Friday, August 31, 2007

Larry Craig outing legitimate?

Newsweek has a point-counterpoint interview with two gay journalists on whether Larry Craig should have been "outed". I'm not impressed with the idea of trotting out two gay journalists, as if only like can report on like. But Chris Crain does make a good point about the sanctimonious viciousness of some gay activists:

I'm no defender of public sex, but "outing" activists don't limit their call for such media probes to cases like Craig's. [...] Closeted gay men aren't the only targets of these outing activists. They will go after anyone whose private sex life is, according to them, inconsistent with their public views. In some cases, "outing" activists [...] have gone after nonpoliticians and even openly gay and pro-gay public figures if their private sex lives are deemed inconsistent with their public views. Anonymous ads on online sex sites have been exposed, and the claims of alleged past sex partners have been sought and published. These activists have no boundaries when it comes to the private sex lives of public figures, and they would drag the media into the bedrooms, toilets and phone-sex chat lines with them. It's not legitimate journalism, it invades the privacy of public figures, and (whether they realize it or not) it smears gay people generally by reinforcing the idea that we're all out there furtively looking for anonymous sex.

Of course, there's no reason to be scared of "outing activists", so long as you have nothing to hide. They would surely never lie about anyone, would they? Especially not in these high-speed media days, where an accusation made is an accusation proved? Sure sounds like it's not the inmates, but the brownshirts, who are sporting the pink triangles here.

As for Craig himself, my sympathies and best of luck to him, if he's innocent. If he's really been involved in the "tea room scene", then..."When a man is down, 'down with him!'" Guess we'll see soon enough.

Your First Things tie-in: Richard John Neuhaus and Jody Bottum and crew have been writing about homosexuality rather extensively in recent years, in part because of their election-year run-ins with Andrew Sullivan. But, here's some linky goodness that will get you into plenty of thought-provoking older articles, too.

Plane spotters

This Hungarian news service doesn't know their airplanes, it seems. The story, of a Congressional junket to Iraq being fired on upon departure, is accompanied by the photo in the screen shot, above. It shows an A-10 Thunderbolt, (or Warthog, on account of its ugliness) which is a single seat ground attack jet. I don't know what those flares beneath it are supposed to be. The Congressmen flew aboard a C-130 Hercules, which is a much bigger beast.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Christ-like Bin Laden...

"Another blogger, Marc, praised the artworks' shock value. "Art is supposed to provoke thought and offend you and make you think," he wrote."

Okay, I think this art stinks, and the artist is someone who thinks her lazy ├ępater les bourgeouis paintings communicate anything more than her own deracinated relativism. Next!

All Edges Gilt

Have a look at my new blog, All Edges Gilt. It's a collection of scans of old book illustrations. It's not much now, but these things come my way all the time, and so I'm looking forward to sharing them with whoever may be interested.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Those damn conservatives!

Here's a piece on ABC News about the incremental shariah-zation of Malaysia. Towards the end there's some concerned voiced about ethnic cronyism in government hiring. Radical Islam plus corruption equals...what? According to ABC, this: "Fears of creeping conservatism in Malaysia".

Now, you might think that government corruption is an apolitical blight. Flies are attracted to dung, no matter its source. And what could be more radical, if you will, than stuffing a relaxed, tropical multi-ethnic society into a Wahhabist burkha? But no, mustn't unsettle the newsies' youthful associations with that word, "radical". Probably we should be grateful that they managed to pluck up the courage to even suggest that shariah might not be just another swell fragment of the Glorioius Mosaic of Multiculturalism. So, "conservative" shall this slip-slide into the abyss be termed.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"What you mean "we", kemo sabe?"

I read Mark Lilla's piece in the New York Times Magazine recently, about how liberal secular societies are in danger of being overwhelmed by the inrushing return of Islamic theocracy. A riposte is here, a bit of one-upmanship is here, and a complaint that 'the dog ate my blogpost' is here. I don't have much of anything to add, other than that it's nice to see that even liberal academics can be made to admit that having the West's cultural atmosphere shiver with the schhhwwiinnnnggg!! of scimitars being unsheathed is indeed something that should make intelligent people gulp in apprehension.

But I was puzzled by the way he cast this whole dilemma. He's American, born in Detroit, and spent his entire academic career in U.S. universities, according to the biographical sources I've consulted. Yet, look at how he speaks: "Today, we have progressed..." "We in the West are disturbed and confused." "We live, so to speak, on the other shore. When we observe those on the opposite bank, we are puzzled,..." Yet all the while he's saying "we", he's not talking about we Americans, nor even we rank-and-file Westerners. He's referring to the great figures from the mighty European intellectual tradition, in whose invisible company he's passed his professional life, and from whose stores of wisdom he's furnished his own intellect. The American experience merits barely an aside:

As for the American experience, it is utterly exceptional: there is no other fully developed industrial society with a population so committed to its faiths (and such exotic ones), while being equally committed to the Great Separation. Our political rhetoric, which owes much to the Protestant sectarians of the 17th century, vibrates with messianic energy, and it is only thanks to a strong constitutional structure and various lucky breaks that political theology has never seriously challenged the basic legitimacy of our institutions. Americans have potentially explosive religious differences over abortion, prayer in schools, censorship, euthanasia, biological research and countless other issues, yet they generally settle them within the bounds of the Constitution. It’s a miracle.

He says "miracle", but the tone sounds like he means "fluke". He seems quite divorced from America's spiritual taproot. ("...only thanks to a strong constitutional structure and various lucky breaks"...well, communist China had those things, too--that's how Mao managed to die in bed.) There's no Luther or Erasmus in American history; rather, America's spiritual life has always been more of a people's affair. This can be seen in negative example, in H. L. Mencken's constant (though entertaining) pummeling of the ubiquitous "booboisie". It can been seen in positive example in having simply grown up in small town, church-going America. No theorists needed.

And what European observers never quite seem to get is that separation of church and state freed the church to follow its own purpose in the national life. The fact that it still has a purpose, that it still illumines and sustains the everyday lives of ordinary people, without being a tool of the state, must seem anomalous indeed to post-Christian theorists. It isn't an easy arrangement, as Richard John Neuhaus of First Things once noted:

The problem, of course, is that neither [church nor state] is prepared to remain within its institutional boundaries. Government, if it is to be sustainable, engages beliefs and loyalties of an ultimate sort that can properly be called religious. As the impulse of the modern state is to define all public space as governmental space, so the consequence is a tendency toward "civil religion." Religion, on the other hand, if it represents a comprehensive belief system, speaks to the human condition in all its aspects, including the right ordering (the government) of public life....Thus each institution is, in the eyes of the other, constantly bursting its bounds. Therein is the foundation of the open-ended argument between church and state. Open-ended, that is, so long as a society professes to be democratic.
-- Richard John Neuhaus, The Naked Public Square, 1984

But weal prevails nonetheless, most of the time, on these happy shores. Dr. Lilla is surely a more capable analyst of these things than scribblers such as I. He should turn his gaze homeward more often.

Do you like funny animated avatars?

From a comments thread at Protein Wisdom, I found this guy's blog. These animated gifs are a riot, and I intend to steal most of them, for my own use in certain forums where I use an avatar. So, it's only fair that I throw a bit of my traffic his way, nu?

China's sudden notoriety is really old news. Will we listen this time?

The Chinaman is dreaded because of his power to under- live the white; — the white is equally to be dreaded because of his ability to over-live the Oriental.
-- The Japanese Letters of Lafadio Hearn, 1910

It's been a bad summer for China's image in the international business world. Toys with lead paint, tainted pet food, toxic toothpaste, miners dying like rats in a septic tank, bridges collapsing, and who knows what'll be coming down the pike next.

But they'll get past it. That gigantic market and that spankin' new middle class will get China back into everyone's good graces in no time. Because the very fact of China's pre-eminence on the global business scene makes them a partner the world can't refuse. Whatever happens elsewhere in the world, money and cheap labor are the balm and lever with which China thinks it can make any problems go away. And who will say that they are wrong?

Remember, communist China is the most murderous regime ever to arise in the history of the world, with a body count greater than Hitler's or Stalin's. The revolutionary bloodlust may have abated since Mao's death, but, with the exception of Jiang Qing, the original old guard were either eliminated by Mao or died in their beds. There was never anything like a Western-style carriage of justice for the communist atrocities of the Twenties and Thirties, the Great Leap Forward, the Anti-Rightist Campaign, the Cultural Revolution, and all the smaller, constant undercurrents of repression.

Whatever actions we can prod them into doing or stopping, via "incentives" or something, will not be because we can shame them into it. A country that massacred its own young people live on international TV is not going to be embarrassed over some south Florida bluehair's wiener dog croaking from tainted dog food.

Western firms know all this, and they still fall all over themselves to get in on China's market and exploit her workers. The big internet companies have signed on as auxillary secret police. (Where are their vaunted principles, then? I don't know, maybe somewhere in here.) I fear that, far from absorbing liberty and democracy from the West, as a result of the present engagement, China will instead give inspiration to tyrants everywhere. That it's possibly to deal with the First World on one's own terms, without making any concessions to democracy or human rights. That western businesses and institutions will become conditioned to go along with the trappings of totalitarianism, little by little, as they penetrate China inch by inch. For the few liberty-longing Chinese bloggers, getting extinguished one by one with help from Western internet companies, the coming years will be a lonely struggle indeed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fun with the federal Bureau of Prisons

1. Click here for the BOP's inmate locator.

2. Type in your own name.

3. Let that be a lesson to you. Unless your name is somewhat unusual, that is.

Monday, August 20, 2007

"Walking in your footsteps..."

Wow, here's a whole blog devoted to scolding Sting and The Police for agreeing to play a concert in Cuba. Talk about your single issue websites! Good on 'em, though; too many of our glitterati and intelligentsia have been fatally schmoozed by El Jefe, to the detriment of their moral compasses.

Via a banner at Chicago Boyz

Michael Vick pleads guilty

There's an interesting post and comments thread going on at Wizbang at the moment, on whether Vick will ever come back to the NFL. My opinion: someone will agree to let him suit up in an NFL uniform, as long as he's got talent, no matter what he does. Darryl Strawberry in MLB and Ray Lewis in the NFL are examples of that.

If by some fluke of principle no one will take him, there's always professional wrestling. The names "Animal" and "Junkyard Dog" have already been taken, though.

An overlooked fact about Wikiscanner

Wikiscanner does not see registered Wikipedia users. Users who have Wikipedia accounts have their IP addresses shielded from view, and thus do not show up on Wikiscanner's search results. Funnily enough, it's the anonymous users who leave the trail that Wikiscanner tracks.

So, conceivably, there could be a lot more Wiki-spin going on, from parties unknown, than appears in Wired's rogues gallery. In fairness, Virgil Griffith says as much in the header of Wikiscanner's front page: "List anonymous wikipedia edits from interesting organizations". But most of the bloggage I've seen has overlooked this potentially crucial fact. Is Fox News really monkeying with Wikipedia more than other news outlets? Or do the other outlets just have more users with Wikipedia accounts? It's impossible to say, but it's something to think about.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ordinary human decency revealed via Wikiscanner...

So I was going through a list of left-leaning organizations, searching for dirt on 'em, when I came upon this. Somebody at the Sierra Club repeatedly corrected some extremely vile vandalization of the article on the July 5, 2005 London bus bombings. Well done.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Fun with Wikiscanner

Okay, as of this evening young Virgil Griffith's Wikiscanner seems to be reasonably accessible. I see that a lot of posts I made to Wikipedia before I started using an alias are visible. These are posts on various subjects I made at wor-errrr!!! I mean, when I was away from home... *koff* I mean, c'mon! You click over just out of idle curiosity, tweak a typo, check the history on something else, and before you know it you've blown the afternoon writing out the history of the discovery of the element palladium or some such!

Here are some interesting things I saw while searching some other institutions. Nothing particularly "gotcha", I don't think, just an amusing view into someone's previously private moment. Although I'll admit I'm searching as I'm writing, here. Keep in mind that people who have Wikipedia aliases are truly anonymous, and do not show up in Wikiscanner.

Someone at The Nation changed the name of a photo of John Kerry to John Fortuitous Kerry.

Someone at the same magazine changed the entry on George W. Bush, to label him a British politician. For what, I couldn't tell you.

Some jocular juvenile at Bard College asserted that a family of Neandertals reside in Paterson, NJ. Reason I search Bard was to see if they had anything to say about Alger Hiss, since there is a political science post named after this traitor.

Oddly, or perhaps not, Evergreen State College has only one user listed who edited the entry on that institution's most famous scion, St. Pancake. Less oddly, a young speaker of truth to power, or one of the lefty fossils on the faculty, calls the President retarded. Twice.

Someone at the Islamic Center of San Francisco was quite, quite in a lather, to prove that the Jooooos were behind efforts to besmirch the credibility of that old forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Same dude, likely, slapped the warning label "Zionist" on Robert Spencer in the entry for his webpage Dhimmi Watch. Another American Islamic organization, however, featured wikipedia edits from an Islamic Harry Potter fan.

I didn't see anything from First Things, so it looks like Richard John Neuhaus and Jody Bottum are not riding this fad. At least not at work!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

NPR has no space to report liberals' abuse of Wikipedia...

...but plenty of space to hang their favorite dartboards: Wal-Mart, Foxnews, etc., in connection with that new Wikipedia scanner tool. There's nary a murmur about a jerk at United Nations slandering the late Oriana Falacci, the ACLU slagging the pope, and oh, a whole slew of monkeying around, from all sides. But, trust the group good-think at Morning Edition to whittle it down to corporations, conservatives, conservative corporations, and corporate conservatives.

The template, the template, semper et ubique, the template...

I look forward to playing with Wikiscanner, once its Greece-based server recovers from the traffic tsunami.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What I saw at the revolution...

After this failure [the prisoners] started inflating balloons with smoke. With a following wind they flew quite well, exhibiting inscriptions in large letters to the settlement:

"Save the women and old men from being beaten!"
"We demand to see a member of the Presidium."

The guards started shooting at the balloons.

Then some Chechen prisoners came to the Technical Department and offered to make kites. (They are experts.) They succeeded in sticking some kites together and paying out the string until they were over the settlement. There was a percussive device on the frame of each kite. When the kite was in a convenient position, the device scattered a bundle of leaflets, also attached to the kite. The kite fliers sat on the roof of a hut waiting to see what would happen next. If the leaflets fell close to the camp, warders ran to collect them; if they fell farther away, motorcyclists and horsemen dashed after them. Whatever happened, they tried to prevent the free citizens from reading an independent version of the truth. (The leaflets ended by requesting any citizen of Kengir who found one to deliver it to the Central Committee.) The kites were also shot at, but holing was less damaging to them than to the balloons. They enemy soon discovered that sending up counter-kites to tangle strings with them was cheaper than keeping a crowd of warders on the run.

A war of kites in the second half of the twentieth century! And all to silence a word of truth.
--Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, part V,
chapter 12

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Reformist Koran?

Judging from the blurbs for this new Koran, the forces of moderate Islam may finally have a weapon in their lonely war against the fanatics. If so, let's hope this tome's influence spreads far, wide, deep, and fast.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

If I were Dave Ramsey...

If I were Dave Ramsey, I'd first buy a lot of stock in credit card companies, check cashing joints, car title pawnshops, and tax refund lenders. These are the types of companies that he is always warning his listeners against.

Then I'd add the following to my Financial Peace speech:

"Now, do you have a lot of credit card debt? Do you cash checks at any place other than the bank where you have a checking account? Do you borrow against your car's value, or take out tax refund loans? Full disclosure here. I own stock in all those types of companies. I don't need to. I make plenty of money with my speaking and radio gigs, and with my more socially responsible portfolio. But I want you to know that I am invested in these businesses.

"You may well wonder why I would give my money to these parasites, these sharks, that are eating your futures alive. Simple. I want you to get out of debt, same as I've always wanted. And I want you to get mad at your debt, same as I've always wanted. And the best way to do that, I've discovered, is to get mad at yourself for a) getting into all this debt so foolishly, and b) having to pay a short bald guy on the speaking circuit to tell you how to get out. For just a short while, I want you to get mad at me.

"Because now, with my stock holdings in these predatory industries, I am getting even richer than I already am. If nothing about your present sad situation makes you mad, then I want this to make you mad: I am getting you coming and going. I've already got your money to come hear me speak, and maybe buy a book and audio cd, too. If you take the advice I'm giving you tonight, you will be on the road to get out of debt and be able to live like no one else.

"Or you can ignore my advice. You can heave a sigh and say that it's just too hard. You're just not disciplined enough. Your mate would never co-operate. You're in too deep. And on and on and on. You can go back to paying off one credit card with another, taking out second mortgages for grown-up toys and vacations, piddling away your cash flow on car loans and rent-to-own stereos. If you do that, well...I'm still getting rich off of you. Your bad habits are just going to make me richer and richer. I am getting you coming and going, and that makes you not only a bad steward of your finances. It makes you a sucker. A mark. A fish. Take my seminar to heart, and you'll only pay me once. Stay in your bad habits, and you'll keep me sleeping between silk sheets forever.

"When I'm out on my next vacation, at a gorgeous, exclusive mountain lodge, looking out over the breathtaking view and enjoying the cool, refreshing mountain breezes, know what I'm going to do? I'm going to pull out my blackberry, check my portfolio, throw an extra thousand or two into my fund for my *next* vacation, in just a couple of months or so, and then I'm going to raise my umbrella drink in a toast to you--the undisciplined, spendthrift, whining slob, who's making my wonderful life possible. Here's to you--sucker. Now get mad, and listen up."

That's what I'd say, if I were him.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get

The NOAA is forecasting a busier than normal hurricane season this year. They did last year, too; although 2006 turned out to be much milder than usual. And they did in 2005, and they were right in that case. And they did in pretty much every year for the past decade, and...oh, you'll just have to look up the data yourself, to see if they were right or wrong. The folktale is wrong: the public, or at least the media, is very forgiving of people crying wolf. No one wants egg on his face from having uttered "famous last words", after all.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

What I saw at the revolution...

No, it would be quite wrong to say that the Jews "organized" the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, just as it was not organized by any other nation as such.

[But, i]n the case of young Jewish revolutionaries (and, alas, their mentors), as well as those Jews to whom the encyclopedia refers as "the important driving force of the revolution," what was forgotten was the wise counsel of the prophet Jeremiah to the Jews taken to Babylon: "Seek the welfare of the city where I [the Lord] have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf: For in its welfare you will find your welfare." (Jer. 29:7).

In contrast, the Russian Jews who had joined the revolutionary
movement were burning with eagerness to tear that city down. They were blind to the consequences.
-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Two Hundred Years Together, vol. 1,
chapter 9

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Poor, oppressed Muslims. No, really!

cross-posted at Protein Wisdom

So I was getting my fill of the daily Jihad over at TROP one day, and started wondering, could there possibly be another side to this? Are there really Muslims who are as despised and persecuted as well-heeled First World Muslim advocacy groups claim that they themselves are? (I exclude Palestinians, since a) their woes are all self-inflicted; b)I remember what a horror-show they turned beautiful, sophisticated Lebanon into in the 70s; c) their hands have been purple and smoking with the blood of Jews and Americans for as long as I can remember, and they recently voted for a gang of killers who promised much more of the same. So, off to the nth power, they should feel free to sod.)

After clicking around, I'd say it's very hard to argue that the Muslims of Gujarat, in western India, have deserved the outrages visited upon them five years ago. Short version: a train of Hindu pilgrims was set on fire, and in retaliation, and with the connivance of authorities in certain precincts, entire neighborhoods of Muslims were wiped out. A Hindu filmmaker, Rakesh Sharma, made a documentary about the atrocity, the chilling conclusion of which is here. On his blog, he tartly responds to non-resident Indians who protest screenings of the film in the U.S. :
"What about the burnt train", thunders a Gujarati NRI, "what happened was a reaction to Godhra". I pose a counter question - " Do you think post-911, every New Yorker should have gone out to on the streets to rape any Muslim woman, murder Muslim babies and kill old and young men? That New Yorkers should have burnt all Muslim cafes and shops, set fire to Muslim homes and that the NYPD should've helped them do it? That mobs led by local politicians should have ruled the streets of New York in the same way they did in Gujarat?" Like a proud American citizen, he recoils and says no.

So, why should Hindus and Muslims battering each other matter to the war on terror? They've only been at it since the 13th century or so. But the matter isn't as localized as it may at first seem. In Edward Luce's excellent new book In Spite of the Gods: the strange rise of modern India, we learn that, while many individual young Hindu volunteers did come to Gujarat to try to help the refugees, the Hindu ultra-nationalist dominated state government pretty much let the victims fester where they fell. There was no institution to turn to--except for Saudi relief agencies. And we all know what baggage comes along with their help.

So, consider: all the al-Qaeda that have been bagged overseas have been Saudi, Paki, British, Jordanian, and etc., but not so much from India. If that changes, if we start seeing Indian Muslims on the battlefields of The Jihad, we can in part thank the BJP and RSS parties of India, as short-sighted as they are bigoted. Let's hope those Indians involved in the Glasgow airport bombing were anomalies, rather than trend-setters.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Random Rock Bloggage

This song floored me immediately, when I heard it on YouTube a couple of weeks ago. I wish the local radio stations would play it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Official Michael Vick Dog Chew Toy


*koff*...I mean, that's not funny...

The War on Britain's Jews

Clicking around in YouTube, I found this British news special about rising anti-semitism. The poster chopped it into six parts; here's the third part:

Nothing new to regular readers of jihadwatch, LGF, Gates of Vienna, and the rest. But it's still appalling to see it on TV. Can British society really be slipping back into this old pit?