Saturday, December 31, 2005

Seasoned greeting

Diana Hsieh, whose Noodlefood blog I always enjoy, has a clever post showing by indirection how absurd a "socially responsible" holiday greeting can be:
Please accept, with no obligation implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress (Yeah, right), non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday...

So I went all conventional on her:
And a Merry Christ-mass to you! And a Happy New Year, beginning on the - hmm, what does January 1 commemmorate? What happened then? Can't be Christ's birth. Can't be the coming of the Magi- that's 12 days after Christmas, not 6. You would think Jesus-obsessed Christians would have started the new calendar from his birthday. Or the solstice, to co-opt the pagans. But no. Someone messed up somewhere. At least one can reject the use of "Common Era" and "Before the Common Era" to replace Anno Domini and Before Christ as ignorant or presumptuously dismissive of the historical connection between the generally used calendar and Christ, however puzzling the exact nature of that connection may be. Reality is messy, isn't it? But amenable to reasonable analysis.

The denial of Christian historical reality is a significant theme of Rodney Stark's book,The Victory of Reason, the analysis of which I expect will be a major feature of this blog in the next few days/weeks/years. I have two copies of St. Augustine's The City of God, so perhaps I'll dip into that as well.
Something Happening Here(?)

BBC reports:
A senior Syrian official has said President Bashar al-Assad threatened former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri only months before his death.
Debka also had the story.

At first I thought the "senior Syrian official" was still in power. That would have signaled either a coup or the immediate embarrassment (which in Syrian is translated "death") of the concerned official. Nonetheless poor Bashar's influence is fading. To be dissed like this on the world stage is extremely embarrassing for a potentate like Assad and is likely to be fatal. In the good old days any former Syrian official saying something like this would soon disappear in a puff of smoke. Wonder what the likes of Sailer and the other "Bush is a bumbler" types think caused this development? Couldn't have been anything to do with the liberation of the other major Ba'athist regime in the world and the trial of buddy Saddam, could it now?

Friday, December 30, 2005

The virtue of cleverness

This is so cool. He should write about how it occurred to him. Perhaps it's a function of growing up with cyberspace as a given, part of the background. Check out the testimonials. It's neat, too, that the page shows a cross-section of the commercial internet. Lots of poker. Travel. Dating. Games. Getting rich. Hey, that's life! (via (Hugh Hewitt)
He blogged the whole thing!

Paperclips are not electronic (not yet!), but ideas like this one depend on the freedom and open information that only the information sphere can offer. Why does the trading adventure remind me of reading a dictionary? (Also via Hugh, posing as Mary Katharine Ham) Some day he'll own the entire world! Is there a limit?
What would they say?

Just wondering what the media would say if something like this happened in Australia or Miami or Iraq:
Ten Sudanese refugees died and 30 others were injured in clashes with Egyptian security forces Friday, an Egyptian Interior Ministry spokesman said.
(from this post on the Big Pharaoh) The Sudanese situation is a real problem for the media, since the bad guys are Islamic and the victims are poor and black. There's no acceptable villain. I predict they'll find some way to blame it on Bush. The article does highlight, though, the difficulties that immigration causes in many other countries. I had to laugh at this:
But Egypt, which suffers from high unemployment and strained social services for its own population of 72 million, offers the Sudanese little assistance, and the Sudanese complain of discrimination by Egyptians.
Yep. Those Egyptians just spend too much on medical care and food stamps for their own population!! It's especially rich when the whole article is about how the UNHCR should be spending more. Let's see, how many billions of dollars did we give Egypt last year??

Thursday, December 29, 2005

How can I tell?

I don't think Verity likes David Cameron:
The man is a shallow, self-satisfied idiotarian. Bob Geldof and Zacharia Goldsmith? Does he really think this is going to play to the hordes of Tory voters who stay firmly away from the polling booth? He is out of touch if he thinks most Tories believe this commie global warming myth. It is a totally destructive lefty construct and is designed to control capitalism and technical innovation. Du-uh, Dave.

He is as empty and magpie-like as Bliar. Like Bliar, he sees something glittery and swoops down to steal it, not understanding that it is tinsel and has no value. What a tragic mistake this shallow idiot is.
Just a guess from her comments on this post.
I really feel sorry for the English. They can't seem to buy a break, after the promise of the Thatcher years. Cameron appears to be a Blair clone, interested only in changing his address to 10 Downing Street. Unfortunately for the Brits, I have to disagree with Verity that Cameron is a mistake, however. He's a logical outgrowth of fifty years of rampant Socialism. The acceptable range of ideologies is narrowing tremendously. That's why I'm glad I live here. We don't have Bill Clinton clones at the head of the Republican Party.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Before the Big Bang
I found this blog talking about an interview in Der Spiegel with Daniel Dennett. Having just read this book I was somewhat familiar with the more sophisticated ID arguments, essentially fallacious though they are. So I had to chime in:
The Der Spiegel article was interesting because Dennett didn't address the last refuge of the ID-er, the Big Bang. A colleague of mine who's religious gave me a copy of an ID book that talks about nothing else, just keeps insisting that the acceptance by most scientists of the Big Bang theory shows that they acknowledge the need for a Prime Mover, some kind of Creator. I find it odd that saying, "Yes, it's true that we don't really know what was going on "before" the Big Bang"(whatever that may mean) means that you accept Michael and all the angels. But that seems to be the corner the ID folk have been backed into.
They're like chess players who have lost a Queen and whose only hope is now stalemate, which they would consider a victory.

Jeff Jarvis has an outraged dignity rant about "sploggers", that is, people - or machines - who steal online content and offer it as their own in order to reap ad revenues. I wonder what ESR thinks about this? The digital ocean has its pirates, to be sure, but I, as always, see the bright side:
Isn’t the idea of blogging to get as much exposure as possible for one’s ideas? And don’t splogs help with that? Or is it to make max ad money? Seems like it’s a bit of a compliment to be ripped off in this way. I for one welcome our new splogging overlords.
Is this like open source? If the open sourcers can prevent others from taking Linux and selling it by enforcing their non-license license, why isn't it possible for bloggers to prevent splogging? But how would that work exactly? Wouldn't advertisers prefer to deal with the originator of the content, in order to assure authenticity? Perhaps splogs can open some bloggers' eyes to the commercial potential of their writing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Refining the money pool

As Darwinians see the death of unfit organisms as refining the gene pool, I see this sort of activity as improving the characteristics of the pool of those who have money. Anyone who responds to this sort of email:
The latest hoax email contains a legitimate-looking NAB letter requesting that customers forward their account number and passwords to the bank so it can proceed with a "planned software upgrade".
truly deserves whatever horrific financial damage he suffers. Ditto anyone who thinks the government will protect him from such e-brigandage. Is there really anyone left with an email account who doesn't know enough not to fall for this nonsense? If so, he should be drummed out of the internet age immediately. We'll all be better for it.
What else could it be?

Is this a straw in the wind presaging Victory?:
Since August, Col. Muhammed Wasif Taha has served as acting commander of the 5th Brigade, 6th Division of the Iraqi army, the unit set to take charge of a section of the capital including the airport road and the perimeter of the fortified Green Zone. The U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division currently controls both areas. (my italics)

Is it possible this is from the Washington Post!? OK, I guess so, since the article emphasizes the negative side -
The dispute over Taha shows the extent to which the United States wields influence over key details of security here, even as it promotes the authority of the Iraqi government and delegates ever more responsibilities to Iraq's military.
This is how the game's played. When a wonderful positive change happens, admit it, but find aspects of it that make it negative, doomed, a false hope for the Chimpy McHitler O'Halliburton devotees. The article doesn't even go into the interesting aspect of the situation, that a Sunni officer is playing a prominent part in the Iraqi army. The negativists were saying that the Iraqi army was never going to be a success because no Sunnis were included. And it was Bush's fault because he disbanded Saddam's army and right after the US leaves the mullahs will take over because the army would be entirely Shi'a. And wasn't it just a short time ago that the opposition (to freedom) was citing the lack of Iraqi control over the road to the airport and the Green Zone as certain proof that the whole effort in Iraq was never going to work? This was even more persuasive because most reporters who went to Iraq never saw much more than the road to the airport and the Green Zone.
Every day the doomsayers lose another argument.
Defending the fruitcake

I saw this column by Kevin Hassett on, containing this irresponsible unprovoked attack on the best-tasting food available to mortal man:
... 10 percent to 18 percent of every dollar spent is wasted on fruitcakes (do these things come from a quarry, or where?) or neckties from the 1970s.

So I had to put a flea in his ear:
Dear Mr. Hassett:

Your Bloomberg column about the economics of Christmas gift-giving was thought-provoking. It's too bad you had to descend to rabid unthinking animadversion in your description of the greatest culinary treat of the year:
10 percent to 18 percent of every dollar spent is wasted on fruitcakes (do these things come from a quarry, or where?) or neckties from the 1970s.

As an ardent fruitcake-o-phile (we call ourselves "fruities") I protest! I demand satisfaction. Citron and marzipan at fifty paces in the morning would avenge the honor of the luscious toothsome confection. One has to wonder if you've ever actually tasted a fruitcake or plum pudding or even gingerbread. In spices, nuts and fruits are the salvation of the world! I ... I don't want to seem extreme. But that bit about the 1970s necktie was over the edge. Perhaps you could post a photo of yourself happily consuming a delectable morsel, packed with walnuts, cherries and raisins, as a fitting apology.

Robert Speirs
Tallahassee, Florida
OK, so maybe some fruitcake has some rum or brandy or whisky in it. So maybe it's not ENTIRELY innocent. But it's still luscious!
Tortured reasoning

The Belgravia Dispatch is on the edge of being eliminated from my book marks, along with Esmay and Quick. Oooh, bet they're scared! But this piffle about torture seems so pathetic when you've read a couple of Vince Flynn books. When logic screams:

The lesson of history is that, when the law is not there to keep watch over it, the practice is always at risk of being resorted to in one form or another by the executive branch of government.

"In one form or another". Right. The weasel words that spawned a hundred liberal columns, as I remark:
All this verbiage and not a word on what constitutes torture. Does putting panties on someone's head equal putting someone on the rack? Can any reasonable man allege that? How about giving a Muslim only pork to eat? Playing Neil Diamond songs would be torture to me. But this is a live issue. All the moonbats who assert the Bush administration has been torturing everywhere all the time are simply lying about what constitutes torture.

How about telling a suspect he will go to the electric chair unless he turns state's evidence? How about when death is an overwhelmingly likely outcome, and the "threat" is thus a true statement? Is this torture? And why are the lives and mental contentment of murderers and psychopaths more important than the safety of innocent civilians? Isn't it honorable to use (real) torture in some situations and utterly DISHONORABLE not to? The opinion of the Law Lords in many situations is a reliable guide to what not to do.