Sunday, February 27, 2005


The historical synchronicity was just too easy today. There's nothing to add. But here's goes.

Perhaps (probably) it's just a coincidence (PIJAC), but did you know that today in Ireland in 1997, divorce was finally made legal? One might assume political negotiations and legislative juggling converged making today the day, but I suspect the truth has more to do with the fact that today is also Elizabeth's Taylor's birthday. A tribute from a grateful nation.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

I'm gonna sit right down and write myself a letter...

Actually, I wrote one already, a tiny note to a friend of mine.
I saw beautiful stationery at the bookstore, looking as if someone might've colored it by hand. As my fingertips fluttered through the envelopes and notecards, I had the strangest dream, Mommy. I mean the strangest thought, and not The Strangest, but odd enough.

The mail doesn't track every letter from Which to Whom. You can omit a return address and sneak it into any lonely postbox. Your letter requires only a destination and a stamp that's harder to trace than a dollar bill. A letter has no wires to tap. Nothing's automatically duplicated or archived. A pen doesn't know what it wrote, and can't reveal the secrets it's transcribed. When a scribbled page is destroyed, it leaves no digital remainder. After thousands of years, putting characters to paper is still private and liberating. In 2005, writing a letter feels deliciously subversive.

Friday, February 25, 2005

What's distracting me this week. Sorry it's long.

What's really on my mind, and what I have trouble explaining concisely is about Terry Schiavo. Soon, I want to write about why I think describe why I think Life wants to Live, but for now, I just want to get down my thoughts about this particular dilemma.

The bullets that matter to me:
Her husband never mentioned her deathwish during medical malpractice trial which awarded him more than a million $ for care throughout her "natural" life which was then expected to be of normal duration. He makes her life unpleasant and won't authorize therapy to regain speech or independent swallowing, which would eliminate the threat of extermination by feeding tube removal. He moved her years ago into from a nice nursing facility into a room in a hospice (run by a corporation of which his lawyer was formerly CEO) and won't allow her to have open windows, to leave her room, to be visited by therapy animals (which she loves), or to have her room decorated by the flowers and affectionate personal tokens her family brings. These denials are made under the auspices of protecting her from various potential harms.

She was a practicing, observant Catholic who never discussed a deathwish with family or friends, and her intentions which (according to his testimony) animate her husband's unrelenting pursuit of her death were made in casual conversation while watching TV. Perhaps the demonstration of her life gives some indication as to her wishes beyond the he-said and no-one-else-concurs of Michael Schiavo's argument? Perhaps not all of us would like our spouses to so literally construe everything we say while watching American Idol?

A couple of years ago, Michael had Terri's feeding withheld and she survived 6 days of legal wrangling until Florida governor Jeb Bush intervened and she was again given hydration and nourishment. Apparently, Terri wasn't cognizant enough to know she'd rather be dead, so instead of liberating herself from the mortal coil with a thankful sigh, she clung to life and suffered agonies of hunger and thirst that are illegal to inflict on a pet hamster. Without food and water, a healthy body doesn't expire nearly as quickly as the already compromised systems of a terminal cancer victim or the extremely aged. This time, doctors expect it may even take two weeks to starve her, while her husband presides over her excruciating, accelerated, unnatural death despite his promises of love and fidelity and lasting care during the malpractice trial.

Terri's family has offered to absorb all expenses for Terri (save Michael's exorbitant legal costs) and will agree not to ever seek any portion of her medical award or interefere with any action of divorce (or not) or visitation (or not). But here's the rub and the reason why Michael won't reliquish custody of Terri though he already cohabitates with another woman and their two children.

As Terri's legal spouse and guardian, his claim to the money is the strongest, and he's been able to block (with Judge Greer's help) examination into the dispensation of funds, approximately $400K of which have gone to his lawyer. Other judges might not approve when almost 1/3 of the funds for a disabled woman's lifetime care evaporate in legal fees. Other judges might question the quality and ethics of the financial and medical stewardship provided by Mike and his flak. Examining Murdering Mike's lawyer's relationship to the hospice and his own stake in the outcome, and surmising a talented lawyer's ability to bamboozle perfidious, unsophisticated Mike Schiavo into foolish gambits that pad legal fees without enriching Terri's life, I sense a powerful motive that may be the seed of Michael's attorney's vocal advocacy of euthanasia and Terri's right to die.

Because no matter what Terri's family is willing to vow, Michael Schiavo knows that if they're empowered, they will welcome Terri into their home and commence many kindnesses as well as therapies: the kind of memory triggers and interventions which have restored other "PVS" cases to volitional independence. These recoveries are unpredictable and can be dramatic even after years. In the news quite recently, a profoundly brain-damaged woman began speaking after 20 years and has regained much of her memory.

The compelling offer that Terri's family can't legally make to Michael and his lawyer are to forfeit Terri's own rights to her medical fund. Should she have any meaningful improvement, she would have the primary claim to ask for an accounting.

That's why Michael insists she's unsalvageable.
That's why he can't risk any recovery of her capacity.
That's why he has to kill her.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Want to ignore him. Can't.

Warning: Today's previous post was more whimsical (sort of) and less sarcastic (a little).

In today's WSJ, Kofi Annan has posted his response to the deserved U.N. bashing that's been making the rounds. Registration required, I believe.

In it, not only does he have the nerve to brag about the U.N.'s dismally late and inadequate response to the tsunami, but also takes credit for Sergio Vieria de Mello's meaningful contributions to the democratization of Iraq while failing to mention how completely the U.N. pulled up its tentstakes and hightailed it out of town after de Mello's tragic murder. So much for the noble cause.

After this larded, revisionist list of accomplishments, Kofi writes, "I could go on." So could I, buddy.

He admits that Oil-For-Food is a legitimate gripe while calling the allegations "overblown" and "hyperbolic." It's only the biggest financial fraud in world history. Certainly, enlightened thinkers can rise above the rhetoric, can't we?

He also admits that the sexual explotation allegations are "shocking" and that attention's overdue, but he's working on it, okay?

But here's where, to my feeble mind, he hoisted himself on his verbal petard:

In my eight years as secretary-general, I had already done a lot--with the support of member states, often led by the U.S.--to make the U.N. more coherent and efficient. Now we need to make it more transparent and accountable--not only to diplomats representing member governments, but also directly to the public.

With this, he reveals that he perceives the most recent years of financial, sexual, and administrative abuse are confluent with the U.N.'s improvement under his leadership! I can't argue that the graft has become more efficient, positively institutionalized, and the U.N.'s practice of ignoring sexual misconduct within domestic and international operations is nothing if not coherent.

Kofi's been suffering under overblown hyperbole? How about this? Hitler's National Socialist Party was both lethally efficient and coherent. What they lacked was compassion, fairness, and shame.

Dodo birds aside, what is good often endures.

Yesterday, my This Day in History e-mail was delayed. Scoundrels! I didn't think Presidents' Day affected e-mail. Should you wish to register for your own tardy editions, send a blank e-mail to ( )

Anyway, I noticed that yesterday was the anniversary of the 1848 London publishing of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels. I also gleaned that today, in 1630, Quadequine, brother of Massasoit, introduced the English colonists in America to popcorn.

Innovative ideas, like the concept of Cartesian coordinates, have a tendency to want to be born, even occurring independently to disparate thinkers. I'm not convinced there was any way in 1847 to suppress the yet untried hideousness of modern collectivism. However, give innovations at least a century to test out, and one can see which offers the more lasting benefits.

Millions died in the laboratory of communism, but I believe today humankind may say without reservation Thanks, Quadequine!

Monday, February 21, 2005

I rage, but always with whimsy

No matter what you think of Christo's Gates in Central Park, you must expose yourself to the genius of Geoff Hargadon (now going by Hargo) and his Somerville Gates:

Sarah Boxer, typically an art writer who irritated many online denizens recently with her factually-challeged attempts to cover geopolitical blogging, nonetheless has a funny piece on the Somerville Gates here:

I have decided I am grateful for the Gates. While art of dubious beauty or insight, they have provided a respite from the doldrums of winter, a trivial topic for polite conversation, and chance for merriment, even if at the expense of the artists known as X-to/J-C.

I cry, I laugh, I poke my fingers into my eyes and weep again. Such is the joy and intensity of melancholia. Ha. Ha. I laugh again as if I am French. HA!

With what some suffer, I shouldn't be too cowardly to bear witness.

When I saw the follwing link (HT: Instapundit) with details of the U.N. staff's sexual abuse of Congolese children, I didn't think I could stomach any more. Then, I upbraided myself for exactly the kind of cowardice and squeamishness that perpetuates such things. I read this:

Take a look at the picture of the debauched freak (allegedly) arrested in a sting operation. He not only enjoyed rape and sexual bribery (allegedly) but videotaping the resultant tears and terror.

I think many people have become aware that even hard news stories can employ biased verbiage to imply what might be libelous to assert directly. However, if this story is composed of facts, not just innuendo, the statement that Bourguet "was thought to be among the worst offenders" is horrifying. It means there are more, possibly many more, who are equally contemptible criminals and who are also well known known to the powers-that-be. A sting operation relies on understanding its target's preferences well enough to provide the right lure. They knew who he was, where to find him, and what to offer. And they know there are several more. How long has this been going on?!

In every large operation, there will be instances of malfeasance. However, obfuscation of those acts not only betrays the victims but guarantees future recurrence. (Contrast this with the Abu Ghraib abuses which were reported from the field by personnel within the military and whose perpetrators were subject to restriction and investigation months before the media "broke" the story.) The U.N.'s own M.O. is to ignore and deny and point fingers at anyone who suggests they've failed to protect those whose interests they loudly proclaim to steward.

Sadder still, it's not just a few wigs and cheeses at Turtle Bay who think this way. If you hunger for international disdain, show the spine to condemn the endless committees and cocktail hours attended by apathetic hypocrites on expense accounts, reserve your greatest compassion for the innocent and needy and make visible your righteous anger toward villains, dare to expend your own resources and to admire those who sacrifice even their lives, not in subcommittee beaurocracy, but in taking concrete action on behalf of the vulnerable.

Bleck, U.N., phooey.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

What Freedoms really mean

Something about this Ward Churchill mess that's been an annoying splinter in my hide is the way people keep acting as if it's all about "freedom of speech" and the less-understood construct "academic freedom".

If academic freedom doesn't imply the right to be study the topics of your choice, receiving true information from qualified people, I don't know what else it should mean. However, many people seem to believe it implies a moral authority for faculty to express ungrounded, unquestioned, and/or undebated opinions especially on topics outside their stated purview as educators.
"Are we all not students of existence?" they ask. Frankly, no. And in modern American higher education, diversity quotas aside, I would argue that the slice of existence being exposed is an increasingly narrow sliver.

In the following article from Capitalism Magazine, Thomas Sowell expresses clearly what these "freedoms" really represent, and as I've often argued, they do NOT mean freedom from experiencing the results of your words and actions. Nothing in this world can guarantee that. Nor should it, no matter how we might wish the wheel of karma would bust flat.

Too many people -- some of them judges -- seem to think that freedom of speech means freedom from consequences for what you have said. If you believe that, try insulting your boss when you go to work tomorrow. Better yet, try insulting your spouse before going to bed tonight.

My favorite factoid was about the students who yell "OT" when their professors get off-topic. I'd love to send them a thank-you note and promote the idea across collegiana. There are excellent, talented professors who turn tangents into lessons and digressions into deeper explorations of the subject. However, given faculty's current tendency to screed on the students' time and the students' dime, I think we're better erring on behalf of course relevancy in the near-term.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Why wouldn't a kid feel it, too?

Many of my beloved TV shows and/or movies are of the ass-kicking variety. I love the slick ballet and soaring soundtrack of a good action movie. Metaphorically speaking, I love my (anti)heroes to clean a few clocks and settle a few scores on their way to the finish line. When the morality play is executed well enough that I disappear into it, which isn't as often as I pay for, I walk out of the theatre feeling like I'm still within my own movie. I feel above the world, hyperalert and dangerous.

As a thinking adult, I understand that split-second actions have lasting consequences, and real-world violence is a dirty, slippery grapple, not all choreography and predestined outcomes. But if I acknowledge the intoxication of those media borne moments of adrenaline-fueled invincibility, why wouldn't I assume that kids, subjected to the same stimuli, might feel the same way without as many barriers against acting it out?

Well, I do assume they feel the same. I haven't forgotten what it's like to rock in a band, to thrash in a pit at a show, to sense otherworldly phantoms created by the physiological detritus of adolescence, and to be frightened and thrilled by the hugeness of the world at 15. I still experience flashes of all of it. I can't decide whether parents who don't protect aginst this stuff are too seduced themselves or too forgetful. But my own responses are part of why I believe that kids need more peacefulness. They need quiet moments of slowly ripening revelations, not just to master the patience and concentration which are so currently compromised, but to balance the relentless, hard buzz of viscera-prodding that masquerades as harmless (or worse - educational) multimedia.

Video slaughter teaches eye-hand coordination. My Aunt Fanny! What about sports? You could get your eyes, hands, your whole body coordinated at once. Outside! You remember outside, don't you, Jimmy? The place you need your GameBoy or MP3 player to innoculate yourself against all that space and unprogrammed reality? Remember, where the sun is?

Fortunately for me, research is catching up with my anecdotal truth. I do think I'm special and unusual, but not that special. Here's a link to a nice summary by the sensibly outraged, ahead-of-the-crowd Melanie Phillips.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Political furor made smiley-fun super fantastic

Check the delectable Manolo's political views on the Cuba and the beautiful shoes. Politically and fashionably chic.

At last I've posted something to bring the joy to the peoples.

Not numb enough and dumb enough. My blood boils.

You may, or even more sadly, may NOT have been made aware of the mass investigations into sexual misconduct on the part of UN international "peacekeepers". Allegations include rape, pedophilia, and bribing hungry children with eggs or milk for sex. Many of the UN's blue-helmeted heroes serve in very disadvantaged parts of the world, many of them are recruited from local forces which may be already corrupted, and which, historically, won't yield to some outside commander's views of ethics, morality, and legality. Some of these proud scions become the evil they're supposed to protect people from. Here's a brief, BBC recap.

In response, a few outraged souls have asked in public forums why we can't get more attention and accountability toward this problem? But many in international circles and the media are only concerned with America, looking away from problems that can't be laid at her feet, ignoring what reveals the lie of their own false claims to enlightenment and fairness. It's purely a power game for them. America has it, and is, therefore, their sole focus and target. Meanwhile, people are tortured and killed and starved by brutal governments judged by the UN's walking expense-accounts-in-pinstripes to be America's moral equivalents.

Mark Steyn has witty and horribly apt commentary about this hypocrisy that's more than infuriating, it's destroying human lives around the world.

So much for happy tra-la-ing today, but if I stopped caring about this stuff, what would I be worth?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

It's not a postscript, it's a new challenge.

This article by Paul Campos of the Rocky Mountain News is the result of the Ward Churchill mess, but it raises larger issues about affirmative action and tenure. (HT: Prestopundit),1299,DRMN_86_3547736,00.html

Affirmative action is a thorny, unresolved issue for me, and I acknowledge its unfairness, tendency to lower standards, but also its importance in helping good people into positions where they won't need it again. So that's not the drum I'm bangin' here. But let's talk about another face of virtuous discrimination. Let's talk tenure!

Campos writes,

The privileges created by tenure are supposed to insulate faculty from political pressures in general and censorship in particular. Yet those of us in the academy, if we were candid, would have to admit that few places are more riddled with the distorting effects of politics and censorship than university faculties...

Churchill thus represents the reductio ad absurdum of the contemporary university's willingness to subordinate all other values to affirmative action. When such a grotesque fraud - a white man pretending to be an Indian, an intellectual charlatan spewing polemical garbage festooned with phony footnotes, a shameless demagogue fabricating imaginary historical incidents to justify his pathological hatreds, an apparent plagiarist who steals and distorts the work of real scholars - manages to scam his way into a full professorship at what is still a serious research university, we know the practice of affirmative action has hit rock bottom. Or at least we can hope so...

Tenure and academic freedom are hard to defend if they don't provide us who benefit from them with the minimal degree of courage necessary to say, when confronted by someone like Churchill, enough is enough.

If even the extraordinary protections of tenure don't lead us to condemn a fraud of this magnitude in unmistakable and unapologetic terms, then we don't deserve them. What else is academic freedom for?

Tenure is a system by which faculty protect themselves from relelvancy. To attain tenure, it's "publish or perish", and your skills as an educator be darned. Many good associate professors who are well-rated as teachers by their students fail to make tenure. Many tenured profs treat their course reponsibilities (and undergrads?) with disdain, offloading their work onto grad students. This construct is as artificial as affirmative action. Employment for life means there is no way to dump a lousy educator and/or hidebound researcher. Worse, many of the tenured feel rightly sensitive at seeing any other tenured colleague targeted for accountability. These become comfortable, defensive, and loath to press for excellence.

I'd like to see "publish or perish" fade as the sole evaluation of a professor's merit. I'd like to see more funded university research positions without classroom teaching requirements for those completely who are ill-suited but whose research is valuable and appropriate for grad students or post-docs. (I dream on) I'd like to see a banishment of tenure because it lowers standards in general and I believe good professors ought to be able to survive occasional review. And because a college or university is a world unto itself and the inmates tend to conform to their internal culture, I'd like to see faculty from other institutions do the academic peer reviewing, not the local colleagues and department members. There are still drawbacks with this approach, sure. However, higher education would benefit, I believe, if review of professors were more frequent for long-term faculty, more objective, and less insular.

If we believe that tenure hasn't necessarily freed scholars to seek the truth, we must wonder what, in practice, is it promoting? Or protecting?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Remember, I said hazy, LAZY eye.

I was working on a deadline for a story of my own and editing others' stuff like mad for group meetings, and I got lazy. The deadlines are past, things are smoother. However, rather than recap the stuff last week which interested me, like more damning details about Ward Churchill and Eason Jordan, and when romance writers who might be lousy become truly execrable suspense writers, I'm moving onward. To Christo and Jeanne-Claude's latest project of imposed art: The Gates in Central Park. Since the show will come down soon, it'll be a change of pace and then gone. I wish all bad art were as temporary. Here's a link to a slide show if you haven't seen it.
I've chosen the MSNBC link since it'll likely be less ostentatiously fawning.

Here's a quiz from James Panero to see whether you can tell the difference between Christo and Thomas Kincade.
Since very few other voices are saying that X-to/J-C are overhyped vandals, it's especially fun to read.

Personally, I had imagined that the gates would be more graceful than their realization. They don't remind me of Buddhist prayer flags. Since I'm neither a Ph.D. nor a blue-collar everyman, today's art requires more from me than aesthetic interest, education, or even a self-possessed intellect to be properly appreciated. That is, if it's even "valid" to allow myself an opinion, Dada.

That said, I look at The Gates and see cat flaps. A "golden river" of cat flaps.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Ward Churchill's Assumed Identity

If you've followed this tempest in a teapot, you know that Professor Ward Churchill, who recently resigned as Chairman of his dept. at the Univ. of Colorado, is under review by the Board of Regents, largely because of statements from an essay after 9/11 and its views of the victims of the World Trade Center attack.

Churchill calls them ..."busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it."

Apparently, Churchill either didn't know or care that restaurant workers, teachers, children, and maintenance crews- Innocents and Everyman- occupied the buildings, too, but that's another argument.

This essay came to light after Churchill's invitation to appear at NY's Hamilton College. The president of the college withdrew the invite after local then national attention followed. She claimed security concerns, though many suspect the reason for the cancellation was the alumni and student response to the prospect of unchallenged vitriol masquerading as discursive education. However, Hamilton is the once-lauded college whose president recently tried to install a convicted member of the Weather Underground in a paid chair as "activist in residence."

Now, people are arguing over whether Churchill should be fired from his primary U of C gig, based on their perception he'll be lionized by the extreme Left (which I thought had already occurred- thus his long, profitable run to this date) or concerns that it infringes on his First Amendment right to free speech. I think he's free to speak, but none of us speaks without consequences, and as a publicly funded university, U of C has some obligations to its taxpayers in the dispensation of funds. The question should be: does this guy represent the academic excellence that deserves a $100k tenure?

Let's examine his bailiwick, Ethnic Studies. The issues that pushes me toward firing is that Churchill seems to have lied about his identity in order to create credentials. From my internet digging (and I'd love a recent resume or CV if you've got one), he doesn't have a doctorate from anywhere, though in the past, he has claimed kinship with various American Indian tribes. There's a record of honorary tribesmanship, also given to non-Indian Bill Clinton, but none of his claimed kin register him or his blood relatives as tribal members. If I claim to be French to get a job teaching French identity and culture, and it turns out I lied, isn't that important?

Churchill has repeatedly dismayed Indian nations by assuming the mantle of activist for their concerns, and they actively seek to detach him from his fraudulent persona and his attendant spokesmanship. Read the article from Indian Country Today and decide whether Ward Churchill belongs on any Ethnic Studies faculty.

Here's a letter from the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Staking the Vampires of Hope!

Like any other creative types, in their secret hearts, writers long for legitimacy and recognition. For most of us, having our work published, not merely spat from our own printers, represents success. Even bad writers want it. Even writers who don't acknowlege the existence of a spectrum of quality. Even writers who don't or won't work to improve.

Smelling the opportunity, in slunk vanity presses, named because the author pays for the privilege of being published. (See correlation with predatory "agents" who charge to read a hopeful's material.) This mercenary exploitation of dreams was greatly abetted by internet technology and mercantilism, both of which I adore, even with their manifold abuses.

Now, I have no objection to a press that charges for printing, provided that it's obvious to the author that what he invests in is not a career but books, perhaps boxes of them, the remainder to accrue dust and smells in the garage after initial distribution to family and friends. Also, I'd like it clear that although a POD (print-on-demand) website will make a book available for orders, these websites don't advertise themselves as bookstores for adventurous readers. Instead, their advertising targets the aspiring author, the true revenue stream for these enterprises. Hardly a soul will visit these sites except the author whose book became a line item among a mammoth, undifferentiated database of similar, cheap-looking covers. There will be little, if any, editing provided other than digital formatting. And for those who imagine that producing a physical book will be their foot-in-the-door of a paying house, the name of one of these on a book's spine is viewed largely as synonomous for C-R-A-P, since the barrier to entry is nonexistent.

That said, there are ethical operations to help people self-publish. There are even good authors (not coincidentally, they're also aggressive self-promoters) who've parlayed their vanity/POD experiences into mainstream writing careers. There are too few of each for me to feel comforted. So, that's the premise as we meet our heroes, the widely published and often good-selling writers of the maligned genre called science or speculative fiction.

The scifi authors involved in this scheme proved that a "traditional" publisher, as Publish America touts itself, is a camouflaged vanity press. Publish America earned this attention from the scifi community after its "editors" discounted the quality of writing found among the genre's purveyors.

To test this august body's standards, several scifi authors wrote a chapter each of what they intended to be the worst book ever written. Continuity is non-existent, cliches abound, and the works demonstrates exceptional awfulness from amateurish goofs to fully-realized examples of how-never-to-write. Chapter 34, beginning page 234, was actually computer-generated from other texts. Naturally, Publish America offered author Travis Tea (say it fast) a contract. The details of the sting as well as links to PDFs of the complete manuscript and accompanying correspondence are available here.

Atlanta Nights is both hilarious and instructive in its epic badness. Hard copies are available via LuLu, an unapologetic POD operation that offers free online publishing and seems to candidly identify what they will and won't do. The authors are donating all the proceeds to a writers' emergency medical fund. I've suffered through unintentionally terrible writing from every genre, but I might need to own this stellar achievement. Even the jacket blurbs are a scream. So bad, it dazzles.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Cost of Honor

This is a link to a Tech Central Station article about honor killings among Muslims in Europe, often done by contract killers.

This is a link to a Telegraph UK article about a Palestinian Muslim girl who grew up beaten and in fear for her life in a West Bank village, who had seven sisters murdered as infants, whose adult sister was strangled by her brother, who was herself set on fire and then almost poisoned by her loving mother- all in the name of religious conformance and an authentically evil perversion of the concept of "honor".

Read this and tell me again that all personal manifestations of religion are equally "valid" and good. For me, the moral relativism stops with murder.

Aside from the sorrow and contempt and anger I feel, I'd like to mention the impact to the success of these groups as a whole. With this internecine decimation, how can we find it suprising that many Palestinians live in impoverished squalor like the unassimilated Muslims of Europe? Widespread and widely-accepted barbarism against one's own population proves the inherent inferiority of one's credo. Oh how I wish its doom would come faster. Nonethelss, it's unarguable that it's difficult for a modern people to thrive when half are uneducated; the other half spends its productive hours in blood rage against the weaker, ignorant ones; and a family's meager income must be forfeited for contract killings. According to the Telegraph story, Soauad and her sisters constantly feared their father would throw them down the well. If that's a common enough occurrence to worry about, what a waste of clean water to foul it with the rotting corpses of misbehaving girls. And with all this occupation of beatings and killings, not to mention the impaired productivity of your battered workforce, who is then available and educated enough to run the computerized utility centers and provide advanced medical care and redesign the landscape with improved infrastructure and cultivation? Oh, yes - No One.
So much for information and technology, welcome to the Iron Age, barely.

Today, the majority of valuable and essential functions do not require masculine muscle power, and for a society to fail to capitalize on women's contributions permanently cripples its prosperity and progress. May all such cultures fail by tomorrow afternoon, crushed beneath the burdens of their backwardness, and may their women be freed to live happily and safely among wise men who value them.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Is there a real energy crisis? (No conspiracy theories)

This excerpt is from Spencer Reiss' book review of The Bottomless Well by Peter Huber and Mark Mills, which appeared in today's WSJ:

Energy ultimately comes not from sunshine or buried Cambrian goo or even from uranium left over from the Big Bang -- mere fuels. Energy (or, more accurately, power) is what happens when you apply human intelligence -- the "bottomless well" of the book's title -- to the physical world.

(It seems I draw so much from the WSJ, but they've become such a dawggone fine paper, broadening their topic arrays while remaining detailed in their analyses, not scared they'll lose me with figures and charts.)

Now this quote details a key plank of the philosophical platform I stand upon. Humans are inventive, adaptive, and capable. We can and will do better things for energy and food supply and health care. We are created to innovate, and I believe the international cross-communication of citizens and scientists which flourishes today, though it does create some vulnerabilities, is exponentially increasing our ability to enhance previous developments and do better for each other. So there.