August 16th, 2009 — Austrolabe— Uncategorized
Ameer Ali is in the Herald Sun today outlining his three point plan for dealing with the supposed problem of mosques transforming Muslim youth into members of “home-grown terror cells”.
Young Australian Muslims were under great pressure and needed more extra-curricular activities sometimes banned by stricter versions of Islam, he said.
“Music is one, dancing one, sculpture is one. Music is the lingua franca of the youth today.”
Music, sculpture and dance.
August 15th, 2009 — Amir— Uncategorized
At various times, we have written about the idea of seasteading on this site. The ABC’s Counterpoint program featured the topic earlier in the month.
Setting up new societies on gigantic platforms out at sea, well away from the authority of any existing state is what the seasteading movement hopes to achieve. Not everyone is convinced that it has a viable future. Brian Doherty assesses the progress made to date.
Brian Doherty’s recent article 20,000 Nations Above the Sea: Is floating the last, best hope for liberty? is also a worthwhile introduction to the topic.
August 15th, 2009 — Amir— Uncategorized
I have recently become aware of a festival to be held in Sydney called the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. The festival, to be held on 3/4th October and run by Sydney Opera House and St James Ethics Centre, features a number of lectures that look quite interesting:
Old people should pay for themselves, by John Humphreys (5:45pm Sunday 4 October)
People with flat screen TV’s should stop whinging about capitalism, by Oliver Hartwich & Cassandra Wilkinson (12:30pm Sunday 4 October)
Yes to child labour, no to the minimum wage, by Ray Evans (5:30pm Saturday 3 October)
In addition to the above, Christopher Hitchens and Keysar Trad will also be speaking.
August 4th, 2009 — Austrolabe— Uncategorized
Pastor Danny Nailiah of Catch the Fire Ministries and his wacky predictions are a favourite of this site. He most recently appeared in the media for claiming to have predicted the bushfires in Victoria after receiving a:
a flash from the Spirit of God: that His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb.
Here he is on a recent episode of The Chaser:
July 19th, 2009 — Austrolabe— Uncategorized
The Age reports today:
A CONTROVERSIAL review of Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act is threatening to become a political headache for the Brumby Government, with many churches, religious leaders, parents and private schools vowing to defend discrimination based on faith.
The parliamentary review, covering all areas of discrimination — including whether private men’s clubs can continue to exclude women — has sparked widespread alarm among religious Victorians, from the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne to Islamic, Christian and Jewish schools, and faith-based hospitals and aged-care centres.
At stake, these groups say, is their religious freedom to discriminate within churches, schools and church-run welfare services.
July 9th, 2009 — Austrolabe— Uncategorized
ABC News Reader Virginia Haussegger writes on her blog:
I’ve seen it elsewhere around the world, but I didn’t expect to see it here. Certainly not on a hot summer’s afternoon at the Canberra Centre. But there it was. A ghostly figure walking towards me, clad from head to toe in a heavy black niqab, black gloves and dark shoes. She was trailing along behind her husband and four little children.
The sight of this hideously shrouded figure in an Australian shopping mall is confronting and offensive. And it makes me angry, very angry.
It is, of course, unclear whether this was simply a visiting tourist from the gulf or whether it was a local. Regardless, Haussegger is hopping mad and is calling for the government to take action to protect her from having to witness such a sight as a woman who had the temerity to cover her face in a Canberra shopping centre.
There is no place here for the burka. Australians must rally to have the burka banned.
And what would that achieve? How would such a law distinguish between a woman who veils her face using a traditional niqab and a woman who, for the same reason of religious observance, chose to bypass the ‘niqab ban’ by veiling her face using a woolen scarf wrapped around her face, wearing a balaclava, or perhaps a variation on a surgical mask?
If Haussegger and Sarkozy want to see the end of the niqab then perhaps they should try to use argument to convince these women that their way is a better way. However, it seems that it is because years of argument and exposure to Western society has failed to convert these women to their way of thinking (and dress), that they must now seek to use the instruments of the state as a cudgel against these women to force them to ‘fit in’ with what Sarkozy et al think society should look like.
June 26th, 2009 — Austrolabe— Uncategorized
Jill Singer offers a defence of Sarkozy’s proposed “burka ban” in the Herald Sun today, arguing that it should be illegal to wear it because she thinks it is ugly and may be uncomfortable on hot days. She writes:
No matter what your personal views about the burka — a symbol of oppression or expression of religious identity — it is an undeniably ugly item of clothing.
Burkas also make life hard for the women who wear them, being stiflingly hot in summer, and extremely restricting vision.
Only a masochist would opt to wear one, designed as they are by sadists.
It is no coincidence that Muslim men in Saudi Arabia, for example, drape themselves in cooling white while insisting their women bake in black.
It’s doubtful that Singer has spent much time in a niqab or “burka”, much less worn it in the desert climes of Saudi Arabia; rather, she is simply fantasising about what it must be like to wear it. The fact that many bedouin and desert-dwelling tribes, such as the Tuareg, also wear black robes is seemingly lost on the former Today Tonight presenter. Unless these men are genetically or culturally inclined towards acts of sadism, it is reasonable to assume that things are not quite as black and white as Singer is arguing.
As this article in Nature magazine explained:
Survival in hot deserts has always posed a problem for man; Moses had to solve it in order to lead the children of Israel through the wilderness of the Sinai—a formidable hot desert. It seems likely that the present inhabitants of the Sinai, the Bedouins, would have optimised their solutions for desert survival during their long tenure in this desert Yet, one may have doubts on first encountering Bedouins wearing black robes and herding black goats. We have therefore investigated whether black robes help the Bedouins to minimise solar heat loads in a hot desert. This seemed possible because experiments have shown that white hair on cattle1,2 and white feathers on pigeons3 permit greater penetration of short-wave radiation to the skin than black. In fact, more heat flowed inward through white pigeon plumage than through black when both were exposed to simulated solar radiation at wind speeds greater than 3 m s-1 (ref. 3). We report here that the amount of heat gained by a Bedouin exposed to the hot desert is the same whether he wears a black or a white robe. The additional heat absorbed by the black robe was lost before it reached the skin.
Richard Peppiatt, a journalist for the Daily Star, decided to take a different approach to test whether the niqab was “stifingly hot”. He writes:
My first impression as I stepped out in the blistering sun was how cool these veils are in the heat.
I wasn’t sweltering in the enclosed warmth, stifled by the closeness and lack of mobility.
The burka was flexible, breathable and relatively comfy.
However, regardless of that, he stills wants it banned because people were unable to see his face when he wore it.
June 24th, 2009 — Austrolabe— Uncategorized
French President Sarkozy says that the “burqa” is not welcome in France and has given his support to a law that will make it illegal for a woman to wear the garment:
Mr Sarkozy said that while freedom of religion was paramount in France, the burqa represented a symbol of the debasement and servitude of women: “The burqa is not welcome on the French Republic’s territory. It is not what the French Republic wants for the dignity of women … we cannot accept in our country that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from society and all identity.”
The problem is, of course, that banning women from wearing an article of clothing doesn’t increase their freedom but limits it. And a number of feminist bloggers appear to agree. Regardless of what Sarkozy may imagine, the vast majority of women who wear a niqab in the West are not “prisoners” and continue to have an identity — albeit one that the French state and their social engineers might not approve of.
June 24th, 2009 — Austrolabe— Uncategorized
From the website:
IPN’s Bastiat Prize for Journalism was inspired by the 19th-century French philosopher and journalist Frédéric Bastiat.
The prize was developed to encourage and reward writers whose published works promote the institutions of a free society: limited government, rule of law brokered by an independent judiciary, protection of private property, free markets, free speech, and sound science.
It’s good to see they have a special category for online journalism which includes blogs (the winner will receive $3,000).
(via Let a Thousand Nations Bloom)
June 14th, 2009 — Austrolabe— Uncategorized
The Sunday Telegraph reports today that the National Australia Bank (NAB) is to offer “Muslim-friendly” loans that do not charge interest.
For the trial’s purposes NAB will pump $15 million from its not-for-profit finance division into the program, which will distribute the funds through various community finance schemes around the country. The bank will monitor the take-up and assess potential demand.
Interest-free loans of up to $1000 will be available to help finance household items, such as washing machines and fridges.
The loans would also be available to non-Muslims.
This seems to be NAB’s No Interest Loan Scheme which does not appear to be specifically targeted at Muslims although the fact that it is interest-free would obviously appeal to the Muslim community. These loans are only available to low-income earners who cannot borrow money from elsewhere on account of their low income. It’s unclear whether the NAB would also extend these loans to Muslims who cannot borrow money from elsewhere on account of their religious beliefs.