Sunday, 31 August 2014

Put your top back on, woman

Blah blah blah feminist statement blah blah small-breasted women something something and would you please put that shirt on again, Keira?
To many, it might seem like an odd decision. Keira Knightley, famously private, has posed topless for a fashion magazine.

The black and white pictures, taken by Patrick Demarchelier forInterview, show the actress with wet hair, low cut trousers and elbow-length lace gloves. Oh, and her boobs out. [Didact: What boobs? You mean those mosquito bites in the picture at about chest level?]

Yes – as her critics have rushed to point out – this is the same woman who publicly complained that her cleavage had been digitally enhanced in a poster for the 2004 film KingArthur. And whose chest was allegedly enlarged for a Chanel advert.

“They always pencil in my boobs. I was only angry when they were really, really droopy,” she said of King Arthur. “I thought, ‘Well if you’re going to make me fantasy breasts, at least make me perky breasts”.

And, yes, this is also the same woman who claims to be a feminist. [Didact: A married feminist, apparently- isn't that an oxymoron, by the way?] 
Now where did I put that pitchfork?  
But before we all rush to condemn Keira, let’s stop and think about what these pictures really mean. [Didact: Very little of anything, luv.]

Because the first thought that entered my head was HUR-RAH. Finally, somebody not afraid to stand up and bare their small breasts. [Didact: What exactly is so interesting about them then?]
Of course, we do often see flat chests represented in magazines. Fashion loves a small pair. Their pages often contain more nipples than actual words. But that’s different somehow.
The best take on Keira Knightley that I've ever heard came from Jeremy Clarkson, back when he was reviewing the Alfa Romeo 4C (at least, that's what I think it was- I'm way behind on my Top Gear episodes, sadly). As he pointed out, the car had absolutely no function whatsoever, and was, for all intents and purposes, useless.

It was also jaw-droppingly beautiful. And it is precisely because it was good for little other than looking good that Clarkson pointed out that it was like a certain English actress:
I mean, look at Keira Knightley. She's nothing more than an ironing board with a face. And she works.
This is very true. Ms. Knightley is indeed flat as a board. She is also a highly talented and gifted actress, and- insofar as I can tell, since I don't keep up with this stuff- a highly engaging yet very private young woman.

And here is the picture that inspired rather too much wasted typespace:

When I look at this, and then at the resulting Telly commentary on the same, all I see is a lot of breathless nonsense being spewed by vapid feminists about how "empowering" it is to see a small-breasted woman showing off her non-existent assets to the rest of the world.

Instead, why not actually try, I dunno, looking at what Keira Knightley does and judging her abilities based on talent and skill, rather than on publicity-grabbing silliness like this?

But no, that would be too much to expect. Let us never forget that the feminist is a creature made up of narcissism, hubris, and no small amount of self-loathing.

A feminist looks at these pictures and thinks, "how wonderful that a small-breasted woman has the courage to take off her shirt for the camera!".

By that standard, of course, every college sorority girl who ever starred in a Girls Gone Wild video is a feminist. (What exalted company these people keep!)

A sane man, by contrast, looks at those photos and thinks, "that's it?"- and then gets back to doing whatever he was doing in the first place before this non-news came up.

You tell me whose reaction is more sensible.

Bonobo-Nose on multiculturalism

The lady with the giant nose and even more impressive lack of perspective is back- maybe that honking great wine-sniffer gets in the way of her field of vision?- and is wondering why we can't all hold hands and sing kumbaya around the fire:
In these moments, people try to deal with the fact that I’m clearly ethnic. My skin colour and full name tend to give this away, and most people correctly assume that I’m Indian and Hindu. Some mistakenly think I’m Pakistani, a Muslim, or even that I just ‘have a Latino tan’, but they all recognise that my skin is brown and I am not white.

Then there are the people who are desperate to show how non-racist they are by acting as though they haven’t noticed my skin colour. Memorably, this once led to a girl earnestly asking me if I also hated when you get fake tan streaks. All I could do was hold up my brown arm and explain I didn’t really need fake tan. 
The worst kind are the people who are curious about my background, but so frightened of coming across as racist that they enquire about it in a roundabout way. Normally, it leads to the ‘where are you from?’ conversation – one that most ethnic people dread. It goes something like this: 
Non-racist person: ‘So, where are you from?’

Ethnic person: ‘London’
NRP: ‘No but where are you FROM?’
EP: ‘North London.’
NRP: ‘No, but like, your parents? Where are they from?’
Frustrated EP: ‘If you’re trying to ask me what my ethnicity is, I tick British Asian on forms.’ 
All of these people mean well, and I rarely let any of it bother me. I know they just want to make me feel comfortable, and they’re going about it the only way they know how. But, when you look at it from a wider perspective, it isn’t as harmless as it might appear. This kind of attitude, even if it’s not racist, can still be incredibly damaging.
Often it isn’t a racism problem so much as a typically British reluctance to be open and confront what is perceived to be the elephant in the room. And a lot of the time it’s borne out of politeness or good intentions - but that doesn’t mean it’s the good or even decent way to act. If anything, it’s holding us back from being a truly equal, multicultural nation where people of all ethnicities can be treated in exactly the same way – even if that means they’re treated harshly. 
In the case of criminals, it goes without saying that they should be punished regardless of their skin colour. It doesn’t matter what role race plays in their crime – all that matters is that a crime has been committed. But in the case of everyday situations, people need to stop being so frightened of offending others. [Didact: And guess who made them afraid? That's right: people like you, who cry "RACISS!!!!" at the drop of a hat.]
It’s only when an ethnic person such as myself can go to a party without my skin colour reducing strangers to awkward mumbles and overblown reactions, that we will have reached achieved that goal. Society needs to reach a point where people don’t feel nervous about acknowledging that others in their community, workplace, school or social group have different skin colours, backgrounds and ethnicities. [Didact: Wrong. Society needs to reach a point where people with different backgrounds, skin colours, and ethnicities forswear their allegiances to those separating factors and bind themselves to the values and culture of their host.]
Witness the utter logical ineptitude of the modern multiculturalist. She has no problem with being treated differently because of her skin colour and ethnicity... and yet criticises the society that hosts her for not treating everyone equally.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

As one of those "little brown brothers" who is here at the forbearance of the people of this country, let me make this very clear: I am different from you. I am not American. I do not pretend to be. I dearly love this country, bumps, warts, and all- but I am not one of you. I am simply someone who came here for an education, found a job, stayed, and contributed to the American economy. I come from a different background and I fully acknowledge that because of this, I am treated differently. I have no problem with this- I am here as a guest, and if the American people say I have to leave, then all I can do is respect the wishes of those who have treated me well and have never done me any harm.

I am here because I agreed, implicitly and otherwise, to abide by American law, morals, cultural values, and norms. If I break that agreement, then I have no right to stay here.

And so it is with the child abusers of Rotherham, and with foreigners from other lands who have settled in the West. Those of us who break that covenant- as far too many of us do- do not deserve the tolerance and mercy with which our hosts have so generously treated us.

As I have written many times before, multiculturalism is an insidious poison in the veins of any society that it infects. This utterly immoral, ahistorical belief that all cultures are equal and have equal validity and worth, has never worked in practice. It cannot, because it destroys that which is good in favour of that which is not.

Moreover, it does not take a maths whiz to realise that if you have more foreign-born voters with foreign morals and values than domestic ones, the foreign values will eventually (and in fairly short order) displace the domestic ones.

We are already seeing this throughout both the UK and US, and through much of the West. Entire towns in the UK are considered off limits by police simply because their laws cannot be enforced- and remember, in order for a law to be a law, it MUST be enforceable. British common law, which has led to great peace and prosperity in the British Isles, is now as foreign a concept in towns like Rotherham and Bradford as shariah law is to places like Stoke-on-Trent and Canterbury.

The reality that the "little brown brothers and sisters" must face is very simple. Either assimilate, and adopt the values and ideals of your host nation as your own, to the point where the only separation between you and your hosts is skin colour, or accept secondary status without the right to vote, or leave. That's all there is to it.

In my experience, skin colour is not a major barrier to societal trust- provided that the individual(s) in question demonstrate a willingness to conform to cultural and social norms of the host nation. If that is too much to be expected, then why should said hosts be forgiving of those who break their laws and refuse to play by their rules?

This is the reality that well-meaning do-gooders like Ms. Sanghani (with her immense nose) refuse to acknowledge. They blindly refuse to understand that the originally Protestant-Christian, Anglo-Saxon culture of England is the dominant culture, and has until now tolerated the influx of foreign invaders- but now it is well past time for the push-back to begin.

Multiculturalism is doomed to fail as a doctrine, just as every damn fool Utopian dream before it. Unfortunately, like all other Utopian ideologies, it will inflict terrible suffering before it finally dies and is consigned to the ash-heap of history where it belongs.

Buyer's remorse

From a while back, I know- but it's becoming clear that the Magic Black President who was supposed to heal everything that is wrong with this country didn't really work out that way:
The trailers were great, but the movie was horrible. 
Six years in, that's the general consensus on the Obama presidency. Having ridden a wave of "hope and change" to the White House, President Barack Obama has failed to deliver on his huge box office, err, ballot box expectations. 
Just how bad is it? Since it is summer "blockbuster" season, I'll explain thusly: 
There's a difference between being bad and being most awesomely bad. You and I probably never even hear of the worst movies made. They are forgotten, not mocked. But the truly disastrous flops - the Water Worlds and Ishtars of the world - are the movies that come with huge budgets and huge expectations. 
Obama fits the latter category - extremely talented and hyped, but ultimately, unsatisfying. True, I've been making this case for a long time - but now, there's evidence. [Didact: Just where the hell does this guy get the idea that Barack Obama had any talents other than self-promotion???] 
A Quinnipiac poll released in America this week has Obama ranked as the "worst president" since World War II. For various reasons, this may or may not be entirely fair, but considering his competition included Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, this is problematic. And, what is more, a majority surveyed also said "the nation would be better off" had Mitt Romney won presidency. [Didact: This just goes to show that one should NEVER underestimate the lack of judgement of the American electorate.]
Whereas Jaws was a summer hit in the summer of 1975, Obama has now "jumped the shark" in the sweltering summer of 2014. [Didact: It actually wasn't a sweltering summer. But of course Obarmy thinks that it's ALL due to global warming!!!] 
So what's to blame? For one thing, all the talk of "hope and change" turned out to be a stark contrast to his practice of stoking bitterness and division in order to win re-election. Call it false advertising or buyer's remorse, but just because someone buys a ticket to a show doesn't mean they're going to applaud. 
Somewhere along the way, this feel-good romcom turned into a horror show. 

To most Americans, the economy continues to feel anemic, and it's hard to imagine the international situation could get much worse - again a case of false advertising. 

If Obama were a movie, he'd be Gigli.
Anyone who has been paying any sort of attention for the last 6 years, and doesn't have his head shoved three feet up a well-digger's ass (read: Democrats, moderate Republicans, liberals, hipsters- y'know, the idiots of this world) can tell that Barack Obama was not up to the job. He has been revealed to be nothing more than an empty suit, a hack with an endless talent for self-promotion and nothing of substance behind it. We know that he is a race-hustler, a bitterly partisan politician, an economic illiterate, and a completely unsuitable candidate for running the local 7-11, never mind the world's most powerful military and most wealthy economy.

The thing is, it is easy to carp about Obarmy's flaws- which I had a pretty good idea existed as far back as 2008.

It is nearly impossible to figure out what has to be done to undo the damage he has inflicted- because, if we're very honest with ourselves, he isn't the root cause of it all.

It may be extremely unpopular to say this, and it is no doubt very painful to admit it, but let us face facts: Barack Obama, as utterly useless and pathetic as he is, did not create this disastrous state of affairs in which this once-great country finds itself in today. The economic, military, and foreign policy failures of his administration are his to own- not that he will, since his only real talent, and not much of one at that, lies in redirecting blame to anyone other than himself- but their roots go far deeper.

The problem here is that Americans have gotten too used to the idea of Big Daddy Guv'mint doing everything for them. As repugnant as Barack Obama's administration has been, his ineptitude is the secondary infection that is killing the patient, not the immunodeficiency virus that is destroying the patient's ability to fight back in the first place.

The source of the greatness of this country was always its people. The American people were once a hardy and independent sort- deeply opposed to being told what to do, willing to make almost any sacrifice necessary to secure their freedoms, and filled with the flame of divine righteousness in the service of their cause. Alexis de Tocqueville and his contemporaries wrote of this greatness over a hundred years ago when they came to this country to try to understand how a bunch of backwater colonies, bereft of the gifts and generosity of the mother empire, could possibly have grown to be the economic engine of the world in so short a time.

But almost all of that greatness has been used up- wasted away, shriveled and desiccated in the modern age of Big Government and small individual.

For over a hundred years, Americans have been told that the government is the key to their salvation. They have believed almost every lie they have ever been told- that government planners and central planning can plot out a healthy and robust economy, that government-controlled schooling can guarantee better outcomes than private and home schooling, that health care is a human right and not a service like any other, and that the government knows what foods are best for you instead of your own genetics and body.

And for all of that time, the American people have believed these lies.

The original American Revolution came about because the colonials, who believed themselves (rightly) to be free-born Englishmen, rebelled against a distant king and an overweening government. The abuses of that government, nearly 250 years in the past, were as nothing compared to the abuses that the American people seem to suffer without real complaint today.

There is almost nothing left of the original fire and spirit of the American Revolution, and I have good reason to think that it will wither and die, and with it the American Republic. The grand experiment that was conceived so long ago will meet its ignominious end because the American people repeatedly chose that which was easy and convenient, rather than that which is difficult but right.

Feeling buyer's remorse for choosing Barack Obama as President- TWICE!!!!!- is only natural, given what a colossally incompetent poltroon he has turned out to be. But before you feel too unhappy about what he has wrought upon this land, look at yourself in the mirror, and remember that it was people like you that made this possible. Not just you, but your fathers, and their fathers- because they chose what was best for themselves, instead of what was best for their people.

Friday, 29 August 2014

All the single ladies

... are bloody well going to stay single, judging by what follows.
Wanted: Naive, easily bamboozled men willing to put up with massive amounts of female nonsense for the privilege of maybe being able to nail a really hot piece of Brazilian ass once in a while. Must be happy to part with their balls for the privilege of doing so. Sheep-like ability to follow all rules made up by the Sisterhood, no matter how bat-s**t insane, an absolute must.
If that sounds like you, maybe you'll be interested in this "Help Wanted" request from a remote village called Noiva de Cordeiro:
A remote Brazilian village of 600 people has appealed for newcomers to swell its ranks, with one proviso: they must be men. The women of Noiva do Cordeiro want husbands – though, intriguingly for a deeply religious society, not necessarily in the legal sense. [Didact: Sounds interesting. Tell me more.]
Men are scarce in the picturesque village in southeast Brazil, reports the Daily Telegraph. [Didact: Sounding better...] Many have left to find work in the cities, leaving the women behind. Others commute each week. 
What's more, says the paper breathlessly, the women of Noiva de Cordeiro are "known throughout Brazil for their beauty". One resident, 23-year-old Nelma Fernandes, whose level of beauty is not recorded, explained: "Here, the only men we single girls meet are either married or related to us; everyone is a cousin." [Didact: Horny, desperate, single, and Brazilian. So far, so good.]
"I haven't kissed a man for a long time," she lamented. "We all dream of falling in love and getting married. But we like living here and don't want to have to leave the town to find a husband." 
But there is more behind the gender imbalance than pure economic necessity. The town, whose name means Bride of the Lamb (ie Christ), was founded in 1891 by a woman, Maria Senhorinha de Lima, after she was branded an adultress and exiled from her home and church. 
Senhorinha de Lima's granddaughter still lives in the valley and Noiva do Cordeiro is still run by women, who are not ready to give up that control. 
Fernandes cautioned: "We'd like to get to know men who would leave their own lives and come to be a part of ours. But first they need to agree to do what we say and live according to our rules." [Didact: Aaaaaaand there's the catch.]
Another resident, 49-year-old Rosalee Fernandes, said: "We have God in our hearts. But we don't think we need to go to church, get married in front of a priest or baptise our children. These are rules made up by men." [Didact: Let me get this straight. You want to be faithful to God by... ignoring everything He told you about marriage, sex, and love. Uh huh. And you expect to be taken seriously because...?]
She added: "There are lots of things that women do better than men. Our town is prettier, more organised, and far more harmonious than if men were in charge. [Didact: I seriously doubt that.]
"When problems or disputes arise, we resolve them in a woman's way, trying to find consensus rather than conflict."
Gentlemen, I present to you Chapter 1, Verse 1, Line 1 of The Feminist Bible. I must say, it makes for ugly reading.

I've seen this information pop up on the Telly and the Daily Mail for a couple of days now, and every time I've seen it, I've been greatly amused by the fact that the relevant news reporter goes to tremendous lengths to stress the supposed "beauty" of the women in question.

Take a gander at these here pictures and tell me if having to live under female "rules" and female "logic" is worth it:

Shangri-La: More than 600 women live in the town of Noiva do Cordeiro, in a rural part of south-east Brazil
Warpig... Warpig... Nutbag...

'There's always time to stop and gossip': The town's residents say life there is much better without men
And that's a grand total of... uh... I see maybe five decent-looking girls.
Yeah. Totally worth it. No doubt. I'm certain at this point that you're going to be booking your one-way ticket to Brazil in the next few minutes in the hope of meeting one of these 600 major pains-in-the-fundament lovely wonderful ladies.

Oh but wait, it gets funnier. If you're wondering why these girls refuse to live by male rules, here's the skinny:
In 1940, an evangelical pastor, Anisio Pereira, took one of the women, aged 16, to be his wife and founded a church in the growing community. 
However, he proceeded to impose strict puritanical rules, banning them from drinking alcohol, listening to music, cutting their hair or using any type of contraceptive. 
When Anisio died in 1995, the women decided never again to let a man dictate how they should live. And one of the first things they did was to dismantle the male-biased organised religion he had set up.
In case you left your Babel Fish at home this morning, allow me to translate for you:
Living by a man's rules made us feel unhaaaaaaapy. So we got rid of the man's rules and we'll never live by them again- hey guys, why are you all leaving??? Fine! You're just a bunch of misogynistic JERKS anyway! We'll go find and f*** some new guys instead by appealing to the outside world for help to maintain our little feminist society! That'll show you how Strong and Independent we really are!
Honestly, mocking feminists and their stupidity would be a lot more fun if the end results of their folly weren't so awful. It is stories like these that convince me that the Almighty has a rather quirky sense of humour, and allowed feminists to enter His Creation simply so that we'd have another way of laughing at Lucifer.

If you still for some reason think that these ladies in Brazil are in desperate need of your, uh, er, services, then consider that somewhat ridiculous statement above about how everything is so much neater and nicer than it would be if a man ran things.

As a recent RoK article pointed out in spectacularly brutal fashion, women can't do a single damn thing to maintain civilisation without men. They cannot advance the state of their civilisation without us. They are unable to deal with the rigours of physical labour the way we are; they are not willing to take the same risks that we are; they are certainly far less capable of sorting out conflict than we are.

Witness that hilarious gem above about how conflicts are sorted out through "consensus". You know what happens when you try to sort out everything through consensus? You get MORE CONFLICT, because the root causes of the conflicts are not dealt with. Between men, there is nothing quite like a good fist fight for clearing the air and deciding who is right. I'm not saying this is always the best way of doing things, but there is no denying that a good punch-up is a great way to sort out who's boss, and let everyone else move on in the process. Attempting to come to consensus-based solutions for everything results in conflicts dragging on without end, festering resentment on both sides, and no accomplishments whatsoever.

Let us be sensible about this and leave the women of Nerva dese Crazies to their own devices. The rest of us have more important things to do- such as living by our rules, according to our standards, and enjoying the hard-won fruits of our labours without having some hare-brained feminist who is far uglier than she thinks she is telling us what to do.

Bar fighting with El Guapo

God bless Bas Rutten:

This is actually a heavily condensed and edited version of Bas Rutten's original street fighting instructional DVD. Looking at it from the perspective of someone who does a street-geared martial art, I can tell you this- everything he's saying makes very good sense. His execution of certain techniques is maybe a bit different from what other fighting arts like Krav Maga and Systema and Hisardut would teach, but the fundamental principles are sound.

Plus, there is no question that his teaching methods are both hilarious and instructive.

So if you don't have several years and a lot of money to devote toward Krav Maga lessons, why not pick up a copy of Bas Rutten's instructional DVD instead?

Thursday, 28 August 2014


Lord but it is good to be back home. (Going back to work and having my extroverted colleague yapping in my ear all the time, not so much...) Yet I cannot help but feel a wrenching sense of loss at having left Eretz Israel. I have said it before, and now I will say it to my dying day- there is a powerful magic to the Land of David. Every rock, every tree, every stop that we made on the way, has stories to tell- stories of faith, of war, of blood and fire and death, of victory and loss, of courage and redemption.

Israel is a tiny country- you could drive the entire length of Israel in under three hours, and depending on where you are you can drive across it in under one. Hell, I've lived in Singapore- another tiny country with almost no resources other than an admirably resourceful people- for years, and I still find smallness of Israel difficult to comprehend. Yet this tiny country has more to see and more to learn in it than some of the biggest countries on Earth.

There are many truths to learn in the land that gave us all the Eternal Truth. Among these is a very simple but very profound and powerful concept: social trust.

Visiting Israel reinforced a point that modern secular democracies tend to get very badly wrong. Many if not most modern Western governments have spent the last 60 years, or more, believing that they could simply import talent from overseas and expect that the new brown brothers and sisters that settled there would eventually assimilate and adopt the cultural conventions and practices of their new home*.

The more stupid such nations also tend to subscribe to a dogma called "multiculturalism". This is an especially idiotic philosophy that teaches that, essentially, no one culture can be considered to have any greater value than any other. As I've pointed out before, what this means in practice is that Western Judeo-Christian culture- the most successful and vital one that the world has ever seen- must be pulled down so that other, inferior cultures, with provably inferior social norms, ideologies, and outcomes, can even be considered to have equal value. The end result is always barbarism.

The reason multiculturalism always fails is because it destroys the most powerful glue that binds a culture together: trust.

Trust comes down to a very simple but very profound concept: whether you are willing to accept, live beside, fight for, and even die for, someone else.

And of course, trust can be taken to many different levels and layers.

You can "trust" your colleague, insofar as you have a pretty good idea that he won't steal your own creations and call them his own- but can you trust him to have your back in a knock-down drag-out political fight when it comes time for year-end bonuses?

You can "trust" your colleague to borrow and return your lawnmower in good condition and in timely fashion- but could you trust him to look after your children when you're called away on an emergency?

You can "trust" your local policemen to obey the letter of the law, most of the time- but can you trust them enough to believe that they won't shoot you in the face given even a minor provocation?

The list goes on and on. Trust essentially comes down to one simple question: how sure can I be that the guy I'm dealing with is like me?

And this is where multiculturalism always falls over. By promoting the nonsensical idea that we are all equal, despite literally millennia of evidence telling us otherwise, multiculturalism forces upon us a severe case of cognitive dissonance.

We are told that our Hispanic and black and Asian neighbours are the same as we are. Yet we can see, with our own eyes, that they plainly are not. They do not observe the same social norms that we do. They do not eat the same foods that we do. They do not talk the same language that we do. They do not share the same values that we do. And they most assuredly do not share the same beliefs that we do.

How, then, are we to trust them when things get rough?

There was a study done some 20 years ago by a very liberal social scientist at Harvard named Robert Putnam. He was essentially trying to prove that multicultural neighbourhoods had higher levels of social trust than homogeneous neighbourhoods. His findings horrified him so much that he sat on his own data for years, only releasing his data in 2001 and only actually publishing his conclusions from the study in 2007. Even then, he concluded his scholarly article by giving what amounted to a finger-wagging lecture about the great benefits of tolerance and inclusion and kumbaya-style thinking.

I know, you're thinking, "my God, what a brain-dead liberal idiot". So did I, when I first read about this. That's the problem with looking at the world with a modicum of logic and common sense- you tend to have very little patience of the sort of bug-s*** stupidity that liberals like to use to justify their crazy ideas.

Unsurprisingly, Putnam's data showed that his hypotheses were not only wrong, they were colossally wrong. It was as if he'd tried to argue that the fundamental force of gravity can somehow be annulled.

The reality is that we trust those who are most like us- not only personally, but socially as well. We trust people who share our values, our ideals, and have common cultural touchstones with us. We are willing to risk our wealth, welfare, and even lives for those who would do the same for us- because they are like us, and we are like them.

Most importantly, we risk the most for those who most closely share our own personal beliefs and attitudes.

These are very obvious truths, and nowhere do you see it more vividly reflected than in a kibbutz in Israel.

There you will find all manner of different individuals- but they are all dedicated to one common goal: the mutual welfare and advancement of their society. I'm not saying that they always achieve this- socialism always fails eventually, by definition and by design- but only in the kibbutz and the moshav will you see people striving happily together for the common good, toward a common goal. The people of the kibbutz share basic yet profound cultural touchstones: they know that they live in the one country on Earth where the word "Jew" can never be used in derogatory fashion, and they aim to create a better tomorrow for their children than the today that they experience.

They aim to give their people the dignity and the freedom that, for so very long, was denied to them and their ancestors. They work every day for the promise that Israel holds for them.

This is the lesson from Israel that the West desperately needs to re-learn. The nations of the Anglosphere have allowed their borders to be overrun by millions of people who share almost nothing in common with their new host nations, and who have refused to assimilate and become virtually indistinguishable from their hosts. Because of this, the bonds of trust that a healthy society needs in order to grow and function are breaking down rapidly, before our very eyes, and Western societies around the world are becoming increasingly withdrawn, insular, and xenophobic- and with absolutely justifiable reasons for doing so.

The first step toward re-establishing trust is to acknowledge what a colossal mistake this entire false dogma of multiculturalism has been.

The second step is to understand, now and forever, that the West, built on Greco-Roman philosophy, Judeo-Christian social values, and Christian-based Enlightenment science, is superior to any culture before or since. Such a culture is worth fighting for.

If we fail to recognise this, if we accept the false divisions imposed upon us by the Satanic insanity of multiculturalism, then we will surely see the culture that we love and cherish descend into the long dark that its enemies so thoroughly desire.

*This may sound a bit disingenuous, given that I am, in fact, one of those "new brown brothers", quite literally. The difference between me and most imports to the USA from other lands is that I actually agree with the founding values and ideals of this land, and consider myself privileged to be here as a guest; I am here at the discretion of a good and decent people, and if they see fit to say that I am no longer welcome, well, that's my problem and not theirs.

"Daft cow", indeed

Yet another clueless staff writer at the Telly is having immense trouble understanding why women should not act like men, and vice versa:
My wise, old dad always said: “You can say anything as long as you say it with a smile on your face.” Luckily, I was 10 and knew he was talking about kindness and charm rather than getting yourself off the hook when you’ve been caught sleeping with someone else’s beloved. 

Boris evokes another great philosopher besides my dad, the late writer Maya Angelou, who wisely stated: “People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Boris makes us feel giddy and included; he makes us listen out for the bon mots he routinely pulls from the ‘scoundrels’ dictionary.’ And even though he is a politician (although not an MP at the moment), he makes us feel as though we are laughing with him at all other members of Parliament. 

Yet, if a female MP dared to behave in the same way, she’d be roundly punished for disloyalty and viewed as a dangerous threat who could not be contained. She would be viewed as a daft cow, just as The Independent’s Archie Bland notes. You know it. And I know it. 

Boris manages to tick every box that defines stereotypical Tories as irritants: Eton educated – tick; a history of extra-marital affairs – tick; a tendency to say one thing and do another – tick. He’s also fat and seemingly unworried about his appearance - two sticks which newspaper editors and social media quickly normally use to beat lesser-loved politicians. Wrack your brains. Is there any woman in the public eye who would rise to office if she sat in the same venn diagram as BJ? 
Don’t laugh but Ann Widdecombe is the closest I can muster (minus the sex). She’s a bit daft, a bit fat, a bit posh and a bit of a caricature. [Didact: She also looks like a cow. As in, the back end of one.] But until she shimmied her way to metaphorical adulthood on TV in Strictly Come Dancing she was far from well-liked. You see, she just wasn’t funny and the thought of her ever having sex – never mind seducing multiple willing partners - is quite a stretch of the imagination. She was far too buttoned-up, unlike our Boris.
Now apparently the lesson that this particular daft cow of a writer, for what is even today still considered to be a respectable newspaper, takes away from this is that female politicians- like, say, the highly ornamental and evidently rather incompetent Baroness Warsi- should be more "courageous" in making stands for what they believe in.

Or some such twaddle.

Here is the reality of powerful women: if they act like men, and are therefore treated like men, they cannot then turn around and claim foul play and play the sexism card. It is beyond ridiculous to do this. A woman who insists on being judged by male standards will, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, completely fail to meet them- and the reason for this is very simple.

As I and many, many others like me have pointed out repeatedly, men and women are different by nature and by design. We act differently, we work from different assumptions and fundamental desires, and we achieve very different outcomes. To expect a female politician to be judged by male standards is not only unrealistic, it is ridiculous.

A female politician who sleeps around with various men would be called a whore- and quite rightly so.

A female politician who swears like a sailor in public and generally acts without decorum would be called a clown- and quite rightly so.

A female politician who makes outrageous statements for the sake of getting attention would be quite difficult to take seriously- and quite rightly so.

Why? Because all of these things go against feminine nature. And when we see something as unnatural and bizarre as this, we react viscerally to it.

There is nothing strange or reprehensible about those reactions- such things are ways of maintaining order and structure within human society. Shame, after all, is a most powerful weapon, and should be used liberally in order to ensure that the norms and values that define a culture are preserved and protected.

Boris Johnson can get away with acting as he does because a man can act like a bit of a clown in public and get away with it. There is nothing particularly wrong with this- when done right, it can be used as a powerful way to express masculine ambition, drive, and control. A woman who acted like Boris Johnson does would instantly be labelled a laughingstock, and quite correctly, because she would be demonstrating a lack of control and poise- two qualities that are essential parts of the female identity.

So the next time this particular(ly silly) writer- Beverly something-or-other- feels like getting on her high horse about the antics that male politicians can get away with, perhaps she should instead discreetly find an excuse to be hors de combat in order that she might properly understand the otherwise blindingly obvious truth that men and women are DIFFERENT, and this is a VERY GOOD THING.

Go kick the bucket

Aaron Clarey gives the only possible rational response to this stupid ALS ice bucket challenge that's sweeping the globe, for reasons that I completely fail to understand:

Look, I'll make this really simple. This is a disease that affects a total of up to perhaps 30,000 Americans. That is 0.001% of the entire population. It's also less than the total number of people that die each year due to traffic collisions in this country.

Now, the ALS craze has raised some $80M for research into ALS. All well and good. But kindly stop wasting everyone's time pretending that this is some great crusade to slay some hideous demon. It is not. It's an exercise in feel-good solipsism that accomplishes little other than a lot of publicity and free press, and incidentally allows us to watch our favourite celebrities making asses of themselves in public.

I'm all for that latter benefit. But, as Aaron says in his video, either cure this disease, or f*** off. You're not proving anything by taking the ice bucket challenge, other than that you're willing to follow along with any old stupid fad for attention.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Now he's just showing off...

If ever we needed evidence as to why Roger Federer is such a joy to watch on the tennis court:

The thing is, the ball on which he hit that ridiculously awesome 'tweener was actually out. And he still tracked it down, whacked it between the legs, and managed to whack his opponent in the arse. Without looking.

Federer is a goddamn human cheat code. And I mean that in the best possible way. He is also, as far as I'm concerned anyway, the greatest tennis player of all time- possibly the greatest athlete of all time.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

RIP Robin Williams

I can't think of a better send-off for a great comic actor and evidently thoroughly decent human being than the one that Terrence Popp and Blake O. Kleiner put together:

Clear skies, Mr. Williams. May you find peace and grace in the arms of the Lord.

Drive-by country

Molotov Mitchell has some rather trenchant observations to make about the State of New Jersey, on his way to making some quite poignant observations about lone soldiers fighting for Israel:

Unfortunately, I can't really avoid NJ. I live in the state. I do, however, acknowledge that every single one of the charges that he levels against the state is true.

Gun control laws here are very much out of control. I looked into applying for a gun licence a while back. Turns out, the paperwork is so involved and so ridiculous that you might as well not bother- and it's not easy finding a pistol or rifle range that is within driving distance that actually allows you to burn through enough ammo to become proficient.

And he's quite right about driving through Pennsylvania instead of NJ. My family and I drove from Ohio to NJ once. The countryside in PA is astonishingly beautiful. You could drive through Pennsylvania for hours without ever getting bored. But the moment you're within spitting distance of the border with Jersey, the scenery changes- you can actually see everything becoming more drab, more depressing, and more shady, by the mile. When you actually cross over into the Garden State, you can literally smell the change.

For all of that, I like New Jersey. I'd rather live here than New York, at any rate. At least here people have the good sense to admit that their state is corrupt and shady. New Yorkers have this insufferable superiority complex about their state, and a much higher sales tax to boot.

Leave the barbarians alone

Pat Buchanan proves, yet again, exactly why the rest of the country should be listening to him very closely when it comes to foreign policy:
But before allowing these “Cassandras” to stampede us back into the civil-sectarian Middle East wars that resulted from our previous interventions, let us inspect more closely what they are saying. 
If ISIS’ gains are truly an “existential threat” to the republic and our cities are about to “go up in flames,” why did these Republican hawks not demand that President Obama call back Congress from its five-week vacation to vote to authorize a new war on ISIS in Syria and Iraq? 
After all, King, McCain and Graham belong to a party that is suing the president for usurping Congressional powers. Yet, they are also demanding that Obama start bombing nations he has no authority to bomb, as ISIS has not attacked us. 
King, McCain and Graham want Obama to play imperial president and launch a preemptive war that their own Congress has not authorised. 
What kind of constitutionalists, what kind of conservatives are these? 
Is Graham right that an “existential threat” is at hand? Is our very existence as a nation in peril? Graham says no force in the Mideast can stop ISIL without us. Is this true? 
Turkey, a nation of 76 million, has the second-largest army in NATO, equipped with U.S. weapons, and an air force ISIL does not have.
If President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to crush ISIS, he could seal his border to foreign fighters entering Syria and send the Turkish army to assist President Bashar Assad in annihilating ISIS in Syria. 
The jihadists of the Islamic State may be more motivated, but they are hugely outnumbered and outgunned in the region.
There is absolutely nothing to be gained from yet another American intervention in the Middle East. If these Musloid barbarians insist on slaughtering each other, let them, and let their "god" sort them out. America has no business intervening.

As Mr. Buchanan also points out, any "conservative" who on the one hand wants to sue the current President for imperial overreach- and such a lawsuit is completely justified given President Jackass's predilection for executive orders and unilateral action over fidelity to Constitutional division of powers- but on the other hand wants that same incompetent and gormless President to intervene without proper authorisation from Congress, is a roaring hypocrite.

Such hypocrisy is only to be expected from neo-cons like Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham. These men believe that America's might is best used in shaping the world to suit idealistic American visions of what the world should look like. They utterly fail to understand that the neo-con vision of a democratic free world completely ignores the reality that race, culture, and institutions are inextricably intertwined. What works for a culture derived from Greco-Roman institutions and Judeo-Christian values will assuredly not work for a culture based on pagan, or, worse, Islamic institutions and values.

And since no neo-conservative in his right mind is going to argue for the wholesale slaughter and conversion at sword-point of the Middle East's barbarian Arab populations to Christianity, their entire philosophy of imposing Western-style democracy upon people who have historically shown zero capacity or ability to build and maintain it is not only incoherent, it is actively dangerous.

Let the Sunni and the Shia slaughter each other. Let the Turks figure out which side they want to choose. Let the Israelis alone to do what they do best- killing and breaking those who attempt to harm them. And let America tend to its myriad problems right here at home- not the smallest of which involves tens of thousands of barbarian invaders streaming right over the southern border every year.

There are more urgent things to worry about than the psychotic actions of a bunch of Islamist loonies. One can no more deter or reason with them than one would with a hurricane.

Monday, 25 August 2014

A cautionary tale

I've been seeing various pundits talking about front-runners for the job of President of the United States once Obarmy's term finally ends in 2016 (unless you people actually do what is right for a change and IMPEACH THE BASTARD!!!).

Evidently, the front-runner for the job, by a country mile, across a plurality of voters, is the Lizard Queen, better known as one "Hillary Rodham Clinton".

The usual suspects are punting her for the post because of her "exceptional qualifications", or some such nonsense. Of course, once you scratch beneath the surface and realise just what an unscrupulous, unprincipled pair of serpents she and her husband are, you might find yourself wondering if maybe voting to put those two back in charge of the country would be such a great idea*.

To those doubts, I can add two additional useful perspectives- one fictional, one historical.

The fictional perspective comes from a great near-future military fiction book by John Ringo- The Last Centurion. I first read it about 7 years ago and I recently finished re-reading it; the entertainment value certainly doesn't diminish over time with that one. The plot of the book is pretty interesting: basically, the world enters a mini-Ice Age at the same time that a worldwide killer flu pandemic strikes, and these two disasters coincide with the fact that there happens to be a very liberal female President in the White House, who has the mainstream media entirely on her side. Through not-inconsiderable legal chicanery, she manages to secure emergency powers that allow her to rule as, essentially, a dictator- and proceeds to completely FUBAR the entire country with insane left-wing policies that are utterly devoid of logic, sound judgement, and expert opinion.

Sounding familiar yet?

Actually, the reason I re-read this book recently was to see how the predictions that John Ringo made in it- fictional ones, to be sure, but predictions nonetheless- had panned out. He was in fact eerily accurate on a number of points- the only one that he missed was that the Idiot-in-Chief is a half-black quasi-Communist moron who prefers to spend most of his time "on vacation" (and that is a Very Good Thing).

The point of all of this is that the awfully bleak future that John Ringo sketches out in that book could happen, all too easily, in your country, if you're not careful.

"But Didact", I hear you say, "we Americans would never be dumb enough to turn over absolute power to a psychotic bitch like that! And besides, we have the Constitution to protect us! Even if we did elect the Antichrist, she couldn't possibly be as bad as all that!!!"

Au contraire, mes amis.

In the first place, you Americans are stupid enough to do this. You've done it before, and I'm quite sure you'll do it again- hell, you elected Barack Obama, TWICE. Any country that does this to itself, willingly, is quite likely beyond saving.

Remember a guy named Abraham Lincoln? You Yankees let him get away with being a dictator in all but name- and more than 600,000 of your people, more than 10 percent of your population at the time, died so that his dream of a strong central government and unified welfare state could live.

In the second place, it is far easier than you might think to allow a woman as ruthless, as politically savvy, and as utterly devoid of morals as Hillary Clinton to achieve absolute power.

Let me tell you how.

This is a story from another big democracy, about the time that they elected a female Prime Minister- who used a national emergency as an excuse to give herself near-absolute power, and very nearly destroyed her nation.

Before we proceed, I guess you need to understand something about Indian electoral politics: the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is the Indian equivalent of the Kennedy family here in the US, in terms of both political influence and historical closeness to the political scene. Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's first Prime Minister; her son also became Prime Minister, his wife Sonia (who is Italian, by the way) is the spiritual and political compass of the Congress Party, and Indira's grandson Rahul has been manoeuvering his way toward the premiership for years. (So far, unsuccessfully.)

Despite the fact that no one in the Nehru-Gandhi family is actually related to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi- Indians call him "Mahatma", or "Great Soul"- there is tremendous political capital to be had in the fact that the current members of that family are descended from the first Prime Minister of India, and they all happen to share the name of the spiritual father of their country. It's a bit like being called George P. Bush, or Robert F. Kennedy Jr.- even if you've accomplished nothing whatsoever in your life, you get automatic name recognition right away. And that is no bad thing in politics.

Unsurprisingly, this factor worked very much in Indira Gandhi's favour. As Prime Minister, Mrs. Gandhi made it perfectly clear that she had no tolerance whatsoever for dissenting opinions- it was very much her way, or the highway. Subordinates quickly realised that if they wanted to get anywhere under her government, they had to play by her rules. Or else.

Politicians tend to achieve absolute power by resorting to highly populist measures, and Indira Gandhi was no exception. In a country where nearly everyone was impoverished- remember, this is back when India still believed in the insanity of socialism as a way of life- Indira Gandhi turned populist vote-buying into an art form. She nationalised entire industries, turned a fire-hose on "the evil rich", spent vast sums of money on the poor, and fostered a cult of personality unlike anything that most Americans have ever seen, let alone understood.

She then proceeded to use a combination of economic unrest, a recent war with arch-nemesis Pakistan, the OPEC oil embargo, and repeated labour strikes to declare a state of emergency that gave her effectively absolute power.

The end results? Massive curtailments of civil liberties. Arrests of political dissidents, without warrants or due cause. A forced sterilisation programme pushed through by her son Sanjay. Torture of jailed detainees, against the letter and spirit of the Indian Constitution. Suspension of freedom of religious practice- especially for the large and vocal Sikh minority. Utter destruction of Constitutional checks and balances between various branches of government. Depletion of the public fisc.

The list goes on, and on, and on.

This is but a taste of what could happen in your country if you are stupid enough to believe the lies that your politicians tell you- especially that one politician named Hillary Rodham Clinton. She may well promise you that she will work toward women's "rights", and gay "rights", and whatever other "rights" that you might think are Good and Proper and Just. In reality, she will work to consolidate her own power over you. She cannot be trusted with your economy, your national defence, or your foreign policy- witness the miserable job she did as Secretary of State, and then tell me whether any foreign leader takes her seriously as either friend or foe.

There are a few things that might save your country, to be sure. One of them is still your Constitution- even now, after all of the abuses that you people have heaped upon it. See, unlike the Indian Constitution, which runs to some 500 pages with all of its amendments and addenda and appendices and is completely unreadable and incomprehensible, the American Constitution is a work of pure genius. It is short, simple, easy to understand, and to the point. It does not enshrine permanent privileges for any one minority that allows that minority to impose its will unchecked upon everyone else. It is the only thing that might save you from a woman with an appetite for power and a lack of any sense of proportion- such as Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Take heed from the lessons of the past, or else you will wake up one day and wonder just why the hell your country- supposedly the home of the free- looks so much like a fascist dictatorship.

*I'll put this as bluntly as I possibly can: YOU'RE VOTING FOR A CLINTON, YOU !@#$%^&* MORON!!! WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Drummer joke

A rock drummer and avid RUSH fan (that's kind of redundant, by the way) dies and goes to Heaven. He is met at the gates by St. Peter, who proceeds to show him around the place. It's all very nice and enjoyable, but then the drummer hears something that he could swear sounds exactly like a RUSH song's drum track.

Aghast, he turns to St. Peter and asks him, "Don't tell me Neil Peart's dead?!?!"

St. Peter merely smiles and says, "No, that's God, practicing on the drums. He wishes He could play like Neil Peart!"

Back on the iron horse

The absolute worst thing about coming back from a vacation is that, for the time that you're away, your normal training regimen and fitness routine is completely disrupted. Trying to pick it up again is not a pleasant experience.

When you're on vacation, by definition you aren't lifting heavy weights or going on long runs or doing intense martial arts training. (Well... we were, for the first few days, but that's another story.) If you are, your idea of a vacation is probably quite different, and a lot less fun, than what most people have in mind.

As a result, your muscles lose a small amount of definition and strength because they're just not being forced to do very much work.

The overall loss in strength is actually not that severe- if you were strong before you went on vacation, you're still going to be strong when you come back. The difference is that stresses that your muscles would normally adapt to without the slightest hesitation suddenly become quite difficult, even dangerous, when you have to resume training. Your muscles will have lost a degree of flexibility, strength, and work capacity through inactivity.

It is also possible to lose weight during a vacation- and for a powerlifter, after a certain point, this is not a good thing. My tennis partner asked me yesterday if I'd lost weight; I told him that I hoped not. Unfortunately, he was right- my lifting belt was rather more loose on me today than I reckon it should be.

At some point, a powerlifter will have lost pretty much all the fat he's ever going to lose, so losing weight means losing muscle, and that is NOT good news.

All of this means that when you step back into the squat rack after a vacation of decent length, well, it's going to suck.

I won't bore you with full details of my workout today. Let's just say that normally on a Sunday I would be trying to maximise my 1RM number for squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses. That usually means work sets for squats starting at 335lbs and continuing on to 365lbs if I can. When I'm in good condition, that sort of workout is hard but routine. At peak strength I am fully capable of repping out 315lbs squats.

So you can imagine how annoying it is to come back from an amazing and life-changing vacation and discover that squatting 315lbs suddenly became ridiculously hard. It's like I'd completely forgotten how to do squats over the space of two weeks.

At least my deadlifts hadn't suffered too much. Squats are a very technical and difficult exercise- at least for me- but deadlifts are not. They are also my absolute favourite exercise in the gym, so it would have really sucked if I hadn't been able to lift 405lbs for reps. Fortunately that didn't happen.

The thing is, the longer you delay getting back in the saddle, the more painful it's going to be down the line to do so. At some point you'll give up entirely and not bother, and then all of your gains will go to the place where CrossFitters give themselves hernias and rhabdo.

To be clear, vacations are a Very Good Thing from a training perspective- you can come back even stronger from a couple of weeks off, provided that you get back to training. The suck comes from the fact that for the first few workouts, your muscles will be sore as hell and you'll wonder where all of your gains went while your body re-adjusts to the demands you're placing on it again.

All of this applies to much more than powerlifting, of course. Ask Carey about how his playing sounds after a week away from the fretboard, and he'll probably tell you just how much it sucks having to get all of the calluses back and getting back into practice. This applies to any aspect of your life where you've built up a solid routine, abandoned it for a couple of weeks to do something different, and then come back and wondered why the hell everything seems so much harder.

The only way forward is to embrace the suck. Do the damn work. It will get easier after a week, maybe two. And then you'll break through the barriers of pain and frustration that were holding you back, and you'll hit new personal bests.

That is the benefit of going on vacation once in a while. The drawbacks are the price that you have to pay for those benefits. That's all there is to it.
Not the Didact's back, by the way

Thoughts (and pictures) from a small rocky country

The first thing that strikes you about Israel when you get off the plane is how green everything is. Taking the bus from Ben Gurion Airport to the place where we were staying, I vividly remember staring out the window in stunned fascination at the never-ending war between the green of the city and the brown and grey of the sand and rock in which, somehow, the Israelis had figured out ways to plant trees and shrubs. It's the same story no matter where you go in Israel- wherever the Jews have settled the land, there is greenery.

I have never seen anything like it, in any country I have visited- and I have visited many. I have been to Egypt, and there too you see greenery surrounded by desert- but you have to understand that the greenery exists because almost the entirety of Egypt is concentrated in a very narrow band around the Nile River. If you were to look at satellite imagery of Egypt, you would see almost no green whatsoever beyond that river.

In Israel, by contrast, there is green everywhere. Even in the midst of barren rock and desert, there is green. When I went into the Negev and saw lush greenery and children's playgrounds and open water in the midst of the wilderness that Moses and the Twelve Tribes of Israel wandered in for forty years, tears came to my eyes at the simple beauty that surrounded me.

It might sound weird to get emotional about gardens and playgrounds- until you've actually seen the magnificent desolation of the Negev, and you've felt the awesome heat of the Dead Sea. Believe me, when you've seen and felt the withering heat of the Sun like that, you gain a whole new appreciation for a simple garden.

You can see exactly what I'm talking about from
satellite imagery of Israel- there is
life even in the
most unexpected places here. (Source: Wikipedia)
Passing through Tel Aviv- the pictures do get better from here, I promise

Going to the waterfront of Tel Aviv at sunset- the name literally means "Hill of Spring", and it's not hard to see why
You will find orchards like this in many kibbutzim in Israel- even ones that grow in what used to be the swamp of the Galilee region

I tend to be quite sceptical about claims of miracles- even Biblical ones. It is from that sceptical, though God-fearing, point of view that I tell you this: Israel is, without question, a land of miracles. You see it everywhere you go in this country. From the Old City of Jerusalem, to the ancient port of Acre, to kibbutzim like Deganiya and Ein Gedi and Rosh Ha'Nikra and Sdot Yam and beyond, the Israelites have created a land of beauty and grace in the midst of some of the most brutally unforgiving territory in the world.

If that is not miraculous, I don't know what is.

The outskirts of the ruins of Caesarea, built by King Herod

The modern port city of Haifa- an exceedingly pleasant place- and the ancient city of Acre far in the north.

In order to understand Israel, you have to visit at least one kibbutz while you are there. Unless you do so, you will never be able to grasp the soul and passion of these odd people that we know today as modern Israelites. It is one of the very, very few voluntary communal organisations in the entire world that actually does what it aims to do: work for the common good.

I'm not saying that the kibbutz or moshav concept has eliminated the profit motive or human greed, because it plainly has not. Gan Shmuel kibbutz, for instance, is the majority owner of Gan Shmuel Foods, a factory that produces various mass-marketed and tailor-made fruit and vegetable juice products, and has prospered just as the factory has prospered. Sdot Yam kibbutz is home to a very pleasant guest resort literally under a hundred feet from the waters of the Mediterranean, and the town itself is home to a factory that produces some of the most highly sought-after artificial tile and kitchen counter-top fittings (in the form of Caesarstone) in the entire world. In fact, most of the kibbutzes in Israel have to a greater or lesser extent adopted a form of free-market capitalism- with uniquely Israeli characteristics.

I guess the best way to put it is this: in Israel, people look out for each other because if they don't, no one else will. You need to borrow a lawnmower? No problem, just walk over to your neighbour in the kibbutz and ask him. The unspoken expectation is that you will return that mower in the same condition that you got it, in timely fashion. If you use that mower to your personal advantage during that time, that's fine- but you damn well return it the same way you found it.

In other words, a kibbutz is a very high-trust society*- provided you have earned that trust by conforming to Israeli norms. Anyone who does not conform to these norms is viewed, quite rightly in my opinion, as an outsider and therefore suspect.

Dairy farm on a kibbutz that I visited. By the way, if you think dairy farming is fun, you've never been around a cow. They're very stupid, very smelly, and generally very unpleasant- yet they produce great milk and meat. The Big Fella Upstairs has an interesting sense of humour.

It is difficult to think of any other nation on Earth where the people live in such close proximity to millions of enemies who would nominally like nothing better than to destroy them. Take a look at the picture below. It was taken less than two hundred metres below the border with Lebanon.

The view over the cliffs of Rosh Ha'Nikra. The border with Lebanon is literally right above my head.
Travelling through the eastern part of the country, through the West Bank- which you have to travel through, pretty much, if you want to get from the Sea of Galilee to Jericho, Jerusalem, and beyond- you will pass by the River Jordan. That river is less than three metres wide in quite a lot of places. The hills that surround the river are covered by nothing much more than fields and farms and open brushland. It would not- and does not- take very much for a small group of determined Musloids to sneak over that border and into Israel and wreak havoc.

In fact, that is exactly what happened- to the point where Israel's army started making incursions into Jordanian territory. The Jordanians, understandably, got rather annoyed with this. To which Israel responded: "do something about these fellaheen that keep sneaking over our border!".

Amazingly, the Jordanians did "do something"- they effectively fought a not-quite-civil-war between their own people and the Jordanian Army to suppress the more hardcore factions on the Jordanian side. This is because the Jordanian leadership, for all of its faults, recognises something that most Arabs have not the wit nor wisdom to comprehend: having Israel as a friend, even if one at arm's length, is far better than having Israel as a foe.

Or take a look at this picture below. This was taken on the hills above the Sea of Galilee. Directly north of where I was standing were the Golan Heights- and the border with Syria. At the foot of those hills is the kibbutz of Ein Gev, where some of the most intense battles were fought during the War of Independence against the Syrian Army. It was there that a unique Israeli invention called the Davidka ("Little David") was tested, with unexpected and spectacular results. It was there that a legendary stand was made against foreign invaders on Israeli soil.

And it is there that Israel has a difficult, contested, and porous border with a regime in Syria that would like nothing better than to destroy this little country of miracles.

That is but a small taste of what Israel faces. Every. Single. Day. And they face it without malice or despair or fear. They face it as a fact of life. Truly, the Israelis are a remarkable people.

The view from Porras, near Tiberias, above the Sea of Galilee. Look at this picture, and then tell me that Israel is not a God-blessed land.

The site where St. John the Baptist bathed the Lord Christ, at the River Jordan. I didn't dip into the waters- I'm still just a heathen, and it just wouldn't have been right somehow to do so frivolously.

The road to Calvary is something that should have the same significance for Christians as the Hajj has for Muslims. I can't even begin to do that journey justice in words. It's impossible to adequately describe what I felt as I walked the same steps that Christ did while carrying His cross to the hill of Golgotha.

It was, in a word, overwhelming.

In order to understand why, you have to understand what the Lord was going through on the day that He was crucified.

His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane was not really from fear of what would happen to Him- it was because He understood that the very people He had loved and cherished and tried to lead into salvation would soon turn their backs upon Him.

He was sentenced by a representative of the world's most powerful empire for political reasons- and even then, Pontius Pilate tried desperately to save Christ from death and appease the Pharisees by having Him whipped instead. Except that He wasn't just whipped- He was scourged. The very flesh from His back was torn apart by the whip, inducing massive trauma, shock, and blood loss.

After suffering all of that, He still had to carry a heavy wooden cross for nearly 600 metres up to the hill of Golgotha. Without assistance from his tormentors, of any kind. He stumbled and fell three times along the way- the very fact that He did not die on the road to Calvary itself speaks of superhuman effort and devotion. Along the way, He comforted His mother, the Holy Virgin Mary, and His converts. He was helped along the way by Simon of Cyrene and others, but for the most part, He bore the burden alone- knowing full well that every single step bore him closer to a horrifically painful death.

Just how horrifically painful that death is, requires some elaboration. Crucifixion is perhaps the third or fourth most awful way to die- right after immolation and drowning, maybe just above execution by the blood eagle. And unlike that last one, which may be a fictional form of execution, crucifixion was definitely used by the Romans to kill those they didn't like.

When you understand what crucifixion involves, and how horrible it is as a way to die, then you may have a slightly better appreciation of just why it is that Christians regard the final sacrifice of Christ as the bedrock of their entire faith. Without the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the entire construct of Christianity completely falls apart.

So perhaps you understand now what I mean when I say that it is extraordinarily difficult to describe what I felt in words when I entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

I touched the rock upon which His body was washed when He was taken down from the Cross.

I saw the paintings of the Lord's side being pierced by the Roman soldier Longinus- and I understood, at last, just why (Armenian) Christian tradition holds that Longinus converted to Christianity and became a martyr for his faith.

I saw the Tomb of Christ, built where His body lay after his death before being moved to the final resting place.

I touched the rock at the peak of Golgotha, buried today under an altar where the faithful come to see where the Lord died in the name of all Mankind.

To say that I was moved by all of this would be an understatement for the ages.

I have understood, intellectually, for a long time now that Christianity provides the closest and most accurate understanding of God's Truth that Man can perceive. I did not understand, emotionally, what that meant until I walked the Road to Calvary, and saw firsthand just why it is that Christ's sacrifice and resurrection are such powerful articles of rational faith- and yes, there is no contradiction whatsoever in that phrase.

A picture showing the Via Dolorosa- the Road to Calvary- in its modern form. It has been altered over the centuries, by the way, due to "political issues".

The altar directly underneath the peak of Golgotha in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Even in the most unlikely places, it is possible to find life in this country. Below is a picture taken at Qumran National Park- also known as the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. I can't really do justice to the awesome heat of the area- it's the lowest inhabited point on Earth, lower even than Death Valley, and the combination of unbelievable heat and extreme desertification make the area incredibly hostile to life- yet somehow, life thrives there. There is a spring near Qumran known as David's Spring, which we visited and bathed in for a bit- and it's a stunningly beautiful place.

That is indeed the Dead Sea in the distance. I did in fact wallow around in the Dead Sea- it's an odd experience, actually. We visited it on a very hot day, the water temperature was forty degrees Celsius (seriously), and you don't "swim" in the Dead Sea- not if you know what's good for you. Instead, you just sort of "float"- sit your ass down like you're on the can, and let extremely high salt content of the water do the rest. It's literally impossible for the human body to sink (without assistance) in that water- which is some 30% salt- but it is quite possible to burn out your eyes and stomach lining.

It's a very nasty place in many ways- and yet astonishingly beautiful even so. The Israelis have done a phenomenal job turning it into a tourist attraction, not least because Mt. Masada, which is a site of immense spiritual and historical importance to the Israelites, is very close to the shores of the Dead Sea.

That blue smudge waaaaay over in the background is the Dead Sea. The green stuff in between? Mineral harvesting, fig trees, date palms, and banana plantations. The Israelis are that good at figuring this stuff out.

Masada summarises the character of Israel probably better than anything else I saw there. It is there that the First Jewish-Roman War was fought with the greatest drama. The fortress of Masada is an astonishing place- built, like so many other of the greatest Jewish historical sites, by King Herod, at the top of a mountain more than 400 metres above the shores of the Dead Sea. To get there- at least, the way we got there- you have to go up a winding switchback trail up one side of the mountain called the Snake Trail.

Most people would take an hour or more to get up that trail. We did it in 35 minutes. I'm not saying it was pleasant- I badgered, bullied, and/or carried several people up that trail when they ran out of steam two-third of the way up- but it's an achievement even so.

At the top of that mountain, you can see the fortifications that the Jews of Bar Giora's time setup after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple. You can see the breaching point that the soldiers of General Lucius Flavius Silva created to get into the last stronghold of Judea.

And, as the historian Josephus documents, of the nearly 1,000 defenders who were left at Masada when the Romans broke through, almost all of them committed suicide**.

There is no better example of the spirit and will of the Israelites than this mountain-fortress. They would rather die by their own hands than retreat from this land- their land. They love this country because it is, indeed, theirs- given to them by God, beautified by their hands, more important to them than anything else.

In a very real sense, Masada is Israel.

Remains of one of the eight (!!!!!) forts that the Romans built when they besieged Masada, for three years, following the Sack of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple.

Sunrise over the Dead Sea, and Masada

"Magnificent desolation". That is what Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin called the surface of the Moon. (I mistakenly thought it was Lawrence of Arabia- my bad.) That is also a very good description of the Negev Desert as well, by the way.

There is something wonderful about the desert. Most people hate the idea of scrambling about in a rocky, barren wasteland under the murderous heat of the Sun, where life seems to have abandoned the rock and the wind to their own designs.

But if you know how to listen to it, the desert has some of the most hauntingly beautiful melodies you will ever hear.

Just walk up to the top of a dune or cliff in the desert, and listen in silence. One of two things will happen. Either you will find the entire exercise pointless and you'll want to get out of the awful heat into shade and air conditioning and where the hell did that water bottle go and why are we still here...

Or you will hear the beauty of the desert calling out to your very soul, as I did.

There is danger and death in the desert. If you disrespect it for even a moment, it will kill you. But if you know how and where to look, there is simple joy and wonder to be found in this most unlikely of places.

And there is life here too- life in the most unlikely of places, life under the burning Sun and brilliant blue sky, life that exists perfectly adapted to what most people think of as Hell on Earth.

All you have to do is find it.

The landscape of the Negev- the wilderness of the Israelites, and one of the sternest tests of the will of Man that God has ever created.

*More to come on that idea shortly.

**There is some debate as to whether that actually happened.