Friday, February 24, 2006


The inimitable and always interesting Social Affairs Unit blog has a post about autodidacticism and its more famous participants:
Autodidactism also had its dark side, since an intellectual universe created from one's own variegated readings and preferred opinion often lacked a moral component, and often went with ethical solipsism. Two of the greatest autodidacts of this type were Hitler and Stalin.

The post didn't get into the effect of the Internet, so I thought I'd bring it up:

Sometimes I think that the effect of the Internet will be to make autodidacts the norm and that will be a good thing. It could go wrong, though, if easy access to all knowledge means that malevolent thinkers can easily find reinforcement for their evil thoughts and openminded rationalists are so overwhelmed with conflicting theses and opinions that they "lose all conviction".

I'm having a hard time getting my comment to register, but I'll link to the article anyway. Perhaps it's being moderated.

JJLuna's next book will, I have heard, deal with the great benefits of the school of hard knocks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


The Dubai port story (via Lucianne) appears about to blow up in W's face:
The administration's approval of the acquisition of London- based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. by a firm controlled by the United Arab Emirates has ignited a storm of protests from Democrats and Republicans in Congress and from governors of the states where the ports are located.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist joined Democrats such as Senator Hillary Clinton of New York in calling on the administration to delay or block the $6.8 billion sale.

New York Governor George Pataki and Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich, both Republicans, also have announced their opposition.

But wait a minute. Is the intent here to get Dems screaming about how awful Arabs are and what a threat the Islamic world is in the War on Terror? And isn't that just the opposite of what they were saying just a bit ago, that W was overhyping the threat because of Islamophobia? And won't that make them look a bit - oh - Islamophobic? And wouldn't W be putting a little hygienic distance between himself and the true Islamophobics on the fringe of his own party? Maybe I'm dreaming, but is that a smile I see on Karl Rove's face?
Are Smileys "haram"?

Found a blog called "Croziervision" with a post about freedom of speech:
How essential is freedom of speech?

Oh , it’s essential to me, of course, but then I am a libertarian. But what about Western civilisation in general? I ask because it occurs to me that freedom of speech has had a hard time of it over the years.

It got me thinking about when and how people get offended about things:
Perhaps it's the nature of offense that needs to be considered. Blasphemy, obscenity, profanity, have been considered bannable because they offend, they irritate. No one seriously contends that they cause physical harm. Any civil disorder that results is because of the irritation, the offense. They're not that different, then, from cigarette smoke, other recreational drugs, loud music, dirt (non-poisonous), neon signs and mismatched clothing.

The genius of Western society is that it has recognized that offense is not always to be taken seriously and catered to. Limits have been put on causes for complaint. Now the Muslims and the PC crowd have ganged up on freedom in the name of some absurd non-offensive utopia. I bet Mohammed never wore perfume. But he sure had a lot of offensive ideas. Oh and I forgot "Smileys". Boy do those things offend me! I bet they're haram!
Scots build Ferris Wheel for boats

Now that's not a sentence you'll see too often in the life of the universe. But it's true.

Praise the Lord. How many marvelous things there are in his creation.
Comment on Gene Expression:
So why not polygamy? The entire nation of Pakistan - heck, the entire Islamic world - can join one large civil partnership and move lock stock and barrel to Slough. Wait a minute, they already have!
Robert Speirs | Email | Homepage | 02.21.06 - 11:06 am | #

Monday, February 20, 2006

...the perfect holiday retreat...

Here's a good one:
Directions: 40 km from Ruse, 220 km from Varna
Area: 80 sq. meters
Land: 1700 sq. meters
Price: 5600 EUR or 3919 GBP or 7361 USD
Basic location: Near town. In mountain. In vacation place. Near highway. In fishing area. In hunting area. Near a golf course.

Only needs a little "cosmetical refreshment", but I can handle that for $7361.
Cartoon Pushback

Protein Wisdom has a comment relaying a statement by one of the famous cartoonists summarizing the evidence for the existence of the Moderate Muslim:
Muslim outrage huh. OK ... let’s do a little historical review.
Just some lowlights:
[1] Muslims fly commercial airliners into buildings in New York City. No Muslim outrage.

[2] Muslim officials block the exit where school girls are trying to escape a burning building because their faces were exposed. No Muslim outrage. *******************************************

[3] Muslims cut off the heads of three teenaged girls on their way to school in Indonesia. A Christian school. No Muslim outrage.

[4] Muslims murder teachers trying to teach Muslim children in Iraq. No Muslim outrage.

[5] Muslims murder over 80 tourists with car bombs outside cafes and hotels in Egypt. No Muslim outrage.

[6] A Muslim attacks a missionary children’s school in India. Kills six. No Muslim outrage.****************************************

[7] Muslims slaughter hundreds of children and teachers in Beslan, Russia. Muslims shoot children in the back. No Muslim outrage.

[8] Let’s go way back. Muslims kidnap and kill athletes at the Munich Summer Olympics. No Muslim outrage.

[9] Muslims fire rocket-propelled grenades into schools full of children in Israel. No Muslim outrage.

[10] Muslims murder more than 50 commuters in attacks on London subways and busses. Over 700 are injured. No Muslim outrage.

[11] Muslims massacre dozens of innocents at a Passover Seder. No Muslim outrage.

[12] Muslims murder innocent vacationers in Bali. No Muslim outrage.

[13] Muslim newspapers publish anti-Semitic cartoons. No Muslim outrage

[14] Muslims are involved, on one side or the other, in almost every one of the 125+ shooting wars around the world. No Muslim outrage.

[15] Muslims beat the charred bodies of Western civilians with their shoes, then hang them from a bridge. No Muslim outrage.

[16] Newspapers in Denmark and Norway publish cartoons depicting Mohammed. Muslims are outraged.

Dead children. Dead tourists. Dead teachers. Dead doctors and nurses. Death, destruction and mayhem around the world at the hands of Muslims .. no Muslim outrage ...

Is this really about cartoons?

The comment doesn't really fit with the post, which is about WMDs, but it sure comes on powerful and true.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


So does this:
TALLAHASSEE - It's happy hour in Florida's capital city, but you wouldn't know it. The outdoor bar near the Capitol that used to be crowded with lobbyists and legislators is virtually empty on a Tuesday evening.

"Boy, this crowd is awfully thin," says House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City, walking past the watering hole known as Clyde's & Costello's. "Where is everybody?"

Those deserted tables are a consequence of a new state law that bans lobbyists from buying drinks, meals and gifts for legislators and staff members. Lawmakers passed the sweeping ban at the end of a four-day special session in December, in the wake of a controversial trip to Canada by four legislators at a gambling firm's expense and an unfolding lobbying scandal in Washington.

mean that I won't be able to walk past the Capitol at lunchtime and watch all the legislative staffers lining up for free meals at outdoor barbeque tents any time a county or association or other pressure group wants to get another piece of restrictive legislation passed? Guess so:
As chamber director, Gardiner helps organize the annual Lake County Days, promoting the area and highlighting its annual legislative agenda.

Because the sponsors of Lake County Days include Sprint, Progress Energy and others who employ lobbyists, lawmakers and legislative staffers cannot eat free.

Hey, wait a minute. Legislators have to pay for their own meals and fewer restrictions on individual freedom get passed. It's all good!