30 May 2016

Gorilla Harambe and white privilege

The story about Harambe, a 17-year-old western lowland 450-pound gorilla, which was shot to save the life of a 4 years old boy that fell into the gorilla's enclosure, was dramatic enough for anyone. Of course, some grumps said something about their preference of saving the gorilla by any means, why tranquilizers weren't used etc. But frankly, I haven't dreamed about the discussion turning in the direction described below by several (out of many) tweets on the subject.

The author, Isa Ibn, is a member of Nation of Islam, by the way...

The author of the tweet above, mgpablo, will appear below again, with a surprise notice...

The next commenter, one DiddyTheGoat, was especially verbose, so I have chosen only two outstanding statements:

Well, the joke went far enough, and it will be fair to discharge the electricity doubtlessly collecting in the air. Here comes the promised surprise from mgpablo:

Oh, America, you do seem to have a problem...

29 May 2016

A very short post

28 May 2016

This makes perfect sense to anyone, doesn't it?

I mean this:

The Salafi movement has claimed responsibility for a rocket launched into Israel on Wednesday night from the Gaza Strip. According to its statement, they fired in retaliation against the Hamas mass wave of arrests made against members of the Salafi organization in the Gaza Strip.
Just asking.

26 May 2016

When Israeli cops lynched an arab supermarket worker in Tel Aviv...

To start with a disclaimer: I have never been particularly enamored with our cops, being a normal citizen, inoculated by a healthy dose of that wariness toward the best and finest, shared by all citizens all over the world. The wariness tends to be at its peak where our border policemen are considered, knowing their special brand of sensitivity, compassion and gentleness.

To continue with a confession: this previous post of mine re our worthy new chief of police, Roni Alsheikh, was written as a byproduct of my search of material for this here post. I was searching for corroboration of my suspicions and just stumbled upon Roni Alsheikh's story.

So, when the story about a team of border policemen ganging up and beating to a pulp a defenceless Israeli Arab hit the media, I was incensed and revolted, together with all (not an exaggeration) the 99,9999 % of the Israeli population. I couldn't say it better, of course, than one of our best journalists, Ben Dror Yemini did:
Police brutality against a person - first of all a person - in the center of Tel Aviv. We've become Ferguson 2015. No need to jump to Germany 1936. It is a disgrace to Israel when she turns into United States. It's not happening only in central Tel Aviv, and not only to an Arab. And there's no comfort here.
Instead of joining the chorus, though, I've decided to wait for details. It seems that I was right at that. But first to the initial story, as it has appeared in all Israeli media sources of note. It sounds very simple and, border cops being how they are, believable:
The man was stopped by two undercover police officers who asked him to identify himself; they allegedly failed to present badges, and security footage shows multiple police officers striking the man.
This in a nutshell, allegedly supported by the security camera's recording:

And here is a clip (In Hebrew), where the innocent victim tells the story of unprovoked assault by a gang of 8 (eight) cops, savage beating and subsequent arrest.

The first clip comes courtesy of Haaretz and the second from the Israeli Broadcasting authority. No reason to doubt the sources, is there? Still, I have decided to stay away from the apparently clear cut evidence, for two chief reasons:
  • The incident occurred in Rabin Square, one of the most popular areas of Tel Aviv, where hundreds of people walk around at any time of the day (or night, for that matter). No matter how bloodthirsty the specific team of border cops was, it is kind of difficult to see them choosing this mighty conspicuous spot to do the dirty deed.
  • The recording of the event: I don't know about you, but without the ability to view the clip frame by frame, all I am able to see is a quickly escalating melee of unidentified folks going one at another in high spirit. Very inconclusive, to say the least.
One point has to be explained - the border police checking the identity papers. It happens to be one of the missions of the border police - to catch and expel any Judea and Samaria citizens of Palestinian Authority who are found to be here illegally (without a work permit). It is one thankless task, needless to say. Not that it justifies beating a man to a pulp, mind you...

OK, to make the story short: here comes a blow-by-blow analysis of the same recording you have seen above. Since the explanation comes in Hebrew, I'll have to go through the salient points:
  • The approach to the beating victim, Maysam Abu Alqian, was peaceful. Two cops approached him, one other (a female) remained in the background (checks out).
  • The cops both presented their police IDs or badges (check).
  • Maysam Abu Alqian still doesn't agree to show his ID card (check).
  • Another supermarket employee (white T-shirt) joined Maysam Abu Alqian, protesting something or other (check).
  • At this stage the White Shirt pushes one of the cops (check). 
  • Maysam Abu Alqian pushes one of the cops (check). 
At this point I have to stop the report and ask you a question: what do you expect would happen if and when you push an American/French/British/German/[choose your preference] cop? You know, don't you?

Well, nothing much to add to the story: several new cops appear on the scene, six new employees of the supermarket appear on the scene, the melee starts in earnest and the end of the affair is clear now.

To conclude, follows a summary of the whole event, by the same good old Ben Dror Yemini:
I was wrong. I apologize.

Immediately after the incident between the young Bedouin and the cops in the center of Tel Aviv, I published a short post blaming the police. Except the video, frame by frame, from Avi Ashkenazi's website, shows that the cops, apparently, have presented badges and they didn't start the pushing that led to violence.

I demand that others refer to the facts. Facts prove me wrong.
That's it, I would say. However, there is another point to make, and rather an important one. It so happened that all Israeli main media sources bar none picked up the story without any fact checking. And when I say "main media sources", I don't mean some anti-Zionist ones like +972, far from it. Both left-wing and right wing media simply jumped on the initial story and published it as is, varying only the headlines. Of course, a special mention is richly deserved by Haaretz, whose headline for their editorial (that I partially borrowed) was "When Israeli Cops Lynched an Arab Supermarket Worker, They Exposed the Government’s Brutal Face". Only after a while somebody high up in Haaretz' hierarchy chickened out and the word "Lynched" was replaced by "Assaulted".

I have made a few screenshots of the headlines and posted them below for your enjoyment.

One last thing: three days after the avalanche of publications not a single news source that published its incendiary article(s), came out with a reference to the above discussed analysis or its own analysis of the story. No scoop value, I guess...

Too bad.

And meanwhile:
Around 1,000 Israelis responded to the beating of Bedouin teen Maysam Abu Alqian by police by raising over NIS 100,000 for his tuition fees.

Afterword: A less important but still telling item I missed at first: the third article link on the first page. It starts with the following sentence:
Controversial CCTV footage allegedly shows plainclothes Israeli police officers pouncing on an “Arab-Israeli” next to a Tel Aviv supermarket.
So, "controversial" and "allegedly": RT, the Russian traditionally anti-Israeli, anti-Western, pro-conspiracy theory and otherwise deplorable media outfit is being more careful and moderate than Israeli media. Something to think about, I would suggest.

A partial list of articles on the subject.
(Click on the image to read in comfort)

25 May 2016

Roni Alsheikh - dancing with Torah in Auschwitz. Left, right, left, right...

The man in the picture, the one in the uniform amidst the pair of civilians, is our (relatively) new police chief, Roni Alsheikh. His ascent (?) to the new throne from the post of Shin Bet's deputy head wasn't easy due to resistance of the police hierarchy to appointment of an outsider, and I guess his life is not easy right now. Besides, who likes a cop?

Yep, no one likes a cop, but nothing would have prepared an innocent reader to the histrionics displayed by local ultra-lefties at the sight of the following scene. In the recording, Roni Alsheikh and a group of other cops and border policemen are dancing with the Torah scroll in Auschwitz, on the last Holocaust memorial day.

I have several examples here and here, but all this in Hebrew and I wouldn't bother with translations for now - just believe me that the fury at the "senseless, insensitive, expensive, ultra-religious, callous, [add your adjective] ritual" is simply overflowing. And the bile eruption is simply remarkable.

I might personally not find it in me to dance anywhere, Auschwitz included - that besides being an incorrigible atheist. But I do understand what Roni Alsheikh was up to there. Affirming our right and our love of life and sticking a finger into the eye of the Nazis (dead or alive) isn't something I would object to, the opposite is rather true. You can and even should dance in Auschwitz, see another example of doing just that (with explanation, too):

And this is definitely related to the subject of Alsheikh's appointment to his position. The said appointment was met by a similar eruption of bile. A short version could be seen here:
To make things short - the take over of the goverment [sic!] by fundamentalists.
a longer version belongs to the baron of deceit industry, our incomparable Gideon Levy.
Roni Alsheich is a man with a very dubious past. In a law-abiding country, no one would even imagine appointing him police commissioner. In Israel, they place a crown on his head. The national chorus sings his praises.
The two main elements on which Mr Levy builds his attack are: the [past] residence of Alsheikh in a settlement; and his service in Shin Bet. If you want to buy this logic, it is up to you. Then we should descend a bit more into the cesspool, where Richard Silverstein aka Doucheblogger resides:

And when we get to the bottom of that pit (or the gutter, if you will), you shall find there one Uri Avneri. If there ever was a pretendent to the title of the king of yellow journalism (with pink stripes in this case), here is one. And here comes his article on a site called Redress Information & Analysis. That site willingly hosts authors like Mr Avneri, Gilad Atzmon and other Holocaust deniers, with other Jew-hating rubbish. I don't provide a link in this case, you can easily find the article by its telling headline: "Roni Alsheikh, Israel’s ultra-primitive chief of police". And why does the esteemed yellow journo call Roni Alsheikh "ultra-primitive"? Here it goes:

So, unlike his younger colleague Mr Levy, the attack here is three-pronged:
  1. His father is of Yemenite descent, his mother is Moroccan.
  2. He is the first police chief to wear a kippah, or skullcap.
  3. Also the first who was once a settler.
If you don't detect a strong stench of the good old-fashioned lefty Ashkenazi racism and/or the innate and totally undeserved superiority complex here, you have to check your sinuses asap... 'nuff said.

Now, compare all of the above to the demented response of an ultra-right-winger to the appointment of an Arab police officer, Jamal Hakroush, to the post of Deputy Inspector-General. Here it comes, in all its glory:

Granted, in this case the writing style and content might indicate a need for a chemical intervention, but how is this screed, in its essence, different from Mr Avneri's racist rant and Mr Levy's hatchet job?

All in all, without any prior prejudice against (or for) Roni Alsheikh, now I feel myself rather invested in the success of his stint as our chief cop. Good luck, Mr Alsheikh!

24 May 2016

Academician Alexander Ageev and his dead souls

However stupid a fool's words may be, they are sometimes enough to confound an intelligent man.”
― Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls
I don't know how many Western readers are familiar with Dead Souls**, but I would venture a guess that there is no Russian above age of, say, 15 that isn't (of course, seeing as how Gogol was an Ukrainian and how Russia and Ukraine are apart today... oh well, no matter). The reason I am mentioning the popularity of the book is that I was sure that no Russian could be so stupid as to give birth to the modern version of that story. However...

Academician Alexander Ageev
In a conference "Faith and deeds: social responsibility of businesses in the time of crisis", being conducted in the framework of Anti-crisis Forum, Academician Alexander Ageev came up with an original idea. Thinking [aloud] about the Great Patriotic War as a point of consolidation of [Russian] society, he proposed to consider the possibility to grant the right to vote in elections to 27 million Soviet citizens who died during the Second World War.

Explaining his thought to a journalist, he said that in this way the dead could affect the current affairs in the country, in development and salvation of which they were directly involved. For example, their families could vote for them, said Ageev.

Academician Ageev also believes that the right to vote may be possibly granted to several previous generations, not only to those who died in the war. The reason is the same: they must be able to influence current events, as these events are a continuation of their own lives.
For your reference and admiration: Doctor of Economics Alexander Ageev is the director of Institute of Economic Strategy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a member of the Writers' Union, the head of the department of business management projects of MEPhI, a member of Izborsky club, and also a nobleman (he was entitled by Maria Romanova's decree). At the end of 2015 he ran for post of the the director of Institute of Economy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, but hasn't gathered the necessary votes.

Well, what can I say (not that anything has to be necessarily added to the above)? Maybe just a technicality, a humblest proposal for a minor improvement. Why bothering with establishing the family connections of the dear departed, which in many cases might lead nowhere, on account of Stalin's perfectionism in getting rid of some people? Wouldn't it be simpler all around to pass all these votes to the direct representatives of the owners? I mean the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Chief Mufti, the Chief Rabbi etc. They will surely know how to vote.

And in case of a doubt, I bet that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin will be there to advise them and to lead them from the darkness to the light.

(*) "Academician" - rather a Russian term for a full member of Russian Academy of Sciences (PAH).
(**) And if you are not familiar, it will do you only good to get familiar. The old anti-Semite surely did know how to write them sentences.

Hat tip: L.G.

23 May 2016

The story of a wrecked parable

A woman came to Confucius with a question:

"Tell me, o wise Confucius, what is the difference between polygamy and polyandry?", she asked.
Confucius put on the table five kettles and five teacups.
"Now, woman, fill all the teacups from one kettle. Do you like it?"
"Yes, I do like it," was the answer.
"Fine, now fill one teacup from five kettles and tell me how you like it".
"I like it even more," the woman answered.

"Wretched woman!" cried out Confucius, "now you have gone and destroyed a perfect parable!"

Hat tip: Y.Z.

22 May 2016

Bibi: is the one-eyed man losing his eye?

That post, King Bibi - the one-eyed man in the land of the blind? was written a bit more than a year ago. To make it clear, it wasn't about the eternal right vs left issue - only about a politician losing some elemental moral scruples when his chair is endangered.

This year the same problem raised its ugly head again. Concerned above all by the stability of his government, Bibi has done dirty by one of his most stable supporters and partners. Again, I am not going into the rights or wrongs of the story that served as a fuse that exploded the smelly political bomb. I mean the story of the Hebron shooting of the already wounded and largely incapacitated terrorist. No, this is about the lack of common decency and more, about something already described in the post linked above: Bibi's inability to stand up to pressure. And I totally believe to what the outgoing minister of defense and the victim of Bibi's politicking has to say on the subject:
When the Hebron shooting affair just happened, Netanyahu had agreed with me that we needed to let the military prosecution investigate and handle this," Ya'alon told the website. "And then, when he noticed the public mood, he changed his mind. As a minister, I had to back the IDF chief, but I felt like Netanyahu abandoned me.
Emphasis mine. Notice - what drives Bibi is not the truth of the matter at hand, not the opinion of the army, not the ongoing court process - just "the public mood". The supposed leader of a supposed democracy bowing to the mood of the street... what could be added to that?

But this is not exactly new - just extremely sad.

"Not everything is politics," added Ya'alon in his parting speech. Bibi will do himself no end of good trying to remember that.

21 May 2016

While Venezuela is dying - stay classy, Salon!

While the tragedy of the quasi-socialist regime, built chiefly on cheap slogans and once booming oil revenues, continues to strangle the life out of Venezuela, the gurus of Salon.com still find the spirit and the energy to produce some unbelievable crap hailing the illusory achievements of the late Comical Hugo.

When a country goes socialist and it craters, it is laughed off as a harmless and forgettable cautionary tale about the perils of command economics. When, by contrast, a country goes socialist and its economy does what Venezuela’s did, it is not perceived to be a laughing matter – and it is not so easy to write off or to ignore. It suddenly looks like a threat to the corporate capitalism, especially when said country has valuable oil resources that global powerhouses like the United States rely on.
I bet that David Sirota, the author of this article, will be received like a savior by the people dying in Venezuela's hospitals for lack of basic medicines (but surrounded by cohorts of willing Cuban doctors).

"harmless and forgettable cautionary tale"...

Go boil your stupid head, Mr Sirota. Maybe some compassion will seep in, although I tend to doubt it.

Update: it was an article from 2013. Nevertheless...

18 May 2016

Has the UNHRC turned into Frankenstein’s monster?

UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer in testimony before the U.S. Congress on May 17, 2016.

We meet on the 70th anniversary of the UN Commission on Human Rights, whose creators gathered this week, in May 1946, one year after the Nazi atrocities. Eleanor Roosevelt became the founding Chair, and René Cassin, the eminent legal philosopher, the Vice-Chair. The founders had a dream: to reaffirm the principle of human dignity, and to guarantee fundamental freedoms for all.

Over time, however, dictatorships hijacked the Commission—even electing the murderous regime of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi as Chair; 1946, Eleanor Roosevelt; 2003, Colonel Qaddafi.

Two years later, UN Secretary-General Annan called for scrapping the commission, identifying its politicization, selectivity, and credibility deficit—all of which “cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole.”

By contrast, the UN promised that the new body would elect members committed to human rights, and address the world’s most severe abuses.

Ten years later, we ask: Is the new body living up to the UN’s promise of reform, and to the original dream, from 70 years ago, of Eleanor Roosevelt?
Read the whole powerful testimony here.

17 May 2016

Trying to fit with Seymour Schulich

Seymour Schulich
For all of you who, like I, didn't know who Seymour Schulich is, here is a short excerpt from Wiki:
Schulich graduated from McGill University with a BSc in 1961 and an MBA from the Desautels Faculty of Management in 1965. He earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the University of Virginia in 1969.
Another tidbit Wiki shares is his financial prowess:
Net worth - CAD$1.75 billion (2011).
Which is a serious amount of simoleons, CAD or no CAD, you have to agree. Another (but related) thing to admire about Mr Schulich is his inordinate passion for philanthropy, also described in that Wiki entry. I shall quote only one detail:
The first and largest donation that was made was to the Schulich School of Business at York University. All degrees issued by the Schulich School of Business now bear the signature of Seymour Schulich.
Impressive indeed. Now to the reason the name caught my attention:
In a mass email addressed “to the tribe” that has been making the rounds in the Jewish community, entrepreneur and philanthropist Seymour Schulich said he’s “sick and tired” of Jews complaining about anti-Semitism in Canada in general and at York University in particular.

“I grew up in Montreal, Quebec, where the school system was predominantly Catholic and Protestant. Real anti-Semitism was rife!” wrote Schulich, a York benefactor after whom the university’s acclaimed Schulich School of Business is named.

“Yet in my entire life I have never experienced one iota of anti-Semitism. WHY? THE SIMPLE ANSWER IS BECAUSE I FIT IN WITH THE MAJORITIES! There was a Catholic school across the street from my Grade 8 Protestant school in Montreal. If you wore a yamulka or a talis [sic] under your shirt, the odds were pretty good you could collect a lot of rocks thrown from the Catholic schoolyard.”
The problem with York University in particular is that, mildly speaking, it is described as toxic environment for Jewish students. So much so that even the usually mumbling Forward reflects that
Jewish students are being urged to think twice before applying to York University in Toronto following accusations that its faculty association was endorsing a “censorship campaign against Israel and the Jewish people.
But, if you follow Mr Schulich, the best solution for the Jewish students unfortunate enough to enroll, is to "FIT IN WITH THE MAJORITIES". In capital letters too. Hmm...

Out of interest, I have taken a look at how another minority fares in that same university. Here is a picture I picked up from "The Official Twitter Account of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students' Association at York University".

Well, this might just be the ticket for the girls. And what about the boys? Oh yes, a keffiyeh will do, I believe. Nothing fancy, just like one Arafat was sporting. Easy to find on Amazon Canada too.

So what can I say about that idea of fitting in? Only that our tribe has tried it several times in our history. We know (well, at least some of us do) how it ended. In short, I have a strong feeling that one of us - either Mr Schulich or I - is a putz. Judging by the above story, the obvious conclusion will be... but then, I have never even been near a man who is worth CAD$1.75 billion (2011).

Questions, questions...

P.S. And another unnecessary observation, looking at the Mr Schulich's picture: on the face of it (no pun intended... oh well), he might have a trouble fitting in, even in a keffiyeh. Just saying.

P.P.S. Found a great response by Jennifer (Jennanne) Hill-Simpson that includes the original e-mail in full. Enjoy.

16 May 2016

Jasbir K. Puar: twerking the science

Jasbir K. Puar is a US-based queer theorist, presently an associate professor in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. Puar is author of Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Puar is a proponent of divestment from Israel and a board member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
This is not about politics, Zionism or even pseudo-sciences. All this and more you can find in the article Jasbir Puar is another Israel-hating academic fraud By Elder of Ziyon, which you should read in its entirety.

I would like to pick and choose, and here is my favorite paragraph of the lady's writings:
In this project I attempt to articulate what I am calling the computational sovereignty of Israeli settler colonialism: occupation and apartheid. This twerking of sovereignties stands as a challenge to the literatures of biopolitics, deploying a notion of population beyond the human, non-human, animal frame. How do objects compose a population? How do toxicities populate and become populations?
Of course I cannot shake off the feeling that the spirit of another grand lady of (pseudo)-sciences, one Judith Butler, roams freely among the choice members of American academia and possesses them at will. But in this case the spirit does an even more thorough job, inspiring the possessed to invent a cute neologism, such as this adorable use of the word "twerking" in otherwise impenetrable gobbledygook of quasi-academic verbiage.

I even had a thought of proposing to Ms Puar to switch to twerking instead of producing such prodigious volumes of crapola. Wouldn't something like this be vastly better?

But then - I don't really believe she would be any good at that...

15 May 2016

Patriot vs Patriot

An all around embarrassing situation was reported by Radio Freedom:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday performed an inspection of vehicle "Patriot", manufactured by Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant for the Ministry of Defense. He could not get into the car, trying to open the passenger door that was jammed.

According to "Interfax", the chief of the Main Armor Directorate of the Ministry of Defense Alexander Shevchenko came to the aid of Putin. As a result of his assistance, the car door handle came off. Video of the incident appeared on the 'net.

As explained by developers, the door was locked due to the fact that the engine of the car was not started. They forgot to tell Putin about this feature prior to the demonstration of "Patriot".
Here is the picture of poor general (?) Shevchenko holding the wretched door handle:

And here comes the recording of the incident:

I don't know... Vladimir Vladimirovich is getting soft in his advanced years. His colleague Kim Jong Un would have already executed half of the employees of that Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant and three quarters of the Main Armor Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, starting with the good general, of course.

14 May 2016

Roger Cohen aka Jolly Roger aka Roger the Clueless strikes again

I am angry with myself because of it. Every time I post something about the Jolly Roger I say to myself: nevermore. And here we go again...

I don't know how many of you remember the moderately famous mea culpa that Roger Cohen offered in 2009 after a few years of singing hosannahs to the Iranian "vibrant democracy". There was a brief recuperation period that, with the relentless drive by the White House administration to the deal with Iran, seamlessly and effortlessly transformed into a new wave of support for that drive and, especially, into a feverish search for the Iranian "moderates" among the ranks of Ayatollahs and their ilk. Obviously Jolly Roger just can't help himself.

How terminal was that recovery was recently shown by a Twitter spat between Roger the Clueless and Sohrab Ahmari, an Iranian-American, who is an editorial page writer at The Wall Street Journal. Reading his Wiki bio you shall see that Sohrab Ahmari does have a rather serious background in many things Middle Eastern in general and Iran in particular.

The spat itself doesn't require any comments, and if you are lucky you can see it in all its glory at this link. Just to make sure it is kept for posterity, as some hilarious moments should be, here are the main three pages of it (click on each to read comfortably).

Update: This one deserves a special mention, and it is missing in the above:


12 May 2016

Dear EU bureaucrats: hack mir nicht in tchainick! And Telegraph: you too...

"Hack mir nicht in tchainic": this old Yiddish expression was the first thing that came to mind after reading the story about the EU plans to establish a legal limit to the wattage of electric kettles.

So first, I guess, I have to explain that expression. According to a dictionary, it means "Don't get on my nerves". However, the word "tchainick" deserves special attention. Yiddish being a liberal mix of Hebrew, German, Russian and whatnot, the word "tchainick" came from the Russian word "чайник", which, lo and behold, means "kettle" - yeah, that same kettle that The Telegraph put in the midst of that article. The Telegraph says:
The European Commission plans to unveil long-delayed ‘ecodesign’ restrictions on small household appliances in the autumn. They are expected to ban the most energy-inefficient devices from sale in order to cut carbon emissions.

The plans have been ready for many months, but were shelved for fear of undermining the referendum campaign if they were perceived as an assault on the British staples of tea and toast.
What with the Brexit deal that I am not qualified to comment on, British public is naturally irked by the sacrilegious attempts of EU mandarins to defile "the British staples of tea and toast", so I've decided to do some digging on the strange matter of kettles.

Why strange? Just because anyone with some basic knowledge of elementary school physics will tell you that lowering the wattage of a kettle will not save the total amount of energy required to get that liter of water to the boiling point. I would even dare say that the opposite will be true: the more time you spend on the boiling procedure, the more energy will dissipate into your already hot kitchen. And it is difficult to believe that the bozos in the EU command structure are as dumb as it is required to miss that point.

So, being a bit sceptical about the highly incensed Telegraph writer's veracity, I went and done some googling. One of the several EU documents available (some are not accessible due to glitches) doesn't, of course, mention the kettle directly. Bureaucrats are usually loath to name a spade a spade, preferring their own language. So one will have to do with a generic statement:
(a) implementing measures starting with those products which have been identified by the ECCP as offering a high potential for cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, such as heating and water heating equipment, electric motor systems, lighting in both the domestic and tertiary sectors, domestic appliances, office equipment in both the domestic and tertiary sectors, consumer electronics and HVAC (heating ventilating air conditioning) systems...
Emphasis on "water heating equipment", aimed directly at our beloved electric kettle, is mine. So indeed, the mighty EU is having the kettle in its murderous sights. However, no one said so far that the EU initiative is about banning high powered kettles. The Guardian would like to calm down the incensed citizens:
The energy consumption of a kettle depends on:
  • Thermal mass of materials that are heated while the water is heated.
  • Heat loss from external surfaces.
  • Ability to heat a small amount of water and no more than is needed.
  • Heat input continues after the water reaches required temperature (boils) until the automatic cut-out actuates.
  • Designs that heat to a pre-set temperature and then keep the water hot.
So it is rather about energy efficiency of the said kettle than about the power. And, speaking about efficiency, here comes a response by CECED (The European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers) to the EU far reaching initiative. I have taken the liberty to highlight especially delicious and/or hilarious parts. The quoted comes from part III. Product group 5: Electric kettles:
On page 58 the report refers to a measurement to boil one litre of water which resulted in a total energy consumption of 0.038kWh. This data cannot be correct as the theoretical minimum amount of energy required to boil one litre of water from the tap (15°C to 100°C) is ⌂ T * specific heat of water (expressed in kg) * specific weight of water. This gives 85 * 4186 joule/gram °C * 0.9798 kg = 348622 J = 349 kJ. Converting kJ in kWh this gives 0.097 kWh. This is more than twice as much as the measurement in the report and does not yet take into account potential heat losses. As the initial figure of 0.038kWh has been used to calculate the annual use phase electricity consumption we can deduce that the findings in terms of energy savings are likely flawed.
On page 62 the report also refers to energy saving options for kettles. In general it should be noted that electric kettles are already designed to be very energy efficient. The water in an electric kettle is in direct contact with the heating element and there is not pot to heat. Compared to for example a kettle on a stove (31% efficiency) or a micro wave (47% efficiency) the kettle achieves around 81%*. Referenced estimations of up to 20% energy efficiency improvement do not seem realistic. We would also like to highlight that the link (footnote 64) providing background data for the 20% does not work anymore.
According to the report “Thick film elements would therefore be regarded as Best Available Technology (BAT) due to the lower energy consumption and better durability” (page 63). Experiences from several manufacturers do not support this. Significant improvement of the energy efficiency has not been observed, and thick film even resulted in increased field call rates. Recent information received from a thick film manufacturer refers to an energy efficiency improvement of 10% for one specific component, not to the efficiency improvement of the whole kettle.
(*) To compare the 81% efficiency number: modern gasoline engines have a maximum thermal efficiency of about 25% to 30% [sic!] when used to power a car.

So the inevitable conclusions are two:
  1. The EU mandarins have made a very poor job of investigating the kettle.
  2. But they don't really intend to reduce its power, it certainly doesn't look like this.
  3. The projected savings from a gargantuan and highly doubtful effort to make an already efficient appliance a bit more efficient are minuscule compared with, to take one example, a similar improvement in car engines.
  4. There really are a few more serious problems than the darn kettle that EU has to deal with urgently.
So there.

Oh, and by the way: for the last few years we have been using one of the energy efficient European dishwashers. I shall refrain from mentioning the country of origin and the manufacturer.

Only one remark: it sucks.

11 May 2016

Alternative media: Nervana Mahmoud and Matt Sienkiewicz

Professor Matt Sienkiewicz, who teaches courses in global media cultures and media theory at Boston College, invited Nervana Mahmoud, a British blogger of Egyptian extraction, whose insightful articles could be read on her blog Nervana, to join him in a lively discussion in his weekly podcast session on Media Studied Podcast.

Although I am not a fan of podcasts, vastly preferring written text, which allows me to get the same input in a fraction of the time it takes to listen to a conversation, the subject of the podcast linked above* was of a personal interest to me, and I recommend it very much. At the tail end of the podcast you will hear a few minutes of Nervana talking about herself, so don't miss it.

Since the subject is of more than just passing interest to me, I would like to throw in my two pennies. First of all, alternative media (which yours truly, being a blogger for more than 10 years now, contributes to as well), taken as a whole, is quite similar to what a wise man (Carl Sagan?) said about the Internet, comparing it to a huge garbage bin. Yes, you could find pearls, including pearls of wisdom and pearls of knowledge, in that bin, but you have to search carefully and discriminately.

It is not that the mainstream media is free from garbage, far from it. An interesting phenomena related to garbage happened when the blogosphere started to emerge as a significant competing factor. First ignoring the blogosphere, the mainstream media sites switched to grudging acceptance, providing links to the more popular blogs from their articles on related subjects. This period of acceptance passed and the MSM opened a real no holds barred war against blogosphere, best illustrated by the famous Tom Friedman's histrionics.

With time the blogosphere fortunes have somewhat diminished, mostly due to encroaching of Facebook, Twitter and similar media carriers that provided more immediacy. But so have the fortunes of the MSM. Closure of printed papers, diminished return from on-line advertisement, increasing competition for surfers - all this is still going on. Meanwhile a curious thing happened with the much vaunted veracity of the MSM. Their finances restricted, much less investment in rigorous fact checking is allowed, which makes the MSM no less error-prone than their competing alternative media. On the other hand, in order to tame the hated alternate media, many MSM sites have taken to adoption of bloggers, with most (if not all) opening themselves for independent writers in their "Blogs" or "Opinions" sections.

In short we are watching a media transformation in its initial stages, and it is not for me (but definitely for Matt Sienkiewicz and his colleagues) to tell us where it is all going.

We shall see.

Yeah, and meanwhile listen to that podcast.

(*) Well, most of the podcast, since the middle part, related to the looming US elections and the rather disappointing crop of pretenders this year, was something I've sweared to lay off for the duration. I shall better stick my head into a microwave...

10 May 2016

A question to my British friends

From one confused foreigner.

During the few months before the last British local elections I have heard from most of my FB friends apocalyptic predictions re the imminent electoral disaster in wait for the Labour party under the fearless leadership of Mr Corbyn. The reasons, indeed, were many and good, such as (but not limited to):

  • Extreme left orientation of the new leadership.
  • The long list of extremist or outright terrorist organizations or states, such as Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas etc Corbyn refused to denounce or to cut his links with.
  • Support of mostly totalitarian regimes hiding behind socialist makeup (Venezuela and similar).
  • Inability to stand up to any of myriad human rights violations of Islamist regimes.
  • Inability to pronounce the word "Israel".
  • Employment of the unrepentant Stalinist Seumas Milne as a PR manager.
  • The purges of the party ranks of those who are insufficiently loyal to the new leadership.
And then came the unending list of the cases of open anti-Semitism among the prominent members of the party, the list that continues to grow as we speak.

So here we are, a few days after the elections. Of course, the opposite sides of the barricades try to present different pictures of the results, such as:
Voters do not see Labour under Jeremy Corbyn as a "credible party of future government," a member of the shadow cabinet has admitted.
By The Telegraph or:
Despite the huge attention paid to the performance of Jeremy Corbyn’s party, the Conservatives actually suffered a net loss of more than twice as many council seats as Labour, the final local election results have revealed.
By the Indy.

Whatever they say, the results, to my uninformed eyes, do not seem even close to the predicted disaster. While Labour took some drubbing in Scotland, it came out mostly unscathed otherwise, with a sound victory in London. Unless, and it is utterly possible, I just don't know how to read the numbers.

In short: correct me if I am wrong, comrades, but the British voters just don't seem to give a flying donut about the blood-boiling items (partially) listed above. And that includes this growing list of anti-Semitic Labour luminaries.

Am I right here or am I missing something?

Meanwhile, waiting for answers, I shall remain confused:

06 May 2016

How do the Elders get fresh blood of Palestinian children every morning

You might have wondered how do the Elders, while surrounded on all sides (well, except the Mediterranean, of course, but it is hardly a fitting source) by uncooperative neighbors, succeed in getting the fresh blood of gentile children for their obligatory healthy breakfast routine. Since the truth has already got out, here is the official corroboration (with permission from the Elders' HQ, of course):

For those of you who might have problem with that French text, here: "The zionists construct tunnels to kill Palestinian children". The author might have fumbled the technical side slightly. The children are not killed on the spot, of course, they are taken to a processing location where all the necessary tools and the required hygienic conditions are available. Not to mention the freshness factor.

With thanks to Jennanne Simpson.

For those with hardy stomachs: the author of the above pearl, one Oni.apt (you can look him/her up on Twitter easily) is producing hundreds of tweets on daily basis, it is simply unbelievable how far the hate and viciousness drive a person. Below are a few more examples of his (or his colleagues') creativity, you can see them after clicking "Read more".

04 May 2016

Good shout, Jonathan Freedland!

And this is what we want from the left. Some understanding and even empathy for the experience that gives us this connection to – this need for – Israel. While we’re at it, what would also be welcome is the same courtesy the left admirably extends to other minorities.

On the left, black people are usually allowed to define what’s racism; women can define sexism; Muslims are trusted to define Islamophobia. But when Jews call out something as antisemitic, leftist non-Jews feel curiously entitled to tell Jews they’re wrong, that they are exaggerating or lying or using it as a decoy tactic – and to then treat them to a long lecture on what anti-Jewish racism really is.

The left would call it misogynist “mansplaining” if a man talked that way to a woman. They’d be mortified if they were caught doing that to LGBT people or Muslims. But to Jews, they feel no such restraint.

So this is my plea to the left. Treat us the same way you’d treat any other minority. No better and no worse. If opposition to racism means anything, it surely means that.
More here.

03 May 2016

Open letter to Mike Sivier

In response to the previous post, Mike Sivier - the discoverer of Norman Finkelstein (or just because he planned to do so), Mike penned a new article, titled This revelation could throw the whole ‘anti-Semitism’ row into reverse. In this post, among other things, Mike drilled deeper into the mystery of the offending picture and discovered that... here I shall let the author speak for himself:

Vox Political can reveal today the origin of that image – the picture of Israel superimposed into the American Midwest that caused so much fuss last week, and This Writer can categorically state:

It is not anti-Semitic.

It was a reaction against proposals to forcibly relocate Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank, Gaza, or anywhere else claimed by the Israeli state, moving them into Jordan or even Saudi Arabia.

It was created for an article on a website called Redress Online [link removed], dated August 4, 2014. The site describes itself as “an independent, privately-funded, non-profit-making website dedicated to exposing injustice, disinformation and bigotry, and to providing thought-provoking interpretations of current affairs…
The site describes itself as it describes itself, as do many other similar sites. Should an experienced journalist take this description seriously without applying a bit of common sense? Because the picture, which Mike Sivier previously attributed to Norman Finkelstein is now attributed to the author of the Redress Online article. Take a deep breath - it is Gilad Atzmon.

I am not at all sure I understand now what kind of point Mike has intended to make, bringing up Atzmon to defend Finkelstein, but as a matter of common courtesy I have to respond. So:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for troubling yourself to respond. I shall try to answer your salient points one by one, instead of leveling general accusations that could hardly be addressed.

There is an interesting point to mention: your habit of putting the word “anti-Semitism” between quotation marks. The reason I find it interesting is that you've decided to be the judge of what is offensive or, in this case, anti-Semitic. Why don't you leave it to the target of the offense, namely Jews, to decide what is offensive to them? I remember reading about one of the leaders of African-American movement in US, who said that it is up to black people to decide what is offensive to black people. This should be something for all of us to think about, shouldn't it?

So, going back to the offensive picture, which you proclaim to be not anti-Semitic at all. First of all, again - the fact that somebody else has drawn it doesn't make it less offensive. Ms Shah doesn't get a get-out-of jail card for this reason. You are saying:
It seems clear he was saying there’s a world of difference between passing around a tongue-in-cheek image and actually going through with the action it suggested...
Indeed, there is a world of difference: the former is an act of anti-Semitism, as perceived by lots of people who viewed the picture and the latter is an act of ethnic cleansing. I can assure you than neither yours truly nor lots of people who have seen the picture are aware of its tongue-in-cheek background. It was, just as the taken out of context quote from MLK in that other picture you have used to defend Ms Shah, perceived by one and all as extremely offensive and yes, although I hate to use this word too frequently, very anti-Semitic.

Now to another point you made:
If Simply Jews knows of Atzmon, then it seems likely the site would have known of the Redress Online piece, but not one word about it is mentioned. Why not?
Sorry, Mike, I and many other people know about both Finkelstein and Atzmon, but not to the tune of following their copious writings on all sites all the time. The idea that I should know about every crappy publication like that is, frankly, a bit over the top. Believe it or not, I have a life.

To the next point:
Vox Political articles are often opinions – but always based on the facts available. That is where This Blog and Simply Jews part company, it seems.
If you indeed assign such weight to the facts, how come you are quoting statements from Atzmon without any shadow of criticism or a check with other source? Stuff like this:
The article itself states: “Israelis and other Zionists often call for a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, namely, their “transfer” to Jordan or even Saudi Arabia.
You might really want to check this and, hopefully, not with Gilad Atzmon, Mike. Yep, there is a fringe group of right wing Israelis (I really don't know what is meant by "other Zionists") that might express such desires, but the all-embracing statement like the quoted could have been born only in the Jew-hating brain of Atzmon, that for sure.
This Writer was alerted on Twitter to an article about me on a site calling itself Simply Jews. It seems to be mostly a character assassination of Norman Finkelstein and the author of the Redress Online piece, one Gilad Atzmon, who is mentioned as having reblogged my article.
I disagree with your description of my post, Mike. Its main points were two, although not highlighted in any way, but I shall repeat them here:
You see, Mike, the map that calls for ethnic cleansing is offensive and racist, no matter who produced it. This is the first and the main point. And if someone else (Ms Shah in our case) publishes it again, it doesn't become less racist or less offensive. Which is the second point.
As for your reference to so called character assassination of Finkelstein and Atzmon: I really don't know much about you, and I am in a quandary here. So please help me out: could it be that you, a journalist, don't know anything about these two characters? If you do and still persist with the statement that what I said about them is a character assassination, I might have wasted my time. I offered you a link on Finkelstein in the previous post if you really need to get some info, and here is another link with some stuff about Atzmon. There is a lot more on the 'net, if you would only care...


Mike Sivier - the discoverer of Norman Finkelstein

Mike Sivier, a newspaper reporter for the best part of 20 years, according to him, was an unknown entity to me. It so happened that I've stumbled on a few posts by my Facebook friends who pointed to an article by Mike Sivier, titled Nobody bothered to check who created that “anti-Semitic” image Naz Shah retweeted, did they?. For a time the referred article was inaccessible for some reason, which only fired up my curiosity.

The article is available now, and isn't it an eye opener indeed! To remind you, the offending map (see above) was tweeted by Naz Shah, a Bradford West MP and, among other offensive tweets, was the reason for the lady's suspension, among several other recent scandals/suspensions.

So Mike Sivier studied the matter and came up with the following:
The map was posted in Norman Finkelstein Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict‏, on Monday, August 4, 2014, on his blog [link omitted by me].

Professor Finkelstein is described by that hideously inaccurate Wikipedia as “an American political scientist, activist, professor, and author. His primary fields of research are the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the politics of the Holocaust, an interest motivated by the experiences of his parents who were Jewish Holocaust survivors.
And here Mike triumphantly concluded, in bold letters for our better comprehension:
That’s right – it was posted by a Jewish gentleman.
To give another boost to our poor comprehension, Mike strengthened the message by the following addition, also in bold:
Not only that; he’s the son of two Jewish people who survived the Shoah.
And now comes the killing point:
It puts a different complexion on this whole issue, doesn’t it?
I shall try to answer this question using Mike's method, which assures full comprehension:
You see, Mike, the map that calls for ethnic cleansing is offensive and racist, no matter who produced it. This is the first and the main point. And if someone else (Ms Shah in our case) publishes it again, it doesn't become less racist or less offensive. Which is the second point. Now to the less important matters.

Wikipedia, with all due respect, frequently misses some points. To start with, the person in question is definitely not a gentleman. As for his Jewishness, whatever genetic traces of it he possessed, all of them were thoroughly wiped out by his hate of the said Jewishness, his leeching on the Holocaust-related matters and his other behavior traits. In short, if you belong to a small group of people who consider Kim Philby and Lord Haw-Haw British, go ahead and consider Fink-elstein Jewish, but don't make a public issue of it, please, to avoid embarrassment. And it might do you good to learn that there are Jewish antisemites, as well as Jewish thieves, Jewish liars and Jewish murderers. As for his parents being Holocaust survivors: the parents don't have to pay for the sins of their son.

Going back for a second to the subject of Jewish antisemites. The article we are discussing was reposted in full by one Gilad Atzmon:


Following the logic Mike Sivier applied to the case of Norman Finkelstein, the abbreviated version of Atzmon's CV will look like this: "A famous Jewish saxophone player, IDF paratrooper in the past, gentleman". The Sivier version of Atzmon's CV will certainly leave out some other details, like "Holocaust denier, Jew-hater, Israel-hater" and many others. The mere fact that a thoroughly repulsive character like Atzmon has chosen to repost one's article should lead one to some introspection, methinks...

A general remark: if you take the article discussed here on its own, it might be interpreted as a result of a well-meant attempt to defuse the explosive situation. The clumsy transfer of guilt from Naz Shah to a "Jewish gentleman", while not effective at all to justify the act by Ms Shah, could be explained by naivety of the author, although naivety in a veteran journo is a bit of a rarity. But looking at the other articles by Mike Sivier, where he fights tooth and nail against every single accusation of anti-Semitism aimed at this or another Labour figure, it becomes harder and harder to use the excuse of naivety.

What do you say, Mike?

02 May 2016

Something is rotten in the kingdom of Britain

Nope, I still don't think Corbyn is necessarily antisemitic, I do agree with what Howard Jacobson said:

Jeremy Corbyn it’s a classic case of someone who has been brought up just to assume that that case of Israel as an imperial power in the pay of the Americans and the westerns. An oppressive imperial power. He was just fed on that, he’ll never change that. It’s like milk. To ask him to change his mind on Israel is like asking him to approve of people that go to public school. It can’t be done, it’s part of his genetic makeup.
And of course this easily predicts his behavior patterns, like this one:
Jeremy Corbyn rebuffed calls Sunday to denounce contacts with terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah...
All this doesn't make him exceptional. But to think that in XXI century a good part of British public would support something as unbelievable and sick as this?

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gives a speech from the top of a double-decker bus as Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) flags fly at a May Day rally in London on May 1, 2016.
Come on, people, you couldn't be that crazy, could you?


Anti-Semitism row used to undermine Corbyn

A row about anti-Semitism is being used by Jeremy Corbyn's opponents within Labour to undermine his leadership, Unite chief Len McCluskey says. Mr McCluskey, whose union is Labour's biggest donor, attacked a "cynical attempt to manipulate anti-Semitism for political aims".
So they say. And they are absolutely right.

Corbyn's rivals inside the Labour are sharpening their knives, no doubt. Labour rivals and their media are sharpening their knives too, with vengeance. Just as Labour folks and their media were recently full of glee regarding David Cameron's link to Panama-based offshore trust set up by his late father.

So what?

01 May 2016

The situation with balls

They say that English is the richest language on this planet, counting about (or beyond) a million words. In this specific case the overabundance stood in the way of what became a joke in Russia recently. Here is the headline faithfully translated from Russian:

Patriarch presented eggs to Putin and Medvedev

And here is the story:
Patriarch Kirill presented to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister's wife Easter eggs made by church jewelers. They met at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
All in all, not a joking matter. So where is the joke, you would ask?

Simply that in Russian, probably due to it being a more compact language, the word for "eggs" - "яйца" has a second meaning, that of "testicles" or, simply speaking, "balls".

So simple. But go and make a joke out of it now...

Howard Jacobson on Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn it’s a classic case of someone who has been brought up just to assume that that case of Israel as an imperial power in the pay of the Americans and the westerns. An oppressive imperial power. He was just fed on that, he’ll never change that. It’s like milk. To ask him to change his mind on Israel is like asking him to approve of people that go to public school. It can’t be done, it’s part of his genetic makeup. But when he came into power and I felt that when I was writing for The Independent, a new kind of thread starting to appear at the bottom of one's articles, a new virulence a new viciousness. It’s as though Jeremy Corbyn unleashed something. It had been there all along but he gave it a new voice.
So true.

More here.