söndag 19 maj 2019

Islamophobia #1

“Islamophobia” is a dishonest neologism which has been used to shut down discussion of Islam and label critics as racist. There has been discussion of the subject recently, in an attempt to define it, perhaps as a prelude to making it a crime. A phobia is an irrational fear. Christians and Jews have had good reason to fear Islam for the past 1400 years. Mohammed himself was responsible for a notorious atrocity against Jews, Banu Qurayza, when 600 men were beheaded on his orders, and the women and children taken into slavery. Since Islam venerates him as the perfect man, fear of Islam is anything but irrational. Christians and Jews have rarely been well-treated under Muslim regimes. The recent experience of Christians under ISIS is not an exception to the general case; 3 million Greek and Armenian Christians were murdered in Islamic genocides in the 20th century alone.

This is not to deny that dislike of Muslims has a racist component, since most Muslims are foreigners with dark skins, and irrational dislike is indeed a phobia. There has been an epidemic of attacks and crude invective against Muslims in Britain. They are being made to suffer for the actions of those responsible for incidents such as the Manchester bombings, and for the utterances of the teenage supporter of ISIS who justified the action. It is understandable, if inexcusable.

This BBC Sunday programme has a balanced debate on the subject, 36 minutes from the start. One of the speakers, herself a Muslim, points out that Muslims are far from being the only victims of racism, and that there is a certain onus on those at the receiving end of public dislike, for whatever reason, to practice some self-reflection. Dislike of Muslims is not entirely unconnected with incidents such as the London and Manchester bombings, the truck attack on Westminster Bridge, the exodus of Jews from Malmö, and the fact that anyone travelling by plane now has to allow an extra hour to pass through security checks ‒ which is not to prevent attacks by radical Methodists.

EU election virtue signalling

The posters for the Swedish election to the European Parliament have produced the usual crop of platitudinous virtue signalling.
  • For democracy, against division and extremism. (Social Democrats)
  • Our grandchildren come first - every country should take responsibility for the climate (Social Democrats)
  • Take a stand for secure jobs, not pay cuts (Social Democrats)
  • Oil lobbyists versus climate activists (Vänster)
  • Our fight against right-wing populism is needed in Europe (Centre Party)
  • Hope instead of hate (Green Party)
  • Yes! Vote out extremists and nationalists (Liberals)
They give the impression that they have been generated by a computer programme.

lördag 4 maj 2019

Silence on Christian persecution due to “trade”

Apparently, the silence on Christian persecution is due to fear of offending trading partners like Saudi Arabia, not political correctness. So says the Guardian’s Religious correspondent, Andrew Brown.

That is an interesting angle. It does not explain why the persecution, which is systematic, is confined to certain countries. There is none in Japan, or Thailand, for example, and there was little in India until recently. Brown manages to avoid naming the principal persecutors and their motivations, which are grounded in their own religious, or stringently non-religious, ideologies.

It is amazing the lengths that some people will go to in order not to state the obvious.

fredag 3 maj 2019

Persecution of Christians by persons unknown

It is amazing how an article in the Guardian, reporting the publication of a study about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, fails to mention the M-word.

Who do they think is responsible for this persecution?

måndag 29 april 2019

Scottish independence problems

The Union originated due to the Scottish having lost a vast amount of money in an ill-fated colonial project. It will not break up unless the money settlement works.

Scotland in the EU, but England outside it would not work. England is the main source of goods imported to Scotland; they would become more expensive as they would be subject to the EU tariff, which would lead to cross border shopping in places like Newcastle and Carlisle. This in turn would lead to long tailbacks down the A1 and M6, as cars and HGVs waited to clear the EU customs barrier that would go up.

There are also issues over who would pay for defence.

The Scots would do better to focus on the highly concentrated pattern of land ownership in the country, and to use the freedom that already exists to apply a land value tax. However, Scottish politicians do not seem to be particularly smart or they would not be operating policies such as higher income taxes in Scotland.

söndag 28 april 2019

Swedish water rights mystery

My friends live in a house overlooking this lake, about 15 km from Gothenburg. The lake is man-made, having being created by the construction of a dam. A few hundred metres downstream from the outlet is the remains of a mill. Further downstream still, there was yet another mill; the present owner retains the rights to the flow of a certain volume of water. These rights were acquired in the 1920s, when the government (foolishly) gave away water rights in exchange for an undertaking to construct electricity generating facilities. However, this particular facility, is, I am informed, barely functioning, and even if it was, it would make little use of the head of water that is potentially available and is consequently inefficient.

In dry weather, as we have had recently, this owner complains of insufficient flow, and water then has to be released from the lake. Prolonged dry weather results in a significant fall in the water level and the exposure of unsightly areas of mud.

Loss of water leads to a deterioration in water quality, which for many decades has been managed by a fishing association which, among other improvements, has reduced the acidity of the water by regular dozing with chalk dust, resulting in a good population of fish including perch and pike.

I do not know if I have been given the full story, but the owner, despite making little or no effective use of this water, wants the local authority to pay 3 million kronor for the extinguishing of the rights to ‘his’ water from this and two other lakes. The obvious response would be to restrict the water outflow in dry weather so as to maintain the water level in the lakes, and wait for the claim for damages. If my information about the virtual non-use of this water is correct, the damages due would be 0,00 kr.

Such an inefficient capture of the energy in the water makes no sense. An efficient system would pipe the water from the upper level, which would create a pressure of 1 bar for every 10 metres drop and could be used efficiently to drive a turbine linked to a generator. Whether the volume of water available is worth the cost of installing such a system is another question, but it might be possible for the owner to have his power without draining down the lake.

There is a further issue also: the valuations of the lakeside properties for tax purposes, which is on the assumption that the lake is an amenity, which it certainly is not if the water level fluctuates, leaving expanses of mud in dry weather.

tisdag 2 april 2019

Rampant mercantilism

I picked this up in an article headed “Would the UK be better off outside the Customs Union.”
A YouGov survey last July found that independent trade policy was voters’ joint fourth Brexit priority, behind control over immigration, and ending EU rules and budget payments.
Trade experts say deals get more contentious once they become real. “It is one of those things that sounds great but when it actually comes down to it trade has always been controversial because people always want something from you,” said David Henig, who was heavily involved in negotiations on an EU-US trade deal. “New Zealand want to sell more lamb and Australia certainly want to sell us more lamb. That’s not going to go down very well in Wales or Scotland.”
Henig’s mercantilism is showing. Cheaper New Zealand and Australian lamb would go down very well with shoppers in Cardiff and Glasgow. Why is there this blindness to the obvious? Should this man be in charge of negotiating trade deals when he evidently has such a limited idea about the purpose of trade?

Islamophobia #1

“Islamophobia” is a dishonest neologism which has been used to shut down discussion of Islam and label critics as racist. There has been dis...