Monday, February 28, 2011

Quote of the day

'I turned 50 last fall - that's half a century not understanding who I really was. There's something liberating about finding out. After all, it was Marx who said that above 350 parts per million carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we can't have a planet "similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted." No, wait, those were NASA scientists. The same people who faked the moon landing. This is a complicated world; I'm going back to the baseball game.' - Bill McKibben, in response to Glenn Beck calling him a communist because of his climate activism

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Excerpt of the day

"You do not understand," he said. "It is too big for you to grasp, but I will try to explain it. Barsoom, the moons, the sun, the stars, were created for a single purpose. From the beginning of time Nature has labored arduously toward the consummation of this purpose. At the very beginning things existed with life, but with no brain. Gradually rudimentary nervous systems and minute brains evolved. Evolution proceeded. The brains became larger and more powerful. In us you see the highest development; but there are those of us who believe that there is yet another step - that some time in the far future our race shall develop into the super- thing--just brain. The incubus of legs and chelae and vital organs will be removed. The future kaldane will be nothing but a great brain. Deaf, dumb, and blind it will lie sealed in its buried vault far beneath the surface of Barsoom--just a great, wonderful, beautiful brain with nothing to distract if from eternal thought."

"You mean it will just lie there and think?" cried Tara of Helium.

"Just that!" he exlaimed. "Could aught be more wonderful?"

"Yes," replied the girl, "I can think of a number of things that would be infinitely more wonderful."
-- Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Chessmen of Mars

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mental health break

I'm taking this week off from blogging to mentally recharge my batteries. Blogging will resume Monday with two long overdue book reviews.

In the meantime, one can usually find quasi-pithy comments, the germs of future posts, at my twitter page.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quote of the day

"Individual passions, except in lunatics, produce only the germs of myths, perpetually neutralised by the indifference of others; but collective passions escape this corrective, and generate in time what appears like overwhelming evidence for wholly false beliefs." - Bertrand Russell, Justice in War Time

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A perfect example of why I abhor Glenn Beck

On Glenn Beck's radio program today, I forced myself to listen to Beck and co-host assert that Nir Rosen's thoughtless, cruel and insensitive twitter comments about Lara Logan being sexual assaulted and beaten at the hands of an Egyptian mob are prototypical evidence of how hateful "the Left" is; that this is just how "these people" act.

Beck had not heard of Nir Rosen and was not familiar with his work, but was willing to confidently assert that his comments are representative of an entire category of persons. Nevermind that you will find almost universal condemnation of the attacks on Logan from across the political spectrum and the same for Rosen's remarks, let's take this reasoning at face value for a moment.

Beck acts as if Nir Rosen is the only person who said anything trivializing about Logan's traumatic experience. Yet conservative bloggers Gateway Pundit and Debbie Schlussel made remarks about Logan that could fairly be described as hateful. By Beck's "logic," wouldn't these comments mean that "the Right" is full of nothing but hate?

Schlussel:As I’ve noted before, it bothers me not a lick when mainstream media reporters who keep telling us Muslims and Islam are peaceful get a taste of just how “peaceful” Muslims and Islam really are. In fact, it kinda warms my heart ...

...Hey, sounds like the threats I get from American Muslims on a regular basis. Now you know what it’s like, Lara.

There will be no further comment from CBS News and Correspondent Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time.
I just love it when the people of the profession of “the public’s right to know” suddenly want “privacy.” Tell it to your next interview subject, Lara. Of course CBS has no further comment. Wouldn’t wanna impugn the “peacefulness” of “Religion of Peace” animals, would we? Now, if they were Christians or Jews, well, then there would be comments galore.

So sad, too bad, Lara. No one told her to go there. She knew the risks. And she should have known what Islam is all about.
Yes, you read that correctly. Not only does the story of Logan's sustained sexual assault and beating at the hands of hundreds of men "kinda warms [the] heart" of Schlussel, but Schlussel says that as a result of that trauma of which Logan is lucky to be alive, Logan now knows how tough Schlussel has it because of the hateful/threatening e-mails she gets. This is a bewildering absence of basic levels of human decency on the part of Schlussel; and after reading her final shot at Logan - "How fitting that Lara Logan was 'liberated' by Muslims in Liberation Square while she was gushing over the other part of the 'liberation.'" - I find myself seconding the question of Mary Elizabeth Williams: "Debbie Schlussel, what's it like to be so liberated from the burden of having either a mind or a soul?"

Nir Rosen, an obscure figure that Beck had not heard of, has since lost his job as a result of his comments and has issued an apology and explanation of his remarks. Just to be clear: Rosen had to resign from his job at NYU ONE DAY after his remarks. This is the incident that Beck wants his audience to believe indicates how hateful "the Left" is.

While Rosen's comments about Logan are not typical nor indicative of the type of the work he does as a foreign policy analyst, prominent leaders of the conservative movement traffic almost exclusively and routinely in ad hominem and generally repulsive attacks and yet their career never suffers for it. For example, just days before this attack occurred, Ann Coulter expressed - to wild CPAC applause - the contempt and lack of sympathy she has for the well-being of journalists like Lara Logan (who previously was detained by Egyptian security forces) when she said that she believes there should be more jailed journalists. This is years after Coulter responded to the terrorist attack of Timothy McVeigh which killed 168 people that her "only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building." She later qualified the remark: 'Of course I regret it. I should have added, "after everyone had left the building except the editors and reporters."'

Coulter is no exception. Take Rush Limbaugh for instance

On November 29, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh read an Associated Press report about the apparent kidnapping of four Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) activists by an Iraqi insurgent group. Limbaugh announced that "part of me likes this." He explained: "Well, here's why I like it. I like any time a bunch of leftist feel-good hand-wringers are shown reality."
As an aside, and to demonstrate that I can and do hold a grudge against those who demonstrate a lack of intellectual decency, I'd like to take a moment and remember Laura Ingraham having had the nerve to lecture actual journalists on how to do their job in a war zone, when the closest Ingraham ever got was taking a brief military embedded guided tour of Iraq. Here is Logan's eloquent response to such nonsense criticism:

Monday, February 14, 2011

CPAC conservatives demonstrate their love of freedom

"I think there should be more jailed journalists," Ann Coulter said to wild applause. Because there is nothing more American and freedom-loving then persecuting journalists.

Previous Coulter quote: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Quote of the day

"Although each side in the modern debate claims to be faithful to the historical Second Amendment, a restoration of its original meaning, re-creating the world of the minuteman, would be a nightmare that neither side would welcome. It would certainly involve more intrusive gun regulation, not less. Proponents of gun rights would not relish the idea of mandatory gun registration, nor would they be eager to welcome government officials into their homes to inspect privately owned weapons as they did in Revolutionary days. Gun control advocates might blanch at the notion that all Americans would be required to receive fire arms training and would certainly look askance at the idea of requiring all able-bodied citizens to purchase their own military-style assault weapons. Yet if the civic right to bear arms of the Founding were reintroduced, this is exactly what citizens would be obligated to do. A restoration of the original understanding of the Second Amendment would require all these measures and much more." - Saul Cornell, A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America

Monday, February 07, 2011

Quote of the day

"[T]he educated only are free." - Epictetus, Discourses

Friday, February 04, 2011

Another open letter to one of the "worst of the worst"

"Where was the judge he had never seen? Where was the High Court he had never reached?" - Franz Kafka, The Trial

Dear corpse of Mr. Gul,

Shucks. We sure are sorry that we "indefinitely detained" you - for eight years without charges, much less conviction, for any crime until you definitely died of a heart attack in prison - in order to protect & preserve important liberties like the right to a fair trial and habeus corpus. Golly, gee, it sure does eat us up that we have created a kangaroo legal system that was going to keep you in prison no matter what, but you have to admit, you were held in prison until you died, and you do have a Muslim name, so you must have been guilty of something.

As we put it to Mr. Odaimi:

[Y]ou were transfered into our Kafka-esque prison camp, which is your fault and not ours, but rest assured that we'll put this behind us by Looking Forward, Not Back ... We are sure this will be a great comfort to you, to know that we will not think of this again, and to help us not think of it again, we will make an exception to our Looking Forward, Not Back motto, to persecute anyone who has the nerve to bring to our attention any other such perfidy. With a little bit of time, we'll be able to forgive you for getting yourself ... locked up in Guantanamo all those years, giving people the silly notion that we're the sort of country that goes around locking up Muslims while denying them due process. Shoot, some of us will probably have already done you the favor of never even having heard of you, as is a habit with such matters.

You are welcome.
Were you alive and not dead, I am sure that it would come as a great comfort to you to know that the vast majority of Americans were not troubled by your death, nor were their consciences troubled with questions as to your innocence or guilt; we will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were guilty (of something.) You need not worry yourself that you have caused us any stress as a result of your inability to escape the legal blackhole like conditions of Guantanamo. We are more than willing to extend this courtesy to you and other such individuals.

So don't mention it, thanks is not necessary.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The end of the world. Again.

On my twitter page today I observed that 'In two years of watching Glenn Beck on Fox "News", his Islamic caliphate dominoe theory from today is the most absurd thing I've seen.' Michael Moyniham apparently agrees.

You can see the insane segment of Beck's program today where he asserts Egyptian unrest proves that some kind of Marxist/progressive/French anarchist/Muslim/communist/anti-Christ New World Order caliphate is imminent and that ACORN is linked to it.

Rachel Maddow's take on this tonight was excellent

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Also see Dave Neiwert's take - and then Media Matters to wonder if Beck's remaining audience members have some kind of long-term memory damage.