Petition

Twenty thousand people have signed a petition stating that — come what may — they give an idol accused of wrongdoing their total and full support. I don’t understand the point of the petition, other than to reinforce the belief in the minds of twenty thousand people — and all their friends — that the accused is entirely innocent and a victim of a hideous slander. That, of course, may turn out to be the case. But total and full support in the face of accusations? Continue reading “Petition”

Tourists

Everyone comments that Istanbul is so beautiful. Well, the parts that tourists visit are. As for the other 98% of it. Well it’s just your average sprawling modern metropolis. And not at all my cup of tea.

Absolute power

You can honour and respect a man who served his country well, without granting him absolute power. Historical parallels indicate that moves to consolidate power in the hands of one man will end in disaster. But who can argue with the bombastic masses, dreaming of a return to imagined glory? Legends are being written before our very eyes. Pious propaganda wins the day.

Dunyalicious

As salamiualleycome… Are you interested in getting all the trappings of serious dunya? Expensive sports cars, hideous mansions, glitter, pomp and all the adornments of worldly life? You are? Then you need to attend our dunya mastermind training today and we’ll show you how i’ns’hAllah! (bring a friend and we’ll give you an extra apostrophe absolutely free)

Freedom

We may not like what you wear, but we’ll defend your right to wear it… Oh, no, sorry, that’s not it… What was it? Oh yes… We may not like what you say, but we’ll defend your right to say it…

But only if we agree with you and if it’s especially insulting to people we don’t like, and if it helps inflame community tensions…  but not if it’s something sensible like suggesting that it’s wrong to threaten women with arrest if they don’t remove their tops…

In that case you can just shut up, because liberté, égalité and fraternité only apply to people who recognise the importance of wearing beachwear designed by a great Frenchman, who named his garment after a beautiful Pacific atoll, five days after the first of 23 nuclear weapons tests rendered it uninhabitable… And they claim the burkini is a celebration of explosive violence!

No, freedom of expression is not about minorities choosing what they wear or how they enjoy their beach holiday… Freedom of expression is about defending great European traditions like freedom itself, liberty, independence, privilege, unrestraint, indulgence, abandonment and, well, any synonym that takes our fancy on any particular day, which of course only free people can really, truly understand…

It is about being free to be free to be free, and that includes being free from being free if being free undermines freedom. Thus it is the right of the state and its authorities to force women to adopt the national uniform of beachgoers everywhere, in the name of freedom. It is the right of authorities to compel, coerce and oblige individuals to do not as they please, but as others please, in the name of freedom. Indeed that is the defence of freedom itself!

So say yes to racial slurs, to the targeting of minorities, to insulting the powerless, to criminalising the innocent, to colonial expeditions and jingoistic expressions of solidarity with the powerful. Send those third-generation immigrants back home. Bring the de-veiling ceremonies enforced in Algeria in the 1950s to the towns and suburbs of France. Rekindle all that once made France so great: the brutal supremacist violence of empire, the sneering and mocking voice of secular rationalism, the disavowal of anything sacred other than the beloved symbols of the Republic. Let the world taste this peculiar elixir of freedom!

If there is a clash of civilisations unfolding before us, it is not as our social commentators imagine it, for Daesh and French authorities are on the same side here, both telling women how they should dress, as if the private realm were the property of the state. If there is a clash, it is between ordinary people who cherish their individual liberties, and ideological states which wish to police them. ‘Freedom!’ they chant, with weapons charged. ‘Be free,’ they insist, as they trample on the freedoms of little people everywhere.

Freedom is about being free to be free to be free, which includes being free from being free if freedom is undermined by said freedom. This is a freedom which insists, “I do not care if you do not like what I have to say, but I’ll defend to your death my right to say it.” This is a freedom in which true freedom comes from conforming to the whims of the majority, from obeying the strictures of a freedom-giving ideology and from giving up self-determination.

In short, you will never be truly free until you have given up your faulty notions of freedom. Long live freedom!

Real world

It’s sad that so many people seem to be genuinely surprised that not everybody is a bigot — that complete strangers will stand up in defense of the innocent. Get out of your bubble! This is the real world outside the self-polarising infinity loop of gloom we all seem intent on occupying.

Laws

At last, something for Muslims to celebrate from Israel, other than its contribution to the high-tech smartphones in our pockets: Israeli law prohibits illustrating Prophets in a way that would hurt the feelings of believers.

Review: Anker Wireless Keyboard and Optical Mouse

I purchased Anker’s Wireless Keyboard and Optical Mouse from Amazon at the end of December, primarily for use with a Surface Pro 3. The Surface Pro 3, of course, is billed as the tablet that can replace your laptop, but for reasons known only to them, Microsoft sell the Type Cover as an optional extra for an extortionate (in my opinion) £110. Anker’s keyboard and mouse combo cost me £16, which felt a much fairer deal, though Chinese workers may disagree.

It’s described as a mini keyboard. Personally I’d say it’s very close to full size (except for the the absence of navigation keys and numeric pad, obviously). The key block is virtually the same size as my traditional Dell desktop keyboard, and the layout is very similar to that on Dell XPS laptops. The keys themselves are possibly slightly smaller.

It is a US layout, but that ought not be a problem if you’re a touch typist (configure the keyboard layout in your operating system to your preference). The keyboard is perhaps a little more springy / clicky than more expensive keyboards, but honestly there’s not much in it. I’ve had no problems touch typing on it. The layout is well thought out.

The mouse won’t win any prizes for its looks, but it’s perfectly functional. For the bulk of my work I tend to use a Kensington Orbit optical trackball, which I find reduces repetitive strain in my right hand and arm. However the Anker mouse is fine for light use and is fairly comfortable to use.

The power save mode on both the keyboard and mouse are very helpful, as I often forget to turn off another wireless mouse we have. You simply have to click any button to reactivate them.

The battery/stand bump on the keyboard does make the keyboard a little more bulky, but it will still fit in my slim Evecase neoprene messenger case with the Surface Pro 3. So it is definitely portable, but it’s much closer to desktop proportions than a lot of real mini keyboards on sale on Amazon. Very handy if you plan to do proper work, rather than casual text input.

I’m perfectly happy with this keyboard and mouse combination. As it happens, I’m now using it with both the Surface Pro 3 and a Mac Mini, and it appears to work flawlessly with both. I suppose the only drawback is having to switch the wireless receiver dongle from one USB device to the other, but it’s hardly a major issue. A Bluetooth keyboard would not have presented this issue, but I have read mixed reviews of Bluetooth keyboards on the Surface.

Overall, a very good purchase for the price – and with very speedy delivery. I have no hesitation recommending this keyboard and mouse set if you’re on a tight budget.