Monday, July 06, 2009

Note on tweet from Bikya Masr editor

Note that the editor of Bikya Masr contacted me via Twitter:
@sternfels note the dates on the original postings. they were early Friday! Thanks. I see German papers have now written extensively on it [emphasis mine--ed.]
Note in turn that the German papers started reporting on the incident on the day it occurred, July 1. The pace of reporting I observed seems to me to correlate well with the pace at which the police generally release information in such cases. Would the pace of reporting in German papers have been any different had the victim been an atheist in Dresden murdered by a Muslim? I seriously doubt it.

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Timeline of reporting of Marwa Sherbini murder in Die Welt

Here is the claim made yesterday about the coverage of the murder of Marwa Sherbini in Germany on the Bikya Masr blog:

All the talk of ethics and equality in the Western media has gone out the window with the recent killing of Marwa Al Sherbini in Dresden, Germany. The failure to report the killing has highlighted the gulf that exists in mainstream media across Europe and North America. It is a horrible state they find themselves in when Bikya Masr is the first English language source to report the killing. We did so on Friday, before even the wires found time to issue a few limited paragraphs on the situation.

It should not come as a surprise for those Arab observers, however, that a hate crime against an Arab, a veiled woman and an average citizen was not reported. The unfortunate bias that the West has against middle-class Arabs reared its ugly face and we should all condemn their lack of honesty in over this situation.

In recent years, foreign media appear only willing to report on the radical, extreme or crazy Arabs and the things they accomplish. Marwa was an average citizen who was fighting for her rights in Germany. The result was her murder by a crazed psycho that wanted nothing more than to kill Muslims. But, the West has remained silent, even through the weekend, that there was .

Perhaps Bikya Masr was the firet English-language source to report on this crime. But note that the claims on the blog are much stronger than that: the editor claims that "the West remained silent, even through the weekend." The editor claims that the killing "was not reported". The editor claims that there was a "failure to report the killing". The editor claims that this failure is evidence of a "gulf that exists in mainstream media across Europe and North America."

I submit that it was a good thing that Bikya Masr report the killing. I submit further that Bikya Masr is attempting to create a false appearance of indifference in the West to this killing. I submit that the vast majority of Germans (and the vast majority of other westerners who have learned about this event) are far more troubled by it than the Muslim world would be about an equivalent killing of a Christian or a Jew or a Bahai in a Muslim land.

When a crazed psycho (to use Bikya Masr's apt phrase) kills another person out of hate, it is almost never reported internationally. Hate crimes occur in Egypt as well as in the West (or does the editor of Bikya Masr claim that Egyptians or Arabs or Muslems are more virtuous in this respect than Westerners?), but I don't recall them being reported in U.S. papers. I don't find that terribly surprising. Why would Bikya Masr's editor find it surprising that this crime wasn't reported in the English-language press?

The killing of Marwa Sherbini was certainly reported in the German press, even on the day it occurred. I selected Die Welt, a relatively conservative German daily, to sample for its coverage.

Note that the last article indicates that some in the Muslim world are calling for retribution against Germany or Germans over this killing. I contend that this view is much closer to the mainstream in the Muslim world than the equivalent view toward the Muslim world would be anywhere in the West.


Bikya Masr misleads about coverage of Dresden murder

First draft. I read this story at Bikya Masr, checked German newspapars, and found that the claim that the West was silent about Sherbini's murder was totally bogus. Here is the comment I left at that site. It awaits moderation. If I have time, I will expand on this topic later.

You are just plain wrong about this story not being reported in the German media.

I'd like to read your comments on the threats of retribution by Islamicists.

Friday, May 01, 2009


Hier folgt eine erste Fassung meiner Übersetzung des untenerwähnten Artikels mit Beiträgen von Robert Zahn und Johannes Reil zum Amulet des Orpheus, das angebligh ein Beweisstück dafür ist, daß Jesus eine Erfindung auf Basis der Orpheusfigur ist. Ich habe bis jetzt nur Leipoldts Einleitung und Robert Zahns Beitrag übersetzt. Den Antichristen möge es bestens schmecken.


Thus reads the inscription of an amulet that is preserved in Berlin's Kaiser Friedrich Museum (cf. _Museen zu Berlin. Beschreibung der Bildwerke der christlichen Epochen, 3. Band: Altchristliche und mittelalterliche byzantinische und italienische Bildwerke, arranged by Oskar Wulff 1 1909 p. 234 Nr. 1146). Above the inscription a crucifix is depicted (see illustration, from an enlarged photograph of a plaster cast; also in Hans Achelis's Das Christentum in den ersten Drei Jahrhunderten 1925 Table V 2). In recent times, this amulet has often been the subject of discussion, since Otto Kern placed it in a larger context (Orphicorum fragmenta 1922 p. 46 Nr. 150). Most recently, Robert Eisler made reference to the "cylindrical seal" (Vorträge der Bibliothek Warburg. II. Vorträge 1922-1923. II. Teil 1925 p. 338f). Age, meaning, authenticity of this piece are difficult to judge. I therefore asked two specialists for their opinions: Prof. Dr. Robert Zahn of Berlin, as an expert in gems, and Pastor Dr. Johannes Reil in Chemnitz, as an expert in ancient Christian depictions of the crucifixion. I thank both gentlemen for their cordial responses. Robert Zahn sent a long letter on January 28, 1926, and permitted its reprinting. Johannes Reil contributed an essay on December 13, 1924. As Hans Achelis informed me, Erwin Panofsky had already expressed doubts about the authenticity of the Berlin amulet on December 13, 1924, in a letter directed to Achelis. Panofsky points out that the crucified figure is depicted "with feet nailed on top of each other, and with bent knees", "thus [is] of a type which is seen nowhere else before the 13th century, and which occurs in this form for the first times in the 14th and 15th centuries" (cf. A. Goldschmidt in the Jahrbuch der Preußischen Kunstsammlungen 1915).



I closely examined the stone with the depiction of the crucified figure and the inscription ΟΡΦΕΟΣ ΒΑΚΚΙΚΟΣ closely in the Kaiser Friedrichs Museum. First a bit about the shape of the stone itself. It is not a cylinder seal, but rather the stump of a cone. The stone would therefore be inconvenient to use as a seal. Since the inscription runs from right to left, the whole depction may not have been conceived as a seal. Such cones and similar forms are known from very early days of the gem-cutting art (Furtwängler Beschreibung der geschnittenen Steine im Antiquarium p. 9 Nr. 81 Table 2; Furtwängler Die antiken Gemmen III p. 60). These, however, when they are to serve as seals, have the impression on the surface of the base, and were thus used like signets. It is thus conceivable that the gem-cutter used an older stone cone that was only intended to be a pendant [1. The Berliner Antiquarium possesses an example acquired in Syria (Inv. der Miszelaneen Nr. 905I). It has the same longitudinal grooves as the above stone.].

Based on the form of the letters, the piece cannot be dated later than into the 3rd century, and certainly not to the 5th century at the earliest, as J Dölger Ichithys I p. 234 (cf. II p. 256 n. 4 and III Table XXVI 2 and 2a) wishes. It would thus belong to the series of early depictions of the Crucifixion on gems, such as are collected by Leclercq in FCAbrol Dictionnaire d'Archéolgie Chrétienne et de Liturgie III 2 Sp. 3048ff. comfortably under the rubric "croix et crucifixe". Dölger also assigns (as I believe) too late a date to these. They fit together completely with the other glyptic works of the later imperial period (2nd and 3rd centuries). However, when I compare the stone in the Kaiser-Friedrichs-Museum with precisely these representation [evidently, the glyptic works of the alter imperial period are meant], and even with more recent ones like the relief on the door of Santa Sabina in Rome and the ivory panel in the British Museum (Dalton Catalogue of Early Christiian [sic] Antiquities No. 291 Table VI), I cannot at all comprehend how such a discrepancy in the representation of the crucified figure is possible contemporaneously. On the above-mentioned monuments, Christ stand in front of the cross on the ground or on a footrest. The cross is almost completely obscured; in particular, the horizontal member is not visible, elelvated high overhead. Here [on the amulet], by contrast, Christ hangs limply on the cross, with crossed legs and feet laid over one another, as in much later art.

In the enlarged illustrations in Dölger ibid., it appears that the head is gazing painfully upward. In the original [the Orpheus amulet] I was not able to confirm this [pose]. On a crude stone depicted in Leclercq op. cit. (Fig. 3356) as well as in his Manuel II p. 369 Fig. 269 (according to the Bulletin de la Societé Nationale des Antiquaires de France XXX, 1867 p. 111f)), Christ is indeed represented (without cross) with somewhat bent knees. But there is a world of difference between this representation and the depiction on our cone. Therefore I cannot escape according the greatest suspicion to this [depiction on the cone]. Dölger I p. 334 discusses counterfeiters of Christian engraved gems around the middle of the previous century. Our piece passed in 1869 into the Antiquarium from the estate of Eduard Gerhard (A. Furtwängler Beschreibung der geschnittenen Steine Nr. 8830); later it was transfered with other gems with Christian engravings to the Altchristliche Sammlung of the Kaiser-Friedrichs-Museum. However, I have no explanation whatsoever whither, on my supposition, a counterfeiter can have taken the quite clever [Ger. 'verschmitzt'] inscription. He must have had an exceedingly erudite accomplice.

Robert Zahn

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Court Reporter asserts intellectual property rights over O.J. Simpson trial transcripts

Via The Patry Copyright Blog I learn that the maintainer of a website that hosted the transcripts of the O.J. Simpson trial has shut the site down, temporarily at least. Here's the message he left:

Alas! I have been instructed by Christine M. Olson, court reporter of the Simpson criminal trial, that the trancripts are intellectual property and that I may no longer publish them on the Internet. Until I can get further clarification, I'm shutting down this archive for now.

I wonder why it took over a decade to tell me this.
Jack Walraven

Patry questions how the transcripts could be intellectual property.

The Wayback Machine won't give access to older versions of the transcripts site, or to the rest of Jack Walraven's site for that matter, though it does work for other sites I tried. Perhaps Christine Olson also convinced the Internet Archive to block access to the transcripts.

Update 2007/08/23 12:37: I finally thought to look at the Wayback Machine FAQ, as suggested in the error message. Here is the FAQ's explanation of that message:

Failed Connection: The server that the particular piece of information lives on is down. Generally these clear up within two weeks.
The server that serves probably also serves, and if it is down, then it makes sense that both sites are unavailable. So let's keep checking back to see if they become available again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Prager slaps butt, fails to ask questions later

Via a posting at Pajamas Media I found this article by Dennis Prager about his efforts to help two junior-high boys who were arrested and jailed for slapping the bottoms of girls at their school.

I think it's ridiculous that these boys were jailed for what they are alleged to have done. At the same time, I have no interest in helping Mr. Prager support them until I receive assurance that Mr. Prager would also support me if I were charged with assault for paddling their asses after I caught them slapping my junior-high-aged daughter's bottom.

Prager concludes with a sentiment I can agree with:

A democracy cannot long survive the contempt more and more Americans feel for American law.
That's a serious matter, and the incident Prager describes is a good illustration of it. However, I have the sense that that some conservatives also want to justify any almost any asinine or inconsiderate thing that boys do because "they're just being boys." I don't know that Mr. Prager holds to this point of view, but it's one for which I have no respect.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Svenska Dagbladet reports on Lars Vilks controversy

From Baron Bodissey's post at Gates of Vienna I learned of the controversy over three drawings by a Swedish artist of Mohammed as a rondellhund (här på svenska). The organizers of Swedish exhibition of art featuring dogs in Karlstad withdrew three drawings by artist Lars Vilks because of concerns over how Muslims would react to the portrayals of Mohammed.

Svenska Dagbladet first featured a very brief report on 20 July 2007 from the TT wire service, from which I translate this quote by exhibition organizer Märta Wennerström:

We didn't understand how serious this was at first. Now we know that it is an incredible insult to represent the prophet Mohammed as a dog.

SvD followed on 21 July 2007 with a story by a named reporter (Bosse Brink), from which I translated a quote in my comments on the GoV post. Here's the wider context of that quote as given in SvD:

[MW:] I think that the drawings are good. But there is also a fear hear at the homestead museum that it [their showing] will lead to problems and uproar.

[BB/SvD:] Is this another example of compliance [undfallenhet] and self-censorship within the art world in the wake of the publication of the Mohammed drawings in the Jyllands-Posten?

[MW:] Yes, of course it is, I think they should still be there [in the exhibition]. But I was compliant [undfallen].

Note that I translated undfallen[het] as "compliance" and "compliant" in the above quote. It could also be translated 'submissive[ness]', which seemed appropriate to the question but sounded funny in Wennerström's answer. Comments on the translation (by email, as I have no time to monitor comments on the blog) are welcome.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gates of Vienna blocked by Google/Blogger

UPDATE: Gates of Vienna is back online. Should have noted this here sooner. Great news!

This is a brief placeholder post about the blocking of the Gates of Vienna blog.

Please let Google/Blogger know that their spam-detection measures have gone wonky. On the other hand, if, as is suggested here, Google/Blogger is just getting hit by a lawsuit designed to silence those deemed politically incorrect, then Google/Blogger just need to grow a pair.

If you use Google Reader, consider aggregating the feed from Gates of Vienna in Google Reader.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Fannie Mae's Auntie Phil

I was searching Techorati for blog posts on the Fannie Mae fraud scandal, when I came across a posting "There will be one byword for the Bush Admin" by one calling himself Auntie Phil. In Auntie Phil's mind, the byword will be "unaccountability", as illustrated by the Fannie Mae fraud.

On the most charitable construction of this post, we have to think that Auntie Phil is ignorant of the fact that those at the helm of Fannie Mae during the scandal were Democrats, not Bush cronies:

So far, the Fannie fiasco has cost Chief Executive Officer Franklin Raines and several other top executives their jobs. The stock has dropped from nearly $80 a share to around $50 -- roughly $30 billion in lost value. And the company recently settled with the federal government and agreed to pay $400 million in fines, stemming from allegations the firm fiddled with the books to ensure bigwigs got performance bonuses.

To top it off, the Fannie Mae leadership was quite well-connected in D.C., especially to the Democratic Party. The Washington Post on May 23 made this all clear in black and white. The front page of that day's Business section showed how James A. Johnson, a former campaign manager for Walter Mondale's presidential run, had created "a political powerhouse."

That story had a photo of Mr. Johnson, who had been chairman and chief executive of Fannie Mae, flanked by two other photos -- both other prominent Democrats. On one side was Mr. Raines, a former head of the Office of Management and Budget under Bill Clinton. On the other was Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick.

While the rest of the graphic listed other prominent Democrats and Republicans, the titanic captains at Fannie Mae were clearly Democrats.

["A $40 billion scandal", by Dan Gainor, Washington Times, June 21, 2006]

I commend to Auntie Phil the whole of this article for his edification and delectation. In fact, there is a lesson in it not only about the bipartisan nature of corruption, but also about media bias--or does Auntie Phil wish to propose different explanation for why the mainstream media seem to have overlooked the fact that the key players in the fraud were Democrats?

I have to say that this post of Auntie Phil's is no worse than the others I've read of his. The ones I read are all characterized by a superficial presentation of the issues they purport to deal with, mentioning only the points relevant to the conclusion Auntie wants his readers to draw, and pretty much lacking in cogent argumentation to support his conclusions. This superficiality doubtless led to his ignorance of the deeper story in the Fannie Mae fraud.

Further recommended reading: