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Everything posted by Chinahand

  1. Here's the Wall Street Journal's take: https://t.co/bZFBpak7nk
  2. The most coherent explanation I've seen is a mix of the Hu illness & the Xi humiliating his predecessor stories. It states Hu is suffering from dementia but Xi wanted him around to validate his coronation. However Hu wasn't able to follow Xi's exacting requirements. For some reason no one was meant to open their files before Xi had finished his big speech but Hu could remember/comprehend these instructions. The Party member sitting to his left hand been given the task of ensuring Hu behaved but he couldn't stop him fiddling with his file ... There are photos of him getting increasingly nervous as he fails in his job of minding Hu. After this has gone on for a bit Xi goes enough is enough and a flunky is beckoned over who then removes Hu, who clearly is clueless as to why he's being removed. Learning points: Hu is in steep decline. Xi is a control freak. Only the former is really new information.
  3. Could not organise a piss up in a brewery. Ideological stupidity and factionalism is likely going to paralyze government during an economic and geopolitical crisis. Where the fuck are the adults in the room?
  4. Not a bad resurrection. A bit somber probably a bit too Queen for the likes of Declan etc, but not a bad song for when confronting the reality life can sometimes be quite shit.
  5. Really cool - Prof Paabo has been awarded the Nobel Prize for this work. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-63116304 Understanding our convoluted origins via our DNA - and the fragments of it surviving in ancient bones and sediments - is one of the most incredible achievements of science.
  6. Have a break ... do some maths! Always remember to read the question before answering!! https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/z6wshcw#xtor=CS8-1000-[Promo_Box]-[News_Promo]-[News_Promo]-[PS_BITESIZE~N~~A_MathsProblemOfTheWeek_SEG_PNC]
  7. Ah the joy of throwing off repression ... & being young. Wordsworth said it well: Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!
  8. Black Robe by by Brian Moore. It was a film in the 1990s and I can remember thinking I'd like to read the book it was based on. 30 odd years later ... It's a really great book. Sparsely written in a clear open style; just no nonsense story telling with little ornamentation. It's set in the early 1600s. A French Jesuit priest leaves Quebec to travel hundreds of miles into the Canadian wilderness to find colleagues ministering to the native Americans. He's escorted by a band of Algonkin natives and the story is set around their clashing world views and the violence of the Beaver wars between the Algonkin and Iroquois tribes. There are three main culture clashes. Firstly sex, with the celibate priest tormented by what he sees as the loose morals of the Algonkin. Secondly, the fact that for a man the life of a hunter-gatherer is a pretty good life, with a colleague of the priest tempted to renounce his French culture and adopt native American ways. This partly is due to the sex, but also the joy of the hunt makes for a better life than the drudgery of subsistence in a fixed settlement. Finally there are the huge differences in their religious world views. Moore captures well both the native American and the Jesuit theologies. Both are profoundly superstitious but the death cult aspect of Christianity jars with the living spirits of native American culture. Christianity doesn't offer much to the Algonkin, used to sorcerers, curses and interventions. The Jesuit's obsession with baptising people before they die becomes to be seen almost as a desire for people to die and enter the mythical Christian paradise. Cultural incomprehensions are in profound tension with feelings of duty on both sides - the native Americans wishing to fulfil their promise to escort the Jesuit to his final destination but not trusting him and fearing Iroquois violence; the Jesuit's religious vows to administer to the flock, but his doubts about his mission and distaste at native culture and mores bring him to the edge of despair. Don't be put off by the theology - the book deals with these issues in a clear matter of fact way with little pedagogy, and the writing builds tension and suspense as things start to go wrong. Overall it's an unsentimental portrayal of frontier life in the early 1600s and the violence and mindsets which engendered huge cultural change as a stone age culture clashed with guns, germs and steel. The result is a rip-roaring adventure. I've not read the Last of the Mohicans (yet) but suspect it is similar. A great read. Highly recommended. 8/10
  9. Probably guilty as charged, but then again, probably not as guilty as some:
  10. In my view the Queen summed up service & duty; coupled with a quiet humanity*, politeness & a hint of humour & self-knowledge. She was the head of both a complex family & a complex country, and managed the resulting challenges with grace. Remember her for that. *The story of her having tea with a volunteer battlefield surgeon suffering from PTSD after returning from Syria is the best example of her humanity; understanding the poor man was simply overwhelmed and simply sitting with him feeding the corgis.
  11. Err ... the point is that a local community will come together to remember a long reigning monarch and future generations of the same community will be able to bring these out as curiosities and memorabilia at future special events and commemorations. If they were all just shipped off to an Indiana-Jones-sized warehouse to never be seen again, that would be pointless, but by keeping it local it becomes a part of the community's remembrance.
  12. A really good analysis of the issues around Salman Rushdie's writing of the Satanic Verses, blasphemy, and the use of offense to silence and justify violence.
  13. Some of the jokes: Ah absurdities!
  14. Reasonably interesting article concerning Ricky Gervais's jokes about trans gender issues and Robin Ince's criticism such jokes enable the "alt-right". https://sknight.substack.com/p/comedy-ricky-gervais-robin-ince-gender
  15. Rushdie also had an hoped for solution: The really important conversations I had in this period were with myself. I said: Salman, you must send a message loud enough to . . . make ordinary Muslims see that you aren't their enemy, and you must make the West understand a little more of the complexity of Muslim culture . . ., and start thinking a little less stereotypically. . . . And I said to myself: Admit it, Salman, the Story of Islam has a deeper meaning for you than any of the other grand narratives. Of course you're no mystic, mister and when you said ‘I am not a Muslim’ that is what you meant. . . . No supernaturalism, no literalist orthodoxies no formal rules for you. But Islam doesn't have to mean blind faith. It can mean what it always meant in your family, a culture, a civilization, as open-minded as your grandfather was, as delightedly disputatious as your father was, as intellectual and philosophical as you like. Don't let the zealots make Muslim a terrifying word, I urged myself; remember when it meant family. I reminded myself that I had always argued that it was necessary to develop the nascent concept of the "secular Muslim," who, like the secular Jew, affirmed his membership of the culture while being separate from the theology.
  16. In the West it is called the Enlightenment.
  17. You can listen to Salman speaking about what it is like to have the boot of intolerance on your neck here: https://www.wnyc.org/story/239518-one-thousand-days-salman-rushdie-columbia-1991/ Or read a transcript here: https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/99/04/18/specials/rushdie-address.html?_r=2 For many people, I've ceased to be a human being. I've become an issue, a bother, an "affair." . . . And has it really been so long since religions persecuted people, burning them as heretics, drowning them as witches, that you can't recognize religious persecution when you see it? . . . What is my single life worth? Despair whispers in my ear: "Not a lot." But I refuse to give in to despair . . . because . . . I know that many people do care, and are appalled by the . . . upside-down logic of the post- fatwa world, in which a . . . novelist can be accused of having savaged or "mugged" a whole community, becoming its tormentor (instead of its . . . victim) and the scapegoat for . . . its discontents. . . . (What minority is smaller and weaker than a minority of one?) I refuse to give in to despair even though, for a thousand days and more, I've been put through a degree course in worthlessness, my own personal and specific worthlessness. My first teachers were the mobs marching down distant boulevards, baying for my blood, and finding, soon enough, their echoes on English streets. . . . At first, as I watched the marchers, I felt them trampling on my heart.
  18. SMUJ's point about wokery is echoed here. The "I am offended, you shall shut up" mob are a genuine issue in society.
  19. As ever Hitch sums up the affair with his customary aplom: When the Washington Post telephoned me at home on Valentine's Day 1989 to ask my opinion about the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwah, I felt at once that here was something that completely committed me. It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved. In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying, and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual, and the defense of free expression. Plus, of course, friendship though I like to think that my reaction would have been the same if I hadn't known Salman at all. To re-state the premise of the argument again: the theocratic head of a foreign despotism offers money in his own name in order to suborn the murder of a civilian citizen of another country, for the offense of writing a work of fiction. No more root-and-branch challenge to the values of the Enlightenment (on the bicentennial of the fall of the Bastille) or to the First Amendment to the Constitution, could be imagined. President George H.W. Bush, when asked to comment, could only say grudgingly that, as far as he could see, no American interests were involved...
  20. Really sad, and pretty angry about the attack on Salman Rushdie. Peace and recovery to him. Ah the merchants of terror with their violent demands to cower before their offence. Contemptable little minds who's only response to anything they cannot countenance is killing. No one has a right not to be offended and to use being offended as a reason for violence is a sure sign of a culture on the wrong side of history.
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