Spoony Singh, RIP

Last week, a member of my extended family died. It’s not the kind of news I would share on my blog obviously but there’s a valid reason here.

Spoony Singh’s obituary made it to the New York Times.

Mr. Singh had an outsize personality, reflected in his riding an elephant in Hollywood parades and prospecting successfully for gold in Mexico. But his big idea came in 1964 as he traipsed along Hollywood Boulevard and saw no sign of celebrities — save their famous footprints by Grauman’s Chinese Theater — leading him to realize that a wax museum was the next best thing.

When his Hollywood Wax Museum opened on Feb. 26, 1965, a half-mile-long line of people waited to get in, to be followed by 300,000 or so a year for many years. Even as the price of admission has risen to $15.95 from $1.50, more than eight million people have visited. [via Kamla]

I met Spoony Singh for the first time last year when I visited LA and he was amazing. The guy was so inspiring because he had gone bust about three times but every time he went back into some business and made lots of money. Just listening to his stories was better than reading any edition of Forbes or something similar. He even released a record in Mexico, that’s how entrepreneurial he was.

But more than that he had a heart of gold and he was always generous with what he had. Just before he died the family told me, he wanted everyone to have a party after his funeral. That’s the way I’d do it too. He was the most successful Singh in Hollywood, bar none. Spoony Singh, RIP.

26 / October / 2006  Personal  Comments (1)

FOR equality of opportunity

Chris Dillow has written an interesting blog arguing against equality of opportunity.

In short, his four points are:
1. It’s infeasible.
2. It’s insufficient.
3. It’s not meritocratic.
4. It destroys social solidarity.

I think all four of his points make sense, but they don’t quite sit comfortably with me. I posted a reply, which I reproduce here:

1) Sure it’s unfeasible in it’s entirety but so is getting rid of unemployment, inflation, Cot deaths and taxes. But surely that doesn’t mean we can aspire to marginally more egalitarian world? Once the marfinal costs of imposing more equality of opportunity outweight the benefits, then you stop.

2) Sure… but that doesn’t mean EoO should be the only policy of a progressive government.

3) I’m a bit confused here. EoO does not suggest people should be paid equally. The free-market does reward skills in demand and talented people, we just need to build a society where people from disadvantaged backgrounds also have the opportunity to get their talents and skills noticed. Or have I misunderstood this point?

4) I’m not so sure about this. I’d say there was more class-based smugness in the UK than the USA. But the latter is much more focused on equality of opportunity, even implementing positive discrimination to that end, than the UK.
In contrast in India, where equality of opportunity isn’t really a big goal and everything depends on who you know (despite the quotas), there is hardly any class solidarity. I think solidarity is more to do with local culture than how focused on meritocracy a country is.

I forgot to mention another point to this. In the case of the UK and especially USA, many ethnic minorities are overwhelmingly amongst the working classes. Here, most Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are working class while a lot of Indians are middle-class. This partly explains their different educational achievement.

Bringing in the race example, we can make a few more points for equality of opportunity.

5) It would help some ethnic minority families break out of a cycle of poverty and create role models that previously may not have existed. That may also destroy perceptions that racism keeps them poor.

6) Being working class comes with issues: more crime, higher unemployment, lower educational achievement, and lower representation in certain fields (politics and media primarily). So when you add race to this mix it becomes a bit more potent. Pakistanis and Bangladeshis may end up being very under-represented in these fields, and racists may use these examples to say that Muslims (as a catch-all term) are inherently anti-segregation or anti-education, as some currently do.

So what I mean is that racial underachievement, in the way of not having any middle-class representation, can become a political issue in certain cases. This is another reason why equality of opportunity is a good thing - it helps working class ethnic minority kids compete with middle-class white kids on the basis or merit, without the need for quotas.

26 / October / 2006  Race politics  Comments (4)

Barack Obama, President?

barackTime magazine has put senator Barack Obama on the front cover, wondering if he could be the next American president. This bit was interesting:

The current Obama mania is reminiscent of the Colin Powell mania of September 1995, when the general-another political rainbow-leveraged speculation that he might run for President into book sales of 2.6 million copies for his memoir, My American Journey.

Powell and Obama have another thing in common: they are black people who-like Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan-seem to have an iconic power over the American imagination because they transcend racial stereotypes. “It’s all about gratitude,” says essayist Shelby Steele, who frequently writes about the psychology of race. “White people are just thrilled when a prominent black person comes along and doesn’t rub their noses in racial guilt. White people just go crazy over people like that.”

Hmmm… is that being cynical?

17 / October / 2006  Global politics, Race politics  Comments (0)

Phil Woolas needs to go

Does this man have no sense at all? I quote Dave Hill:

Is it not astonishing that Phil Woolas MP - a government minister responsible for good race relations! - should announce to the world that the Dewsbury school teacher Aishah Azmi should be sacked for wanting to wearing a veil in front of her pupils at a time when an industrial tribunal is still hearing her case?

Alan Johnson seems to think so, by the way: he refused to make any comment when asked about it on Five Live midday news, saying it is for the tribunal to decide. And even as I type, Ruth Kelly has distanced herself from Woolas on the World At One. Yet some their colleagues seem to be in as much of a frenzy about the issue as Woolas.

Last night, Tessa Jowell joined the fray, advancing the most simplistic of feminist arguments to denounced the veil as the enemy of women’s liberation - this from a woman who once told a female mutual acquaintance that she’d never bothered with feminism because she’d been getting on with more important things.

I realise that New Labour is having serious popularity problems but if they think is the best way to get votes…. then well, they might as well recruit Michael Howard to lead them. They’ve gone completely barmy.

Save Punjab heritage

I got this by email:

Dear friend,

> Are you concerned about the state of affairs of Punjab’s priceless heritage as it stands today?
> Would you like to have your voice heard on this issue?
> Do you want to help preserve Punjab’s heritage for future generations?
> Have you ever wanted to make a real impact but did not how to go about doing so?
> Do you want to learn more about this heritage?

We here at UK Punjab Heritage Association (www.ukpha.org) are concerned. We are keen to understand what you think about this issue and, more importantly, what we as a heritage organisation can actively do, with your support behind us, to safeguard our heritage for future generations.

We want to get a large as response as possible so we would also really appreciate your help in reaching those parts of the community which you think would like to have their voices heard on the issue. If you could forward this email to as many of your friends and relatives as you can, that would be of immense help to us.

By completing this survey you are taking a positive step in helping to shape and safeguard the future of Punjab’s priceless heritage.

Here is a link to the first ever on-line Punjab heritage survey:

Do the survey, pass it on!

17 / October / 2006  Uncategorized  Comments (0)

Memri creating controversy again

Over at alt.muslim, Shahed does a good job of putting Memri in it’s place over its attempt to conjure a controversy out of nothing. He also lists some other examples of non-existent “Muslims outraged” controversies.

13 / October / 2006  Religious politics  Comments (0)

A hilarious exercise in irony

A fortysomething mother in a practical Boden skirt and short-sleeved top sitting on a train opposite a woman in the full veil can suddenly be made to feel as tarty and sexually provocative as a Page 3 girl. It’s not a nice sensation – to feel judged for wearing your own clothes in your own country.

So says Alison Pearson from the Daily Mail. Is stupidity a pre-requisite for writing for the paper?

11 / October / 2006  Race politics  Comments (0)

Nailing the niqab

On ‘Aqoul, Lounsbury nails the Jack Straw and niqab issue:

In short, I agree entirely with Straw and am perfectly pleased he raised the issue. The whinging on from the mutaslim hypocrite neo-Salafi living in the West (just bloody emmigrate to KSA, two faced bastards) in their perpetual state of offendedness that the West is the West and that their retrograde magical recreation of an Islam that exists only in the fetid imaginations of semi-literate Saudi financed verse mumblers does not obtain in the West nor any normal country does a disservice to the majority of Muslims in the West that are perfectly capable and willing to live in accord with the standards and societies that exist.

I am, however, annoyed with the credulous blithering in the press that reports such things as Muslim leaders were insulted, as this may be more profitably read as “Islamist panderers and religious pimps of neo-Wahhabite retrograde seperatism” were insulted.

The painful inability of Journos to differentiate between your Average Mustapha and the short-thobed loons does vast disservice all around.

Heh, there is no pulling of punches.

7 / October / 2006  Religious politics  Comments (0)

Daniel Pipes makes stuff up

It should be accepted wisdom that anyone who looks to Daniel Pipes as a useful source of information is just being stupid. And ignorant. And is likely to be misled.

A case in point. Over a year ago I wrote an article on a Five Live documentary on reported cases of Pakistani guys ‘grooming’ white girls in a town in West Yorkshire. It turned out later the Beeb had made a mountain out of a molehill and even Ann Cryer said the issue was being blown out of proportion. But anyway.

I find out that Daniel Pipes recently copied my article on to his website. Although it is somewhat intact, he adds these two paragraphs in at the end.

Gang of Muslim men enter into friendship with innocent white girls and invite them for a drink , they give sleeping pills in coke and when the girls are unconscious , Muslims invite their gang of other fellow Islamic Maniacs and gang rape these white minor girls and make their porn films. These girls are blackmailed and raped for a long time and after that they are forced in to flesh trade ( Prostitution) . and these Muslim Youth find another white or non muslim girls. This is happening in UK , Australia , Europe and Canada as well.

Be careful otherwise you may end up with your cousin or sister gang raped and forced in to prostitution by these Holy Warriors of Allah living among you and feeding on your tax payers money and claiming all benefits to outnumber you demographically.

I of course wrote nothing of this sort. Underneath the article it says: “Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes” - yeah right. Bigot.

Update: Looks like DP has now taken the article off.

5 / October / 2006  Global politics  Comments (0)


I didn’t realise my blog was holding all comments for moderation before they appeared. This has been resolved now. Any man, woman (and their dog) are welcome to post comments.

4 / October / 2006  Uncategorized  Comments (1)

State of Denial

The title of Bob Woodard’s new book pretty much sums up George Bush’s entire tenure at the White House. But the point I wanted to make is made much better by Mash:

The main theme of the book seems to be this: Iraq is going badly and the Bush Administration is pretending otherwise. This is perhaps news only to the ostriches who still hold out hope of finding WMD in Iraq or finding Saddam’s DNA on the 9/11 attack plans. The rest of us have been reading the news, and the news from Iraq speaks of more than 3000 deaths a month in what has been a raging civil war since last spring.

There is also another more slightly less obvious theme to Woodward’s book. That is: George W Bush has been let down by the people who served him, most notably, Donald Rumsfeld.

But there is more… read the whole thing.

4 / October / 2006  Global politics  Comments (1)

Cameron embraces blogs

Last week I said on Pickled Politics that Gordon Brown needed to embrace blogs to at least try and re-connect with the youth. Labour is quite rightly seen as a party obsessed with spin and out of touch with its electorate.

A few days later, coincidentally, the Guardian revealed that the Tories had unveiled WebCameron, an attempt by their leader to reconnect with the youth through online technology.

Labour activists may dismiss this as cheap PR tactics but they miss the point: the internet has become the modern youth’s primary means of communication and to avoid a big presence in this medium is not only foolhardy, but shows a contempt for the way communication is going.

Labour has to not only get down and dirty, it also has to find ways of opening itself up to outside criticism without being overwhelmed. Either way it needs to get itself in tune with the web and on this it is way behind the others. Shame.

1 / October / 2006  Global politics  Comments (5)

Terrorising migrant women

With all the hoo-haa that accompanies when an immigrant commits a crime, why are certain questions not asked when Britons kill migrants?

A body found inside a Glasgow church has been identified as missing Polish woman Angelika Kluk.

Strathclyde Police, which is treating the death as suspicious, has also confirmed that a 60-year-old man it wanted to speak to has been arrested.

Peter Tobin is a handyman at the church, and was one of the last people to have seen Angelika.

From the BBC In response, Kama says:

So who is going to protect migrant women from British rapists and murderers…?

John Reid can scare Britain with images of Romanian and Bulgarian criminals… but why doesn’t he go to Poland as say sorry to the parents of Angelika… for not protecting her… from a British criminal.

John Reid is a scaremongering xenophobe…

Got it in one.

1 / October / 2006  Race politics  Comments (3)

*points and laughs*

Ha ha! The Independent’s cheap and idiotic stunt of putting a blacked-up Kate Moss on the front cover failed to get the people talking and buying the newspaper. Maybe next time they will consider not patronising their audiences and try something a bit more thoughtful.

29 / September / 2006  Race politics  Comments (0)

‘Kill all Palestinian males’

A Jewish rabbi living in the West Bank has called on the Israeli government to use their troops to kill all Palestinian males more than 13 years old in a bid to end Palestinian presence on this earth.

Extremist rabbi Yousef Falay, who dwells at the Yitzhar settlement on illegally seized Palestinian land in the northern part of the West Bank, wrote an article in a Zionist magazine under the title “Ways of War”, in which he called for the killing of all Palestinian males refusing to flee their country, describing his idea as the practical way to ensure the non-existence of the Palestinian race.

That’s not very nice.

By way of Jew90, who hits the nail on the head:

If this was a Muslim preacher the story would be splashed all over certain sites, gnashing of teeth would be heard and the usual (often racist) stereotypes of Muslims would be trotted out.

29 / September / 2006  Global politics  Comments (4)


Someone on Indymedia has exposed some of the braindead fascists behind the the website Red Watch, which puts up pictures of people on the left so they can be harassed or beaten up.

See this thread. Heh. And before anyone says anything - no their addresses have not been put up for retaliatory action.

[via the void]

29 / September / 2006  Race politics  Comments (0)

Have American liberals lost their way?

A very interesting piece in the London Review of Books titled ‘Bush’s Useful Idiots‘, with Tony Judt examining the ‘Strange Death of Liberal America’.

In particular this paragraph caught my eye:

One of the particularly depressing ways in which liberal intellectuals have abdicated personal and ethical responsibility for the actions they now endorse can be seen in their failure to think independently about the Middle East. Not every liberal cheerleader for the Global War against Islamo-fascism, or against Terror, or against Global Jihad, is an unreconstructed supporter of Likud: Christopher Hitchens, for one, is critical of Israel.

But the willingness of so many American pundits and commentators and essayists to roll over for Bush’s doctrine of preventive war; to abstain from criticising the disproportionate use of air power on civilian targets in both Iraq and Lebanon; and to stay coyly silent in the face of Condoleezza Rice’s enthusiasm for the bloody ‘birth pangs of a new Middle East’, makes more sense when one recalls their backing for Israel: a country which for fifty years has rested its entire national strategy on preventive wars, disproportionate retaliation, and efforts to redesign the map of the whole Middle East.

Worth reading in full.

29 / September / 2006  Global politics  Comments (1)

Women for refugee women

This is a good website and it’s worthwhile being on their mailing list for the occasional updates.
Thanks Linda

27 / September / 2006  Gender politics  Comments (0)

Hello world!

I guess it was time to start my own blog. So much to say and never enough space to say it in. This will be the place for all the politics related stuff I want to blog but don’t want to burden Pickled Politics with.

26 / September / 2006  Uncategorized  Comments (0)