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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Major US - India Pact 

Eat your heart out Pete, this is what we've been speculating on for months. The author seems to think the primary reasons lay with Islamofascists, but the undertone of China is clear as well. Which is more important, however, is an argument for another day...

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

"laying the foundation of peace for our children " 

The President's speech last night has drawn much commentary from both sides, with Dems lining up to condemn references to 9/11 as quickly as republicans are praising his resolve. I was impressed with several key, but very basic, aspects of his speech, particularly his repetition of the key themes (stamina, courage, respect for our troops sacrifice and the need to take the fight to them), and his firm connection of the war on terror and the war in Iraq, which are one and the same (as argued further here). But following the speech, I had a brief conversation with a woman that both uplifted my spirits, and reassured me of the need for speeches like the one last night.
She is a huge fan of Bush, self-described, but becomes very hung up on the Iraq situation. As soon as the President finished, she turned to me with a genuinely interested look.

"Wait, aren't we in Iraq because of September 11?"
It was difficult for me to decide how to answer this, but I realized that, to the chagrin of senate democrats, but we are in Iraq because of September 11. We need to remember the lessons of that day: Osama bin Laden was given nearly a decade of free reign by the Clinton Administration, in which he escalated his attacks and ignited hatred across the Middle East. Having watched that threat materialize at last, one must consider the thought process that went on before invading Iraq. Allowing Osama bin Laden and his cohorts in Afghanistan to go unchecked lead to 3000 deaths; the possibilities available to a much more organized regime, rich in oil, are by far more vast. Emboldened by a terrorist attack, Saddam could have begun a campaign of his own. His stockpiles of weapons and blatant disregard of UN sanction only strengthened the need for his removal. The cost of the war is great, I agree, but the cost of inaction could have been catastrophic. We are in Iraq because we couldn't afford not to be in Iraq. It was right then, and it’s right now. It only remains to remind critics that the only reason we can be sure he is not armed with WMDs is because we went in and made sure.
Or as the president put it so well:
Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Hear the words of Osama Bin Laden: “This Third World War … is raging” in Iraq. “The whole world is watching this war.” He says it will end in “victory and glory or misery and humiliation.”


"Oh, I know." She responds, after a short but reflective silence, "It's just sad that we are sending all these young men to die."
This, also, is true, because the loss of any of our servicemen is tragic. But, as I reminded her, we must first remember that those who are in Iraq want to be there, at least in some capacity: our armed forces are completely voluntary. Each man or woman who joins, despite his or her motives, knows that they could be shipped out to the dark places of the world to defend the US and allies. I think that President Bush addressed the subject well when he spoke on the honor and dignity that should be afforded our fallen heroes, and that the greatest honor we could offer was to ensure their loss is not in vain. We have seen losses before. Iin fact we as a nation have endured casualties on a scale now unknown in the world. Thousands more died on the beaches of Normandy in a period of weeks than we have lost in 3 years. During the American Civil War, we lost over 50,000 in 72 hours. 50,000. Our losses should be mourned, but we cannot allow ourselves to turn from our goal when the path gets more treacherous. The president is right, we are laying the foundations of peace.
It was a revealing encounter, in that it shows why the mainstream media has so failed the United States Armed Forces, and the American people. So firm is their resolve to turn a political victory, and to portray Iraq as a "new Vietnam," that the level of reporting has been lowered to trumpeting death tolls and new atrocities, ignoring progress and prosperity as they are sewn throughout the region. This is where the wonders of the new media can have their greatest effect, but lately even this is waning. Maybe its time for the media, and us as bloggers, to renew our dedication to the cause for which so many have already given their lives. Someone said it better than I ever could, when he asked "How can we not do what is right and needed to preserve this last best hope of man on Earth?" How indeed.

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Hezbollah Drug Ring 

A Bizarre and revealing piece of news just broke on the BBC, and the Rush Limbaugh Show picked it up as well. It seems that a Drug ring busted earlier this week in Ecuador was a front organization, involved in raising money for none other than Hezbollah (or here), the terrorist political group that just suffered an apparent defeat at the hands of opposition parties in Lebanon, who's platform of throwing off Syrian influence was at odds with the Syrian supported terrorist group.
Police in Ecuador say they have broken up an international drugs ring which was raising money for the Islamic militant group, Hezbollah.
The authorities have declined to give details of the gang's alleged links with the group, but say it was sending Hezbollah up to 70% of its profits.

Ecuadorian officials say the drugs network was run by a Lebanese restaurant owner in the capital, Quito...

Police say that the gang were obtaining cocaine from neighboring Colombia and trafficking it to Europe, the Middle East and the rest of South America.

So what does it mean? Well, the fact that these drugs were flooding European markets means that it will be difficult for European governments to ignore this latest development in the war on terror, depending on how far this thing goes. They may not see the threat in a nuclear Iraq (or Iran), but it will be hard for them to deny the negative impact of Ecuadorian coke on their socialized health care. More importantly, it should serve to further galvanize public opinion in the middle east and here at home about this dangerous terror organization that masquerades as an Islamic fundamentalist party. Not that those are that different to begin with...

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cool story of the Day 

This is awesome


When scientists sampled brain cell activity in people who were scrutinizing dozens of pictures, they found some cells that reacted to a particular famous person, landmark, animal or object.

In one case, a single cell was activated by different photos of Berry, including some in her "Catwoman" costume, a drawing of her and even the words, "Halle Berry."

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Monday, June 20, 2005

Lebanon's last laugh 

Syria is seeing the second defeat in the last 6 months at the hands of the Lebanese: this time, in the Lebanese Election. The Anti-Syrian alliance is claiming victory, and the Washington Post is reporting a total victory in all 28 seats from Northern Lebanon (Subscription Requried):
Interior Minister Hassan Sabei declared opposition candidates had won all 28 seats in north Lebanon in Sunday's polling, the fourth and final round of the country's elections. He read out the results seat by seat, confirming earlier predictions from the opposition alliance.

The Times is a little more reserved in its predictions, claiming at least 21 of the 28 seats.
An anti-Syrian alliance that tried to bridge religious lines and was led by Mr. Hariri's son, 35-year-old Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, won at least 21 of 28 contested seats in northern Lebanon, the last polling area in the elections that have been staggered over the past four weekends. That gave the alliance a majority in the next 128-seat Parliament.

It was a startling change in the way politics have usually been carried out here - along strict clan and religious lines and long under the control of Syria - and perhaps an example of a greater yearning for democracy in the Arab world.

This is really remarkable chain of events. On the one hand, the opposition victory is another victory over Syrian intervention and fundamentalism. At the same time, Maronite Christians harbor worries over growing Muslim political clout. There is also talk of Hariri's son, Saad Hariri, will run for the premiership. Hang out, because there will be more coverage to come on this. It is, at any rate, a victory.
Amusingly enough, on another front, looks like Al Gore is headed to Iran, 'cuz they have a recount in the works. As to whether any candidate will make much difference, well that's another post.

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

IED Zapper 

This is way cool. So much for a quagmire...

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Batman Begins (My review) 

Batman Begins, directed by Christopher Nolan

Having just returned from a showing of "Batman Begins", I found myself wondering if I was satisfied with the films conclusions about the nature of justice and revenge, good and evil. This alone should be a good sign, since most of the previous films after "Returns" never managed to pose any lingering questions beyond whether or not Arnold would be better in politics than metallic ice suits. Dark and almost distopic at times, the plot centers on the origins of Batman, arising from the tortured childhood of Bruce Wayne, son of Millionaire philanthropy, and haunted by memories and guilt from his parents' untimely demise. He separates himself from the world following an encounter with his parents killer, and undertakes a life of crime and vagrancy, eventually ending up in the hands of a mysterious martial arts master in an undisclosed Eastern country. Typical training sequences ensue, and after a falling out of sorts, literally and figuratively, its back to Gotham. Needless to say, its all Batman from there. "Begins" is not without its share of plot twists, although some were more than predictable. The cinematics and effects were at least on par, if not above, most expectations.
Christian Bale was a decent Bruce, over-acted (as most were) although that may not be a bad thing. The film itself poked fun at its overblown theatrics on several occasions, and this conclusion was valid, despite not necessarily being a criticism in itself. This is a movie based on a comic book, after all; a movie about a super hero. I usually enjoy Morgan Freeman anyway, and this was no exception, although it may be because he seems to play the same likable character in most of his roles. Gary Oldman and Michael Caine as Alfred are veterans, and turn in good supporting performances, although I found Katie Holmes to be a little flat. Cillian Murphy is dully creepy as Scarecrow. The acting erred on the side of dramatic, which at times can get tedious, especially when enduring the seemingly endless series of clichés and one-liner sentimental nothings at the end of the film. Linus Roache as Daddy Wayne embodied this best, coming off as a caring, but perhaps too idealized, vision of a father/humanitarian. Overall, however, the cast seemed to be well drawn together, and for the most part excellently cast. It was the ideas that the film explored, however, that were by far its strongest asset.
Extended essays on the implications of the films ending are sure to abound, but to spare any readers a spoiler, I will only say that it seems at best a semantic resolution to the problems posed earlier by both hero and villain: the role of compassion and vengeance in carrying out justice. I have written briefly on the subject before, although that posting hardly does the discussion of the subject in a "Star Wars" context justice (Hat Tip: Andy). It would seem that Batman cannot fully surrender himself to the Dark side, in keeping with the analogy, a position at odds with his would-be mentor. Perhaps this ongoing conflict is what makes this rendition of Batman so appealing. It is not hard for all of us to identify with the rage Bruce Wayne feels when confronted with the corruption of a system that would let his parents' murderer go free, or know the location of a dangerous crime boss and do nothing, and the struggle he has when dealing with his own anger and drive for revenge. And even the compassionate mercy of Batman has its limits, the ending would seem to suggest.
The movie seems sharply divided in its social and political implications; at times denouncing what it calls "escalation" in the law enforcement armaments and endorsing idealistic social reform, yet recognizing the futility of Thomas Wayne's efforts without the courage to take the steps needed to end the city's crime problems. The scene of the parents murder, in fact, seems almost a pathetic indictment of the kinds of "passive resistance" techniques anti-gun theorists advocate when confronted with a dangerous situation, and the film only reinforces the need for strong prison sentences and harsh punishments for violent offenders and those who seek to do harm.
"Batman Begins" is a return to roots, restarting a series that had become increasingly cartoonish and irrelevant in an age where innocence has been shattered by falling towers and crashing planes. Overall, it was an enjoyable one.

B+

[Edit: comments are always welcome, on both the film, and the nature of justice... two and a half hours of Batman can hardly be the defining say on such a topic]

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Schiavo Autopsy 

The autopsy report released today seems to ask more questions than it answers. She was in a persistant vegetative state, it confirms (well duh), but they still have no indication as to what caused her collapse some fifteen years ago. More on this to come...

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Saturday, June 11, 2005

School Year Reflections 

The end of the year, at last, has come; yes Virginia, even University of Chicago students have a summer vacation. Blogging will continue, at least mine will, but as a school year draws to an end, I find myself waxing into cheesy reflection on the happenings of the last 9 months:

+ There was that little piece of investigative reporting they now call Rathergate, which as we know led to a landslide defeat of George W. Bush... wait...

+ That whole election thing, or rather lack of a thing. Much less exciting than expected, though still more exciting than Kerry himself.(I know, I know... Kerry who???). From some early Corner analysis:
I can’t help but think this is Jacksonian America – tribal, but wise -- asserting itself. And doing so without bravado, but nevertheless in a convincing manner; wishing to send a message to the rest of the world about the freedoms it guards with jealous intensity and its quiet but relentless faith in the future. If nothing else, I hope this gives enormous hope to the rest of the world that wondered if America would remain that “last best hope”. And I pray we ensure those hopes are not false ones.


+ I joined the blog, embarking on an adventure that would see 6000 people read my writing in a single day, and remind me who my real friends are among it all.

+ The Orange Revolution is a testament to what is right about Neo-Conservatism, and the effects it is having across the globe. Go UKRAINE!

+ The Cedar Revolution (and some early adventures with "intellectual" critics, if the comments are any indication)

+ Terry Schiavo furthered the ideological gap between the lefties and main stream America, and another innocent woman became the victim of circumstance and laziness. RIP

+ Another great man passes from this world to the next, and we see the election of a new pope. Like many others, I am again reminded of how the Catholic Church is an anchor against the tide of relativism and the creeping death of classical morals (and civilization) that encompasses all of Western Europe.

+ The moronic filibuster fight heats up, and rages on to this day, although we know who's winning...

+ The Denim Revolution trips at the finish line, but we are linked on Instapundit in the process, and I get to name a revolution for the entire blogosphere... what a trip

+ and finally, the EU constitution eats it, to the amusement of pretty much everyone. France rejects the only possible way it could have balanced the United States, mostly out of hatred for the capitalist United States... priceless...

Its been a privilege to share my humble thoughts and opinions with all of you, in the company of two other extraordinary individuals, and I will continue to be grateful as long as I post on this blog. I would like to think that occasionally a reader comes away from here with a little more than they came in with. We can't always be the first to report on a story, although sometimes we are, but sometimes I think we are among the better to do so. I'm looking forward to a great summer, filled with lots of sun, fun, and probably more politics and blogging than can be considered healthy. Meh.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Econ Tidbit 

Rifling through my economics reading in preparation for tomorrow's final, I came across an excellent article by Allen Sanderson about the viability of some basic economic legislation that the lefties are always pushing for: Minimum wage hikes, Rent controls, etc.
The fact that proponents of the usual set of policy prescriptions—minimum-wage laws, living-wage ordinances, rent control, and so forth—remain adamantly opposed to any means-testing for recipients suggests that their agenda is much more finding ways to punish corporations and tilt playing fields in their selfish favor rather than to help the poor.

He mentions means testing in there, which of course leads to discussions of President Bush's plan to means test Social Security and Welfare recipients. While the plan seems to have fallen under the media radar, I think it merits some discussion, considering those who oppose the plan have yet to propose any viable alternatives, and refuse to examine the positive impacts of such a receding benefit plan. One has to wonder how a group of people can so adamantly support a progressive tax rate, and not similar measures to help revitalize social security and welfare systems badly in need.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

U Chicago on the National Review 

Discussion in the corner regarding grade inflation, or our lack of, here and here. (Hat tip: WMD)

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Re: Shades of... 

Reader George has some interesting input on the subject of the press conference today. I did not have the good fortune of watching the conference live, but from the comments I gleaned that the underlying message of many of the comments was one directed toward the Sudan situation. But that is exactly my point. I think it is unfortunate that Bush has yet to explicitly call for more action on the crisis in particular, and we are left only to guess on the meaning in comments about financing aid packages. Although I agree, I think that he was referencing the Darfur situation, perhaps that is not enough. The united nations certainly isn't doing much of anything, as I have noted before.
Bush's thoughts on climate change have been succinct, to say the least, and I think that you have a point. However, I think it may have more to do with his priorities than his lack of understanding of willingness. The war on terror and social security reform are the hallmarks of his agenda, rightly so, and I feel like he would focus on the environmental subjects, but frankly they just aren't very pressing relative to the other matters at hand.

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Shades of red (and blue) 

An interesting and revealing meeting took place earlier today, between Bush and Blair, on subjects ranging from African aid to global warming. I, for one, am always keen to hear what happens when these two come together. A strange alliance indeed, the men are remarkable demonstrations of everything that is right about politics, and also stark reminders of how left and right differ.
Of course, both leaders pledged large sums of money and debt relief to the struggling African continent, including $674 million for immediate African aid from President Bush. Interesting to note, however, that the story makes no reference to the ongoing events in the Sudan, and one has to wonder how such a monumental proposal for African relief could be in the works without any reference to the glaring human rights violations and lawless slaughter and famine taking place. Regardless, it shows how much politicians from different sides of the spectrum can come together on an issue such as humanitarian aid. Of course, there are differences, highlighted mostly by Bush's refusal to accept pie-in-the-sky proposals that would seemingly aid African countries at extreme costs to the US and world financially. Bush noted specifically that US monies would only go to countries "on a path to reform," perhaps a veiled reference to Darfur:
"Nobody wants to give money to a country that's corrupt, where leaders take money and put it in their pocket," he said.

While disagreements about debt relief and the use of Bond markets to finance African relief were minimal, the argument the Kyoto treaty and global warming remains a division between the two men.
The leaders demonstrated that their biggest differences were over global warming.

Blair has said that "clear and immediate action" to address rising temperatures is one of the world's most pressing priorities. But the Bush administration opposes government-mandated action, arguing there still are questions about global warming and possible causes.

As usual, those who are trumpeting the end of the world and demanding huge government action and regulation on the global warming issue need to get their facts straight (this one is interesting too): Global warming is, at best, a theory; one which seems to change from day to day, and growing bodies of scientific evidence refute completely. I realize that the Prime Minister has probably seem "The Day after Tomorrow," but that does not qualify him as an expert on the subject. Bush is right to call for temperance and skepticism, and should continue to do so. Until adequate evidence demonstrates the pressing need, it can only do more harm than good to waste US resources and pour on restrictive economic policies.
Bush and Blair are an anomaly of our time, when a supposedly "divided" electorate leads to bitter bickering among politicians forced to define themselves in a strict binary: 1 or 0, left or right. Yet the two remain friends and allies, even when many on the left in Europe, and the US for that matter, remain polarly opposed to the United States, and Bush himself. Perhaps Mearsheimer is right, that matters of foreign relations will always trump domestic squabbles, or in this case, disagreements over domestic policy. The men are in many ways mirror images of each other: men who were willing to stick out the neck of their political careers to do what they knew to be right. Men who are often willing to compromise and reach across the isle to pass common sense conservatism legislation. Yet they remain opposites: Bush willing to push for his judicial nominees and activelly support American economic interests at home an abroad while Blair was backed down on his EU constitution vote, and all too easily submits to socialist legislation and world treaties.
Its a good thing we have such men in the world, just ask anyone in Iraq now free from the tyranny of Saddam. And we are even more lucky that Bush, not Blair, is in our Whitehouse.

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Monday, June 06, 2005

Breath Like a Fish 

I want one.

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Awesome--if you like Star Wars 

A computer that's a desk that's a TIE Fighter.

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Play It Again, Vladimir 

Computers learning how to mimic great performers of the past--cool. I for one hope they figure this out on the piano so they can move to the vastly more difficult job of doing this on the violin. I want to hear Heifetz or even better Szeryng (H.S. playing Bach, of course) live.

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'Intrauterine Cannabalism' 

Never heard that one before. Survival of the fittest indeed.

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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Soon: A Sample of Mantle 

And then after that a virtually infinite source of energy?

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Who's the sick man of Europe? Hard to tell... 

..when they're all pretty anemic, to put it mildly. Here's a great excerpt from Glenn Reynolds' column on Europe's recent economic troubles:
All this was illuminated last year in a study by a Swedish research organization, Timbro, which compared the gross domestic products of the 15 European Union members (before the 2004 expansion) with those of the 50 American states and the District of Columbia. (Norway, not being a member of the union, was not included.) After adjusting the figures for the different purchasing powers of the dollar and euro, the only European country whose economic output per person was greater than the United States average was the tiny tax haven of Luxembourg, which ranked third, just behind Delaware and slightly ahead of Connecticut.

The next European country on the list was Ireland, down at 41st place out of 66; Sweden was 14th from the bottom (after Alabama), followed by Oklahoma, and then Britain, France, Finland, Germany and Italy. The bottom three spots on the list went to Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Alternatively, the study found, if the E.U. was treated as a single American state, it would rank fifth from the bottom, topping only Arkansas, Montana, West Virginia and Mississippi. In short, while Scandinavians are constantly told how much better they have it than Americans, Timbro's statistics suggest otherwise. So did a paper by a Swedish economics writer, Johan Norberg.
Slightly better than the deep south. If only more Europeans had been to the deep south (no offense to those Americans living there), they might realize how bad things are...

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

What spoils US reputation abroad more? 

George W. Bush or Michael Moore? I think the answer is obvious, especially after reading this...

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Some classic English pessimism 

Just when you thought the world was a happy place, here's a classic article explaining why it's all going to hell...

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Should We Get Rid of Judicial Review? 

If one values democracy, courts should not have the final say in matters of law, the legislature should (with some checks and balances to stop a tyranny of a majority from occuring most of the time).

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Bush > Chirac 

Fin indeed.

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It's their own fault 

From The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby:
What Kerry and the others object to is not that there are only conservative voices in media circles these days but that there are any such voices. The right-of-center Fox News cannot hold a candle to the combined left-of-center output of ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and PBS. Scaife, Bradley, and Olin money helps leverage Republican messages, but its impact is dwarfed by the Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Heinz, MacArthur, Carnegie, and Soros fortunes. The Washington Times is conservative? Yes, but The Washington Post is liberal -- and its circulation is eight times as large.

But for Kerry, Gore, and Clinton, even a few conservative outlets are too many. They grew up in the era before cable TV, talk radio, and the Internet -- the age when liberal dominance was unquestioned. Now Democrats have to compete in the marketplace of ideas, and voters don't seem to be buying what they're selling. Is it any wonder so many are grumpy?
If you go through life (a of unquestioning liberals, a suburb of unquestioning liberals) never having anyone question your ideas, is it any wonder that your ideas are often bad?

The reason why Conservatives are in assendance is because they've had to fight for what they have, in the field of ideas and political power. Democrats and liberals have been coasting since FDR.

UPDATE: P.J. O'Rourke explains why Kerry is against the first amendment's protection of free speech and the marketplace of ideas.

Reading what Kerry says in this article, excuse after excuse based on haziness and a negative outlook, shows me better why conservatives are doing well in politics. Optimism and confidence that push for broad solutions (normally free-market economic ones) to fix the ails of the nation. Leaving people to themselves is normally the best way. It leaves each state to decide whether it's 'red' or 'blue' and the consequences of such decision are generally confined to that state. Federalism bringing political harmony to the most number of people. And, even if you're not happy with this outcome, a hands-off government means that you can go about your business the way you want to most of the time anyway.

Sigh. If only they taught that in college. More of my fellow students probably wouldn't be so intellectually dull and ignorant concerning political philosophies and ideas. And the sad thing is that this isn't just the student's themselves fault--its their professors for not teaching them to think better.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Set em up, knock em down 

The Dutch clinch the deal. 63% to 37%... pwnt!

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RE: Harmful books 

So, fixing for a scrap are we? (Rolls up sleeves) Too bad this seems to have overshadowed the EU vote coverage, which is probably much more interesting (Shameless plug, shameless plug). Unfortunately, you won't find a lot of argument here. While I agree with some of the poorly spelled but still thoughtful comments of one reader, I think that Jason is basically right on this one. The reason I posted the link was that I thought it was interesting that they had labeled them just that: "Harmful Books." "Influential" would have been a much less provocative title, but perhaps no more accurate. The point of the list is not just texts of influence, but texts whose influence, in the period in question, was overwhelmingly one of malice and destruction. True, Marx and Engels were merely constructing a new economic thesis, but that does not make the results of that thesis any less disastrous for the people who were caught under those who bought into the whole load of crap. I also noticed you were careful to avoid certain books which you could not so easily defend: "Quotations of Chairman Mao," published solely for mass, forced distribution and brainwashing, is hardly more than a tool for subduing the masses. Defensible literature? Hardly. There must be some level on which the authors of these texts are to blame. Calling for an international revolution of the United Workers Class is sort of like shouting fire in the crowded World's theater, no? Leaving aside whether or not they can and should be published I think its hard for you to argue that during the 19th and 20th century, these texts (at least some) were not harmful.
All that being said, I think that labeling them "Harmful Books" does remove blame, at least in a way, from where it belongs: on those who took such texts for motive and circumstance to commit atrocities unmatched in human history. Hitler and his Gestapo killed in droves, Mein Kampf may have motivated them, but I doubt it did much actual damage, barring a well dealt blow to the cranium (Leads to interesting propositions... the Conking of Prague?). Words, like guns, are tools, and when wielded by he who carries them they can be servants of good or fists with which to crush all he encounters. I won't defend calling such books "Dangerous" outright, but neither will I ride to the aide of "The Communist Manifesto" with such zeal either. I still think its sludge...

[Update: In a perfectly timed ruling, it seems that guns don't kill people all by themselves afterall. Finally, a sensible liability ruling. Now, on to the trial of "The Kinsey Report"...]

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Going to Mars? 

Delay says that NASA will get the funding. Oh, how I wish to see the day when we land men on Mars...

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Paris hamburgers 

If the debate on books is not your cup of tea, here's something a bit more, um...meaty for you.

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RE: Harmful Books 

Yeah, Andrew, you knew this would provoke me. Sheesh. Let me just get it out and say that books are not in themselves harmful. You'd think conservatives, who are often arguing that guns are not in themselves harmful, but take a dangerous person using them to make them harmful, would notice such a similarity. Books are like guns in this way.

Well, let me say at least mostly. I don't hold Marx (and maybe Engels) responsible for the horrors of the twentieth century that were motivated by 'communism'. Marx merely had an interesting idea of how he thought history and economics worked, and he wrote about it. Good ideas can't be the only ones that are written. The process that creates knowledge is one of trial and error, one of discourse. Yeah, a lot of the ideas in these books are bad. But that doesn't mean we need to make a stupid list about it. Criticize the books individually, but don't reduce them to a paragraph of dogmatic giberish.

Continuing, I can say that Mein Kamf is not so nearly defensible. However, it was not widely read until after Hitler came to power. The book is really just what Hitler thought. That's not defensible itself, since the man was evil. However, I think that if he hadn't come to power, the book would be forgotten. So, the book itself was not evil, but the man willing to act on those ideas was.

A book is not evil if someone does not pick up the ideas, run with them, and act on them. If someone takes up bad ideas that they read and uses them as unthinking justification for their actions, that does not mean the book is bad, but that the person acting on them is a bad thinker.

Rrrrr....this entire idea of having a list of 'bad books' is pissing me off more and more as I think about it (hence the stream of conciousness babble you're now reading).

And Nietzsche. Beyond Good and Evil... Yeah, the Nazis liked using Nietzsche quotes, but that doesn't mean Nietzsche was a genocidal Nazi himself. I think the man was a styalistic genius and had a lot of interesting opinions. If you're not religious, what he says about moral constructs is interesting (in fact, if you are religious, it is still interesting). And a lot of his aphorisms contain valuable wisdom.

Somehow I have a feeling that the people that voted on these books haven't read most of them.

This is stupid. I'm done for now. Books are not evil.... The discourse about why an idea is wrong often yield valuable knowledge. Often, someone writing a provocative but wrong idea is as useful to the pursuit of knowledge as someone singing the praise of 'right' ideas.

The only way you can say these books are 'harmful' is if you're an idiotic, dogmatic conservative who views the books as having gotten in the way of indoctrinating people into believing what you think without and critical consideration. And if you think that, you're guilty of what you're complaining about a lot of the time.

I can understand why these ideas, when they've been taken up and run with, have been harmful. But I'm glad I've been able to read a lot of these books. Reading and interacting with them has made me a more intelligent person. I'm glad these books exist and that I've been able to read them. There are no bad books, every book can be learned from.

I don't understand the point of calling these books harmful unless the people that are doing so are wishing that they had never been published. I can't agree with such a proposition at all. The more print, the better.

Now Andrew, tell me why I'm wrong and these books are 'harmful'...

UPDATE: In summary, books do not kill people, people kill people.

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