Roy of Alicublog often criticizes our friends on the right for evaluating art through an ideological lens, and by God he's got a point. NRO manages to turn Mother's Day into blasts at crazy academics, Iranian hordes, and the swarthy menace. Enjoy those flowers, Mom.
Inspired by B I ask: whereis the outrage from Volokh et al regarding the obtuse criticisms of Islam in the Tufts conservative paper The Primary Source? I agree with Volokh that the administration erred in its response, but, speaking only partly tongue-in-cheek, I'm disturbed that so few commenters have remarked on the poor quality of the students' efforts.
Keep in mind that this is far from my thing, and I have only a casual reader's grasp on Islam, but even my inexperienced eye can see a few problems with the TPS effort.
The publication prints these claims (I've reordered them, more or less in order from lamest to least lame, but the original presentation is linked):
 Mohamed Hadfi, 31, tore out his 23-year-old wife Samira Bari's eyes in their apartment in the southern French city of Nimes in July 2003 following a heated argument about her refusal to have sex with him. (Herald Sun)
 Author Salman Rushdie needed to go into hiding after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeni declared a fatwa calling for his death for writing The Satanic Verses, which was declared "blasphemous against Islam."
We agree: all Iranians are crazy. Hate on the Shia, but do note that the fatwa was widely condemned by the ulama.
 Ibn Al-Ghazzali, the famous Islamic theologian, said, "The most satisfying and final word on the matter is that marriage is form of slavery. The woman is man's slave and her duty therefore is absolute obedience to the husband in all that he asks of her person."
This al-Ghazali? Who died in the twelfth century CE? If we're allowed to play tu quoque there are some Church fathers with weird views about sex. And everything else, for that matter.
 Most historians agree that Muhammed's second wife Aisha was 9 years old when their marriage was consummated.
Oi. Apparently there's a substantial literature on this. Not wading into it, but it's hard to see either way how this matters.
 The Islamist guerrillas in Iraq are not only killing American soldiers fighting for freedom. They are also responsible for the vast majority of civilian casualties.
Yes, that's bad, and I'll go along with saying that Islamist guerillas are bad, and that civilian casualties are bad. For this to be compelling, I'd need to see something tying this to (a legitimate understanding of) religious teachings, and that hasn't been supplied. As it stands this is like saying that disagreements in theology motivated the Northern Ireland bloodshed: a grain of truth, lots of falsehood.
 Slavery was an integral part of Islamic culture. Since the 7th century, 14 million African slaves were sold to Muslims compared to 10 or 11 million sold to the entire Western Hemisphere. As recently as 1878, 25,000 slaves were sold annually in Mecca and Medina. (National Review 2002)
I'm starting to get irritated by the absence of citations in proper form, but whatevs. We're at the limits of my historical and theological knowledge, so I can't say much about the slave trade in the Islamic world, though I can say that the Quran certainly admonishes believers to be good to slaves and stresses that freeing slaves is a particularly groovy thing to do. See here for a start; on the other hand, quote-mining in the opposite direction is here. Some obvious points: it's not like God comes out as anti-slavery in the OT, exactly, and you will be shocked to know that slaves were owned as late as 1860 even in this shining city on a hill, and that this practice was justified by appeal to Scripture. Since the key question is what the religion endorses, rather than what the culture endorses, we'll have to tread carefully. On the other hand, well, slaves are tolerated in the Quran, and slavery is bad.
 The seven nations in the world that punish homosexuality with death all have fundamentalist Muslim governments.
Yeah, the gay thing is a problem, as it is for the other Abrahamic faiths, though in each religion there are apparently reasonable people who argue the pro-gay side. I guess the lesson is that we should abhor religious fundamentalism as the basis for political community. Finally, I agree with something from TPS.
 In Saudi Arabia, women make up 5% of the workforce, the smallest percentage of any nation worldwide. They are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle or go outside without proper covering of their body. (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001)
Yikes, that's bad. What's getting frustrating about this: there's actually an interesting story about how Wahhabism came to dominate the Saudi political scene and then, via oil wealth, gained influence in the Islamic world-- but none of this is even hinted at in the screed. If you'd like a more egalitarian view, try this.
Ok. Getting tired. Getting bored. But I've saved the citations of the Quran for last, because they're pretty lame.
"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them." - The Koran, Sura 8:12
Note that the sura here is titled "Spoils of war." As this introduction explains, it's largely about the Battle of Badr. Here's Pickthal's translation of 8:11 and 8:12:
When He made the slumber fall upon you as a reassurance from him and sent down water from the sky upon you, that thereby He might purify you, and remove from you the fear of Satan, and make strong your hearts and firm (your) feet thereby.
When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.
In context, it's urging on the believers in battle-- you know, like how God did with the Israelites all the time, when they had the +5 Ark of the Covenant? Seriously, there are more suspicious verses to be cited. This is not convincing, guys.
"Not equal are those believers who sit and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit. Unto all Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit by a special reward." - The Koran, Sura 4:95
Pickthal renders this as:
Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who have a (disabling) hurt, are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives. Allah hath conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above the sedentary. Unto each Allah hath promised good, but He hath bestowed on those who strive a great reward above the sedentary
Right. God favors those who work it in His name. I'm totally shocked by this. So, as anti-religious diatribes go: Tufts people, you're no Christopher Hitchens.
A committee at Tufts has found the conservative student paper guilty of harrassment for publishing some "less-than-flattering facts about Islam during Tufts' Islamic Awareness Week." Volokh has more. The ad is pretty standard Robert Spencer fare: "hey, I found some passages that make you look bad."*
My initial inclination is to say that while publishing this sort of thing is irritating and nasty-- like its predecessor, the satirical carol "Oh come all ye black folk," this item isn't really intended to spark an interesting conversation so much as it's intended to marginalize people who get enough of that already-- it's not the sort of thing that should be banned by harassment policies.
Part of the difficulty here, I think, is the tendency for college students in general and "Campus Conservative" types in particular to be a little bit too attracted to the idea of stomping on sacred cows no matter what the day-to-day effects. This unfortunate attachment is just increased by going the official-sanction route. Fantastic: more conservative students who are bitter about being kept down by The Man.
My general view is that colleges and universities have an understandably janus-faced view of student agency: sometimes they're adults, sometimes they're not. This puts the institution in the awkward position of officially endorsing the virtues of autonomy and free expression while inconsistently applying pressure on uncomfortable exercises of this freedom.
Besides-- buck up, Muslim students! It's good practice for when you're rounded up and put into camps.
*E.g., the ad quotes part of 8:12 as
I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them
but omits the start of the verse, which reads in full
When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger. [trans. Pickthall]
It also neglects to mention that it's pretty clearly in the context of an existing war, which sort of changes things. Anyway, you know this routine.
1099b: For we do not altogether have the character of happiness if we look utterly repulsive or are ill-born, solitary, or childless; and we have it even less, presumably, if our children or friends are totally bad, or were good but have died.
Everything has changed for Mr. Tatar since the authorities arrested his 23-year-old son, Serdar, along with five others they described as radical Islamists, on charges of plotting to attack the Fort Dix military reservation, and said that Super Mario's was where they obtained a map of the base.
Federal prosecutors said there were no indications that the elder Mr. Tatar had any idea about the plot, and the father said he and his son had grown largely estranged in recent years as Serdar's religious zealotry increased.
...Mr. Tatar, 54, came to New Jersey from Ankara, Turkey, in 1992, and worked his way up from dishwasher. Five years ago he had saved enough to buy the restaurant, where four trophies for the military softball teams he has sponsored rest on a windowsill, and a sign by the cash register advertises free newborn kittens. Suddenly, he faces two nightmares. There is the possibility of losing his son to a life sentence in prison, and of seeing his livelihood vanish in blame for the terror plot -- blame that by all accounts appears to be misplaced....
He has spent much of the week shooing reporters away from the restaurant rather than serving burgers and calzones to customers as business has tapered off like a fading heartbeat: little, less, nothing.
Bad enough that his work comes to nothing because of someone else's mistakes; for it to be his son has to be nearly unbearable.
Someone in the comments a while back expressed incredulity that a story could be true, because it would require the protagonist to be so stupid and self-harming. Well, here's a guy who lets himself get tasered in the nuts. Oh look, here's another one. And another one.
Here's the problem: there's a fair bit of turnover where I work, so we have new people come on board at the mercy of whatever haphazard documentation exists for what they need to be sure is done (things sent to clients, forms filed with the proper agencies, etc.) So we made a big push for comprehensive documentation. A major pain, and kinda bureaucratic, but actually quite helpful. But now we might have a situation where a form needs to be filed with an agency and a client has requested that every time that form is filed, they want to be notified. The person filing the form and the person taking care of the client might be different, and when there's turnover, this connection between filing the form and notifying the client is easily broken. How do other companies deal with things like this? Is it just a matter of making the documentation more comprehensive? Is one person or department put in charge of maintaining those "links"? Is there magical software to do this? Any advice would be appreciated.
I've always believed something like the Atrios line that a lot hostility toward blogs from "old media" folks stemmed from an anti-democratic desire to frame our political discourse in faux-centrist terms that are favorable to the greater glory and comfort of a sliver of the professional class. I still think that's true, but Matt Yglesias's more personal and psychological explanation is a necessary complement.
I was at a big old get together yesterday evening featuring some people from the blogosphere, some old media types, folks with old media origins who now do some new media work, folks with new media origins who now work for MSM outlets, and even some people who aren't journalists or bloggers at all but who are familiar with these issues. The fascinating thing is that if you had to sort the group out into an "excited about new stuff" group and a "frightened by new stuff" group, the defining characteristic of the Axis of Fear is what strikes me as a fairly bizarre aversion to be criticized. Or, at a minimum, an aversion to being criticized in strong, blunt terms rather than a kind of polite disagreement between close friends or collaborators.
The way they would put it, naturally, is that they're only opposed to unfair or vulgar criticism. And that's probably even right -- nobody minds a fair, respectful criticism too much. But, of course, if you get criticized a lot -- as anyone with a moderately trafficked blog does -- most of the criticism is going to seem somewhat unfair to you. Opening yourself up to being criticized in unfair or obscene ways is part-and-parcel of the process of opening yourself up to being criticized at all; if you're not willing to read the occassional unfair or ill-informed slam, then you're really just not willing to go through the process of reading criticisms at all.
Just so. There's no doubt that you'll be called names, misunderstood, misrepresented, and ascribed views you don't hold. Those are bad things, and we all work to minimize or combat them, but they're also the price of admission for public debate. You go to democracy with the public you have, not the public you wish you had....
If Sandals does find this blog, I think we should help her get to know Ogged a little. Why don't we all round up some links to the posts and comments we think best give an introduction to this Ogged fellow we know and love.
I have a mysterious "track 1" on my ipod. It's impossibly teh hott and I want to know what it is. Sounds like a subcontinental cover of Michael Jackson's "Don't stop" but it also makes me think of Evelyn "Champagne" King.
If it's something really common I'll be ashamed.
Catherine muses on blogger/commenter dating:
it seems clear to me that there should either be some sort of service in place, or perhaps a protocol, that allows bloggers and their commenters (or bloggers and bloggers, or commenters and commenters) to meet each other and potentially date, without it seeming too stalkery.
and has some good ideas, upon which I improve:
i guess the answer is to just invite your readers to
a baryour house at some point, get hammered, and have an internet orgy. problem solved!
No-Tevas woman has further updated her profile. Bolding in the original.
it is highly unlikely that i will be attracted to you if any of the following apply: you call yourself 'ogged'; are under 27 or over 40 years old; wear or own tevas or other similar sporty sandal-type footwear; smoke pot more than 3 times a year; have anything to do with Burning Man; have anger management issues; have a goatee (however ironic mustaches, while a bit played out, are acceptable); have tribal tattoos.
This is like, her way of asking me out, right?
Inspired by mcmc, who emailed to tell me about the Bush administration nominating a manufacturing lobbyist who lobbied against safe-burning cigarettes to be head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and realizing we're low on outrage with LB on hiatus, and stealing a page from Kotsko's book, let's do some Thursday Morning Outrage.
The sex trade in Second Life can be every bit as dreary as it is in meatspace, maybe more so given that you have to start by purchasing your own genitalia without the aid of Consumer Reports, which might mean having to make multiple purchases until you get the right junk for you. Then just like in real life (or so I've been told), your Second Johnson can still let you down.
"I keep clicking it and... nothing," she says.
Not what a man wants to hear. I'm impotent. I am less than man. I am sitting in an office chair, slouched in front of a computer, watching a £2 call girl try in vain to get so much as a twitch out of me. WHY IS IT NOT RESPONDING?
Then I check the messages. She's being rejected. Not by me, by it. I'm being cockblocked by my own e-penis. Lola isn't on the permissions list, and in an attempt to dissuade would-be grabbers and pokers, only authorised people may excite your Xcite!. "Hold on," I say, "I think I can fix it." I dive into the script that handles the core processes and quickly add a line, with appropriate syntax, that allows Lola full and unreserved access to me and my little me.
She tries again. "Still nothing," she says. Arse. But it's too late now anyway, time is running out and if I want to salvage anything from this attempted coupling then we're going to have to resign ourselves to my condition. There is no viagra in Second Life.
So that's how we continue, moving from position to position, from swing to stocks, from straps to chains, with my most important position still firmly unfirm. We're dry humping, and for all the sex talk, enthusiastic on her part and awkwardly meek on mine, I'm still slouched in front of my PC, looking depressedly at the screen.
Eventually, our correspondent ends up having to fake his simulated orgasm, which must be awfully damned depressing.
Obama recently misspoke about the number of people killed by the recent Kansas tornado. Mark Steyn explains:
There are going to be times when he wishes he could lay his burden down. There are going to be times when he'll be trying to give a speech while operating heavy Democratic Party machinery. There are going to be times when he'll feel all of his 45 years, and the toll of campaigning non-stop for five months now. There are going to be times when he wishes he could just duck out for a cigarette. He gets weary an' sick of tryin', he's tired of fig'rin' how many's dyin', but young Obama, he jes' keeps rollin' along.
Get it? Because Obama's black.
I like these Bill Richardson ads. They do a good job of introducing him and manage to walk the line between deathly dull and cutesy.
via drum, who doesn't get it
There is one among us whose thumbs, when drunk, are prolix and profane. Below you will find last night's missives, slightly reordered and rearranged.
W respectt 2 ur gayness?
u and ur moral superiority
Ill clarify ur butter
fuck that makes no sense
Joining the few the proud
so many strongbow
kill hewitt, kill lileks
u do have mercy
Love u dawg
The last six years have turned me into such a cynic. I was just reading this article on increased powers the Senate voted to give the FDA today, which all seem to sound like common sense and a step in the right direction, and my first thought was "So how are they going to screw this up?"
AWB calls it the "most outrageous note evar," and that sounds right. Note that the student only promises to attempt to set aside time. Unbelievable. I'm not sure how we got here; I suppose the explanation depends on how long a story you want to tell, but proximately, having students and parents thinking of themselves as "consumers" of education, which is a "service" provided by the university and its employers, seems like a bad move.
I love shopping online because errands are hard to run in New York with all of the stores all over the place (so much schlepping) and, of course, the benefits of the not having to deal with human beings thing. But lately I've been feeling guilty about it. Businesses have gotten so good at eliminating extra packaging and shipping pallets of goods to stores more efficiently (mostly to save money, but I'm sure it has positive environmental impacts as well) and here are my 20 boxes from UPS completely undoing those environmental gains (and then some) from all that extra packaging and from the exhaust of the UPS trucks delivering all of my boxes to little ol' me.
How guilty should I feel? What, if anything, can I do about this?
We've covered the criteria many times before (heels vs. Tevas, etc.) but what systems do you employ when evaluating potential dates? Is it more of a Boolean thing or a gradient or a point system? What pushes someone over the threshold? Inspired by A White Bear:
The second brilliant thing we came up with was a satirization of a misogynistic game my first boyfriend's friends had. They were all programmers, and decided that it was much easier to rate women on a basis of 0 and 1, rather than 1 to 10. That is, they are either doable or not. In an attempt to poke at their stupid idea, we expanded the ratings system to 0, 1, and 2. 0 is someone you wouldn't do, 1 is someone you would do if it fell into your lap, and 2 is someone you would actively pursue to do.
Yes, this is also dumb. But in discussing this rating system with various people of different genders and sexual persuasions, we found it says a lot about a person if they find that most people they see are 1's, or if there are no 1's, just lots of zeroes and a couple of 2's. And could getting to know someone change their rating? What kinds of personality traits would make a 2 into a 0, or even a 0 into a 2?
1. Canned co-worker came in to sign some things today, and then ... refused to leave. Demonstrating the same keen intellect that got him/her fired, s/he claimed that the HR person didn't have the authority to fire him/her (the President happened to be out of the office today). I talked to building management to ask whether they had security on hand for such situations (it was probably unprofessional of me to be laughing when I asked) and they don't but suggested that in a life-threatening situation, we call the police. Great. But, after a few hours, s/he was finally persuaded by someone s/he didn't see as an enemy to leave peaceably.
2. No-Teva woman has updated her profile to fix the spelling of "sandals," to also exclude goatees (but to rule in "ironic mustaches"), and to note "i used to hate but now like: olives, my sister, and doing the dishes."
3. There's a cute Iranian woman who works on my floor (roll over, baby) and drives a not-new not-black Subaru Forester. Promising. She's on the short and curvy side, but then I don't have all my kidneys, so I have to recalibrate a bit here.
I was at a party last weekend where the topic of weddings came up. Someone a bunch of us know is getting married and it actually sounds like it will be a fun wedding. No church, just more like a big party without much of a wedding reception feel.
We all started brainstorming whether we'd actually been to a fun wedding before and only a couple people could enthusiastically say yes. The best most of us could come up with was a list of weddings that weren't bad, per se, but that were easily beaten on the fun-meter by a good house party or a night out at a bar.
So, have you ever been to a fun wedding? Or does the whole nature of the thing (family, expectations, the stress, etc.) ensure that "not bad" is the best one can hope for?
Last night I watched The Bridge, which consists of footage of people jumping off the Golden Gate bridge, captured by cameras that recorded year-round, and interviews with the suicides' friends and family. The sense of helplessness from those left behind is overpowering. In most cases, there were plenty of warning signs, and attempts, however ineffectual, to help. But short of having people committed, which some people regretted not doing, there didn't seem to have been much to be done.
But, of course, most of the friends and relatives are haunted by thoughts that maybe they should have done more. So the movie is also mainly, if indirectly, about self-preservation, which comes through in interview after interview as people almost start talking to themselves, rather than the interviewer, about whether they could have done more. You watch them building the stories that will let them stay sane, despite the grief and guilt.
The quesion of how much one should "interfere" in the life of someone suicidal isn't an easy one, but I was reminded of this New Yorker article which gives us a clue. A few of the people who jump from the Golden Gate survive, so they're the rare people who were totally serious about killing themselves, had a few moments to think about what they'd done between the action and the end, and lived to tell about it.
On the bridge, Baldwin counted to ten and stayed frozen. He counted to ten again, then vaulted over. "I still see my hands coming off the railing," he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, "I instantly realized that everything in my life that I'd thought was unfixable was totally fixable--except for having just jumped."
Kevin Hines was eighteen when he took a municipal bus to the bridge one day in September, 2000. After treating himself to a last meal of Starbursts and Skittles, he paced back and forth and sobbed on the bridge walkway for half an hour. No one asked him what was wrong. A beautiful German tourist approached, handed him her camera, and asked him to take her picture, which he did. "I was like, 'Fuck this, nobody cares,' " he told me. "So I jumped." But after he crossed the chord, he recalls, "My first thought was What the hell did I just do? I don't want to die."
You know what's not a good feeling? Knowing that a co-worker is going to be fired at the end of the day.
(Not that this person, who is nice enough, isn't utterly incompetent and deserving of canning, but still.)
From an online dating profile.
we will likely not get along if...you wear or own tevas or other similar sporty sandle-type footwear
I can respect that. It's too bad, because she's the rare laid-back Bay Area woman ("What I'm doing with my life: googling things") who also excludes guys who "smoke pot more than 3 times a year [or] have anything to do with Burning Man...." and yet, sadly, I do own (and wear) such sandals. Surely I've told the story of being addressed by three young African-American women who told me everything that was wrong with how I looked, finishing with "those sure are some hairy toes."
I look forward to the arguments that sporty sandals are a good proxy.
Lileks loses his column. I'd link the expected cries of outrage from the usual suspects, but you don't really want to read them, do you?
1. Modern Love. You lost me at "Ian was a bad-boy motorcycle-riding tattooed lawyer/poet/chef who proposed to me on a beach at sunset riding a white horse and dressed as a knight."
2. William Saletan: Bestiality is caused by gay chicken, not gay marriage.
3. The gift that keeps on giving. Vets get disability payments for contracting an STD while deployed overseas. Huh. Whether some of these cases are valid is an interesting question (for most of them, I think no) but I hope this isn't used to "welfare queen" vets that are genuinely disabled for other reasons into getting less than they deserve, especially when the real problem is that too many vets are getting less money than they deserve rather than more.
Too much heavy discussion. Let's lighten the mood.
I find myself at the start of a pissing contest that could end badly for me: altering the titles of famous philosophical works to make them vulgar. My opening gambit: Critique of Pure Reaming. Response: Parts of Asses. And so on. Surely you can do better.
A former East German swimmer attempts to explain how it was that he remained ignorant of widespread doping, even though he was married to a woman who was later caught doping.
"It might sound stupid now, but when you spend that much time in the company of girls who look like that, you find it normal. I saw many examples of masculine women, and when you spend enough time cordoned off with a small group of people, training morning, noon and night, well ... after a while, you're bound to find one of them attractive."