Recent comments

  • Reply to: Education Open Thread   39 min 21 sec ago

    ...with more emotion than Les Miserables (which I hated for it's terrible truths), but alas, it was lost in the ether that is the vastness of TheForvm...


    I wanted to re-type it, but nah, Hank's on his way to Rome, he doesn't need my Weather forecast....and I'm sure you didn't.


    Take care of yourself.


    Best Wishes, Traveller

  • Reply to: Education Open Thread   1 hour 8 min ago

    Really, you are.  How do any of us know that the slaves knew the score?  You seem to be making the same disgusting point as our own community of denial here in the USA about just how bad slavery was.   In Africa, in the 1950s and 60s, it was HORRIBLE.  That Tuareg was beating an entire slave family, including a little boy my age.  And no amount of excuse-making will make any difference.  How do you square it in your mind's eye?   Do you want me to tell you how that little boy screamed and trotted miserably off to do his masters' bidding, knowing that was the fate meted out to him.


    I'm growing disgusted with excuses.  The White Man is predictably more awful than his Brown and Black counterparts - to brown and black people.   It's just another form of racism, there can be no other conclusion.  Muslim slavery, which I saw, up close and personal, was ineffably brutal.

  • Reply to: Education Open Thread   2 hours 22 min ago

    but if it does (and it should - what a chance Scotland has here. Think what the same move cost Ireland) both sides will be rational. The threats are all happening now (on currency, on EU membership, on company flight), and from all corners, to try to keep them in. Once they are out it is in everyone's interest (except perhaps Madrid) that things go well. 

  • Reply to: Education Open Thread   2 hours 33 min ago

    from their cousins North Of The (other) Border:


    The Yes campaign in Scotland, as reasonable as it imagines itself, seems to believe in the unreasonable proposition that you can improve your marriage by getting a divorce. It doesn’t work that way. The Yes campaign also promises that post-divorce negotiations will take place in an atmosphere of complete calm and rationality – and that rump Britain will give it what it wants. But that glosses over the fact that the other side has demands, too.

    ISTM that those "post-divorce negotiations" haven't been clearly or adequately thought out by the parties involved: IOW, "so what else is new...?"

  • Reply to: My Fellow Americans: What Obama should have said.   2 hours 58 min ago

    The problem - say, in America today - isn't really so much that a percentage of kooks "belie[ve] in an actual Noah's Ark";  but rather than a even smaller (and way-more-marginalized) percentage is willing to publicly come out and say that the whole thing is just a myth.

  • Reply to: Education Open Thread   2 hours 59 min ago

    Baton Rouge to Morgan City.

    There is no point in building beautiful things in such a place. Everything is temporary. Nothing lasts here: the floods and termites get it all eventually and the rot-proof cypress is expensive as hell, mostly cut down a century ago.


    I will never live on land here.

  • Reply to: My Fellow Americans: What Obama should have said.   3 hours 3 min ago

    knows it's a Sumerian myth.  I suspect it had some basis in an actual flood in antiquity, when the Mediterranean Sea filled in as the Straits of Gibraltar opened back up.  The Internet is a great fund of nonsense but people were always spouting kookery from time immemorial.  If anything, the Net has provided a useful vent for it all.  But it's also provided a mighty springboard for thoughtful enquiry as well:


    Defenceless under the night
    Our world in stupor lies;
    Yet, dotted everywhere,
    Ironic points of light
    Flash out wherever the Just
    Exchange their messages:


    I am told our own genome contains long stretches of nonsense and irrelevant passages.  Might be that we need some of that sort of thing,.


  • Reply to: My Fellow Americans: What Obama should have said.   3 hours 14 min ago

    Much fear advertising sells the "cures" for inadequacy.  Are you afraid your Muchly Beloved might think your armpits stink?  Avail yourself of Wizzo Underarm Antiperspirant!  Never mind that science has shown the problem is bacteria, not sweat nor yet that a daily bath with soap and water will solve the problem, nor yet that antiperspirant messes with your sweat glands - we must have antiperspirant.  Modernity undermines everything in our lives.

    And that man comes on the radio
    And he's tellin' me more and more
    About some useless information
    Supposed to fire my imagination

    When I'm watchin' my TV
    And that man comes on to tell me
    How white my shirts can be
    But he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke
    The same cigarettes as me

    (I prefer the Devo cover)


    I'd argue, with MA, religion's doing better than ever.  God might have died for those 1950s types, all wonderin' why God coulda let all those terrible things happen.  Silly people, they were so charming in their naivety, with their transistor radios and white shirts.  They thought they could kill God with a death certificate from Nietzsche.  Well, Nietzsche is dead and lot of jihaadis are, too - and people feel more inadequate than ever.   In every slum, beautiful people smile out blindly at the world from paste-up adverts, promising Moksha in a shampoo bottle.   False religion has been selling Dream Juice for a long time and everyone needs a dose of that from time to time, even if they bought the shampoo, especially if they bought it and found out it was just shampoo in there.  What's left after Materialism has failed someone?  Why, religion, of course.


    I'm not sure it's religion that's the opiate of the people so much as all false religion's unreal advertising, what Marx called False Consciousness.  Seriously examining the claims and requirements of religion in depth is shockingly unappealing.  Requires too much self-sacrifice.  Off go the faithful to some flypecked backwater to help often-ungrateful people who die needlessly of easily-cured disease.  The pay is paltry, living conditions are, too.  The path to actual Moksha or Enlightenment or whatever it's being called these days - has been mapped out for many centuries.  Doesn't even require religion to take that road.  It's open for anyone to take.  I've seen people of every description on that road.  I've seen atheists take that road.  I strongly suspect you're on it, Manish.  


    Curiously, I've never seen an actual shortcut to Moksha on any map, though I've often seen one advertised.   The latest advert, "Shortcut to Paradise:  fight the kuffaar in Iraq and Syria!  Apply at nearest enlistment office!" is just Inadequacy Advertising.  As with all other adverts, including Moksha in a shampoo bottle, such cures for inadequacy always seem to profit someone else.   


    I believe the spiritual part of mankind is an evolutionary urge, a dim, aching awareness of the possibility of a better world and the moral imperative to act to bring about such a world.  It has nothing to do with any religion, that is to say, the cults which won't be guided by that ancient roadmap to enlightenment, wherein self-sacrifice in the service of others brings true joy.  Jihaadism is so powerful because it combines and warps two truthful aspects of the spiritual nature of mankind:  the failure of materialism to give us triumph in this life - and the sacrifice of the self.  That's the truly horrifying bit.  Some things are worth a man's life:  every parent knows he'd give his life to save his children or his wife or even among soldiers, to save the lives of his companions.   Self-sacrifice is not turning yourself into a human bomb and killing others and smashing someone's music collection will not purify any culture.

  • Reply to: Education Open Thread   3 hours 41 min ago

    But an opposing team did that to us in HS, kicked off to us to start the 1st and 2nd half,  both teams that kicked off twice like that lost.


    A few years ago the defensive coordinator of the Steelers forgot that Tim Tebow was a bad QB for the NFL, not some bad QB for a tiny HS that gets steam rolled every game by even smaller schools that don't care for sports.


    Stuff happens.

  • Reply to: My Fellow Americans: What Obama should have said.   4 hours 26 min ago

    we wouldn't know about the "rebuilding" of Noah's Ark if it wasn't for the net.  Without exception all Americans I met in 2012 regarded those people as kooks.


    OTOH belief in an actual Noah's Ark would have been widespread in the, say, 19th century.  I'd agree personal religion - spirituality etc - may have increased.

  • Reply to: My Fellow Americans: What Obama should have said.   4 hours 39 min ago

    I'll believe that when I see:


    1. A major candidate for high office who is a declared atheist or agnostic, who has a plausible chance of winning an election.


    2. The removal of the McCarthy era "under God" from the pledge.


    3. Somewhat less predictable overuse of "our hopes and prayers" going out to the victims of the latest gun massacre.


    4. A reversal of the consistent rollback of abortion rights in a growing number of states.


    5. Evolution no longer being "controversial" for a large number of Americans, in some states a majority of them.


    6. The disappearance of major political figures who state, credibly to their supporters, that man can't be a cause of global warming because God is running things.


    Gay marriage does not trump all of these things.


    I would add that we are quickly running out of time to end the conservative majority in the Supreme Court. If the democrats lose the Senate, you can forget about it. It is far from clear that 2016 will see a democrat win the White House, since the party is pursuing a Hillary or Hillary strategy.

  • Reply to: Education Open Thread   4 hours 51 min ago

    (really missed not going there on my US tour) but it doesn't look too radically different.  Maybe the error was in regarding marshes as land, as it seems to suggest in the article?


    Florida was an eye-opener in reclamation work - especially Miami.


    Found a good book on the subject too - The Swamp.

  • Reply to: My Fellow Americans: What Obama should have said.   5 hours 11 min ago

    decades ago by any metric. Religious voices are louder than they've ever been, but that's just because they're flailing around in anger at the realization that with respect to gay sex, the social control of women's sexuality, and much else besides, they've lost. Under the direction of Al Mohler and other moral theologians in Louisville Theological Seminary, the Southern Baptist Convention is trying to convince its laity that a Christian couple cannot use birth control. If they do succeed, then we're going to see numbers of practicing Baptists drop even further.


    You're right that in the Middle East top-down secularism is deader than disco, but I strongly suspect secularism has a stronger future there than we might think (especially in what's now the Islamic Republic).

  • Reply to: Football Pool 2014   6 hours 9 min ago

    So, the Giants really *do* suck, huh?

  • Reply to: My Fellow Americans: What Obama should have said.   6 hours 30 min ago

    And yet it seems to be bringing Iran and the US closer, at least tactically on this point, but still. It's certainly not driving a wedge.


    It's a mistake to assume that IS has a clear, rational game plan while we do not. I'd consider the whole thing a tragedy of errors by nearly all parties, where intent crashes against reality. IS does not stand to gain by having made itself the target that it now is. For cultural reasons it probably misunderstands the perception in the West created by its actions. Killing the brit just means they've decided to double down. But this is a common reaction by leaders who pursue failing strategies, to double down. Be it bush in Iraq, Nixon in Vietnam, Saddam against Iran, Hitler against Russia. If things go rough, show your balls, double down. It does not have a history of working, but that's besides the point.


    Having said that, there are definitely agendas being pursued with success. Halliburton did make a bundle. A lot of people have made money, or had their rivals killed, or obtained power the otherwise would not have. By calling it a tragedy of errors I don't mean to say that there haven't been winners. I am saying that they haven't been the entities playing the game so much as the parasites they carry. As a country, the US has not benefited from invading Iraq, but a number of Americans sure have.

  • Reply to: My Fellow Americans: What Obama should have said.   6 hours 45 min ago

    Modernity isn't undermining religion anymore. Be nice, but not happening since the 1970's, except in Europe. The US is more religious that it was a few decades ago, and so is the Middle East.


    What has been undermined, systematically, are the secular, usually left-wing nationalist movements and parties in the Middle East. Iran would not be a theocracy today if Mosaddeq had not been overthrown in 1953. Among others, the CIA drafted support from the religious establishment. The left was seen as a common enemy as it was both bad for foreign oil companies and godless, or relatively so.


    And this is not ancient history. For who is Bashar al-Assad if not the last of the nationalist secular leaders left in the Middle East? He too was undermined as religious insurgents were backed. Israel has been the same, pressuring secular Fatah to the benefit of Hamas. The reasoning there is probably different and more cynical though. The Israeli right actively desires an irrational, unreasonable enemy. It will thus undermine Fatah's West Bank acre by acre, gallon by gallon (of water). It's long-term suicidal, but it looks good in the short term. Right wings everywhere are terrible at thinking ahead.


    If there is a turning point to this policy, it might be happening right now. Belatedly the lesson of Iraq might be sinking in. Leaders like Assad are the lesser evil. Always have been. Extreme fundamentalists not only cannot be trusted; they cannot even be negotiated with.

  • Reply to: My Fellow Americans: What Obama should have said.   7 hours 5 min ago

    As modernity is undermining every religion and theocracy and driving religion out of the public sphere.  


    And really, if IS, and the occasional beheadings is all that militant Islam can come up with, I'm not sure too many people in the ROW can be too perturbed.  There are much more important matters to worry about.


    As a bogey, though, militant Islam can hardly be bettered.

  • Reply to: My Fellow Americans: What Obama should have said.   8 hours 40 min ago

    I did put that point in there about how Obama ought to fight his battles based only on US interests and nobody else's.  Also that bit about the lack of the consent of the governed:  any action by an outside power will lack that consent.  Notice how both Assad and Maliki and al-Abadi are all intent upon saying the USA is welcome to attack Daesh - on their terms, as if any of them have an imprimatur and nihil obstat to stamp upon Obama's actions.  They don't and if Obama plays his cards right, they won't.  


    I notice Obama has pulled Gen Allen USMC out of retirement to manage his war on ISIS.  That sends a message, too.  Obama wants someone directly under his express authority, not the JCS and the military bureaucracy.  In this, he parallels Clinton's bombing war in the Balkans, where Petraeus managed everything for NATO.  Gen Allen is an interesting choice, read the link.  He has previous experience with the Sunni factions and was in both the Balkans and Anbar.


    Returning to something said before, I'll just answer it here:  various clerics are preaching in the refugee camps.  This is their message, straight out of Sayyid Qutb.  The Muslims are in terrible shape.  And why? Because wouldn't heed the teachings of the Prophet,  they wouldn't get back to the basics of Islam.  For this, Allah (swt) has allowed them to fall into disrepute and allowed them to be defeated by the West and the Shiites.  This point can't be overemphasised:  Muslim apostasy is the problem.  Muslims are essentially fatalists:  thus also preached the prophets of the Old Testament, many of whom are recognised by Islam, especially Moses.  The people of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years because they refused to believe God would give them the land.   It's a powerful message.


    You say the preponderance of these jihaadis aren't necessarily coming out of the camps.  I've seen some of these camps.  The PLO came out of the camps.  Hamas came out of the camps.  The Taliban came out of the camps of Pakistan.  The one institution which didn't come out of the camps was the Muslim Brotherhood, not at the first.   But the Muslim Brotherhood evolved:  soon enough it was recruiting in the prisons of Egypt - and they have all preached the same message of the previous paragraph.  Lenin said prison was the finishing school of the revolutionary.  I say, in modern times, we should add the refugee camps to the Campus of the Revolutionaries.

  • Reply to: Education Open Thread   9 hours 26 min ago

    I'll contact the hosting company and see what I can do.


  • Reply to: Education Open Thread   9 hours 34 min ago

    also, I fixed the site, not "fixed" the site.