Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Birthday resolution

When we become adults, and then older adults, we drop certain things. Part of that is just deciding who we are. We try things; some work out and some don't. Some things fit with our adult identity and some don't. That's natural. But a second group of things in our life just fade away for no good reason. They could fit with our grown-up selves, but they get lost in the rush. Then one day when we're, say, fifty-four (just to pick a number out of the air of no particular significance) we wake up and think, "gee, I sure miss doing that."

I used to draw a lot. I was never more than a doodler, but I enjoyed it. It was more than a youthful enthusiasm; I kept drawing till I was over forty. But for some reason it faded away after that. I miss it. Today is my birthday and it seem like a good time to start drawing again. This is a mammoth I drew. When i drew, I always worked in pen, steel dip pens when I was younger and rapidograph when I was older. I never tried drawing with a brush. This is my first.

Headline writer gets "D" in history

The author of the press release didn't write this headline and the author of the study most certainly did not. This goof-up falls on the head of a junior editor who needs to stay after school for some remedial history lessons.
Did ancient coffee houses lay the groundwork for modern consumerism?

If you think that your favorite coffee shop is a great gathering place for discussion, you should have been around in the Ottoman Empire starting in the 1550s. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research examines the role of coffee houses in the evolution of the consumer.

Authors Eminegül Karababa (University of Exeter, Exeter, UK) and Güliz Ger (Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey) dug wide and deep into the history of coffeehouses in the early modern Ottoman Empire and found they offered their patrons a lot more than coffee. [My italics]

The sixteenth century is not ancient, it isn't even medieval. In Europe, that century is called the Renaissance and, even though they did not share in the Renaissance, it's not ancient in the Islamic world either. If the headline writer had actually read the press release, he (she/it?) would have seen the phrase "eary modern" used twice and found out that the title of the articl that the press release announced is "Early Modern Ottoman Coffeehouse Culture and the Formation of the Consumer Subject." So, call your mom, kid; you'll be missing the bus for some private tutoring today.

PS The article itself sounds pretty interesting.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another portrait in cowardice

Howard Dean has joined Harry Reid, Newt Gingrich, the hounds of the racist right, and a handful of timid New York Democrats in saying the Cordoba House community center--the Ground Zero mosque--should be moved away from the World Trade Center. In a way, his announcement is even more disgusting that the other cowardly Democrats. They at least have the excuse of trying to deprive their opponents of a wedge issue during a difficult election season (though doing so makes them just as bad as any race-baiting tea partier). Dean isn't facing reelection to anything. He could have stood up for the First Amendment without any consequences.

His disappointing comments came when he appeared on radio network WABC-77 and fielded questions from the host.
HOST: Governor, what is your position on the controversy surrounding the mosque at Ground Zero?

DEAN: I gotta believe there has to be a compromise here. This isn’t about the right for Muslims to have a worship center, or Jews or Christians or anybody else to have a place to worship, any place at Ground Zero.

Dean has to know that the Cordoba House is not "at Ground Zero"; it's two blocks away. He's buying into the framing established by Pam Gellar and pushed by the right. If it's not about the right of Muslims to have a house of worship "at" Ground Zero" then why is he saying they shouldn't have a house of worship at Ground Zero?
This is something we ought to be able to work out with people of good faith. And we have to understand that it is a real affront to people who lost their lives, including Muslims.

What is he talking about? In what way is it an affront to the Muslims who lost their lives to have Muslims peacefully worshiping near the place where they lost their lives? Why is an affront to any American for peaceful Americans to practice their religion on a piece of private property, wherever that piece of property might be? As best I can tell, there are three Christian churches in the neighborhood that are closer to the WTC. Why is it an affront for peaceful American Muslims to practice their faith near the WTC but not for Christians to? We know the answer. It's because the people who destroyed the WTC were violent, fundamentalist Muslims. Dean is joining the most hateful parts of the American political scene in slandering a whole religious group.
That site doesn’t belong to any particular religion, it belongs to all people of all faiths.

...except Muslims...
So I think a good reasonable compromise could be worked out without violating the principle people ought to be able to worship as they see fit.

HOST: You’re calling for a compromise, are you calling for the mosque to be moved?

DEAN: Well I think another site would be a better idea. Again, I would look to do that in collaboration with the people trying to build the mosque. I think the people who are trying to build the mosque are trying to do something good. But there’s no point in trying to do something good if it’s met with enormous resistance from a lot of folks.

Again, this makes no sense at all. He is saying that there is no point in doing the right thing if it's unpopular or difficult. Would he have said that about ending slavery? Women's sufferage? Ending segregation? Minority rights are not subject to a popular vote and the dialog about rights should not be driven by bigots and amoral opportunists. Dean is advicating the total capitulation of all minorities to the will of the majority, however wrong that majority might be.

Dean is giving his support to the idea that all members of a group should be held responsible for the actions of the very worst members of that group. This is the doctrine of collective guilt and collective punishment. It is a violation of international law, banned by treaties that the Us has signed, against US law, and an insult to the spirit of the Bill of Rights. Yet, Dean, cowardly Democrats, and demogogic conservaties would have us pitch our values and laws under the bus in order to pander to the most scared and easily stampeded among us. A small group of hate mongers hope to gain a few points by turning Americans against other Americans and our supposedly grown-up leaders engage in a race to the bottom to exploit that hate.

Dean and the others owe all Americans an apology.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ted Stevens

The news is reporting that former Senator Ted Stevens was killed in plane crash near Dillingham in Southwestern Alaska last night. As a former Alaskan I had no love for Ted Stevens, but I feel for his older kids. Their mother, Ann was killed in a plane crash in 1978. I remember hearing the explosion from my house, looking at the glow on the horizon, and wondering, "what was that?" I can't even imagine the kind of pain they must be feeling now.

Since so much travel is done by small plane in Alaska, there are several fatal crashes each year. Alaska's laughable excuse for a Representative, Don Young was elected in a special election after being beaten by a dead man, Nick Beigich Sr., whose plane disappeared in Southeastern Alaska days before the election. It was Beigich's son Mark Beigich who defeated Ted Stevens two years ago. Also on the plane with Nick was Speaker of the House Hale Boggs, the father of news personality Cokie Roberts. Their plane has never been found. Will Rogers and Wiley Post were also killed in a plane crash in Alaska. It's just that kind of place.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Who is number two?

I think most people who read this blog will agree that Ben Nelson is the worst Democrat in the Senate. But who is number two? There are lots of contenders. Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu should make most people's short lists. How about Max Baucus, whose hearings managed to gut the health care bill and drag the process out for an extra two months, giving Republicans time to scare monger the public? Maybe a deficit hawk like Evan Bayh or Kent Conrad can make the list? The National Journal rates Bayh as the most conservative Democrat in the Senate with Nelson in the number two spot. Coming from the other side, a 2005 average of eight liberal groups rated Nelson the least progressive Democrat with Kent Conrad in the number two slot. Who do you vote for?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

History begins right now

In journalism, it's important to say something quickly, even if what you have to say is stupid. On just now:
The decision, issued by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco, is an initial step in what will likely be a lengthy legal fight over California's Proposition 8, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Um, I think the lengthy legal fight began some time ago.

We have always been at war with the Episcopalians

Brad Thor, of the Breitbart website "Big Government", claims the founding fathers did not intend for the First Amendment to protect Episcopal churches in Washington because we went to war with Anglicanism in 1812, with the British empire. Or something like that.

Speaking on "Fox News and Friends", Thor argued in support of Republicans and Tea Partiers who think the government should step in to stop the Cordova Initiative from building an Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan.
[A]fter congressional candidate Reshma Saujani stated her support for the Islamic center by noting that "[w]e are a country of respect and religious freedom," Thor claimed: "The first war we fought outside the United States? We went to war with Islam, with the Barbary pirates. Thomas Jefferson sent the Marines to the shores of Tripoli. The Founding Fathers did not intend for the First Amendment to protect a political ideology that wants to rip apart what the First Amendment stands for. Absolutely not."

The Republican Party has always been about telling people how they can use their private property and supressing displays of religion.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Separated at birth

Michele Bachmann and Bat-boy

This has been another edition of Cheap Shots with your host, John.