal foes? Go figure.”

Oh, and I won’t be purchasing a copy of the New Statesman again.


The New Centrist reminds us of that disgusting NS cover “Kosher Conspiracy” and their feeble response back then:

“We (or, more precisely, I) got it wrong. The cover was not intended to be anti-Semitic; the New Statesman is vigorously opposed to racism in all its forms. But it used images and words in such a way as to create unwittingly the impression that the New Statesman was following an anti-Semitic tradition that sees the Jews as a conspiracy piercing the heart of the nation. I doubt very much that one single person was provoked into hatred of Jews by our cover. But I accept that a few anti-Semites (as some comments on our website, quickly removed, suggested) took aid and comfort when it appeared that their prejudices were shared by a magazine of authority and standing. Moreover, the cover upset very many Jews, who are right to feel that, in the fight against anti-Semitism in particular and racism in general, this magazine ought to be on their side.”

I am just waiting for John Pilger to say “but some of my best friends are Jewish”

Written by modernityblog

25/08/2007 at 01:26

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Pegah Emambakhsh

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The plight of Pegah Emambakhsh has been highlighted at HP, and what is remarkable is that the British government appears to be so ill informed of Iran’s treatment of gays.

Most people should be familiar with Iran’s hanging of two gays in 2005, and the Iranian regime’s generally oppressive attitude towards gays, as Doug Ireland describes.

IRQO has stark details on attacks on gays in Iran.

More recently the regime closed down a newspaper for simply conducting an interview with a gay Iranian exile:

“Tehran – Iran on Monday shut down a leading moderate daily for the second time in less than a year after the paper published an interview with a woman accused of being a “counter-revolutionary” homosexual.

The ban on Shargh (East), the favourite newspaper of Iranian liberals, comes amid growing pressure on the press in Iran and follows the closure of fellow moderate daily Ham Mihan last month.

“The main reason for the ban was an interview with a counter-revolutionary who promotes immorality,” Alireza Malekian, the director of press in the culture ministry, told the state-run IRNA news agency.

Shargh on Saturday published a full-page interview with Saghi Ghahreman, an expatriate Iranian poet who lives in Canada, under the headline “Feminine Language.”

I do hope that the mandarins in the Foreign Office and immigration services learn to use Google

Written by modernityblog

24/08/2007 at 20:05

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Germany, What To Do?

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Germany, as a country, has tried to distance itself from Nazism, and yet events like these are occurring more often:

“Locals in a small east German township stood by as a drunken mob of about 50 youths howling neo-Nazi slogans hunted down eight terrified Indian tourists.

The attack in Mügeln, near Leipzig, was the latest in a series of violent assaults on foreigners in eastern Germany that is beginning to alarm the Government in Berlin.

The inhabitants of Mügeln were celebrating their traditional Old Town street festival on Saturday night when a horde of German youths started to pick a fight with the visiting Indians.

After pushing and shoving them the youths chased them out of a beer tent and pursued them down the narrow streets of the town centre.

The young Indian men took refuge in a pizzeria and tried to barricade the doors with tables.

By the time that the police arrived – about 70 officers – the Germans had smashed their way into the pizzeria. The eight Indians were treated in hospital but have now been released.

The town authorities are still in denial about the reasons for the clash even though witnesses say that the mob was shouting slogans such as “Long live the national resistance!” and “Get out of Germany!”.

“I really don’t know if there is a far-right background to this incident,” Gotthard Deuss, the Mayor, said yesterday. “There are no known right-wing extremists here. This is a town with barely 5,000 inhabitants and everybody knows everybody.”

The regional police chief, Bernd Merbitz, went a little farther, saying: “We are investigating all possible motives, including the possibility that this was an act aimed at foreigners.”

Saturday was a red-letter day for neo-Nazis across Germany – it was when they mark the anniversary of the death in 1987 of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy as leader of the Nazi party. Mr Deuss had apparently been warned before the celebrations that far-right sympathisers could try to disrupt the festivities. “

Written by modernityblog

22/08/2007 at 22:14

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Special Presents?

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Summer is over and winter approaches, so naturally our thoughts turn to presents for Saturnalia (Christmas or whatever festival you please), and as everyone knows buying presents is a problem, a big problem.

Still, spare a thought for the faux “anti-imperialist”, what can you get them? A Che T-shirt, nope they’ve got that. Subscription to the Socialist Worker? No, they’d probably vomit if you did. A trendy hat from Camden Lock? Been there, they’ve got the hat.

Now there is an alternative.

For all those wanna-be Nasrallah’s out there, Hezbollah presents: Special Forces 2

So instead of shouting “We are all Hezbollah”, today’s bizarre anti-imperialists can play out their very own psychotic Jew hating fantasies, for real, in a video game.

Your correspondent hasn’t had the opportunity to review the game fully, but I would expect that, for the sake of realism, it must include some of Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s rabble rousing antisemitic speeches.

Special Forces 2 is destined to be a best seller amongst neo-Nazis and cranky Jew hating “anti-imperialists”.

As Gulf Daily News reports, there are some keen buyers already in the Middle East:

Bahrain Society Against Normalisation with the Zionist Enemy member and former chairman Mohammed Hassan Al Aradi praised Hizbollah for designing the game, saying he would be buying a copy for his family.

He said for a long time children had been playing war games in which the winners were always Americans or Europeans and the losers were Arabs and Asians – and it was about time this changed.”

So indoctrination of children seems to be acceptable if those being killed Israelis.

These and other violent video games are not recommended.

Written by modernityblog

21/08/2007 at 02:02

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China and Eric on Darfur

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Written by modernityblog

18/08/2007 at 18:00

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Site(s) of the Week/Month 25

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An item on Bob from Brockley’s blog sent me down memory lane.

The 1970s were a far simpler time politically speaking, people knew what they were and what they weren’t, and so it was in Lewisham in the late 1970s.

Back then, the Left knew that they had to fight fascism and fascist head-on, did so with skill and determination.

Lewisham 1977 was a culmination of many battles across Lewisham and Southeast London around that period.

A vast array of people came together to oppose the fascists in the National Front, some were politicos, some were activists, many were trade unionists, civil rights activists, feminists, gays, even a few vicars and others just disgusted by the racist filth spewing out from the National Front.

Fortunately, at that time there were still lots of active antiracist groups across South London.

The objectives were varied but basically came down to harrying, obstructing, intimidating and making life difficult for the fascists in the National Front to organise. These tactics were ultimately to succeed and cause internal ruptures in the National Front, which finally led to its collapse.

Since then antiracist and antifascist groups had diminished, the fascists have regrouped, the Left has splintered. Many have lost their way in direct opposition to fascism and some have even cuddled up to its more insidious forms.

So in memory of those days, Lewisham 77 is my site of the month.

I hope they produce some video documentaries covering the period, so that in 2007 more people can appreciate the need to oppose fascism, lock stock and barrel.

It would be nice to think that today’s generation could look into the origins of feminism and gay rights, then they might realise why supporting them now is as important as it was in 1977, if not more.

(Hat tip: Bob)

Written by modernityblog

14/08/2007 at 00:03

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Is Hugo A 9/11 Truther?

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Does power make people go mad, or do only mad people crave power?

That’s the question to ask of Hugo Chavez.

When Comrade Chavez is not eradicating poverty in Venezuela, waxing lyrical on 21st century socialism or sucking up to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Robert Mugabe, then el Jefe is a bit of a philosopher and soothsayer.

According to CNN, these are Hugo Chavez’s comments concerning 9/11, taken from a video clip:


HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELAN PRES. (through translator): The hypothesis that is gaining strength, which was said on television last night, and which could soon blow up, was that it was the same U.S. imperial power that planned and carried out this terrible terrorist attack, or act, against its own people and against citizens all over the world. Why? To justify the aggression that was immediately unleashed on Afghanistan, on Iraq and the threat’s against all of us, against Venezuela, too.


Poor old Hugo, how power affects the mind, still he’s now got more fans amongst the 9/11 Truthers!

(Hat tip: cranks on Facebook)

Written by modernityblog

11/08/2007 at 01:42

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Topical Words

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If most of us were asked to compile a list of topical words then: consumerism and imperialism, would probably be near the top? I suspect so, here are two topical llustrations of those words.

There’s another example of Chinese imperialism in Tibet, according to The Times:

“Thousands of Tibetans have travelled for days and hundreds of miles to pitch their tents on the slopes surrounding the festival grounds in a remote corner of western Qinghai province, which ethnically is majority Tibetan. Strings of pink, blue, green and yellow prayer flags flutter in the breeze as spectators stand in banks five or six deep for a glimpse of the dances. They unfurl umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun blazing through the thin air in this corner of the Roof of the World, about 3,800 metres (12,500ft) above sea level.

The only cloud over the picnickers, riders, dancers and visitors dressed in their finest is the order to wear furs. Entertainers who ignore it face being fined their appearance money of 3,000 yuan (£200), a huge sum for a Tibetan farmer.

The question of whether to wear traditional fur was sparked by the Dalai Lama last year. He told Tibetans who gathered for a Buddhist festival that he was ashamed of photographs showing his people dressed in robes decorated with tiger skins and other animal pelts. Within days people across the Himalayan region began to set alight mounds of fur-trimmed chubas.

Chinese officials were furious. The display of obedience by ordinary Tibetans to the Buddhist monk, exiled in India since fleeing amid an abortive anti-Chinese uprising in 1959, shocked the authorities, denting their increasing confidence about having established control over the restive region.

The Communist rulers are swift to respond to displays of loyalty to the Nobel peace laureate. His picture is banned. Officials accuse him of seeking independence for his homeland under the pretence of autonomy.

China’s response to his order was not without irony. Officials had been pursuing a policy of trying to discourage Tibetans from wearing their traditional dress as a way of stemming the trade in skins. But the priority for authorities in Yushu county was to counter the Dalai Lama. So they told locals that they must wear skins.


You can’t beat the Chinese bureaucracy for pettiness.

As for consumerism, I mostly like Tesco’s, but I was interested by this particular site, Tescopoly and worker’s rights.

Written by modernityblog

09/08/2007 at 00:14

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Thinking Blogger Awards?

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Even the most charitable of people would never put me in for the Thinking Blogger Awards, but I do appreciate a good read and thoughtful comments, even if they’re not my own, Harry Barnes was the recipient of a Thinking Blogger Award and I can see why.

Harry’s blogs at three score years and ten.


Written by modernityblog

08/08/2007 at 03:20

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Young and Facebook

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Your very own intrepid blogger has been exploring Facebook.

I felt that after people’s remarks and the flood of news concerning this Internet phenomena that I should explore it more fully.

Facebook is fairly well designed and very youthful, most users seem between 15 and 30. The interactive features are functional and messaging is uncomplicated.

Instead of forums, Facebook has groups, many of them are juvenile and facetious as you might expect given the user base, but that does not detract from the overall usefulness of groups as a means of communication.

Facebook is free and the adverts are unobtrusive.

If Facebook has one slight fault, then it is the process of finding interesting groups which is a bit tedious, the search facility is rather limited but not necessarily an obstacle (I was looking for groups on historical topics, etc but couldn’t find too many decent ones).

Facebook has add-ons (or widgets to some people) called applications, which provide additional functionality.

Here are a few reviews of various Facebook applications.

And an article on Facebook privacy.

Honest, I don’t feel my age, well, not too much.

Update: I should have explained better.

Facebook is a collaborative piece of software, which is accessible from the user’s browser (Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, etc). It allows users to send messages between each other and collaborate. Also it has discussion forums on various topics.

It does not require any software to be installed on the user’s PC.

All that is required is a web browser and, ideally, an e-mail account.

Setting up a Facebook account takes about 2-3 minutes.

Written by modernityblog

07/08/2007 at 00:43

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Is it Art?

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Juedosphere looks at some disgusting contemporary cartoons from Ben Heine.

It makes you wonder if some people in the arts and media are capable of making comparisons with earlier antisemitic filth, or it is all art?

Caricatures from Der Stürmer: 1928-1932

I wonder if the arty types will see the connection?

Written by modernityblog

02/08/2007 at 15:11

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