Why can't we? Maybe it's because they spent a few centuries fighting Islam first hand.
Either way, there's an excellent editorial that's been published in the Prague Post.
"When novelist Salman Rushdie authored The Satanic Verses back in 1988, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran put a $1 million bounty on his head. Time magazine, reporting the story on its cover, announced, "The Ayatollah Orders a Hit," accurately observing that Islamic fundamentalism had reduced itself to the level of a Mafia crime lord.
And yet, when a Pakistani cleric placed a $1 million contract on the life of the Danish cartoonist, Time ran a cover story on U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident from a week and a half ago."
(warning: wmv and Chumbawamba below)
"The truth of religion cannot be proved by showing that a skeptic was in his way a believer, or by any other appeal to authority. There is no intellectually honorable surrogate for rational argument. Dennett's misrepresentation of Hume (and his similar misrepresentation of William James and Thomas Nagel) is noteworthy, therefore, because it illustrates his complacent refusal to acknowledge the dense and vital relations between religion and reason, not only historically but also philosophically."
"Dennett actually prefers folk religion to intellectual religion, because it is nearer to the instinctual mire that enchants him. The move "away from concrete anthropomorphism to ever more abstract and depersonalized concepts," or the increasing philosophical sophistication of religion over the centuries, he views only as "strategic belief-maintenance." He cannot conceive of a thoughtful believer. He writes often, and with great indignation, of religion's strictures against doubts and criticisms, when in fact the religious traditions are replete with doubts and criticisms. Dennett is unacquainted with the distinction between fideism and faith. Like many of the fundamentalists whom he despises, he is a literalist in matters of religion."
Scientism is just as much a religion as anything else, only it isn't self-aware.
Julia provides interesting commentary as always, but misses something. Success in any MORPG like WoW is a highly social ordeal. A casual gamer who basically just "plays the game" will probably be able to hit the level cap with a minimum of fuss, but to truly explore all the system as to offer, you must organize with other players. There are monsters in endgame instances that can entirely wipe a group of 40 players unless they're synchronized like clockwork. You can have the most efficient uses of the skills of your chosen class memorized perfectly, but unless you're willing to play nicely with others, you'll never really get anywhere. I'd like to think this has a lot to do with other largely arbitrary social systems like, say, real life.
WoW isn't any less arbitrary or meaningless than any other system you care to name, it's just that the inequalities have been largely ironed out and the rules made explicit.
Josiah is also right that Julian's demographic analysis is off. In fact, it isn't just off, it's almost completely wrong. If he had said the same things about earlier instantiations of online games, he would have been more or less right. EverQuest never really garnered more than about half a million members. But WoW has attracted an order of magnitude more people than that. It's actually starting to replace golf as a social space for doing business in certain circles.
Here's an article by a Stanford professor on the subject. It covers Ultima Online, EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, and Star Wars Galaxies, which at the time of its publication accounted for 75% of the market in North America.
The results are totally different than the stereotype proposed by Julian. The average gamer age is about 25. 36% are married and 22% have kids. That's one in five. 50% are employed full-time and 22% are full-time students. This means that only 1 in 4 fit the teenager stereotype. A significant percentage play with family members and/or spouses/SOs. The only thing Julian was right about is the gender split, which is about 9:1 male:female.
I would venture to say that these figures are from two years ago, and are probably a lot more balanced now that WoW is out. I'd be fascinated to read an updated report.
I think Julian's comparison to these games as a substitute is far more accurate than any broader sociological analysis. It's something to do to kill some time, and it's something that is increasingly appealing to an increasing number of people, especially as games move away from requiring certain levels of geek prowess and towards interfaces than any six-year-old can manage. The UI designers at Blizzard have always been among the best in the industry, and I'd bet a week's pay that the broad appeal of WoW has a lot to do with that fact.
And as to Julian's suggestion that this is the typical defensive response of any self-conscious minority, I'd say that this is exactly the kind of response you should expect to get when you treat a normal member of society like a member of the lunatic fringe.
I just don't get it. The Vice President goes hunting. There is an accident. A man is shot. These things happen. According to the most recent data from the International Hunter Education Association, there were almost 600 firearm injuries related to hunting in 2003. Those are just the ones that were reported.
Given the fact that there were an estimated 20 million active hunters in 2003, this is a very safe activity, but accidents do happen. Even to the Vice President of the United States. This isn't something that anyone else would get in serious trouble for.
But I'm forgetting myself: rational evaluation of real-life circumstances doesn't seem to be a factor when critiquing the Bush administration. Anything'll do, so long as it makes 'em look bad.
Richard Cohen has an editorial in which he asserts that there is "life after algebra".
He is, of course, right. But I think he's right for the wrong reasons. It's entirely true that the vast majority of Americans will not use algebra over the course of their respective professional or service-oriented lives.
But I would argue that he is wrong in saying that algebra shouldn't be a graduation requirement for high school. It most certainly should be. The problem is that there are people going to high school - which is a college-prep program - who have absolutely no reason to be there. The problem isn't that high school requires algebra, it's that high school is required. If you can't pass algebra, you shouldn't be going to college anyway, and thus there isn't any need to prepare for it. What you need is vocational training. Which is what the US public school system should be providing, and isn't.
The fantasy we teach our children is that everyone gets to grow up, work a maximum of 40 hours a week, live in a 2500 square foot house with three cars and a summer home, and earn north of $100k per year. That's the kind of lifestyle that high school prepares you for. It doesn't prepare you for pulling a double shift at the taco wagon.
What's a bit counterintuitive about Cohen's implicit proposal is that lowering the standards for high school would increase, not decrease, the percentage of people who find their day jobs becoming their real jobs.
An Italian official has put the infamous cartoons on a t-shirt.
I want one.
In one sense, Andrew is right in that postmodernism really doesn't generate in and of itself any moral mechanism - heck, any mechanism at all - for opposing Muslim extremism. But that doesn't make Fish's critique of classical liberalism any less devastating. Andrew's only recourse is to revert to the discredited axioms of modernist leftism. Unless he's subconsciously falling back on Christian morality.
But there's only two ways of doing that. One would be to admit to being just as much of a fundamentalist as the Islamists. This isn't entirely unappealing, but it does leave one open to charges of fiat. The other option is to out-Nietzsche Nietzsche and realize that in a system of morality based entirely upon power and its exertion, the only omnipotent being in the room gets to call the shots.
Which is where I'm at. God gets to do and say what he likes. It's a good gig, being God, you know? Thus, as Christians we can base our morality firmly and unshakably on God and his Word without having to worry about a thing.
This also lets us condemn the Islamists on all fronts.
Works for me.
This thing has gone on too long. And like any cancer that has progressed malignantly, the deeper it gets, the harder surgery becomes. It's going to be messy now. But they need to go. I don't care whether it's arrest and deportation or having them resist arrest and get shot, they're no longer welcome in the West. They have no business amongst free peoples.
It's a Googlemaps link. But probably not something you'd want to load at work.
The latest Battlestar episode introduces a group of sympathizers whose motto is "demand peace". Their thesis is that it isn't the Cylons that are the true enemy, but the military and government which refuses to negotiate.
I'd like an order of MoveOn.org with a side of Cindy Sheehan to go, please.
Whackjob: "Admiral, arresting me isn't going to stop any of this."
Admiral Adama: "Maybe not, but it's a start. Take him away."
Oh, what I wouldn't give...
Just finished watching the second new episode of Battlestar Galactica. I don't think I've ever seen a show get so intense. Lost can't hold a candle to it.
Just read this.
This has never been about blasphemy. This is about fanatical Islamist totalitarians trying to use manufactured and deliberately provoked Muslim rage to affect what the West can do with our presses.
I have this to say to the Muslim world: suck it.
News flash for all you smokers: you can be denied surgery if you don't quit.
Makes sense to me. Why waste money on an expensive medical procedure whose chance of a good outcome is significantly reduced by the lifestyle of the patient? It's like giving a new liver to an alcoholic. There are better uses of those resources.
After two RMAs and three months, my computer is finally back in business. Now I no longer have to compete with three other people for access to either software or connectivity. Now I can again fill up a cable modem pipe 24 hours a day without having to worry about other people's data on my drive.
I'm now on Skype. Call me.
I think we may have inadvertently stumbled upon a weapon that can lead the West to victory over Islam. All we need to do is commit public acts of blasphemy against Islamic sacred cows, and they'll burn their own countries to the ground. If they go this nuts over cartoons, imagine a wide-release feature film. We could even subtitle it in Arabic and broadcast it over there.
Heck, with a population this unhinged, it could really work.
In a move of utter brilliance, the Pakistan Medical Association is calling for a boycott of European medicines in protest for the cartoons.
Great idea guys. You do that. You're clearly the largest consumer of European drugs and have obvious alternative sources to meet the demands of your almost entirely impoverished and disease-ridden population. Great move.
I've started watching Lost. I suppose it was inevitable.
Overall, it's pretty entertaining. They're really able to generate tension and emotional impact. But there are some things that strike me as a bit... implausible. I'm not talking about the whole Mystery Island bit. I'm willing to grant them that. I'm talking about the fact that the passenger mainfest seems to consist entirely of social outcasts, criminals, ex-soldiers, junkies, runaways, etc., some people being combinations of the above. Just about everyone we've been introduced to so far (I'm up through disc 3 of season 1) was on the plane for some sort of personal mission. While this is in some sense an exploration into the myriad lives and stories that we pass by without noticing on a daily basis, I'd like to think that any random passenger flight would consist of people who are, on the whole, pretty boring.
Wouldn't the flight they're on consist of mostly tourists and businessmen? Why aren't there any families? I mean, the careers we've got so far are con-man, Republican Guard intelligence officer, criminal, failed rock star, and doctor. That's one "normal" job out of 5. We've got some hints that Locke used to be some kind of white-coller management type, but he's not telling everything. Even Michael, who seems to have had a collection of fairly normal jobs, hasn't really said anything about what he does for a living.
Which brings me to my other point of suspension-of-suspension-of-disbelief: why does everyone have a past to hide? I mean, sure, I've done things I'm not proud of, but nothing that would make me lie about who I am or what I've done. I'd imagine that more people are like this than not. But Kate has killed at least a few people, Said is a torturer, Sawyer's a pathological (and quite accomplished) liar, and Locke used to be a paraplegic (which might make people less likely to accept him in his role of Great White Hunter).
I suppose all of this will be explained and brought to light as I see the rest of the series. But frankly, I find Battlestar Galactica to be a much more believable show on a human level.
The Beeb has an article that is true on just so many levels:
The battle was a major turning point in the Reconquista, the liberation of the Iberian penninsula from the hands of the Muslim invaders. Caliph al-Nasir was at the head of the Almohad armies, numbering some 125,000 troops, while Alfonso lead a Christian army of under 50,000. By sneaking through the Despeņaperros pass, Alfonso was able to lead the Christians to a crushing defeat, inflicting massive casualties which lead to a Muslim rout.
The stupid dispute continues to escalate.
The only viable solution here is to refuse, flat out, to give any kind of concession here. Let them riot. Let them burn down their own cities. This is what savages do, and these people are, clearly, savages.
The barbarians are at the gates. Are you going to resist or not?
Iran has been referred to the UN Security Council for violations of IAEA regulations. They immediately resumed enriching nuclear fuel, obviously (does anyone not see this?) for the purposes of creating nuclear weapons.
This, dear reader, is how the diplomatic option works with barbarians. Give them what they want, and they'll walk all over you. Suggest that maybe it might be time to put a resolution to a vote that we think we might not want to give them everything they want, and all cooperation stops.
I say we start investing in these stat. For a faction of the cost of a B-2, we could potentially drop a ton of hyperaccelerated metal bathed in plasma on any target in the world.
That'd put a stop to my nuclear ambitions.
As if spiders weren't wierd enough, it turns out that giving them caffeine really messes with 'em.
A columnist at the London Times has this to say about why America, while seemingly governed by a pack of incurable morons for the past five or more years, continues to pull away from Europe in economic, scientific, cultural, and educational achievements.
In short: the free individuals given free-market incentives will always find better solutions than central planners and government bureaucrats.
A choice bit of wisdom from a thread at the Student Doctor forums.
Other nice items:
"If you have taken 7 home pregnancy tests that are all positive, and you come into the emergency department...chances are that test too will come back positive."
"When cleaning a swimming pool with Muriatic acid, if you splash a large amount of it on your face and arms, vinegar is not a good neutralizing solution."
"If those two dudes broke your arm while you were walking home from Church on a Friday night, and the trauma surgeon fixed it via external fixation, DO NOT by any means use a wirecutter to remove it 4 days after discharge."
"Never, ever leave flashlights, shampoo bottles, beer bottles or any long, circular object on the floor because someday you will fall on it and it will somehow, work its way up your rectum."
"If you're on the street corner selling coke and you see the cops coming to bust you don't eat all your coke. "
A chunk of Japanese youth are shutting themselves in. Not leaving their rooms for one, two, five, ten years. It's a fascinating article.
American youth seem to choose different ways of "dropping out". Our culture is more permissive and has always had a soft spot for the young rebel. Japanese culture has no such outlet.
Part of me wants to say "Get your lazy carcass out of your room and get a damned job." Most people can't afford to be clinically depressed and laze around the house all day.
But there's something else going on here which the above sentiment doesn't quite cover, and I don't mean clinical depression, a condition of which I have never been particularly credulous and of which I am less and less inclined to believe is actually a medical problem.
I'm talking about the sentiment expressed in the last paragraph of the article in which a 23-year old Japanese guy says it may be too late for him to start a career. One might be tempted to say that this is ridiculous. He's got the vast majority of his life ahead of him. But it's increasingly true that the things in his life which will be determinative for the rest of his life are already passed. If you aren't on a fixed career path by the time you're 25, it's increasingly difficult to be on one. It's as if in today's new, global, economy, you've got to have all your ducks in a row by the time you're 20 or so. If you're in, you'll have the opportunity to be enormously successful. By the time you pass 20, the heights to which you can rise start falling off dramatically.
This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that we're seeing an increasing trend towards extended adolescence. People are going to college and then spending the next five years "preparing" for careers that, if we're really honest with ourselves, are simply things we tell ourselves to keep our "day job" from becoming our "real job". If you want to reach the top of your field, or at least the part which will let you do the things you want for a salary on which you can hope to support yourself and a family, something most young people someday dream of doing, you've basically got one shot, and it's gone by the time you're 21.
Japanese people stay in their rooms and don't come out. American youths bounce from gig to gig, not settling down for a decade or more after they're reached adulthood. Disparate symptoms of the same underlying problem?
So I look over my shoulder at the stack of newspapers and I see the following headline:
"Mime deaths prompt call to halt work"
My first thought: Yes!
Then I read it more closely:
"Mine deaths prompt..."
...but I think it's really just being passive-aggressive.
The spat over the publication of certain political cartoons continues to intensify. If this is what it takes to get Europe to sit up, pay attention, and stop the appeasement that didn't work the last time they tried it, then more power to them. But part of me can't help but wonder if it's just an underhanded way of sticking it to a foe that Europe is, on the whole, too terrified to actually resist. Notice that one French newspaper has fired the managing editor responsible for reprinting said cartoons (Riots in Gaza! France surrenders!).
But if Europe is being just a bit childish, the Arab world is having a hissy fit of gigantic, no, cosmic proportions. What next? Are they going to take their ball and go home?