Can Muslims use Emoticons?

Islam bans the pictorial representation of the human form, part of its fight against idolatry. So are Muslims allowed to use emoticons? The :-) smiley is a human face — and very pictorial.

Are Islamic nations doomed to second-rate communications because they can’t text as fast as Christians and Jews, for whom “:-)” instead of “I’m smiling” is as natural as “etc” instead of “and the rest”?

We Are At War!

“We are again locked in war,” says Roger Bell. “Locked in an ideological battle, locked in the language — very exaggerated language — of ideological conflict.”

Roger Bell, Professor of International Studies at the University of New South Wales, isn’t surprised that the debates and contexts of McCarthyism have resurfaced.

[These debates are] particularly about free speech, and in a broader sense also about — in the American case — about Americanism, and un-American activities, about traitors within, about evil enemies etc.

So when Bush speaks in my view in very exaggerated terms, about the evil of Islam, or the evil of terrorism, he, as it were, takes the political rhetoric to another level. And when acts such as the Patriot Act are invoked domestically to repress or to limit freedom of expression at home, then it’s to be expected that many of those traditional debates in a democratic society will re-surface.

Part of a much longer conversation in ABC Radio National program The Media Report last week. Worth a listen. (transcript) (podcast)

Peter Debnam, you’re just as bad

The other day I wrote about the incompetence of NSW Premier, Morris Iemma. Well today’s “effort” by Liberal opposition leader Peter Debnam shows that next year’s state election is going to be a Battle of the Midgets.

NSW opposition leader, Peter Debnam

Earlier today, Iemma announced massive cuts to the NSW public service, including the loss of 5000 jobs.

Debnam’s brilliantly strategic response? They should be sacking more. 29,000, he says.

I know it’s the role of an Opposition to oppose. But:

  • I reckon a good few of those 29,000 you want to sack are exactly the swinging votors you need to keep onside; and
  • You have just over a year to convince us that you’d be a better government than the one we have now.

You’re pushing it, Peter. I even had to look up your name, you’re that (un-)memorable.

Apparently Iemma is on the wane with NSW voters but, Peter, he’s still leading you in the polls by 20 percentage points.

Sexually Dangerous Female

I’m continually astounded by the sheer variety of human sexual experience. My thanks to a certain friend in Melbourne for alerting me to this piece about Illinois’ first “sexually dangerous” female, from Vice Magazine.

Insider Art

To help the search engines, I’ll repeat the text…

During the majority of my three-month stint in Woodford County Jail, I shared the pod with a 17-year-old girl named Tammy Wheeler, whom I nicknamed the Squealer. She had the mentality of a five-year-old and the sexual urges of a nymphomaniac. At one point, everything that she had in her cell had to be confiscated so she would not insert it in herself. I have some really awesome outsider art from her, as well as notes she wrote containing things like “I want to make your puss quiver. You are like a buttyful flower.” One of her drawings consists of stick figures with gigantic penises surrounded by various-size floating penises, for example. I have several different drawings and writings. Her handwriting is very childlike with an enormous amount of misspelling. She was arrested for child molestation and is the first female in the state of Illinois to be declared “sexually dangerous”. “Here are some copies of the things she made for me Further examples of Tammy Wheeler’s drawings. Her shit is hilarious.

Thank you, DANA GUSLER, Via email

The reader comments are an interesting read too, but for different reasons.

So is this a genuine letter, or is the “outsider art” fake?

Morris Iemma, you f—wit!

What a stupid fuss last week, just because NSW Premier Morris Iemma referred to someone as a “f—wit”. Really, it’s the kind of language you can hear on the bus any old day. But the fact that it got into the media demonstrates Iemma’s basic incompetence.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Iemma’s words last Saturday. He was talking with Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks:

Bracks: “Any issues at home in NSW?”

Iemma: “Today, um, well this f***wit is the new CEO of the Cross City Tunnel and has been saying, ‘Oh, well, what controversy? There is no controversy.'”

Iemma’s manner was “relaxed and jovial”, says the Herald. The comment was “off-the-cuff”. In other words, it exactly the sort of thing an Aussie block would do to express his frustration.

Big deal.

What the NSW ALP should really worry about is the incompetence this demonstrates.

Iemma says he didn’t realise that the microphones were turned on. But one of the first things you learn in the media is to assume every microphone and every camera is live — unless you know specifically that it’s not.

Is Iemma really such a newcomer that he doesn’t know this? It shows what happens when you choose a Premier based on factional deals rather than assessing his or her skills.

But hey, who could the NSW ALP pick that’d be any better?