Thursday, March 31, 2005

Like A Patient Etherised Upon A Table

In her new blog, I Could Scream, Dymphna (of Gates of Vienna) discusses the mind-numbing (she calls it "mind-dumbing") rules on and discussion of women's attire generated by Islamic "scholars":

Her dress prior to becoming "more" Muslim was the traditional shalwar kameez, a long tunic over pants. There were complaints, though, that prior to donning the biljab, Ms. Begum's costume was nipped at the waist and had insufficiently long sleeves. Several Muslim scholars agreed that former mode of attire was "insufficiently Islamic"

‘O Messenger of Allah, what about the one who does not have a Jilbab?’. He said, ‘Let her use the Jilbab of her sister.’” So the Prophet(saw) made the wearing of the jilbab one of the conditions for the woman entering the public life.

The scholarly output generated about women's apparel is as mind-dumbing as the Human Rights Act. They are both part of a larger zeitgeist. On the one hand, protecting 'victims' and on the other hand, creating them. Life lived according to scholarly opinion or bureaucratic dictates on minutiae has this result: the mind becomes deflected to the surface of things and blind to the ebb and flow of deeper reality. Such negotiations through the vicissitudes of what it means to be human become no more than a series of small desperate measures dispensed in coffee spoons. The search for security is not an innocent one.

Don't you wonder what J. Alfred Prufrock might have made of Londonistan?
If you read this site regularly, you know that I strongly oppose the systematic subjugation of women under the Islamic boot. Dymphna is articulate and passionate and her new site is dedicated to examining the plight of women in the Middle East. Check out the new blog (which is hosted by The Belmont Club), and see what you think. It is sure to be an important contribution to exposing the institutionalized religious oppression of women under Islam.
On the Death of a Young Lady, Cousin to the Author, and very dear to Him

Hush'd are the winds, and still the evening gloom,
Not e'en a zephyr wanders through the grove,
Whilst I return to view my Margaret's tomb,
And scatter flowers on the dust I love.

Within this narrow cell reclines her clay,
That clay, where once such animation beam'd;
The King of Terrors seiz'd her as his prey;
Not worth, nor beauty, have her life redeem'd.

Oh! could that King of Terrors pity feel,
Or Heaven reverse the dread decree of fate,
Not here the mourner would his grief reveal,
Not here the Muse her virtues would relate.

But wherefore weep? Her matchless spirit soars
Beyond where splendid shines the orb of day;
And weeping angels lead her to those bowers,
Where endless pleasures virtuous deeds repay.

And shall presumptuous mortals Heaven arraign!
And, madly, Godlike Providence accuse!
Ah! no, far fly from me attempts so vain;--
I'll ne'er submission to my God refuse.

Yet is remembrance of those virtues dear,
Yet fresh the memory of that beauteous face;
Still they call forth my warm affection's tear,
Still in my heart retain their wonted place.

-Lord Byron, 1802.

Image hosted by

Baseball As A Platonic Ideal

I got around to reading this wonderful column by David Brooks yesterday: "Whose Team Am I On?" (subscription required). But there was this one paragraph I must share because it sheds some light on why I love baseball:

Finally, a love for a team can be a philosophical love, a love for the Platonic ideal the team embodies. For teams not only play; they come to represent creeds, a way of living in the world. The Red Sox ideal is: nobility through suffering. The Cubs ideal is: It is better to be loved than feared. The Yankee ideal is: All cower before the greatness that is Rome.
Sigh...I do love the Yankess, but this observation is right on the money about all three clubs. And yet...I think Brooks' point holds true about baseball and sports in general.

By that I mean, that baseball itself embodies a platonic ideal; a creed or way of living in the world that differs from basketball or football. Baseball's ideal is: take time to smell the roses. Life is good. Football's is: get out of my way or I'll crush you AND the roses. Of course, this all reminds me of the famous George Carlin routine about the differences between Baseball and Football:

Now, I've mentioned football. Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

I enjoy comparing baseball and football:

Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.
Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park!
Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying.

In football you wear a helmet.
In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs - what down is it?
Baseball is concerned with ups - who's up?

In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error.

In football the specialist comes in to kick.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog...
In baseball, if it rains, we don't go out to play.

Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football has the two minute warning.

Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - might have extra innings.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.

In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there's not too much unpleasantness.
In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you're capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.

In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I'll be safe at home!
As far as where Basketball fits into the overal platonic ideal picture--ask me after this this weekend. It will depend on whether or not my team wins.

The Sky is Falling

We are DOOMED! DOOMED! Here's the latest from the environmental Chicken Littles. And then there's also this to brighten your day.

I can't help but wonder what the motives are of people who make these claims. The first article describes them as "scientists", but that seems to me to be going too far. A better description is "true believer".

First, how do they know that "two-thirds" of the world's resources are used up? Is there a news ticker in Times Square that keeps track of all the world's resources and counts down as they are used?

I tried, but couldn't find the report online to read (I am truly curious about how much "science" is actually in it). Isn't it rather tiresome to hear this sad refrain over and over again to all the environmental doom and gloom purveyors? After all, we have been hearing the same predictions since the early 60's. And no matter how much is done in the environmental area; no matter how things improve (e.g., smog). From their perspective things only get worse.

My favorite environmental debunker is Michael Crichton. Read this essay, where he "proves" that global warming is caused by aliens.

There are real issues and challenges that we humans must deal with as conservators of our planet. But, it seems to me, that reports like the ones described above only try to generate hysteria and circumvent any real discussion and planning that might be done about these issues.

Chicken Little, meet the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Women of Afghanistan Making Steady Progress

Women are making steady progress in Afghanistan. For me this is an incredible achievement of President Bush's foreign policy. Women's rights are a real, tangible benefit of the democratization of the Middle East.

U.S. first lady Laura Bush (L) joins a roundtable with students and teachers while visiting the Women's Teachers' Training Institute at the Ministry of Higher Education at Kabul University in Afghanistan today. Bush visited Afghanistan for the first time to promote education for women, which was forbidden by the Taliban government overthrown by U.S.-led forces three years ago.
Posted by Hello

Academic Groupthink

Pejman Yousefzadeh at Pejmanesque makes some predictions about the recent evidence (as if we needed more) of the lack of intellectual diversity in Academia:

...instead of admitting that there may be a wee bit of a problem here, we will instead hear the defenders of the academic status quo make the following tiring arguments:

-Republicans want to be businesspeople, and only Democrats care enough to give up money to educate young minds and engage in a life of scholarly contemplation (and get cushy tenured positions in the process!);

-There are plenty of Republicans in engineering schools, music schools, medical schools and other schools that don't involve the social sciences and where ideology does not make the least bit of difference; and

-Republicans are stupid.

Watch. These arguments will be made as surely as night follows day.

Can't say I disagree with him. Using a variety of strategies and rationalization to protect the group from negative information is one of the main symptoms of groupthink.

The Sociopathy of One Prophet

More insanity from Islamic Imams.As a physician, this type of thing is simply unbelievable:

Accusations by Islamic preachers that vaccines are part of an American anti-Islamic plot are threatening efforts to combat a measles epidemic that has killed hundreds of Nigerian children, health workers say.

Government officials play down the anti-vaccine sentiment, but all the measles deaths have been in Nigeria's north, where authorities had to suspend polio immunizations last year after hard-line clerics fanned similar fears of that vaccine.

Nigeria, whose 130 million people make it Africa's most populous nation, has recorded 20,859 measles cases so far this year. At least 589 victims have died, most of them children younger than 5 and all in the north, the Nigerian Red Cross and the U.N. World Health Organization say.

Southern Nigeria, which is mainly Christian, had only 253 measles cases, and no deaths.

Health services are much better in the south. But the anti-vaccination sentiment in the north, evident from interviews with parents, seems to be a factor.

"Since the polio controversy, I have not presented any of my children for immunization because my husband said I should not," said Ramatou Mohammed, who was at Abdullahi Wase Hospital seeking treatment for her baby, Miriam, for a measles rash.

"I heard on the radio that the vaccine was contaminated. I still don't trust any vaccine," the 28-year-old mother of four added.
I can't decide which is more insane--the ignorant Imams of a religion bent on human sacrifice for achievement of its aims; or the passive puppets who listen to such ignorance--even when their child's life may be at stake.

And then there's this (hat tip: Power Line):

At that moment, from 20 to 40 militiamen loyal to the militant young Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr and his Mahdi Army charged into the two-acre park of overgrown grass, concrete picnic tables and paths of colored tiles. Some of them wore checkered headscarves over their faces, others black balaclavas. They carried sticks, cable, pistols and rifles, a few with a weapon in each hand. They were accompanied by two clerics in robes and turbans: Abdullah Menshadawi and Abdullah Zaydi.

Garabet, an unveiled woman from an Armenian Christian family, never saw her assailant. He struck her twice in the back of the head with his fist. "I was afraid to turn around," she said.

She stumbled, then headed with others toward the black steel gate. Militiamen were shouting "Infidels!"

"It was chaos," she said. "Everyone was yelling." [....}

"They focused on the women," said Saeed's friend, Osama Adnan. "They were beating them viciously."
These stories represent yet even more evidence that the religion of Islam is completely incompatible with human life and human nature. That it takes ordinary men and women and converts them either to thugs and assassins; or to the helpless victims of those same religious thugs. Allah through Mohammad has introduced a sickness of the soul into the human spirit, and erasing this pathetic religion from the face of the earth is the only cure. If a more moderate version of this religion is possible, then its believers will have to deal more aggressively with the elements that claim they have the words of the Quran to justify their psychopathology.

How many millions more have to suffer and die because of the infectious sociopathy of one prophet? Enough.

Freedom Will Do Him In

VDH has a thoughtful commentary on Syria's dilemma, now that the guys in the 'hood have changed:

His new Middle East neighborhood cannot make Syria's dictator Bashar Assad very happy. Turkey is democratic to his north. A million Arabs vote in Israel to the south. Palestinians are near civil war to establish democratic rule — their own terrorists more a threat to the newly elected Abu Abbas than are Israeli tanks.

Iraq to the east is settling down under its new autonomy, forging through blood and fire the Arab world's first true democracy. Lebanon is now afire with anti-Syrian sentiment, equating its occupation with the last obstacle to a democratic renaissance.

Beyond Syria's borders, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that he may be forced to act as if he will hold real elections is not welcome to Assad. Nor is the strange behavior of once-kindred Col. Moammar Gadhafi and all his unexpected talk of giving up forbidden weapons and letting Westerners back into Libya.

When Wahhabist Saudi Arabia promises municipal elections, or Afghan women line up at the polls for hours, then the world has been turned upside down. Syria's worst nightmare is not an American invasion, but an Arab League that is dominated by nascent democracies.

Thugocracies and kleptocracies, however, die hard. So will that of Bashar Assad. His henchmen probably blew up former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, in fears that the Westernized entrepreneur dreamed of an open Arab Singapore or Monaco on the border. Now they are planning to unleash enough 1970s-style violence to terrify the Lebanese into preferring Syrian order to their own messy freedom. Hand-in-glove with fellow pariah Iran, Syria hopes to keep sending enough cash and expatriates back into Iraq to stop the democracy contagion before it infects any more.

Assad has a catastrophe on his hands, and there is little he can do. He tried the typical silencing technique that dictators approve, only to discover that fear didn't work anymore. Changes have been set into motionin the region that cannot be stopped--particularly in the usual violent way, since it will only facilitate the demands for freedom and democracy. In the end, these yearnings will do him in.

Read Hanson's entire post over at VDH Private Papers.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

All The Professors Are Above Average

Unbeknownst to most Americans, it seems that our country has devolved into the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, where "all the women are strong; all the men are good-looking; and all the children are above average."

Foolish me! I used to think that Garrison Keillor was joking--as in making fun of--when he would say this. Obviously many (including Keillor himself) apparently take this maxim seriously.

Theirs is a world where Larry Summers is not allowed free speech. Where children's self-esteem is catered to at the expense of their intelligence; and where no professor's competence can be challenged. Here is what Betsy's Page has to say:


Churchill is accused of plagiarism and of falsely characterizing primary sources to accuse the U.S. army of deliberately committing genocide by spreading smallpox among the Mandan Indians in the 1830s. This scholar, Thomas Brown, does a thorough accusation showing how Churchill, in his academic work, totally mischaracterized the research he was supposedly basing his research on. Read the accusation and see if you think that Churchill presented honest research. Here is the conclusion.

Situating Churchill’s rendition of the epidemic in a broader historiographical analysis, one must reluctantly conclude that Churchill fabricated the most crucial details of his genocide story. Churchill radically misrepresented the sources he cites in support of his genocide charges, sources which say essentially the opposite of what Churchill attributes to them.

It is a distressing conclusion. One wants to think the best of fellow scholars. The scholarly enterprise depends on mutual trust. When one scholar violates that trust, it damages the legitimacy of the entire academy. Churchill has fabricated a genocide that never happened. It is difficult to conceive of a social scientist committing a more egregious violation.

Verbs like "mischaracterize" and "misrepresent" are kindnesses. Deliberate "lie" might be more accurate.

Professor Collins seems to think that incompetence such as not knowing elementary facts of addition is the only reason to dismiss a tenured professor. That's a pretty high bar. Now, does Professor Collins believe that a professor at his university is fit for his job if the professor lies in his research? That is an egregious violation of the responsibility a scholar has. How can a university keep on a professor once it has been revealed that he lied in his research? How can students be held to a high standard in their research if the university, by not firing Churchill, gives an imprimatur of approval to dishonest research? This is what got Michael Bellesiles in hot water at Emory. Eventually Bellesiles had the grace to resign before he was fired. I don't sense that Churchill would behave similarly. They'll have to get Churchill out with a crowbar and a stick of dynamite. But, judging by Professor Collins' disregard of Churchill's academic malfeasance, this committee doesn't seem up to the task.

What in heaven's name does a professor have to do to be fired? Michael Caine, playing Dr. Frank Bryant in the movie Educating Rita responds to Rita's query if the university will sack him for being drunk during a lecture: "Good God no. That would involve making a decision. Pissed is all right. To get the sack, it would have to be rape on a grand scale. And not just with students, either. That would only amount to a slight misdemeanour. No, for dismissal it would have to be nothing less than buggering the Bursar.

Not only does Churchill have a right to his incompetence, but the taxpayers must pay him for it! This man has stolen others ideas and words and art. He deceived everyone about his Indian heritage and is a con artist extraordinaire. I have no idea if he has also done what Dr. Frank claims is the only significant academic malfeasance.

All I know is that if he is not fired, he will go on to ceate many "little churchills" out of the young minds entrusted to his care. They will learn thatincompetence, lying, cheating, and a complete disregard for truth, combined with an artful and unlimited arrogance will get you far in life.

Paradoxically though it may seem, it is none the less true that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.-Oscar Wilde

Monday, March 28, 2005

What A Great Idea !

According to Austin Bay, the new Iraqi Baathist "exit strategy" is to turn in Zarqawi. What a great idea!

The holdouts have always had two hole cards. The first is agreeing to quit fighting. This meant submitting to the democratic judicial process, but turning in your arms and asking for amnesty would lay the groundwork for a “deal with the prosecutor.”

The second card is turning in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the Al Qaeda internationalists..Fact is, turning in Zarqawi would be the Baghdad equivalent of Monopoly’s “Get Out of Jail Free Card” for the lower-level holdouts who engineer it.

The Saddamites who turn in Zarqawi would give the Iraqi government a tactical military victory –the terrorist kingpin is off the streets– and a major political victory. Sunni Muslims turning in the Islamist terrorist would be another strategic coup for the United States.
And, as Tigerhawk notes in the comments of the above quoted post:

If Sunni insurgents were to turn al-Zarqawi in, the consequences for al Qaeda would be more ominous than if Zal-Zarqawi’s defeat occurred on the battlefield contending with American or Iraqi soldiers. This is because al Qaeda would know that it could not count on even passionately anti-American Sunni Muslims, who otherwise might be expected to form the core of al Qaeda’s further recruitment efforts. This realization would make it almost impossible for al Qaeda to build its organization, or even trust affiliated organizations. In addition, the example of Sunnis rejecting al Qaeda would presumably resonate within al Qaeda’s pool of prospective recruits – not only will al Qaeda not be able to trust those recruits, but those recruits will no longer be able to trust other Sunni Arabs that they had thought were sympathetic. Any former friend might become an enemy. This risk alone should diminish the willinesness of the young radicals to throw in their lot with al Qaeda.
This is obviously a great idea, and it seems to me that the handwriting is on the wall for the Islamofascist thugs--Al Qaeda and other groups. It is becoming pretty obvious that they are losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Middle East, as the domino effect of Iraqi empowerment sweeps across the area.

And really, is anyone surprised that given a choice in the matter, human beings would rather live in freedom than under tyranny and oppression--whether it is the tyranny of a Saddam or the oppression of the Taliban or Wahhibism? Bin Laden and Zarqawi are already old news. Soon they will join the legion of vanquished supervillains in whatever hell such monsters are consigned after death.

They will have earned it.

Spring Break !

I will be traveling today, so posting will be lighter than usual! Actually it will likely be lighter all week... I'll be in Chicago, then Houston--a combination of business and pleasure.

Since I am addicted to blogging (God help me), you can check back later in the day for something new; or just browse through my archives; or click on some of the links in the sidebar!

Nudadists of the World Unite!

Big Pharaoh is in excellent form as he gets to the heart of the multiculturalism scam. (hat tip: Roger Simon) Discussing the recent British court ruling discussed here, The big guy notes:

The girl's win proves that "religious rights" should be placed above all other rules and laws in Britain. The British court's ruling is so encouraging to me because I am thinking about suing the British education authorities when I go to the London school I enrolled in.

See, yesterday I converted to a religion called Nudadism. It is a very peaceful religion that rejects any form of clothing. In our holy book Nudaible, our god Nudenus orders us to go to school naked because clothing is an evil human invention that man made in order to cover Nudenus' creation. We have a verse in our Holy Nudaible that says "Oh Humans, We have created thou naked, thou go to school naked"

It would be a huge infringement of my religious rights if my London school prevented me from going to class naked. The evil racist bigot education authorities must understand that Great Britain is a "multicultural" society that must accept all religious beliefs. If my religion orders me to go to school naked then I have the right to go naked no matter what the school's rules are! I don't give a hoot about the school's uniform guidelines. Great Britain opened its door for me and so it must put up with ALL my religious rites even if they contradicted their laws and regulations.

Yes, that is the problem, isn't it? Read the entire post. Big Pharaoh, btw, blogs from Egypt.

Flag Mystery

Neo-neocon is on the case! She wonders, "Where did all those Lebanese Flags come from?"

The Lebanese flag has to be one of the most beautiful flags ever, with its red stripes and the green cedar in the center. It was hardly ever seen before the Hariri assassination--and then, afterwards, it suddenly seemed to be everywhere, a veritable cedar forest.

Had everyone been hiding one under the mattress, waiting for the signal to come? Was there a special mobile flag factory, seeding them around the country? Or were they imported for the occasion (although most assuredly not from Syria)?

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIf you want to discover the solution to this puzzling mystery, go over to her blog and read the rest! And yes, the Lebanese flag is quite beautiful, don't you think?

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Image hosted by Time for the weekly insanity udate, where the insane, the bizarre, the ridiculous, and the completely absurd are highlighted for all to see! Be sure to send in your entries to the Carnival, which will be posted every Sunday. Entries need to be in by 8 pm on Saturday to make their way into the list that week. Oh, and by the way, Happy Easter to everyone! Did you know that the word "Easter" comes from "Eostre" a pagan goddess of fertility? And that her symbols are rabbits, chicks, and eggs (all symbolic of fertility and life)?

1. The Easter Bunny? I'm devastated.

2. Ahhh. The impact of advertising!

3. UH-OH.

4. My only question is if this is true, why didn't they do it years ago?

5. I always knew they were a religion.

6. This has real potential for expanding the romance genre.

7. Hey, these guys are professionals--don't try to do this at home.

8. Kofi + Kojo = Korrupt.

9. It's just a hypothesis and requires continued data collection and analysis. But it looks promising.

10. Eeewwwww. This is totally gross. Really.

11. This guy is definitely a man of constant Soros.

12. This is an incredible picture. No kidding!

13. Just to let you know, Iran and North Korea are also playing in the Soccer World Cup games. So, who do European soccer players protest against? (See here and here). Europeans have gone off the deep end.

14. [sarcasm] May I suggest Michael Moore Elementary School? Or how about Boxer Elementary? Surely both options are better than being named for that guy. What did he ever do, after all? [/sarcasm]

15. We can hope, can't we? See #8.

Send all entries to the Carnival of the Insanities to patsanty*at* If you want a link, be sure to include your blog URL!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The New Neanderthals

University of Wyoming economist Jason Shogren, along with colleagues Richard Horan of Michigan State University and Erwin Bulte from Tilburg University in the Netherlands report in an academic paper that free trade may have contributed to the extinction of Neanderthals 30,000-40,000 years ago. (hat tip: The Corner)

After at least 200,000 years of eking out an existence in glacial Eurasia, the Neanderthal suddenly went extinct.” [....] “Early modern humans arriving on the scene shortly before are suspected to have been the perpetrator, but exactly how they caused Neanderthal extinction is unknown.”

Creating a new kind of caveman economics in their published paper, [the authors] argue early modern humans were first to exploit the competitive edge gained from specialization and free trade. With more reliance on free trade, humans increased their activities in culture and technology, while simultaneously out-competing Neanderthals on their joint hunting grounds, the economists say.

Archaeological evidence exists to suggest traveling bands of early humans interacted with each other and that inter-group trading emerged, says Shogren. Early humans, the Aurignations and the Gravettians, imported many raw materials over long ranges and their innovations were widely dispersed. Such exchanges of goods and ideas helped early humans to develop “supergroup social mechanisms.” The long-range interchange among different groups kept both cultures going and generated new cultural explosions, Shogren says.
NRO asks rhetorically, "What does this say about the anti-globalization movement?"

Image hosted by According to Wikpedia, "globalization" is a term used to describe the changes in societies and the world economy that are the result of dramatically increased trade and cultural exchange. In specifically economic contexts, it refers almost exclusively to the effects of trade, particularly trade liberalization or "free trade".
The new Neanderthals are the anti-capitalists; the anti-free trade protesters; the anti-WTO protesters. They are generally allied with capitalism's historical enemies who claim that it is capitalism that causes world poverty and most of the ills of humankind.

The new Neanderthals ignore the evidence that has demonstrated over and over again that human misery has a cure--and that cure is capitalism and free trade. The latest ploy on the part of these protesters (who come from the ranks of Marxists, Socialists, and Communists--still in denial that their moment in history has passed and that their ideology was placed once and for all in history's dustbin) is to claim that capitalism and democracy are incompatible; and that REAL freedom requires more laws; more restrictions; more limits placed on those who produce by an elite made up from their ranks.

But then, a "new cultural explosion" that comes from the free exchange of goods and ideas is not what the neo-Neaderthals have in mind.

Is it too much to hope they, like their intellectual ancestors, will also become extinct?

Civilization and its Discontents

Sigmund Freud's powerful book Civilization and its Discontents argued that human instincts are out of sync with modern civilization; that aggression and other instinctual needs were once absolutely necessary for survival in a dangerous world, but that today these archaic impulses impede our ability to live happily in the present day and age. Among other innovative ideas from this short, but important work, Freud posits that the same aggression that was once directed towards survival, in the modern era is frequently turned inward, to the Self, rather than outward toward the environment, and causes the psychological phenomenon of depression. In psychiatry we refer to this as "aggression turned inward".

Our brains and bodies were designed for the "fight or flight" response--when in danger or threatened in any way, we physiologically respond with a burst of adrenalin (a hormone more formally known as epinephrine, a catcholamine); and that compound initiates a series of biological reactions that prepare us to either run away from the danger or to stand and fight.

It can be argued that depression and its concomitant emotion despair can be conceptualized as the inability--particularly in modern times-- to be able to "run away" or "fight" in the traditional sense. How effective would it be for the individual, do you think, if--called on the carpet by his or her boss--that individual responded by decking the boss or screaming and running out of the room? Bereft of these behavioral options in civilized society, we are still confined to the physiological response that such scenarios engender. This leads us to the concept of "stress".

What we know about "stress" and its long-term effects on our bodies and minds more than confirms Freud's psychological hypothesis. Freud was not optimistic about this situation, and believed that civilization's "discontents" were an unresolvable fact of life.

In a way, I touched on this same issue, but with a slightly different perspective, a few posts back when I discussed some of the concepts of evolutionary psychology in "Biological Fantasies".

In that post I tried to point out that successful societies use human nature in constructive and creative ways (even the negative aspects of it) in order to remain successful, because if they are foolish enough to try to remake human nature into some "ideal" that humans cannot possibly live up to or by their natures even accept, then they are doomed to fail. Human nature is a product of a long interaction with a hostile environment and it bequeathed to us --for good or ill--our present capabilities. I should add, that the concept of human nature includes the hard-wiring of our biological and physiological selves.

It seems obvious that we humans need to understand the limitations our brain physiology imposes on us--both the strengths and weaknesses--as well as the opportunities and challenges of those limitations.

Thus, societies which integrate within their structure a way for human aggression and sexual fulfillment (per Freud) and our need for coalitions, heirarchical structures and individual property (per the evolutionary psychologists); and reasonable outlets for "flight or fight" (via biology) will succeed over societies that to a greater or lesser extent find ways to thwart the expression of human nature.

A society that meshes with human nature and, in particular, finds ways for the many negative aspects of that nature (e.g., envy, greed, desire for power, desire for wealth, aggression etc. etc.)to be sublimated in socially useful and/or harmless behavior--rather than attempting to crush or deny that they exist--will be a very powerful and successful society. But there will always be the discontents.

Putting aside for the moment that some people may well be genetically endowed with less resiliant physiologies when it comes to handling stress, which may predispose them to clinical depression or other psychiatric illness; the "discontents" can also come from two general groups.

The first group of people are those who are unwilling to accept their own human nature for what it is and who insist on "unattainable perfection" in themselves (thus leading to psychological depression). I see many such people in my psychiatric practice.

The second group pursues or enforces unattainable perfection in others (thus leading to utopian idealism and the promotion of societies that deny and repress basic aspects of human nature).

The first group suffer terribly, but impact primarily themselves and their immediate families. The second is responsible for much of the misery and suffering of humanity as a whole throughout history. Either wittingly or unwittingly they suscribe to the utopian ideal (although their own individual behavior may seem the opposite)and support or enable those who start out only wanting to eliminate the "negative" aspects of human nature, but who end up destroying large numbers of humans in the process.

Not surprisingly those philosophies that understand and accept human nature are those that support human freedom. Those that condemn human nature (or a part of it) will ultimately end up supporting tyranny and oppression against actual humans.

Victor Davis Hanson comments on this group in his essay "America's New Discontents":

Of course, a tenured full professor like Churchill (with no Ph.D., a fraudulent resume, a litany of plagiarism — and a six-figure salary!) would not want to live under the Taliban or al-Qaida. Nor would Michael Moore under the Baathists — if his current high life is any indication. Such virulent public anti-Americanism, however, served a psychological need to reconcile a leftist's own life of largesse, through either cost-free disdain for what produced it or (safe) sympathy for those who hated it.

The wages of cultural relativism were not limited to such extremists. Legitimate disagreement and necessary debate about invading Iraq were quickly overwhelmed by a deeper furor that grew out of decades of this fuzzy relativism.

Ted Kennedy pronounced that Abu Ghraib "reopened under new management." Yet, the senator must have known that a few rogue American guards were not comparable to the systematic genocide of Saddam Hussein.

John Kerry's campaign slurred Prime Minister Ayad Allawi as a "puppet" — although he was the victim of Saddam's Gulag and a democrat willing to risk his life for the promise of a free Iraq.

Bill Clinton also seemed fuzzy about the true nature of tyranny, and thus was clueless about murderous theocratic Iran. Recently he cooed, "Iran today is, in a sense, the only country where progressive ideas enjoy a vast constituency" — as if theocrats there allow truly popular government.

Other elites wished outright that we would fail in the Middle East. Perhaps our defeat would prove that in a postmodern world American force can only be counterproductive or destabilizing to multilateral protocols.

Thus it was not the slur of a Joe McCarthy clone, but President Clinton's own National Security Council member Nancy Soderberg, who recently lamented on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" of George Bush's developing success in the Middle East: "It's scary for Democrats, I have to say. … Well, there's still Iran and North Korea, don't forget. There's still hope for the rest of us. ... There's always hope that this might not work."

"Not work"?

How sad that our most educated and sophisticated cannot fathom that an Iraqi Kurd, an Afghan woman or a Lebanese shopkeeper simply wants the same freedom and opportunity for their children that so many of the most blessed — but bitter — in America either take for granted, feel guilty about or so cynically dismiss.

Of course, the Ward Churchills, Michael Moores and various and sundry others who VDH refers to, see themselves as the "annointed elites" who--by definition--do not possess the human traits that need to be supressed (although those very traits are remarkably obvious to anyone who takes the time to observe them for a few seconds).

As Hanson observes, in these people we have the American version of the new discontents of civilization. Individually they can be dealt with and even helped; but the large groups of them that come together to "improve humanity for its own sake" are much more difficult to manage. Freud may have thought of them as "unresolvable facts of life", but I think of them in the conglomerate as an omnipresent psychological cancer that eats away at real human progress.

Get it, Mr. Moore?

Remember this?
"The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win. Get it, Mr. Bush?"

Meanwhile, in Iraq, Moore's "Minutemen" are seeking a way out of the REVOLUTION:

Many of Iraq's predominantly Sunni Arab insurgents would lay down their arms and join the political process in exchange for guarantees of their safety and that of their co-religionists, according to a prominent Sunni politician.

Sharif Ali Bin al-Hussein, who heads Iraq's main monarchist movement and is in contact with guerrilla leaders, said many insurgents including former officials of the ruling Ba'ath party, army officers, and Islamists have been searching for a way to end their campaign against US troops and Iraqi government forces since the January 30 election.

“Firstly, they want to ensure their own security,” says Sharif Ali, who last week hosted a pan-Sunni conference attended by tribal sheikhs and other local leaders speaking on behalf of the insurgents.

Insurgent leaders fear coming out into the open to talk for fear of being targeted by US military or Iraqi security forces' raids, he said.

Sharif Ali distinguishes many Sunni insurgents, whom he says took up arms in reaction to the invasive raids in search of Ba'athist leaders and other “humiliations” soon after the 2003 war, from the radical jihadist branch associated with Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Unlike Mr Zarqawi's followers, who are thought to be responsible for the big suicide bomb attacks on Iraqi civilian targets, the other Sunni insurgents are more likely to plant bombs and carry out ambushes against security forces and US troops active near their homes.

Sharif Ali said the success of Iraq's elections dealt the insurgents a demoralising blow, prompting them to consider the need to enter the political process.

One can only hope that Mr. Moore feels chagrined, humiliated, and even...more stupid than usual. But I guess that depends on whether or not he "gets it".

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Council Has Spoken !

This week's winners for Best Posts are up over at the Watcher's Site! Go and check them out for some good reading over the weekend. Here are the top winners:


1. Iraqi Bravery Alpha Patriot (who just a few days ago was whining about how tough the competition was!)

And a 3-way tie for 2nd place!

2. About Last Night Little Red Blog

Science Fiction’s Dark Side Wallo World

Where Have All the Mothers Gone? Dr. Sanity


1. 2 Years Democracy in Iraq (Don't miss this one!)

2. More on the Babe Theory of Political Movements. WILLisms

Beyond Our Sun

This is exciting news:

This week, two teams working independently announced the first unambiguous detection of light from planets orbiting other sun-like stars. The achievements, researchers say, help set humanity on the doorstep of a golden age in exploring solar systems beyond our own.

Until now astronomers have detected their quarry through fleeting shadows or the subtle quiver of underbrush. They've had to rely on the faint dimming of a star as a planet swings in front of it or, more often, tiny wobbles that planets impart to their parent stars as they orbit. Although the technique the two teams used also is indirect, it finally reveals infrared light coming directly from the planets.

That light carries a wealth of information about the molecular composition of the planets' atmospheres. Armed with that information, scientists will pierce a critical barrier to uncovering the range of planetary environments that solar systems in our galaxy have to offer. The ultimate hope: finding Earth-like planets whose atmospheres carry the chemical signatures of life.

"These results are historic," enthuses Geoffrey Marcy, an astronomer at the University of California at Berkeley who heads one of the world's most prolific planet-hunting teams.

Over the past decade, and especially within the past few years, astronomers have been uncovering extrasolar planets at a furious pace. Dr. Marcy estimates that solid detections of planets orbiting other stars now number about 150. "We've discovered nearly all of the Jupiters and Saturns that exist around stars out to about 100 light years from Earth," he says. Many of them are so-called hot Jupiters - huge gas-giants orbiting very close to their parent stars.

What we need is a 5-year space mission to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where....wait! Haven't I heard this before?....... Oh dear, another Star Trek reference! I'm getting geekier as I get older.

Just Say "NO" to the UN

New Sisyphus takes on the UN again in this excellent post, "UN Reform: We Are All Terrorists Now".

Therein lies the danger of the U.N., of course. Once created, it took on a life of its own and, like institutions everywhere, it has sought ever since to expand its power as widely as possible. For reasons we have discussed earlier, the U.N. currently finds itself at a crosswords with one of its founding members and largest financial contributors. The simple plain fact is that a huge majority of Americans have no confidence in the U.N and view it as nothing more than an anti-American talking shop. What Annan’s report aims to accomplish is enough reform to reconcile American decision-makers to the institution while, at the same time, strengthening its independence as an autonomous body.

That is a tall order, and one that the Secretary General fails miserably at. In fact, as we will see below, the report is nothing more than yet another attempt to frame “international law” in such a way as to make American action in the world “illegal.” Finally, and most ominously, it also contains a mechanism to lower the U.S.’ power in the Security Council and a legal code that would brand most of America’s military actions of the past forty years nothing more than “terrorism.”

You should read the whole piece. What's most interesting to me, of course, ist the psychology of all this. As you read the post, you realize--as New Sisyphus reminds us--how the entire UN document ( “In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights For All” “In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights For All” ) is cleverly written to appeal to the American Left. It discusses "Freedom from Want" and "Freedom from Fear" as universal goals, and seems to endorse the old socialist utopia idea:

In an era of global abundance, our world has the resources to reduce dramatically the massive divides that persist between rich and poor, if only those resources can be unleashed in the service of all peoples.

The real kicker, as others have pointed out, is that we (meaning the citizens of the United States) are the ones who are going to pay for this international socialist dream! The engine of productivity in the world is to be chained for the "good" of all peoples. And we are expected to go willingly to the slaughter.

Ayn Rand called this process "the sanction of the victim". I think it is an apt description. The UN cannot force its will on the US without our moral permission to do so. Morality is the most powerful weapon that evil wields in the war against good. Socialist morality is the morality of self-sacrifice. The self-sacrifice moral code allows the worthless to make outrageous demands of those who produce, counting on the fact that the producers will feel morally obligated to satisfy them. It is the duty of the producers to satisfy the needs of all and to embrace his status, all the while accepting sneers, abuse, and condemnation.

Liberal guilt--expressed through the Left's continual and relentlessly virulent public anti-Americanism--serves a "psychological need to reconcile a leftist's own life of largesse, through either cost-free disdain for what produced it or (safe) sympathy for those who hated it."

The UN is counting on this guilt to get its way. They are still the same corrupt organization, led by the same corrupt leader who brought us the oil-for-food scandal; the numerous sex scandals; and who hide a thirst for power behind their stated desire to help mankind. Today they are desperate to maintain that power and prestige in the world even as they see it sinking to new lows as their real motives are exposed. Over and over again, the US does most of the work, pays most of the money; and Kofi and his pals take all the credit.

Sometimes when I listen to a patient's neverending complaints about their situation; about how they feel constrained to do things so obviously bad for them, I have this fantasy where I get up and start shaking them, yelling, "Stop! Stop! Stop being a victim! You don't have to do this! You can choose to say no!" It's a fairly satisfying fantasy. Perhaps this essay is a variant on it.

When we deal with the UN, we have to learn to just say NO.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Carry On

From the "Everything I know, I learned from Star Trek" files I keep, this scene from the movie Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan seems to me to be appropriate today.

The exchange between Kirk and Saavik occurs while on a simulation training flight for cadets that has taken an unusual turn and has led to to seemingly disastrous and tragic consequences--even though Savaak and her cadets did everything "correctly". Captain Kirk ends the exercise and notices that Saavik is uncomfortable:
Well, Mister Saavik, are you going to stay with the sinking ship?

Permission to speak candidly, sir?


SAAVIK (fights emotion)
I don't believe this was a fair test of my command abilities.

And why not?

Because... there was no way to win.

A no-win situation is a possibility every commander may face. Has that
never occurred to you?

... No sir. It has not.

How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life, wouldn't you say?

As I indicated, Admiral, that thought had not occurred to me.

Well, now you have something new to think about. Carry on.

Yes. Exactly.

The Wonderful Complexity of Life

Now, this research is enormously important if it can be repeated:

In the Purdue experiment, researchers found that a plant belonging to the mustard and watercress family sometimes corrects the genetic code it inherited from its flawed parents and grows normally like its unflawed grandparents and other ancestors.

Scientists said the discovery raises questions about whether humans also have the potential for avoiding genetic flaws or even repairing them, although the plant experiments did not directly address the possibility in higher organisms. They said the actual proteins responsible for making these fixes probably would be different in animals, if the capacity exists at all.

''This means that inheritance can happen more flexibly than we thought,'' said Robert Pruitt, the paper's senior author.

I'm really not surprised that Life is so flexible. It seems to me that there are innumerable strategies that living things must have developed on a physiological level in order to survive throughout history. This research has discovered one such strategy and the implications are enormous--if the human genome inherited a similar potential. This discovery could open up ways to permanently "fix" genetic disorders.

Science is a process of discovery and then there is constant checking and evaluation of that discovery. This finding, if it is able to be replicated by other researchers, doesn't invalidate the Mendelian theory that has held for 150 years--it adds to to it; and to our understanding of the wonderful complexity of Life.


All right. Let me say it. I FEEL GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY because I have not been posting so much the last day or so. I HAVE NO EXCUSE! I am busier than usual with work, but the main reason is that the only thing going on in the last few days seems to be the Terri Schiavo situation and I don't have a lot more to say about that than I already said here.

The truth is that the Schiavo tragedy saddens me terribly and I don't feel like doing much. All my creative juices seem to have dried up for the moment. So, instead of fighting it, I'm just going to wait it out and let my soul rebound naturally.

I am working on a few essays off-line, but don't seem to be able to say exactly what I want to say quite yet. Nothing jumps up at me in the op-eds or news stories. I don't even want to comment on other blogs much.

So, if you are bored, you can go here to check out a few of my favorite past posts.

I'm gonna take two aspirins and blog in the morning. Or maybe the afternoon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Protests in Qatar

Here are some photos of a Demonstration against Terrorism in Qatar, where they recently had a suicide bomber in the Qatari capital, Doha, killing one Briton and injuring 12 people attending a theater performance. This was the first major terrorist attack in the country.

I suspect the demonstrations are an example of a type of "NIMBY" phenomenon (Not In My Backyard)--long overdue in this region. As the Islamofascist Terrorists get desperate and continue to attack other Muslims and innocents in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar,Turkey, and other places around the world, we may begin to finally see a backlash against these thugs, instead of the steady diet of admiration and rationalization of their behavior by mainstream Muslims. Their Terrorist's tactics appear to be wearing thin and losing them supporters and this, combined with the obvious benefits of a new-found freedom may be the ultimate undoing of the jihadis.

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

(Photo hat tip: Free Thoughts)

Can't Wait Till 2008?

Then check this out! Something for both sides to love/hate!

Like Grownups

From the Weekly Standard Scrapbook:

An international team of 250 scientists, conducting research first reported last Thursday in the British joural Nature, has completed a full map of the X or "female" chromosome which helps determine sex in human beings. The researchers found much greater genetic variation between the sexes than they had expected. All told, as the Los Angeles Times described the teams's conclusions, "men and women may differ by as much as 2 percent of their entire genetic inheritance, greater than the hereditary gap between humankind and its closes relative--the chimpanzee."

Huntington Willard of Duke University, one of the key researchers participating in this latest effort, told the Chicago Tribune that by now "any of us over the age of two realizes taere are plenty of differences between males and females that are characteristic of the two sexes."

Alas, however, scientists have yet to discover an explanation for the inability of Harvard University faculty members to discuss this subject like grownups.

Actually, you don't need scientists to devise an explanation for the Harvard faculty childishness. It's hard work to be a grownup! Maturity involves having to think, and not just feel.

These days, if you don't want to make the transition from adolescent to adult, there's always academia!

UPDATE: I rest my case. (my daughter would respond, "Mom, you HAVE no case!" But, nevertheless I think this is illustrative of what I am talking about)

Man of La Qaeda

Beautiful Atrocities presents JIHAD: THE MUSICAL



Mohammed, a Muslim youth, arrives at Ye Olde Madrassa, run by lecherous cleric Rashid, who raps about how Muslims will slaughter all infidels

RASHID: Jihad on the Dance Floor

At night, madrassa boys compare extremely limited knowledge of girls


Mohammed receives letter from sister Nasreen, who wonders what life is like outside of burqa.

NASREEN: A Little Scratchy Under Here

Robert Fisk, masochistic lefty journalist, is beaten up by madrassa boys, to his delight

FISK: I've Been a Bad, Bad Boy

Rashid dreams of chain of bargain basement madrassas to continue youth outreach

RASHID: Just Let Me Get My Hands on You

MADRASSA BOYS WET DREAM SEQUENCE, featuring burqa-clad can-can chorus

Go check out Acts II and III! Somebody needs to go an produce this play--I think Mel Brooks could do it (Springtime for Bin Laden in Afganistan, anyone?).

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Biological Fantasies

From a Cato Institute Policy Report:
In the spring of 1845, Karl Marx wrote, ". . . the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of social relations." Marx's idea was that a change in the "ensemble of social relations" can change "the human essence."

In June 2004 the communist North Korean government issued a statement to its starving citizens recommending the consumption of pine needles. Pyongyang maintained that pine needle tea could effectively prevent and treat cancer, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, cerebral hemorrhage, and even turn grey hair to black.

Tragically, human nature isn't at all as advertised, and neither is pine needle tea. According to the U.S. State Department, at least one million North Koreans have died of famine since 1995.

Marx's theory of human nature, like Kim Jong Il's theory of pine needle tea, is a biological fantasy, and we have the corpses to prove it. Which may drive us to wonder: if communism is deadly because it is contrary to human nature, does that imply that capitalism, which is contrary to communism, is distinctively compatible with human nature?

The article goes on to discuss evolutionary psychology, which is a relatively new area of psychology that "seeks to understand the unique nature of the human mind by applying the logic and methods of contemporary evolutionary biology and cognitive psychology."

Somewhere between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene era, when humans adapted from a "hunter-gatherer" to "agricultural" mode of living, the physiology and structure of the human brain--and hence, human psychology--was finalized by the concerted environmental and biological pressures on the human species during the previous 1.6 million years. In other words, modern human beings have the brain of their stone age ancestors. Our brains are not designed specifically for the "modern" world that we live in.

The article goes into some of the recent research of evolutionary psychologist, who are trying to understand exacly what "human nature" is all about. Basically, the results of their research shows that we are hard-wired--and therefore psychologically the same "hunter-gatherers" of 50,000 years ago. OUr social interactions are thus defined and limited by those ancient humans. Their findings are

We tend to form into groups of 25 - 150 most easily. Larger groups--where we do not have face-to-face contact with other members, are instinctively considered less trustworthy; and we tend to think often in terms of "us" versus "them". Having said that, when we develop social institutions that reinforce this built-in coalitional tendency (e.g., representative, democratic government) social tensions are relaxed and societies can thrive. OTOH, when political rhetoric encourages people to identify themselves as members of groups with no biological basis (e.g., "rich" versus "poor") tensions rise and animosity interferes with social stability. Free trade, or capitalism, encourages us to be wary of other groups, but also wo view them as partners in mutually beneficial trade; rahter than as "enemies".

If you look around you will see evidence of this in every aspect of our life. Most social organizations have formal heirarchical structures (president, VP and the like). Even in area that aren't "formally" organized (e.g., high school or middle school) dominance and status issues are a primary concern of the students who vie with each other to be the most "cool". We so dislike being at the bottom of a heirarchy, that we naturally form coalitions that help to check the power of the dominant groups.

We have difficulty in thinking of resources or wealth as ever-expanding, and tend to think that their gain must be our loss. This leads to envy and all the associated social and political conflicts. And yet, the first two characteristics (coalition and heirarchy forming qualities) show that by working together and engaging in mutually beneficial trade and thereby increasing productivity, wealth can be created beyond what we think it can. But this tendency from hunter-gatherer days makes us have difficulty understanding our own economic system (especially if coalitions are formed which enhance the "us" versus "them" thinking).

In order to prevent the allocation of all resources to those at the top of heirarchies, the recognition of individual property rights has been part of our make up for thousands of years. Animals mark out territories for exclusive use in foraging, hunting, and mating--and so did our ancestors. This again is "hard-wired" into our species.

Trade, exchange, and division of labor are human universals that existed long before complex societal structures.

We have a biological capacity for and need to trust others. This psychological trust enables us to solve otherwise unsolvable social problems--e.g., how to deal with strangers; outsiders; and other groups. Without this biological instinct to give other humans the benefit of the doubt, complex social interactions are impossible.

A recent article in the LA Times titled "The Anatomy of Give and Take" discusses some very recent research that tries to explain the economic interaction of humans, using high technology equipment such as MRI scanners. In one such experiment, two individuals are pitted against each other in an attempt to see which one could maximize their financial gain in the marketplace:

As the pair wavered between cooperation and betrayal, scientists recorded how their brains changed. The researchers hoped to discover the secret of trust — the human variable missing from the mathematics of modern economics.

The terms of the experiment were simple: At the beginning of each round, Belur could put up to $20 in play. Any investment automatically tripled. Tang then decided how much to return and how much to keep.

Belur's safest strategy was to hoard all of her money. Tang's most logical move was to cheat her partner at every opportunity.

There was a riskier but potentially more profitable way.

They could trust each other.

The experiment was part of a new frontier in the exploration of the brain — a field called neuro- economics that seeks to understand the biology underlying economic behavior.

In universities and research centers across the country, scientists are probing the brain with coin flips, $5 bills and gift certificates from Bit by bit, they are assembling a mosaic of the financial brain, identifying how competing neural circuits shape decisions.
This is the new field of "neuroeconomics", trying to figure out why people trust each other, when economic theory says they won't. Yet the field of evolutionary psychology has evidence that such trust is built-into our brains, and it is what makes such economic activities as "trade" and "production" possible.

Matt Ridley, in his book The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation tackles this issue head-on (and is well worth reading, I might add).

What all this information is leading to is the idea that human nature must be taken into account as we evaluate the usefulness and consequences of certain economic and political systems that are advocated in the world today. We are clearly well-suited to some things and not to others. There are some social, economic, and political systems that are like the Procrustean bed and try to adjust human nature to their theories. These almost always end in catastrophy, human misery, and death. There are some social, political and economic systems which encourage war, domination, and the accumulation of wealth by the top of the national heirarchy.

Many will say that it is capitalism that does these things, but they are incorrect, and all the evidence leans to the opposite conclusion. In fact, among social, political and economic systems, democratic capitalism is probably the one and only system that is MOST CONSISTENT WITH HUMAN NATURE.

Far from encouraging the "survival of the fittest", capitalism simultaneously encourages cooperation for mutually beneficial trade as well as competition. Far from encouraging war and dominance; capitalism encourages trust and human cooperation; as well as alliances to maximize productivity and wealth creation. Far from concentrating wealth in the hands of a few, capitalism makes it possible for anyone to accumulate wealth (contrast for example the number of people who earn over $100,000 a year in the U.S., with those do in Cuba. The only really wealthy person there is Fidel Castro and his cronies. Likewise, in Iraq, the only wealthy were Saddam and his thugs). Envy is a real human emotion, but only in a capitalist system can one transform one's envy into socially acceptable action to imporve one's own lot without attacking or destroying others.

Human nature is what it is. This is not tragic, it is simple truth. The biological fantasies of the Utopians; and the delusional fantasies of communists and socialists and all their heirs, have lead to incalculable levels of human suffering all over the globe, as the proponents of these theories have tried to force humans to some "ideal" state. All these systems have failed the real-world tests in the last century; and all current versions of these ideologies will also eventually fail and fade away. To the extent that they attempt to incorporate some aspects of "human nature" into their failing system, they may last a bit longer (e.g., China); but it is much more likely that human nature will transform the ideology than the reverse.

What we see in the Middle East today is the re-assertion of human nature after years of being crushed under the oppression of yet another social system that has attempted to rebuild humans along the lines of a religious "ideal", spiked with totalitarian fantasizing.

As with Kim Jung Il's theory of pine needle tea, how many deaths will it take before the social engineers of the New Procrustean Empire (following in the steps of the communists and socialists) abandon their attempts to force human beings to adapt to their fantasies?

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the winds of Freedom.

What A Difference A Year Makes !

From Cox and Forkum Posted by Hello

Long Live The King!

GM's Corner (The Place Where Truth, Honesty and Integrity Are Honored Above All Else!) won last week and has been crowned "King of the Blogs!". He is now in the running against two other excellent blogs and needs your help to retain his crown.

So head on over to the King of the Blogs website and vote for him. Long Live The King!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Good News From the Arab Street

Arthur Chrenkoff has a roundup of good news from the Islamic world--a special "Pro-Democracy edition. He starts out:

While throughout major cities of Western world crowds - albeit much diminished since three or two years ago - have turned up over the weekend for anti-democracy rallies to protest the second anniversary of the start of the liberation of Iraq, one region of the world remained strangely unaffected by the "anti-war" and "anti-occupation" fervor: the notorious "Arab street" has failed to join the "European street" and the "American street" in condemning yet again Chimpy Bushhitler and his imperialist policies. The only significant exception throughout the Middle East was Turkey, where rallies in three major cities could only muster several hundred people between them.

Everywhere else, the second anniversary of invasion did not incite much public excitement - possibly because the local residents were too busy rallying against terrorism and theocracy, and for freedom, democracy and human rights.

And here's a sample of good news from Egypt:

Since early December, Cairo has witnessed a series of anti-government demonstrations demanding free and democratic election that would not result in an automatic re-election of President Mubarak to his fifth consecutive term in office. "The rallies, organised by the Egyptian Movement for Change, have coined a slogan —'kefaya' (enough) -- to vent their exasperation with Mubarak and his consecutive administrations."A few days ago, Egyptian opposition activist Ayman Nour declared to the cheering crowd of about 1,000 supporters that he will stand against Hosni Mubarak in the presidential election later this year. Said Nour: "They [the ruling party] have to apologise for the false elections during the past miserable 50 years... We have never chosen a president before ... Change is coming one day, and that day is soon."On the second anniversary of the Coalition entry into Iraq, some 300 protesters have gathered in the capital to rally against the occupation. By all accounts, large sections of the crowd have spent most of the time venting their anger at their own government, sporting "No to Mubarak" stickers on their foreheads and chanting the opposition slogan "Enough!"
It is beyond me why anyone would demonstrate against the encouraging events that are taking place today in a part of the world that has been under the boot of dictatorship for decades and decades. You would have to be pretty far out in space to not understand the incredible yearning for Freedom that is sweeping the world.

Today it was reported that there was heavy unrest in Kyrgyzstan . Interestingly, that country's most famous son, Salizhan Sharipov, is now in space aboard the International Space Station (he is a Russian citizen and a cosmonaut). Sharipov is an ethnic Uzbek, from an Uzbek village that is within the borders of Kyrghizia. (hat tip: Jim O)

So perhaps it is unfair to suggest that being "far out in space" is an excuse for the behavior of the new anti-Freedom movement (which is the same as the old "anti-U.S." movement). The Arab "street" has figured out which way the wind is blowing.

Only the clueless Left seems to be in need of a weather man.

Incredible Space Photos

Here is a great site if you enjoy absolutely fantastic space pictures:

Astronomy Picture of the Day
Each day a different image or photograph of the universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

The Value of One Life

Several readers have asked me why I haven't commented on the Terri Schiavo case, and have asked for my thoughts. I do not feel that I am able to comment in any detail, since I personally have experience with some of the intense emotions that are swirling on both sides of this issue.

I feel sorry for the parents of Terry Schiavo; I feel sorry for the husband; and most of all, I feel sorry for Terri. I know what I would do in this situation, but I cannot speak for the people who are actually living it.

ShrinkWrapped, a psychoanalyst's blog has a very articulate post up on Narcissism and Empathy which makes some excellent points about the case.

Certainly, the entire tragedy has become a three-ring circus; and I suspect that many things have become lost in the transition from tragedy to media comedy. I don't presume to know Terri Schiavo's wishes; and I don't presume to know Michael Schiavo's motivations. If there must be an error made in this case, then as a human being and a physician, I hope the error is made on the side of Life. Doctors don't always know what they are talking about; Love can be expressed in many ways; and Life, well, determining Life or Death is an exceedingly compelx matter that cannot be reduced to a simplistic battle of slogans and labels.

Oh, and one more thing. I found this comment by a reader of The Corner to be very perceptive:
No, I am not a right to lifer. I am a pro choice absolutist. Moreover, my daughter is so sick of hearing me tell her I do not want any extraordinary measures to prolong my life that she promised to throw me down the stairs if things go wrong.

And yet, I find the specter of the most powerful people in the only superpower drop everything to focus on the destiny of a single badly disabled woman edifying.

This is democracy and this is progress. If you do not believe me just compare it to legalized honor killings in Jordan, Pakistani tribal customs which consider gang rape of a woman a just verdict or the enslavement of girls to repay debts in Ghana. In fact, the valiant efforts to end those practices once and for all are the best indicators of democratic progress.

We have come a long way baby and for that we should be truly grateful.
The one thing we can know for sure whatever the outcome of this terrible situation, is that we are fortunate to live in a society deeply invested in the value of one individual human life. As long as the meaning of one life or one death can generate such intense emotional debate and passion, then our nation remains vibrant and committed to the basic principles on which it was founded.

UPDATE: 3/23- as the case progresses to its terminal phase, I think Charles Krauthammer's op-ed piece today is well worth reading.

Life in Academia - Who Are We To Judge Saddam Hussein?

I came across this article by Fred Siegel in the NY Observer, just surfing around today. It discusses the Radical Professors in today's academia. Here is just a small part (read the entire piece!):

Back in the fall of 2003, when Dr. Dean was still riding high in the Presidential primary, I’d listened in on a conversation among undergraduate Deaniacs outside my office at Cooper Union in the East Village. "This just doesn’t feel like America any more," one of them said to a friend, who replied, "Fuck Bush," and pointed to a button on his jacket bearing the same slogan.

It’s an old professor’s habit, but I had to engage them. "What does that mean?" I asked the fellow with the button. "Bush is bullshit," he replied, "the most evil man in the world." When I said that wasn’t an argument and pressed him, he acknowledged that "Saddam isn’t a good guy," but "who are we"—he pointed both to me and his like-minded friend—to "judge Saddam Hussein?"

"Why not?" I asked. He replied with an answer right out of the postmodern playbook. Americans can’t judge another culture, he insisted, because there is no common morality. But if that’s the case, I asked, why then was George Bush "undoubtedly the most evil man in the world?" He seemed puzzled by the idea that his version of an emotional truth might seem incoherent to others.

Like the fascist writers of the 1930’s from whom their postmodern teachers had drawn their ideas, these Deaniacs were both engaged in politics and deeply cynical about democracy, which they saw as a game manipulated by nefarious forces led by Fox News. As they see it, there is little to argue; the only question is "which side are you on?" Doubtful that informed debate could settle much, they hoped to impose their will on a backward country that wickedly refused to see the appeal of a "Fuck Bush" platform.

I was taken aback by my conversation with the Deaniacs; their sheer coarseness stunned me. Even at the height of the "Ronald Reagan is going to blow up the world" mania of the 1980’s, I had never seen a "Fuck Reagan" button. But the coarseness was consistent with the dominant mood in academia outside of the sciences.

Recently, the professoriat has been embarrassed by a series of dustups exposing the irrationalist underside of academic life. After Hamilton College invited a former Brinks holdup terrorist to take a faculty position, it compounded its problems by asking "Indian" poseur Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado to speak, only to back off when he was found to have delivered a rant about how the people killed in the World Trade Center were "little Eichmanns." Columbia’s alumni, if not its administration, has been discomfited by the ravings of Joseph Massad, a professor so extreme in his support of Palestinian terrorism as to have labeled Yasir Arafat a collaborator with Israel. Harvard president Larry Summers has been forced to don the sackcloth and ashes after he commented reasonably that the differences between men and women might—and his stress, the transcript shows, was on might—be one part of the reason why there are fewer females in the sciences.
While radical professors, disguised as "academics", ponder questions like, "Who are we to judge Saddam Hussein?"; and as political activism--rather than the pursuit of knowledge-- became their main activity; it transpired that policymakers had to look elsewhere for a source of ideas. The academic's role was thus taken over by think tanks, which...well, think., as opposed to just emoting and spewing slogans.

The transformation of our "intellectual" centers of knowledge into vast emotional swamps of multicultural victimhood, offended by any idea that they don't like, can be best appreciated by the fact that in this last election, academia contributed little or nothing in the way of usable ideas--though it was a major source of Democratic Party funding. In fact, one might arguably equate the almost complete lack of ideas (except for the repetitive mouthing of the words, "I have a plan") and the knee-jerk opposition to any Republican idea just because it was Republican-- as one of the most significant factors in the decisive defeat of the Democratic Party.

You see, like the radical professors discussed in this article, no longer are the Democrats bothered by pesky ideas, which might actually have to be defended by reason and logic. No, they rely almost totally these days on the primacy of their feelings, which they proudly point out need no defense, since they are honest feelings. Howard Dean's recent comment that the Republicans are brain-dead; and Senator Byrd's equation of Republicans with Nazis are a perfect examples of the emotional nothingness the current Democratic Party has to offer.

Don't like bringing Democracy to the Middle East - NO BLOOD FOR OIL!
Don't like Bush's policies? BUSH IS HITLER!
Don't like this or that? NO NO NO NO!

From their perspective, they can readily identify with poor Saddam, who was just another helpless victim of U.S. imperialism.

Having had no new ideas since the Vietnam era, is it so surprising that they eagerly recycle those old slogans that were popular from that era? They meant little then, and less now; but are symbolic of a time in history when the Left felt it was winning. But they stopped thinking too soon.

Having lost the Cold War, they now intend to dress up their socialist/communist agenda in a new set of anti-U.S., anti-Israel; anti-Freedom; anti-Democracy; anti-Capitalism clothing. But even after 20 or more years, the emperor is still naked. Genocide is tolerated if it comes from their side of the political spectrum. Moral equivalence is applied to situations that demand moral judgement. Freedom of speech is touted, unless they don't like what you say. I could go on, but I haven't the inclination to waste so much of my time documenting what has already been documented everywhere.

And running through it all, like a river of denial and projection, is a vast, pervasive cluelessness. A lack of insight or self-awareness so incredible and so blindingly transparent that it is almost awe-inspiring in its magnitude. This kind of mindless emoting in lock- step on the part of large numbers of the "intellectual elite" is a Totalitarian's dream! The slogans and banners are the stuff of dictator's fantasies. For these professors and their minions, the mindset of Orwell's 1984 is a deliberate lifestyle choice.

These are our new intellectuals. Is it any wonder that a fraud like Ward Churchill is their poster boy? And that tyrants like Saddam and Fidel are their cause celebre? Vive la revolucion!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Thing With Feathers

This is truly inspiring, from an Iraqi on the 2nd anniversay of the Iraq war. He answers the question, "Was it worth it?" I urge you to read the entire post from his blog, Democracy in Iraq (hat tip: TFS Magnum):

Now I answer you, I answer you on behalf of myself, and my countrymen. I dont care what your news tells you, what your television and newspapers say, this is how we feel. Despite all that has happened. Despite all the hurt, the pain, blood, sweat and tears. These two years have given us hope we never had.

Before March 20, 2003, we were in a dungeon. We did not see the light. Saddam Hussain was crushing Iraq's spirit slowly, we longed for his end, but knew we could not challenge him, or his diabolical seed who would no doubt follow him and continue his generation of hell on Earth.

Since then, we now have hope. Hope is not a tangible thing, but it is something, it is more than being blinded by darkness, by being stuck in a mental pit without any future.

Hope has been the greatest product of the last two years. No doubt, many have died, many have died by accident or due to crimes. But their sacrifices are not, and will not be for nothing. I refuse to let it be, and my countrymen stand with me.

Our cities are smoking, our graveyards full, and terrorists in our midst. But we are not defeated. We are not down, we are not regretful. We are not going to surrender. For all that the two years have brought, the greatest thign they have given us is a future, and a view of the finish line.

"Hope" is the thing with feathers-- That perches in the soul-- And sings the tune without the words-- And never stops--at all-- -Emily Dickenson

Everything that is done in the world is done by hope. -Martin Luther King

Hope is a waking dream. -Aristotle

We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes. -John F. Kennedy

He who does not hope to win has already lost. -Jose' Joaquin Olmedo

How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world. -Shakespeare

Weekly Insanity Update

Welcome to the weekly roundup of the insane, the ridiculous, the unbelievable and the obnoxious. Why don't we just call it the "Carnival of the Insanities"? If you would like to get linked next week, just send me a post you've written that is either insane or talks about some insane, ridiculous piece of news and I guarantee I'll include it!

1. Better late than never. Sort of like closing the barn door know.

2. The mind boggles. Incredibly creepy image.

3. This sort of thing wouldn't be allowed to be discussed at Harvard. The faculty would be in an uproar!

4. Just a matter of time before the Congressional hearings.

5. A true man of the people...Yeah. Right.

6. The original Liberty Babe!

7. I thought it was an invitation to boredom...who knew?

8. BEWARE! This is what happens when you take steroids!

9. "In order to tarnish the image of Islam"? We needn't bother.

10. Right-left and the scrotum in Greek sculpture? Isn't academia wonderful?

11. Yet another psychiatric syndrome that afflicts the Left.

12. Obesity will solve social security. Two problems taken care of!

13. You know what? I think Krugman's jealous because he didn't get asked!

14. Many guys think this would take all the fun out of the game.

UPDATE: Here are the result of the [extremely unscientific, completely biased] Poll:

Do you have any confidence in the judgement of the Harvard Faculty?


Total Voters : 178

Unrelenting Spin, Unrelenting Bias

Cori Dauber over at Rantingprofs performs an invaluable service. Every day she reads thoroughly through the NY Times, Washington Post and other media newspapers and discusses her findings in her blog. She is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies (and of Peace, War, and Defense) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Today in one of her posts "At Least they Covered It" she shows just how biased the Times is for about the millionth time:

I can't help mentioning that this is on the front page. Or that this is on the front page.
Yet the article, "Insurgency Loses Ground, Top Marine In Iraq Says," is stuffed inside the paper on page A-5. (The online edition has the slightly different headline, "Insurgency Is Fading Fast, Top Marine in Iraq Says,")

But the lead paragraph is the same in both editions:

The top Marine officer in Iraq said Friday that the number of attacks against American troops in Sunni-dominated western Iraq and death tolls had dropped sharply over the last four months, a development that he called evidence that the insurgency was weakening in one of the most violent areas of the country. (My emph.)

Notice the phrasing there, by the way -- a development he called evidence. And what, prey tell, would the reporter consider evidence that the insurgency was weakening? That is the great mystery of press coverage of this war. What stable metric can the military count on as evidence that they're doing real damage to the enemy and things are improving, at least on the security side?
Today was the 2nd anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. You would think this story would merit front page coverage. Clearly it is far too positive for the front page. I guess we should just be grateful, as Cori suggests, that they bothered to print it at all.

If you want to check out some of the other in-depth analyses of how the media covering the war, how about this one? Or this? Every day, with few exceptions, multiple instances of how the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan is being distorted; spun and mischaracterized by the mainstream news. The good news is buried (or not mentioned at all); the bad it trumpeted over and over. There is a complete lack of understanding about military matters generally; and specifically an incredible disinterest in familiarization with the way the military works (you might think this would be important--particularly if you intend to criticize the military on a regular basis. It would be nice if you knew what you were talking about). Occasionally, an outlet produces something reasonably balanced, but not often enough for anyone to trust what they say; or to mitigate the overall impression one gets that they want you to think that everything is a disaster and utterly hopeless.

I would question such paranoid feelings...except..except that on a daily basis, I see the same stories that give evidence to the unrelenting spin and unrelenting bias of the mainstream media. I'm just glad Cori reads them all and documents them, so I don't have to anymore.