Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hurt Feelings

Hurting people's feelings should not be allowed.
Those angry protesters were really, really going at it. They rallied and yelled and said the artwork "sew[ed] evil into people," made a mockery of their god, and that, "there should be freedom of speech but there should never be freedom for desecration."
Nope, it's not about cartoons. (Well, not entirely.)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I Wish to Make a Complaint

Would you like to feel sick and full of rage? Here is some video of cops across south Florida intimidating someone who asks for a complaint form. I found it via Boing Boing and an update there shows that Sergeant Peter Schumanich, probably the scariest piece of work on the tape tried to get a court injunction to stop CBS4 from airing the video again.

So, are there guidance councilors out there watching for the most vicious little psychopathic thugs on the play ground and saying to themselves: "Yah know, south Florida could use people like him manning the reception desks at police stations. I think I will steer him in that direction"? Or did Schumanich just score high on the pushing-people-around portion of an aptitude test.

I wonder if he is now griping about the activist judge who refused to protect his right to privacy when harassing civilians.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

One More Thing Not Mentioned Much

Iraq's economy is still growing. Not bad for nine months of civil war.

Update: This article was created by the United Press International which is owned by News World Communications, which is owned by the Unification Church. I am not saying that the data in the article is wrong but I can't quote the UPI without the qualification that the owners of their owners are spooky.

May 2005 Civil War in Iraq

I have distinct memories of the media having declared the immanent onset of civil war in Iraq several times. Now that this latest declaration of Iraqi civil war is making the rounds, I decided to try to find out if:

1) The memories I have of these previous declarations are false and I am remembering events that did not occur.

2) The reporting of immanent civil war in Iraq did occur and the media was giving a truthful assessment.

If number one was true then I have a problem. No one's memory is perfect and recollection can be significantly altered over time by suggestion. But this would be different. I have distinct memories of specific media personalities making specific claims about the Iraq being in the opening days of civil war. Surly this is not something you can just be confused about (on my side or the media). If the media has not made claims about the slide into of civil war in Iraq then I am experiencing delusional episodes; possibly hallucinations. The seriousness of this possibility is such that I can not afford to dismiss it without serious consideration. Since I have a distinct memory of events which lead up to the Iraq war that are different from everyone else's, I can not ignore the possibility that I am seriously mentally ill (I remember continuing ongoing interference with the UN weapons inspectors and non compliance with the conditions of surrender imposed on Iraq by the UN whereas the events everyone else remembers can be summarized as "Bush lied, children died").

So I did some research and found that, indeed, the media has been declaring the onset of civil war in Iraq several times. Here is an example of a teaser clip for CBS of their reporting on the Iraq civil war in May of 2005.

So on this issue at least, I am not delusional.

Bob Schieffer has just made the same claim about a slide into civil war including very similar language:
Good evening. I am Bob Schieffer. One of the worst days ever in Iraq, and it's Iraqis against Iraqis. A Middle East expert tells us the country has been plunged into civil war. We start there tonight, and we'll cover these stories...
It is a plunge now, not a slide. If a Middle East expert says it it's so. I can't help but wonder if they have they explained why they were wrong about the onset of civil war in May of 2005 and why they are being more realistic this time. Or is it their contention that civil war actually occurred, then was ended or postponed only to start again in February 2006?

As for number 2) there are many types and definitions of "Civil War" so let us go with the most inclusive definition I can find, namely this one:
A war between factions or regions of the same country.
Can we at least take as a reasonable assumption that such an event must have a beginning and end, and that in order for a civil war to have two beginnings it must have either a notable cease fire/truce or be two separate wars? If not, could someone please explain to me how a civil war can start twice before having ended or paused once?

No ceasefire, truce or armistice has been reported on by the media, neither have the conduct or events of the Iraqi civil war that agencies like CBS news reported on in 2005. In fact, the warring factions listed by those who supporting the "Iraq civil war" version of history (factions like Sunni groups-both secular and sectarian, Shiah followers of various clerics, and such) have been participating in elections, negotiations and other projects which seem unlikely to move forward during nine months of civil war. Shiah leaders are appealing for calm. I can't help but wonder why the media is willing to tar every Shiah with the responsibility of the revenge killings and forecast that they will quickly turn to whole scale civil war.

Nigeria is experiencing wide-spread violence in the open streets between Christians and Muslims (unlike the patchwork vigilante violence of Iraq) and the media has not called it "civil war" but refers to it simply as violence (when they mention it at all).

I wonder if anyone has ever charted the media's use of terms like "quagmire" and "civil war" and "continuous cycle of escalating violence" with events like elections and the constitution agreement. I also wonder if the media will notice that Iraqi security has been taking the lead during the violence and that elements of Iraqi society have been working very hard to overcome the trouble.

Not likely.

Europe Wants Help

(Addendum below)
Germany's former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer feels that America should be joining in with them as they try to negotiate the stupidity out of President of Iran.
"It would be really helpful if the United States could join,'' he said of the talks Britain, France and Germany held with Iran while the United States maintained its diplomatic boycott of Tehran.

We have an important opportunity to solve this if we work together,'' Fischer said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Europe is not strong enough.''
It is not strength that Europe lacks, (in this instance) it is courage and credibility. I love that he tells America what would be helpful. Because Odin knows that Europe has been nothing if not helpful in dealing with Saddam. I wonder if Europe is beginning to worry that their best friend in the world of anti-American politics is going to get Israel going preemptive itself. That wouldn't be good for business.

There is a dangerous mad-mad leading a totalitarian regime that is attempting to get weapons of mass destruction and violating international law. He has expressed a desire to see a neighboring nation wiped out. France and Germany get to deal with this one. If they fail and America needs to take military action to defend Israel, France and Germany leave the UN and France's permanent seat on the security council goes to India.

Addendum: I might seem hypocritical for a Canadian to call out Europe on being unable to stand up to Iran and Saddam but it is not. Canada is not trying to be a seen as a global superpower as Europe is. Canada was not actively trying to protect Iraq from having to live up to its obligations made to the UN after loosing its war to annex Kuwait, she simply refused to participate. Plus, I never said that I thought Canada was doing all it could to stand up to tyrants. All I am saying is that if Europe wants to negotiate with Iran's cognitively hypobaric president they should not be glancing over their shoulder to see if older brother has arrived. It is unseemly.

Oh and while on the subject of dealing with dictators, I wonder if our illustrious new leader Smiley McSmirk (aka Stephen Harper) wants to do the right thing in regards to Cuba without looking like he is bowing to the Helms-Burton nonsense. ("Let's drive countries toward Castro's circle by taking pot shots at them. It's called diplomacy. Jesse Helms learned it from a magazine so it must be a good idea.") If so, Smiley should consider creating some ads (Canadian Governments create propaganda on the public dime all the time why shouldn't some of it be accurate) showing the treatment of Cubans and explaining how Cuba is not a normal country where their tourist dollars might improve the economy.

The War on Drugs

Yes, seeing pictures like these make it clear that the war on drugs is completely sane. I mean what are the chances of something like this being set up twice. [A multi-million dollar harvests every 60 days!]

Friday, February 24, 2006

Intelligent Funding

Some time ago I remember an article (or editorial I think) in Scientific American which asked why The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was funding the Discovery Institute-a group that wants to forward the cause of intelligent design by introducing false information and rhetorical mumbo jumbo into public education systems to make it seem that:

  1. More and more scientists are fed up with evolution and are starting to work on intelligent design.
  2. The reason that no scientists are fed up with evolution and are starting to work on intelligent design is because they are orthodox closed-minded neo-Darwinian priests who are afraid of speaking out against other closed-minded neo-Darwinist priests.
  3. Intelligent design has nothing to do with religion.
  4. Those who oppose intelligent design are all atheists with a radical anti-religious agenda (my ears are burning).
From what I have learned about the Discovery Institute, they don't always seem to be singing from the same song sheet, such as on the issue of common descent verses special creation, the age of the earth etc. and it seems that what they tell people depends on the audience. Another harmony issue is when they admit that intelligent design is not ready to be taught in schools and that they are not trying to get it taught in schools yet spend quite a bit of time testifying on behalf of education systems which are trying to include intelligent design in their curriculum.

Well, the The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seems to have claimed that their donation has nothing to do with the intelligent design. The Discovery Institute does, after all, have a couple other interests to make them look like an institute and not the single interest lobbyist organization that it was set up to be. One of which is a mass transportation.
The Gates Foundation responds that it hasn't abandoned science to back intelligent design. Greg Shaw, Pacific Northwest director, explains that the grant to Discovery underwrites the institute's "Cascadia Project," which strictly focuses on transportation in the Northwest.
As the Salon.com article shows, the line between the transportation project and the anti-evolution lobbying is hard to draw when part of the money goes to the founder and president of the institute, Bruce Chapman. But I had considered it a possibility that the Gates' foundation was not intentionally funding the Discovery Institute. Then I saw this link at EurekAlert! :

Public Release: 23-Feb-2006
At Berkeley: Intelligently designed molecular evolution
Evolutionary paths to new therapeutic drugs, as well as a wide assortment of other enzyme products, have been created through, of all things, intelligent design. A team of researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a technique in which the evolution of an important class of proteins is steered towards a desired outcome.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The sun symbol designates the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as the source of the funding.

Now at first I thought they were using the term "intelligent design" as a joke because that is really how the use of the term reads. In addition, while the article seeming to be about real research of scientific value it is obvious that the work in no way supports the intelligent design movement. The research shows is that you can change an enzyme into another by specifically inducing certain mutations in that enzyme (there is some more to it than that but I recommending reading the article). Yes, intelligence was used to decide which mutations would be enacted but we can use intelligence and some nifty instruments to move atoms around to where we want them, this does not mean that that is how a local mountain got to where it is.

But then I saw the funding source and remembered that they had this involvement in the Discovery Institute. The most [pun]charitable[/pun] hypothesis I can come up with is that the foundation did not make sure that the money they gave would be used only for the transportation project and now the Discovery Institute is using the grant money to fund research with the term "intelligent design" in the description. It is also possible that the Discovery Institute is not involved and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is just interested in funding anything with the words "intelligent design" in the description.

Many have noted that with all the time and money the Discovery Institute has expended to campaign against evolution it could have funded a lot of research into their "theory". Since they don't actually have a theory, more of an exclamation really, I wonder if the use of the term is less of a joke by researchers on the intelligent design movement, as I originally thought, than an attempt by someone to describe actual but irrelevant research with the term of intelligent design. When one looks at the Disco Institute and their history of using quotes out of context, I doubt they would look a gift horse in the mouth. Whether it is a joke, a mistake or a scheme it makes me chuckle.

A Chance For the Media to Show Some Integrity

Today's media is arrogant, ignorant, sleazy and too stupid to even hide their bias, which makes it hysterically funny that The Guardian is claiming that the US media is not being respectful enough to the anti war crowd. Technically they are giving someone the unchallenged opportunity to say it for them but let's not split hairs.) In reality, the only way the US media could be any more anti-war is by wearing suicide vests to White House press conferences. But then those folks at The Guardian have been smoking plastic wrap for some time now.

But what I really wanted to post about is this:

International Women's Day in Tehran - March 8 th

The international media is being invited to cover this event.
Date: March 8th, 2006
Time: 16:30 p.m.Place: Laleh Park, Tehran

If they can pry themselves away from their personal agendas and biases and suppress their tendency to not criticize anyone who might be anti-American long enough to report on this I will be almost impressed. I hope that on March 9th I will be able to link to this post and congratulate the media for showing some modicum of integrity. I will need to see the event covered on NBC nightly news and prominently displayed on several Internet sites of major mainstream media organizations like BBC and CNN.

We shall see.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Getting Ideas

Elements of Chinese society are asking for progress as far as media freedom goes. (Don't let them have it me commie byez! Once they get freedom of the press they will start drawing editorial cartoons and such).

Some Things I Have Come Across

These first two are teasers for a payment required article but they sound interesting:

  • Changing the look of your avatar in an online environment changes your online personality. I find it intriguing how profoundly one's self image-even one's virtual self image-can affect one's personality.

  • Some quantum computers work better when you don't run the program. I think I am going to find the white rabbit now.

Shouldn't people who get violent over anything and everything be encouraged to group together beneath armed predator drones?

But the truth is, the internet cannot be both globally acceptable and a force for democracy.
Well said.

  • And finally, here is an article about some of the problems which European Muslims are experiencing because of the attitude of some that immigrating is just a step towards civilizing Europe so no integration into European society is necessary.
More random detritus later.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. - Gone to Pot.

No sooner does John Roberts get on to the Supreme Court than he becomes a liberal hippy freak. It seems though, that the religious community is to blame. The judgment is based on a law to protect them.
With an opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the decision was one of the most significant applications of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 13-year-old federal statute that requires the government to meet a demanding test before it can enforce a law in a way that creates a substantial obstacle to religious observance.
So I guess the lesson is that it is okay to enjoy hallucinogenic substances if you are not an atheist. And where is it that I need to go to convert? Does the initiation ceremony involve kissing Pat Robertson's ass or anything really nasty like that?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

More Things Which Offend Muslims: Ice Cream.

Thank God for the Muslim Council of Britain for keeping Britlamabad safe from the dessert treats of the Crusaders (and thank Hubbard for Sandmonkey for his post which informed me of this).

Burger King put the word Allah on the lid of their dessert, cleverly disguised as a spinning ice cream cone. While the Muslim Council of Britain is satisfied with Burger Infidel's decision to spend thousands of pounds on redesigning the lid, the first Muslim to be offended is not. "business development manager Rashad Akhtar, 27, of High Wycombe" is hoping to organize a boycott of Burger King until all Christians go back in time and stop the crusades.

If I had been present to advise Burger King I could have saved them the money by drafting the following letter:

Dear business development manager Rashad Akhtar, 27, of High Wycombe and
the Muslim Council of Britain.

Thank you for your interest in our dessert treat. We feel that your problem with seeing the word "Allah" on the lid of your ice cream dessert would be better solved by you not being insane. Try working on that. If the Muslim Council of Britain feels that this is an issue which needs to be taken seriously perhaps we could print a new napkin for our establishments which would have the words "The Muslim Council of Britain are crack-smoking nutbars" on them to help educate the public on the relevant facts of this controversy.

If that is your wish, please let us know by cutting the head off someone. Once again thank you for contacting Burger King with your concerns.

Yours truly,
Spooky Plastic-Headed King dude.

PS. In the interest of full disclosure, all of the milk in our bread products and beverages is from pigs. We should have let you know sooner but better late than never right?

Oh and BTW has Piglet been stoned to death yet? If pigs are so haraam, why do Muslims tolerate them on their planet. There are plenty of wild pigs wander around the earth and I think before people pitch a hissy about cartoony pigs they should wage a good attempt at a jihad on boars, sows, and other real pig type animals. Where the hell are their priorities?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Birds of a Feather

Scientology and Louis Farrakhan are in love with each other (insert smoochy noises here).
Among the four black clergy to be honored at Scientology's annual Ebony Awakening awards ceremony is Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.
Let's see:
Love of pseudoscience? Check.
Bizarre belief systems? Check.
Controversial charismatic leader who is either dead or politically irrelevant or both? Check.
Belief that UFO's are involved in theological matters? Check.
Yup, perfect fit.

I can't wait to learn how Farrakhan's numerology updates the metal rod device of Scientology. It might dispel twice the alien ghosts for half the power if the JOOZE don't suppress it.

Islamic Fanatics Tell Muslim Singer: We'll Kill You

A female Islamic singer needs bodyguards to move around in public. This is in Britain BTW. Are all "religions of peace" this violent?

Banning Stupidity is Stupid.

If you try to ban stupidity, which is a stupid act, you will create a pair of dock which will tear a new hole in the fabric of space and thyme. Or something like that.

I don't know if this guy has really changed his views about the Holocaust or if he is just not ready to go to jail for his views but his case raises the specter of what can happen if you try to ban Holocaust denial or other stupid and dangerous belief systems. You can end up trying someone over what they used to believe.

What is really interesting here is that, if he really has changed his view it is likely due to what he has learned in his efforts to disprove the Holocaust. If he had simply obeyed the law, he would probably still be denying the it but in private where he probably could have made a case that is strong enough to convince people who know nothing about the topic. You can not suppress ignorance by law anymore than you can suppress the truth.

Houston Police Chief Admits to Being a Moron

Houston police chief Harold Hurtt indirectly admitted to being a complete moron this month when discussing people's concerns about the use of video cameras to replace police officers.
"I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?"
Now I am not specifically against video surveillance of any kind but the fact that there are cops, let alone police cheifs of major cities who are stupid enough to not be able to foresee potential abuses (does this guy even know the difference between doing something wrong-or something certain people think is wrong-and doing something illegal?) demonstrates the need for caution with this kind of surveillance. I would not trust Harold Hurtt with the keys to a police car let alone the responsibility of having access to wide-spread surveillance.

I hope that someone in the Houston law enforcement community uses video surveillance of someone doing something legal yet embarrassing (eg. premarital sex in a Baptist community) to get their friend a job at the expense of one of Hurtt's family members. Maybe that would teach him that just because you behave yourself perfectly does not mean that you can not be hurt by extortion. What if the extortion results in a factory going to another town or someone committing suicide. How much suffering is Hurtt prepared to accept before he gives a rat's ass.

If you think the idea of someone in law enforcement abusing their power, might I say that firstly you are a fool, secondly, you have a poor memory. During the creation verses evolution debates, certain local community officials used personal e-mails (legally obtained, though unethically used) against people who dared confront them. The desire to discredit one's opponents combined with the rapidly eroding personal privacy rights, the psychological weight of video (why, after all, would they be showing this clip if it was not a smoking gun piece of evidence?) and the simple ability to take events out of context makes for a potent tool for any self-serving, ethically challenge bureaucrat to manipulate people and their impressions.

When Hurtt admits to being ignorant of this, he admits to being a moron.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Speaking of Evil...

Hugo Chavez, having learned how to rig an election like the best of them, is thinking of getting rid of term limitations.

I would like to ask everyone who did not see that coming to raise your hand. (1, 2, 3... Umm hmm.) Now look up at the hand you have in the air and bring it down on your face in a hard, quick, smack-like motion.

That was from me.

Music is Evil!

How many times do I need to tell the world that music is evil? Via Boing Boing I happened to note this story.

Look people, the folks who make music are at best self-absorbed, self-important drugged out narcissistic weirdos (getting together every few years for a promotion to feed the people made hungry by the socialist nonsense that many of them promote does not count as charity work either). But as rich as they become off your purchase of their wares, the real beneficiaries of legitimate sales of music are the blood sucking parasitic Cosa Nostras like the RIAA. And if you get your music illegally you are creating a niche which is ripe for exploitation; a selective pressure favoring the evolution of an even more insidious form of societal pathogen; a frankensteinian creation made of parts from the RIAA, lawyers, child stalkers and extortionists. It is this new pseudo-life form that will contribute to the increasing corruption of legislative bodies and legal systems.

If you want to listen to music, learn how to make it yourself. Of course, that will eventually make you part of the problem. Music is the rootkit of the soul. Why do you think every nation has an anthem and churches expose their subjects to these hypnotic tones.

Music is bad mojo. The Taliban proved this. No one can be wrong about everything and the Taliban were wrong about everything except music being evil.
QED (I think.)

The Internet's Attention - Cartoon

The Internet notices the word "cartoon" (a snapshot for Feb 19th 2006). Posted by Picasa

A graph of posts that contain "Cartoon" per day for the last 30 days:
Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!

It is interesting to see topics work their way across the conscious mind of the world, only to fade again into the background.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Remember Tunisia?

Do you recall how the UN rewarded Tunisia for its exemplary work on freedom of expression with the right to host the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005? Some naysayers thought that nothing good could come of a summit on the "information society" hosted in a country that hates information and all who traffic in it.

Well, I just noticed
this story,
Cuba, Iran lash out at Internet freedom which shows that the summit was a valuable opportunity for some of the world's most informed leaders to provide their view of how the Internet should be changed to better accommodate their needs.

I can't quote from the article because the whole thing is too priceless to be taken in pieces. If the UN is good for anything (and they certainly seem to be trying very hard not to give that impression) it is as a cautionary example as to why global organizations should not be set up and managed in the presence of mercury vapors.

Miller Wants Your Ass.

Via Boing Boing I just learned that Miller Brewing is tracking down people who use throwaway e-mail addresses to enter contests so as to continue to send them spam after the contest is over. Since marketing contests are usually used to publicize your company and it's wares, it seems kind of strange to stalk people down like an obsessed ex-spouse. I wonder if Miller Brewing could run down the process by which it finds the permanent e-mail addresses of people who are nasty enough to reply to their marketing scams. I am sure that it would not be creepy in the least.

ALA Still AWOL on Cuba

Some people are noticing the ALA and their love of Fidel McBeardo at the expense of free speech. Also, it might be topical to compare Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay with life in Cuba itself.

Scroll down to Camp Delta vs. Camp Castro

Kofi Annan has called for the closure of Guantanamo Bay. I am currently calling for the closure of the UN and Annan's "very cheeky" cakehole in particular. I have been making my call longer than Annan has been making his so I get my demands met first. That is how it works.

Turning Muslim in America

This documentary shows some nice normal American's in Texas who are converting to Islam because Southern Baptist Christianity is not conservative enough for them. Please read that sentence again.

There are some things about this documentary that I would like to address. Like some other sources, the short film makes the statement that Islam is the fastest growing religion in America. While Scientologists and Muslims have both made this claim, and while the statistics are conflicting on this matter, most do not show Islam as being anywhere near the fastest growing religion (I am not even going to dignify the Scientology claim with a snicker). Wicca makes a good claim to the title of fastest growing, as do nonreligious categories, and deists. A lot depends on how you measure growth. A percentage based measurement allows people to use lots of emotional adjectives when dealing with tiny religions drawing tiny fractions of converts from the huge population of the US.

The media is likely to accept the "Islam is the fastest growing religion" claim for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it makes people sit up, take notice and keep watching through the commercial breaks, mostly out of fear of being swamped by Islamic jihadis. Also, it is easy to accept if one has heard that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world but again this is misleading. Most of this growth is based on population increase which is slowing and much of the new growth is being counted from Africa where some of the "converts" are not all that clear on the idea of belonging to one religion exclusively. Many Africans are being counted as being Islamic and Christian converts even if some of them have not abandoned traditional African religions. One Friday in a mosque here, a Sunday at church there and an ceremony for the ancestors can all be accommodated.

Of course, from the blurb at the end, the documentary seems to be more of a "get to know us" piece than an investigative piece of journalism so we can expect the odd exaggeration.

Another thing I wanted to note was that, hearing a southern accent and seeing a Burka/Hijab is not an improvement to either. It's like mixing beach sand with pudding. Hearing Elly May Clampett speaking seriously about her spiritual beliefs while buried in laundry requires far more cultural sensitivity than I have left.

Some other points:

I don't want to say for sure, but the son of the woman who thought it would have been easier if her newly-Muslim son had just told her he was gay... I think he is gay. Not that there is anything wrong with that (unless he is a Muslim).

Islam has many little rituals designed to constantly remind the adherent of the religion (and give the old school Muslims many things to constantly pick at). It is quite a bit like the rituals of obsessive compulsives: hand washing, obsession with cleanliness, repetitive chanting, a preoccupation with modesty, etc. It is almost like someone thought to write down the symptoms of someone with OCD and design a religion around them. All formalized religions do this to an extent but Islam seems to have raised it to an art.

I love that they talked to a Texan woman who was unsure if Muslims believed in God. I wonder how many people on this planet can name the continent they live on.

I hope someone out there can inform me that this was a mockumentary. If not, I wonder if these people were told before they signed on that many Muslims consider it extremely offensive when a Muslim converts away from Islam. "Hey kids, who made this documentary? Allah!"

Stick with Wicca.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Is Iraq Still There When Nothing Explodes?

Normblog notices, as many of us have, that certain things get reported and certain things do not.

Sort of like how no one's human rights are ever violated in Cuba except those nice Taliban boys at Guantanamo.

His Noodly Appearance May Be Rendered

The Flying Spaghetti Monster can be drawn without fear of blasphemy.

Upon hearing the news, Islamic theocracies spontaneously converted to Pastafarians and started a rave party sensation!

Follow the Money

It seems that Connie Morris, John Bacon, and Ken Willard, three of the Kansas BOE creationists in residence who have been taught to use the term "Intelligent Design" by the Discovery Institute, have found a creative way to make up for campaign fund short falls. They cheat. But then, it's only laws.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Political prisoners in Iran, including some who have been held for years are disappearing according to their families and other prisoners. Classy. Don't worry, Kofi Annan is sure to say something any day now. Even Amnesty International, while not using words like "gulag" is being critical of the regime.

Speaking of Kofi's world, the United Nitwits have again accused the US of torture and such at Guantanamo Bay after refusing to even go there. They refused because the American military would not let them interview individual prisoners. Since the word of terrorists who have, for the record, been instructed to lie about torture if captured is all that really matters, they would rather not be mislead as to the conditions of these prisoners by actually going there and seeing the place. Again - classy.

And the media got some new photos of Abu Ghraib abuses and are running the story as if it happened yesterday. I suppose that making up news can be tiring and sometimes you just need to air reruns.

Saddam is going on a hunger strike. I don't know what is more humorous: the fact that he thinks he has the moral fiber to actually starve himself, the idea that he might actually succeed in giving himself the long drawn out death he actually deserves but no one wants to be responsible for, or the idea that he believes anyone of any worth cares if he dies a slow painful death. If anyone really wants to feel sympathy over someone who was on a hunger strike, try ignoring the self important gas bag and read this guy's story. While he has ended his hunger strike now the photo shows that he went further than most could to stand up to Hugo Chavez's lover. Guillermo Fariñas Hernández is an independent journalist who was starving himself for Internet access. Western Journalists and editors seemed unimpressed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Blasphemy Can Only Be Used For Revenge.

This was a quote from someone who felt that no one has the "right" to offend anyone's religious beliefs unless they have disrespected you first. Sort of a "Do unto others" on an "eye for an eye" basis. Posted by Picasa

The statement was issued in regards to a blasphemous little web game involving the crucifixion and is seems remarkably similar to what the anti-cartoon westerners are saying. Ironically they would be the first to laugh at such a statement when presented by a Christian (Well, I might beat them to it with a giggle). ['Anti-cartoon westerners'. Welcome to the 21st century where any few words can become a meaningful phrase.]

I wonder if this person sees the importance of freedom of speech differently now that unconditional respect for Islam is being demanded of non Islamic people.

"Sin" is Copyrighted.

Further proof that intellectual property rights lawyers are from hell came in the form of two diet companies, themselves spawn of Satan, dueling over the rights to the word "Sin".

Richard Branson has been aggressively asserting his rights to the word "Virgin". (When he is not assisting noted global annoyance Steve Fossett's ass into the air that is.) If this keeps up the whole Bible is going to be owned by corporations. Maybe they should restrict the use of the word "Prophet" (not a link about Islam this time).

Biology News Net Stuff

Biology News Net has some interesting stories today.

Less is more, gene study shows describes work where genes which do not function in humans (pseudogenes) but have functional versions in chimps can tell us about some of the selective pressures that altered our genome. While it is hard to say at this point how much genetic change is caused by losing gene functions as opposed to gaining genes through duplication and other events, it is an interesting avenue of research.

Scientists seek to unwrap the sweet mystery of the sugar coat on bacteria. Those sugary little pathogenic bastards are always disguising themselves to evade the immune system. Fortunately humans are smarter than germs, at least at the University of Texas at Austin they are. (If you think I am going to make a southerner joke while it's still quail season in Texas you're nuts. They seem to have some very flexible definitions of "quail" down there.)

Team discovers possible 'universal strategy' to combat addiction. I am not certain but from what I have read in Scientific American this 'universal strategy' might also work for behavioral addictions. They are trying to block the action of a natural enzyme that attaches to receptors in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). This enzyme gets the VTA active and this seems to be important in addictions of all kinds.
When the same addicts are shown a video of someone using cocaine or a photograph of white lines on a mirror, the accumbens responds similarly [to the natural and drug rewards in humans], along with the amygdala and some areas of the cortex. And the same regions react in compulsive gamblers who are shown images of slot machines, suggesting that the VTA-accumbens pathway has a similarly critical role even in nondrug addictions. (Scientific American)
I do not know for sure if this would provide an avenue to treat problem gamblers but if you look at the amount of damage that drug addiction alone causes to society and the massive failure of the law enforcement war on drugs and its cost to society in lives, money, corruption and loss of personal liberty* I think that medical research on addiction has a lot of potential value to the world. Too bad life sciences didn't cross Bush's mind during the SOTUS.

* BTW, in the controversy on Bush's wire tapping, it is interesting to reflect on Clinton's Clipper Chip plan. Remember that? He was trying to force every person with a computer to have a back door for government eavesdropping. The key to your back door was going to be given to a "trusted third party" that the government could subpoena with a warrant or just hack into your computer like everyone else was going to do. I just wanted to mention because the Democrats want to be seen as the champions of privacy now. I hope the "universal strategy" can help them get off the glue. They will be the champions of privacy when Bush becomes the science president.

Monday, February 13, 2006

New Cartoon Tactic.

Two publishers in Calgary printed the cartoons and the Muslim communities came up with a new strategy. They want to sue.
"We see these cartoons as racist. We see these cartoons as hurtful, and we see these cartoons as against our religion. There has been damages towards the Muslim community for their losing their peace of mind, and creating stress on people's heart."
Let us review. Islam is a race now. Thoughts and ideas which hurt people's feelings should be banned. No one should be allowed to speak against religion (at least their religion). You can sue people for disturbing your peace of mind and creating stress on your heart.

That last one is my ticket to fortune. If their suit is successful I will use the precedent to sue this whole freakin' planet for every cent it owns.


Editors Have Freedom Too.

So the cartoon drama continues with Iran having a contest for cartoons about the Holocaust and a "renowned" Austrian cartoonist has entered with something that, while critical of modern Israel, only vaguely mentions the Holocaust even though the cartoonist believes that the Holocaust was a big fraud to fool the world into creating Israel. In the light of what has run in Middle Eastern publications for years, it has no chance of winning a contest designed to offend.

"As a show of solidarity with the Muslim world, and an exercise in free speech, I would like to submit a cartoon to you on the theme of the Holocaust," Leunig was quoted as saying on Irancartoons.com, the website organizing the competition with Iran's biggest selling newspaper Hamshahri, triggering outrage in the US and Germany in particular.

Outrage, but no violence or riots yet. Go figure. He goes on to say that he wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of European papers who would not publish a cartoon such as his. Don't newspapers have the right to decide which material they want to print and what they do not? It would be hypocritical if he got this cartoon published and western nations enacted sanctions against it, (or issued threats and encouraged riots).

Since this great effort is being made to change the subject by addressing the hypocrisy of the west, (hypocrites are apparently not given freedom of speech) let's look at that issue. Some European nations do have criminal penalties against promoting denial of the Holocaust. While I sympathize with the desire to keep this garbage out of public consumption, it is misguided. Stupidity should never be silenced by the state. When idiots are not allowed to speak their mind there are three negative consequences:

1) It is harder to identify who the idiots are.

2) It pushes stupidity underground where it can get a more private audience from the impressionable and the gullible, instead of having to stand against public scrutiny, including responses from people who are learned in the subject.

3) It provides stupidity with a kind of bizzaro credibility. If the government forbids it there must be something to it.

Leunig is a perfect example of the first two consequences. If he had not submitted this cartoon to Iran's Nazi rag, I would never have known that this renowned cartoonist is a big old Nazi fool. So, if he wants to expose himself as such he should have that right. If he wants to send out the message that all of his criticism of the Israeli government is based on the motivation of someone who hates Jews he should also have that right.

He does not, however, have the right to pick which publication he will get his cartoon published in. Editorial decisions still rest in the hands of the editors. If they feel there is more reason to criticize political Islamic culture for being fundamentalist, violent and irrational then there is to criticize holocaust victims for allegedly being fictional, then that is their choice. If they make the opposite choice, I am free to cancel my subscription and write a letter to the editor of that paper and, if they don't print my response, to any other paper. Hell, I could make a big sign and about how I think that any paper printing Leunig's trash is a rag and carry it around the paper's front door as long as I obey the laws of the land. I should not have the right to seriously call for Leunig's head or that of his editor. I should not have the right to burn down embassies or for that matter, have the state intervene to kick his ass for me.

There are certain extreme forms of hate speech that should be banned, specifically those which call for violent action against a people or a specific person but not everything a hateful person says is hate speech even if it is hateful and ignorant. We do, however, have every right, as editors and as citizens to shun those works and authors which we find offensive. While Leunig is showing solidarity with the Muslim world by pandering to their basest representatives and encouraging the view that the entire Muslim world is a nest of anti-Semites, he might consider the possibility that the reason no one in the west publishes his cartoons is because nobody outside of Iran likes his creepy-assed Nazi work. And still no one calls for his head or burns down Iranian embassies. Funny how that works.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Canadian Red Cross - Always Helpful

The Canadian Red Cross has, for sometime not been in charge of collecting blood donations in Canada. Does anyone remember why? Because they gave blood supplies that they knew contained units infected with HIV and hepatitis to Canadians even after tests were available to screen for them. I remember when Japan had a similar scandal, those responsible got down on the floor at a public inquiry and wept. They begged for forgiveness. The head of the Red Cross in Canada basically told the Inquiry and all of Canada to suck him off. Thousands of people, including children being treated for hemophilia contracted fatal diseases and I still remember the arrogant little putz /former director of the Red Cross acting as if the whole inquiry was a waste of his time. Some of the blood they were using on Canadians was discount squeezings from Arizona prisoners who, even back in the stupid ages, were known to be a high risk group.

Well, Canada then replaced the Red Cross with a government organization. I know, I know. Long term it is not as efficient as a private corporation would be but the amount of money the government has had to pay in compensation, as pathetic as it has been given the crimes committed in this scandal and as slow as it has been in coming, has at least given the new "Canadian Blood Services" organization a strong incentive to do the job well and no minister in any party would dare screw up again like that because they would have to leave the country, lest we have their guts for garters. Here is a timeline of the whole blood scandal thing. From what I have seen as a regular blood donor the new system is constantly being evaluated, upgraded and improved.

What has the Canadian Red Cross been doing? After whining for a while about being deprived of the high visibility role of blood collecting, they became a standard disaster recovery organization and for all I know they may be doing a good job. After the big eastern ice storm of 1998 there were no lawsuits or inquiries so they can not have done too badly then during very trying circumstances.

But now it looks like the Red Cross needs something to piss people off about. Let's see. It will need to be something that wastes a lot of money, and is completely asinine. How about suing video game makers and first aid kit manufacturers for using a red cross. You see, in video games there are health packs that magically heal the rocket launcher wound to your head by running up to them and making them disappear. Instead of putting the words "run over this pack so it will heal you" over the health pack, most video game makers just put a big red cross on the item to make it look like a first aid kit. Apparently, having an easily recognized symbol that even illiterate people can understand on a first aid kit might make people less likely to donate to the Red Cross and more likely to fire on them in battle fields. What also might accomplish this is pissing people off by making an ass of themselves.

What with the people you are trying to help in disaster zones giving you crap and your upper management making you look ridiculous, I wonder how the Red Cross attracts anyone to work for them.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Do Westerners Have Feelings Too?

I think I understand now. Secular humanistic, traditional liberal types (John Stewart Mills liberal not Pee-Wee Herman in a theater liberal) like me are being told that we just do not understand how strongly people feel about their religion. Political Christianity has been telling us this for years they tell us all sorts of crazy things. You see, those of us who feel that modern western society had been built on concepts like freedom of speech, expression and conscience and other values like reason, personal liberty, transparency in government and open societies, have made a mistake. We assumed that the rest of the world would believe that we were just as committed to these values as they were to theirs.

It turns out however, that the world judges the depth of your conviction and the sincerity of your passion, on the rashness of your actions. People who tie homosexuals to fences, bomb abortion clinics, riot in the streets, burn down embassies, cut off heads, lie in court, abuse their authority in elected office and threaten and intimidate their detractors, are passionate about their beliefs. It is plain to see how passionate they are; how committed they are.

So here is the problem. If you really do feel as strongly about your secular humanistic beliefs; if you are passionate about the separation of church and state; if you are just as angry as the Muslim world about the cartoon issue but because of the attack on your own values rather than the honor of some prophet, what do you do?

Are you morally obligated to be violent and hateful in the support of your beliefs even if such action is also against your beliefs? In a world that only takes extremism seriously are you obligated to be extreme even in the cause of moderation? If so, how does one go about it? Do you start a radical secularist group that perpetrates anti-fundamentalist Islamic/Christian vandalism and threats? Do you campaign to institute discriminatory measures against religious people? Should we demand that no one from third world Christian or Islamic countries be allowed to immigrate? What about burning flags and throwing stones at the embassies of countries which do not keep religion and state separate? Do we really need to go as far as everyone else does before we are allowed to pursue our own values?

People with radical belief systems like those who favor theocracy, Che/Stalinism/Marxism, and Baathists feel that the people of western society are different than other human beings. We are, in their eyes, lazy, lacking values, passion less, concerned with nothing but ourselves and our wealth. We are sheep waiting to be herded once the time is right. Seeing how quickly people in the west have sided with those who condemn us for blasphemy in the name of sensitivity, they may be right. Since secular humanists do not generally have the tools of violence and intimidation at our disposal, resistance is of maximum importance. Unfortunately, resistance requires strength of character, willingness to accept risk and a certain degree of self-esteem. We may just be screwed.

More Unwelcome, Unapproved Free Speech

More demands for unconditional respect have been going out as the people of earth debate what actions should be taken against people who dare challenge God. Strangely enough I find every last shred of respect I had for humanity has been methodically stripped from me in the last few days so don't anyone hold their breath.

More censorship fun:

University of Cardiff student newspaper Gair Rhydd - which means Free Word in Welsh - was forced to recall copies after it reprinted one of the 12 cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper, which have resulted in Muslim protests around the world.
What is the Welsh translation for "Cowardly Thugs" out of curiosity?

A student union spokeswoman said Tom Wellingham, the editor of the paper, which won newspaper of the year at last year's Guardian's Student Media Awards, had been suspended alongside three other journalists.

But wait, here comes the student union spokeswoman's punch line:

"The editorial team enjoy the normal freedoms and independence associated with the press in the UK, and are expected to exercise those freedoms with responsibility, due care and judgment," she said.

How do you say "The student union of the University of Cardiff is a pack of liars." in Welsh? The editorial team enjoys fewer freedoms and less independence than newspapers in the Middle East. You suspended them you dumb asses! Don't pretend that didn't happen at the same time you are announcing it. It makes you look stupid as well as evil.

She said a "majority" of the 10,000 copies printed had been collected and would be shredded. Fewer than 200 copies of the edition, distributed on Saturday, remained unaccounted for.

Why waste electricity on shredders? I believe bonfires are more traditional and a spiffy effigy of John Stuart Mill could be included for fun.

The students' union has launched an investigation into how the images came to be published in the paper, which has a potential readership of more than 21,000 students.

An investigation. Good! The sooner all perpetrators are identified and handed over to the appropriate mob of witchfinders, the sooner we can put this ugliness behind us. (At some point I should tell you kids about the parallel universe I grew up where this shit is considered nauseating)

Local councillor Joe Carter, whose Cathays constituency houses the students' union, described the publication of the cartoon as a "controversial and risky manoeuvre".

"They were wise to pull it but I'm surprised they ran it in the first place. There's a very strong argument about freedom of the press versus tolerance of religion. We have to have tolerance of people's views and culture," he told icwales.co.uk.

We HAVE to have tolerance of people's views and culture. Anyone not being tolerant will have their heads cut off. Tolerant being defined as observing unquestioning obedience and lacking any criticism. Traditional Liberalism, secularism, and humanism do not, I repeat, DO NOT qualify as a culture or a view. Feel free to vomit on these values.

Ashgar Ali, the chairman of Cardiff's Medina mosque, criticized the publication. "You can't play with someone's religion," he told the website.

Thanks Chairman. While you are at it are there any other threats you would like to make? Maybe some edicts you would like to proclaim? "You can't vote against candidates that are approved by God" maybe? Or "Resistance is futile." perhaps?

Let us jump across the pond and revisit St Mary's University in Halifax. I mentioned in an earlier post that that Logic Professor Peter March was forced to remove the cartoons from his door by the university. He has also decided to bring up the issue in class but the university says they won't be taking action against that. If you thought that the inevitable threats would be via mail or telephone, you don't understand how much freedom religious people actually enjoy. The threats are being delivered in person to his office.

March said he was threatened on Wednesday when a group of young men entered his office demanding an apology.

He described the confrontation as: "A finger pointed in my direction, eyes screwed tight, the man saying, through his mouth, I'm going to get you, and some huge men behind them nodding their heads."

Welcome to university.

The SMU Palestine Society also wants March to apologize for posting the cartoons charging that the professor is deliberately trying to upset people for his own publicity.

But March said he did it in an effort to draw attention to academic freedom and freedom of speech, adding it is his duty to confront rising pressure to censor certain images.

Shaheen Sajan, a graduate student and spokesperson for the Palestine Society doesn't buy March's justification. She called the action "irresponsible" and "racist."

The quality of today's grad students. Do I need to explain everything to everyone? Listen very closely Shaheen Sajan, I shall say this only once. Religious beliefs do not make someone a race. Criticizing someone's beliefs, especially ones which they are trying to force-FORCE!!!-on others is not the same as criticizing someone for having skin that is too dark or for being descended from Jews. You freakin' dumb ass. Also, one of the central functions of universities is to provide safe haven to ideas that are upsetting and offensive so either get used to it or go to a community that values collective teamwork and harmony over individual rights. Fast food work might be recommended. Again let me reiterate: You freakin' dumb ass.

But taking speech out of someone's mouth is insufficient for some. The National Post describes an encounter with the Professor (remaining calm) and a group of offended Muslims (decidedly uncalm). When he decided that there was nothing left to say, he asked one of those present how to say goodbye in Arabic. What he was instructed to say actually turned out to mean "I'm sorry" to which everyone cheered. It would be funny if it were not so unbelievably petty.

So this brings me to a topic that has challenged me for some time now. There are religions. There are criminal organizations. How does one delineate between the two? If one turns in to another, like say, a medical fraud organizations declares itself to be a religion to avoid trouble with law enforcement or a religion decides to influence society by threatening and intimidating people, how should such transitions be viewed by the law. Certainly there seems to be a movement in parts of the western Muslim community to try and get Islam viewed as a criminal organization. Part of the martyr complex no doubt. The best defense against a world in which law enforcement has to make decisions about which religions are legal or not would be to put strong emphasis on what used to be western values of freedom and plurality but since those no longer seem popular, I recommend bullet proof vests and strength of will.

Professor March stated "It's my plan, providing I survive that long, to bring the cartoons in and discuss them if the class is interested," Someone who understands the stakes and is not cowed by them.

Thank you Professor.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The EU Joins the Middle East

Congratulation Europe. You have gone from a secular western society to part of the Caliphate (Caliph yet to be appointed but Muammar al-Qaddafi seems interested) with barely a blink of astonishment.
"The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression," he (EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini) told the newspaper (Britain's Daily Telegraph). "We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."
Just please don't kill us.

Oh and Commissioner, it's called "self-censoring" not "self-regulating". You'll want to get things like that right because if certain people in the Middle East think you are back-pedaling... CHOP-CHOP
His proposed voluntary code would urge the media to respect all religious sensibilities but would not offer privileged status to any one faith.
Rather than offering privileged status to any one faith, privileged status will be awarded to religions in a hierarchical manner based on degree of violence they threaten with extra points being granted to extremely litigious religions. Religions which support secular, pluralistic and humanistic values and do not feel that people should be governed by the taboos of belief systems to which they do not adhere (assuming such religions exist) will be placed on the bottom of the hierarchy and will be told to piss off.

It seems that the best way to get rid of a stereotype like "All Muslims are religious psychopaths" is to enshrine it in official policy with not only the consent but the insistence of the stereotyped group. I guess you learn something new every day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Vatican Stroke of Genius

The Vatican is looking at the possibility of having Michael Jackson put the late Pope's prayers to music.

Do I even need a punch line here?

Egypt Hates Islam.

Sandmonkey has discovered that a popular Egyptian newspaper printed the evil cartoons back in October 2005. No one stormed the paper's offices or demanded the editor's blood. Funny how that works. Granted the newspaper condemned them but the opinion of the papers which printed them is not what is being rioted over, it is the fact that they were printed at all.

I wonder if the media will mention this or if they will just let the party roll. It was discovered by a blogger and it is inconvenient so my guess is that they will sit on this info as long as they can and then give it a 3 second mention in the middle of some other story.

Holy Saddam

It had to happen. Saddam has become a holy figure in Islam and can not me mocked. That, at least is the view of a Belgium town which feels that an art exhibit featuring the image of Saddam in a tank of green fluid (in resemblance of a work by Damien Hirst in which a shark was suspended in formaldehyde) is too shocking for their town. Amazingly they made the decision before the cartoon "atrocity".

The town mayor is worried that the art could shock people including Muslims. I don't know if it was the mayor or the BBC who felt it was necessary to include Muslims when speaking of people.
Let's face it. The ones the town is worried about offending are not the odd well-to-do Baathists summering in northern Europe. It is the far left anti-Americans Europeans who are still hoping for a successful insurgency. Or maybe this really is the case of small town hicks who feel that art should never be shocking or provocative.

I will grant that most "shocking" art is also vacuous and simplistic but it should be criticized based on its lack of content, not the fact that it shocks.
While I see some depth to this work, (the work which this work was based on was entitled
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living which seems to have something to do with Saddam's defense strategy) it seems far from shocking or interesting and since any suggestion of aesthetic value is laughable, what is the point?

And I really do wish he were wearing pants (shudder).

Weak as Water

Well, people are dieing because or the self-reinforcing dance religion and mental illness often do; each protecting and enforcing the other. People are dieing over a cartoon and the west is being told (mostly by our own pundits) that we are to blame because we did not understand the depth of feeling that certain Muslims in certain Muslim nations have about their religious beliefs. What we actually did not understand is that the depth of their feelings trumps not only the rights of their neighbor's and fellow Muslims but also the rights of everyone, everywhere, always.

In the National Post on Monday, (if you want to see an extreme left-wing view, read the op-ed of a right wing newspaper and vice versa) Matthew Fisher had a long rant about how it was all about journalists and how the comfortable journalists in the west should have thought about the safety of the correspondents in the Middle East before standing up for free speech. Fisher goes on to completely confuse the issue of lampooning religion with inciting hatred against a race.

While defending their right to publish images that Muslims consider blasphemous and hurtful, these editors are exactly the sort who have quite rightly condemned soccer hooligans, neo-Nazi and skin heads who scream racial abuse and have called for tough sanctions against them. They are also the same editors who would quite rightly never publish cartoons that might offend blacks or Jews.

I will take it as a given that Fisher knows exactly what sort of editors they are because he sounds pretty certain. That being established - Holy smokes! He thinks that soccer hooliganism is comparable to free speech? And Nazis' calls for violence and attempts to create real hatred against people are not distinguishable from criticizing specific religious beliefs which are being enforced on people who do not share them? The only hatred being created against Muslims here is that which is being generated as a backlash to those who call for beheadings and boycotts against innocent Danish companies.

As for "rightly" not publishing cartoons that might offend blacks or Jews, that is neither right nor desirable. The Far Side comic strip had many panels which may very well have offended some or many very conservative Jewish and Christian people (depicting God, Moses and angels as well as Bible stories in unflattering lights) and just about any political cartoon involving race, black political figures or inner city poverty is going to offend someone.

CBC Radio recently defended CBC TV's decision not to show the cartoons during news stories on them by saying that the majority of e-mail responses to this decision were positive. [sarcasm] Of course, an unscientific sampling of the general public's ignorant opinion must mean they have made the right decision. It's not like we have produces generations of citizens who do not know what a sophistry is or something like that. [/sarcasm] Then they had someone from a Muslim association of Canada (I don't know which one) thank them for there decision not to show the comics, saying that it helped prevent violent protests in Canada. Allow me to paraphrase:

"Thank you, CBC, for not using your right to free speech. It saved many in our community from having to get violent and thereby perpetuate the unfair stereotype that many in our community are violent. See, isn't it better when we are all on the same page? Nice and peaceful like."
It might be a good time to link to professor of logic at St. Mary's University in Halifax was forced to take the offending comics of his door by the university. It is the school's door and they feel that a university is no place for controversial discussions. Why is the North American media so chicken-shit? Well there have been many lame excuses such as freedom of speech not being an excuse for inciting violence which assumes that because there is a violent reaction to something it must have been incited. But it is actually a mixture of cowardice and the old human tendency of not wanting to speak ill of the enemy of your enemy. The left has married in to every other anti-American/anti-Bush ideology, especially political Islam and is in denial about who they are sharing a marriage bed with. Political Christianity has the right, political Islam has the left. Every chess board needs its bishops.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch politician who is under police protection for criticizing Islam, though speaking about how the cartoonists must feel, has probably also hit the nail on the head as to why many in the media and academia have been so weak on this issue:

One mustn't forget that they're part of the postwar generation, and that all they've experienced is peace and prosperity. And now they suddenly have to fight for their own human rights once again.
You see boys and girls, the freedom of speech, conscience, expression and yes, of the press (Hell, throw in democracy, equality and property rights while we are at it) are not values which just came naturally to western societies or whims that we have adopted the way you might try a new color shirt for a while. We have decided to adopt, if still imperfectly, these values often after long struggles because we have direct experience with what happens to us when we abandon these values. We have watched them slip away time and again and, like a student falling asleep in class, have awoken with a start at the danger that comes from loosing focus.

The reason why people react hatefully when their beliefs are challenged (see Normal Bob's hate mail and responses in the forgoing link) is that they have never been exposed to an environment where dissent is tolerated. Sheltering people from things that might offend them because they could react violently solves nothing. In fact, I would suggest that people need to be desensitizing to the culture shock of living in a world where not everyone believes what they do. It is true for rural North America and it is true for the Middle East.

In that spirit, here is something that should offend both fundamentalist Christians and Muslims.

Hopefully there are lots of children and teenagers out there who's world view is still adaptable, following this issue and asking themselves if killing and burning and boycotting to stop people from criticizing you is sane and asking whether self censorship is any different from any other form of censorship. As a female Afghani politician recently said when asked if she was afraid of assassination, "You can cut down a flower but you can not stop the coming of spring."

Friday, February 03, 2006

US State Department Panders to Lunatics

US State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper has come out criticizing freedom of speech, expression, conscience and the press in Europe today by pandering to the lunatics who are calling for today to be a "day of anger." If this is official policy Bush must be back on the sauce. Maybe they think they are being clever by turning the attention of the Muslim world elsewhere for a while but what they are doing is legitimizing the insane view that Muslim fundamentalists have the right to rule the whole world in the manner that they rule the few communities and nations which they have been able to enslave.

If Cooper is not reprimanded publicly it will represent a fundamental betrayal of human rights.

Old Timey DNA

Biology News Net has an interesting story about getting really old DNA out of really old fossil bones without contaminating it with creepy researcher DNA. Sounds intriguing. Someday we might be able to elect primitive humans as our political leaders.

Happy Redundant Day!

International Day of Anger.

Today is being dubbed a "Day of Anger" in Muslim countries and communities. In other words it is no different from any other day. Hopefully tomorrow will be dubbed a "Day of Getting a Freakin' Grip" but I am not holding my breath.

"We're ready for jihad!" crowds chanted as they pelted the building with eggs. One carried a banner reading: "Let's slaughter the Danish ambassador!"

Uh, (snicker) you know that the whole point of the cartoons was to criticize the tendency of large numbers of people in the Muslims world towards violence and insane behavior right. Way to miss the point guys.

What is kind of ironic is that these cartoons are actually quite lame. I mean the one about stopping jihad because heaven is running out of virgins is somewhat funny and the juxtaposition of the women in Saudi dress with only the eyes visible and the jihadi with his eyes blacked out was kind of clever but the bomb shaped turban on the prophet is just dumb. The images were obviously designed to offend and that is a completely legitimate motivation for free speech. People who feel they have the right to not be offended are the people who are most deserving of being offended.

There are certain points people bring up on this issue that I would like to address:

We should be respectful of religions and beliefs that we do not share. Wrong. We should be respectful of people's right to hold and practice such beliefs. People who demand the right to have their views respected are engaging in a fantasy and attempts to impose such respect violates people's fundamental freedom of conscience.

It is blasphemous to portray images of the prophet Mohammad. Yes. For Muslims it is blasphemous. What seems to have escaped these day of anger geniuses is that the people printing these things are not Muslims. No, seriously guys, they're not. Since most religions believe to some degree that not believing their doctrine is blasphemy, Muslims are technically committing blasphemy towards Christians every day. Do Muslim citizens want their ambassadors to western countries slaughtered? If so they can do it themselves cause we in the west have been trying to cut town on that kind of behavior for the last few centuries.

Lets boycott Danish products! Genius! You know that the people and companies of Denmark have nothing to say about what gets printed in papers right. Lashing out at innocent bystanders is becoming a real tradition for certain Middle Easter countries (Lockerbie, al-Qaida etc.) Sandmonkey has a good response to the Danish boycott call.

Even if the papers have the right to publish this material, isn't it irresponsible to do so when it could incite violence? No. Standing up for freedom in the face of threats and intimidation is the right thing to do. If terrorists, vigilantes or just plain murdering thugs are incited to kill innocent people because of this the responsibility and blame belongs to those who commit the act and them alone. The editors should not loose a second of sleep over any blood spilled in "retaliation" for their decisions. Those who call for the blood to be spilled certainly don't.

Certain groups have issued threats against tourists and foreigners who visit their country. Somewhere in the Middle East a big shipment of smart pills got stolen and replaced with stupid juice. These same countries have tourism ministries who are probably wetting themselves.

One good thing about this who situation might be if it dawns on European nations and their citizens that overlooking the conditions in Middle Eastern nations for the sake of maintaining political alliances is not a good long term strategy.

Speaking of Iran... I wonder how Tony Blair is coming with his article defending the Holocaust.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Libraries for Castro

I was almost ready to sign off when I read these articles. The American Library Abomination seems to like Castro quite a bit. Wonderful.

State of the Union and Science.

I was fortunate enough to have slept through the President's SOTUS but I have been picking up some of the highlights from various sources. I saw enough footage to know that the two parties seem to have adopted the British parliamentary system that we use up here in Canada where both sides hoot and holler like drunken howler monkeys. When Curious George mentioned that his plan to fix social security failed the Hillary and the Democrats were applauding and smiling in a way that one might if one's brain just fell out of one's ass. They have no alternative plan other than borrow until they bleed, but they have their own retirement plans tied up so giving fair warning of the end of the plan is not their concern. They can probably be assured that it will not collapse until after they are out of politics. The smiling has nothing to do with the quality of the plan Bush was offering (though given the source it was probably pretty bad) but had everything to do with having defeated the very concept of a need to fix Social Security (or warn people to stop depending on it) and after having rebranded it as a partisan Republican issue. Smile away guys. It was an artful partisan maneuver.

But I have also read some of what the ring-leader had to say. He seems to be trying to be the science president now due to the criticism of his administration's science policy. Granted, if you are interested only in the physical sciences you might be enthused.
First, I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.
Physical science is singled out rather than those nasty old life sciences that create messy things like stem cells, evolutionists, bird flu and stuff. I should not give the impression that he did not talk about biology but lets get to that later.
Second, I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit to encourage bolder private-sector initiatives in technology.
A free market initiative? I didn't think George had it in him.
Third, we need to encourage children to take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations.
Like the school system that produced South Carolina Governor Mark Santon who seems to have an interesting view of the theory of evolution:
The idea of their being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being... is completely at odds with, you know, one of the laws of thermodynamics which is the law of, of.. in essence, destruction.
And you don't need a PhD level understanding of the law of destruction to see that most other nations have better school systems that South Carolina's. In the old days, when we wanted to criticize a theory we would actually read something about it first. Call me an old fuddy duddy.

As I mentioned, it seems Georgio did get around to mentioning biology during his speech as part of his new pro science agenda. He calling on his comrades to help him pass an anti-mad scientist bill that would help limit medical research even further. PZ Meyers gives a good example of how this will impact medicine by discussing the use of mice with human genes as an animal model for Down syndrome.

In short, I am glad I missed the speech.

Agh!!!! Zombies!!!

Well, humans making cockroaches into zombies is old news. Some people feel this is unnatural and icky. Icky is a subjective quality but the 'unnatural' charge is a little weaker after one reads Carl Zimmer's Loom post entitled The Wisdom of Parasites. A wasp performing brain surgery on a cockroach. As Tara Smith at Aetiology says: "Absolutely frickin' amazing."

The possible uses of this wasp as an analogy for just about every aspect of human culture are irresistible and I expect to see it mentioned on just about every political comedy routine in the known universe in short order.


Day By Day© by Chris Muir.