Saturday, April 08, 2006

How dare they dictate to us?

The defining political conflict of the 21st century will literally be the battle over life and death.

On one side stand the partisans of mortality. From the Left, the bioethicist Daniel Callahan declares: “There is no known social good coming from the conquest of death.” On the Right, stands Leon Kass, former head of George Bush’s Council on Bioethics, who insists: “The finitude of human life is a blessing for every human individual, whether he knows it or not.”
Ronald Bailey reports in The Times of London online.

Power freaks with power = Government.

Thanks to InstaPundit for the lead.

South Park & the Danish Mohammed cartoons

Is South Park taking on the Islamists? I hope.

Michelle Malkin has the story so far.

Did we win the Cold War?

Or did the authoritarians? Of course, one might argue with some considerable justification that the US Government is authoritarian, but there are degrees. Western Europe seems enthusiasticly authoritarian, and the proliferation of speech laws along with their enforcement just more reason to wonder whether saving Europe from the Soviets even succeeded, much less was worth the effort.

Gerard Alexander, writing in The Weekly Standard, provides a litany of illiberal European offenses against freedom.

...anti-Nazi laws gradually expanded to cover other historical events. In 1993, Bernard Lewis, the eminent Princeton historian of the Middle East, was asked in an interview with Le Monde about the mass murder of Armenians in Turkey during World War I. He readily acknowledged that terrible massacres took place but questioned whether the murders were the result of a predetermined--that is, genocidal--plan. That conclusion brushed up against French laws that now prohibit denial of more crimes against humanity than just the Holocaust. Several activist groups in France filed complaints. Two civil and one criminal suit were dismissed, but Lewis was found guilty in another civil suit and condemned by the court for having not been "objective" regarding events that the European Parliament and other bodies had officially certified as a "genocide."
Disagreeing with the European Parliament isn't 'objective', and thus liable. Just how is this similar to the Soviet Union?
This is spreading to the European Union level, where a stream of rules now prohibits the broadcast, including online, of any program or ad that incites "hatred based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation" or--crucially--is "offensive to religious or political beliefs."
So, If Barbra Streisand offends my political beliefs, should I be able to successfully sue her? Should she be able to recover for being offended by Milton Friedman? Should I be able to sue- and sue successfully- Ward Churchill for offending my political beliefs? It appears that in Europe he could win against me.
Not all cases, of course, result in punishment...But an increasing number of European intellectuals, politicians, journalists, and even scholars have had uncomfortable and expensive brushes with speech laws...

SO THE REAL DANGER posed by Europe's speech laws is not so much guilty verdicts as an insidious chilling of political debate, as people censor themselves in order to avoid legal charges and the stigma and expense they bring.
Good old Europe. There was a reason our ancesters got out. And some of those reasons are still evident.

So sue me.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Oh, Mizz Langwidj Persian!

Does this (from a local over-priced frame shop) strike you as correct?
Entertain your home and surrounding with our fresh new images and framing designs that will delight your senses and thrive on your walls.
Do I want new things thriving on my walls? Aren't termites enough? Do I care if my home is entertained? Howzabowt my surrounding?

Given their prices, I would have thought they could hire English speakers to write their ad copy. Guess I have anutter think coming.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A crown even a libertarian can enjoy

It's a Cool Space Pic of the Day.

I have fond memories of Side, Turkey, BTB. In the 1970s it was a tiny fishing village on the south coast, but it still managed to boast both a Roman aquaduct and a Roman theater. And a two-room hotel with an overgrown walled garden in back. If that hotel still exists- unlikely- it would be worth a return.


Just the THOUGHT!

Thanks to InstaPundit for the tip.

Transgressive Conceptual Art and Bird Decoys

I was cogitatin' last nite - dangerous thing, I know- and it occured to me that the current crop of curators/dealers/critics have grown up in a millieu which emphasises Concept and Abstraction and Challenging the Norm and Trangressiveness. Well how about bird decoys? They are are designed to appeal to connoisseurs of another SPECIES. So people can Kill the connoisseurs. With shotguns. And then eat them.

Sounds like a concept to me. And transgressive.

Jus' don't try it at a New York gallery opening.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Niccolo Machiavelli was right

I like Arnold Kling's column on confronting Iran.

The problem for Western politicians is that their constituents will not allow them to act as they must act in order to be effective with the Iranian government or Hamas or the Syrian government.

Everything I experienced from Morocco to Pakistan left me believing that the people there are always testing, always confronting. If you do not respond in kind, you lose. Period.

If you do respond in kind, screaming right back and spewing spittle in THEIR faces, you may not win, but you are accepted as a man.

They do not respect diplomacy. They do not respect apologies from the more powerful. They do not respect compromise by the more powerful, for that is an expression of weakness of will. They do not respect expressions of remorse, or of guilt. They respect only power and the willingness to use it overwhelmingly. Machiavelli said "It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both." Machiavelli was right.

A few monks, some quills, and some carrier pigeons...

Gee, these FBI guys make me feel safe. 8,000 of 30,000 employees can't get email. Five percent of 2000 agents in New York have Blackberries, and headquarters moved to dispose of those.
The FBI's stars are the guys who chase down leads in the field, not the ones keeping servers from crashing. Former Director Louis Freeh reportedly had his PC taken off of his desk. Some agents proudly declared their inability to type.

In November 2001, the bureau named ex-IBM executive Bob Dies its first chief information officer. But Dies had virtually no authority over the FBI's technology budget, which was divided up among the various offices and divisions. He quit in May 2002. In the 19 months that followed, the FBI went through four more CIOs, and 15 key managers rotated through the Trilogy project.
Noah Schachtman reports in Slate.It's short and well worth reading. As I recall, the FBI office in Florida had to FedEx photos of a 9-11 suspect to headquarters in DC because the office did not have the capability to email pics. Sounds like things haven't changed much.

They'll have to re-write the history books

Deutsche Welle has the story:
The popular garden gnome may not have originated in south Thuringia as previously believed. The latest research by German gnome historians indicates that they just may herald from a present-day Polish city instead.

The news released at the first garden gnome congress in the town of Trusetal, Thuringia shook the foundations of gnome-ology to the core.
Well, that's what earthquake insurance is for. Let's hope they had plenty.
Until now, the oldest document pointing to the birthplace of the garden gnome was an 1893 article from the Illustrirte Welt, which seemed to hint that gnome culture had its roots in Thuringia...."This new evidence doesn't say for certain whether the company from Neuwedell was also a manufacturer of garden gnomes," (Frank Ullrich) said. "We will continue our research."
Winnowing and sifting, sifting and winnowing, is the Way to Knowledge, I alwuz sez.

International Answer, the LA Demonstrations, and Stalinists

According to Jerry Seper in today's Washington Times:
The Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER) coalition, which organized the Los Angeles march to win "full rights for undocumented workers," is confident its new "national action" will prove successful.
The interesting part is that ANSWER organized that half-million or so person demonstration, because according to John Hinderaker at PowerLine,
We've written about International A.N.S.W.E.R. a number of times....It is a Communist organization and a front for the Workers World Party. The Workers World Party has been around for quite a while. It is one of the last unapologetically Stalinist organizations in the world; it supported the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956.
Find that quote here.

Hinderaker's characterization of WWP seems reasonable enuf: here is a quick quote (note that Hinderaker's link no longer works. The one below does.) Nancy Mitchell had this to say at a Workers World conference:
But we may feel a little less prepared to do mass agitational work on the need for socialism and building a communist party in the United States.

But I know I speak for the newer comrades when I say: I'm excited to start. I'm excited to strengthen my ability to talk about socialism, to get the paper out to the workers in my union, to build the branch meetings, to pass out palm cards with the Web site on them. And I'm really excited about having regular Marxism classes and doing introductory classes for students and workers, to show them that Marxism is not some field for academic study--it's a living struggle
It strikes me that while only a small minority of the marchers are communists or socialists, anytime they Workers World Party can get half a million ppl into the streets, we have a problem.

There are some interesting links here.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Danish Cartoons of Mohammed

On the off chance you haven't seen them, here they are.

The Milwaukee Art Museum re-installs Peg Bradley's Collection

It was getting a little scruffy.

I am looking forward to seeing it when I'm in Milwaukee at the end of the month. Bradley had a lot of good pieces, but the terms of her gift have required the museum to keep her collection segregated from the rest of the museum's related collection. That is a real shame. If her heirs ever allow MAM to integrate the collections, Bradley's own pieces will be seen to far better advantage.

A few years ago they did allow the museum to put all of her Georgia O'Keefes in a gallery with those given by other donors, and the result was spectactular. Time after time donors' attempts to control art museums from beyond the grave have proven to be a mistake. This was no exception, and I hope that Bradley's heirs will eventually realize that. Despite her impulse to over-control, her gift was remarkably generous. It is sad that that single mistake continues to diminish her contribution.

Mary Louise Schumacher has the story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. There is also a link toa slide show of the galleries.

Taliban Man at Yale

Apparently Yale President Richard Levin has responded to letters from the mother of a Yale alumna who's uncle was murdered on 9-11. Responded with a form letter. Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, unrepentant former spokesman for the Taliban, remains at Yale.John Fund has more at OpinionJournal.