Thursday, October 26, 2006


Cross-posted from Gus Van Horn

Today, I find myself getting back into the blogging groove after an insanely busy last couple of days. Lots of good stuff here, and I just barely skimmed through the feeds. Here are today's finds in the order I encounter them on my browser tabs....


Neil Davenport of Spiked describes what sounds like a real travesty of a televised bull session. "[BBC Channel 4 newsreader Jon] Snow summed up the mealy-mouthed character of the programme by declaring that, 'Perhaps free speech is a high price to pay for a multicultural society'."

Such affairs not only fail to address the relevant issues rigorously, they provide false "evidence" that public debate is a waste of time and therefore not really worth defending anyway.


Yesterday, I posted on "Physicians as 'Little Dictators'". Andrew Dalton of Witch Doctor Repellent provided another example (physicians being conscripted as informants) of how government management of medicine opens up whole new frontiers to the abuse of government power. And he caused me to remember another example of further potential abuse down the road.


Little Green Footballs relays the following example of the moral poverty that goes hand-in-hand with Islam's total abdication of reason in favor of a mountain of holy decrees. This comes from a sermon about some gang rapes that occurred in Sydney, Australia.
In the religious address on adultery to about 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, Sheik Hilali said: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?"

"The uncovered meat is the problem."

The sheik then said: "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."

He said women were "weapons" used by "Satan" to control men. [bold added]
So women are "meat" and men are "cats". I guess if I had such a low opinion of myself, I might be susceptible to Islam, too.

Remember this the next time you hear a Moslem whine about being "offended" by intellectual criticism of his religion. And the next time you hear some useful idiot insinuate that Islamic headdress for women is somehow "liberating" to them.

The carte blanche granted to Islamic "men" to rape women, however, is more than balanced by some rather curious restrictions.


According to the Czechs, Egyptian airline passengers have been probing in-flight security measures. Quoth a Norwegian paper, "The crew on board discovered the three Egyptians trying to open the door into the cockpit. When the stewards intervened they immediately gave up their attempts and gave the excuse that they were looking for a staff member because they wanted to buy chewing gum."

Going to the cockpit to buy gum? Horse Mohammed!


The Gaijin Biker relays news that sanctions against North Korea are being felt already. (Or that North Korea is making sure reports to that effect are getting out to the West, anyway.)

Given our record with the "Palestinians", perhaps I stand to make a quick buck by laying bets on when sanctions against North Korea will end -- without causing any substantive change in its capacity to build nuclear warheads, of course.

Kim Jong "Mentally" Il is not exactly the brightest bulb (and his country shows it), but he knows that too many of his colleagues are even dimmer.


Cookie posts a very funny sea story over at Ultraquiet No More. don't take genius to figure out just who had to clean up all the shit. The coffee urn...a total loss...oh it was fixed and cleaned...but ain't nobody would ever drink outta it after that...includin me....the boat had t'get a new one.
Hey! I can't help it if so many of the best ones are about blowing sanitary tanks!


Is it really worth your while to check on a blog in a language you don't understand? It certainly is if you're an American named Gus Van Horn (whose "second language" is classical Latin) and the blogger in question is Carl Svanberg.

Svanberg links to quite a gem from USA Today. Heather MacDonald:
What are we supposed to learn when a candidate talks about his faith: That he is a good person? The rich history of religious bounders and charlatans should give the lie to that hope. Nor has a sincere belief in God prevented behavior we now view as morally repugnant. There were few more religious Americans than antebellum slaveholders and their political representatives; their claim to a divine mandate for slavery was based in unimpeachable Scriptural authority.

Or perhaps a politician's discussion of his prayer habits should reassure the public he'll make the right decisions in office. But what if opposing candidates declare themselves supplicants of the divine will -- how will a voter decide who is most likely to receive divine guidance?
Anyone who has ever sneered in derision when listening to some piece of human refuse babbling about "finding Jesus" during an interview from behind bars would do well to remember that emotion -- and why he felt it -- the next time he hears the same sentiment uttered by a politician.

Both want to use the moral blank check that people grant to religion as a means of purchasing positions of power for themselves.


And then there were [some number less than three].

Via Randex, it now seems that the producer of the Atlas Shrugged movie(s) are no longer going to make a trilogy.

I know that movies and books are different genres, and I never expected the movie(s) to have everything that is in the book. Nevertheless, I have serious doubts that anything less than a trilogy can be adequately faithful to the book.


Andrew Dalton remarks on the government's curious difficulty in grasping the purpose of public bathroom segregation by sex.


Andy has jury duty.

That reminds me. If I suddenly disappear for months after some time next week, it won't be because a competent defense attorney rejected me on sight during the selection process.

And look in the papers for either a harsh verdict or a hung jury in a high profile case.

That also reminds me that I need to make up my mind on whether jury nullification is a valid concept.


Daniel Rigby says "Screw Ageism". I would add that for demonstrably dangerous activities, such as driving vehicles when one is incapable of operating them safely, it is not an unwarranted government intrusion to intervene.


The man with the apt nom de plume of Toiler points to a story I intend to read. "Notice that artist Chris Miles is not just engaged in a sensuous dance with his on-again, off-again muse. It's also a lot of damn hard work and learned skill."

Labor of love. Not labor of lust. Not labor of amorousness. Not labor of commitmentphobia. Not labor of convenience.

Love. And love, like all worthwhile things, is often difficult.


As usual, Cox and Forkum nail it. Title: "Give War a Chance". Caption: "meanwhile, in Fallujah..."

Soldier One: We've given Iraqis food, money, clean water, schools, hospitals, freedom ... even our very lives.... What did we miss?

Soldier Two: Defeating them.

And as has been usual lately, Blogger problems are preventing me from uploading the image.


Hannes Hacker recently emailed me a lnk to this very funny Onion article the other day: "Mars Rover Beginning to Hate Mars".

That was right up there with "Coke-Sponsored Rover Finds Evidence of Dasani on Mars"!

-- CAV

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I look forward to hear reports from the conference (The Jihad Against the West: The Real Threat and the Right Response) at Ford Hall Forum in Boston. Did you listen to Dr. Yaron Brook's lecture, Democracy vs. Victory: Why the "Forward Strategy of Freedom" Had to Fail?



It is interesting to see how the GOP is struggling to keep the seats in the forthcoming elections. Rush Limbaugh is angry about a GOP pre-mortem comment. The main problem with today's conservatives is that they are not able to defend capitalism in a principled way. It could be the case that they hesitate to support capitalism due to their "pork" addiction... Here is a quote from Gary Shapiro's article, Clemson University Establishes a Think Tank Devoted to Studying the Moral Basis of Capitalism:

The Clemson institute, Mr. Thompson said, faces what he calls an "anti-capitalist bias" among most of the intellectual elite in America. "It began in the last the quarter of the 19th century and picked up steam," he said. "For well over 100 years, the cultural elite in universities have been opposed to capitalism and have set the terms of this debate, which is why the Republican Party in general and conservative intellectuals in particular have not been able to defend capitalism on moral grounds." (, 09/25/06.)

For more on GOP and the problems with conservatism, read C. Bradley Thompson's article, The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism. Here is an excerpt from the article:

Like the aging hippies of the New Left, compassionate conservatives reject the idea of basing morality on reason and instead embrace a morality grounded in feelings. They reject the possibility of a morality of self-interest and individual rights, and instead embrace a morality of self-sacrifice and governmental coercion. Despite all their loose rhetoric about applying “free-market” solutions to the plight of the poor, compassionate conservatives accept the moral premise of liberal-socialism: that you have a moral duty—a moral duty that will be enforced by the state—to love and support those who have needs greater than your own. (, Fall 206, Vol. 1, No. 3.)

Big Spenders



I have added a Breitbart and Pajamas Media newsfeed under the News category (left column). You are welcome to give me suggestions on additional news sources.


Thursday, October 19, 2006


Cross-posted from Gus Van Horn

No Bulwark against Tyranny, Part I

No sooner do I complain about Al Gore seeing fertile ground for global warming hysteria among evangelical Christians than I learn (via Glenn Reynolds) that the World Council of Churches is in favor of having the United Nations regulate new technology! Blogger Christine cites a report on nanotechnology by the WCC:
Firstly, society must engage in a wide debate about nanotechnology and its multiple economic, health and environmental implications. Secondly, some civil society organizations have called for a moratorium on nanotech research and new commercial products until such time as laboratory protocols and regulatory regimes are in place to protect workers and consumers, and until these materials are shown to be safe. Given the regulatory vacuum and inertia by leading nano nations to act, the call for a moratorium is justified and deserves public debate... [bold added]
Christine correctly notes that this call for "democratic control" at the world level by Christians is very naive, but she is herself very unclear over whether any government control of new technology would be proper and, if so, why it would be or what it would properly entail.

When the defenders of freedom offer only murky objections to the most outrageous proposals, they fail to address the underlying incorrect argument and end up coming down for what amounts to the very same thing, only incrementally. To wit, this blogger ends with the following:
This is not to say that we might not need some kind of international organization someday to deal with, say, nanoweapons. I expect we will. But the ETC proposal is not the way to go. The WCC might want to start looking at this whole topic in a broader way, rather than relying on one external organization so heavily.
No. It isn't that the WCC is looking at only one organization. It is that they seek to trample the freedom of scientists to innovate rather than simply address legal questions -- within the framework of protecting individual rights -- brought up by the new technology. You don't want or need a world authority to do that at all. And as for a world body dealing with nanoweapons, if one of those is desirable at all, a better model than the UN is obviously needed.

No Bulwark against Tyranny, Part II

And if defenders of science from government control are rendered ineffective without proper principles, so are those who would keep the government from robbing the public in the name of promoting science.

Although Martin Fridson makes a number of good points in his TCS Daily article against our government funding a "Manhattan Project" in the name of breaking our "addiction to oil", he never really questions the propriety of the government interfering with the allocation of resources (and time) towards research that our private sector would be better off doing itself. Here is his conclusion:
If something beyond the ordinary profit motive is required to bring forth the means for greater energy independence, the government should follow two principles:
  • Encourage scientific exploration on multiple fronts, rather than put a thumb on the scale for any single technology.
  • Spend the taxpayers' money on outputs, rather than inputs.
On what basis is one to determine that "something beyond the ordinary profit motive" (i.e., government force) is needed for "greater energy independence"? And more importantly, why should this "something" be used at all to take money away from American citizens to do what Fridson suddenly seems not-so-confident that private enterprise can do -- rather than being used to part hostile regimes from oil wealth and secure our supplies of cheap energy?

UN "Oversight" of Art

Cox and Forkum once again hit the nail on the head with this cartoon on some attempted UN oversight of art done at the behest of religious authorities.

And be sure to read Allen Forkum's partial fisking of the Kofi Annan's remarks at the UN's asinine "Unlearning Intolerance" seminar.

Oh yeah. Their upcoming book is nearly out the door!

A Threat against Reliant Stadium?

This article in the Houston Chronicle is the first I've heard of the home stadium of the abysmal Houston Texans specifically appearing in the crosshairs of terrorists. With the Texans Foundering at 1-4, perhaps their management could claim to be doing its best to keep fans safely at home! They need to put a positive spin on something this season.

Wrong Actress, (and now,) Wrong Writer

On October 18, Michelle Malkin said, "I really can't believe this soft-headed starlet is going to play Dagny Taggart. Blecch."

And on that very day, Mike informed us that the people behind the (latest overhyped) effort to make Atlas Shrugged into a movie have switched writers. "[T]hey've changed the writer after ... pimping [James V.] Hart for the last year."

The new writer has Pearl Harbor among his "credits".

My eyepatch joke looks more and more like a prediction every day.

300 Million!

"Or 957 trillion, if you work for Lancet ...", as Tim Blair put it in this very nice photo-blog in commemoration of America's latest milestone.
Since so few US media outlets were inclined to celebrate this non-grim milestone, the job was outsourced to a little Australian blog. Following is a small sample of Americans, from which you may reasonably extrapolate a figure of 300 million.
Thank you, Mr. Blair! (HT: Isaac Schrodinger)

William "Effin'" Buckley Rides (in Plumber Pants) Again!

Diana Hsieh catches a longstanding enemy of Ayn Rand being openly dishonest again. Here's the quote:
It is widely noted that for all that [North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Il] thinks of himself as a leader with a divine afflatus to bring to his people and the world the fruits of Juche (the North Korean variant of Leninism, with a little Ayn Rand mixed in), he is himself a man of total self-indulgence, devoted to porn, Scotch, and Daffy Duck cartoons.
Often, at times like this, I get a kick out of an old fisking I wrote, of a hack job by one of Buckley's -- erm -- underlings, Andrew Stuttaford, to "commemorate" the 100th anniversay of Ayn Rand's birth. His whole brilliant conclusion was basically that Ayn Rand was "strange".
"Of course he does," is all Stuttaford can think to say about the fact that Rand got a lift from Cecil B. DeMille. This isn't a damned cliche! It really happened, and I think it's pretty neat that it did. Stuttaford is then confronted by the fact, obviously unpleasant to him, that a small group of people regularly met with Ayn Rand after she became famous, to discuss philosophy.

Frat boy makes the following scintillating observations: (1) Rand was (twitter) "the sage of selfishness." (2) Those people sure were creepy. Call me crazy, but here's what I find creepy: people who meet regularly "at the feet" of some cleric to take whatever he says on faith, and then practice ritual cannibalism. Oh! But I'm wrong because more people do the latter. [with minor editing]

A Bleg

Daniel Rigby is curious about Typepad. Drop by and give him the straight dope if you are so inclined.


CONFIDENTIAL-ly, Bubblehead may think he has cornered the market on increased gummint blog traffic through his prostitution of such terms as "top secret" and "for official use only", but he forgot a few key words. I leave further such similar abuse to my more, um, enterprising compadres, but in the meantime, that smacking sound is me at the public trough!

-- CAV

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Do you think you get the "juicy bits" of the blogosphere by reading EGO?

My Blog Juice

[Via Dr. Helen.]


I wonder why we haven't read more about Håkan Lans's fight against Dell and Gateway in American media. Here is an excerpt from Peter Zura's post, Håkan Lans Is Back at The Federal Circuit (and Sweden Will Be Watching):

In one of the strangest, and most controversial patent infringement cases in recent history, Håkan Lans (aka Uniboard Aktiebolag) returns to the Federal Circuit on October 6, where the court will determine his fate on the disastrous enforcement effort regarding U.S. Patent No. 4,303,986 (Panel J: Friday, October 6, 2006, 10:00 A.M., Courtroom 203 - 2006-1070 Lans v. Gateway 2000) .

A prolific inventor and a folk hero in his native Sweden, Lans was granted the '986 patent in 1981, which covered Video Graphics Array (VGA) technology. In 1989, Lans agreed to license the ’986 patent to IBM. However, for tax reasons, Lans wanted to have his shell company, Uniboard, grant the license. To assure that Uniboard possessed the rights it was purporting to license, IBM requested that Lans first execute an assignment of the ’986 patent to Uniboard. Lans executed the assignment to Uniboard personally and then, on behalf of Uniboard, executed the license to IBM. Lans soon obtained licenses from others, including Hitachi, HP, and Apple.

In 1996, Lans sent letters to the computer industry accusing numerous companies of infringing the ’986 patent. The letters identify Lans as “the inventor and owner” of the ’986 patent, but did not mention Uniboard.

In 1997, Lans personally sued numerous companies for infringement of the ’986 patent. The complaint did not include Uniboard as a plaintiff. During discovery, the defendants found out about the assignment, and concluded that Lans had no business asserting the patent claim, because he wasn't, in fact, the owner.

And that's when everything started to unravel for Lans. (, 09/28/06.)

Monday, October 16, 2006


The new budget has been overshadowed by the scandals with the two politicians who had to resign. I wonder what the former prime minister is thinking...

UPDATE 10/17/06:

It looks like the media is on a hunt for digging up more dirt, a.k.a "stories"...

I think it is a bit ironic that the new "head of the public service company revealed at a debate last night that she pays a nanny under the table."

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Cross-posted from Gus Van Horn

A couple of weeks ago, I complained about netvibes. Since then, I played around with a similar RSS reader, which did not make the cut. A week later, I hadn't had time to play with other feed readers and it was either not post my weekly lineup at all or go with netvibes again.

The netvibes feed reader was subtly different and was calling itself the "Cinnamon Release". The problems I was having seemed to be gone. And so it is today. I'm quite happy with the speed this newer netvibes has and plan to stick with it.

Of course, Blogger is on the fritz as I write this. Links to individual pages in my blog return "Internal Server Errors" and -- in the most reliable indicator Blogger has that something is seriously FUBAR -- Blogger Status is down. [As I prepare to post this, that blog does not mention any problems from earlier this morning. But that's par for the course.]

And so I am composing in gmail and hoping to post later today. Any links that open in new windows -- an HTML coding practice I hate -- are because it's gmail's default behavior and I didn't catch them later.

Them's the breaks.

Adam Gadahn, Traitor

I have mixed feelings about the fact that the feds have finally decided to charge someone -- Adam Gadahn, the "American" member of al Qaeda -- for treason.

On a moral level, all I can say is, "It's about freakin' time!" But I once considered the idea of trying Noam Chomsky for treason and was unsatisfied that, absent a war declaration, the government had a sound legal basis for doing so.

If I am wrong, great, but why did Bush wait so long to do this?

If I am right, then this could prove to be a humiliating blunder by the current administration.

Kinky Friedman, NUB

Bubblehead updates a recent post on the fact that my least favorite candidate for Texas Governor has a habit of wearing warfare pins he has not earned, including submariner "dolphins", on the campaign trail.

The man is nothing more than an irritant and if wearing the pins alienates yet another pool of potential supporters, then so be it. In all his well-publicized ranting, he hasn't shown one jot of substance. He has no clue about what the proper function of government is. His whole campaign has been to offer up a laundry list of random tweaks to the amount of government intrusion he thinks we should have in our lives.

But if Perry falters badly enough, this idiot might get elected simply because, by offending everyone, he has succeeded in drawing a large amount of attention to himself.

Cash Register Bell Rings

Although I do not support limiting campaign donations, I cannot resist linking to Myron's observation that Democrat gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell -- who wants to "get the money out of politics" -- has just been saved by a handsome donation.

This is a significant obstacle to Friedman's quest to make all of Texas look like idiots for the next four years. Why? Because there will be no runoffs. The winner of a plurality of the votes will become governor. Friedman's main appeal is to left of center independents and Democrats who dislike Bell. I think he would benefit most from Bell dropping out of the race. Since Friedman also usually leads the other two and a half challengers (1 - Bell, 2- Strayhorn, and 2.5 - the Libertarian), he loses most from Bell staying in.


Sleeping on Submarines

It looks like the Old Coot once found the perfect place to sleep on board a submarine!
On Olympia, that vent was rather closer to the curtain rail, and in addition to increased ventilation it also provided "white noise" to block out the sound of passersby. It also served to block out annoying 1MC announcements. And so it came to pass one day that I was snoozing in my normal position, with my face right up against the back wall of the bunk, when one of the other RM2s came to wake me up. "Hutch [our LPO] wants you to come up to Radio and explain why you weren't at battle stations," quoth he.

"Huh??" [bold added]
Just a little too perfect! Hee! Hee!

Another Kind of Sneak Attack

Continuing problems with Blogger preclude me from posting an image, but I must say that Cox and Forkum have really outdone themselves this time!

Be sure to follow the link above to learn how they successfully infiltrated the recent Iranian cartoon contest with an image of Hitler-Ahmadinejad -- with horns since too many Moslems would not necessarily find a comparison to Hitler insulting.

This is not just a must-see. It is a must-read. Very interesting.

My latest column is up ...

... at Capitalism Magazine.

I focus there on the efforts of some to promote a boycott of Arab oil, which would really be a self-inflicted "Arab Oil Embargo". I offer some further thoughts on the Citgo boycott here and here.

The Undercurrent

It's good to hear that The Undercurrent is doing such a good job establishing a presence on college campuses. The newsletter is also soliciting material for its November issue.

Mike goes one for two, but he's pretty happy about it.

Mike N hits one out of the park on affirmative action:
White racists had been telling blacks that as an individual they had little or no value because of their race. White civil rights activists were telling blacks they did have value but only because of their race, and that the solution to discriminating against blacks and other minorities lies in passing laws that discriminate for those minorities. In other words, the standard of value was still the collective (race) and not the individual. This allowed the white liberals to remain loyal to their core philosophy--collectivism--of which racism is a form.
But he does recall whiffing badly earlier in the year on another topic, the Tigers, that just won't die!

Blair's Right

This Harry Binswanger column is a must-read.
Hostility to global trade, to nuclear power, to DDT, to "urban sprawl," to Wal-Mart--it all comes from the same root and has the same meaning: antagonism towards man's life as a rational animal. Reason is man's basic means of survival. The life- giving power of reason is sensed by those who rail against the technological-industrial achievements of the West and particularly of America. Whether environmentalist or Islamist, they cannot abide the success of America. It stands as an unbearable reproach. It's America or their own irrational way of functioning, which they would rather blow themselves up than challenge and change.

All the anti-reason movements have been unleashed by the Ahmadinejad-look-alike professors in our universities. The intellectual establishment has long attacked reason and science.
This is just a taste. I could just as well have excerpted something else.

Ramadan in Sweden

Martin Lindeskog reports on something that Western media, in their role as stooges of the Mullahs, have done an excellent job of keeping under wraps: Ramadan looting and rioting in his home town. I am glad to hear it was, at least, not as bad as first reported in the blogs.

Moslems in the Street

Quick! Before some Moslem whines loudly enough to get it pulled, stop by Daniel Rigby's blog and watch the parody he has posted of Martha and the Vandellas' motown classic, "Dancing In The Street"!

And I sure hope watching this doesn't feel too much like home for poor Martin!

How to Yank a Blogger's Chain

Send him an email like this:
Dear Andy,

It looks like your site has been hacked. Thought you'd like to know.


The trick seems to work for any blogSpot URL. (HT: Adrian Hester)

Three Recent Anniversaries

Alexander Marriott and Craig Ceely mark three important anniversaries related to: a discovery, a great work, and a major thinker.

The Curriculum at Founders' College

Adrian Hester makes a lengthy, but very worthwhile comment on the purpose of an undergraduate education over at Noodle Food:
What is (should be) the purpose of an undergraduate education, as opposed to high school and graduate school? High school should inculcate students in general analytical thinking, train them in clear, logical writing, and teach them the general knowledge one would expect from a reasonably well-educated adult. On the other hand, undergraduate education should be directed towards a coherent, broadly extensive study of one's chosen field with the goal ideally of preparing the student for teaching or for academic, scholarly work. Graduate study, of course, is (or should be) highly specialized, with an intensive, rigorous study of all important areas of one's discipline directed towards original scholarly work. A coherent core curriculum is essential at the undergraduate level, of course ...
I once heard a professor of mine make comments like this when I was young and contemplating a double major. I ignored him and I paid. But that is a post or posts for another day, probably in the distant future, if ever.

Indiana Jones and the 'Track of Doom

This hypothetical letter from a tenure committee to Indiana Jones is hilarious.
The committee concurred that Dr. Jones does seem to possess a nearly superhuman breadth of linguistic knowledge and an uncanny familiarity with the history and material culture of the occult. However, his understanding and practice of archaeology gave the committee the greatest cause for alarm. Criticisms of Dr. Jones ranged from "possessing a perceptible methodological deficiency" to "practicing archaeology with a complete lack of, disregard for, and colossal ignorance of current methodology, theory, and ethics" to "unabashed grave-robbing." Given such appraisals, perhaps it isn't surprising to learn that several Central and South American countries recently assembled to enact legislation aimed at permanently prohibiting his entry.

Moreover, no one on the committee can identify who or what instilled Dr. Jones with the belief that an archaeologist's tool kit should consist solely of a bullwhip and a revolver.
It gets even better!

Quottas? Quottiods?

At long last, they're back! That bastion of linguistic scholarship, The Speculative Grammarian, has solved the dilemma of where to put quotation marks in relation to periods and commas!
Despite these turbulent troubles, there is a solution that is both simple and elegant, and which requires only the cooperation of typesetters -- likely (and preferably) without even the knowledge of difficult and recalcitrant editors and publishers. That solution comes in the form of new blended punctuation marks, dubbed the quotta, a combination of quote and comma, and the quottiod, a combination of quote and period. By superimposing the quotation marks over other punctuation, the question of which should come first is completely avoided. These forms are, accidentally or otherwise, used in a hand-written form all the time -- a fact which inspired these more formal typographic variants.
For fellow fans of SpecGram, I have added it to the link list under "Humor". My thanks to editor Trey Jones for emailing me about this article, although I had already noticed it!

-- CAV

Monday, October 9, 2006


The gang riots in the eastern parts of Gothenburg were not as serious as first reported, but it is still a warning signal. Don't forget the anarchists behind the "Reclaim the City" (Reclaim the Streets) campaign in 2003 and the riots during the EU summit in 2001 (a.k.a "Bush is not welcome demonstration.").

Thursday, October 5, 2006


Cross-posted from Gus Van Horn

With an unexpectedly light schedule this week, I have devoted some time to a few blog improvements I have been wanting to implement for quite some time. Most of these changes were of the "under the hood" variety, but one change that I hope my visitors will find particularly helpful is the vastly improved link list.

Hmmm. I guess that means the first link in my big weekly roundup is to ... another roundup.

A Writer's Next Move

Toiler sticks up for science fiction/fantasy and promises more of the same soon.

But he also leaves those of us who would like to write more often with this cliff-hanger.
It seems that I've hit a road-bump on my writing path, and I'm in the process of planning my next move. More news to follow...
Although I don't feel free to blog about such things (because they are often work-related), I am sympathetic and curious to see how Toiler approaches his problem.

Is Gitmo a "Skinny Farm"?

But for the fact that I'd just pointed to a Rich Lowry piece on the subject, I very nearly blogged about the cushy treatment the detainees at Gitmo have been getting after reading the Mark Steyn piece that caused the prophets Cox and Forkum to unearth yet another cartoon of theirs whose absurdity has been matched by later events. Allen Forkum quotes Steyn:
If you're hoping to hear about the old wooden chair under a bare lightbulb swinging on its cord, here's the reality: The detainees are interrogated on either a La-Z-Boy recliner or a luxuriously upholstered sofa -- blue plush with gold piping.

As for being emaciated [like the actor in the poster for "The Road To Guantanamo"], it's the only death camp in history where the soi-disant torture victims put on weight. In contrast to the undernourished thesp in the movie version, the average gain at Gitmo is 18 pounds. The Afghan detainees were the chunkiest Afghans I've ever seen. If they ever make it home, their old comrades -- the lean wiry warriors of the Hindu Kush -- will wonder why a party of Florida retirees has suddenly shown up. These Pushtuns are pushing a ton.... [bold added]
The cartoon will be featured in their forthcoming book, Black & White World III.

Bill Frist (Taliban, TN)

First, I complain about the alarming similarity between Bill Frist's domestic policy and that of the Taliban:
Religious fanatics with morals police: If you won't beat 'em, join 'em, eh, Dr. Frist?
And then, within a few days, I learn that he's in favor of allowing them to "help" govern Afghanistan again! Craig Biddle quotes the Los Angeles Times:
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said Monday that the war against Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan could never be won militarily, and he urged support for efforts to bring "people who call themselves Taliban" into the government.
Well. You certainly can't accuse Senator Frist of inconsistency between his stands on foreign and domestic policy.

Did Ayn Rand win the Cold War?

Jim Woods asks the above intriguing question:
n a 1966 letter, Ronald Reagan said that he was "an admirer of Ayn Rand." Both Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (1947) on communist infiltration into Hollywood. Given Mr. Reagan's professed admiration of Ayn Rand, their concurrent efforts in opposing communism in Hollywood, her intellectual leadership on this issue in Hollywood, and Mr. Meese's crediting this period in Mr. Reagan's life with American victory in the Cold War, I find it credible that Ayn Rand was directly the foundation for the ideas that won the Cold War. I wonder if any research has been done to strongly substantiate this link between Ayn Rand's ideas and those effective actions of President Reagan in facilitating Soviet implosion.
And that reminds me. If I recall a recent conversation correctly, there is a whole chapter in The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics about her anti-communist work. Time to try ordering that again!

No Excuses for Terrorism

Andrew Medworth has a long, but very worthwhile post in which he reviews a British television documentary called No Excuses for Terror and explores the phenomenon of religions preaching peace, yet spreading by the sword.
There are many issues of Islamic theology, jurisprudence and tradition surrounding the interpretation of such verses, which, again, have been covered elsewhere (for example Robert Spencer's Onward Muslim Soldiers, Chapter 4). (These include the doctrine of naskh, where later "revelations" are said to "abrogate" or override earlier ones, and the contextualisation of Qur'anic teachings by the actions of Mohammed, the teachings of his early followers, and the Qur'anic commentators.)

These do not concern us here. The fact of the matter is that, as is well known, Islam has been spread by the sword, and non-Muslims throughout history have repeatedly been given the choice to convert to Islam or face the consequences (either second-class citizenship under Muslim rule [dhimmitude] or death), and they have justified these actions by reference to Islamic theology.

Part of the issue may be that dhimmitude does not seem to have been considered to be a banned form of religious compulsion, even though it unmistakeably constitutes "compulsion in religion"; again, that is an issue of Islamic theology, which does not concern me here.

I want to make a broader point about the role played by religious teachings which purport to preach peace, a point which applies equally to Christianity -- which purports today to be very peaceful, with teachings like "turn the other cheek", "love thine enemies" etc, and yet was frequently spread and defended in a very violent manner.

Both Islam and Christianity contain teachings which seem to say something along the lines of "don't decide for yourselves who is good and evil; leave the judgement to God, and He will deal with them in the hereafter". Christianity has the well-known "judge not, lest ye be judged" (Matthew 7:1), and more general admonitions to submit to God's will rather than relying on your own reason.


The question I wish to address is: why have these verses been consistently ignored throughout the early centuries of religion? Why did religious tolerance not develop until the time of the Enlightenment? [links dropped]
And, on the subject of religious teachings and violence, ....


Robert Spencer, thoroughly smacking down Dean Esmay in the process, writes an excellent piece on the Moslem doctrine of abrogation.
The three-stage theory of the revelations about jihad, culminating in the command to fight to impose the Islamic social order over the world, is bound up with abrogation, as the earlier stages give way to the later. This is the view of Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Kathir, the compilers of the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, and a host of other traditional and mainstream Muslim commentators. Here is a brief contemporary Muslim explanation of the principle. Only Dean Esmay thinks I made it up.
This should be required reading for anyone who takes any guff about there being "no compulsion in religion" seriously.

Self-Censorship: It's YouTube this time.

The Gaijin Biker reports on the latest unfortunate example of creeping dhimmitude.
Michelle Malkin reports that YouTube took down a video she posted there, expressing her criticism of militant Islam. (It's available on her site here.)

Yet YouTube seems to have no problem hosting viciously anti-Israel propaganda videos. Check out some examples here, here, and here. (The last one in particular is so full of Jews-are-taking-over-the-world paranoia that it's almost a parody.)
In an update, he reports that some LGF readers came up with the wrong answer: Enough of them flagged one of the anti-Israel propaganda films as offensive to get it pulled. They should instead be complaining to them about the self-censorship of the Michelle Malkin video.

Westergaard Hangs Tough

For a refreshing change of pace, I am pleased to report that Kurt Westergaard, who drew the infamous caricature of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban, is neither in hiding nor backing down. Baron Bodisssey quotes Mofi:
So, on Danish television yesterday [September 24th], Kurt Westergaard, the artist responsible for the most famous of the Mohammed cartoons, the 'turban bomb', met with Kasem Said Ahmad, who is currently the foreman of the Islamic Faith Society. The meeting was billed as an attempt at 'dialogue' (a word that has been very popular of late) but failed in this when Kasem Said Ahmad, failing to receive an apology from Kurt Westergaard, stood up and walked out.

Kasem Said Ahmad is quoted at JP as explaining, "I became angry and walked away. We were never even close to each other and nothing I had expected came from the meeting. I had thought he would apologise having regretted what he did".

The meeting took place at the artist's home and it is the first time Kurt Westergaard has stood forward on television to explain his drawing. If it were me, I'd be more than slightly concerned that Kasem Said Ahmad knew where I lived. The man is an uncompromising extremist and I am not surprised his only reason for wanting 'dialogue' was to get an apology.
I must say that there is one thing that puzzles me here. Why did Westergaard, of all people, even bother meeting with Ahmad.?It should be clear by now that what the Moslems mean by "dialogue" is exactly what he got. Maybe he wanted to demonstrate the point.

Civil Wars Near Israel

Little Green Footballs notes that Lebanon and the collection of encampments of Arab squatters often called "Palestine" both seem to be in the process of self-destruction.

al Qaeda's Self-Score: F

Power Line has some entertaining news. It seems that al Qaeda's leadership is a little worried about the progress of their war. John quotes from a translation of a letter obtained from a "safe house" in Iraq (Editor's comments are his.):
The path is long and difficult, and the enemy isn't easy, for he is great and numerous and he can take quite a bit of punishment as well. [Ed.: This is very different from how al Qaeda wrote about the U.S. after the flight from Somalia.]

I command you, my brother, and I am your brother and I have nothing except these words that are between the two of us and God as the third party, that you send messengers from your end to Waziristan so that they meet with the brothers of the leadership, and the rational and experienced people and the shaykhs here, because you have a greater chance to send messengers (brothers that you choose) than your brothers have here. [So al Qaeda's leadership is so pinned down that they can't even send messengers to Iraq.]

I am now on a visit to them and I am writing you this letter as I am with them, and they have some comments about some of your circumstances, may God guide you, with due confidence, affection, respect, and esteem. They wish that they had a way to talk to you and advise you, and to guide and instruct you; however, they too are occupied with vicious enemies here. [That would be us, I assume.] They are also weak, and we ask God that He strengthen them and mend their fractures. They have many of their own problems, but they are people of reason, experience, and sound, beneficial knowledge. [Note: al Qaeda's leadership is "weak."]

Know that we, like all the mujahidin, are still weak. We are in the stage of weakness and a state of paucity. We have not yet reached a level of stability. We have no alternative but to not squander any element of the foundations of strength, or any helper or supporter.
John notes further that the letter implies that al Qaeda's leadership is or was hiding in Waziristan, a region of Pakistan. We should follow them there, post haste.

Tasteless? Who, exactly?

I found it odd that Jason Roth got a complaint from a reader that this piece was tasteless. Sounds like someone was barking up the wrong tree there.

-- CAV