Thursday, December 18, 2014

Relations with Cuba to be normalized

Well, it's finally happening, for good or ill. It will be good for people to more freely meet their relatives, of course. Will a lifting of the embargo spread freedom in communist Cuba? I hope it turns out that way. It didn't in China, which figured out a way of providing material prosperity to its people, while keeping them firmly under boot. I hope one part of the deal normalizing relations is that forensic teams will be allowed to exhume the graves of the regime's victims. Probably need regime change for that, though.

Looks like the Sixties Left will get to have their youthful "idealism" validated after all. Hope Cuban communism's victims won't be forgotten by everyone else. El Jefe always had a gift for schmoozing First World entertainers and intellectuals. Now the Sixties Left and the generations they've indoctrinated in college can finally claim validation of their youthful "idealism". They've always excused or denied communist tyranny in Cuba by claiming that the U. S. backed right wing police states that were as bad. The difference of course is that the U.S.'s backing of right wing dictatorships during the Cold War was understood as grim realpolitik, rightly or wrongly. The Left's support of communist regimes was a positive love affair. When First World proggs begin sneering about how crass and commercialized Havana is becoming, we'll know that liberty and prosperity are finally coming to the Cuban people.

I do want to see who will be the first of the entertainment industry glitterati to fly down and congratulate Castro for outlasting the embargo, though. It'll be beyond rich if it's someone connected with Sony studios.

Glad Alan Gross and the unnamed intelligence officer are out of that hellhole, btw.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Scenes of shopping mayhem in Britain on Black Friday

"As always, the British especially shudder at the latest American vulgarity, and then they embrace it with enthusiasm two years later."
-- Alistair Cooke

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Philae lands on comet...

Best tweets I've found on this historic event:

Saturday, November 08, 2014

1989 Year of Miracles

The years 1989-1991 were the most momentous historical years in Europe I had ever lived through.  I missed 1789, 1848 and 1917, but I'm humbled that I can say I witnessed & comprehended 1989--even if it was just on TV from Atlanta.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Quite a diverse election, this was...

A couple of milestones to note: A black Republican woman of Haitian heritage, Mia Love, was elected to Congress from Utah. A black Republican from South Carolina, Tim Scott, is the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction. And Republican Elise Stefanik, the new representative from New York's 21st Congressional district, is the youngest person ever elected to Congress.

And the only reason all three of these people, embodying diversity, youth and female power, are not going to be on the cover of this week's TIME magazine is because of the R after their names.

Friday, October 31, 2014

10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman

 This video resonated with me secondhand.  I'm a straight male, but sometimes when I'm walking downtown I'll seemingly set off a false alert on someone's gaydar.  It doesn't happen often, but it makes me uncomfortable enough that I can sympathize with Ms. Roberts in the video.  

On the other hand, for perspective, let her try her walk through a haredi Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, and she might get stones thrown at her.  Let her try it in Khandahar, and she might get acid splashed in her face.  So, while I acknowledge that this street harassment is very annoying and unwelcome, it is also very much a First World Problem.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

RIP to Cream bassist Jack Bruce

So long to one third of the greatest British trios in rock history.  Over the years Eric Clapton permitted the idea to build that he was the whole show.  But although Jack Bruce did not have anything like the solo success that Clapton did, it was Bruce's adventurousness that made Cream more than just a loud blues revival band.  "Onstage Cream was a jazz band," he once said. "We just didn't tell Eric."

Thursday, October 09, 2014

So why don't Millennials "Rock The Vote"?

Maybe they don't vote because they think the system is broken. No one has informed them that our institutions are designed to clang against each other, to keep one from running away with the whole country. Perhaps they hold the widely held and perfectly understandable misapprehension that the purpose of American politics to sweep the bad guys out and bring the good guys in, rather than transfer authority from one set of imperfect leaders to another. Add to that the relentless cynicism and calumnies they are fed by 1960s radicals in college, and elections must seem like quite a turnoff to them indeed.

But they are undeniably smart folks, and they will live and learn. They will see that when Democrats have things all their own way, they run Detroit and California into the ditch. They will see that when Republicans have things all their own way, they run Kansas into the ditch. The Millennials will draw the appropriate conclusions, once they are finished with the usual adolescent outrage at the world's tardiness in remaking itself to their liking. The country will be in good hands.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Liberal Logic from Twitter

Some of my favorite recent Liberal Logic pictures from Twitter...

Hurrah for the Industrial Revolution....!

Over at The Atlantic, there's an article decrying "progress". Is 'Progress' Good for Humanity? So many of these types of articles just assume that the writer would still occupy his privileged position, whether or not all this whirl of progress was present to annoy him. But if not for the Industrial Revolution, and the general civilizational uplift it spurred, hardly one person in a hundred reading that article would be alive today.

I regret that I cannot do my duty as a true modern, by cursing everybody who made me whatever I am. ~ G. K. Chesterton

Moderate Islam: A MYTH! (Featuring Dana Loesch)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Reformation of Manners

Go read Mark Steyn, now, on the horror in Rotherham: The Reformation of Manners
And have a vocabulary word: "immiscible".  Example: "The free, democratic, civilized West and Islam are immiscible."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Islamic State (Full Length)

RIP journalist James Foley, killed by ISIS, the Islamic State

I remember the 2002 videotaped murder of Daniel Pearl like it was last week. I remember how enraged I was by it, and I wish I wasn't quite so numbed now, so I could be suitably furious now.

Instead, let me expand on a few things I've said elseweb, in answer to proggs and their endless blaming of the U. S. for terrorism. After all the atrocities we and others have endured from jihadists over that time, proggs have learned nothing except new terms of abuse for conservatives. "Taliban wing of the Republican Party", and so forth.

Further, one of the big lessons of 9/11 was this: There is nothing, literally nothing, that could befall the U.S. which would induce progressives to float down from their presumed higher moral plane and stand together with those icky fellow Americans. Instead, they bitterly cling all the more tightly to their exploded yet still treasured memes: poverty causes terrorism, the straight white male conservative middle class taxpayer is the root of all evil, to be brown, foreign, and angry at America is to be in the right by definition, etc. How ridiculous their beloved "world citizenship" looks now.

And they continue to conflate crime and terrorism. Poverty most assuredly does not cause Islamic terrorism. The Saudi millionaires funding it, and the middle class "Britons", "Australians", "Germans" and so forth going abroad to commit it, are not doing so because their welfare payments are inadequate. They are fired by religious and political zeal--which in Islam are the same thing--and long to fulfill The Prophet's command to "make wide slaughter" among infidels and apostates.

Liberal self-flagellation, Christian or otherwise, is no good guide to this challenge. Nor is cheap parallelism. I could tick off a dozen similarities between the Jihad and the Western Left, to match your list. But what good would it do? Despising America, the Right, and whatever else is not going to put us in the jihadists' good graces. They're not going to eat you last!

Islam is a religion of peace. [Insert today's outrage here] has nothing to do with Islam. Why? Because Islam is a religion of peace!" This circular alibi only fools people who want to be fooled, for fear of having their heads explode from considering the wider implications. Yes, most Muslims are not out there setting bombs and slitting throats. Most of us Christians are not out there giving our possessions away to the poor, either. They and we are just not committed enough to follow our respective religions' Call to the hilt. But plenty of people are, and so we have scenes like the Taliban's execution of Christian aid workers in Pakistan. The tree is known by its fruit.

Have some quotes:

Democratic civilization is the first in history to blame itself because another power is working to destroy it. ~Jean-Francois Revel

I think people have spoken much rubbish about that event[9/11]. The poor revenging themselves on the rich! It's nothing but an aspect of religious hatred. And that is so hard to deal with, or even contemplate. You can deal with the poor striking out, but you can't deal with the threat of a universal religious war.
-- V. S. Naipaul

We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you. -- former Hezbollah leader Hussein Massawi

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Very bad news out of Iraq and Syria

I know it's all been bad lately. But these bits prefigure a general catastrophe:

First bit of bad news: ISIS may be getting the better of the Kurdish militias in northwestern Iraq. The Peshmerga stiffed the jihadists' original offensive, but if these jihadists roll up the Kurdish militias, then Iraq is done for. I hope we are supplying the Kurds with weapons, over the objections of Turkey if need be. Your go to site for Kurdish news is Rudaw, although their battlefield dispatches seem rather rosy to me. Meanwhile, persecution of Iraq's Christians is turning to outright massacre. Death Toll on Shingal Mountain Rising by the Minute. That's in Erbil, in Kurdistan.

Meanwhile, ISIS is moving into Lebanon, by some reports having captured a city and nabbed some soldiers of the Lebanese national army. Hezbollah, that viper pit, is standing off for now, but says that they will fight if ISIS muscles in too far. So, we may find ourselves supporting Hezbollah in extremis--did I mention what a viper pit they are?

Terrible times....

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Two more celebrities raise their voice against Israel

One is legendary music producer Brian Eno. No surprise there; anti-Zionism is rife among British entertainers, judging by what appears in the press.

The other is more unexpected: the Lebanese mathematician, investor, flaneur and Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

I can't presume to know what he's thinking, as he is so fearsomely learned that I could never hope to hold up my end of a serious conversation with him. I've never heard him say a bad thing about Jews. Elsewhere he's written about growing up in Lebanon during that unfortunate nation's civil war, which was caused in part by the Palestinian Liberation Organization setting up shop there after they were kicked out of Jordan. He is certainly aware of Hamas' charter to eliminate the Jews. He is also surely aware of the tried and true human shield ploy, the credulity of Western news media in areas they don't understand, and the cynicism endemic in Arab ruling circles. So what is he thinking? I don't know. My guess is just that this is his gut feeling, no analysis involved. I hope he realizes that he's being played, along with the rest of Western celebrity-hood.

A terrorists' tool meets a terrorists' tool: Gaza Reporter Startled by Palestinian Rocket Launch during Live Broadcast

EDIT: And thanks to Donald Sensing for the link love.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why Israel needs to exist

Lift the "blockade", let Iran ship in some serious surface-to-surface missiles, have Hamas range all of Israel with them, and wreak some serious death and destruction. Would that change the minds of BDS types a little? Do you doubt that's what would happen if Israel didn't fight back against Hamas' death mission towards the Jews?

Much of humanity longs to massacre Jews, and much of the rest of humanity is content to sit and watch it happen, be it with a shrug, a smirk or a fistpump. So of course the Jews need a state in which and with which to defend themselves. When we talk as if their present state is a mistake—a rectifiable mistake—then that is just shark chum in the water for would-be pogromists.

Or you can listen to Pat Condell explain it, much more tartly than I could:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mary Poppins Quits: The Rebuttal (w/ Remy)

If only the minimum wage had been a "living wage" when I was a kid, I could have bought my house and raised my family without all that stressful education and career building.  That's sarcasm, if you can't tell.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On Driving By Dead Churches

It's rather melancholy, driving through some formerly middle class areas and seeing how the church "landscape" has changed. Many of the old red brick suburban churches are shuttered now, their still-tended cemeteries the only signs of their former congregations. Or else the buildings have been gifted or sold to immigrant churches. In their place are storefront churches, as transient as their congregants, nestled among the liquor stores and check cashing establishments. "Permanence is the illusion of every age", as Mark Steyn once said. It may be that the fading of the mainline Protestant denominations will be no more than the falling of an oak after its acorns have sown a forest--much of middle America's thrift, generosity, resilience, optimism and perhaps most importantly sense of stability comes from that tradition. But once there are no more formal institutions actively transmitting it to the next generations, who knows what will happen?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Georgia hot car death deliberate?

The local police think so. I thought the father of the late Cooper Harris in Cobb County Georgia might be just another weapons-grade idiot, like so many parents in these incidents are. But this is a whole other order of ugliness, if the charges are true.

Meanwhile, there's a support group for parents who lost their children's lives in hot cars:

"I always tell them, you're not a bad parent," Balfour said. "No one is going to judge you more than you do yourself. I know that I did not leave my son in the car intentionally when I left that day. People tell me I need to forgive myself -- I don't feel like I have anything to forgive. I made a mistake and it cost me my son's life. But I certainly didn't leave him in the car to go bowling or to get my nails done."

So, what constitutes being a bad or good parent in these cases? Should we judge by past history, by intentions, or by outcomes? Does one fatal mistake make you as bad a parent as someone who is habitually negligent but whose child nevertheless beats the odds? People have to make their own peace with themselves, and I hope I never have to face myself in the mirror after a tragedy like this. But if I did, and I asked myself if I was a good or bad parent, I would have to answer:

You are
What you do
When it counts
-- John Steakley

Deport the surge of Central American illegals, children or not

I once again decline to regard the illegals as victims. The appeals to family are specious, as there are always more cousins of cousins of cousins of cousins to be "reunited" with illegals already in the country.

As I've said before, here is the problem in miniature: There is in my town a football complex, next to which are apartment buildings full of illegals. The local leagues pay registration fees to use the fields, and of course only use them when the fields are open. Not so the illegals! They hop the fences at night or out of season, tear up the fields having their own tournaments, todo gratis, por supuesto. Now expand that attitude of su casa es mi casa to include schools, hospitals, all other social services, and scale it up into the millions. This trend needs to be reversed, not sentimentalized.

I wonder if my kids will be able to have summer jobs, as the illegals have taken the low-skill entry jobs (hard times have put retirees into that labor market too, to be fair). If you are not in competition with cheap illegal labor for your livelihood, if you are not having social services you depend on eroded because of illegals' free overuse of them, if you are unlikely to fall victim to crimes that some of them commit, then your "compassion" is very cheap indeed.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Shadow boxing in Pakistan

Pakistan Vows to Eliminate Terrorist Sanctuaries. snort! Watching Pakistan fight terrorists is like watching someone leg wrestle with their own other leg.

via The Jawa Report

Saturday, May 17, 2014

What will Ta-Nehisi Coates say that white America owes to black America?

A teaser for his forthcoming cover story in The Atlantic is here.

I have never understood the reasoning behind reparations for slavery but not for Jim Crow. There are no living victims or perpetrators of antebellum slavery, but there are plenty of living victims of Jim Crow. Maybe TNC's scheme will attempt to account for these.

When you get your living and indeed your very identity from presenting yourself as a grappler with some issue or other, the last thing you want to do is solve the issue. Let's say that reparations would involve a massive transfer of wealth to blacks from non-blacks, racial set-asides in government representation, public and private jobs, and university admissions, maybe some sort of get out of jail free card for black criminals, and just about any other goodie that the racial avengers could think up & bully the rest of us into going along with. What do you think would happen after that? Would that be the end of the Civil Rights Movement? Would we all come together at a summit and say "There," air checkmark..."all done!" Of course not! New grievances would be wailed over; new adjectives with which to prefix "racism" would be trotted out ("invisible racism", "unconscious racism", and now "elegant racism"), the Left would continue its present trajectory of screaming louder and louder about less and less. And dissidents, of all colors, would be studiously ignored or vigorously attacked.

And there is nothing uniquely black or white about this. Revolutionaries, which pampered academic leftists so frequently imagine themselves to be, usually act as if the ground ahead of them is virgin soil. Edmund Burke said as much more than two centuries ago:

With them it is a sufficient motive to destroy an old scheme
because it is old. As to the new one, they are in no sort of fear with
regard to the duration of a new building run up in haste; because
duration is no object to those who think little or nothing has been
done before their time.
-- Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

It's as if the Great Society trillions of dollars never happened, nor all the civil rights legislation, nor the more than half a million Civil War dead. In part it's due to the climate of the times; the Left has successfully mauled the universities and thereby much of our nation's intellectual discourse into its own rigid template. If all human interaction throughout history consists of an oppressor and a victim, then of course the moral high ground lies with the victim, and thus we have the current campus imperative to prove oneself a victim, in order to maintain a passing grade, tenure track or employment. And of course all racism is in the sole eye and judgment of its self-proclaimed victims. So there will be a very long line indeed for these reparations. There was a very long line to join Native American tribes decades ago, once there began to be federal money connected with belonging to those ethnicities. How much of the reparations movement is driven by a quest for justice, and how much by the scent of cash money? It's probably forbidden to even ask that question on campus nowadays.

A typical Ta-Nehisi Coates race column nowadays is rather samey at times. A current event deemed to be deplorable is duly deplored, the animating cause of which is laid to the racism deemed to be constant, like the speed of light, and pervasive, like nitrogen. This is followed by relating a historical atrocity or five, seemingly selected by free association, juxtaposing it to the current event, and then wrapping up as if anything, anything at all, had been illuminated or proved. I'll be disappointed if this forthcoming feature doesn't have more meat on its bones than that.

Five decades? Six? Seven? How long should it take to understand that the life of a community cannot be reduced to politics or wholly encompassed by government?
The time in which we live has unfathomable depths beneath it. Our age is a mere film on the surface of time.
--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, November 1916

Friday, April 04, 2014

Should Jonathan Pollard be released?

He's back in the news, as the rumors swirl about a deal to release him. Yes, he should be released--and then banished from the U.S., sent to Israel if Israel will take him. If he goes, then his supporters better watch out. If the U.S. is treated to video footage of him receiving a hero's welcome at Tel Aviv airport, then that will confirm for some people some very ugly assumptions about American Jews. I don't approve of dual citizenship--why try to sit on two stools if you only have one ass?--but anything that revives the old stereotype of divided loyalties is bad for the Jews. This is not concern trolling--just keep an eye on certain far rightwing websites, if his release happens.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

If the Civil War had been reported by today's editors for The Atlantic...

...the article headlines might look like this:

What Everyone Gets Wrong About The New York Draft Riots

No, The Blockade Runners Will Not Save The South

The Myth Of Heroic Southern Womanhood

The Fredericksburg Disaster, In Three Simple Graphs

How Lincoln's Exchange With Horace Greeley Emboldens Foreign Intervention

When Habeas Corpus Is Just A Memory

Why The Substitute Soldier Is The Future Of War

This list is inspired by this article from The Atlantic last autumn.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Will Ta-Nehisi Coates shut down comments at The Atlantic?

I've been commenting at The Atlantic on posts by Ta-Nehisi Coates for the past year or so. His comments threads have always been heavily moderated, and justly so. I remember what happened to the unmoderated African-American usenet groups back in the 90s, 'nuff said. He has to have two maybe three editors to keep the vileness out. In addition to that though, he seems to dislike much in the way of disagreement. After having received a rap on the knuckles from him a time or two, I've tried to tone up my remarks, with some success. I will confess that I was surprised when I first discovered him, that it was harder than I expected to hold up my end of a conversation with him and his fans. I now take it as a challenge to frame my opinions in a way that is acceptable to that online community, while still making my points. Only n00bs whine about the moderators, is my online motto.

But I've been struck how many comments will be deleted and commenters banned, for stating obvious facts. I myself was threatened with banning, for mentioning the fact that Africa's post-colonial human rights record is an appalling horror show, and its leaders have until recently been mostly larcenous and murderous despots. His truth narrative doesn't seem to like having its toes stepped on by other truth narratives, apparently. I mean, what would the reaction be if the Nigerian academic George Ayittey logged in and said the same things? Things are a bit more relaxed when he deals with topics in which race is not always front and center, such as his experiences in Paris or his readings in Eastern European history. (Speaking of which, I wonder if he's going to take up Iron Curtain anytime soon, as promised some time back? Maybe he's lost interest.) Then the crowdsourced knowledge of the commenters is giving freer rein, and the threads make for quite educational and enjoyable reading, for those interested in those subjects.

Lately he's been posting articles and leaving the comments off for days, if not permanently. I hope he doesn't leave the magazine because of commenters, the way Steven den Beste gave up political blogging because he was tired of getting crapped at by his commenters. If the comments are too wearisome to police anymore, my suggestion would be for him to do away with them, a la James Fallows, and just post open threads once a week. That ought to simplify things from The Atlantic's end.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Simferopol scene

This picture is currently making the rounds on Twitter. Looks like riot police checking women's handbags.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Crimea, Ukraine and Russia

Attentive readers of the news boiling out of Crimea and Ukraine may have noticed this historical tidbit, that Crimea was transferred to Ukraine from Russia in 1954. See here and here for backgrounders.

Back when the Soviet Union was still around, I used to enjoy "eavesdropping" on the Kremlin by browsing the publication The Current Digest Of The Soviet Press. Snippets of old issues are available in Google Books, and while spelunking therein I found this announcement from 1954:

It's just a snippet, but you can grasp the high-handed optimism so typical of communist propaganda. Little did they realize that their "reforging" of humanity would fail, and the consequences of their social engineering would ripple out for decades.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Digital rights lockdown

Oh, brother...didn't they learn anything from the music biz? H/T Instapundit.

Keurig Will Use DRM In New Coffee Maker To Lock Out Refill Market (via Techdirt)

The single coffee cup craze has been rolling now for several years in both the United States and Canada, with Keurig, Tassimo, and Nespresso all battling it out to lock down the market. In order to protect their dominant market share, Keurig makers…

Sunday, February 23, 2014

An eventful night, as gleaned from a single Twitter account

A Turkish professor, Balkan Devlen, has been gathering some important developments from a number of hotspots overnight:

And, the most striking image of the day, someone repainted the Soviet Army memorial in Sofia, Bulgaria with the national colors of Ukraine:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

FCC backs off attempted oversight of news coverage

Good. It was probably the result of a load of idle staffers, soft sciences majors, trying to come up with a pointless novelty to justify their employment. But just imagine the eruption in the MSM if George W. Bush's FCC had attempted to pull something like this during the mid-Aughties. shudder... There are any number of two-syllable responses a news editor should give to some FCC munchkin trying to police news coverage. The most printable of them is probably No Thanks.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Where have I been?

Mostly commenting. Goodness, what a wordy fellow I am!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Bible and the future

Over at Aeon Magazine, there's a piece of deepthink which startlingly misrepresents the Bible's conception(s) of time.

Finally, we can always blame the Bible. Whether you think of it as casting a long shadow across the history of Western culture or as fathering a great light within it, there is no denying the Bible’s powerful influence on the way that we think today. And you might have noticed that there’s not much about a billion-year future in it. The Bible does not tell us ‘The beginning is near!’ but rather ‘The end is near!’

I don't think that American fundamentalist end-times theology is a wide enough lens through which to view the Bible nor its influence on our attitudes through the millennia. Sure, the Bible makes no mention of billions of years--but its authors were very pre-occupied with eternity, which for humans amounts to the same thing. Psalm 103:17 says that "But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children." The old king who narrates Ecclesiastes muses at length on the passage of time and the successions of generations stretching into the future. Remember that the Christian Bible was written by dozens of authors over the course of about 600 years. They weren't all just huddling around the altar all that time, waiting for the world-ending thunderbolt to strike.

Indeed, a case could be made that the thinkers of antiquity, both Judeo/Christian and Greco/Roman, had a firmer grasp of the immensity of time and their own minuscule place within it. Since the beginning of the Mechanical Age, events have rushed past in such a blur, that the present has perforce absorbed most of our attention. In addition, we spend the yet-to-be-created wealth confiscated from yet-to-be-born posterity for our own present gratification. "Just keep the checks coming til I'm dead, and then the world can go hang!" Attitudes like that are not found in people who plant acorns, the shade of which trees they will never sit under. Attitudes like that are denounced in the Bible, in fact.

An attempt to excogitate from scratch a new way of regarding the future will most likely sound strangely familiar, in some parts. It's already part of our heritage, if you know where & how to look.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Bill Nye Ken Hamm Creation Debate at Answers in Genesis museum in Kentucky

As longtime readers know, I loathe creationism. I though Nye did a great job, presenting a thumbnail sketch of how we know science is the best guide to the natural world, and confining Hamm to circular appeals to authority and just plain Bible thumping. If our answer to the questions of the natural world is "God did it", then that's the end of any inquiry, since God can do anything He wants, and His ways are unsearchable. But an open-ended universe following discoverable natural laws offers vistas of potential discovery.

And that's all I've got. Have some good tweets from the #creationdebate tag. Boy, was it a fast thread!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The gift the Protestant missionaries bequeathed the world

There's a great article in the current issue of Christianity Today, about the influence of Protestant missionaries in the Third World over the past century and a quarter. Far from being mere enablers and apologists of imperialism, they succeeded in creating broad, lasting uplift for the indigenous people, even in ultimate opposition to colonialism itself. In brief, the Protestant missionaries felt it imperative to spread the Gospel among all people. This meant teaching the Bible, which required teaching people to read. So missionary schools were founded, and thus literacy spread among the people in the areas where the Protestant missionaries operated. (The Bible did not have such primacy among Catholic missionaries.) There was of course more to it, as Western civilization made its way through the colonized lands. Medicine, law, technology, coupled with the Christian imperative to share those blessings with "the least of these" helped give credence to the missionaries' message. The liberating aspects of the Gospels themselves had their effects, as well. The end result is that areas that were ministered by Protestant missionaries were more well-disposed to democracy. The CT article details one researcher's quest to nail down these findings in statistical form, and to overcome the revulsion of deracinated secular academics at such a thing.

In search of answers, Woodberry traveled to West Africa in 2001. Setting out one morning on a dusty road in Lomé, the capital of Togo, Woodberry headed for the University of Togo's campus library. He found it sequestered in a 1960s-era building. The shelves held about half as many books as his personal collection. The most recent encyclopedia dated from 1977. Down the road, the campus bookstore sold primarily pens and paper, not books.

"Where do you buy your books?" Woodberry stopped to ask a student.

"Oh, we don't buy books," he replied. "The professors read the texts out loud to us, and we transcribe."

Across the border, at the University of Ghana's bookstore, Woodberry had seen floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with hundreds of books, including locally printed texts by local scholars. Why the stark contrast?

The reason was clear: During the colonial era, British missionaries in Ghana had established a whole system of schools and printing presses. But France, the colonial power in Togo, severely restricted missionaries. The French authorities took interest in educating only a small intellectual elite. More than 100 years later, education was still limited in Togo. In Ghana, it was flourishing.

Enough examples like that added up to this:

Woodberry already had historical proof that missionaries had educated women and the poor, promoted widespread printing, led nationalist movements that empowered ordinary citizens, and fueled other key elements of democracy. Now the statistics were backing it up: Missionaries weren't just part of the picture. They were central to it.

To wit:
Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.

It's sad to think of such an important bit of the Western heritage being downplayed or denied in modern academia. In at least one country I know of, South Korea, they remember and honor the missionaries that came in the late 19th Century, the Bells, the Junkins, and many others. It's too bad Christopher Hitchens isn't around anymore; I'd like to see how he would have reacted to this. The same effects took hold in their native anglophone nations too, of course; and still do to this day. It's too bad we are as ignorant of them as fish are ignorant of water.

Edit: Dr. Horace Jeffrey Hodges, the Gypsy Scholar, has excerpts of the original academic paper and further thoughts here.

Sunday afternoon ADHD linklets & quotes

Lost letters, photographs and diaries by Heinrich Himmler have been discovered in Israel.

Nobody disputes the fact that, in order to make efficient use of the means at its disposal, the government must exercise a great deal of discretion. But, to repeat, under the rule of law the private citizen and his property are not an object of administration by the government, not a means to be used for its purposes.
-- The Constitution of Liberty, by F.A. Hayek

Previously unknown Egyptian pharaoh discovered.

America does not know the difference between money and sex. It treats sex like money because it treats sex as a medium of exchange, and it treats money like sex because it expects its money to get pregnant and reproduce.
- Peter Kreeft

Liberal, 2.0 A view of the wreckage by James Bowman at The New Criterion.

Islamic Extremists in Nigeria Attack Christians at Sunday Worship Every Week in January

Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
-- Gustav Mahler

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Costco and the minimum wage

Speaking strictly from personal experience here...Re: Costco and their workers high wages. Great for them! It's a good store! I just have to search longer to find a worker to help me than I do at Sam's Club, because there are fewer of them. Also unlike Sam's Club, the workers giving out samples at Costco work for a different company & don't know where anything in the store is. Wonder what their pay is like?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy blogoversary to The Jawa Report!

Rusty and the gang have been giving it to the e-Jihad hot and strong for ten years now!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

RIP Ariel Sharon

He didn't care what the outside world thought; his only concern was protecting his people. And he was right to do so. As P. J. O'Rourke said:

This is [a] wonderful thing about Zionism: it was right. Every other "ism" of the modern world has been wrong about the nature of civilized man—Marxism, mesmerism, surrealism, pacifism, existentialism, nudism. But civilized man did want to kill Jews, and was going to do more of it.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday morning ADHD linklets...and some musings too

Did Nigerian soldiers join Boko Haram's massacre of Christians?

From the Pentagon to homelessness.

"For nearly 30 years I have asked myself this question: Why Richard?"

What American malls need: Husband storing facilities.

Okay, so Melissa Harris-Perry is smart. Maybe after this she'll also be somewhat wiser. Is MSNBC's bubble so thick that she, her co-hosts, writers, producers and everyone else involved in show prep all thought that this segment was a good idea? "We were jeering at the family photo to highlight how racist Republicans are. Because white Romneys." Too clever by half. She should have known better.

Goodbye to Amiri Baraka. It was rather hypocritical for New Jersey's poet laureate people to get all offended after his despicable reaction to 9/11. He had never misrepresented himself. What did they think they were getting when they awarded the post to him? But as with so many other Sixties radicals who went on to receive establishment recognition, he was well summed up in V. S. Naipaul's observation about the U.S.:

Always out there, the United States, an unacknowledged part of the
world picture of every kind of modern revolutionary: the country of law
and rest, with which at the end of the day a man who had proclaimed
himself to be on the other side–in politics, culture, or religion–could
make peace and on whose goodwill he could throw himself. –V.S. Naipaul,
Beyond Belief, 1998

Saturday, January 04, 2014

al Qaeda retakes Fallujah

This is very double plus ungood. One of the biggest urban battles the U.S. was involved in during the Iraq war was in Fallujah, driving al-Qaeda out. Army tank commander Lt. Neil Prakash kept a blog of the battle, and even in its redacted state makes for thrilling reading. The Americans were welcomed by the citizens, who were being brutalized by the terrorists:

I am also a professor at a military-related institution, and
my little brother is an enlisted Marine (a sniper with 1-3) in
Fallujah. This weekend he called for the first time since the battle
began. He informed us that a large number of the residents of
Fallujah, before fleeing the battle, left blankets and bedding for the
Marines and Soldiers along with notes thanking the Americans for
liberating their city from the terrorists, as well as invitations to
the Marines and Soldiers to sleep in their houses. I've yet to see a
report in the media of this. Imagine that.

Now we are gone, and the terrorists have returned, according to these reports. So sorry for those citizens, having to go through this ordeal again! We can only hope that the Iraqi national government can come together long enough to drive them out--I doubt they can be bought off.

A scene from the war: