Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Mules With Brains

Writing on the Wall


Following are my general observation regarding the current debate about the writings outside Miller. I must also point out that this is not the first time that the writing have happened. I am positive that while patrolling for security I saw those 3-4 weeks ago as well.


Rahul Gupta.

The entire community including the administrative authorities understands the importance, necessity, and value of maintaining and fostering freedom of speech. However an essential difference between the attitude of those governing and those being governed over freedom of speech emanates from the difference in opinion on the question as to, through which method/or how should this freedom be exercised.

It seems to be the authorities’ argument that freedom of speech be expressed through the already established channels like the Digest of Civil Discourse, Seminars, social discussion within the students, etc. It must be said that rarely have the authorities tried to restrict freedom of speech through such political tools, unless the opinions of the writers have been perceived as illegal according to the administrations understanding of the federal/state constitutions.

Hence, when political tools other than the ones being allowed are used –the administration of course tries to restrict such tools. Their argument that more ‘civil tools’ be used even to propagate a ‘just’ cause seem pretty reasonable because such actions:

· Show students lack of respect for the existing laws. Shows a tendency to break civic rules and regulations.

· May have a negative effect (as perceived by them) on those who aspire to be a part of our community.

· May lead to further uncivil, political dissidence which might not be for a ‘just’ cause.

· May lead to more aggressive, un-co-operational, confrontational, and dissident political/social tools which again may not be totally justified.

· Then of course, there is that minor issue of Colby’s aesthetics.

Due to such reasons, it seems the authorities want to penalize those who have started the perceived ‘dissident culture,’ by asking for repatriations. It must be understood that the repatriations primary purpose is not to be punishments to the concerned students in particular, rather to make it clear to other students that such actions is intolerable and proper channels like the DoCD should be employed. The administrations problem is the political tool employed; not the cause, for which it was employed, or even student’s right to freedom of speech, or the fact that the chalk would have been washed away with the next rain.

The students on the other hand would contend that tools such as the DoCD have become totally ineffective due to reasons widely known. They would argue that the cause and their right to freedom of speech are bigger than the tool being employed. After all dissident actions are the best way to grab attention. They would argue that “For gods sake it was just chalk that would have washed away with the next rain! Don’t we have the right to express ourselves through other means when DoCD becomes largely ineffective?” There is obviously much truth in their contentions. The central point being that when the system becomes ineffective, shouldn’t it be discarded to achieve the desired goals? Isn’t that what the fathers of the American constitution did? While their methods would have been seen as working outside of the system, we all know that what they achieved was/is legendary. But then again, the administrators might hit back, “Well, who let the DoCD become ineffective?”

To me essentially the debate doesn’t seem to be about the Cause or right to freedom of speech, but rather about the political tool used. It’s an interesting question.

Oh I also have a Haiku..

Civil confrontation is wow…

Makes U think, analyze, debate,

Maybe a conclusion,


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Mules With Brains

Reform in Islam

Reform within a society, a culture, a nation, or even a religion cannot occur at the behest of the elite class. While it is true that the elites are the most influential within the governments and the media, but on the flip side they are perceived by the vast un-educated majority as the blasphemous face of their society, as the non-cultural, un-nationalistic, inconsiderate strata of the society which is too modernized to understand the sensitivities of the vast majority. While the elites enjoy the support of the so-called modern world, they have virtually no following amongst there own people.

This is not to say that the vast majority does not want reform. Of course it does, but in its own way --at it’s own pace. Through consensus rather than force, through respect rather than humiliation, through acceptance rather than rejection. Acceptance of the true meaning of Jihad rather than rejection of it as a whole. Respect for its cultural practices rather than being the centre of sarcasm. Consensus within there own leaders rather than the western media or the governments forcing them to act, at its own pace- with their own intiative.

Nobody likes to get into conflicts, but if you push someone into the corner- he is only going to get more aggressive. That is human nature, it has nothing to do with what religion you belong to.

Mules With Brains

Saturday, March 11, 2006

This is great--A real, loud Muslim person, pointing out the deep rut of Arabic culture, and pointing out the use of religion towards illegitimate ends---and making a big discussion within Islam!
Let's just hope she doesn't get murdered.

AND, it's a great testament to an extremely brave woman.

Definitely worth a check out.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Biased News?

Well, I don't always trust the established media when they're reporting about Iraq. On all networks (fox included) I smell partisan reasoning behind what they report, where they report it, and what attitude they report it with. I know this is a hard proposition to prove...but I (especially during the summer) read a lot of news from a wide variety of sources, and the trend keeps poping up. I'd say that the worst offenders are the AP and the NYT (which publishes a lot of AP articles) but there are other villans. If you want to get good reporting on what the ground in Iraq is like, you should check out people like Michael Yon (who is currently back in the states finalizing his stuff, before he heads back over) or Iraqi citizens like the guys at Iraq-The-Model, who actually live in the culture, know what they're talking about, and experience life outside the green line for themselves...unlike most of the reporters for the major networks.

For those of you who think life in Iraq just sucks completely, and you have to fear for your life every second of the day, you are (at least in my understanding) partly right...but you are missing the point. It's probably not your've probably never been to Iraq, and you probably trust what the established media is feeding to you (why shouldn't you?), so you very rarely hear a perspective that comes from outside the compound of safety that American and Iraqi troops have created. If you care about having a quality opinion, you should do some more research.

To prove this point (that the established media needs to be taken with a grain of salt) I offer this post from the Officer's Club. Remember, this is only one article, and therefore only one example, but I've seen the same pattern in lots of the articles I read everyday. (and I admit, I haven't been as good about reading the news as I have been in the past. I have too much work. But maybe there is a national newspaper that doesn't make this mistake that I don't know about)

Key al-Qaida in Iraq Figure Arrested
(ok, a six-word headline, not bad)
By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS, Associated Press Writer

(snip, go read the post for the rest, we'll start at para. six)

The captured al-Qaida figure was identified as Abou al-Farouq, a Syrian who financed and coordinated groups working for Iraq's most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, according to an Interior Ministry officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to address the media.

(what captured AQ figure? Oh yeah- the one this article was about in the first place! 6 paragraphs later we get to the meat of the article, and we find out this guy is a Syrian deconflicting AQ operations across country lines. That’s a pretty big deal… what else does this tell us?)

Acting on a tip from residents, members of the Interior Ministry's Wolf Brigade captured al-Farouq with five other followers of al-Zarqawi near Bakr, about 100 miles west of Baghdad, the ministry said.

(holy crap! The local population turned in this AQ foreigner! Why isn’t this at the top of the article?)

So yes, I took this out of context...if you want a complete breakdown, go read the post I linked to, and you can see the whole article from there. But this is just a quote.

I think it explains itself pretty well...but even here you can see, through all the dirty reporting trick the journalist used, that people in Iraq are invested in providing themselves security, and that we even captured a major terrorist financier...but it wasn't even American troops, but Iraqi Citizens working with their American-Trained security forces that found the bastard. (and I don't feel bad calling him a bastard because he himself said that he was a member of AQ, and was proud of it.) However, in order to get this information, you have to slog through week old allegations of civil war starting in Iraq, even after we got told that no one really expects it any more. You really need to read the article to see what I'm talking about. The writer puts this good news in the worst possible light, and then burries it six paragraphs into the story.

Not really good journalistic technique.

And, now that you know where to look, I'm sure you'll find it other places as well...

Monday, February 27, 2006

"The Kids are All Right"

Thanks, Ben, for that refreshing cartoon about intolerant religious beliefs.

I would like to add some new scientific data to a discussion involving religious beliefs that has happened on Colby's Digest of Civil Discourse.

I have also posted this message and the links on the civil discourse.

" In summary, there is no evidence to suggest that lesbians and gay men are unfit to be parents or that psychosocial development among children of gay men or lesbians is compromised in any respect relative to that among offspring of heterosexual parents. Not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents. Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by gay and lesbian parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children's psychosocial growth."

"...While the sexual orientation of the parents in Patterson's study did not predict the adolescents' social adjustment, the quality of the parent-child relationship did. Children who reported warm relationships with their parents tended to be the most mentally healthy and have the fewest problems in school."

As liberal arts students, and thus reasonable people, we should support the conclusions of scientists as guides for our beliefs.

I feel that this information proves that we should allow homosexual marriage in every state in the country. This data shows (a) that gay parents do no harm, and (b) that gay parents do equal good in raising children compared with straight parents.

In my own capacity I would like to emphasize that this information merely reinforces the core teachings of moral philosophers such as Jesus and Confucius: That love is what's important.


Monday, February 20, 2006


Here's something about the cartoons that is worth getting offended about. I don't pass on material just so you can get's got some great points embedded in offensive language and it's worth watching...

Watch the little cartoon guy too...he's hilarious

Friday, February 17, 2006

When are we going to wake up?

So, like I said before, Kyoto is a's been a joke since we started talking about it...and America dropping out of conisidering it didn't make it any more of a just showed we're one of the only countries that take their word seriously.

Kyoto wanted to reduce their emmisions and have them be below the level they were in 1990...sounds like a good idea...I mean, I like fresh air as much as anyone else. Ok, 1990 levels is sort of easy, since back then the semi-backward communists of East-Germany were still using outdated technology that emmitted far more than 1991-level technology demanded. But you don't learn to hit homers by practicing agains Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemmons, Curt Shilling, or Bronson do it against me, cause I'm pitching them softly. (Ok, I'll admit I can't wait for baseball to start again.) So, for a first step, maybe an easy goal was a good idea...everyone makes their targets, doesn't work too hard...and everyone starts the next round with a good feeling.

But, what happens if you don't make your easy target?

Well, everyone then knows that you were never serious about the whole thing in the first place...and America looks even better by pulling out of the treaty, yet still reducing their emmissions, while still not giving up their SUVs. Damn Straight.

Ok, I'll admit it. The title (and most of the post) is going a little too far for what I had in mind...but it did grab you attention, so it did exactly what it was supposed to. I hope you comment and tell me exactly how I'm's probably not hard for bright college students like all of you who are reading this...but if you don't respond, I, as always, will be proven correct.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Intellectual Debate Round-Up

In a time honored tradition of busy bloggers...I'm going to post a lot of links to other peoples' thoughts because I have no time to come up with my own...

That said, these are good posts, so you should read them...They follow up on a topic that we were discussing a day or two ago.

First, is a post by Althouse...the person who really started the discussion...and by the way, aren't you glad I sent you to instead of, when I started that topic?

Here is the Althouse post.

Next comes some musing from the Daily Kos...a leftist-type blog that I read, sometimes to get some laughs, but mostly to update myself on the other side. This guy is talking about how we asign lables to people. For the record, I like Andrew Sullivan, and I think he's a conservative, even though he's one of the biggest recent critics of the President's actions in the Iraq war...he supported it before he was against it, but that's not important.

And, to follow that up, with an opinion I agree with (I don't mean to say I disagree with the daily kos guy in this case, just most of the time) is Frank J. Since when did he start being serious? You should also check out the two previous posts, just for laughs. Especially the Editorial. Those liberals who read this blog might want to look at's a conservative humor website, but it might be good for you, because a lot of the humor is also making fun of current's also been said that his In My World Posts are "great rumsfeld bashing."

So, thats a round-up...cause I didn't have time to finish the posts that I was working on. I will have some new stuff later...once my teachers stop stealing all my time.

Update: Here's a post from a moderate on the whole Althouse inspired thing.

P.P.S. I’ve just defended the Bush Administration from a Democratic attack, and pushed for spending discipline. Why won’t the right reach out and engage a moderate like me? What I’ve noticed, over and over, is that the bloggers on the left link to you when they agree and ignore the disagreements, and the bloggers on the right link only for the things they disagree with, to denounce you with short posts saying you’re evil/stupid/crazy, and don’t even seem to notice all the times you’ve written posts that take their side. Why is this happening? I find it terribly, terribly sad, and in no way transparently self-serving.

WHAT’S MORE: The point of that last paragraph isn’t necessarily obvious if you don’t already live inside my head, which relatively few people do.

To be more straightforward, I’m not at all irritated with any lack of approving links from right-of-center bloggers. I think that’s just the way of the world. Rather, I’m poking fun at Professor Althouse and the alleluia chorus surrounding the post that I’ve linked to in the last sentence. It seems to me that Althouse is starting with the assumption that, since she is at the center of political discourse, any asymmetrical treatment that she recieves from the right and left blogosphere must be due to the personality and intellectual flaws of liberals.

He then later says:

This is not to minimize the pleasure of the links from right-of-center blogs, which I do greatly appreciate.

Sorry man, I'll link you, but this is a non-partisan site. I'm going to my other blog now, and then you'll get a right-of-center link from there.

Update II: Am I beating a dead horse? Maybe, but I find this interesting, and since no one has commented to tell me to stop or tell me what to post about, I'm gonna update again.

Here is Jane Galt talking about this issue...she's always got an interesting take on every issue...I recommend that you read her about abortion, by the way, but that's a debate for another day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Does anyone still think that Saddam really had no weapons of mass destruction? I mean, come on. Pure common sense says that he was at least working on them.

If you still feel that we were totally wrong in suspecting Iraq and Saddam of breaking the treaties they agreed to at the end of Gulf War I, check this out.

At the very least he had them, then sent them out of the country while we were dickering at the UN or they just blew them up in the desert...I mean, it's even possible they're out there, burried in the sand's a big deserted place, and hard to map, and even harder to search effectively. Almost anything is possible...we should still have found them quicker, but it's hard for me to say that they never existed.

Mr. Bush, Mr. Rumsfeld, I ask you to cease the use of torture

[This has also been posted on the Colby College Digest of Civil Discourse]

New pictures of the torture at Abu Ghraib were released today by an Australian newspaper. By this time, other things have happened, too--Col. Janice Karpinsky wrote her memoirs. She testifies that Iraqi women were raped by American soldiers as part of an "Atmosphere of Humiliation" called for by extra-governmental intelligence contractors, who were in turn called for by D. Rumsfeld. Many reporters have made reports of the cruel and unusual punishments inflicted upon ambiguously guilty prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, notably Jane ___ of the New Yorker (I've forgotten her last name). Additionally, reporters traveling with U.S. troops in Afghanistan reports soldiers casually forcing confessions from children, women, and men by beating them. (I read that in the New York times, sometime in May 2004 or so).

This all needs to stop.
Torture is completely against the spirit of the United States, and the U.N. list of human rights.

Moreover, it is counter productive in fighting insurgencies:
-France used torture in Algeria to stop the uprising. They lost the war.
-Israel regularly uses torture against Palestinian suspects (Forget about a fair trial). Palestinian opposition has hardened. Palestine is now led by the militant group Hamas.

Rape and torture do not produce victory, they just injure the victims' body and mind, breaking the victim completely and doubling the resolve of his/her friends.

Also, compared with standard police interrogation methods, torture is slower and produces less reliable information (I read this testimony from an FBI official in a New Yorker article).

Moreover, there is no debate over the definition of torture. If you are inflicting severe pain and/or humiliation on a prisoner for the sake of inflicting severe pain and/or humiliation, that is torture, and that is what happened (and is probably happening right now) in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq, among other more secret U.S. prisons (in Poland or Romania?).

Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, and all of their subordinates need to stop sidestepping the question, stop trying to redefine torture, and most of all stop torturing people. It ensures Muslim hatred for the U.S., endangers our mission in Iraq, and is a cruel and unnecessary measure. It is a barbaric practice and is beneath the military of the United States in this modern age.

I've contacted George Bush, asking him to stop.
I've contacted my senators and my representatives, asking them to stop this.
I'm still thinking of what else I can do. If you have any ideas, please comment.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Post from the Discourse

I just posted this over at the e-mail list-serve, but I figured I should put it up over here, 'cause I think the people over here smell better and might also like to read what I wrote.

We've managed to lower the state of discourse on the new Community Digest of Civil Discourse to the lowest it's ever been.

In the middle of a generally well-thought out discussion, we've managed to pick one person and hold that person up to ridicule in front of the whole campus. This person didn't seek out that attention, that person only posted their opinions in a private forum. I'm not going to say that what that person wrote was acceptable, because it wasn't, but I am upset that we've basically resorted to spying to prove our points.

The discussion was begun when one person stated (roughly) 'men at Colby are rude and uneducated' because evidently, we men haven't been flocking to buy tickets to the vagina monologues at the table in cotter, and, sadly, some of the men have responded to the cat-calls in a rude manner.

As a side note…I think I’m probably one of those rude people. I was walking down the hallway from Pugh to the P.O., and while I was approximately right next to the P.O. window, the people at the Vagina Monologue Table called out to me, and 'invited' me to buy a ticket. I shook my head, and walked toward my mail box...I was in a hurry and didn't have any money (much less, ten dollars), so I didn't stop to apologize profusely for not brining my wallet and not having time to go to the play...since that's evidently the polite action when people are selling things in Cotter, though I hadn't noticed this code of behavior before. I apologize if people thought I was being rude…I can’t really say anymore.

However, I’m not sure I would have bought a ticket even if I had money and time to engage the people at the table. My reasons for this are similar to Michael Barrett’s, so I won’t rehash them here. Suffice it to say that I’m just a little bit embarrassed by a table full of fake vaginas…perhaps more than I would be by a table full of dildos, but since I’ve never been in that situation, I can’t say.

Well, to continue the discussion, we moved from talking about what the men of Colby have said in a public place, to posting what someone wrote in a private forum. Although I believe in free speech, I think that individual probably should not have said the things he did…however, no one but him had the right to post that away message in the Community Digest of Civil Discourse without his permission.

Well, I guess we’re already back to the way things used to be…I’m looking forward to seeing more posts calling people out for bad spelling and thought-crimes. If you’re as tired as I am of the digest shenanigans, the website that was previously posted is a pretty good place for dialogue…the address again is

So there you can respond here, or on the e-mail...but here is more fun.

Update: well, I guess this didn't make it onto the digest...that's probably my fault...but it worked out in the you have a pure post to enjoy.

Re: Re: Intellectual Debate

I think it's ok to label people with the labels they've chosen for themselves. And, I think it's not a good thing to take partisanship completely out of a debate. It is expedient to apply labels to things, and it allows people to catch up on a conversation without excessive definitions. Even if those labels portray groups not exactly correctly, they are still a useful shortcut. I agree that we should cut off the windbaginess of most partisanship, but sometimes it's useful to refer to the 'left' and the 'right'.

An example of what we would like to avoid is found in Aristotle. One of the reasons he's pretty boring to read for most people is that he is always making definitions. For him, they were necessary, because he was pretty much the first person to write them down...but if we eschew labels, we'll be doing work that others have already done for us.

And, where Aristotle is saying that ”Aristotle said that those with more reason, whose soul rules their bodies, should rule others." he is making an argument that slavery is ok. Which it isn't, so I don't know where your "Unfortunately" comes from...

I'm also going to nitpick with your choice of quotes at the bottom...

Why should you want George to say that he would have done things differently? I know you don't like how things have ended up, and I'm sure he also wishes things had gone differently...but he was working with the information he had at the time, and I'm sure he feels he made the best decision that he could...and it seems, most Americans and most Pundits, and most Senator's agreed with least until we went on a few months and could look back with more information. I know you want him to admit that what is going on isn't perfect...but that wasn't the question he was asked...he said that he wouldn't have made different decisions if he was put into the same situation with the same information...

I'm not sure where you got the Condi quote from...cause it's completely out of you have a link to somewhere she says something similar? But I will defend it's inconceivable that we would think Hamas would win the elections if we believe that most Palestinians want their own state and peace, with no more violence. A relatively informed Palestinian must come to the conclusion that Hamas isn't going to get them their own state peacefully, if only for the reason that the rest of the world will refuse to deal with who they view as terrorists. So, if we put ourselves a few months back, when things were going relatively well for the Palestinians, and the peace process was moving along decently, before Hamas started to change it's focus, it would be fair to say that, "No one saw the possibility of Hamas winning the election." But I'm pretty sure that Condi didn't say anything that absolute, because she's a diplomat, and smarter than that. I'd like to see a link to anywhere where she comes close to saying anything like that.

Rummy thinks about torture differently than you do and judging from what you've said about it (which is admittedly, not much) I probably do to. I don't think anyone should be cut up, beaten to near death, or starved or drugged or anything like that...I don't mind messing around with lights, and music, and other things similar to that. No one is going to die because I change their sleep schedule, at least not without a lot of warning. I also think that torture is different in every case. I would never condone the least bit of torture against (god forbid this ever happens) someone like the French, cause I know they're not going to be torturing my troops at all. I would even not condone the above situations at all, we've both signed the Geneva conventions, and neither side would have violated them, so anything is out of the playing field. However, the people we are currently incarcerating are not playing by the same rules we are. They have no compunctions about torturing our soldiers, and they seem to view it as part of their duty when they capture someone, and they also seem to be beheading a bunch of the people they capture. So I'm not exactly afraid of the retaliation, since it's our turn to be retaliating. The people we're catching are also not soldiers in uniform...which you may think is a small thing, but you need to think again. Putting on a uniform is saying to your enemy "I'm a target, shoot me, not these civilians around me" If you don't put on a uniform, you are not defending your fellow countrymen like you should be...this should be discouraged by the people you say you're trying to protect...but it also means that you are giving up on the protections that would be given to a soldier who is captured. Look to history for examples of this, in WWII, an American spy found in Germany out of uniform lost the protections of the Geneva Convention...and American prisoners in Japanese hands had a horrible survival rate...something like 20%...and we had both signed the convention.
So, in the end, Rummy is correct in saying that he did not ask for torture...but he was referring to the kind of torture that Saddam habitually used, the application of electrical wires and water to uncomfortable places, the removal of extremities and that sort of thing...he was not saying that he had never asked for aggressive interrogation techniques. And to me, that is a completely different thing.

( Update: here is an example of what the UN thinks of as torture...)
So, you may not agree with the things that Bush and that crowd say, but it's wrong for you to say they were lying. It's also sophomoric to give examples without providing a link or context. Any of these quotes could have been taken from anytime and anywhere, we don't know. A link is very easy to make, and you should use it if you need outside evidence, rather than transcribing from your own head. I can assure you that if we both watched the same press conference, we would take very different things from what was said...and we don't even disagree that much on most things...imagine what someone from the bushitler crowd would hear every time he opens his mouth!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Global Warming is out of control

Since Greg isn't here to do this yet, I feel obliged to offer the readership some breaks from the routine...and here is one such case...which also happens to prove my belief that global warming is overheated news.


Welcome again, Colby students. I hope a few of you are here for at least a second time, but for those of you visiting us straight from the civil discourse, welcome.

On this blog, we try to have informed discussion about everything. We tend to be more political than pop-culture, but we're open to anything. If you're tired of the state of discussion on campus, you might want to make this page one of your regular stops on the internet. Anyone can comment on any post. We'd ask you to pick an id, but it is possible to post anonymously as well. If you'd like to become a regular poster, become a regular commenter, and let me know that you'd like to be able to post. We're open to anyone.

One reason I started this blog to promote discourse on campus was that the digest e-mail was becoming too crowded by event notifications, and also nothing arguments. What I mean by that is, when most arguments progressed, there was always someone who started nit-picking about spelling, or someone who starting name-calling, or someone who just didn't respond in good faith. Here, we're all about discussion of ideas, and nothing else is very important.

I didn't decide to set up an extra coffee hour (like some people propose as an alternative to the digest) because they never work. The avenues that exist on campus for face to face discourse are under-utilized, and for good reason. No one ever has time to have an argument at the same time as everyone else...and even if the two sides can meet and discuss amongst themselves, the rest of campus misses out. The internet lists are good because it doesn't matter when you write your response, everyone can read it whenever they want, so more people are included in the discussion.

We'd love to have you join us here, and we can't wait to learn from your ideas. I've already said that you are welcome to comment on any of the existing posts (you might want to start reading from the bottom, cause that's where the ideas are presented first). However, if you don't find something that interests you, just use this post to comment on anything you want.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope to see you again soon.

You can use this thread to comment about anything you want.

Re: Global Warming

Actually, there are many reasons why global warming is (or should be) of major concern to us all. First of all, our climate is an incredibly complex system that completely defies all our attempts thus far to understand and model it. Basically, fluid dynamics require far more computing power than we can even conceive of at this point. So, any slight changes in the system can result in severe climatic perturbations that we can't really predict. There are a few scenarios we can predict, such as the shutting down of the transoceanic conveyor current, which could indeed trigger a little ice age, by stopping the flow of warm water to the North Atlantic.

Other scenarios that are quite possible, and could have severe consequences for us are increased desertification of arable land (already happening), increased range of tropical diseases and pests (already happening), or currently fertile climates falling under a rain shadow, such as the US midwest, a huge provider of food for the world.

Don't just take my word on this, read the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports at The IPCC, a collection of all the leading scientists of the world in the fields related to climate change, has determined, in it's 2001 report, that not only is our climate currently warming at a much faster pace than anything in the climate record, but that there is a discernable human fingerprint upon this warming.

Now, I'm not saying we should panic because, oh my God, the world is coming to an end, but it is foolish to think that nothing needs to be done, or that nothing can be done. We CAN adopt international treaties like Kyoto (perhaps not exactly Kyoto, it seems obvious we need a new one), and we can be more aware of how the activities of our daily lives burn fossil fuels.

Frankly, the continued opposition to climate change astounds me. The scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests a human impact upon our climate. The argument that there is no absolute proof is nonsensical. Remember, science can NEVER prove any thing absolutely. Science can disprove, but never conclusively prove. When we have a theory that corroborates the facts, as the current theory on climate change DOES, then it seems only logical to adopt it until new evidence tells us otherwise.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Re: Intellectual Debate

That's pretty interesting: Thanks, Ben for linking to that.

Personally, I see what he's saying, but I wouldn't talk in terms of 'left' or 'right', as I feel those are overgeneralizations.

It's in creating and attacking huge "Other" groups the creates and intensifies conflicts, anger, irrational emotions. Ben, you should have to come to Charles Johnson's lecture--It had little/nothing to do with race, it was all about individualist, loving philosophy, really good stuff.

I would talk in terms of "people who are reasonable and willing to hold reason above anger, hatred, dogma, and other passions" and "people who are not." The most vocal Bushites and Anti-Bushits are in the unreasonable camp. Notably, the Anti-Bushites are more vocal.

I too feel that George W. Bush has smeared hypocrisy, cruelty, and stupid wastefulness like feces on the face of America, through his torture and complete mismanagement of Iraq. However, I thought that his attempt to reform Social Security, and his idea of an ownership society, were good and necessary things.

Aristotle said that those with more reason, whose soul rules their bodies, should rule others. Unfortunately that's not true as things stand now with GWB and his cadre of both unintelligent and lying clowns*, but we are obligated to make it so, not as "conservatives," "rightists," or "leftists" but as real Individuals, each with OUR OWN IDEAS.

1*GWB: [Reporter:What mistakes did you make in your invasion of Iraq?] "I wouldn't have done anything differently."
2*Condoleeza Rice: "I dont think any of us could have forseen Hamas winning that election."
3*Rumsfeld: [Interviewer:So you didnt ask for torture] "Oh, goodness gracious no."
-->These are not exact quotes, but they are as I remember hearing them, from the mouths of the beasts themselves.

Thanks again, Ben, for bringing this up, but I strongly don't feel this debate should be in terms of red and blue. I fell that would just continue the anger and make things more polarized than they are now.

We should all strive to be reasonable, clear and consistent, and to listen to each other.

(I'll make a creative post soon, but for now I'm busy with my projects)

Friday, February 10, 2006

About Intellectual Debate

I really like to read Vodkapundit...especially when he's complaining about something...but this is a very rational piece about discussion on the Blogosphere. It definately works for this blog as well...and he makes some good points.

Two quotes which are especially good:

While my political opinions might not be in the mainstream, I'm convinced that maintaining the genius of James Madison's system is far more important than any of my individual views, or yours. I'd rather lose a debate or a vote or a Supreme Court decision or even an election, than lose the system that makes all those things possible. So long as the system remains, I can always fight another day.


The right seems to love a good debate, and the left seems to love pissing on them for it. I'm speaking in broad terms here, obviously, but in my experience the point remains.

So, what do you think? I mean, you can't respond until you read the whole post...85% of quoting something is to pick the most outrageous, offensive two sentances, which may or may not have anything to do with the rest of the piece...but I agree with the main thrust of the argument, and I'd love to hear some counter examples. I don't think you'll find them, and I've been watching the blogosphere discussion for a long while now, so I've got some experience.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Re: Intelligent Design

There's a reason why religion and science should be separate. Completely separate.
The reason is thus:

So we can learn things.

One of religion's historical functions is to explain what people don't understand. Does it use the scientific method to do that? Absolutely not. Look at the following religious explanations.

"The world is the shell of a giant turtle." (central asian myth)
"God created humans out of clay." (jewish/christian myth)
"Crows are black and have "hoarse voices" because the Great Spirit cursed them." (native american myth)

These were all statements made by popular religions, about the natural world. They were not formulated using any science. They were instead MADE UP. They are also obviously false. How do we know they are false?

-We used SCIENCE to find that the earth is a planet made of rocky material, and not the shell of a giant turtle.
-We used SCIENCE to find that humans are made mostly out of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sodium, and iron, which in turn compose bone, muscle, organs, and skin.
-We used SCIENCE to find that crows are black and sound the way they do in order to (1) better hide from predators and (2) easily communicate with each other. (see wikipedia article)

Religion is MADE UP. Some religions happen to have good moral teachings, but because religion isn't based on anything real, it should never be the final authority in questions of science.

Maybe "God" did create the universe. Maybe the cosmic snake mated with the cosmic turtle and produced the world-egg! Hey, it could be true. I can imagine it. Science might even prove it right! But why don't we give credit to these things? Because people came up with the idea creatively. They didn't use the scientific method. They didn't use reason. They didn't use evidence. They didn't use logic.

Same with "ID".

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Global Warming

One more, from me. I hope that the semester doesn't silence the rest of the team...I really like the discussion, rather than just me giving a monologue. I have my own blog, you know.

I am not a person who is hugely worried about global warming. I just don't see the crisis. I realize that global temperatures have been rising in recent years, and I think I understand the fears of those who do predict a crisis, but I just don't think it all holds water. The people who especially annoy me are college students who haven't looked into the issue more than what they heard from the environmental club, or the green club.

When I say that global warming doesn't strike me as strange, or not a big surprise, or a big deal...I've got backup. Check out this story for starters. (even though it isn't from a major scientific newspaper, those tend to be too dense for fun reading. Check here to see what I mean.)The scientist says that the up-tick in temperatures we've been seeing this century is due not to changes in our atmosphere (or at least, not only due to), but due to changes in the output of the sun. This seems much more likely to me. I mean, the sun is a ball of burning gas...all you have to do is watch a fire to see that burning things flicker...and they go through periods of warmer and colder times. Our atmosphere hasn't changed in a really significant way in millions of least not for long enough. Also, if you look at when the temperatures began to rise, it was before industrialization really began to kick something other than smog had to cause those initial temperature rises, giving rise to the thought that if it's natural sometimes, it probably is natural others...or, at least not a crisis.

For all those people who say that Florida will be under water in fifty years, or even 100 years...I say, get a life. (And this is what I hear most commonly about global warming) The scientist I linked to above is predicting that there will be a mini-ice-age in that many years, so Maine will have more to worry about than Florida.

I don't mean to imply that I have all the answers, or even that the scientists that I link to and read have all the answers. I just feel that most people who think global warming is the biggest threat facing us today haven't seen all the evidence, and that if you actually look at it all, the crisis is much less apparent. I am much more a political animal than a scientific one (at least I have been since I left high school), and what really bugs me are all the environmental groups that know better, and only choose to publish the studies that back them up...leading to them getting more money to publish more studies which get them more money. I see a con-operation, and the victims are mostly impressionable college students, and professors who have blinders on so they can't see anything outside of their own expertise, unless they are shouted at.

So, there's a rant, if you will...or just a continuation of the argument, if you won't.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Intelligent Design

Well, it's the begining of a new term, and I'm I don't have time to write anything new...but I did read something thought-provoking, so I thought I would pass it on. Gregg Esterbrook wrote this in TMQ (Yes, I know it's a column about's also got moreEasterbrook is also an editor at the New Republic and the Atlantic Monthly, so he's no intellectual lightweight, which you already knew, because he writes a column about football.). He's talking about ID, and since I don't have time to come up with anything myself, this is good for you to read.

No Higher Power Is Guiding "Intelligent Design" Politics : Yours truly thinks the "intelligent design" idea is being given the short shrift by the mainstream media. Yes, some intelligent design advocates want to use I.D. as a Trojan horse to put religious doctrine into public schools -- forbidden by the First Amendment, and wisely so in the opinion of this churchgoer. And some intelligent design advocates believe young Earth creationism, a nutty idea for which there isn't one iota of scientific evidence. But as they mock the notion of intelligent design, the mainstream media are systematically avoiding a substantial question mark in evolutionary theory: it does not explain the origin of life. That organisms evolve in response to changes in their environment is well-established -- anyone who doubts this doesn't know what he or she is talking about. But why are there living things in the first place? Darwin said he had no idea, and to this day science has little beyond wild guesses about the origin of life. Maybe life had a natural origin that one day will be discovered. Until such time, higher powers or the divine cannot be ruled out. Exactly because I think intelligent design is a more important concept than the mainstream media will admit, I really wish right-wing screwballs would stop advocating I.D. -- they're giving the idea a bad name! First, it's common to hear them say evolution can be disregarded because it's "just a theory."

This is ill-informed. In everyday usage, "theory" can mean a conjectural or unlikely claim. ("See, I have this theory why Maria Sharapova would go out with me.") In science, a theory is an idea that has well-accepted supporting principles, has been tested successfully and that no one has falsified; in science the word theory conveys high standing. For instance, first relativity was an analytical idea, then a hypothesis, then after many years of testing was acknowledged as a theory. When in 1996 Pope John Paul II called Darwinianism "more than a hypothesis," he was choosing words precisely. Many on today's anti-science right appear ignorant of such basic precepts as the definition of the word theory.

The screwball fringe keeps proposing I.D.-related legislation that shows it doesn't even understand the limits of evolutionary theory. Two years ago some science illiterates in Cobb County, Ga., got the local Board of Education to mandate stickers on biology textbooks reading, "Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things." Evolution has nothing to do with the origin of living things. The core quandary of Darwinian logic is that we can imagine how living things evolve but cannot imagine how they came into existence in the first place. Now a know-nothing Utah state representative has proposed this bill that "requires the State Board of Education to establish curriculum requirements and policies that stress that not all scientists agree on which theory regarding the origins of life … is correct." Hey, Utah state legislature, there are no theories on the origin of life. A few biologists have made wild guesses involving RNA, clay or hot ocean vents, but no scientist has offered anything nothing remotely near the level of a testable theory. (The details on that point) Given the presence of life is so mysterious, a creator God may be why we are here. But please, science illiterates, stop attempting to enact rules about intelligent design; you are ruining the idea.

So what do you think? I know that there are some militant anti-IDers in the readership, and I wonder if what you are militantly against is really a misinterpretation of what ID really is. Well, that along with a very misguided political campaign that uses ID for its own ends? Just a thought of mine...I'm no scientist and have no support for either side...but I'm loathe to rule anything out, or declare anything as a completely undisputable fact....just my thoughts, I hope you were intellectually stimulated, even if you don't agree.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Polarization in Congress

(Welcome, any visiting Colby students. Feel free to comment wherever you like, but please keep your comments civil and rational. Thank you for visiting! ^_^ )

It's time we faced it, folks. Congress is vastly more polarized than it was ten to twenty years ago.
We have the proof with recent votes.

Quick question: In the entire history of these United States, in which year were votes most strictly along party lines?

That year was 2005.(1)

Look at Alito's confirmation. His committee approval was exactly party divided, his actual approval in the Senate was almost exactly divided. (2)

First, before we judge it good or bad, let's look at why.

My boss David says that the reason is the statistically maximized gerrymandering of districts, and the other professional lobbyists at my group agreed. He described it to me.

"20 yrs ago they didn't have the technology to [gerrymander districts perfectly]."
He said that becasue now, they do, all districts are perfectly tailored to suit one basic party or the other, based on data such as age, race, culture, and economic situation, all calculated using specifically designed computer database programs.

Gogol said, "10 years ago, What Tom Delay does[sic] would have been unthinkable. It would have been unthinkable that in organizing a House/Senate bill reconcilliation committe, the Republicans would invite 0 dems to share in the discussion and close off all debate with them. It would have been unthinkable."

Some thinking on my part and discussion with David and others at my firm confirmed to me that the reason for this is because if MCs can be sure of their constituents' views, then they can spend less and less money/energy on elections and more on governing/representing.

Ok, now let's judge.

I would call this a bad thing. So much partisanship, so much domination of "truthiness" (3) over reason, really hurts the core of democracy:

Reasonable Debate, with Compromise as its conclusion.

When the Republicans scream about Pro Life and Defending Marriage and other difficult issues, because they have the majority, they have no need to compromise at all. They, with the polarization in Congress, can continue bitterly expressing harshly intolerant views with no fear of immediate repercussions because no matter how extreme they get, they're still serving their narrowly defined constituents.

The same goes for Democrats and Leftists, except instead of winning all the time, they just get frustrated and resentful.

Both sides quickly began to develop cliched insults for each other that they continue to use to this day (and which Stephen Colbert satirizes quite effectively ; ). These broad insults are stereotypes and prejudices. They assume bad faith and insult individuality, two very bad results.

It's a negative thing, because the focus on really emotional issues and no compromise puts mroe stress on ordinary Americans. Take Abortion as an example.

-Roe v Wade legazlied abortion.
Since then Americans have been polled repeatedly, and by many different agencies. Between 60 and 75% of them have, since Roe, CONTINUOUSLY supported the at least limited availability of abortion.
-Republicnans compalin louder and louder about "baby murderers" and such, using polarized, emotional rhetoric and avoiding addressing the arguments of the other side in a rational manner, as they should.

-Ordinary Americans grow more and more angry and fearful, the 70% that wants abortion and the 30% that hates it, because they have both been angered and pumped up by the big rhetoric and harsh words on both sides. This is a negative effect.

Now, let's talk solutions.

I propose the following bill as an amendment to the US Constitution:

-->For each of the 50 states:
1. Get a ruler.
2. Draw a bunch of really straight, horizontal lines, all evenly spaced from each other.
3. Over top of those, draw a bunch of really straight, vertical lines, all evenly spaced from each other (the same distance as the horiz. lines).
4. Call the equal squares and square-pieces you created "Congressional Districts".

What does everyone think? Post comments, post a response!

(1)Gogol, David. He's my boss at the lobbying firm I worked for here in DC, and has been working in Congress and the lobbying industry for 30+ years.
(2) This website is a government publication. It records all bill and vote data.
(3) STEPHEN COLBERT coined this term. It refers to contemporary politicians emphasizing rhetoric and the "seem" or "emotion" or "feel" of an issue as more important than scientific facts, data, and statistics. In other words, Truthiness is Romanticism over Utilitarianism, passion over reason.

Friday, January 27, 2006

It's Gooch!!!!

I found him! He's here! Get lost creeps! Gooch is back! And he is watching you!

**For those who are confused by this post, check this site out. Sometime we mules need a break from being so smart. And gooch is our mascot.

A few responses (a new topic later)

First off, thank you, Ben, for pointing out the irrationality in my "Must be said" post.

I want to apologize for putting too much emotion into a political matter.

In this post, I'll describe the history of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

I should actually praise George W. Bush for his reaction to Hamas' victory. The fact that he said "Democracy opens our eyes, and we should listen to the Palestinian people" is a very brave thing to say for an American president.

He's finally admitting that terrorists are not nameless, faceless, evil devils.
They are real people with real problems, and more often than not, real injustices that have been done them.

Now only if Bush had realized all this back on Sept. 12, 2001...When Palestinians cheered at the destruction of the WTC...He could have avoided a LOT of trouble.

What's the election results are saying is that Palestinians still have a great anger towards Israel, and express it any way they can. This is a true fact, and the reasoning behind it seems obvious to me. Israel did indeed cast the first stone, by invading Palestine against the official, democratic will of the Palestinians, and continuously destroying their homes, farms, and livelihoods and making them second class citizens. The hard facts are below, in three main sections.

To introduce my subject, this fact:

Today, in Israeli schools, teachers are liable to be arrested for reading Palestinian poetry to Jewish children.

1. Negotiating with Terrorists+++++++

Let's try a hypothetical situation, one that has a lot of similarities to Israel/Palestine. It takes place in the colonial US. Put Israel and Palestine out of your mind, for now.

A colony begins to oppress a native people, taking their land The native people become angry with the injustice done them, but aren't as civilized as the colonists and so don't know the best way to express it.

They strike back the only way they know how, in violence. They burn the fields of the colonists.

The colonists meet and decide what to do. Somebody says "Never negotiate with terrorists!" The colonists eventually agree on this.

They go out, and they massacre the natives. There are only a few left, whose only choice is to flee.

The problem is solved.

Was that really the best way to solve the problem?
Would they have reached a better solution if they hadn't considered the natives "terrorists?"
Would they have reached a better solution if they seriously considered why the natives were attacking?

2. Who started it.==================
Let's go back to Israel and Palestine.

If you read history of the conflict, you will see two facts.

1. There was a UN-sponsored referendum to the Palestinians on whether or not to give land to Israel. The Palestinians thought about it, and said no. This was a nonviolent, peaceful attempt to avoid a conflict.

2. But the colonists came anyway. Racial Jews had a vote, and a right to a fair trial, while Palestinans, whom the Jewish government murdered, harassed, and abused, had neither. Ariel Sharon himself participated in an event early in Israel's history where an entire village of innocent Palestinians was massacred.

The Palestians put up with all this from 1948 until about the late 1980s (Palestinians actually had little part in the Arab-Israeli wars), peacefully trying to regain their human rights.

By 1990, Palestians began to collectively realize that peaceful resistance wasn't working. So a small minority of them declared Intifada and began to resist with violence.

[I don't think that was their best choice, but the Palestinians had no Gandhi or MLK Jr. Why? Luck? Cultural Inferiority? Hard to say.]"

=3. Why did Hamas win this election yesterday?=

Palestians were punished collectively for violence, the same method Stalin used to keep rebellious sentiment down. Most Palestinians, even today, are averse to violence and do not believe in using violence to take back their country. But look at the facts. In the 1990s and 2000s, when Israel began to use collective punishment, this is how it worked:

-Every time a terrorist suspect, never a convicted terrorist, (remember that Palestians have no right to a fair trial) was identified, Israeli bulldozers would go into his town. They would order everyone out of the houses, and bulldoze the entire neighborhood.

This didn't stop the violence. It was only another injustice, and made the Palestinians more angry.

Sometimes the Israelis would take out a(n American-made) military helicopter, and demolish the entire building where they thought the suspect probably lived.

This didn't stop the violence. It was only another injustice, and made the Palestinians more angry.

Sometimes they would arrest, torture, kill, or destroy the home of the suspect's family. Good, honest, innocent people died every time.

This didn't stop the violence. It was only another injustice, and made the Palestinians more angry.

Israel would also use torture on Palestinians to extract information. Remember again, Palestinians have no human rights.

This didn't stop the violence, though. So Israel then built walls to keep out the "terrorists."

This didn't stop it either, though. Palestinans now couldn't get to their offices in order to work. Many more had homes and/or farms bulldozed to clear the way for the wall.

Israelis thought about this problem for a while. Then they decided
on a solution.

Every time someone fired a rocket over one of the walls, Israeli bulldozers would go around to the other side, and destroy the whatever they found (usually farms). Good, honest, innocent people had their life's investment destroyed by this.

This didn't stop the violence. It was only another injustice, and made the Palestinians more angry.

Israeli military officials used (and in large part, continue) to use collective punishment. This means:

"We know that a [group] person did the crime. So, let's punish everyone who's [group]. It's so much faster than figuring out who actually committed the crime and giving them a fair trial, and hopefully it intimidates the enemy."

Stalin would apply this technique to which ever group contained the rebel element.
It worked well for him, because his punishment was always death. He killed over 20 million people this way.

Israel applies this technique to whichever race contains the rebel element.
However, they don't use death as the punishment. They just use humiliation and destruction of property on a huge scale. This makes the technique ineffective. The Palestinians just get more and more desperate as a result.

Israeli strategists cannot seem to realize this. It baffles me! To solve the conflict, they must either

  • Murder every Palestinian man, woman, and child
  • reconcile the Palestians' grievances, compromise by compromise.

But they don't do either!

As I said initially, hopefully this Hamas election will show them the truth. It seems GWB has finally taken a lesson from it, however small, and for that I am glad.

(A better president would have known it from the first time he read a history of the region, though... ;)

More later, and sorry for the length....: )

Thursday, January 26, 2006

RE: Marriage

Wow! A four-page post to respond to! I hope I can be a little bit more concise, but I probably won’t be able to fit as much good analysis in even if I write eight pages. We’ll see what happens.

The first serious thing I want to say is that I thought I had established that Jones wasn’t really my friend, but it’s not really a big deal.

About Jones
1) You are correct that incest is bad for all involved. As a devils advocate, I would say that Jones was specifically talking about relationships that don’t produce children hence that business about the presumption of reproduction, but incestuous relationships that don’t produce children are still bad, so I’ll join you in calling it a mistake by Jones.
2) I want to play devil’s advocate again. I once read an article by a major feminist who was also a wife of a prominent Mormon, one of tens, at the least. She said that polygamous relationships were wonderful. She got to have children, but share the work of caring for them. This allowed her to become a concert violinist and a prominent Feminist writer. Of course, I read this was a long time ago, but you can probably still find it on the web. And, I don’t really agree with her about the majority of circumstances.
3) Am I allowed to have nothing to say? I guess…since I don’t. But it would look like I was ignoring the point if I skipped it.

Concerning my being factually misguided - Guilty as charged. Actually, I am guilty of a larger sin. I was aware of the evidence that went against my point, but I withheld it. I also did say that I was being idealistic, and I felt that instances of arranged marriages didn’t entirely apply to the argument, since I was discussing the idea of allowing individuals to choose their own terms with which to get married. I didn’t note this, but I thought I might be able to get away with not mentioning it…mea culpa! I won’t make the intentional mistake again.

Now to your response…
“But I don't agree with you about making marriage just up to the people. I think that though Love is always first, Responsibility is always second.”
Bravo for mentioning Responsibility.

“If you just have marriage completely voluntary, people will get lazy about it. They'll go in, the first time, thinking, "Ok, this is marriage, this is the most super important thing," but when they realize how easy it is (under Ben's idea) to break it off, they'll be strongly tempted to do so.”
I’d like to see some evidence that people are taking marriage seriously under the current system, before I concede that mine would be any different. I think that people already view divorce as “no big deal” – even those couples with young kids.

“And if making marriage easy and stripping it of all obligations and responsibilities is what you're talking about, Ben, then I won't support it.”
I’m not, and I wouldn’t support it either. In my mind my idea would allow people to take marriage more seriously, but this would only apply to the people who are interested in it. I guess some people might get married and have no intentions of up-holding the bargain since they would no longer have to jump through what little hoops currently exist…but the marriages they would get would not be valued by society. If the system were de-legalized, then I think most Priests/Pastors/Religious leaders would set higher standards for marriage than currently exist, and these would be the marriages that would have a good track record that would then gain the respect of society.

Quick note about point C. Did you know that Clinton used his religion as a reason for his positions far more than Bush 43 has? Clinton also referred to God/Jesus more often than Bush has (there was an article about this in the WaPo or some other major newspaper a few days ago. It might have also been on CNN. I'll try to find it, but you're welcome to look as well.) …It’s hard to compare the two, since not many people doubt Bush’s sincerity when he refers to God, but lots of people did when Clinton did the same thing. I also haven’t seen Bush promoting official theology or anything…nor has he made any serious attempts at converting any Muslims. He did make it easier for religious based charities to do their work…but tell me why, actually, is this a bad thing? He didn’t stop secular organizations from doing charity, and he effectively increased the amount of charity work that is done. As a conservative, I’m against government programs that hand out cash and benefits to citizens, on ideological grounds, and I would even if those programs worked perfectly. But that doesn’t mean I want people to starve. I just want charities to do the work…not the government. I can give reasoning for this later. My post is already too long.

RE: Must be said

Well, I'm not really excited that Hamas won the Palestinian elections. A few things I want to note:

1: The elections were free, and fair. There was a choice, and there appear to have been no instances of fraud/intimidation at the polls.

2: The Palestinians chose a party that is dedicated to the destruction (by terrorist means) of Israel.

3: They did this after several years of rather accomodating actions by Sharon in a time of cease fire. Most of these actions were taken unilateraly, with no concessions from the Palestinians. Therefore they can neither claim that Hamas/violence forced the hand of the Israelies, nor that they had to give up too much to get what they wanted. Including the right to a government and elections not controlled by Israel, control of boarder points with a country other than Israel, and territory with no Jews. It's true that during the same period of time Israel retaliated for attacks (outside of the cease-fire), but it was nothing like what (in my understanding, and I could be wrong) has happened in the past. They also had to deal with Isreal building a major wall, which wasn't in exactly the place that the Palestinians wanted it to be. However, I think that the life of a Palestinian is arguable better than it has been even in recent years.

So what conclusions can we draw from this? Nothing, yet. We need to watch and see what happens. In some ways it's good that Hamas won with an outright majority. Now they can't complain that their tactics didn't work because of meddling ministers from other members of a governing coalition. They will be completely responsible for what happens. However, I'm worried about the Jewish reaction to this. Especially since Sharon is all but deas (and at least done with politics) and his middle of the road party, Kadima, is struggling to find leadership. I think their tentative support will dry up. Then, the now-even-more reactionary hard-line party, Likud will get elected at the earliest opportunity, and we'll see all the progress that had been made dry up.

But Chad, I'm slightly confused as to why you want our president to negotiate with Terrorists. Israel did not attack the Palestinians first, and if they are wrongly in the region, well, the Jew's didn't really have anything to do with that. It was the guilty conscience of Europe after which created Israel. I can only think that we'll be hearing things like what the president of Iran says about Israel (some choice examples include "Israel should be wiped off the map. There was no holocaust), and not constructive reasonings about why they are terrorists in the first place. Any reasonings they might choose to cite would most likely be examples of Israeli repression...repressions that were brought about by the Palestinian Terrorism. Neither side of this conflict holds the moral card. But it certainly doesn't help the state of Palestine to be electing to power an organization that promotes violence, if all they want is to be simple farmers.

I know I'm not going to convince you about this, but we're going to have to agree to disagree.

I will say this, I'm not as conversant about the founding of Israel as I should be. If you have more information than I do, I would love to hear it. I would especially like to hear the reasonings for the first acts of terrorism from the side of the Palestinians.

And, Chad, I'm still reading that first post you put up today. I'll be writing back soon.

Must be said

"Whether Hamas is democratically elected or not, Mr. Bush said, the U.S. won't deal with the group." -Wall street journal, today.

Bush, you are a complete and utter hypocrite, for the third major time.
You spent all your time talking about the ideal of democracy in the Middle East. And when there's finally a democratic election in Palestine, Bush says "I dont like who won, so I refuse to recognize them."

Bush: You. Can't. Win. The. War. On. Terror. By. Refusing. To. Listen. To. The. Terrorists'. Motivation.

Also, the WSJ are asses, for this sentence: "Hamas has claimed responsibility for many attacks on Israel over the years and continues to deny its right to exist."

Israel has no right to exist. No country has a "right to exist." Putting rights aside, Israel was created as a violation of democracy. A violation of international human rights, and U.N. principles of the self-determination of peoples. And we still have violence, tears, and problems today because of it.

And Bush won't listen to those who would tell him why.
He is an unbelievably incompetent president.

I am not denying that Hamas kills people it shouldn't kill, and that that is bad.
But considering the terrors, cruelties, injustices, and tortures that Israel has inflicted upon Palestinians I consider them at the very least morally neutral.

Israel assasinated a 70 year old man in a wheel chair with a rocket They regularly destroy the lives and livelihoods of innocent people. They build walls to lock out other races, often cutting off those people from their own farms. Israel has a religious symbol on their flag. The most basic concept of the country is racist and religiously discriminatory. They give citizens gifts or violence depending upon what race they are.

Israel has zero moral authority.

Want to say something about the Jewish Holocaust? I'll tell you something. Being a victim does NOT make you a good person. Being a victim does NOT give you moral authority. It makes people angry and eager to victimize someone else.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

First off, I want to say that I think it's really cool that we can agree to work for our posts to be at
least non-partisan, and reasonable. I really appreciate that from everyone.

First, factual problems.
Ben, you are factually misguided in 1 key way and your friend Colin P.A. Jones is wrong on 3 points.

First, Colin's mistakes.

1. "If the presumption of reproduction is no longer needed, then there is no real reason to prevent incestuous marriages."

There is a very big reason to prevent incestuous marriages. Whether you "presume" reproduction or not, incest is more than half likely to produce a child with severe genetic diseases. Moreover, incest is known to cause psychological problems. These two reasons have been proven by reason, science and lots of history, so I don't feel I need to cite sources here.

2. "Islamic or Mormon fundamentalist marital corporations could allow polygamy."

This wouldn't be ok or normal. There is a big problem with this: Polygamous marriages are known to cause large psychological problems. Among them, it demeans the percieved value of individual women. Seconod, much infighting occurs between wives for favor of the children. There was a NYT magazine article a while back that documented this among outlaw polygamists in Utah. If you want more evidence about why polygamy is unhealthy for society, you can read
"Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe of Nigeria. Or, read the history of the early Muslim royalty.

3. [I agree with you here, Ben:] I also get the feeling that Colin seems to presume that marriage is only a practical contract, like you'd find in a business. It's not. It's a contract both of concrete rules and of deep emotional commitment. I think we can all understand this from our experiences growing up in the United States, and our relationships with our parents and their relationships with each other. *1

Second, Ben's factual mistake:

1. "All marriages are this way [of love], not just the one's between two people, and again, I'm using marriage to describe the myriad co-habitation rituals that exist in the world)"

That's not true. In some cultures, there is no concept of "love," at all. For example, the country people of Mali only recognize lust, or desire for sex, in their lives. Neither romantic nor maternal love is recognized there. (My cousin spent a semester in a poor village in Mali researching them). In many other cultures, love is understood, but marriage is completely unrelated to love. For example, traditional Indian culture. Marriages are all arranged, economic contracts. There are so many tragic Indian novels, plays, and movies about arranged marriages that are depressing and spiritless. For one, read "Nectar in a sieve."

(I'm remembering all my hi school required reading for some reason....;)

=====Ok, now the response.=====

Ben: I have to say, I agree with you. Love is the most important thing, especially in a marriage.
I think the prevalence of Christianity, the religion of love, in the most successful societies, proves
this. But I don't agree with you about making marriage just up to the people. I think that though Love is always first, Responsibility is always second.

If you just have marraige completely voluntary, people will get lazy about it. They'll go in, the first time, thinking, "Ok, this is marriage, this is the most super important thing," but when they realize how easy it is (under Ben's idea) to break it off, they'll be strongly tempted to do so.

I find that the study of history and especially the study of eocnomics generally proves that if there is an easier way to do something, people will choose the easier way, in vast quantities *2. And if making marriage easy and stripping it of all obligations and responsibilities is what you're talking about, Ben, then I won't support it.

The greatness of Western marriage is that it is one of the ultimate combinations of love and responsiblity, one that everyone has the potential for. Marriage laws are important because they commit families to each other, reward that commitment with benefits, and then punish the couple if they try to separate. It's a path that is very difficult to conform to, but that ultimately brings some of the most wonderful rewards, be they healthy children, or simply a more loving and constructive life.*3

That is why I believe it is in our utmost interest to open marriage to any two consenting adults, and otherwise retain it in its current form.

=====Preemptions of possible criticism=====
A. With regard to the raising of children by same-sex parents:
-Two loving, committed parents, of the same gender, are far better than one parent, and vastly better than none, even if possibly inferior to two opposite-sex parents. *4

B. About the marriage of two friends who are consciously NOT in a romantic relationship with each other:
-I agree that this is really not the purpose of marriage, but as I can't see it having any negative effect, I don't see any reason why it shouldn't happen.

C: Marriage should be interpreted religiously in whatever way the citizen desires (despite the Bush Admin's efforts to force its religion on everyone). Yet, as it stands today, I think marriage should be ultimately a legal and not a religious matter. This is because a marriage of responsibility and love is in the best interest of the country as a whole: committing families to work together to support each other's success and love each other.

*1 These three mistakes are not surprising to me, considering that Colin Jones lives in Japan. Japan, in all my experience of it (and I have a lot ;) is a place where the value of the individual,
especially of individual women, and the value of love, is not understood. It's easy to get used to
once one is there, because it's a culture that surrounds. Nevertheless I would say it is a bad culture in that sense because Japanese kill themselves and become depressed much more than do Americans. Japanese women who are excluded from economic life become resentful and take out their anger on their children, especially male children, which causes those boys to grow up with generally misogynistic fantasies and continue the cycle.

*2 Otherwise, the poem about taking the road less traveled by would never be so profound.

*3 I'm not a marriage/children Nazi like Leon Kass. Everybody is different and marriage is not for everybody. But I feel sure that for many people it brings some of the best rewards of life.

*4 It has not yet been proven whether or not same-sex parents or opposite-sex parents are a better environment for children. So far there is only speculation. I have heard persuasive speculation from both sides of the argument, and seen persuasive statistics in favor of gay parents. But I don't want to judge until I have all the facts.

UPDATE: I found these statistics from the Heritage Foundation. They regard constant, 2 parent households and are not related to sexual orientation of parents. Observe:
  • Adolescents in intact families, as a group, are the least likely to feel depressed compared to those with divorced, step-, cohabiting, or single parents; (National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health)
  • The national average grade-point scores of children in intact families is 2.98, compared to 2.79 for children of cohabiting parents and 2.71 for children living in stepfamilies; (National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health)
  • The rate of youth incarceration is significantly greater for children raised in single-mother and stepfamily homes than for those raised in intact families, even after controlling for parental income and education; (National Longitudinal Survey of Youth)
  • Children in non-intact families are three times as likely to have children outside of marriage; (National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.) and
  • Rates of engaging in problem behaviors such as lying, stealing, drunkenness, and violence are sharply higher for children of divorce compared to children in intact families. (National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health)
Still awake? ; )

Just Another Marriage Post

So, someone has been stealing my ideas without my knowledge. And, as you might assume, he totally destroys it. I hate it when people turn my genius idealistic musings into a hellish shadow of what they once were. Well, once I became aware of the rebel idea - which took a while since it was published in the San Francisco Chronicle (not very high up on my list of newspapers to read) - I immediately began to work out how to return my plan to its original state of glory.
Go ahead, and read the fool's proposal, and then come back so I can tell you what he got right and wrong.

Ready? Good.

Well, he wants to take government out of the picture. That's good. But he wants to replace government with corporatism and lawyers. That's bad. Good marriages are supposed to be an agreement between people that love each other. (all marriages are this way, not just the ones between two people, and again, I'm using marriage to describe the myriad co-habitation rituals that exist in the world) My proposal was to take all that is soulless and wrong (that would be the government) with the state of marriage in our country (and most others as well), and return it to its roots (that would be the people). The proposal outlined in the article gets rid of the soulless meddling of the government (at least until the end, when he sort of says that he wants something akin to corporate law to govern marriage. Crazy fool), and replace it with something that is equally soulless, namely, lawyers and corporatism. I feel that marriage should be pure, that's why I don't want meddling. This proposal just changes the direction the meddling comes from. I want love, not contracts and permits. I know this is idealistic, and I usually dislike idealism. But I'm gonna stick to my guns on this one. Thanks.

All that being said, I think it might be better than the current state. However, I also sometimes think that things like haggis might be tasty (at least until I really think about it), so that last thought might not count for much (as I'm still mulling it over). However, I don't think it's as bad as this guy makes it out to be...but I could be wrong. Go and read for yourself. We link, you decide!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Almost there

I totally agree with you, Ben--it's the ideas that are important. We have good ideas and should make them clear and accessible to all. I'm really impressed by your new tax proposition, it sounds like it might have a really good effect on everybody (aside from the initial sudden drop in spending).
The whole point of my spiel is,

I want to make sure that our *ideas* themselves are /logical/. I want to avoid empty, partisan noise. I feel we should use our discussion to learn from each other.

Otherwise, without any guidelines, we'd be simply stabbing in the dark at each other. Throwing out arguments based on unstated assumptions, ignoring criticisms, making lots of noise, but little communication.

If we could just pledge to make our ideas clear and reasonable, both the creative and the critical ones, I feel that would be ideal.

A blog is what people make of it.

Let's agree on a general principle of clarity and reasonableness and get back quickly to the debating. I don't care about the format as long as anybody makes a good point.



Wouldn't making rules for a blog be against the spirit of blogging? I mean, we're not exactly respected members of the mass-media that need to protect the reputations of their respective organizations.
Blogs are organic...let's stay that way...if we have rules about when and how to post, it's no longer a blog. Or, at least, it's not really an original blog. Let's just let this flow organically...and, please, remember, it's the ideas here that make us different, original, not the formatting.