Sunday, August 29, 2010

Resisting an epiphany

Over at POWIP, Enoch is disturbed by the gradual roiling of dark waters in his soul.

I am not sure what to do with how I have come to feel about Islam in general and Muslims in general. [...] It is not as if I have a personal issue personally with any given Muslim person. And herein is the rub, as they say. [...] I would not consider myself a racist or a xenophobe. And I won’t proclaim that I am so very beyond harboring a sliver of deep distrust. Nor will I pretend it is but a sliver. The creaturely part of me signals as if I need be on guard when I am around The Them. And it bothers me that I do feel this way involuntarily.


A history professor of mine in college once told about an incident when he was touring the Balkans, Greece IIRC. He was in an old church, and noticed that the walls were streaked with soot. There had been a fire inside. The docent angrily confirmed it: "The Turks did this!" How terrible, the professor replied. When did it happen? "1348!" We all laughed. Such ancient, slavic grudge-carrying was quite foreign in America, the land of buried hatchets and fresh starts.

It doesn't feel so much like that anymore. Something is coalescing, taking root, something which may have repercussions centuries on down the road.

Americans are a kind, forbearing, humble, welcoming people, lefties' incessant accusations otherwise notwithstanding. I have never had a negative personal experience with a Muslim and, SFAIK (anonymous internet flammage aside) no Muslim has ever had one with me. I suspect that that is true of most everyone reading this, left or right. In fact, I sometimes have occasion to help Muslims who are new to the area, or to America altogether. During one point of misfortune a few years ago, I learned that one Muslim family of my acquaintance was praying for my wellbeing. So trust me: I know how all this sounds to people who disagree. American Muslims just want to run their convenience stores, parking garages, halal meat shops, or physics labs, and get on in life, same as everyone else.

And yet the Islamic terrorists, well-trained foreign agent or Sudden Jihad Syndrome flipout, are hiding among them, not us. And the alleged moderate Muslims who run interference for them are quick to scold us for noticing, as are the progressives who tend to make mascots of civilization's enemies. And every snowflake in an avalanche can plead "who, me?".

On the ground, under the news radar, most people get along fine much of the time, even in the world's hot spots. Muslims will even visit Palestinian churches to receive The Virgin's blessing, I've heard. And yet "My biking buddy is a Muslim, therefore Islam is a religion of peace" is as idiotically simplistic a statement as "I get along fine with all the black people at work, therefore there is no more racism in America." Only difference is that the stakes are far higher with the former delusion.

The people who roll their eyes at the commotion over Park51 do not understand or appreciate the power of symbols--intended or unintended. They do not understand the power of memory, of grievances unassuaged, and how they can be passed along year to year, generation to generation, to unpredictably multiplying effect.

No, like Enoch, I don't want to follow these thoughts to their terminus. Just as force should not always be applied to its utmost extreme, so ideas should not always be pursued to their logical conclusions. But the sectarian wedge has been driven deeper between us, with this "center". Who or what can prise it out again? Here be monsters.

Update: welcome readers of Lawyers, Guns and Money. Gee, between The Jawa Report flood earlier and now this, it's almost like having a live blog again, circa 2005!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blowback for Muslims

There's a small mosque in Cobb County, which was burned by an arsonist earlier this summer. It had been there for years and years--I drove past it sometimes--and the congregation even hosted a memorial in 2004 for a local man who was beheaded by al-Qaeda in Iraq. But all the hate speech flying around finally sent someone over the edge, and the place was torched.

It was torched by a Muslim, and the hate speech was flying around in his native Gambia, where Wahhabism imported from Saudi Arabia has poisoned people's minds.

So let no one think that opposing The Jihad is *quite* the same as opposing Islam. They'll kill insufficiently crazed Muslims as quickly as they will the rest of us.

Twitter for Victorians

From the Victorian London blog, a great find from the 1850s:

A Telegraph all over London? The wires brought to within 100 yards of every man's door? A Company established to carry it out?
Well - I don't know. There's a good deal to be said on both sides.
It certainly would be pleasant to be within five minutes of such a message as "Dine at the Club with me at seven;" or "SQUATTLEBOROUGH JUNCTIONS" at six premium; I've sold your hundred, and paid in the cash to your account;" or "Little stranger arrived safe this morning at twelve; mamma and baby doing well;" and one might occasionally be grateful for such a warning as "KITE and POUNCE took out a writ against you this morning - Look alive;" or "JAWKINS coming to call on you; make yourself scarce."
But think on the other hand of being within five minutes of every noodle who wants to ask you a question, of every dun with a "little account;" of every acquaintance who has a favour to beg, or a disagreeable thing to communicate. With the post one secures at least the three or four hours betwixt writing the letter and its delivery. When I leave my suburban retreat at Brompton, at nine A.M., for the City, I am insured against MRS. P.'s anxieties, and tribulations, and consultings, on the subject of our little family, or our little bills, the servants' shortcomings, or the tradesmen's delinquencies, at least till my return to dinner. But with a House Telegraph, it would be a perpetual tete-a-tete. We should be always in company, as it were, with all our acquaintance. Good gracious, we should go far to outvie SIR BOYLE ROCHE's famous bird, and be not in two places only, but in every place within the whole range of the House-Telegraph at once. Solitude would become impossible. The bliss of ignorance would be at an end. We should come near that most miserable of all conceivable conditions, of being able to oversee and overhear all that is being done or said concerning us all over London! Every bore's finger would be always on one's button; every intruder's hand on one's knocker; every good-natured friend's lips in one's ear.
No - all things considered, I don't think society is quite ripe for the House-Telegraph yet. If it is established I shall put up a plate on my door with "No House-Telegrams need apply."

I thought this was too perfect, but here is the original page from Punch, archived in Google Books. People often lament the passing of the closeness of small town community, where everyone knew their neighbors & their business. But like everything else, this closeness has been digitalized and globalized, with the warmth of human contact replaced with the high-tech sheen of the internet age. Instead of socializing over the back fence, we connect by peering into this year's hot new glowing rectangle.

And, like a commenter at the original blog post said, don't knock it til you've tried it. Maybe the Victorian writer would have overcome his misgivings and plugged right in, if given the chance. You never know.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Test post

To see if IntenseDebate comments is working.

Shirley Sherrod declines to be rehired by Department of Agriculture

Good for her. Even in tough times like these, there's room for only so many knives in one's back. Loyalty is a two-way street.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mayhem at the Ground Zero Mosque protest

From YouTuber MikeFerrara66

YouTuber: "Hey bro, bro: How does it feel to curse out an old man who's a Holocaust survivor? How does that feel?"

Lefty counter-protestor: "I have no problem cursing out a goddamned treasonous piece of garbage, who wouldn't know the Constitution if it hit him in the f!ing face, okay?"

Random Rock Bloggage

I'm enjoying using the Google archive of photos from LIFE magazine. But it's maddening when I find errors, and have no way of correcting them, or calling them to Google's attention. For example, if you search for bluesman John Lee Hooker, a number of mis-identified photos of Bo Diddly are also returned. I went through all of these and added Bo's name to the labels, but when I returned several days later all of my additions had vanished. There's no email contact provided, and I couldn't get through to Mountain View on the phone the other day, either. It's a shame; I'd love to help improve this fine resource, but they seemingly can't be bothered.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A view of The Jihad

"A gigantic taboo zone has been created, repeatedly reiterated and expanded with the well-intentioned collaboration of Western intellectuals. [...] In the confrontation with Islamism, the Left has abandoned its principles. In the past it stood for cutting the ties to convention and tradition, but in the case of Islam it reinstates them in the name of multiculturalism. It is proud to have fought for women's rights, but in Islam it tolerates head scarves, arranged marriages, and wife-beating. It once stood for equal rights, now it preaches a right to difference – and thus different rights. It proclaims freedom of speech, but when it comes to Islam it coughs in embarrassment. It once supported gay rights, but now keeps silent about Islam's taboo on homosexuality. The West's long-due process of self-relativisation at the end of the colonial era, which was promoted by postmodernist and structuralist ideas, has led to cultural relativism and the loss of criteria."

Submission in advance: 20 years after the fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie, Islamism has the West more firmly in its grip than ever before.
By Thierry Chervel

Ground Zero Mosque protests photos

Here are more than 600 photos taken by various photographers today at the Ground Zero Mosque protest, uploaded so far to Flickr. And if you click through all of them, you will find two of a dude got up in prison tats and Confederate gear.

In the comments to one of the shots of this fellow, I noticed Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, asking permission to reproduce it at LGF. Here it is, trumpeted as the face of the protest. (And IINM that's the first time I've been back to LGF since getting the heave-ho--I don't do the stalker thing. Felt strange, but that's another story.)

Now, Charles must have searched through all 300+ [at the time] of these pictures, same as I did. He surely saw all the other people there: bikers, firemen, family members of 9/11 victims--certainly nothing like the freakshow at anti-war marches over the past decade. He may have even clicked through to some of the photographers' profiles and blogs, as I did, and seen that they were by no means sympathetic to the protesters. If there were more like Rebel Boy available to be photographed, they would surely have been snapped. But there apparently weren't. I'll stand corrected if more photographers upload examples later. But for right now, a better title for the LGF post would be The Most Disgusting Character I Saw At The Ground Zero Mosque Protest. Because that's all he really is, based on the available pics so far.

Sidebar: if any lizardoids of my former acquaintance should swing by, and happen to remember a family situation I shared with them last autumn, I'd like to thank them for their kindness back then, and let them know that it's now over.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The real problem with the Ground Zero Mosque

It's not tall enough.

No, really. If it were taller, it would "affect" the New York skyline, and the city government would be involved up to their elbows in this private construction matter. As they are with this proposed building.

Via videoblogger Vincent Ferrari.

And this Burmese YouTuber warns American Muslims of blowback, if the GZM is built.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Iranian Bomb -- I mean, reactor, is set to be fired up Saturday

Los Angeles Times to publish names and "scores" of teachers.

I believe that teachers should be held accountable. I just don't believe that the puzzle of classroom achievement can be boiled down to just that one variable. A great teacher can move mountains in an under-performing district, where the children struggle under any number of disadvantages, and barely budge the results. A mediocre teacher can be placed in a district with bright, motivated children, involved parents, & so forth, and just proceed on cruise control.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Insensitivity in New York City

The backers of the thing seem to actually think--assuming they're sincere--that building it will make them part of the national healing process. After all, they've been in Manhattan for 30 years. They are reportedly Sufists, not hardline Wahabists. The imam has soft feelings for Hamas? Well, so does just about every "fill-in-the-blank studies" department in our top drawer universities.

So the question is, what can this congregation do to show their sympathy and support? Answer: I don't know, and given their moral tone-deafness in foisting this project on lower Manhattan, their dilemma is not my problem. As much as sensitivity towards Muslims is demanded of us, it isn't too much to expect some from them, once & again. I will not be buffaloed by anyone into reviling them, but this controversy...they did it to themselves.

Bad mothers in the news

How does the news media decide which crimes are to be covered nationwide? This crime is horrible, as reported on CNN:

Shaquan Duley is scheduled to make her first court appearance Wednesday afternoon. She faces two counts of murder in the deaths of her two toddler sons, the Orangeburg County sheriff said. Police identified the dead children as Ja'van T. Duley, age 1, and Devean C. Duley, 2. The funeral for the children will be Friday morning.

But so is this crime, which was only reported in its immediate locality:

In addition to having intercourse with the child, the indictments allege Richardson used his hands and electrical cords as deadly weapons inflicting serious personal injury and also restrained and terrorized Teghan.

Teghan died July 19 at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, three days after she had been taken to Johnston Memorial Hospital by Richardson. She had cuts, lacerations, bite marks, head trauma and sexual assault injuries, authorities said.

Teghan and her mother, Helen Reyes, had been living in a barn with Richardson on 750 Old Sanders Road behind the home of his grandparents, Wade and Helen Creech, for the past four weeks. The structure had no bathroom, no running water and a single air mattress on the floor for sleeping, according to Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell.

Reyes left for New Mexico for Army Reserves training on July 6, leaving the sole care of her daughter entrusted to Richardson.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Ground Zero mosque

A sudden disgusting thought. Maybe that Ground Zero center will be built in time for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Maybe, at the vigils that will be sure to be held there, the imam and his congregation will join in--in all sincerity, let's say. Imagine his flock mumbling prayers in arabic during the Moment Of Reflection....allahu akbar, allahu akbar...the same prayers the hijackers screamed as they slit the flight crews' throats, as they stabbed the passengers who tried to resist, as they revved up the engines and slammed into the buildings. The same prayers that the muslims worldwide cheered in their mosques, dancing in the streets, exulting over the infidel victims' deaths.

Fuck that.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Random Rock Bloggage

You know, it's strange. When I was a spacey adolescent, back when woolly mammoths roamed the continent, I enjoyed the hell out of Jimi Hendrix. But now that I'm hauled up into middle age, I find that he's frequently too intense & mind-blowing for me. Why? I enjoy plenty of less innovative rock from that same era. I certainly wouldn't be so idiotic as to say that I've outgrown him. But he's just overwhelms me nowadays. A function of the broad mind & the narrow waist changing places, prolly. But it's amazing how his freshness, intensity, & innovation has *stayed* all these years, without losing its potency. His best transcended the hippie daze, and is undiminished to this day.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Visible girl, invisible girl

Porn is ultimately not very liberating for women. The 70s being long past, a feminist voicing such an opinion is not such a rara avis anymore. Indeed, Dr. Gail Dines is a long-time activist against what she sees (disclosure: and me too) as the pornification of our culture.

The Stepford Wife image that drove previous generations of women crazy with their sparkling floors and perfectly orchestrated meals has all but disappeared, and in its place we now have the Stepford Slut; a hypersexualized, young, thin, toned, hairless, technologically, and in many cases surgically-enhanced, woman with a come-hither look on her face. We all recognize the look: slightly parted glossy lips, head tilted to the side, inviting eyes, and a body contorted to give the (presumed male) viewer maximum gazing rights to her body. Harriet Nelson and June Cleaver have morphed into Britney, Rhianna, Beyonce, Paris, Lindsay and so on. They represent images of contemporary idealized femininity – in a word, hot – that are held up for women, especially young women, to emulate. Women today are still held captive by images that ultimately tell lies about women. The biggest lie is that conforming to this hypersexualized image will give women real power in the world, since in a porn culture, our power lies, we are told, not in our ability to shape the institutions that determine our life chances, but in having a hot body that men desire and women envy.

Okay fine, so far as that goes. But this rubs up against my dissatisfaction with feminism as a Compleat Theory of Everything, which some advocates seem to want it to be. Reducing all the rich pageant of men and women and home and work and life and love to mere politics is as barren, in its own way, as reducing it to mere carnality, as porn does. I wonder: what would she think if one of her students were a chaste, home-schooled, moral, prairie dress wearing virgin? "That's not normal" would be one of those thoughts, I'd wager. And if "That's not right" were another, I'd despair of her & her counsel altogether.

Feminism makes use of conservative moralism to further its own ends. This is akin to, and actually part of, the fatal old alliance between traditional conservatives and radicals, which has had such far-reaching effects for more than a century. They had nothing in common but their hatred of capitalism, the conservatives looking back to the revival of throne and altar in the various European nations, and to piety, the radicals looking forward to the universal, homogeneous society and to freedom — reactionaries and progressives united against the present.
-- Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, 1988

Good night, beloved mother...

She passed away recently after a long illness. Her funeral and visitation was attended by more than a thousand people. I did a little video tribute to her, which I posted but then took down, out of respect for the privacy of my wife & inlaws. I love them to pieces.

RIP, Omoni...


Look in those eyes... Listen to that dear voice... Notice the feeling of even a single touch that is bestowed upon you by that gentle hand! Make much of it while yet you have that most precious of all gifts. Read the unfathomable love of those eyes; the anxiety of that tone and look, however slight is your pain. In after life you may have friends, fonds, dears, but never will you have again the inexpressible love & gentleness lavished upon you which none but a mother bestows.
-- Thomas Babington Macaulay

No; even he that died for us upon the cross, in the last hour, in the unutterable agony of death, was mindful of his mother; as if to teach us that this holy love should be our last worldly thought, the last point of earth from which the soul should take its flight for heaven.
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Outre-mer, 1835

Unhappy is the man for whom his own mother has not made all other mothers venerable.
-- Conrad Richter

Anne Rice renounces Christianity, again

Some friendly soul ought to have whispered in Anne Rice's ear these wise words of Frederick Buechner:

"The visible church is all the people who get together from time to time in God's name. Anybody can find out who they are by going to look. The invisibile church is all the people God uses for his hands and feet in this world. Nobody can find out who they are except God. Think of them as two circles. The optimist says they are concentric. The cynic says they don't even touch. The realist says they occasionally overlap."

The store clerk could get her work done faster if it wasn't for all the pesky customers. The manager could make human resources work like a dream if it wasn't for all the pesky employees. And Anne Rice could commune with the Church if it just wasn't for all the abrasive fellow Christians.