Monthly Archives: December 2009

“Made In China, Sort Of,” by Alpha Unit

New Alpha Unit. This is a good one. I’m glad to see she is branching out into one of the Protectionist obsessions of this blog. I actually think this crap steel ought to be out and out banned. It’s obviously dangerous to use in construction projects. If it’s hazardous, ban it. It’s that simple.

I think there was one remaining US steel firm, and I think it just went out of business. Too bad, we have lots of iron ore up in Minnesota. The demise of the great US steel business and its high-paying union jobs is one of the sadder stories of the Globalization debacle. US steel firms are often slammed in corporate Time/Newsweek type organs as “protectionist.”

They have regularly been marching in to Congress demanding some sort of protection for their industry, and for this the corporate media ridicules them as if they were Flat Earthers. It’s finally looking like they have a point. Ban Chinese steel!

A man that I know and love had a construction project to complete, and decided that sheet metal would suit his purposes. He bought the sheet metal at one of those warehouse-style home improvement stores, and on the designated day to begin he got his welding equipment and set about to work.

First he realized that there was no way he could weld this metal. He’s been a welder for 40 years, and knows all about welding sheet metal and a lot of other things. This metal he couldn’t even spot-weld; it just burned up. Was this metal too thin? he wondered. Was the galvanization somehow to blame?

What he didn’t wonder at first was whether it was just really crappy sheet metal. Because when you go to one of those home improvement places to buy something, it doesn’t occur to you that you just bought a bunch of stuff that only looks like what you wanted!

It’s the Chinese version of sheet metal.

What we now know is that shoddy Chinese-made steel has been reported on, debated, and cursed for years now. Last year Reuters reported that there were Congressional hearings about the need to keep out inferior Chinese steel products. Of particular concern was a type of steel rod that is typically used in “seismic structures systems” for bridges, pipelines, and some buildings.

William Upton, president of Vulcan Threaded Products, based in Pelham, Alabama, said a company team visited China in November 2006 to investigate how Chinese companies could manufacture a competing steel rod so cheaply.

After observing “serious (safety) problems with the Chinese production,” Vulcan purchased samples of the steel rod to have it tested by a certified U.S. lab, Upton said.

The results showed “133 failures out of the 222 samples tested – an astonishing 60 percent failure rate,” Upton said. “These results are unbelievable because in normal applications for this product, only a zero percent failure rate is acceptable.”

Last year also it was reported by the Evening Times that imported Chinese steel may have been responsible for a bridge failure when a faulty cast steel component resulted in a snapped supporting cable.

This inferior Chinese steel is ubiquitous, not surprising since China outproduces all other countries. It’s a part of all kinds of everyday products people don’t give much thought to. All around the world people readily concede that this stuff is basically garbage, and yet the flow continues. North American manufacturers and construction firms expect a certain percentage of Chinese imports to be faulty, and order tests when they suspect there is a problem.

But the question I have, innocent that I am, is: Why is it okay to produce and sell garbage? Is there some kind of worldwide demand for shoddy Chinese products? If there isn’t, what is it doing flooding world markets?

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Filed under Alpha Unit, Asia, Capitalism, China, Economics, Guest Posts, Neoliberalism, Regional

Scientific Studies of Intelligibility in Scandinavian Languages

I’ve been asked to provide this information from some folks who, incredibly, are insisting that Danish, Swedish and Norwegian are all one language. What makes it even more painful is that at least one of them is a Swedish-language speaker.

I suppose it makes sense that people are outraged by the splitting of these closely related languages. Many Swedes and Norwegians can understand the other language pretty well. I think a lot of this is because they have actually learned the other language, but at any rate, intelligibility between these languages varies. In order to communicate well, Swedes and Norwegians often have to speak slowly. There are all sorts of other variables, but I think that in cases of 90-100% intelligibility, we are looking at a lot of bilingual learning.

I only had one set of figures for the Scandinavian languages, but these were attacked because, while detailed, they lacked a reference for who or what study, if any, came up with those numbers. In looking around, I quickly discovered that there have been intelligibility studies with the Scandinavian languages. Unfortunately, they don’t look good for the case that this is all one language. The data is from a study conducted by the Nordic Cultural Fund from 2002-2005. Subjects were young people under the age of 25. The results can be seen here:

%            Danish    Swedish   Norwegian Average

Århus 	               37.4      46.8      42.1
Copenhagen 	       36        41.3      38.7
Malmö        50.8                49.7      50.2
Stockholm    34.6                55.6      45.1
Bergen 	     65        61.5                63.2
Oslo 	     65.7      71.2                68.5
Faeroe Is.   82.8      57.5      70        70.1
Iceland      53.6      33.4      34        41.9

The highest score of all is Faroese-Danish. Faroese understand 82.8% of spoken Danish. However, this is contaminated by the fact that all Faroese must begin taking Danish classes at Grade 3, and they are tested at Grade 9 to see if they can go on to a higher level.

From www.faeroe.fo

Faroese is the official language of the ‘fólkaskúli’, and it is the first language that students are taught. Students then begin to learn Danish in third grade and English in fourth grade. In eighth and ninth grade, the curriculum consists of a number of compulsory subjects which prepare the students for upper secondary school and a range of optional subjects from which the students can choose. At the end of ninth grade, students need to pass an exam that gives them entry to upper secondary schools.

The worst scores of all are for Iceland. Icelandics understand only 34% of Swedish and 33.4% of Norwegian.

Although not tested, the intelligibility of Faroese and Icelandic is one way. The Faroese understand the Icelandic, but not the other way around. This is due to dipthongization and other phonological things in Faroese.

Malmö is located in Scania in the south of Sweden where they speak a dialect called Scanian that is closer to Danish. That is why Malmö understands Danish better than Stockholm does.

Based on the notion that >90%+ intelligibility would be the minimum necessary to say that these lects are all one language, the notion that these five languages, much less that big three, are all one language is simply not supported by the available data. In fact, we are not even able to combine even two out of the five into a single language. Hence, all five Scandinavian languages are separate languages, not dialects of one or more macrolanguage.

Are they close? Sure. Are they all one language? Sure doesn’t look like it. Could a speaker of one quickly pick up another one. Quite possibly.

References

Delsing, Lars-Olof and Åkesson, Katarina Lundin. 2005. Håller Språket Ihop Norden? In Forskningsrapport Om Ungdomars Förståelse Av Danska, Svenska Och Norska. Data above is from Figure 4:11: “Grannspråksförståelse bland infödda skandinaver fördelade på ort”, p.65, and Figure 4:6: “Sammanlagt resultat på grannspråksundersökningen fördelat på område”, p.58.
Maurud, Ø. 1976. Nabospråksforståelse I Skandinavia. In Undersøkelse Om Gjensidig Forståelse Av Tale- Og Skriftspråk I Danmark, Norge Og Sverige. Nordisk Utredningsserie 13. Nordiska Rådet, Stockholm.
Smith, Norval. Linguistics professor, Netherlands. July 2013. Personal communication.
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Filed under Danish, Dialectology, Germanic, Icelandic, Linguistics, Norwegian, Sociolinguistics, Swedish

More Diverse English Dialects

We have already gone over some strange English dialects on this site in past posts. One tiresome canard that is oft-repeated is that US English speakers have a hard time understanding other US English speakers. This is usually said by Europeans. This is a misunderstanding of the dialectal nature of US English. The most divergent dialects of US English have long ago merged in something called dialect convergence. We already discussed New York English on the site.

As I noted, a young Italian man from Queens came to the Sierra Nevada in California recently and enrolled at a local college. For 3 months, people could hardly understand him. He finally learned to speak California dialect and make himself understood. Really, what he did was drop his outrageous New York English dialect.

What was interesting was that the guy could not seem to accomodate the listeners very well. People would ask him to repeat, speak slower, etc. but nothing seemed to work. And after 3 months of regularly listening to him, most listeners hardly understood him better than on Day One.

To me, these are strong suggestions that we are dealing with a separate language (albeit a very closely related one) and not simply a dialect. Speakers of a separate language have a hard time adjustting their speech to make it understood better, and listeners of a separate language usually don’t understand it much better with time than on the first day. With dialects, things are different. Dialect speakers can modify speech and be understood and listeners of dialects can start to pick it up a lot better in a short period of time.

An example of a dialect of English would be South African English. I recently met a fellow speaking a very thick S.A. English dialect. I could understand him all right, every word in fact, but it was one Hell of a thick accent! To show you how these things go, the woman behind the counter couldn’t really understand the guy, and I had to interpret for him.

AAVE (Ebonics) is quite different, and I think it’s a separate language in its hard form. I recently spent a few hours with two young Black women speaking AAVE. I didn’t understand them any better at the end of 3 hours than at the start. And they may as well have been speaking Greek. They couldn’t really adjust their AAVE to make it better understood (I think they don’t want to be understood, really) but they could drop the AAVE at a moment’s notice and speak perfect English.

There is actually some support among linguists for splitting off AAVE into a separate language. It’s probably not happening for political reasons. Could you imagine the howls from the rightwingers and the gales of laughter from the anti-Black racists if they did? I can see it now: “Niggers speak a foreign language! LOL! I always thought so myself!”

My Mom recently heard a fisherman from the coast of Newfoundland on the radio for several minutes and she said she couldn’t understand a word. There are some Newfoundland English dialects that are quite hard to hear.

There is a Youtube video about continuing slavery in the US. I’m not sure what it’s all about, but it looks like work in return for room and board in the deepest Mississippi Delta. There are Blacks on that video speaking a very deep Mississippi Delta Black dialect that can scarcely be understood.

Mulungeon English (especially Monacan Indians) and West Virginia Appalachian English (hard forms) can be quite hard to understand.

We can understand almost all Australian and New Zealand English. It’s often one Hell of an English accent (especially with the Australians), but they can definitely be understood. However, on the radio I recently heard a speaker of a Tasmanian Australian English dialect. She was from a rural forested area and was protesting logging in her area. I had a hard time understanding that dialect.

I would be all for making West African English (at least the hard forms of it) separate languages. On US TV, African English from Kenya and Liberia gets subtitles.

We’ve already discussed the Scots language on this site before. That Scots is now judged a separate language and not an English dialect drives many English speakers into wild conniptions. You can Google the controversy on the Net and watch the wild, raging debates unfold over many pages. I’m not sure why it pisses speakers of a major language so much when divergent dialects are split off into separate languages. Maybe it’s a primal thing.

There’s only been one scientific study done, but it found 42% intelligibility of Scots by a US English speaker. Sounds about right, but I’m surprised it’s that high. I can often barely make out much of anything of Scots, just words here and there.

At this point it ought to be quite clear that Scots is more than one language. In the heart of Scotland, you go 20 miles in any direction and the other Scots speakers won’t understand you. I wonder if there is some kind of “Standard Scots” that could be spoken that would be understood everywhere?

I would like to start the debate off by proposing that Shetlandic Scots and Orcadian Scots be split off from Scots proper. It’s uncontroversial that these are the most wildly divergent Scots dialect, and they have poor intelligibility to speakers of the rest of Scots. Orcadian Scots is spoken on the Orkney Islands and Shetlandic Scots is spoken on the Shetlandic Islands.

Shetlandic and Orcadian Scots have poor intelligibility with Standard Scots.

As far as the rest of British English, we can understand most of you Limey bastards, believe it or not. However, I have a very hard time with Midlands English. I definitely get less than 90% of it and I don’t get better with time either.

Two of the most infernal English dialects have to be Geordie and Scouse. They are also quite famous.

Geordie is spoken in the far northeast of England near the Scottish border in and around Newcastle. Other dialects around that region like Cumbrian and Northumbrian are similar. Geordie is famous for being one of the hardest English accents to understand. There is actually some support among linguists for splitting it off to a separate language.

Scouse is the notorious, but delightful, dialect of Liverpool. In mild forms, it’s what comes out of the Beatles’ mouths in interviews. In hard form, it’s extremely difficult to understand. There is a report on the Net of a US English speaker who spent 7-8 years in Liverpool and never learned to understand Scouse very well. He said that young working class women were the worst. I’d be in favor of splitting this infernal dialect off into a separate language, but it’ll probably never happen. Can you imagine the shrieks?

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Filed under Africa, Australia, Britain, California, East Africa, English language, Europe, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Kenya, Regional, South, South Africa, USA, West, West Africa

Are Only Euro-Whites Capable of Peaceful Successionism

In this modern era, one of the ultimate litmus tests for extreme liberalism or humanism is the completely selfless permission that a state grants when it allows a part of itself to secede without starting a bloodbath.

Since the Peace of Westphalia, Europe initiated the notion of the nation-state, a brand-new concept. Before, there had only been empires at most, if that in most places. The notion of the nation-state gradually grew until the present moment, when it is unfortunately the status quo. If empires disallowed succession, nevertheless it did occur quite a bit, since empires never had much legitimacy in the first place.

The problem with the nation-state is that it has built up a nonsensical and undeserved legitimacy, even among the most liberal folks. As soon as lines are drawn on a map, they are instantly there for all time, never to be redrawn.

Except that imperialist maggots like the US and the UK, while paying lip service to the inviolability of borders, nevertheless, scumbags that they are, cynically pursue seccessionism and border violability against any states that are deemed enemies.

Look at how quickly the world recognized the states that emerged out of the USSR. While the breakup itself was testament to the USSR’s ultimate morality, its internationalism, a moral spear that split the heavens while the capitalist world wallowed in nationalist mud, the new states were only recognized by the capitalist shits because they were so eager to disaggregate their old socialist foe.

At the moment, the US cynically promotes the breakup of Iran, Venezuela and Bolivia. In the past, the US supported seccessionism in China. Kurdish secessionism in Iraq was promoted by the US and then its suppression funded by the US, depending on the whims of the day. At the moment, the US funds Kurdish secessionism in Iran while funding its crushing by the Turkish state in Turkey.

The truth is that under capitalism, imperialist states like the US have no morals whatsoever, only interests. That 90% of the US public thinks that the US state always operates according to some moral compass is an example of the success of the sickening US capitalist media machine in creating a nation of high-IQ idiots.

Anyway, let us take this as a litmus test of the ultimate in civilized behavior in 2009: a state that will peacefully allow parts of itself to secede, if they so choose.

Most states, being governed by uncivilized animals, react to secessionism with violence, often extreme violence. The legion of the primitives is vast: Russia, France, Spain, Turkey, Russia, India, China, Indonesia, Burma, Georgia, New Guinea.

No non-White state will ever allow peaceful secession. They are simply too primitive and uncivilized to allow such a thing. By White I mean European Caucasians. Caucasians outside of Europe are incapable of peaceful secession either, because they are still relatively uncivilized compared to Europeans.

Asians, despite their high IQ’s, are still primitive in some ways, and even NE Asians are incapable of dealing with peaceful seccessionism. The response of 105 IQ China is instructive. Secessionist movements in Taiwan, Turkestan and Tibet have been dealt with via repression that can only be called fascist, while similar movements in Inner Mongolia are never allowed to see the light of day.

Indonesia’s response to secessionism in East Timor, Aceh and West Papua, areas it has a weak, if any, claim to, have been characterized by horrific violence.

India has behaved criminally, even genocidally, in Kashmir. India has little legitimate claim on the entire Northeast, yet they will never let an inch of it go.

Burma has no legitimate claim on any of its territory at the moment, as a criminal state loses the legitimacy of its governance. Nevertheless it continues to commit genocide against its secessionist movements, as it has since 1947.

For the moment, Pakistan and Iran can be excused their backwardness in violently assaulting secessionism, as imperialism, Indian and US, is conspiring to break up both states.

No Black African nation will ever allow secessionism, though they may as well. Most all of them can’t even govern their own territory responsibly, so they don’t have much right to the land in the borders. Failed states revoke the right to inviolability of borders. Sudan has reacted with typical extreme brutality to the legitimate demands of Darfur and Southern Sudan for secession. The response to secessionism, typical of Arabs, was genocide. Since independence, most Arab states have reacted to secessionist demands with genocides of varying degrees.

Somalia is the ultimate failed state. There is no government, and anarchy has held sway for 15 years. Obviously, in the case of the collapse of the state and the onset of anarchy, the inviolability of borders principle is revoked. After all, a state that no longer exists can hardly invoke inviolability of borders.

Two new states, Puntland, and Somaliland, have emerged, but no one will recognize them due to the inviolability of borders crap. This is sad because these new states seem to have their shit together more than Somalia (whatever that means) does.

The nation of Georgia had no legitimacy before its birth in 1991. The day it was born, its fake borders were deemed inviolable forevermore. South Ossetia and Abkhazia have already broken away, as was their right. Georgia will never allow this transgression. Abkhazia has been de facto independent since 1991, but almost no one on Earth will recognize it, all because Georgia is a pro-Western state.

In contrast, the moment Kosovo declared independence, the West showered it with recognition, since they were splitting from Serbia, whom the West hates.

As I said earlier, Western capitalist states have no morals.

Yugoslavia did allow itself to be broken up, but violence followed. Slovenia had little violence, and Macedonia and Montenegro had none.  The Turks are not really European Whites, and Turkey’s always been the sick man of Europe. Since Ataturk, it’s been a fascist state. That’s not changing anytime soon.

In Spain, there are secessionist movements, but the Spaniards have always been fascist and backwards, and they will never allow anyone to secede.

So who will? The UK and Canada. Those are the only two states that allow secession based on a simple vote. There are movements in Scotland and Quebec, but they don’t have majority support yet. Yet still it seems by this litmus test, the UK and Canada are the most civilized states on Earth.

Czechoslovakia broke itself up soon after the fall of Communism, a great moment in human progress. Yet this was only possible due to decades of Communist internationalism and anti-nationalist propaganda. Since, then, fascist-like nationalism has set in in both new states.

The USSR allowed itself to break up. In a number of cases, idiot nationalist violence followed the breakup, but most states left peacefully. Anyway, the state did allow itself to be broken up, something almost no other state will allow. This feat of ultimate civilization only occurred in the USSR due to 78 years of internationalism.

Some of the states that broke up were part-Caucasian, part Asian in stock (some of the Stans), so they seem to be an exception to our rule that only Euro Whites will allow a state to break up, but possibly USSR internationalism overrode the racial stock. The only Asiatic or part-Asiatic states that have allowed themselves to dissolve were socialist in character.

Historically, we can see that only Whites seem to be able to secede without massacring each other like wild animals.

For instance, 100 yrs ago, 99.9% of Norwegians voted to secede from Sweden. The Swedes magnanimously accepted that.

In 1920, a plebiscite was held in Schleswig in northern Germany. The area north of Flensburg, 80% voted to go to Denmark. South of Flensburg, 80% voted to stay in Germany even though Danes were 25% of the population of Flensburg. The Allies would have loved to have given all of Schleswig to Denmark just to punish Germany, but the Danes magnanimously accepted the vote of the people.

It’s an open question whether non-Europeans will ever be civilized enough to allow secessionism without committing genocidal massacres in the name of some lines on a map. I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime.

In case you haven’t guessed, this is one more reason I think we European Whites are better than other people. We’re simply more civilized, and this is a prime example.

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Filed under Abkhazia, Aceh, Africa, Americas, Asia, Britain, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Darfur, Denmark, East Africa, East Timor, Europe, Georgia, Germany, Imperialism, India, Indonesia, Inner Mongolia, Iran, Kashmir, Kosovo, Kurdistan, Latin America, Macedonia, Middle East, Montenegro, Near East, North Africa, North America, Norway, Pakistan, Political Science, Puntland, Quebec, Regional, Scotland, SE Asia, Serbia, Slovenia, Somalia, Somaliland, South America, South Asia, South Ossetia, Southern Sudan, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Taiwan, Tibet, Turkey, USSR, Venezuela, West Papua, West Turkestan

In Praise of Catholicism

Thinking about Alpha Unit’s latest, I love the Catholic religion, and I even call myself a Catholic on Internet surveys, even though I have not yet converted, and may never. I moved to an Hispanic town, and the happening religion here is Catholicism, so I started going to Mass for the Hell of it.

Now, I happen to think that the Church is full of crap on a million things, especially birth control, gays, abortion and immigration. But there is something special about a Mass, and I’ve been going to them lately.

I hate going to just about any Christian Church, and I haven’t gone to the churches of my Protestant religion for many years. Further, I dislike most Protestants. They’re way too uptight, and it’s all about this sickening White middle class morality that I grew up with and came to despise.

Protestantism, to me, is all about how I’m an evil, scummy, disgusting, immoral sinner!

Why? Because I hate. Because I get high on dope. Because I drink booze. Because I’ve spent most of my life trying, often successfully, to screw any nice looking female that moves. Because I fight back when someone attacks me. Because my enemies aren’t always right and I’m not always wrong. Because I’m happy working less than 40 hours a week. Because I’ll live off free money if I can figure out a way to get some flowing my way. Because I support non-state armed struggle (“terrorism”), as opposed to state violence that everyone loves. Because I used to sell dope. Because I like to shoplift a piece of candy now and again.

It’s just guilt, guilt, guilt, and I’m evil, I’m evil, I’m evil. That’s been the message to me from these Protestant shits my whole life. On the contrary, Hispanic Catholics never tell me that. It’s assumed we’re all a bunch of scumbag sinners. Big deal. That’s what the confession booth is for, folks. We’re always trying to do better, but we keep on sinning anyway. It’s a neverending struggle, but as long as you’re trying, you’re a good Catholic. You get to feel guilty, but everyone else feels guilty too, and no one acts like you’re worse than they are.

A religion just made for me!

The Catholic Mass is great. I prefer the Spanish language Mass because Hispanics are so much cooler than White people, plus the music is way better. The White Catholic Mass is what you would expect, a bunch of really uptight White people! Who needs that? I’ve been living with that BS my whole life.

The whole Mass is a great big ritual with a number of steps. The priest waves, you stand up, cross yourselves, mumble something, and kneel down. Then you stop kneeling and sit. There must be 20 or so steps like this. The priest lights some candles, eats something, and drinks some wine. A religion where the Holy Man drinks booze at the ceremony! Yo! My kinda religion, baby!

At a Catholic Mass you do your own thing. There’s people here and there alone, tripping away. They’re off in their own worlds, praying, or crying, or heads down and silent. None of these folks are participating in the ceremony, but no one cares. They’re thinking of something important, maybe something sad. Maybe someone died. Maybe they can’t pay their mortgage. Who knows? There’s lots of stuff to pray for.

The artwork on the walls, the huge Jesus statue and the cathedral itself is good for a visit right there. There are all sorts of ritualistic shrine-type things along the walls. Holy water, flowers, a statue of Mary. The Hispanics go up to these shrine things and pray to them, kiss them, touch them, do all sorts of strange things. But I like that. That’s how a religion should be. Ancient, ritualistic, with genuflections and shrines.

I don’t know how much most of you realize how hacked up Protestantism has become recently. There’s my old-line Church, which I always hated anyway. This Church is practically devoid of religious substance anymore. It’s like it’s had all the lifeblood sucked out of it, except the Protestant “you’re a sinner” thing. It’s been so denatured that I wonder why anyone even goes to the services anymore. What does it stand for? What do they believe?

Probably in response to this boring decaf Protestant Church, a super-caffeinated fundamentalist Church has broken off in the past 30 years or so. Anywhere you have lots of regular White people, you will find legions of these fundamentalist boneheads.

You’ll never even recognize them. With a lot of them, they drink, they smoke, they cuss, they watch porn on the Net, they screw around, they smoke weed, but they’re all Holy Rollers. What the fuck, man? The ones that are nice and tidy often have a seriously sinful past. The Church is full of  “I used to be bad” types. Reformed sinners are always the worst.

Anyway, the religion itself is completely insane. They’re all anti-abortion, they hate liberalism, and they’re not too wild about gays. These are nice middle class White types, often with money. They seem hip and cool, they have nice houses, nice clothes and are often well-educated. But every damned word in the Bible is true!

Nowadays, if you meet a White person who is at all religious, they are usually one of these whackjob types. As long as you keep away from their idiot religion, you can talk about anything under the Sun and they seem like normal people. But as soon as you venture into the religious area,  it’s clear that they are Pod People.

I know the Catholic Church sucks ideologically, but at least they are tolerant. Plus they don’t try to convert you. I talked to some of them, told them I’m pro-choice, and they just said, “Well, we have pro-choice Catholics, you know. That’s your problem.”

A nun (!) told me, “Well, we don’t agree, but really, that’s between you and God.” I like that! Of course it is! Of course it’s between me and God. Damn, why didn’t I think of that?

The Catholics don’t really have any litmus tests, while the fundies have about a million. Talk to a fundie, even if if you’re a Christian, and pretty soon the fundie makes it clear that you’re actually not really a Christian! Why? Because you just failed one of their million and one litmus tests. The fundies are quite clear that all of the mainline Protestant churches are not Christian.

The Catholic Church is definitely not Christian, though they started the whole thing. A lot of them really hate Catholics, and a number of them are on this, “Catholicism is the source of all the world’s evil” thing, like anti-Semites except substitute the Pope for the Jew. Try to give them some Church history about how the Catholic Church was the first, and their eyes glaze over.

Many, or most, of them, claim to not be practicing Catholicism or Protestantism. Well than what are they practicing? The “original Christian religion,” I guess from 60 AD.

Try to tell them that the oldest Christian church is the Syrian Orthodox, a bunch of evil Catholic scum, and their arguments start twisting like snakes. Try to tell them that the “original Christian Church” was a bunch of Jews and was little more than modified Judaism (with most of them still keeping Kosher I think), and their arguments start doing 180’s. They’re engaged in a Belief system that elides history and common sense.

The fundies love the Old Testament, even though it’s a bunch of Jewish nonsense to me. It’s ok for history, but that’s it.

Jesus showed up to erase the OT and replace it with the New Covenant, the NT. The Law (the OT) was gone. In its place was Mercy (the NT). Israel (the Jews and the OT) was no longer the Church. The Church was the new Israel, and the new Chosen People were the Christians.

Following this Replacement Theology further, Judaism (the OT) has been replaced, and the Jews don’t even get Israel anymore. This is why Replacement Theology is so popular with Arab Christians. From a theological perspective, a good case can be made that Christian Zionism is not only oxymoronic but also heretical.

One cool thing about the Catholics is that they seem to have junked the OT. It’s still part of the religion, but you never hear about. All of the little sermons they hand every Sunday are NT stuff. Even more than that, they always deal specifically specifically with Jesus himself. It’s the four main NT books, and that’s about it.

I’d give the Apostles some theological leeway too. Because those books were just written by guys (apostles) like me. Not Gods, or Gods in Flesh. There’s only one Guy in the NT with God’s phone number, so He’s the only one to pay attention to. The rest are just guys like you and me. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong, but there’s no reason to believe that their every word is Godly.

So Catholicism almost seems to be pure “Jesus-ism,” which is all Christianity ought to be anyway. If you study the very early Christians from the 1st Century, that was the original Christianity. Jesusism. No OT, no apostle BS, no Pope, no Vatican. Just one Guy. Listen to what He says and try to live your life by it.

Thing is, once you strip away everything else and just listen to what Jesus himself actually said and did, Christianity is a pretty cool religion. Jesus was a very tolerant dude. He never said anything about fucking, queers, abortion, drinking or dope, or if he did, it’s not too prominent. He hung out with sinners. He thought greedheads were assholes. He threw money-changers out of the Church.

And he was a nice Jewish boy who adored his Mom and was still living at home at age 33, so even the Jews ought to dig him for that alone if for nothing else.

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Filed under Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, Paganism, Religion

“Blessed Art Thou Among Women,” by Alpha Unit

I don’t think that Mary was Black, but the Jews back then were just Middle Easterners. They didn’t have any Khazarian or European blood in them yet, as most Ashkenazim do nowadays. They probably looked something like the Mizrachi Jews do today. If you’ve ever met any Mizrachis, they are fairly dark people. They look sort of like Arabs.

I always found the Catholic religion quite impressive – not because of any real understanding of it but because of what I could see of it. And what I could see of it was quite mysterious and maybe a bit awe-inspiring, for someone used to the kind of plain religious services I grew up with. Unintelligible prayers. Incense. Sumptuous robes. Ornate crucifixes. I’m not Catholic, but even I kind of like watching the moment they announce a new Pope. Smoke and bells. Nothing like that at my old church!

Gregorian chants are something I actually enjoy listening to, but it’s the kind of thing that would have been creepy to me as a child. And nothing could have prepared me for the first time I saw images of the Nazarenos during a Holy Week celebration. Wait a minute, I thought. This looks awfully similar to some other regalia I’ve seen…

But something especially fascinating to me is the mystery of the Black Madonnas. Most people know about the Black Madonna – images of Mary in which she is shown with dark or sometimes black skin. Since these Black Madonnas are the creation of Europeans, there is speculation and dispute about their origin and significance.

These paintings and statues of Mary date from the 11th or 12th century and were produced throughout the medieval period. And while they have dark skin, they are recognizably European, Typically, those trying to explain this phenomenon state that the wood was naturally dark, in the case of some statues, or that the darkness was a result of color changes in paint over time.

So why did the skin tones alone change color over time?

The darkness is also attributed to candle soot, from the countless prayers offered to the Madonnas over the centuries. Again, though, why did the candle soot only affect the skin tones?

It is often stated that sometimes these Madonnas were cleaned for various reasons but then intentionally re-darkened to placate the faithful. This is one explanation as to why these European-looking Madonnas have black skin.

Besides the explanations attributed to physical factors, there are those that suggest that the darkness of the Madonnas is inspired by Scripture, particularly a portion of the Song of Songs: “I am black but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem…” Others suggest that the Black Madonna is a throwback to earlier depictions of earth goddesses, some of whom had been depicted as black, as they represented fertile soil.

Could it be that the color black represents the Primordial Darkness that gave birth to Light, or the archetypal Feminine? Some feminists think so.

In the view of some Afrocentrists, the Madonna is Black because she is based on the Egyptian goddess Isis, who had to have been Black because the ancient Egyptians were Black. To them, one of the most revered Christian symbols is yet another instance of Whites stealing and trying to pass off Black creativity as their own.

No one knows definitively why Europeans created Black Madonnas. To some of us, it almost doesn’t matter. They portray a powerful and venerated Blackness, and there is a lot to like about that.

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Filed under Alpha Unit, Art, Art History, Blacks, Catholicism, Christianity, Europeans, Feminism, Gender Studies, Guest Posts, Race/Ethnicity, Religion, Whites

Nepal’s Former Ambassador to U.S.: What About a Military Takeover?

This is a very interesting article written by Nepal’s Ambassador to the US. What he’s doing here is throwing out a trial balloon of a rightwing military coup in Nepal to overthrow the civilian government, followed by the inevitable death squad terror that always follows in such cases. Note that towards the end he mentions Pinochet, Suharto and Chung Park Hee. All ran far rightwing anti-Communist military dictatorships, all three came to power via military coups at a time of a threat or reality of a Communist or Leftist takeover of the article.

This is what capitalism always does, and in a way, the Leninists have a point, which is that the capitalists never allow any substantial challenge to their power to come about legally. If it does or even threatens to, there’s usually a military overthrow of the state followed by years of death squad terror aimed at decimating the Left for decades to come. It happened in Haiti, Chile, El Salvador, Uruguay, Guatemala, Argentina, Peru and Indonesia. They tried it in Venezuela recently.

You can forget about the parts towards the end where he talks about how a fascist coup followed by a death squad regime is the only way to eradicate poverty and bring about prosperity and opportunities. Those are the last things this guy wants, and these rightwing coups never bring about any of that. Fact is, they’re designed to prevent just those sorts of things.

The coup would need the support of both the US and India. I’m sure it would be forthcoming from both places.

What happened in Nepal is that there was a negotiated settlement to the Civil War there. As part of the settlement, there were elections which the Maoists won with 40% of the vote, forming the biggest voting blog in Parliament. They then proceeded to carry out Constitutional reforms to move from a monarchy to a civilian state. Part of the settlement was to be the integration of the Maoist army with the Nepalese military, but the top general refused to do that. The Maoist President then fired him on grounds of insubordination, but then he refused to step down.

It would be as if the Head of the US Joint Chiefs refused to obey the Commander in Chief, then refused to step down when the President fired him. It was for all intents and purposes a military coup. It seems that India was involved up to their mitts in this. Then the Maoist President simply resigned, as the rule of civilian control of the state was being violated.

As you can see below, the Ambassador chides the whole notion of “civilian rule.” Apparently he thinks it’s a bad idea. Since then, I’m not sure what’s been going on on the ground in Nepal, except the Maoists have been involved in a lot of protests up and down the country, and yes, they have recently declared a few new states.

All in all, this is a pretty ominous proposal the Ambassador is tossing out there.

The original appeared here. La Republica is apparently the voice of the rightwing and business community in Nepal, best as I can tell.

Getting Out Of The Quagmire

by Sukhdev Shah

(Shah is Nepal’s ambassador to the U.S. He worked for the International Monetary Fund for two decades and is a U.S. citizen.)

As things have evolved over the past three years, Nepal has become a fertile ground for a military takeover of the government, independently or under the shadow of a constitutional authority.

Such a possibility has been talked about in a limited circle but been forced open by a delegation of some Nepali Congress (NC) leaders who recently urged President Ram Baran Yadav to consider imposing President’s Rule to help restore peace and enable the Constituent Assembly (CA) to complete writing the constitution before the expiry of deadline in five months. This is not an incredible or inappropriate suggestion, considering the marathon obstructions staged by Maoists to prevent the CA to open for business and carry out its mandate.

Even after losing the control of government in May this year over the enigmatic issue of civilian supremacy, Maoists have not softened their stance on the president’s action that re-instated the ex-army chief after his firing by the then Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. In order to further press on this issue, Maoists have announced formation of autonomous states in several parts of the country in defiance of the wishes of government, which also seems to challenge the constitution- making authority of CA.

By doing so – unilaterally deciding to divide up the country into ethnic enclaves – Maoists have started the process of a slow dissolution of the State which they eventually would turn into an all-powerful proletarian dictatorship, making the country a one-party State. This particular perception of Maoists’ ultimate objective and long-term planning is not based on fancy or conjecture but comes straight out of their public declarations that claim the virtues of `fusion’ of ideologies and role of peoples’ war – jana yudhha – as means to capturing the State power.

The Maoist strategy of declaring autonomous states is probably the shrewdest means adopted until now to undercut the legitimacy of Maoist-version of a bourgeoisie State and assert people’s power under its own leadership. And this strategy would be highly appealing for the grassroots, who have had no great admiration for all-powerful Kathmandu-based governments doing the dictates of generations of family dynasties and self-serving corrupt politicians.

With the promises of self-rule allowed to ethnic majorities under the autonomous state system, ordinary people can see the benefits of localization of government authority, with a chance of liberating themselves from the tyrannies of centrist authoritarian rule.

Facing the challenge

Needless to say, government is at a loss on how to face up to the Maoist new challenge. The easiest course of action will be to ignore it – let them disrupt house-sitting, demonstrate on the street, put-up road blocks, spread anarchy, and declare more autonomous states, which can be viewed as no more than a symbolic defiance. However, by ignoring such threats to its authority, the government in power is unlikely to generate confidence and win sympathies, or hope that current impasse is going to end quietly and uneventfully.

If Maoists continue with its present strategy of making the central government look irrelevant, indifferent, and detached from the basic functions of the State, there will be no need for them to make a forceful entry into the capital to capture power. This will come to them naturally and effortlessly – from the growing irrelevance of government at the center, aided by gradual shift of state functions to regional, autonomous states.

There should be nothing wrong with the slow dissolution and eventual disappearance of the traditional State and its replacement by a grassroots entity that is built-up from grounds up. Indeed, by forcing the dissolution of the State, Maoists would be making a bloodless coup, which would be entirely legitimate in an environment of deepening conflict, lack of direction, heightened uncertainty, and loss of control over critical government functions.

There is not much that the Maoist-less current coalition government can do to stop or even slowdown the country moving in this direction except if it chooses to force-stop the process by making a last-ditch effort and take one extreme measure, similar to the one advocated by NC leaders noted above – presidential rule backed by the army.

Given the limited options the current government has in outsmarting the Maoists, it may be attracted to do just that and the army would, most likely, choose to go along. The army’s willingness to comply with such an option can be argued in two ways, the first being that it never got to use its full force to suppress Maoist rebels during their decade-old insurgency.

Reportedly, the army was held back by palace orders, which had to come to think of Maoist challenge more as a counter to political parties than a threat to itself. Second, by making civilian supremacy a battle-cry, Maoists, once in power, will seek a quick dissolution of the army, which they view as the last hurdle on the road to complete victory.

Maoists have been in sort of an undeclared war with the army for sometime now but it is becoming increasingly certain that the army will not just sit back and surrender. Rather, it may be getting ready for a showdown and final war with the Maoists – an opportunity it was looking for during king’s regime but was repeatedly denied. Army’s willingness to face up to the Maoists will be strengthened if its actions are given the legitimacy of enforcing presidential rule, which is allowed under the constitution.

A discouraging outlook

There are many ways in which the current conflict can get resolved and the much-lauded peace effort moved towards its logical conclusion – which is to get an agreement on the constitution, hold broad-based election, and usher in an era of constitutional rule that upholds people’s sovereignty. However, the outlook for consensus building and restoration of normal conditions appear increasingly dim, even non-existent.

The main reason for pessimism is that communism generally, and Maoism in particular, is now a ground reality in the country, reflecting not as much the smartness of ideology Maoists have brought to bear upon the population but the utter incompetence, lack of vision, and unabashed dishonesty of the regimes that have governed Nepal for decades and centuries.

In particular, all of them have failed to create glue that binds people together, encourage them to pursue a common goal, and motivate them to work for a better future, for themselves and their children.

The Maoists have taken advantage of this vacuum by creating grassroots organizations to bring the people together, partly by the force of their ideology but mostly by aligning people against the hereditary and traditional interests.

Of course, the record of nine-month rule by Maoists has caused much disappointment and helped cool down enthusiasm for its long-term sustainability but they continue to remain in public consciousness as the last hope for people who consider themselves dispossessed and have not much to lose from serious anarchy and breakdown of the law and order. At least one half of the country’s population would fit this category who seem united backing up Maoists’ intention of winning over and destroying the bourgeoisie democracy.

Presidential rule or army takeover can eliminate some Maoists and subdue their backers but it will be incapable of winning the ideological war. At the same time, if the ideologically- hardened comrades in hundreds of thousands face up to the army onslaught and engage them in running battles, the situation can easily get out of hand and millions will flee to take shelter across the border in India.

It is difficult to predict how India will respond to the emergence of calamitous situation across its 800-kilometer open border with Nepal, but it is hard to think that it will do nothing. Most likely, it will commit itself actively to prevent the spread of violence, including the stationing of its own peace-keeping force to keep order. Of course, such a move will have unknown consequences for Nepal’s separate and independent existence.

There is little or nothing to take a bet on how the events are going to unfold over the coming months and years, but the present cat-and-mouse maneuverings by political parties and Maoists are likely to move the conflict to center-stage for a showdown. If this comes to pass, army will have a greater chance of claiming victory, provided that the conflict involves mostly the leadership on the top.

Another big uncertainty is if Nepal has the good fortune of some strongmen rising to the occasion – the likes of Korea’s Park Chung-Hee, Chile’s Pinochet, Indonesia’s Suharto – to take up the challenge of suppressing dissent and mobilizing the machinery of the State to focus on only one mission: Building a strong and prosperous nation.

With so many options tried over so many years to eradicate poverty and catch-up on the bandwagon of growth, opportunities and prosperity, this last option may just have a chance to succeed.

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“Action In the War Zone,” by Alpha Unit

Carelessness will cost you if you’re serving under Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo in northern Iraq.

Pregnant soldiers and the men who got ’em that way will face disciplinary action, pursuant to an order the General issued last month. He has the right to pursue court-martial in such cases, but because of outcry from certain quarters, he has gone on the record to say that no one is going to be put in jail for being pregnant.

This whole story is like a nicely wrapped Christmas gift for the perennially outraged. After all, sex is a part of life, right? You put young people together in these situations and you expect celibacy? The military has no business interfering in personal freedom in this way. Especially not the personal freedom of women.

In high school, I had female friends who joined ROTC, and their decision mystified me. “Why would you want to join the Army?” I would wonder. Being in the Army was for guys, as far as I was concerned, because being tough, fighting, and being shipped off to strange places to kill people was for guys. As a teenage girl, there was no chance of getting me interested in stuff like that.

But plenty of women are interested in stuff like that, and so be it. Women have served in the U.S. military in nearly all wars, and in many different capacities. They have served in noncombat duty positions such as radio electrician, telephone operator, cryptographer, and mechanic. They have been messengers, spies, nurses, physicians and pilots. And during the 70’s, opportunities for women expanded as the U.S. turned to an all-volunteer Army and the cultural climate insisted that women be given the same opportunities as men.

And so women are fully accommodated in today’s armed forces.

Some things don’t ever change, though.

Sexual harassment is an ongoing problem for women in the military. Sexual assaults are a genuine threat, and sometimes a reality. And female soldiers do end up pregnant while serving in war zones. This isn’t supposed to happen. And now that an Army General is promising to enforce regulations concerning this sort of thing, certain people are crying that this just isn’t fair to women.

Really? Don’t men and women forfeit a lot of the personal freedoms they take for granted as civilians when they join the military? Aren’t women responsible for knowing what they must and must not do while they serve? And aren’t women to be held responsible when they violate regulations?

Some of these feminists need to make up their minds. Are women to be treated as equals or not? You can’t say, “Give me all the opportunities you give the guys and all the responsibilities, too,” and then turn around and say, “But I’m a woman, so give me special treatment when I say so.” You’re either special or you’re not.

Maybe what really makes you special is that you get to have it both ways.

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Filed under Alpha Unit, Feminism, Gender Studies, Guest Posts, Heterosexuality, Sane Pro-Woman, Sex

Stupid Idea #743,592: Bringing Somali “Refugees” To America

Note: The PC freakazoids have accused this post, as usual, of racism. See here for my position statement on racism.

Read it and weep.

Whose bright idea was this anyway? When you’re stuck in a hole, the first thing you need to do is stop digging. Bearing that in mind, why don’t we quit bringing these Somalis over to our country?

The Somalis are in Norway and Finland too. Same crap in those places. In those countries, immigrants, mostly Somalis, are committing up to 80-90% of the rapes in some places. These Somalis just do not seem to be able to be integrated into modern Western societies. I’m sorry their country is such a craphole, but it’s not our fault. If they’re refugees, I’m sure there’s plenty of African countries that could take them in where their feral behavior would be considered at least normal.

These Somalis have to be just about the worst immigrants on Earth. They come to the West and go straight to gangbanger, do not pass go, do not collect $200. We have enough problems with our own native feral humanoids. There’s no reason why we should be importing even more two-legged animals from overseas.

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Why Are All Racists and Sexists Reactionaries?

This is something I don’t really understand.

Lots of Black people act bad. Before you say Whites do too, there’s way more bad Blacks actors than bad White actors, percentage-wise. Living in a poor all-White town was instructive, as was moving to a poor Hispanic town. It finally made me realize that this fucked-up behavior doesn’t have much to do with economics. Sure, there were idiots in the White town. But it seemed like in the Hispanic town there were 3 times more of them per capita, and the bad actors acted about 3 times worse than the White bad actors. Of course I’m guessing here, but that’s my perception.

I figure in a poor Black town, there will be 8-9 times more bad actors per capita, and I figure they will act 8-9 times worse than White bad actors.

So really it’s not a case of bad actors. Kids of every race act like shits. But to us Whites, it seems like the Hispanic and Black bad actors are way worse than our own and there’s way more of them to boot.

It’s pretty clear that once a White city turns Hispanic or Black, there’s a decline in all sorts of variables. It’s much worse in the case of a White city turning Black, and this process has been viewed in realtime by millions of Americans. As a general rule, the city turns into a crime and squalor ridden Hellhole.

Given these obvious facts, I really don’t understand why the only White racists are reactionaries. Aren’t there any White liberals who are tired of Blacks and Hispanics too?

And why are racists so reactionary in every other way, too? They usually hate all of modernity – modern art, modern literature, modern music, modern culture, recreational drugs, the Sexual Revolution, the works. I don’t get it. If you’re a racist, you don’t like to rock out, get high and fuck your brains out? Why not? Aren’t there White dopers, rockers and sex freaks that are tired of minorities too? Aren’t there any Whites who dig David Bowie, Thomas Pynchon, Marcel Duchamp and Picasso, yet can’t stand Blacks? If not, why not?

Why do most White racists support Israel? Because, Arabniggers being an inferior race and all, it was cool of the superior White Jews to steal their land, kill them and ruin their lives? Why was that an ok thing to do? Because one is a superior race and the other is an inferior race? Really? So the superior races just get to kill the inferior races, ruin their lives and steal their land, everywhere on Earth, simply due to their superiority? Is there anything that is not ok for the superior to do to the inferior?

Anyway, why, just based on religion or test scores of whatever, does one race get to deliberately fuck over another one anyway? On what basis? Superiority? If so, wow, what an appalling mindset!

I’ve noticed something else. Sexists are all reactionaries too. There are plenty of woman-hating sites all over the Net. They’re pretty entertaining, but they’re all reactionary. I don’t get it. Women are a pain in the ass, and lots of normal humans end up having had quite enough of them. Hell, I know women who don’t like women. Aren’t there any liberals who’ve had it up to here with female shenanigans too?

Racist and sexist ideology aside, the more you learn about racists and sexists, the less appealing racism and sexism is based, if not on ideology, then at least on the reactionary assholes who are attracted to it.

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