Archive for the 'Religion' Category

When is a chide not a chide?

Friday, January 31st, 2014

So the US chides Syria? But now the chide has left the room. Or the chide became a slam (even though the hyperlink tells the real story again and again). The headline writer nailed it, but sadly he got too close to reality for the powers that be.

What hath the faculty lounge wrought?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

We had a bead on the college professor many years ago, and things have played out pretty much as anticipated when you are bossed around by the faculty lounge, at least the sort of faculty lounge where you bring a gun (or a pen) to the fight if your foe brings a knife. Roger Simon has a depressing piece on the assault on science by the worshipers of the West’s most dynamic and destructive religion. VDH weighs in on the War on the Young, no laughing matter indeed. And that War was well underway years ago as well. If there’s a cause for optimism in any of this, it’s lost on us. With the media sinking to servile pursuits aimed at the LCD, and the education establishment so ignorant and self-righteous in indoctrinating the young into pernicious tomfoolery, we just don’t see an end that is much short of catastrophe. Are we missing something?

Things to read

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Dr. Strangelove was true? Doubt it. Jerry Lee Lewis killed one of his many young wives. Seems likely. Hinderaker will get a knock on his door. Definitely. The US has 50% of the world’s lawyers. Ouch! In the academy, all literature is political. Yuck! The ME is a mess. Who knew? The GOP is the stupid party. Duh….

Clarity vs. BS

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Zakaria:

This strikes me as a train wreck. This strikes me as potentially a huge obstacle because the Iranian conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart. The Iranian conception seems to be they produce as much nuclear energy as they want, but it is a civilian program and you can have as much monitoring and inspections as you want. The American position is that they have to very substantially scale back the enrichment of uranium and the production of centrifuges. Now for the first time you have the president of Iran unequivocally saying there will be no destruction of centrifuges. He also made clear in the interview with me that the two heavy water reactors would continue in operation. So this seems like — you know, this is stillborn — I’m not even quite sure what they’re going to talk about if these are the opening positions.

Clarity on one side, endless blather on the other. (BTW, Zakaria is months late in understanding what was obvious day one.) RMG has more if you’re interested.

Questions for high school seniors

Friday, January 24th, 2014

How many feet in a mile? How many yards in a mile? What is the circumference of the earth? What is the Pythagorean theorem? How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? What’s a woodchuck? How many men have served as president? What’s the official language of the UN and how come they can’t spell? What is the phrase “will a jolly man make a jolly visitor” a mnemonic for? What about “how terribly poor the frail paper boy looks”? What does “negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4ac over 2a” mean? What does the phrase “remember the alamo” refer to? Who is William Bradford? What’s the first line of Moby Dick? Recite three lines of any Shakespeare sililoquy. When is a door not a door? (When it’s ajar.) What’s the shortest verse in the King James bible? What’s your opinion on the Psalm 46 kerfuffle? What’s wrong with the phrase “agricola amat puellam“? What are NaCl and entropy?

Well, we could have performed well enough on most of those in high school, except for the bits about Psalm 46 and the woodchuck. We suspect that fewer high school seniors would fare as well today. Question: how would the writers of this speech do?

This just in from the Department of Self Awareness

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

WH: “this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.” Well, apparently not every one. HT: TW

(Cuomo made a similar point, and Noonan demonstrates why it’s not news.)

yip yawp

Monday, January 20th, 2014

A guy:

The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant…I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian. Let’s just keep in mind, Falluja is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into…You have a schism between Sunni and Shia throughout the region that is profound. Some of it is directed or abetted by states who are in contests for power there. You have failed states that are just dysfunctional, and various warlords and thugs and criminals are trying to gain leverage or a foothold so that they can control resources, populations, territory…And failed states, conflict, refugees, displacement — all that stuff has an impact on our long-term security. But how we approach those problems and the resources that we direct toward those problems is not going to be exactly the same as how we think about a transnational network of operatives who want to blow up the World Trade Center. We have to be able to distinguish between these problems analytically, so that we’re not using a pliers where we need a hammer, or we’re not using a battalion when what we should be doing is partnering with the local government to train their police force more effectively, improve their intelligence capacities.

Meanwhile, back on planet earth: “al Qaeda’s work converged that night in Benghazi, according to a bipartisan report last week by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Global jihadists created a sort of convention of at least four terrorist franchises.”

Question

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

NYT:

There is often a simplistic, black-or-white, conservative vs. progressive discussion around the dissolution of the traditional family and high single-parent birthrates in America and what these trends may portend for us as a country. I don’t see the argument as completely binary or the problem as intractable. But, I do believe that we must focus more on complex areas of causation. We can’t look longingly at the halcyon ideals of yore, where marriage held more primacy

Why not? HT: CM and BOTW

(What you see is often what you want to see, often what you want to see….)

Quotable

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

WS:

The leaders of Iran didn’t go to Columbia in the early 1980’s and didn’t dabble in the arms control movement. Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani had different formative experiences, ones that involved using arms, not trying to control them. They hanged political opponents by their necks from cranes, built a terrorist organization in Lebanon that murdered and abducted Americans, fought a war with Iraq, and carried out assassinations in Europe against regime opponents and bombings in Argentina against Jews.

That’s not all. HT: PL

“Nonpaper”

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

LAT:

Key elements of a new nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers are contained in an informal, 30-page text not yet publicly acknowledged by Western officials…Araqchi referred to the side agreement using the English word “nonpaper,” a diplomatic term used for an informal side agreement that doesn’t have to be disclosed publicly…“No facility will be closed; enrichment will continue, and qualitative and nuclear research will be expanded,” he said. “All research into a new generation of centrifuges will continue.”

The publicly available information on the deal sounds okay (except for infelicities like “time-bound”), but really, how effectively can you monitor a secret program often carried out in secret facilities?

Science and religion

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Interesting piece on Richard Lindzen. And here’s Gelernter on the closing of the scientific mind. Derbyshire on when man becomes god, very sick indeed; and a little more from Derbyshire on the prior generations of gods in NK. Finally, regarding religion, Iowahawk pointed us to this piece. Have a nice day!

Don’t go to grad school

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

A professor at a university says this:

Far from being “the perfect food,” milk offers a narrative about progress and perfection that embodies “the politics of American identity over the last 150 years” argues DuPuis, linking “the perfect whiteness of this food and the white body genetically capable of digesting it”…

Animal studies scholarship includes the varying approaches of posthumanism, human–animal studies, and critical animal studies…A recent article in Society and Animals appears to invoke Donna Haraway’s post-humanist construction of factory-farmed animals as “workers” in its framing and discussion of dairy cows as collaborating with the dairy producer. Haraway refers to “laboratory working animals” and “working animals in the food and fiber industries” as if being the experimental animal or the animal whose body is confined within the structures of industrial animal production were a sustainable “job” that animals might willingly choose, or resign from.

From the more activist standpoint of critical animal studies, “Haraway’s work has become paradigmatic of a largely depoliticized approach within Animal Studies,” evincing a clear humanist interest in human–animal relations that maintains species dominance. To date, the majority of research on milk comes from food studies scholars, vegan feminist and ecofeminist scholars, and feminist environmental science sources such as Sandra Steingraber’s Having Faith (2001) and Maia Boswell-Penc’s Tainted Milk (2006).

Both science sources address the nutritional value of human breast milk for mother and child, the “body-burden” of environmental toxins transferred through that milk, and more specifically the environmental racism challenged by the Akwesasne Mothers’ Milk project. Advocacy groups such as Environmental Working Group and the MOMS and POPS project regularly monitor milk as an environmental indicator of health, and have found perchlorate (a rocket fuel) in every sample of California supermarket cows’ milk as well as fame retardants (PBDE), pesticides (lindane, endosulfan, DDT), and other POPS in human breast milk.

This movement in environmental science affirms Katsi Cook’s insight that the mother’s body is the first environment, an insight that links the concerns of feminism, environmental justice, and interspecies justice. Postcolonial studies offers another critical perspective, building on Alfred Crosby’s concept of “ecological imperialism” to describe both the ruthless appropriation of indigenous land — particularly violating indigenous women, queers, and animals — and the introduction of exotic livestock and European agricultural practices.

The ecofeminists Val Plumwood and Vandana Shiva have pointed out the ways dualistic thinking and instrumental reasoning of the “Master Model” have constructed nature, the indigenous, and the animal as “other” to meet human (elite male) needs, and biocolonization functions as a continued practice, patenting indigenous knowledges and genetics, all under cover of “progress” through Western science and agribusiness.

Environmental racism and classism exemplify additional contemporary colonial practices, linking the continued expropriation of resources and transfer of wastes to communities of color, and rural and impoverished communities around the world. Until the work of Graham Huggan and Helen Tiffin, postcolonial studies had yet to “resituate the species boundary and environmental concerns” at the center of its inquiry, examining the “interfaces between nature and culture, animal and human.”

In spite of herself, Gaard also notes that since 1970 “consumption of cows’ milk has increased 17 times in China and 2.4 times in India.” Must be all the elite white maleness, eh? What does such a person think about Keystone? AGW? Etc. They have lifetime employment and are teaching your kids. Beware!

Update: Roger Kimball has some thoughts on this as well.

Good riddance

Monday, December 30th, 2013

VDH takes a wrecking ball to 2013. Other large parts of the PJ crew do the same to the corrupt and poorly educated media. Meanwhile, Steyn demonstrates that we haven’t learned anything in the last dozen years. And, late breaking news: the Antarctic is really cold. Good riddance to 2013. Funny thing, 2014 doesn’t look any better in some respects.

Curious Numbers

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Barone:

only 26 percent with divorced parents move up, compared with 42 percent born to unmarried mothers…and 50 percent who grow up with two married parents…Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then–assistant labor secretary, won fame — and vicious criticism — for his report lamenting that 24 percent of black births were to unmarried mothers. By 2009, that rate had risen to 72 percent — and the rate of unmarried births to all American mothers was 41 percent…Go back…to the years around 1900, and Americans were marrying later, and larger percentages than today never married at all.

We find the 42% number above to be curious. However, at a recent family gathering, we learned that, despite years of trying and locating volumes of documents, no one has been able to find any proof that grandma and grandpa were married. We figure it was a shotgun wedding without the wedding, with grandma moving from MA to RI just ahead of the stork. If they never actually married, it was a well kept secret.

In this way the 42% makes sense, if a substantial number of the children of unmarried mothers are growing up with 2 parents. We agree with Charles Murray that the numbers look awful, but it would be very interesting to know how many unmarried 2 parent households there are today.

Ho Ho Ho!

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Merry Christmas! We’re in an excellent frame of mind, in part because a complex business undertaking seems to be coming together nicely, and could yield some spectacular results. Not particularly Christmas-y perhaps, but what the heck. In fact, we’re in such a good mood that this essay by the Spengler of our time, Mark Steyn, couldn’t dampen our mood. For fun, we link to the droll piece from several years ago by T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII endorsing you know whom. And isn’t it precious that the Supreme Leader and all those other swell Iranian Poo-Bahs are wishing us all Merry Christmas. Gosh, things are great! Enjoy the day….

Duck and cover

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

No, not that duck and cover. The other one of course. Sigh. Typical of these deranged times. And things that really should spark outrage seem mostly to be passed over in silence.

Life of Julia / Julio and a few other things

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

It turns out that there’s a sort of male counterpart to the Life of Julia. Yuck. Speaking of males, Putin is on the rise, and Saudi Arabia has just about called it quits with the US. Does anyone think that things can possibly get better in the next few years with the clown carnival running the country?

Can’t think about that for too long. Hey kids! Lets’ put on a show! It will be about some people taking a trip and getting lost and all the adventures they have when stranded far away. Oops! It’s about time didn’t do so well, but the creator’s other series about castaways did pretty well. Given contemporary sensibilities, can the movie be anything other than awful?

What’s happening in Iran?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Amir Taheri:

Originally, Iran’s official media had presented the accord as a treaty (qarardad) but it now refers to a “letter of agreement” (tavafoq nameh). The initial narrative claimed that the P5+1 group of nations that negotiated the deal with Iran had recognized the Islamic Republic’s right to enrich uranium and agreed to start lifting sanctions over a six-month period. In exchange, Iran would slow its uranium enrichment and postpone for six months the installation of equipment for producing plutonium, an alternate route to making a bomb. A later narrative claimed that the accord wasn’t automatic and that the two sides had appointed experts to decide the details (“modalities”) and fix a timetable.

On Sunday, an editorial in the daily Kayhan, published by the office of “Supreme Guide” Ali Khameini, claimed that the “six month” period of the accord was meaningless and that a final agreement might “even take 20 years to negotiate.” It was, therefore, no surprise that Iran decided to withdraw its experts from talks in Geneva to establish exactly how to implement the accord. “Now we have to talk about reviving the talks on modalities,” says Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi…

Tehran has been in negotiations with Russia and three other littoral states over sharing the resources of the Caspian Sea since 1992. Talks with Iraq over implementing Resolution 598 of the UN Security Council and reopening the Shatt al-Arab border estuary have been going on since 2004. Other talks over sharing water resources have been going on with Afghanistan since 2003; talks over joint exploitation of gas resources with Qatar have been going on for 25 years…

“Our centrifuges are working full capacity,” Salehi said last Thursday…Khamenei’s daily mouthpiece put it Sunday: “If our centrifuges do not continue to turn, no other wheel shall turn for our dignity, independence, power and security.”

And yet our side insists that the agreement is comprehensive and permanent. We live in unhinged times. Worse, really. We have studied these alien cultures for over a decade, and the truth is plain to see. Yet somehow the faculty lounge still can’t understand Taqiyya and Jihad.

Listen and learn

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Regarding Iran:

when I first came into office. Iran had gone from having less than 200 centrifuges to having thousands of centrifuges, in some cases more advanced centrifuges. There was a program that had advanced to the point where their breakout capacity had accelerated in ways that we had been concerned about for quite some time and, as a consequence, what I said to my team and what I said to our international partners was that we are going to have to be much more serious about how we change the cost-benefit analysis for Iran.

We put in place an unprecedented regime of sanctions that has crippled Iran’s economy, cut their oil revenues by more than half, have put enormous pressure on their currency — their economy contracted by more than 5 percent last year. And it is precisely because of the international sanctions and the coalition that we were able to build internationally that the Iranian people responded by saying, we need a new direction in how we interact with the international community and how we deal with this sanctions regime. And that’s what brought President Rouhani to power. He was not necessarily the first choice of the hardliners inside of Iran.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we should trust him or anybody else inside of Iran. This is a regime that came to power swearing opposition to the United States, to Israel, and to many of the values that we hold dear. But what I’ve consistently said is even as I don’t take any options off the table, what we do have to test is the possibility that we can resolve this issue diplomatically. And that is the deal that, at the first stages, we have been able to get done in Geneva, thanks to some extraordinary work by John Kerry and his counterparts in the P5-plus-1.

So let’s look at exactly what we’ve done. For the first time in over a decade, we have halted advances in the Iranian nuclear program. We have not only made sure that in Fordor and Natanz that they have to stop adding additional centrifuges, we’ve also said that they’ve got to roll back their 20 percent advanced enrichment…20 percent enrichment, which the concern was if you get too much of that, you now have sufficient capacity to go ahead and create a nuclear weapon. We’re taking that down to zero. We are stopping the advancement of the Arak facility, which would provide an additional pathway, a plutonium pathway for the development of nuclear weapons.

We are going to have daily inspectors in Fordor and Natanz. We’re going to have additional inspections in Arak. And as a consequence, during this six-month period, Iran cannot and will not advance its program or add additional stockpiles of advanced uranium — enriched uranium.

Now, what we’ve done in exchange is kept all these sanctions in place — the architecture remains with respect to oil, with respect to finance, with respect to banking. What we’ve done is we’ve turned the spigot slightly and we’ve said, here’s maximum $7 billion out of the over $100 billion of revenue of theirs that is frozen as a consequence of our sanctions, to give us the time and the space to test whether they can move in a direction, a comprehensive, permanent agreement

“Comprehensive.” “Permanent.” Danger words. Blather from the faculty lounge. All from the same guy who said nice things about the “Supreme Leader” when the US should have been backing the people. As or more important, look at the oh-so glib lying about enrichment — “we’re taking that down to zero” — which is not at all what is happening.

In all our years we have never seen the likes of this guy. We’ve been saying this for years, but still we are amazed. He says the most obviously ridiculous and untrue things but appears to believe them when he is saying them. It should have its own entry in DSM-5.

Pretty good deal

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security:

the Islamic Republic controls all aspects of nuclear science, from A-Z, from the very beginning all the way to uranium enrichment. This is why the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution talked about heroic flexibility. After ten years, we have emerged victorious over the West. They wanted to prevent us from acquiring nuclear technology, but we have reached that point, having sacrificed martyrs, and having persevered on that path, enduring an economic siege. Now we have emerged victorious heroes. It was in our best interest to sign this agreement. The Americans reached the conclusion that it would be futile to continue with their policy of confronting the Islamic Republic – a policy that was leading them nowhere. They wanted to prevent Iran from enriching uranium, but we have attained this technology and we are currently using it…They said that they did not recognize our right to enrich uranium, but at the same time, they say that Iran agreed not to enrich above 5%. This constitutes an official acknowledgement…We consider this to be a great victory for Iran, and the beginning of a new phase for the Islamic Republic. Iran has become an official member of the international club…We have now entered a new stage. We expect good results. The nuclear dossier will be removed from the agenda of the UN Security Council, and they…have acknowledged Iran’s uranium enrichment. In addition, the economic siege on the Islamic Republic will be lifted.

WaPo: “the United States and its partners have already agreed that Iranian enrichment activity will continue indefinitely. In contrast, a long-standing U.S. demand that an underground enrichment facility be closed is not mentioned.” Iran sure thinks it got a pretty good deal. (Is that 5% really 5%?) We’re not quite sure what the US got out of this.