1.7% or 17%???

June 25th, 2016

WSJ:

McKinsey Global Institute published a new estimate of China’s nonperforming loan ratio, measuring it at 7% as of last year. The indicator shows bad debt as a percentage of the total loan book, and is the most basic brush stroke in an analysis of China’s economic state.

McKinsey ventured that this portion could rise to 15% in 2019 if China fails to change its investment-heavy approach to economic development. The report also said China could add $5.6 trillion to its GDP by 2030 by promoting consumption, digitizing more business processes and taking other measures to emphasize productivity.

McKinsey’s bad-loan estimate sits almost squarely between the Chinese government’s own projection — 1.67% at the end of 2015, and 1.75% at the end of the first quarter — and other global analysts, including CLSA and the International Monetary Fund, which have it at around 15%.

Hey, it’s not just China.

Who is Donald Tusk?

June 24th, 2016

He’s mentioned in this Mail story on Brexit. He’s the president of the European council, unelected in any plebiscite. By too narrow a margin, voters in the UK told him and Jean-Claude Juncker to take a hike yesterday. Doing so must have been a good idea; after all, Lindsay Lohan was agin it. The Common Market made sense. By contrast, we’ve thought for a very long time that the euro and related fantasies did not. Example:

The small glass jugs filled with green or gold coloured extra virgin olive oil are familiar and traditional for restaurant goers across Europe but they will be banned from 1 January 2014 after a decision taken in an obscure Brussels committee earlier this week. From next year olive oil “presented at a restaurant table” must be in pre-packaged, factory bottles with a tamper-proof dispensing nozzle and labelling in line with EU industrial standards.

WSJ: “The leadership of every one of Britain’s five largest parties backed Remain. You could hardly find a CEO who didn’t recoil at the idea of Brexit.” In a way, Brexit is no big deal, but the fuss made by its opponents, Big This and Big That, says a mouthful.

Shall we burn our books and empty our museums?

June 24th, 2016

There is no doubt that some of the Danish cartoons would be offensive to many Muslims, because of the nature of the caricatures. But showing any image at all of Mohammed is objectionable to many Muslims. Take for example the 14th century Persian painting above, which was to have been part of Robert Gardner’s 2001 Islam: Empire of Faith. The PBS show was screened for CAIR, which had this to say:

Following the screening, CAIR sent a letter to series producer Robert Gardner expressing concerns about the representation of the Prophet. In that letter, CAIR wrote in part: “CAIR…would like to see your program succeed in offering a positive image of Islam and Muslims. The inclusion of this image would only serve as an unnecessary obstacle to that goal.” Gardner passed on CAIR concerns to PBS, which then instructed Gardner to alter the image.

Here’s what Gardner did, via Islam Online:

Fortunately, Gardner avoided controversy by agreeing to alter a 14th century imaginary painting of the Prophet after a request from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The painting shows the Prophet helping to place the black stone at the Kaaba. Speaking to the Baltimore Sun on May 4th, Gardner said, “After talking to PBS and various scholars, what we agreed to was a small re-animation of one shot of a 14th century painting of Muhammad, so that you won’t see his face. But you will still see the Prophet. Basically, we’re just showing the image from a different angle”

So what is the standard for censorship? Is it an offensive image or Mohammed, or any image at all of Mohammed? Indeed, is any portraiture legal in Islam, not only of Mohammed, but of any man or beast, real or imaginary? Unfortunately, Islam appears to have no clear standards on what is permitted to be represented in painting or sketchwork, though the religion appears to have a clear prohibition of statuary of any kind. From Volume 22 of our 1988 Encyclopedia Britannica on Islam (p. 38), which by the way has a picture of Mohammed on p.41:

The Arabs before Islam had hardly any art except poetry…The most important principle governing art was anti-iconism, i.e., the religious prohibition of figurization and representation of living creatures…Hence in Islamic anti-iconism two considerations are fused together: (1) rejection of such images that might become idols (these may be images of anything), and (2) rejection of figures of living things.

And from our trusty Janson second edition at page 241 (it also has a picture of Mohammed at cp. 29):

Only from about 800 on do we find strictures against representation as such in Moslem religious literature…The chief argument now is not the danger of idolatry but of human presumption: in making images of living things, the artist usurps a creative act that is reserved to God alone, since only He can breathe a soul into living creatures. Theoretically, therefore, human or animal figures of any kind were forbidden under Islamic law. Yet in actual practice the ban was only fully effective against large scale representational art for public display.

There seems to have been a widespread conviction, expecially at the luxury-loving courts of the caliphs and other Moslem princes, that images of living things were were harmless if they did not cast a shadow, if they were on a small scale, or applied to objects of daily use such as rugs, fabrics, pottery. As a result, human and animal figures did survive in Islamic art, but they tended to become reduced to decorative motifs…

An article by an art professor in the Tribune of India sums up the situation today, consistent with the Janson and Brittanica entries:

[W]hat view does Islam take of painting? We spoke of this at some length, for a few things needed to be established, at least in outline. The making of idols, or offering worship to them, is of course taboo, but it is also clear that there is no Koranic injunction against painting: the objection surfaces only in the Hadith, ‘Traditional Accounts of things said by The Prophet or his Companions’. Therein it is stated that the maker of forms, who arrogates to himself a task that belongs only to Allah, shall on the day of judgement be made answerable, and, being obviously unable to infuse life into what he had made, shall be shamed, and sent to perdition. This might be a simplification, but broadly this is the view that orthodox Islam took in the early years. And yet one knows all too well how much painting was done in the Islamic world, and with what brilliance. Was all this then done in defiance of the law? Or did the wonderfully pragmatic view that emerged in later centuries “that you shall not make any images that cast a shadow,” meaning sculptural forms, of course come to prevail in most of the Islamic world? There are no clear answers. What is certain, however, is that the orthodox view was never truly abandoned, and every now and then objections even to painting were raised, and controversies raged.

So views of painting and human representation seem to vary over the centuries in Islam, but mostly not in a good way for art as it is currently understood in the Western world. We know that Muslims are outraged at caricatures of Mohammed, and they disapprove of showing any picture at all of Mohammed as did CAIR. Human portraiture appears to have had its moments in miniatures in Persia from time to time, but we find few examples from the Arab world. As for statues, the Buddhas of Bamiyan tell that sad story, as AFP reported at the time:

“Based on the verdict of the clergymen and the decision of the Supreme Court of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) all the statues around Afghanistan must be destroyed. All the statues in the country should be destroyed because these statues have been used as idols and deities by the non-believers before. They are respected now and may be turned into idols in future too. Only Allah, the Almighty, deserves to be worshipped, not anyone or anything else.””Based on the verdict of the clergymen and the decision of the Supreme Court of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) all the statues around Afghanistan must be destroyed. All the statues in the country should be destroyed because these statues have been used as idols and deities by the non-believers before. They are respected now and may be turned into idols in future too. Only Allah, the Almighty, deserves to be worshipped, not anyone or anything else.”

Where would you have the West draw the line in self-censorship to please the Islamic world? Caricatures of Mohammed? Pictures of Mohammed? The grand John Singer Sargent portraits in the MFA and Met?

Perhaps you think that this clearly anti-Islamic statue of Mohammed should be removed from the US Supreme Court to please the art connoisseurs on the streets in Ramallah and Damascus. Where will you draw the line?

UPDATE

More outrage
, via Wikipedia and LGF:

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The Enlightenment: let’s call the whole thing off.

Undoing the Renaissance and more

June 24th, 2016

25karnak7.jpg 23xkarnak6.jpg

Egypt is a country of almost 80 million people, over 90% of whom are Muslim. It is the largest Islamic country in the Arab world. Therefore, what its chief religious authority promulgates appears to be important in the Islamic world. The Grand Mufti of Egypt may not be the Pope, but he seems to be far more than the Archbishop of Canterbury. When he says statuary — like that from the temple of Karnak at Luxor — is un-Islamic and forbidden, that statement seems far more important than those of the Taliban which we have previously discussed. It states anew the view, recurrent and common in the Arab world but denied or made light of by Western elites who continue to be in denial, that statues are sinful. From AFP (HT: American Thinker):

A fatwa issued by Egypt’s top religious authority which forbids the display of statues has art-lovers fearing it could be used by Islamic extremists as an excuse to destroy Egypt’s historical heritage. Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country’s top Islamic jurist, issued the religious edict which declared as un-Islamic the exhibition of statues in homes, basing the decision on texts in the hadith (sayings of the prophet)….

The fatwa did not specifically mention statues in museums or public places, but it condemned sculptors and their work. Still, many fear the edict could prod Islamic fundamentalists to attack Egypt’s thousands of ancient and pharaonic statues on show at tourist sites across the country.

“We don’t rule out that someone will enter the Karnak temple in Luxor or any other pharaonic temple and blow it up on the basis of the fatwa,” Gamal al-Ghitani, editor of the literary Akhbar al-Adab magazine, told AFP. Gomaa had pointed to a passage from the hadith that stated: “Sculptors would be tormented most on Judgment Day,” saying the text left no doubt that sculpting was “sinful” and using statues for decorating homes forbidden.

[T]he controversial Qatar-based Islamic scholar, Yussef al-Qaradawi [and TV star]…joined Gomaa in declaring that statues used for decoration are “haram” or un-Islamic. “Islam proscribed statues, as long as they symbolise living entities such as human beings and animals,” Qaradawi said on an Islamic website. “Islam proscribed all that leads to paganism or smells of it, statues of ancient Egyptians included,” he added. The only exception, he said, was “children’s toys.”

Many in the West do not take seriously as of yet the fact that mainstream Islam, as defined by Egypt’s chief religious authority, often finds statuary repellent and offensive, as it does so many other things, from cartoons to squiggles on milk shakes. The Grand Mufti’s ruling may invite more pathetic and self-defeating self-censorship in the West, if the Cartoon Riots are any indication. We have previously asked if we should shutter our museums to avoid giving offense to the Islamic world. The relevance of that question has been advanced by this latest outrage.

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Art is a dream of what could be; it is a metaphor that embodies hope and wonder and yearning and much else, as we have written. Indeed, we believe that in certain ways the humanistic art of the Renaissance that preceded the Enlightenment was actually a pre-figuring of those later accomplishments. (We can talk about this on the side if you like.) Islam has historically viewed statuary as a kind of idolatry, and this is true, for it elevates man to the status of Creator — which we applaud.

Thus the lines are drawn. The faithful for whom a 1400 year old book tells the entire and sufficient tale of humanity, on one side; and us infidels, who marvel at the non-submissive, idolatrous creations of man, on the other side. If the bad guys win, maybe the last statue they will destroy is Benvenuto Cellini’s famous Perseus with the Head of Medusa from mid 16th century Florence, pictured above, for it features beheading, the signal act of the barbarians at our gate.

Ten empirical deficiencies of sharia societies

June 24th, 2016

The Modern World in the West has a number of terrible problems that come from its wealth and ease, its licentiousness, and the profound ignorance of its people about how they came to be so rich and fortunate, as compared to almost all other people at all other times in the history of the world. We have discussed these problems in this space from time to time.

It is certainly arguable that what the West needs as a corrective to its failings, narcissism, and spiritual void is an infusion of religion. There are those even on the Left in America who argue that. However, it is hard to make the case that Islamic sharia law would be a useful corrective, based on the empirical evidence from sharia societies. In general, we observe that the closer the interpretation of sharia is to a literal reading, as with Taliban and Wahhabi Islamists, the worse things are for the men and women who live under such strictures.

We have previously argued in this space that sharia law is incompatible in important ways with the Judeo-Christian-Enlightenment tradition of law that America and the West are heir to. It is our contention that the more closely a society adheres literally to a seventh century book as the last word on law and the proper organization of society, the more dysfunctional that society will be in the Modern World. Today, we thought we’d take a moment to see what the empirical evidence seems to indicate.

In our view, sharia has a very poor track record as a legal system and means of organizing a society in the technologically oriented and globalized Modern World. Here are some categories for your consideration:

1) Poverty. Sharia societies are very poor as a consequence of their ideology. The total GDP of the Arab world, minus oil revenues, is less than that of tiny Finland. To make a side-by-side comparison, Israel’s GDP per capita is about 20x that of Egypt. China has gone from nothing to a $2 trillion economy over the last quarter century while Iran has stagnated for 25 years under revolutionary Shiism at a small fraction of China’s GDP. These are self-inflicted wounds of sharia.

2) Unemployment. Sharia socieites experience mass unemployment. Iran’s youth unemployment is 34% or more, Saudi Arabia’s unemployment is 25%, and the Palestinians have unemployment of 25-40% (Israel’s is 9%). Interestingly, these dysfunctional numbers in sharia countries carry over to Muslim populations in the West: in France and England, Muslim unemployment is 3x the national average. (We can’t help recalling the words of Khalid ibn Al-Walid on loving death over life when we read these depressing statistics.)

3) Technology and innovation. Sharia societies have a dreadful track record on innovation, the mother’s milk of keeping up in the Modern World. Saudi Arabia recently went six years without issuing a patent, Iran issued only one patent a couple of years ago, and Indonesia issued 30 patents over the last five years. By contrast, China went from issuing zero patents thirty years ago, to hundreds of thousands today. In the US, more patents were issued last year to the people of Utah than have ever been issued in the entire history of all sharia societies combined. (We recall Bernard Lewis’s oft-repeated comment that Islamic languages do not have a good equivalent for the word “curiosity.”)

4) Freedom of speech. There is little freedom of speech in sharia countries, as the Cartoon Riots all over the Islamic sharia world (and among those in the West who want sharia imposed) amply demonstrates. Freedom of speech only exists where freedom of controversial speech is tolerated and protected, and the Cartoon Riots demonstrated completely and for all time where Islamic sharia societies stand on this matter. A corollary of free speech is free expression in all the arts, and here too sharia societies have generally an awful track record.

5) Freedom of the press. Freedom of the press does not exist in sharia countries where journalists are jailed or killed for failing to toe the party line. We quote from a Somali Muslim journalist: “In the House of Islam, you cannot have a principle other than that of the community. Every thing you do is referred to Islam. The mantra is “that’s stupid BUT…But we cannot do this because we are Muslims.” One hears this expression ad nauseam. In the Islamic world you cease to be a human being. You become only a Muslim, whatever that entails. You are not allowed to be a person with vices and virtues, you cannot follow your own reasoning, and you cannot be unpopular or defend an unpopular idea. You cannot go out of the circle. To express yourself freely means to risk death. And death indeed if you change your faith. Invention itself is considered as an act of blasphemy…Censorship in the Islamic world is instilled at childhood.”

6) Freedom of religion. Sharia societies frown on or prohibit the free exercise of religion. Sharia societies like Saudi Arabia do not permit churches or synagogues on their soil. Moreover, Sharia societies put apostates to death or exact other punishments for ceasing to believe in Islam. Christian schools and churches have been attacked in Pakistan, Indonesia, Palestine and elsewhere in the Islamic world. Sharia societies celebtrate Jihad as the means to spread sharia law globally, and establish Islam as the dominant or only religion.

7) Women’s rights. Sharia societies are famous for their lack of women’s rights. In strict sharia societies women cannot drive cars, vote, or walk the streets unaccompanied. Other restrictions are even more ridiculous. The recent comment by a prominent imam that women without the hijab were “uncovered meat” who were instruments of Satan is indicative of the attitude sharia societies take towards women, and their view of the God-given natural perquisites of men. We refer you to these other discussions by Shrinkwrapped, Dr. Sanity, and neo-neocon for further reference.

8 Homosexual rights. They hang homosexuals in Iran, and there appears to be universal agreement in sharia societies that homosexuality must be punished.

9) Mental health treatment. Mental health treatment in sharia societies appears to be appalling. The West’s dominant belief is that humans are flawed, and often have issues that result from childhood experiences, internal conflicts, and unconscious impulses; these can be treated through psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, or medication. By contrast, in sharia societies, man was created with a fitrah, an inherent nature that is “pure and sinless.” The Freudian concept of the unconscious is rejected. Instead, “being crazy in the Islamic perspective mean that one is possessed by the jinn” (demons). The Islamic belief is that a “perversion cannot possibly be innate.” As a consequence, people with psychological troubles are “treated with the Koran”. In Pakistan the education minister said regarding pyschological treatment: “Solution to our problems lies in the teachings of Islam. We can achieve success and peace by following universal principles of our religion.” Good luck.

10) Educating the young. Probably the worst offense committed by sharia societies is that they condemn their children to the same blinkered and distorted worldviews that promise war and violence to this generation. Sharia societies have textbooks that say that Jews are apes and pigs, they say that “Jihad is the summit of Islam”, and that a Muslim “cannot maintain a loyal friendship” with a non-Muslim. Sharia societies have TV shows and videos of children pledging suicide-murder to kill the Jews.

There are also a number of relatively trivial items to list. Some sharia societies (and the sharia-minded) forbid football, women’s soccer, watching the world cup, cell phone ringtones, Burger King ice cream squiggles, and other things. But they all ultimately boil down to one thing — who gets to make the decisions about one’s life. The West has chosen — though poorly implemented — the concept that the Rule of Reason should govern the law-making of governments and the decision-making of men. In sharia societies, such a statement would be evidence of man’s cardinal sin in Islam, the sin of pride. To choose Reason (or any man-made construct) over submission to God is man’s central failing in Islam.

We may think that the above list is very clever and persuasive. To millions of people who live ordinary or devout lives in sharia societies, the list is evidence of our perfidy. Therein lies the problem of the world today.

South China Sea Update

June 23rd, 2016

WSJ:

Indonesian President Joko Widodo traveled to the southern end of the South China Sea on Thursday, sending a blunt message to Beijing that his country would assert its sovereignty over waters at the center of a fishing-rights dispute between the two nations. Aboard a navy warship near Indonesia’s Natuna islands, which lie between Singapore and Borneo, Mr. Widodo held a meeting with members of his cabinet, discussing issues such as fishing, energy programs and defense plans for the area.

Indonesia says it has rights to an exclusive, U.N.-defined economic zone extending 200 nautical miles from the islands. There has been a series of recent run-ins between Indonesian authorities and Chinese fishing boats and coast-guard vessels in the area.

After the first clash in March, Beijing argued that a Chinese fishing trawler was operating in what it called “traditional Chinese fishing grounds,” an argument that was rejected by Indonesia. In the most recent incident, Indonesian maritime forces fired warning shots at Chinese vessels and seized one they said was fishing illegally.

FP discusses “hardliners”

Not only do they think China should present the seven new islands —constructed out of existing features, including Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef — as faits accompli to the outside world, but China should further expand its territorial and military reach in the South China Sea. Such expansion could include: building the islands into mini-bases, conquering some if not all of the features currently under other countries’ control, or turning the Nine-Dash Line map, first published in 1947 and which now serves as Beijing’s legal basis for its claims in the South China Sea, into a territorial demarcation line, thus claiming most of the South China Sea’s territorial waters

And, in case you missed it: “The Chinese government is touting the support of ‘dozens’ of countries for its illegal colonization of the South China Sea, with particular praise for Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe’s statement.”

We’re about to find out what kind of guy Xi is. Stay tuned.

Miscellany

June 22nd, 2016

Thomas Sowell says sensible things. Want to know why the NY Daily News has all those scare covers? Here’s why. Let’s leave Orwell out of things, unless it’s Bizarro World Orwell. Speaking of Bizarro World: “Chinese cities. The average land price per square meter for the top 100 cities in the first five months of this year jumped nearly 50% from the same period last year.” Speaking of Bizarro World once more, the uroboros is up to his old tricks. Gotta get back to work. Anyone know a good way of valuing aircraft leasing companies?

It’s hot! Eek, a mouse! Doom! Doom!

June 21st, 2016

HP:

Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist and professor of meteorology at Penn State University, was in Phoenix on Friday when temperatures hit 106 degrees. He was speaking at a Democratic National Platform committee meeting, where he pointed to the extreme weather as “an example of just the sort of extreme heat that is on the increase due to human-caused climate change,” he told HuffPost. “The likelihood of record heat has already doubled in the U.S. due to human-caused warming,” he said, “and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.”

FYI, this is the fraudster who eliminated the long-established Medieval Warm Period in his phony hockey stick. In other words, he himself cut off the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Once again, Dr. Freud, call your office!

1984, Beavis and Butthead edition

June 20th, 2016

Over at Kos:

I do not believe that it is in the public interest for the government to edit or censor out the 911 transcript. What the gunman said could have bearing on his state of mind, and motivations in the horrible attack. We are entitled to the truth. I find the concept redacted transcripts Orwellian and just creepy. Lynch says that she does not want to engage in “re-victimizing” those involved. That sound admirable, but that could be a rationale for withholding information about any crime. Some say that releasing the transcripts would be giving the gunman a soapbox to spew his rantings. The media has given this story non-stop coverage for days. I don’t think the written 911 transcripts are going to be incendiary. Currently, families of victims of 9/11 attacks are seeking to have the 20-something pages of the Commission report released. Doesn’t it seem clear now that the truth was hidden from the public

Really, these people doing the redacting are too dumb to breathe. Can you imagine what goes on during their confabs where they think up absurdities that only draw enormous attention to what they want to conceal? Left, right, and center and the gopher in the back yard have figured it out. Damage control: let’s release the whole thing, except for the Allah bits. Duh…

Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, whatever

June 19th, 2016

1960’s:

Well, my daddy left home when I was three
And he didn’t leave much to ma and me
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze
Now, I don’t blame him cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me Sue

Well, he must o’ thought that is quite a joke
And it got a lot of laughs from a’ lots of folk
It seems I had to fight my whole life through
Some gal would giggle and I’d get red
And some guy’d laugh and I’d bust his head,
I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a boy named Sue

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean
My fist got hard and my wits got keen
I’d roam from town to town to hide my shame
But I made a vow to the moon and stars
That I’d search the honky-tonks and bars
And kill that man who gave me that awful name

Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July
And I just hit town and my throat was dry
I thought I’d stop and have myself a brew
At an old saloon on a street of mud
There at a table, dealing stud
Sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me Sue

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
From a worn-out picture that my mother’d had
And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye
He was big and bent and gray and old
And I looked at him and my blood ran cold
And I said, “My name is Sue, how do you do
Now you’re gonna die”

Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes
And he went down, but to my surprise
He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear
But I busted a chair right across his teeth
And we crashed through the wall and into the street
Kicking and a’ gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer

I tell ya, I’ve fought tougher men
But I really can’t remember when
He kicked like a mule and he bit like a crocodile
I heard him laugh and then I heard him cuss
He went for his gun and I pulled mine first
He stood there lookin’ at me and I saw him smile

And he said, “Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you’d have to get tough or die
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong”

He said, “Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do
But ya ought to thank me, before I die
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
‘Cause I’m the son-of-a-bitch that named you Sue”

Well what could I do? What could I do?
I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
And I called him my paw, and he called me his son
And I came away with a different point of view
And I think about him, now and then
Every time I try and every time I win
And if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna name him..
Bill or George! Any-damn-thing but Sue!

Today:

uterine transplants are extremely complex and resource-intensive, requiring dozens of health personnel and careful coordination. First a uterus and its accompanying veins and arteries must be removed from a donor, either a living volunteer or a cadaver. Then the organ must be quickly implanted and must function correctly—ultimately producing menstruation in its recipient. If the patient does not have further complications, a year later a doctor may then implant an embryo created via in vitro fertilization. The resulting baby would have to be born through cesarean section—as a safety precaution to limit stress on the transplanted organ, and because the patient cannot feel labor contractions (nerves are not transplanted with the uterus). Following the transplant and throughout the pregnancy the patient has to take powerful antirejection drugs. a patient would likely need castration surgery and high doses of exogenous hormones because high levels of male sex hormones, called androgens, could threaten pregnancy. (Although hormone treatments can be powerful, patients would likely need to be castrated because the therapy might not be enough to maintain the pregnancy among patients with testes.) The patient would also need surgery to create a “neovagina” that would be connected to the transplant uterus, to shed menses and give doctors access to the uterus for follow-up care. Before castration that person’s sperm must be collected and combined with a donor’s or partner’s egg to make an embryo via in vitro fertilization, and that embryo would have to be frozen until the transplant patient is ready. If the embryo is successfully implanted, the transwoman would then naturally produce the placenta required to sustain the pregnancy and begin to lactate in preparation for breast-feeding

We’ll take the old days.

plus ça change

June 19th, 2016

These were the Popsicle and Ice Cream thoughts from our friends in Saudi Arabia 10 years ago and these are their gentle admonitions today. A decade and a half of utter rubbish, and this time it just cost 50 more people their lives. Could we please stop being idiots for a change?

A sentence or two incomprehensible just a few short years ago

June 18th, 2016

College student body president:

Another community exhausted spending this month practicing patience and gratitude, is prepared to defend their peaceful lifestyle and beliefs in justice, love, and equality, from the scapegoating and fearmongering of a largely Christian-normative and white supremacist base that pretends it’s not hateful while picking the xenophobic, bigoted, racist, misogynistic, ableist, queerphobic, Islamophobic, whiny bully of the decade as their desired nominee for President. With PRIDE weekend happening across the country & during the 6th day of the Holy Month of Ramadan two communities focused on spreading love & celebrating their identities are now dealing with fear.

Apparently not all of the statements above are true. Dr. Freud, call your office: “whiny” indeed!

How bad have things gotten?

June 17th, 2016

Well, let’s put it this way: when Howard Stern makes more sense than the Speaker of the House, that about sums things up. Bonus fun: dee man comin, he shootin everybody, he say Baba Booey Baba Booey.

We don’t understand the hierarchy

June 17th, 2016

Over the decades, the march of a certain kind of progress proceeded from large groups to ever-smaller groups. First came women and certain minorities getting a leg up in the marketplace in the early 1970’s. Then much later, almost post AIDS, came a gay renaissance. Most recently there’s been the T in LGBT, a troubled group with almost no members: if you were 0.03% of the population, you got to rule every bathroom in the land, by federal edict. Okay, all well and good. But then came Orlando, representing the clearest of lines in the sand.

All of a sudden, if you take sides against the ideology creating government policies that kills the LGBTs or tells women not to leave the house, you’re the bad guy — you’re banned on Facebook banned on Facebook, banned on Facebook, and discover that the same feds ruling the lavatories have flushed jihad, takfir, umma and sharia (nasty business, that one), down the drain. What’s up with that? We understand that large corporations are often grotesque of course. And that the feds, for reasons ranging from complacency to raw self-interest, want to ignore the doctrinal grossness of gay-killing Islamic regimes. But selling out core constituencies, that’s hardly principled and progressive.

Oh wait, maybe we do understand the hierarchy. As long as it’s about beating up on those haters to get campaign contributions and voter turnout and electoral power, the gals and gays are fine. But if talking on principle (let alone acting on principle) might hurt corporate market cap, or the career path for current and emeritus government officials, that’s another matter entirely. (We haven’t even addressed how their taking sides with the LGBT victims qua LGBT might put said officials in the crosshairs themselves.) If you have a better understanding, please let us know.

Reading am dangerous

June 16th, 2016

WSJ:

Lam Wing Kee — who is affiliated with a Hong Kong seller of books that are banned in the mainland — said he was detained by Chinese authorities in October during a visit to the mainland city of Shenzhen, across the border from Hong Kong, and his travel documents were confiscated.

Mr. Lam said he was blindfolded, handcuffed and taken by train to a cell measuring 200 to 300 square feet in the eastern city of Ningbo, about 13 hours away. There, Mr. Lam said, he was repeatedly interrogated by officers, whose exact roles and titles were unclear, and was forced to sign a document admitting guilt for mailing banned books to mainland China.

Mr. Lam said he was allowed to return to Hong Kong on June 14, on the condition that he return to the mainland on Thursday and provide Chinese operatives with details of the customers of his bookstore stored on a hard drive. He said that he “did not dare” to return to the mainland.

Mr. Lam’s statement contradicts official accounts of what happened to the five men — all affiliated with Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay Books store and Mighty Current, its related publisher, which produced works of political gossip, often centering on Chinese leaders and much of it banned in mainland China. All five vanished last year — Mr. Lam and two colleagues from Shenzhen, another from Thailand and the fifth from Hong Kong — only to resurface in police custody months later.

While in custody, the men gave a range of explanations as to how they got there, under circumstances observers described as coercive. One told Chinese state TV that he turned himself in out of guilt after violating his probation in a deadly drunken-driving accident more than a decade ago. Another said he smuggled himself to the mainland

Apparently reading banned books in China am dangerous, and not just for Sam I am. FYI, here’s the list of some of the things they’re really concerned about. Still seems trivial, however.

Super bonus fun: apparently the differences in the republic now and not are not really just left and right, but something more interesting (see here and here, for example). Sigh, still a healthy portion of stupidity of course.

About as expected

June 15th, 2016

WSJ, WSJ:

Chinese banks issued 985.5 billion yuan ($149.4 billion) in new loans in May, up sharply from 555.6 billion yuan in April, according to the central bank. The volume was well above the 747.8 billion yuan forecast by a Wall Street Journal poll of 16 economists. More than half of the new loans in May went to households, which borrowed 575.9 billion yuan last month, the data showed. Most of those, economists said, are mortgage loans taken out by home buyers, amid a monthslong rise in housing sales.

Another chunk, 182.5 billion yuan, were medium and long-term loans to nonfinancial corporate borrowers, which economists said likely went to fund government-led infrastructure projects as private investment slowed significantly in recent months. fixed-asset investment expanded by a weaker-than-expected annual clip of 9.6% in the first five months; the private investment portion grew by a mere 3.9% in January-May, down from an already weak 5.2% in January-April.

Mortgages up, more government infrastructure projects, not so much on the private side. The clock ticks.

Redemption, or 2 for the price of 1

June 14th, 2016

Suppose you live in an ideology of groupthink, which says by the way that you’re slated for execution in Yemen, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Iraq. Suppose you can go from being condemned to being a hero, role model and saint overnight. And when we say groupthink we mean groupthink, the kind that has your relatives helping out in your plan to be a killer and a martyr. What’s your name? No not that guy, it’s Mohamed Atta.

Today’s numbers

June 13th, 2016

CNBC:

$12.3 trillion of money printing, $9.9 trillion in negative-yielding global bonds, 654 interest rate cuts since Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008. Those actions have resulted in global growth in advanced economies that likely won’t eclipse 2% this year — 2.2% to 1.7% for advanced economies and from 2.7% all the way down to 1.9% for the United States. Growth in Japan, despite trillions of QE, is projected at just 0.5%

Good luck!

Compare and contrast

June 13th, 2016

Politico:

Donald Trump on Monday demanded that Hillary Clinton return $25 million the Clinton Foundation reportedly received from Saudi Arabia. “Crooked Hillary says we must call on Saudi Arabia and other countries to stop funding hate,” Trump posted to Facebook. “I am calling on her to immediately return the $25 million plus she got from them for the Clinton Foundation!” The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton foundation since it was created in 1999. Other donors included the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Australia and Germany. “Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays,” Trump wrote in a separate post. “Hillary must return all money from such countries!”

Same piece:

In a national security speech she delivered Monday, the former secretary of state highlighted the disruption of radicalization and countering the Islamic State and other terrorist networks’ recruiting efforts in the U.S. and Europe as an “area that demands attention.” “For starters, it is long past time for the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations,” Clinton said. “And they should stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have sent too many young people on a path toward extremism.”

But earlier: “Let’s be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” It’s getting much weirder much faster than we thought possible.

Today’s numbers

June 12th, 2016

Via AT:

regulatory costs amount to an average of $14,976 per household. If U.S. federal regulation was a country, it would be the world’s 10th largest economy, ranking behind Russia and ahead of India. In 2014, agencies issued 16 new regulations for every law — that’s 3,554 new regulations compared to 224 new laws. 60 federal departments, agencies and commissions have 3,415 regulations in development.

The total compensation average for federal workers is $119,934, including the value of leave, insurance and other perks, or 78% more than the average total compensation for private sector employees of $67,246.

No comment. What’s the point?