Friday, September 15, 2006

Defending the Pope

This, BBC 9/15/2006, is getting ludicrous.

I am the last to defend Ratzinger, who has promoted homophobia as much as anyone alive, but his remarks on Islam were innocuous.

What many of the Muslim critics need is a really clear mirror.

Taxes are Good

Polly Toynbee, "Taxes are a moral good, and avoiding your fair share is a moral disgrace," The Guardian 9/15/2006.

The article indicates the depth of the divide in political assumptions between Britain and the US.

On Torture

Today there are at least four honourable men in the United States Congress and among former Cabinet officers.

John McCain

John Warner

Lindsay Graham

Colin Powell [Washington Post 9/14/2006 ]

All Republicans.

I salute you.

Update: Add Susan Collins to the list.

Update: See Andrew Sullivan on this subject

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Nancy Disgraceful

Andrew Sullivan is going after Nancy Grace.

About time. The women is a horror.


[An old office Xerox favorite.]

The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by researchers at the University of Fulchester. The element, tentatively named Administratium, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have 1 neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons. This gives it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons.

Since it has no electrons, Administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with. According to the discoverers, a minute amount of Administratium caused one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than one second.

Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not actually decay but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons exchange places. Some studies have shown that the atomic mass actually increases after each reorganisation.

Research at other laboratories indicates that Administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations and universities and can usually be found in the newest, best appointed and best maintained buildings.

Scientists point out that Administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how Administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

Please help to stop the spread of this deadly element.

Pigs and Humans

A friend and I have been discussing the relevance of George Orwell's Animal Farm. It has lessons for both Conservatives and Progressives. The basic lesson is that, uncontrolled, "the pigs always become human."

For example, the Conservative President Bush has presided over the biggest extension of entitlements in 30 years, and the previous expander was Nixon (and before that Eisenhower [with the Inter-state System]).

George Orwell was a socialist of course, but a DEMOCRATIC socialist - i.e. like me, with a strong libertarian streak; and unlike modern American progressives (including Bush,who seem to think the state should make people better, or make people happy).

My goals are much more limited (socialist yet conservative): I think the state should redistribute a limited amount of the wealth produced by market capitalism to ensure the basic participatory level of income for all. After that, people have to cope with their own happiness, though art, religion, sex, drugs, or rock 'n' roll (all are equal in taking you away from reality).

And the approach works: Sweden; Germany; The Netherlands; France. France is the best example: you can make the French well-housed, well-educated, well-dressed, and well-fed. There is no way to make the French "happy". Alors!

To do this you need a strong progressive income tax; a strong death tax; and a requirement that the goals of companies encompass not just the interests of shareholders, but also workers, consumers, and the communities in which they function.

It's simple really

[At UNF, it goes under the name BANNERIUM]

The Pope on Islam

BBC Story 9/14/2006

The Pope just pissed off many Muslims by using the critique of Islam by quoting Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II Paleologus.

I don't see why Christian leaders should not state what they think; Islamic clerics have no compunction about doing so.

What the pope cannot say is what is really true. That Western Christianity enabled a secular Englightenment that created a dynamic tension in the West, a tension that has enabled it to innovate and produce wealth in ways entirely impossible in the rigid religious framework of many modern Islamic states.

Those conservative states in the Arab world have got by on oil wealth, but in fact it is the Islamic countries (such as India [with a hugh Muslim population], Malaysia, and Pakistan) where some tension exists between religion and modernity that have been the most successful.

What the pope cannot say in other words, is that what the Islamic world needs is not no religion, but a liberal secular sector to keep religion in check.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Good Primary News

Even a Democratic Socialist like me could not object to Lincoln Chafee winning in RI yesterday. Like Olympia Snowe et al, he is a remnant of a Republican Party that was not dependent on Christian Evantgelical votes, and that was opposed to corruption in government. [No dispassionate observer of American systems can doubt the massive ability of Democrats to be corrupted.]

Less noted in the news was the the Democratic Socialist representative of Vermont, Bernie Sanders, effectively won in Vermont's senatorial primary. Given he is the most popular politician in that state, that means there will be a Democratic Socialist senator come November.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

When the Pigs Become Human

27 are hanged at Abu Ghraib in first mass execution since Saddam's fall
Daily Telegraph, 8/9/2006

The death penalty is wrong.

Imagine Jesus as a hangman.

Civilized people should read Orwell's Animal Farm at least once a year.

A Dead Fat King

The King of Tonga just died. He was 88. He weighed 35 stone (i.e. 490 pounds). One of his staff noted that he was "thin inside."

Daily Telegraph obit, 9/11/2006

Daily Telegraph story, 9/11/2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

Nine Eleven

This certainly is a day for reflection.

There has been no other news event in my lifetime which so invaded my dreams. I always loved the twin towers, and in twelve years in New York I never understood why so many New Yorkers disliked them. In what now seem halcyon days in the West Village and Chelsea, I knew whether I was going uptown or downtown by where the towers were. Driving home, so many times, on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, as it cantilevers under Brooklyn Heights, I marveled each time at the sheer magic of the lower Manhattan skyline (I was once shocked that two New Yorkers I was driving had never really considered the view). The street level in New York can be pretty dowdy, but the Skyline - the Empire State, the Chrysler, the Towers, the (former) Pan-Am buildings - forced you to rejoice that you were not living in Kansas anymore.

I was in New York two weeks later. I went downtown, and smelled that smell (ground steel, ground computer parts, ground people), and I left as soon as I could.

I give all credit to the administration that something like that has not happened again in the US, and Thank God the enemy's self-regard and desire to have an even bigger "show" next time seems to have prevented them from initifada type attacks on what is still an open society.

But I still feel on edge, vaguely feeling safe living in NE Florida, and I am fairly convinced almost every political decision made since has made the world less safe.