Saturday, July 30, 2011

Egypt 2.0

Islamists Flood Square in Cairo in Show of Strength

Below are extensive excerpts from New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid’s article last night under the above headline.

I have followed the Egyptian “revolution,” as it has come to be called, as closely as a man with a real life reasonably can. If “you go to war with the army you have” then you write with the record you have and The New York Times is America’s “newspaper of record.”  New York Times reporting has probably provided more of the factual basis for the posts written here on Egypt since February than any other single source and the opinions of New York Times columnists Nicholas D. Kristof and especially Thomas L. Friedman have been, with no doubt, the most influential opinion pieces, negatively so.

Mr. Shadid gives a factual account of what he saw and heard in Tahrir Square Friday. Mr. Friedman and Mr. Kristof visited Tahrir Square in February.  They also gave factual accounts of what they saw and heard there. Their accounts are very different from Mr. Shadid’s. Part of the reason for the difference is obvious, each of the three visited at different times. Visit a place on different occasions, see different things. Part of it is Tahrir Square is a particular place in Egypt, it is not all of Egypt or representative of all of Egypt. Part of it also is because Mr. Friedman and Mr. Kristof wanted to see democracy and democrats in Tahrir Square. Maybe democrats were there or maybe they saw what they wanted to see. There is no doubt that democracy has not come to Egypt, won’t come in September, as the military initially said. I wrote in February that I was very skeptical about democratic elections coming to Egypt as a result of the ouster of President Mubarak not, I wrote, because the Egyptian people are incapable of democracy but because, in what I read, I didn’t see democrats.  I saw people who wanted regime change but not clearly (to me) democracy to replace it. The statement of Egyptian protester Mina George (as reported in The New York Times), “First he goes, then we think,” was consistent with the lack of direction of the protest. The protesters didn’t want Mubarak, what did they want? Mr. Friedman and Mr. Kristof said democracy; to me there was insufficient evidence of that.

There is an ebullient, literally breathless tone to Mr. Friedman’s and Mr. Kristof’s writing, as when Mr. Kristof describes running from Mubarak’s thugs. They wanted democracy in Egypt.  Who wouldn’t?  I wrote in February, and since, that the outcome of democratic elections in Egypt may well be a government that is hostile, or more hostile, to the United States, as Germany was after the Nazis came to power via free elections. It does not follow that the government that the people of another country really, truly, want is going to be friendly to the United States. China never had a free election under Mao, yet no serious writer on China has suggested that Mao did not have the support of the Chinese people.  In each of those cases the will of the people was clearly for a government that was hostile to America and its values. As an American, I do not want that in Egypt, regardless of what the Egyptian people want. But, as I’ve written, I do not think that America needs Egypt as a friend and therefore I think Egypt should be left alone. I do not believe that America should be encouraging or discouraging democracy in Egypt. America can deal with whatever regime replaces Mubarak’s.

After the excerpts from Mr. Shadid’s article are excerpts from columns written by Mr. Friedman and Mr. Kristof earlier this year.

Anthony Shadid:

Tens of thousands of Egyptian Islamists poured into Tahrir Square on Friday calling for a state bound by strict religious law…

…the secular forces...helped to start the revolution but... remain divided, largely ineffectual and woefully unprepared for coming elections.

“Islamic, Islamic,” went a popular chant. “Neither secular nor liberal.”

…the demonstration Friday had been billed as a show of national unity, but adherents to a spectrum of religious movements — from the most puritan and conservative, known as Salafists, to the comparatively more moderate Muslim Brotherhood— vastly outnumbered other voices…

The numbers of Salafists…surprised and unnerved many secular and liberal activists…

…the few secular activists who attended contended that they were silenced; some said they were escorted from the square. Most of them decided to boycott the event, in protest of the demonstration’s tone, ceding the square to the more religious.

Egyptian politics have entered perhaps their most opaque moment yet. 

Some activists were already calling Friday’s demonstration a turning point — a remarkable display of the Islamists’ ability to monopolize space, be it Tahrir Square, the streets or the coming elections, and of their skill at organization and mobilization, which for secular activists served as a bitter contrast to their own shortcomings.
“We’re showing today — to both the people and to the military leadership — that we’re the majority of the population,” said Haithem Adli, a 29-year-old resident, holding a banner that read in part, “Together on the path to heaven.”
His estimation of the Salafists’ popularity was undoubtedly overstated, but more secular constituencies seemed taken aback by the size of the rally.

“They’ve come to show their muscles,” said Amr Hamza, a 25-year-old secular activist…“There sure are a lot of them.”

Around a dozen liberal activists huddled in a tent they pitched in the square three weeks ago, their faces gloomy. 

Cries for national unity and coexistence between Christians and Muslims made way for familiar religious chants and demands that Egypt adhere to Islamic law, known as Shariah.

“Islamic law is above the Constitution,” one banner read.

Heard often back then was a cry that soon became famous: “Hold your head up high, you’re Egyptian.” On Friday, “Muslim” was substituted for “Egyptian.” The chant that became the revolution’s anthem, “The people want to topple the regime,” changed on Friday to “The people want to apply God’s law.”

“If democracy is the voice of the majority and we as Islamists are the majority, why do they want to impose on us the views of minorities — the liberals and the secularists?” asked Mahmoud Nadi, 26, a student. “That’s all I want to know.”

Salafists were largely on the sidelines of Mr. Mubarak’s overthrow, but as elsewhere, new freedoms have given voice to long-repressed currents.
Islamist groups — Salafists and others — have echoed the military’s calls for stability, and many secular activists see an emerging alliance between the two.

Thomas L. Friedman: 

I’m in Tahrir Square, and of all the amazing things one sees here the one that strikes me most is a bearded man who is galloping up and down, literally screaming himself hoarse, saying: “I feel free! I feel free!” [F-2/8.]

That is what makes this revolt so interesting. Egyptians are not asking for Palestine or for Allah. They are asking for the keys to their own future, which this regime took away from them. They are not inspired by “down with” America or Israel. They are inspired by “Up with Egypt” and “Up with me.” [F-2/8]

Egypt’s youthful and resourceful democratsF-2/12.

Watching so many Egyptians take pride in their generally peaceful birth of freedom…[F-2/12]

Egypt has now been awakened by its youth in a unique way…in a quest for personal empowerment, dignity and freedom. [F-2/15]

What emerged from below in Egypt is, for now, the first pan-Arab movement that is not focused on expelling someone, or excluding someone, but on universal values with the goal of overcoming the backwardness produced by all previous ideologies and leaders. [F-2/15]

The Arab tyrants, precisely because they were illegitimate, were the ones who fed their people hatred of Israel as a diversion. If Israel could finalize a deal with the Palestinians, it will find that a more democratic Arab world is a more stable partner. Not because everyone will suddenly love Israel (they won’t). But because the voices that would continue calling for conflict would have legitimate competition, and democratically elected leaders will have to be much more responsive to their people’s priorities, which are for more schools not wars. [F-2/15]

Nicholas D. Kristof:

Exhilarated by the Hope in Cairo K-1/31(headline).

As I stand in Tahrir Square on Monday trying to interview protesters, dozens of people surging around me and pleading for the United States to back their call for democracy, the yearning and hopefulness of these Egyptians taking huge risks is intoxicating.
When I lived in Cairo many years ago studying Arabic, Tahrir Square, also called Liberation Square, always frankly carried a hint of menace…Now the manic drivers are gone, replaced by cheering throngs waving banners clamoring for the democracy they never got…

…this pro-democracy movement, full of courage and idealism …

Everywhere I go, Egyptians insist to me that Americans shouldn’t perceive their movement as a threat. And I find it sad that Egyptians are lecturing Americans on the virtues of democracy.

Maybe I’m too caught up in the giddiness of Tahrir Square…It’s increasingly clear that stability will come to Egypt only after Mr. Mubarak steps down.

…we also owe it to the brave men and women of Tahrir Square — and to our own history and values — to make one thing very clear: We stand with the peaceful throngs pleading for democracy, not with those who menace them.

I approached [two] women and told them I was awed by their courage. I jotted down their names and asked why they had risked the mob’s wrath to come to Tahrir Square. “We need democracy in Egypt,” Amal told me, looking quite composed. “We just want what you have.” K-2/2

…the pro-Mubarak mobs were picking fights. At first, the army kept them away from the pro-democracy crowds,

It should be increasingly evident that Mr. Mubarak is not the remedy for the instability in Egypt; he is its cause. The road to stability in Egypt requires Mr. Mubarak’s departure, immediately.

…the democracy protesters held their ground all day at Tahrir Square despite this armed onslaught

We Are All Egyptians K-2/3 (headline)

Inside Tahrir Square on Thursday, I met a carpenter named Mahmood whose left arm was in a sling, whose leg was in a cast and whose head was being bandaged in a small field hospital set up by the democracy movement. K-2/3 I snapped Mahmood’s picture I backed into Amr’s wheelchair. It turned out that Amr had lost his legs many years ago in a train accident, but he rolled his wheelchair into Tahrir Square to show support for democracy…

She also suggested that instead of being sent into comfortable exile, Mr. Mubarak should be put on trial as a criminal; that’s a theme I’ve heard increasingly often among pro-democracy activists.

…the only way to restore order in Egypt and revive the economy is for him to step down immediately.

Countless Egyptians here tell me that they are willing to sacrifice their lives for democracy. They mean it.

The lion-hearted Egyptians I met on Tahrir Square are risking their lives to stand up for democracy and liberty, and they deserve our strongest support — and, frankly, they should inspire us as well. A quick lesson in colloquial Egyptian Arabic: Innaharda, ehna kullina Misryeen! Today, we are all Egyptians!

Maybe my judgment is skewed because pro-Mubarak thugs tried to hunt down journalists, leading some of us to be stabbed, beaten and arrested — and forcing me to abandon hotel rooms and sneak with heart racing around mobs carrying clubs with nails embedded in them. The place I felt safest was Tahrir Square — “free Egypt,” in the protesters’ lexicon…K-2/5

I constantly asked women and Coptic Christians whether a democratic Egypt might end up a more oppressive country. They invariably said no — and looked so reproachfully at me for doubting democracy that I sometimes retreated in embarrassment.

I’m so deeply moved by the grit that Egyptians have shown in struggling against the regime — and by the help that some provided me, at great personal risk, in protecting me from thugs dispatched by America’s ally. Let’s show some faith in the democratic ideals for which these Egyptians are risking their lives.

It’s a new day in the Arab world — and, let’s hope, in American relations to the Arab world. K-2/12

In Egypt and Bahrain in recent weeks, I’ve been humbled by the lionhearted men and women I’ve seen defying tear gas or bullets for freedom that we take for granted. K-2/26

I’ll never forget a double-amputee I met in Tahrir Square in Cairo when Hosni Mubarak’s thugs were attacking with rocks, clubs and Molotov cocktails. This young man rolled his wheelchair to the front lines. And we doubt his understanding of what democracy means?

…on balance, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain are better positioned today for democracy than Mongolia or Indonesia seemed in the 1990s — and Mongolia and Indonesia today are successes.

Photo: New York Times, accompanying Shadid article.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Debt Ceiling Crisis.

Like most Americans I voted for President Obama in 2008.  Like most Americans I voted for President Bush in 2004. And like most Americans I voted for President Gore in 2000. On this debt crisis thing I, Benjamin Harris,  like most Americans, blame the Republicans.

Modern Islam Vol. 1 Number 5

A non-Christian American, Naser Jason Abdo, has been arrested for an "alleged" "terror" "plot" against military personnel in Ft. Hood, Texas. Jason sought to become a conscientious objector to service in the American war on Islam in 2010 but a ruling on that was delayed because he was charged with "alleged" "child" "pornography." 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Norway Massacre: Why?

Many of us went to sleep Friday night with the death toll at 16 only to wake up Saturday morning and read that it was 92.  I don’t know what I thought when I read that, I don’t think I thought, I think I just felt, stunned. 

I read a lot Saturday morning but there wasn’t much more information.  I decided to write. I decided to write then, under the above title, when there was insufficient information to answer the question because that was going to be my point. Here is one of Saturday’s drafts, only partially written:

“At this writing there are 92 dead.  It appears that there was a sole perpetrator, that he is, in the New York Times description, ‘blonde, blue-eyed, Nordic,' a businessman-farmer, Christian fundamentalist, quoted John Stuart Mill…Uhh, that’s very little to go on.  Maybe right-wing extremist, neo-Nazi—those labels were bandied about earlier today and he may turn out to be, as everything we know will change as we get more details.

“I deliberately write now when so little is known, and under the above title posing the ultimate question, and as an American blogger, to emphasize the absurdity of the question at this point, and the absurdity of any attempt by me to answer it, I say I do this now to make the observation that to ask ‘why’ generally is a very Western thing to do, specifically a post-Renaissance Western thing to do, that the question is not asked as relentlessly in non-Western cultures, that it is a ‘rationalist’ question that takes for granted that effects have causes, that assumes the supremacy of reason in determining those causes.  I write to say that to ask ‘why’ now, and generally, is the ‘right’ thing to do, the ‘good,’ ‘reasonable’ thing to do, and also to suggest that Norwegians and we in the West and American bloggers not ask that question ‘too hard’ because if we do we will find an answer and it may be the wrong one.

“Muslim extremists were initially suspected as the cause of the mass murder. That was a—reasonable—hypothesis tested by the scientific method and found quickly to be utterly without merit. That is, it was ‘disproven.’”

[some questions not answerable]
[aberrational: statistics]

The brackets are things I thought might be included in the finished post.  I stopped writing late Saturday afternoon. By then the identity of the perpetrator, Anders Behring Breivik, had been confirmed (“who” being a first cousin of “why”) and most importantly Mr. Breivik’s “manifesto” had been reported on, the contents of which conclusively, or so it seemed to me, answered the question “why:” anti-Muslim hatred.  In the overwhelming majority of cases the scientific method works, it worked here as it often does in murder cases--and contrary to the cautionary point of my draft--and case-closed as we in the law say: the perp has been id’d, caught, “confessed” (the manifesto), arrested, will be convicted, executed and “We shall utter his name no more,” as the executioners of the Lincoln assassination conspirators put it.


I stopped writing Saturday afternoon to take note of the headlines, headlines being a mode of communication invented in the West (or so I hold until someone proves to me to the contrary) which provide answers to questions like “why” in the most abbreviated, pithy, way. I bookmarked some of those that caught my eye for future reference. The future is now:

Norway attack suspect had anti-Muslim, pro-Israel views.” 
Norway suspect ‘fundamentalist Christian.’” 
“Police identify right-wing extremist as suspect.” 
Norway killer attacked multi-culturalism online.” 
Norway mourns victims of anti-Islam ‘Crusader.’”
“The Christian extremist suspect in Norway’s massacre.” 
“Blue-eyed blonde who killed 92.” 
“Christian extremist is charged in Norway.” 
“Right-wing extremist charged in Norway.” 
Norway massacre ‘work of a madman.’” 
“Evil in Norway.”

All of those are true from what I gather. A lot are similar: anti-Muslim ~ right wing ~ Christian extremist; Evil ~ madman, but that raises the “insanity” issue in Western criminal law, which would be counter to “case-closed.”  Some are a stretch in similarity: “pro-Israel views” are consistent with Christian fundamentalism in its American variety but not with “right-wing extremist” views in either the American or European variants. And anti-“multi-culturalism:” I know what the prefix “multi” means, I know what “culture” means, I know what the suffix “ism” means; putting them together, Breivik was against a lot of cultures being together in Norway. Arright man, whatever you say. This way to the gallows please. “Blue-eyed blonde?” 

Each of those headlines also provides, or purports to provide, an answer to that question, so important (and rightly so) in the West, “why,” and it’s there that they fail: Having “pro-Israel views” is not “why” Breivik murdered 76 people (of all things the toll has dropped since Saturday). I don’t think “fundamentalist Christian” is a sufficient explanation, even in part, although obviously people disagree, among them the Norwegian police, whose quote that is. “Blue-eyed blonde?” 

Note what is missing in those headlines too: race, racism, and the variants; “Norwegian” is missing. Breivik is not identified as being Norwegian. The victims are missing (“who" the victims are being a first cousin of “why”). One headline refers to their number, erroneously as it turns out. The victims are not referred to, not as fellow Norwegians, not as “the government,” “governmental leaders and their children,” “Labor Party leaders” (and their children); not as “children” (mostly); not as fellow “Christians” (mostly?); “Blue-eyed blondes” (mostly?, some?)?

From these headlines, one schooled in the scientific method and using science’s method of “deduction” would reasonably conclude that Muslims were the victims. In fact, that is so obvious a conclusion to reach that you’d flunk the science course if you answered anything but Muslims.

In the days since those Saturday headlines a lot more information has come in. Mill has been joined by Niccolo Machiavelli, Immanuel Kant, some author of a book about a future Islamic takeover of Europe, and some American bloggers as named “inspiration” for Breivik’s manifesto. The American terrorist, Ted Kaczynski, is an unnamed source although parts of Breivik’s manifesto were lifted wholesale from Kaczynski’s manifesto (Breivik also wrote that the U.S. was the one nation where multi-culturalism worked). Whether Breivik acted alone or not is in doubt (at least as I write this). A quick check of Google shows that the top headline right now is on a torch lit memorial to the victims;  number two is a video that Breivik took drugs before the massacre, third is a “disturbing” look into his mind (those latter two do not bode well for “case-closed”), the fourth is on Europe’s “right.”  In other words the headlines have not expanded, or narrowed, on “why.”

At the end of the day (maybe not this day) I don’t think Norwegians, or Westerners, or American bloggers are going to find those headlines of the case-closed variety on “why.” This American blogger does not. The evidence at this point is insufficient legally and morally to link Anders Behring Breivik and his murders to any other person, to any other person’s thought, to any group, or “ism.”  The evidence is insufficient, legally and morally, to link Breivik with “fundamentalist Christians,” “Christian extremists,”  “anti-Muslims,” anti-multiculturalists,” “right-wing extremists,”--or their thought. Insufficient to link him with the thought of Mill, Machiavelli, Kant, or Kaczynski. Or to other “madmen.”  “Blue-eyed blondes?”  It’s debatable.

Norwegians, Westerners, Christians, and American bloggers, (especially American bloggers who are criminal lawyers who were raised as Christians) should ask “why,” we should ask “why” until the last dog dies.  We should not ask “too hard.”


1. Jerusalem Post.
2. Sydney Morning-Herald.
3. Spiegel.
4. Edmonton Journal.
5. TVNZ.
6. The Atlantic.
7. The Telegraph, Calcutta.
8. The New York Times (4:45 pm and 9:01 pm).
9. The New York Times ( 5:33 pm).
10. Times of Malta.
11. Washington Post. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Attacks in Norway

Sixteen people are now dead in two bizarre attacks today in Norway.  Explosions occurred at the government center in Oslo and shortly thereafter a gunman shot up a summer camp, apparently targeting children of the ruling Labor Party. The gunman is in custody but no clear indication yet as to the involvement of others, or the motive.  

This is from an email from a friend in Beijing. She always sends me the funnest emails. She was the one who sent the magnificent Africa Magnifica photos. She was also the one whose dog "Flower" died.  :(  She's one of the dearest people in the world to me. 



Please don't re-post this on some conspiracy theory or seance-y type website. 

The Lincoln/Kennedy assassination coincidences (or should I say "coincidences?") are of long-standing.  In similar vein I relate something my sister-in-law told me one time; I still remember it was at the orthodontist's. I was young and it freaked me out.  Look at the obverse of a Kennedy half-dollar:

What is that thing on the neck of the bust, a tick?  NO!  It's the hammer and sickle of the Soviet Union!  OMG.  Oswald was a communist, had traveled to Moscow, and the Soviet Union was initially suspected in the assassination. 

The thing is the monogram of the sculptor of the coin, Gilroy Roberts. 

I could not fold the $20 bill on my own. "A simple geometric fold" my asterisk. I had to have Carmen my Cuban Concubine do it for me. Cuban!  Castro was suspected in the JFK assassination too!  OMG. 

This is pretty creepy.

American $20 Bill....

   History  Mystery

Have a history teacher explain this----- if they can.  

Abraham   Lincoln  was  elected to Congress in 1846.
John F.  Kennedy  was  elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham  Lincoln
 was  elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy  was elected President in 1960.

Both were  particularly concerned with civil  rights.
Both wives lost their children while  living in the
 White  House.

Both Presidents were shot on a  Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the  head

Now it gets really  weird.

  Lincoln 's secretary was named  Kennedy.
Kennedy's Secretary was named     Lincoln .

Both were assassinated by  Southerners.
Both were succeeded by  Southerners named Johnson.

Andrew  Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in  1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy,  was born in 1908.

John  Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born  in 1839.
   Lee  Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was  born  in  1939. 

Both  assassins were known by their three  names.
Both names are composed of fifteen  letters.

Now hang on to your  seat.

  Lincoln was shot at the theatre  named 'Ford'.
Kennedy was shot in a car  called ' Lincoln ' made by  'Ford'.

  Lincoln was shot in a theatre and  his assassin ran and hid in a  warehouse.
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse  and his assassin ran and hid in a  theatre.

Booth and Oswald were  assassinated before their trials.


1)  Fold a  NEW
  $20  bill in half...

2)  Fold again, taking care to fold it exactly as  below

3)  Fold the other end, exactly as  before

4)  Now, simply turn it  over...

What  a coincidence! A simple geometric fold creates a  catastrophic premonition printed on all $20  bills!!!



As  if that wasn't enough...
Here  is what you've seen...

The  Pentagon on  fire...

The  Twin Towers.

... And  now . look at this!

Disaster  (Pentagon)
Disaster  ( Twin Towers )
Disaster  (Osama)???

It  gets even better 9 + 11 = $20!

Creepy  huh? Send this to as many people as you can,  cause:

Hey,  this is one history lesson most people  probably  will not  mind  reading!

This is Public Occurrences

Weibo microbloggers, Homies, I love you guys!

This May Be Public Occurrences

"Referring Sites" is another Google "Stat."  For this China Week the T.T. R.S.'s are:

1. 256
2. 70
3. 36
4. 17
5. 11
6. 10
7. 10
8. 10
9. 7
10. 6

Weibo is a Chinese microblogging site.  I can't access Iask but cn=China. is also Chinese. Weibo alone, with 256--whatever that number refers to--correlates with the 356 (at this writing) pageviews from China. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

China is not real.

China steals intellectual property. It's cheaper than innovating. Here, in a story broken by an American blogger living in China, it faked a brick and mortar Apple Store. Congratulations to "A Bird Abroad," the blogger:

Received an email yesterday from the PRC. Did not know previously the person who sent it. It was in Chinese, I google translated it. It was not for discount cigarettes. I sent it to Jennifer Li, a Chinese-American friend, asking her if it looked legitimate. Her response:

Hi, Ben:

First let me translate it and then I tell you my opinion:


“Jia Eiguo, age 22, Beijing resident, was shot in head, on 3/22/1989, on her way to Princess's Mausoleum [a place of historical interest in Beijing] by the Liberation Army soldiers carrying out the Marshall Law. He Anbin, age 32, Beijing resident, was killed on 6/4/1989. If you want to know what happened, how many people were killed or ran over by tanks into ground meat, you may read [redacted-BH].”

The title at the end could be someone's website or something depending on the situation. My guess is your name has been "publicized" in China as an American sympathizer for dissidents in China. Therefore, whenever these people want to have their voices heard by as many people as possible, especially in the Western world, they would use the listserv. That's why from time to time you receive this kind of mails. Some may be even desperate or on the verge of psychological breakdown. Of course, what you need most is to watch for net cops who either try to lure you with these messages or, worse, cause you some trouble personally including computer virus. My opinion is ignore them if think they are suspicious. Rely on your instinct. Don't hesitate to ask me to look at them if you want to have a second opinion.

I emailed back:

Thanks, Jennifer. Do you think I should ignore this?

Her response:

Yes. Honestly, I am concerned about China's recent development. Now the authorities are persecuting lawyers including outspoken artists like Ai Weiwei with such a heavy hand because the society is restless and complainers and petitioners are so angry. Moreover, the Mongols, the Ugurs, and the Tibetans are all desperate. Unfortunately, no time in history has this country been so weak diplomatically due to the economic situation. Help the Chinese in things they need you the most like what Youqin is doing if you wish. This is a dangerous world now.

Some readers will know the name Ai Weiwei as one of China's most provocative artists.   I did not know there had been a recent crackdown on him. Youqin is of course Dr. Youqin Wang of the University of Chicago. 

Fighting is a contact sport. I knowingly fight, therefore I accept that I am going to get hit. I have engaged in this contact sport repeatedly, it is a prominent and peculiar character defect. I have fought those stronger than I, those of equivalent strength, those weaker. It is wiser to fight the last. The writing I have done on China would not by a reasonable definition constitute a fight. I am a blogger. China is not reasonable though, they consider this a fight and they have struck in a cyber sense by blocking this site, as they have done Dr. Wang's, and it certainly appears from recent evidence that they are going to do something else. Obviously it will not stop me writing and if they consider that fighting then that's what I'm doing. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This is Not Public Occurrences

Here are the top ten countries by pageviews in the last week:

China 356
U.S. 316
France 43
Canada 18
India 15
Ukraine 15
Australia 13
U.K. 13
Hong Kong 10
South Korea 9

Total pageviews/week t.t. countries: 778

One would expect, no...Those 778 pageviews would have to be distributed among the top ten posts for the week. Yet the number one post for the week by pageviews is Seeking the Soul of China: "Women Hold Up Half The Sky" with... 31 pageviews. Thirty-one. And that's NUMBER ONE.  There could not have been 778 pageviews in the last week when the most-read post checks in with 31.


It has also never before happened over this size sample that China has been #1. The blog is blocked there for godssake. Impossible.

Monday, July 18, 2011

This is Public Occurrences

Ninhao/Hej/What’s up,

It has been a year since Google began providing “Stats,” enough data to determine statistically significant measures like “average” and deviations from average.

The average number of daily pageviews in the last year has been 81 (The Huffington Post averaged 82 I think.).

Then came yesterday.

Yesterday there were 510 pageviews (graph above). That’s about two million standard deviations from the norm. By country, a majority of yesterday’s pageviews were from:

What’s up did a censor fall asleep?  I checked a little into other stats that Google provides. One is “posts,” pageviews per, top ten for the day, week, etc. There was no corresponding increase.  In other words, all those new visitors weren’t reading. 

What is going on here?  Those numbers obviously are not “real.”  There were not 510 “pageviewers” here yesterday. It was China’s internet Gestapo doing…something, I don’t know what, but not reading. Last month I opened up my ‘puter, checked my gmail account and discovered that the whole thing was in Chinese. That same day there were reports all over the news that gmail accounts, governmental and private, had been hacked by the Chinese. That occurred two days before the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre and I wrote about the incident here.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Seeking the Soul.

One time when I was on-call I was at a police station waiting to begin an interview and there were some Polaroids on an adjacent detective’s desk. There was an older man seated in his living room chair. He was wearing red shorts, brown sandals, and an orange tanktop, stained, and the gun was in his lap, his finger still in the trigger guard. He looked so sad.

Image: Marian "Clover" Hooper Adams Memorial, sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1891); photograph, Lee Sandstead (2006).

Seeking the Soul.


Above is a Dr. Suess drawing; Dr. Suess’s drawings are so cool because in their distortions they create fantastical places and things…Whoa, no it’s a map of the world by patents, a patent being a legal instrument for the protection of sufficiently distinct intellectual property.  So if you invent something you can get a patent which protects you against people stealing your invention. Swine thieves.  So a map of the world with the countries distorted according to their number of patents is one, one—cool—visual of the relative creativity of countries.

The purple, green-eyed, green-mouthed Blowfish…Blowfish? Hootie!  Reverential pause.


“Hold my hand
Want you to hold my hand
Hold my hand
Maybe we can't change the world but
I wanna love you the best that I can.”

The purple Blowfish is Japan: lotta patents. The Blowfish’s big green eye is China. This map is from 2002 so the big green eye is bigger today. But China is WAYYY bigger than Japan geographically and in population and Japan still dwarfs China in patents. The mouth of the Blowfish is…India I think.

The purple and green Blowfish is poised to inhale a balloon (Europe) on a string (Africa). Africa, that’s just unacceptable: Your entire geographic expanse reduced to a thin string of creativity. C’mon, butch up, go make stuff.

We have a similar situation at top left. Big Blue Blob America (pop songs are intellectual property) on a string with an aneurysm (Brazil).

Why would the Southern Hemisphere be so lame in patents?  I don’t know.  It’s not freedom. The South American countries are (Partially? Mostly?) free, aren’t they?  It’s not geographic size: look at Canada. L-o-o-k at C-a-n-a-d-a.  Canada, that’s lame: see Africa. At least Africa isn’t one huge country; it’s a jigsaw puzzle of 53 countries. Canada refutes the whole Northern-Southern Hemisphere distinction. It’s not the English legal heritage: see Canada again, and Australia.  Australia, your big, robust country is a squiggly, yellow caterpillar in patents, what's up with that?  Population size? Ethiopia is the 14th country in the world by population.  The last thing it invented was locusts. Natural resources? See Canada, South Africa. Religion?  Race? See Canada, Australia, South America. General “good government”--Canada makes the world according to patents unfathomable. O Canada. Dear, dear me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Egypt 2.0

“They did it!” exulted Thomas The Elder Friedman after Mina George, Tarek Geddawy and their fellow Egyptians effected regime change in February. At bottom is the link to a not altogether rosy report on the current post-they-did-it situation the highlights of which are:

-Crime is a big problem: up 200%. Which follows because…
-The number of police officers is down: only 30% remain from pre-they-did-it levels, and they’re “underpaid and demoralized.”  Which means…
- “Absent physical security, the prospects for sustained economic growth and consolidating the revolution’s democratic victories are bleak.”
     -tourism down from pre-they-did-it levels
     -unemployment up: 12%
     - -4.2 economic “growth.”
     -“Economic collapse” was averted in May only by $40 billion in aid from “the international community.”

Near the beginning of the article the author writes:

“While it might be tempting for Washington and the international community just to shovel more financial assistance at post-revolution Egypt,…” J

Public Occurrences would like to extend an invitation to this temptation to the People’s Republic of China.  To any American public officials so tempted, an invitation to death by slicing…no, the nine exterminations.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Egypt 2.0

"We have a feeling the regime is still there, somehow.
                          -Tarek Geddawy, Egyptian.

They're still protesting.

The center of the democracy universe, shiny Tahir Square, is once more filled with clear-thinking young--and middle-aged and old--Egyptians like Tarek, a "musician" above. Actually, they've never stopped protesting. I don't think Tahir Square has been clear since that heady day in February when President Mubarak was toppled and Lara Logan gang-raped.

What are they protesting about now?  Some of the old songs are being sung by musicians like Tarek, those that "denounced Israeli and American policies" (per The New York Times) are just updated with Arabic rap. I'm going to run out and by that CD right now. As for the September elections...what September elections?

Oh, enough of my sarcastic humor, the simple declarative sentence will do: I do not believe in the likelihood of success of Egyptian democracy. I do not believe the Egyptian people want it enough. I do not believe in the likelihood of success of democracy in the Muslim world generally (that's three simple declarative sentences).

I wish I could say that I wish the Egyptian people well in whatever they decide, if deciding is what they're doing, but I can't say that. The Muslim world, and Egypt is part of that world, is hostile to America, and I'm part of that world, and so I want in other countries what is best for me and my world more than I want whatever Egyptians, or Israelis, or Chinese want in their worlds. But I don't want what is best for America in Egypt bad enough to want America to do anything about it. America does not need Egypt--or its people--as friends. I don't think America needs many friends at all; America is big enough and strong enough to go without many friends. And I think it's good to have enemies; helps remind you who you are and what you stand for.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Soul of China

Hi Ben:

I just read a short article from China Digital Times which explained why in spite
of the fact that Mencius was the best student of Confucius, he was often
rejected by subsequent rulers in Chinese history. I copy it here in case you are

-Wang Yi

The Ancient Roots of Chinese Liberalism: Response

At The Useless Tree, Sam Crane responds to Liu Junning’s exploration of “The
Ancient Roots of Chinese Liberalism” in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
I am sure that serious students of Chinese philosophy would take issue with the
suggestion that something like a modern liberalism was in the minds, much less
the actions, of ancient Chinese thinkers. Laozi and Mencius were not, in their
own times, liberals, at least as we understand the term “liberal” now. At its
most basic, liberalism asserts the significance of individual rights, and that that
conception of individual rights was alien to ancient Chinese cultural and political

But that does not mean Liu is wrong. Although ancient thinkers were not
themselves liberal in a modern sense, ancient thought can be made consistent
with contemporary liberalism. Take Mencius. His emphasis on serving the people
and his notion that “Heaven sees through the eyes of the people, and Heaven
hears through the ears of the people” raise all sorts of questions. It could
suggest that individual members of the group known as the “people” must have a
certain autonomy, which then allows them to assess independently their quality
of life and the efficacy of a ruler’s policies. Moreover, it could further
suggest that the preferences and opinions of the “people” must somehow be
expressed and measured – and how will that take place? Long story short, a
system of legal protections of individual rights and electoral participation
would be consistent with the more general Mencian understanding of the political
role of the “people.” Thus, even if Mencius himself was not, strictly speaking,
a liberal, his thought, when transposed into a modern context, can be compatible
with – and actually may require – liberalism.

Liu’s article is a welcome reminder of these possibilities.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Seeking the Soul.

And so we come to see that the Founding Fathers while not, technically, Chinese, nonetheless shared many of the most becoming hallmarks of advanced thought with the Morning Suns of China’s Cultural Revolution, viz paranoia, obsession, hysteria, grandiosity, frenzy, and like that.

What would account for this trans-temporal, trans-cultural congruence of mental and emotional different able-ness?  We turn to our betters for guidance on matters of this heft and the Better immediately at hand is Professor Gordon S. Wood, he of The Idea of America.  In one of the passages excerpted previously Professor Wood advances the hypothesis of “a revolutionary syndrome.”  It is observed that this is a tentative advance by Professor Wood.  He “leaves it in the air,” he “throws it out there,” I say he does not engage in further elucidation on this hypothesis.  It is further this observer’s observation that the word “syndrome” itself is often attached by Betters to airy things thrown out there without further elucidation because they don’t know what the hell they are.  Thus Human Immunodeficiency Virus was originally called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome before epidemiologists knew better. A syndrome is a set of observed things that are grouped together in the observer’s mind.  Professor Wood observes revolutions and tweety birds and groups them together and calls them a syndrome.  Unless the Founding Fathers were Chinese I do not have a better idea.

In this imperfect observer’s imperfect education on the soul syndrome it has been observed that human behavior and misbehavior do not know the bounds of time and culture.  They are bounded only by our species able-ness and we are able.  Every species of kindness that a Chinese has exhibited an American has too, and every species of cruelty.  All advanced thought, all…whatever. This sameness is fundamental and it is a grievous annoyance to this observer. If annoyance were a crime it would be a felony--capital annoyance—to find similar species of fowl in the heads of Thomas Jefferson and Song Yaowu.  I so find.  

It doesn’t end there.  Chinese and Americans, and Swedes and Muslims and Zulus, are different--the whole zoo is filled with specimens of our species who are manifestly different, viz: those people live here (point to map); these others live there. Those are different places. They say “ni hao,” these others say “what’s up.” Those who say “what’s up” bleach their teeth.  Those who say “hej” sing Dancing Queen. These are fundamental also—I hold these truths to be self-evident. 

It seems with behavior and misbehavior and thought and mis-thought it’s a matter of proportion. You take the same ingredients and mix them in this way and you get a soufflé. You mix them that way and you get an American…omelette. So Chinese and Americans (and etc.) have “turned out” differently.  One has a people’s republic, the other has people and a republic but--you can’t fool me--those are different. I don’t know what Zulus have.  I prefer what Americans have but then I’m American, like Thomas Jefferson.
The dominant public occurrence in America right now, and certainly for this "news cycle," is the acquittal of Casey Anthony of any degree of unlawful homicide in the murder of her two-year old daughter Caylee.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Seeking the Soul of America.

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Seeking the Soul of America.

                                                               Nice man.


"The Americans were not an oppressed people;" (27)

"When the ideas of the Americans [i.e. the Founding Fathers] are examined comprehensively, cannot but be struck by the predominant characteristics of fear and frenzy, the exaggerations..."(47)

"...the paranoiac obsession"

"The ideas of the Americans seem, in fact, to form what can only be called a revolutionary syndrome."

"The grandiose and feverish language of the Americans..."

"The hysteria of the Americans' thinking..."


“What [the Americans] expressed may not have been for the most part factually true, but it was always psychologically true.  In this sense their rhetoric was never detached from the social and political reality;”   L

What is this nice man talking about?  The American rhetoric was not true (for the most part) “factually”  (like, “really”).  He just said that.  It was NOT TRUE.  Period there. 

But, he says it WAS true… in their HEADS.

In their heads.   He's already established that there were tweety birds flying around in their heads--they were paranoid, obsessive, hysterical, frenzied (Were the F.F.'s Chinese?  Oh my god.)---that was the “reality” in there. And “in this sense” they were detached from reality. 

Yes they were.

Oh yes they were.

Yes they were, nice man; you are w-r-o-n-g.  Period there. 

                                                                                         Bad book.