Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Prince of Pompadoodle

The Prince of PompadoodleThe Prince of Pompadoodle
     Lived behind a castle wall,
Behind a moat, behind a guard
     Of twenty soldiers tall.

The Prince of Pompadoodle
     Was the safest man alive.
Each day he wrote how long he’d lived
     And multiplied by five.

The Prince of Pompadoodle
     Would survive, he did decide,
Five times as long as he had been
     Alive before he died.

     — Walt Kelly, from Pogo’s Sunday Punch

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Like most dictators who ascend the pinnacle of power, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is looking to extend his time at the top indefinitely. And why not? Of what use are the privileges and perquisites of power if they cannot be used to maintain oneself in power?

After all, in its own modest way, the United States Congress acts with the same purpose in mind. Liberal use of the franking privilege, “campaign finance reform”, free air time on TV, media-generated name recognition — these all but insure that a congressman gets to keep “The Hon.” in front of his name indefinitely, continuing to serve the commonweal without worrying overmuch that the public will ever vote him out of office.

And so it is with the Latin American caudillo. After the scramble to the top, and the consolidation of power, the next order of business is to rig the game so that El Presidente gets to keep his palace and his epaulets for the rest of his natural life, or until the next military coup, whichever comes first.

Hugo Chávez has now consolidated his power to the point where he is confident in his ability to change the Venezuelan constitution:

Hugo ChávezVenezuelan President Hugo Chávez said the country’s constitution needs to be changed to “deepen the revolution” and gave no details as to possible amendments.


Chávez rewrote Venezuela’s constitution after he was elected president in 1998. Voters overwhelmingly approved the new constitution, which included a name change for the country and reorganized the Venezuelan Congress, in December 1999.

The former military officer has previously threatened to rewrite the constitution to allow him to serve through 2031 if the country’s opposition parties boycott elections scheduled for December.

Chávez obviously hopes to maintain his current position into his dotage and beyond. After all, when you control the media and the public purse, and can mobilize goon squads against any organized opposition, changing your country’s constitution is but a small matter.

If the United States is the Great Bully of the Western Hemisphere, Chávez is setting himself up as the Little Bully. All those millions of barrels of oil make it easy for Mr. Red Beret to punch above his weight. He struts and frets his way across the Latin American stage, horning in on an election here and there, being pals with Fidel, blustering and threatening the Yanqui imperialists, offering F-16s to the Iranians while hinting that he might take a little “peaceful” nuclear technology in exchange, and generally acting out the stereotype of a tinpot South American dictator.

Hugo Chávez and Jimmy CarterHe’s a big cheese in South-of-the-Border Land, and Latin America admires him and looks to him for leadership… or so he thinks. After all, Jimmy Carter himself has given Hugo his imprimatur, so he must have arrived, right?

Chávez can be forgiven for thinking so, because he, like Osama bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, moves and speaks within the echo-chamber of the international media. Presumably he has flunkies monitoring CNN and the wire services and the New York Times, and he hears the buzz that his bluster and bravado produce in the legacy media. Why wouldn’t he count himself among the movers and shakers?

But it turns out that his interference in the internal affairs of other Latin American nations is not having the intended effect. According to The Washington Times, having Hugo Chávez on your side is not necessarily the best strategy, assuming that you want to win an election:

Ideological allies of Mr. Chávez’s who had been expected to win the presidencies in Mexico and Peru have plummeted in polls, as voters take offense at the Venezuelan leader’s public campaigning as an insult to their respective nations’ independence and sovereignty.

Moreover, the backlash is threatening to spread to other nations, including Venezuela, and Mr. Chávez’s checkbook diplomacy is adding to suspicions of a man who fashions himself as a 21st-century version of South America’s liberator, Simón Bolívar.


In recent weeks, Mr. Chávez’s spending and his use of the bully pulpit to back leftist political candidates in other Latin American nations has caused diplomatic spats with Nicaragua, Peru and Mexico, all of whom accuse the Venezuelan of meddling in their affairs.

On May 4, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Norman Caldera asked Mr. Chávez to end his interfering in Nicaragua’s election after Caracas agreed to provide 10 million barrels of oil annually to 51 Nicaraguan communities whose leftist mayors are sympathetic to presidential candidate Daniel Ortega.

Mr. Ortega, a former president and a Chávez favorite, fought a war against U.S.-backed Contra rebels in the 1980s before being voted out of office.

Even Mr. Ortega is said to fear that Mr. Chávez’s public support for his candidacy threatens to derail his comeback.

Similarly in Peru, Mr. Chávez caught heat for publicly backing leftist presidential hopeful Ollanta Humala. Mr. Humala, a former colonel who fits the Latin American mold of populist strongman, is considered key to Mr. Chávez’s plan to link the resource-rich Andean nations as a buffer against Colombia, Washington’s key ally in the region.

Peru withdrew its ambassador to Caracas earlier this month to protest Mr. Chávez’s campaigning in its election. But what may be more significant, Mr. Humala, once a clear front-runner, is scrambling to distance himself from Mr. Chávez as his lead evaporates in an upcoming election against former President Alan Garcia.

In Mexico, campaign ads branding left-wing candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as a puppet of Mr. Chávez’s have helped erase what was once considered an insurmountable lead for Mr. Lopez Obrador in upcoming presidential elections.

So instead of the new Simón Bolívar, Chávez looks more like the Latin American Howard Dean, the kiss of death for any aspiring politician.

The Times Online has something similar to report:

The revolutionary dreams of Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, are facing a setback in two Latin American elections where voters are poised to reject the candidates who have embraced the anti-American nationalism espoused by the strongman of Caracas.

President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia is coasting to re-election today despite criticism by Chávez of his co-operation with the United States in fighting drug trafficking and paramilitary groups.

In Peru, Chávez’s outspoken support for Ollanta Humala, an ultra-nationalist former army officer, appears to have backfired. Humala’s moderate leftist opponent Alan Garcia, the former president, has capitalised on irritation with Chávez’s “interference” to move 12 points ahead in the latest opinion poll before next Sunday’s presidential vote.

The polls in both countries are being seen in Washington as reassuring evidence that Chávez’s plans for a so-called “Bolivarian” revolution — named after Simón Bolívar, the Latin American scourge of colonialism — are unlikely to expand beyond his alliances with Cuba and Bolivia.

Colombian voters have shown little interest in leftists who admire Chávez’s populist policies and Uribe is expected to win more than 50% of the vote, avoiding a second round run-off.

In Peru, Garcia has made no secret of his disdain for Chávez, whom he has accused of “petro-imperialism” — using Venezuela’s oil wealth to wield undue influence over poorer countries.

And, according to NDTV:

In the past weeks, [Peruvian President] Alejandro Toledo has repeatedly asked Chávez not to interfere in Peru’s internal affairs.

Toledo had pulled Peru’s ambassador from Caracas at the beginning of May in protest over Chávez’s first comments publicly endorsing Humala.

Chávez announced a few days later that he was withdrawing his ambassador from Peru, insisting that insults by Garcia were to blame.

The Venezuelan strongman doesn’t seem to be getting much bang for his megabucks. What’s going on here?

Hugo ChávezRecently Lee Harris, in “Why Isn’t Socialism Dead?”, portrayed Chávez as the leader of a socialist revival. Together with Fidel and Bolivia’s Morales, the three socialist strongmen would raise the banner of Socialism in Latin America, giving a new lease on life to a movement that had been declared brain-dead. The idea is that Socialism is backed by a powerful myth, and Capitalism is not. The fact that Socialism has never worked, and can’t work, is irrelevant: the demagogic appeal of the myth transcends mere practicality. Drawing on the energy of class envy, and promising an easy fix, the Socialist corpse, according to Harris, was rising from the dead.

So why isn’t it working? Why is Hugo Chávez proving to be the anti-Midas to everything he touches outside of Venezuela’s borders?

Perhaps the answer lies in nationalism. Latin American countries all seem similar to us ignorant gringos, but they certainly recognize differences among themselves. Ask a Peruvian what he thinks of Ecuador, and you’re likely to get an earful, not all of it polite.

We Virginians hate to be told what to do by New Yorkers, let alone Canadians. I have to think that’s what it’s like for a Mexican listening to Chávez endorse a candidate in a Mexican election.

“Who does the think he is, telling us what to do? After all he’s only a Venezuelan!”

Hugo ChávezHugo Chávez, like Osama bin Laden, Kim Jong-Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Fidel Castro, has set himself as the Not-America guy, the one who stands up to El Norte and the Yankee dollar. As such, absent the nuclear weapons he evidently covets, he is no more than an ankle-biting annoyance.

The oil threat is just so much bluster. After all, oil is fungible — as long as he sells it, the United States is buying, no matter who the initial customer is or where the crude was pumped. And without oil he is nothing, a banana republic dictator without his bananas.

This is not to say that the Prince of Pompadoodle doesn’t bear watching. But let’s not over-inflate his stature; after all, that’s just what he’d like us to do.

Hat tip: Wally Ballou.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Once and Future Mush-Brain

Prince Charles Update: On the possible conversion of the Prince of Wales to Islam, Mary Jackson at The New English Review says:

Prince Charles
     It is extremely unlikely that Prince Charles will convert to Islam. He is a woolly headed left over hippy, who talks to plants and believes in coffee enemas. His apparent fondness for Islam is a product of his wishy washy, mushed up brain, rather than any strong belief.

“Coffee enemas”??

Decaf or regular?

The Watcher's Council's Birthday Present

Watcher's CouncilGates of Vienna placed first this week on -- ta da -- May 26th, my birthday. Let Us Make Them All Welcome won. Writing the post made me stop and think: why are these immigrants welcome, while at the same time the idea of a wall and strict enforcement re illegal aliens is an appealing idea?

Well, for one thing, those whom I want to make welcome are coming here legally, toting their passports (that is, if the Netherlands ever gives Hirsi Ali her passport back, she’ll be here). For another, the people I welcome are being actively persecuted. And last, they have skills and experience that will add to the American experiment, not attempt to rip it asunder.

I like Mexicans: I like their food, their music, and much of their culture. I like the legal ones who come here, work hard, learn the language, and strengthen our commonweal. I do not trust anyone who comes into this country complaining about our inferiority, refusing to assimilate, and threatening to take over a land to which they are not entitled. I am sorry for Mexican citizens who are forced to live under a yoke of corruption and repression in the land of their birth. But overwhelming our social structure is not a cure for Mexico’s deeply systemic problems. An unlimited, unchecked and overwhelming assault of our borders amounts to a viral infection that could kill us at the root. Funny thing about viruses: they don’t really care what happens to the host.

And what do you know: The Glittering Eye took second place for his essay, Assessing the Threat at Our Southern Border. He quotes from the chief of the Border Security Patrol:

”The U.S. continues to experience a rising influx of other than Mexican nationals (OTMs) illegally entering the country. Apprehensions are running at a rate of 175% for FY05 over FY 04’s record number of OTM apprehensions on the southwest border, and 131% over the record national FY 04 OTM apprehension figure of 75,371. The exponential growth in the apprehension of OTM illegal entrant aliens and, in most cases, their subsequent release is a major impediment to the removal process.”

And he concludes with his own on-going concern:

I’m going to continue to document the actual security threat at our southern border using the best sources I can identify but I think I’ve achieved my goal: a single source would be enough to disprove the claim that there’s no security threat whatever from our southern border and I’ve provided several.

Five years ago I believed that our first priority in improving the security of the American people—significantly more important than military action which I generally opposed—should be in devoting more attention to securing the ports of entry to the country against entry by those who would do us harm whether they were attempting to enter the country by legal or illegal means. I continue to believe that. I think that our time would better be used in debating ways and means for doing that than in a shouting match between those who will accept no alternative other than building an impenetrable wall between the United States and Mexico and expelling all illegal migrants and those who will accept no alternative other than open borders.

As usual, Dave’s essay is thoughtful and informative. I’m not sure that I would call the current conflict about what is to be done re the borders “a shouting match,” but on the other hand, we Americans do tend to resort to verbal brickbats as we work our way to consensus. Or not.

Third place was Dr. Sanity. I don’t normally feature the third place winner, but you ought to read this. The Narcissistic Synthesis has a table which would serve well as the basis for a book. If you don’t read the whole essay, look at the table and ponder the information. Someday, that’ s going to be in a book somewhere; it has a wealth of information contained in just that one schematic.

In the non-Council section, The Anchoress is in fine fettle. Her essay, The Essential President Bush obviously struck a chord with many of the council since she won handily. Here is just a small part of a long, quite coherent, rant:

Let me tell you what has surprised me about George W. Bush. I have been surprised by his ability to keep from attacking-in-kind the “public servants” in Washington who - for five years - have not been able to speak of the American President with the respect he is due, by virtue of both his office and his humanity, because they are enthralled with hate and owned by opportunism. I have been surprised that he has kept his commitment to “changing the tone” even when it has long been clear that the only way the tone in Washington will ever change is if everyone named Bush or Clinton or Kennedy is cleared out and “career politicians” are shown the door and - it must be said - every university “School of Journalism” is converted to a daisy garden, maaaan. We are stardust. We are golden.

I wasn’t surprised when President Bush thought that New Orleans had dodged a bullet after Hurricane Katrina, and therefore let down his guard. After all, we all thought NOLA had done so. I wasn’t surprised that he had - similarly to his actions the year before, re Hurricane Charlie - asked the Democrat Governor of Louisiana (and the Mayor) to order evacuations and suggested to her that she put the issue under Fed control to speed up processes (she did not, btw for a long while). But I was surprised that, when the press “picked and choosed” their stories while launching an unprecedented, emotion-charged, often completely inaccurate (10,000 bodies!) attack on the President - the rising waters were all his fault and he was suddenly “the uncaring racist attempting genocide by indifference” - the President did not fight back against the sea of made-up news and boilerplate, fantastic charges against him.

This has surprised me, too. Sometimes it has made me angry, that he won’t fight back. It’s a part of leadership to do that. His hiring of Tony Snow will go a long way toward helping in that regard. Our commander-in-chief doesn’t need to answer every sophomoric idjit within the Beltway or the pages of The New York Times. However, he does need agile, articulate spokespeople to counter the poison from the professionals.

A fine disquisition, Anchoress. Thank you. But would you ask him to stop signing away so much money?

SigCarlAlfred came in second with another rant. A wild and wooly discourse he calls simply SC&A Vent.

The time has come once more for SC&A to unload.

We don’t care who we insult or who takes offense. Unlike the other brilliant therapists who regularly blog, we are dead and thus don’t give a rats ass about what you think. Further, we are smarter than you, better looking than you and the object of desire of m fabulous and good looking women. For you whiny, metro-sexual and sensitive bastards out there, we concede you look very nice in your pink shirt, yellow paisley tie and dress flip-flops with tassels.


Let’s get real about immigration. The same cheap ass bigotry that is on display today in much of the right wing blogosphere, predates you. That’s right — your high minded bigotry, couched as ‘concern,’ is nothing new.

When the Irish Catholics came off the boat in New York, escaping from famine and certain death, high minded Americans beat the crap out of them because the freakin’ Catholic papist evil bastards were going to ruin the country.

When the Italians and the Jews got off the boat in New York, there were those who met them at the docks and welcomed them with baseball bats — literally. Why? Because the damn Jews and more papist evil bastards Italians were going to ruin America. Later migrations of other ethnic groups were met with similar experiences. If the welcome in New York wasn’t enough, that human flotsam that boarded trains to middle America had it even worse. There was no ‘neighborhood,’ there was not much of an immigrant community to find refuge. Immigrants to these shores faced hatred and bigotry that was unimaginable. Some of this fine and caring ‘immigrant aid societies’ sold children into servitude in the Midwest (Norman Rockwell never got around to painting pictures of Italian and Irish kids being beaten and worked like farm animals), to never again see their parents.


Incredibly, immigrants survived despite the bigotry of many of this country’s citizens. Now, pay attention lefties and stop touching yourselves. Your as racist and bigoted as any on the left. We’ll get to your sorry and miserable asses later. As for the Hispanics reading this, stick around — you too, are in need of a reality check.

Here’s the deal — Hispanic immigrants aren’t going to ruin America. You know why? Because they come here as ‘wretched refuse.’ They have no other place to go. They see the buffet and smorgasbord of possibilities and are willing to work for their share.


Just to give you the flavor. Well salted and peppered, wouldn’t you say?

The rest of the offerings are at their usual spot, The Watcher's Place.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day? Try This One: May 29, 1453

Today, our Memorial Day for 2006, marks the 553rd anniversary of the fall of Constantinople. Paul Belien gives a moving account of the story at Brussels Journal. His recalling of the appeasement that led up to the seizure of the city is especially notable in our time: appeasement is a fool’s vain wish to avoid the predator:

Fall of Constantinople
In 1374, when the Ottomans were only a nascent power, Prince Manuel, governor of Salonica and a son of the Byzantine Emperor, had tried to rally the inhabitants of his city against the Turks. But the Salonicans did not want to bear the high costs of defending their city and promptly threw him out. Out of fear of the Turks his father, Emperor John V, refused Manuel shelter within the walls of Constantinople and so did all the other Byzantine cities. Consequently the prince was forced to seek refuge with... the Ottomans, whom he served until 1394, when he became Emperor himself.

When the Sultan demanded a Byzantine princess from the Emperor, the latter gave away his daughter Theodora to spend the rest of her life in the Sultan’s harem. He also gave the Turks a church in Constantinople to convert into a mosque. All the appeasement was in vain, however, because in 1453 the Turks demanded that the Byzantines surrender Constantinople. This time the Byzantines refused. In their final hour they saved their honour. “They fought for the city as they had never fought for the empire,” writes Jason Goodwin in his history of the Ottoman Empire. After a siege of two months the city fell. Emperor Constantine XI, Manuel’s son, died with his sword in his hand.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

That is Mr. Belien’s version. Oriana Fallaci, in The Force of Reason, has another more detailed version of Constantinople’s conversion into Istanbul. It is written in her inimitable style, which deserves not to be paraphrased, but quoted in full (pp 42-44):

…Crashing aside the Christians at Varna in 1444 they secured possession of Walachia, Moldavia, Transylvania, the territory now called Bulgaria and Romania, then in 1453 they put again under siege Constantinople which on May 29 fell into the hands of Mehmet II and by the way: do you know who was Mehmet II? A guy who, by virtue of the Islamic Fratricide Law which authorized a sultan to murder members of his immediate family, had ascended the throne by strangling his three year-old brother. Do you know the chronicle that about the fall of Constantinople the scribe Phrantzes has left us to refresh the memory of the oblivious or rather of the hypocrites?

Perhaps not. Especially in Europe, a Europe that weeps only for the Muslims, never for the Christians or the Jews or the Buddhists or the Hindus, it would not be Politically Correct to know the details of the fall of Constantinople. Its inhabitants who at daybreak, while Mehmet II is shelling Theodosius’ walls, take refuge in the cathedral of St. Sophia and here start to sing psalms. To invoke divine mercy. The patriarch who by candlelight celebrates his last Mass and in order to lessen the panic thunders: “Fear not, my brothers and sisters! Tomorrow you’ll be in the Kingdom of Heaven and your names will survive till the end of time!”. The children who cry in terror, their mothers who give them heart repeating: “Hush, baby, hush! We die for our faith in Jesus Christ! We die for our Emperor Constantine XI, for our homeland!”. The Ottoman troops who beating their drums step over the breaches in the fallen walls, overwhelm the Genovese and Venetian and Spanish defenders, hack them on to death with scimitars, then burst into the cathedral and behead even newborn babies. They amuse themselves by snuffing out the candles with their little severed heads... It lasted from the dawn to the afternoon that massacre. It abated only when the Grand Vizier mounted the pulpit of St. Sophia and said to the slaughterers: “Rest. Now this temple belongs to Allah” Meanwhile the city burns, the soldiery crucify and hang and impale, the Janissaries rape and butcher the nuns (four thousand in a few hours) or put the survivors in chains to sell them at the market of Ankara. And the servants prepare the Victory Feast. The feast during which (in defiance of the Prophet) Mehmet II got drunk on the wines of Cyprus and, having a soft spot for young boys, sent for the firstborn of the Greek Orthodox Grand Duke Notaras. A fourteen year-old adolescent known for his beauty. In front of everyone he raped him, and after the rape he sent for his family. His parents, his grandparents, his uncles, his aunts and cousins. In front of him he beheaded them. One by one. He also had all the altars destroyed, all the bells melted down, all the churches turned into mosques or bazaars. Oh, yes. That’s how Constantinople became Istanbul. But Doudou of the UN and the teachers in our schools don’t want to hear about it.

No, we don’t teach history that way anymore. But Oriana Fallaci is dying, and death gives her freedom to tell the truth, the whole bloody truth, and nothing but the horrendous truth.

This has been a report on the Religion of Peace. They will tell you we made it up.

For a poetic version, see the Baron’s post from January on Yeats’ “Sailing to Byzantium”.

Hat tip: commenter Fluffy.

“This Is a Test of the Free World.” You Will Be Graded.

From The Debka File:

The 69,000-member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) voted Monday, May 29 to boycott Israeli academics who refuse to condemn the their government’s “apartheid practices” towards the Palestinians.

The motion was carried at the union’s annual conference in the British town of Blackpool by 106 in favor and 71 against, with 21 abstentions in. It was termed “advisory policy.”

The union acted in response to a pressing demand by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which hailed the vote as a victory.


The decision calls on union members to consider if they should refuse to cooperate with Israeli academics or Israeli research journals that do not “disassociate themselves” from the policies described in the motion, namely “alleged “apartheid practices” including the construction of a wall between Israel and the West Bank.


After the motion was carried, the British government merely expressed regret at the boycott decision as “counterproductive.”

Haifa university president Aharon Ben-Zeev said his institution would continue to cooperate with colleagues and friends in Israel, Britain and around the world in an effort to defend the principle of academic freedom and fight the boycott.

Four NATFHE members: Derek Meyer of the University of Westminster, Leslie Bash of Anglia Ruskin University, Paul Langston of Aylesbury College, Stephen Soskin of Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, and 599 more academics worldwide accused the union of following the traditions of McCarthy in the US and the anti-Semitic purges in communist East Europe.

In a letter to The Guardian of May 27, this group of academics describes Israeli universities as “among the most open and anti-racist spaces in Israel” with large numbers of Arab students and teachers.

The Anti-Defense League’s director Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, described the union’s vote as a stunning setback for academic freedom.” To blacklist the only democratic country in the Middle East, {in the only state} where scholarship and debate are permitted to flourish is profoundly unjust…”

“Unjust” doesn’t begin to describe this action. It is so narrow-minded as to defy full comprehension. The hatred and projection behind this move calls to mind the beginnings of a new Kristallnacht .

Academia is sinking to new lows, so far beneath the moral horizon they are hard to even see anymore. Where is the outrage against the Middle East oligarchies who keep slaves? Where is the moral uprising against the way women and children are treated in Palestine? Where is the indignation about the morally depraved primers Palestinian children are taught to read, depicting the apes and pigs across the border? AND WHAT ABOUT HAMAS? Have too many conferences, reading unintelligible academese unglued the bunch of you? Is it the paper fumes that are responsible for this latest demonstration of moral stupidity by mental idjits? Have you no shame?

Oh, wait a minute here…compare the number of British Nobel Prize winners in science with the number of Jewish Nobel prize winners…hmmm. Do you think this might be a case of educational envy?

Britons: protect your children from the “teachers” of “higher education” currently loose on your small, precious island. Those teachers are trying to poison your children’s minds.

Queen Elizabeth, where are you??

By the way, the Debka story was third or fourth in the Google listing. Guess what was first? The Palestinian News. Now why do you suppose Google’s impartial and random algorithms did that? And why do you suppose Google, which likes to decorate its logo for all the holidays, managed to forget to put out the American flag for Memorial Day? Do you suppose they took the day off and just forgot? Me, too.


1. From Israel National News:

In an appeal to the international community, NRP Knesset member Zevulun Orlev wrote to parliament members in Britain, France and Germany to demand they join with Israel in condemning the action. Orlev, chairman of the Knesset Science Committee, told his European counterparts, “This is a test of the free world. We expect you to condemn this anti-Semitic and racist decision and to help institutions of higher education in your countries tighten their cooperation with science, technology and higher education institutes in Israel.”

2. LGF reports that the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario has voted to boycott Israel. How can so many people hope to see a country obliterated? On the other hand, what level of moral reasoning can you expect from a union of public employees? Consider the source of this one.

There Is Something About the Danes

An interesting development in an outspoken and interesting country.

Commenter Kepiblanc has kindly translated a recent news report from Danish television. It concerns the announcement by a newly-formed network of priests and theologians from the Danish People’s Church:

“Imams are not welcome in the Danish People’s Church,” reads the headline.

One can only imagine what would happen if such a thing happened in America. The MSM would be all over this story like chocolate on New Orleans. elmelunde_church.htmlHowever, Denmark is not America, in a number of important ways. First of all, they have a state church, Folkekirken, which is Denmark’s official evangelical Lutheran denomination. No one has to join, and you can opt out of paying any tax for its upkeep, though if you’re a lazy or indifferent type and don’t phone the local municipality, you will be billed for church maintenance. What’s interesting is that while eighty-four per cent of Danes pay the tax and are official members, only about five per cent of these citizens are actually churchgoers.

In addition to its Evangelical Lutheran communion, Denmark has a few other Protestant denominations, a smattering of Roman Catholics (three percent), an infinitesimal number of Jews (less than one percent), and, in a definite minority, there are about five hundred hardy souls sticking to the old pagan traditions, the ones pre-dating Christianity. But coming up fast, there is now a a census count of about three to five percent Muslims. Anxious, easily offended Muslims.

The Muslim population in Denmark is not Arab, most of them being Kurds, Bosnians, and Turks. A wikipedia article has this to say:

As a country with a highly homogenous indigenous population and without a history of immigration until the last decades of the 20th century, Denmark, like several countries in Western Europe, is dealing for the first time with the presence of a substantial and visible minority. As first and second generation immigrants, many drawn from the ranks of refugees, muslims in Denmark have not yet achieved the economic and political power proportional to their population; for example, they remain over-represented among prison populations and the unemployed, and under-represented in higher education, and among permanent residents holding citizenship and the right to vote.

In other words, Denmark is having a problem with Muslim immigrant crime, joblessness, and failure to go on to higher education. Nor do the immigrants tend to register to vote or become citizens.

So it’s no wonder that this latest pronouncement, this time from the Danish church is not exactly putting out the welcome mat. From DR Yheder, a television news report —

— "imams are not welcome in Danish state churches," says a new network of Islam-critical priests and theological experts.

The purpose is to state that Christians and Muslims do not believe in the same God, and that the church and the mosque are not religious equals says the new network of 60 priests and theological experts.

Well-known priests and opinion-makers such as Niels Højlund, Sørine Godtfredsen, Edith Thingstrup, Morten Kvist and Katrine Winkel Holm are among the prominent members.

According to the Newfounded Network admitting imams into Danish churches is problematic.

The Danish People’s Church cannot agree with the imams without betraying the Lord Christ — who according to Islam is nothing but an inferior “prophet”, subordinated to Mohammad.

Making fun of the Gospel

When priests and imams are praying together, they are in essence ridiculing the Gospel, the network states. At the same time it distances itself from recent events such as religious councils with imams.

Bishops and imams are not religious colleagues separated only by different merchandise. It is of paramount importance that priests in the Danish Church make that fact very clear — as well as studying and criticizing Islam, says the network — which at the same time underscores that the intention is to criticize Islam, not the individual Muslim.

Is this what Christians would call a “Christian attitude”? In a smaller sense, no. But in the larger sense of putting a stop to the inroads some of the more notorious imams in Denmark have made into a hither-to civilized cultural life, and the economic damage they have caused Denmark by spreading taqiyya in the Middle East, causing boycotts of Danish goods and the destruction of Danish embassies, they are possibly serving a greater good.

The shameful spineless of American mainstream churches in the face of militant Islam, their divestment from tiny, besieged Israel, their unwitting and ignorant support of the spread of Islamicist propaganda in this country, makes Denmark’s line drawn in the sand a refreshing change.

When you consider that:

  • the editor of Jyllands Posten refused to meet with the muslim rabble rousers who wanted to negotiate an official apology for the infamous cartoons,

  • the Danish justice system refused to prosecute the cartoonists, saying they had acted within the laws regarding free speech,

  • the new laws on immigration designed to stop child marriages on Danish soil, the demand that muslims learn Danish and become financially responsible in order to attain citizenship,

  • and Queen Margarethe’s admission that her country had been “lazy” about acculturating these Bosnians and Kurds and Turks

then you know Denmark is waking up. And you can expect the usual suspects to condemn their action.

When you consider that the frenzy raised by the Danish imams took place in Syria and Lebanon — and not in Turkey, Bosnia, or the Kurdish areas which are the countries of origin for Denmark’s muslims — you know what they did was deeply criminal. And, as the world knows by now, this low-life added his own crude drawings to the originals, illustrations much more inflammatory than anything the Danish cartoonists did.

It would be more heartening if the man were in jail somewhere, serving time for undermining Denmark and causing much economic harm.

Nonetheless, Denmark is stirring. It is not sleepwalking into dhimmitude as some of its neighbors are.

So if the Danish clergy and some of its theologians are making a pre-emptive “NOT WELCOME” signs for the imams in their country, good for them. “Tolerance” in the face of hatred, slander, and deception is suicidal. And the Danes are not suicidal.

Ask the Germans. Ask the Israelis, who honor the Danes for managing to hide, send out of the country, and otherwise keep from the Gestapo all but some 450 Jewish citizens during the German occupation in World War II. Of those who were sent to a concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia, some ten percent (mostly the elderly and infirm) died. The rest were liberated after the war. Thanks to pressure by the Danish Red Cross, “their” Danish Jews were given food packages and their whereabouts were monitored. None went to the extermination camps.

There is something about those Danes.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Defender of Which Faith?

Affluent high-profile Britons who convert to Islam have been in the news lately. Are they, like Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam), sincere spiritual followers who have felt the call of the Prophet? Or do they simply sense which way the wind is blowing in Britain these days?

Sometimes it can be a matter of basic prudence. When young working-class women in Birmingham take up the veil, it is generally to avoid being harassed or raped by local Muslim men, not because of the spiritual majesty of Islam.

Here at Gates of Vienna we’ve become accustomed to the moribund irrelevance and passivity of the Anglican Church, both in the United States and in Britain. Thus it took smelling salts to revive us when we heard about a bishop in the Church of England who actually defended his faith against the encroachment of mushy multiculturalism.

To make the affair even more poignant, the bishop in question was born in Pakistan. Here’s the report from The News:

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Nazir-AliA leading Anglican bishop has attacked the trend towards what he called a multi-faith mish-mash in ethnically diverse Britain, and said it was time to reassert the country’s Christian identity.

Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali also questioned heir-to-the throne Prince Charles’s desire to be seen as a defender of all faiths, not just Christianity, when he takes over as monarch.

Pakistani-born Nazir-Ali, whose family background is both Christian and Muslim, pitched into an emotive debate about national identity in a country deeply shocked last year when four British Islamic militants killed 52 people in attacks on London’s transport system.

The bishop argued that the basis of British society, from the monarchy to its laws, was “Christian constitutionally”.

“All our values come ultimately from the Bible,” he told BBC radio.

Isn’t that a bit over the top? I mean, the Bible is all very well, but, really

Then he has the nerve to assail the current heir to the British throne:

As the future titular head of the Church of England, Prince Charles has said he would like to be known as “Defender of Faith” rather than “Defender of the Faith.”

Bishop Nazir-Ali took issue with the heir to the throne, saying: “The coronation service is such that whoever takes the oaths actually takes oaths to defend the Christian faith.”

“You can’t defend every faith because there are very serious differences among them,” he added.

This is the crux of the matter: not all religions can be reconciled with one another. Islam has its own hallowed scriptural basis for refusing reconciliation with all other faiths.

I’ve been expecting Prince Charles — based on his fatuous pronouncements from recent years — to undergo a prominent conversion to Islam in the not-so-distant future.

Would that cause a constitutional crisis in Britain? If any of our British readers care to weigh in with an opinion, I’d be glad to hear it.

You can’t defend every faith because there are very serious differences among them.

Hat tip: Bharat Rakshak.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

One With the Sky

This is the last in an occasional series on the poetry of Louis MacNeice

“The Cyclist” is my favorite Louis MacNeice poem. It has no political content, nor topical relevance, nor contemporary references. It is timeless, and evocative of timelessness. That’s why I saved it for the last.

The Cyclist
By Louis MacNeice

Freewheeling down the escarpment past the unpassing horse
Blazoned in chalk the wind he causes in passing
Cools the sweat of his neck, making him one with the sky,
In the heat of the handlebars he grasps the summer
Being a boy and to-day a parenthesis
Between the horizon’s brackets; the main sentence
Is to be picked up later but these five minutes
Are all to-day and summer. The dragonfly
Rises without take-off, horizontal,
Underlining itself in a sliver of peacock light.

And glaring, glaring white
The horse on the down moves within his brackets,
The grass boils with grasshoppers, a pebble
Scutters from under the wheel and all this country
Is spattered white with boys riding their heat-wave,
Feet on a narrow plank and hair thrown back

And a surf of dust beneath them. Summer, summer —
They chase it with butterfly nets or strike it into the deep
In a little red ball or gulp it lathered with cream
Or drink it through closed eyelids; until the bell
Left-right-left gives his forgotten sentence
And reaching the valley the boy must pedal again
Left-right-left but meanwhile
For ten seconds more can move as the horse in the chalk
Moves unbeginningly calmly
Calmly regardless of tenses and final clauses
Calmly unendingly moves.

Louis MacNeiceThese have been my personal selections from MacNeice’s poems. If you want to read more, there seem to a few copies of the Selected Poems and the Collected Poems available on Amazon.

Not all of his work has aged well; plenty of the poems are windy and tedious. However, there are some interesting pieces that I have left out, and also much to interest the classicist. MacNeice has a better claim to fame than many of his cohort whose works have remained in print.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Islamophobic and Proud of ItRegular readers will remember my virtual “Islamophobic and Proud of It” button from back in March. Well, a version of this same button, printed on a t-shirt, has turned up in an unusual place.

We were tipped off to this Rantburg article by a moderator at the site.

Right-wing extremist tee shirtThe image at right was displayed with an article at Islam Online, over the caption, “T-shirts with anti-Muslim slurs are being circulated by right-wingers in the run-up for the World Cup.”

Cool! We made it to Islam Online! But who’s making and selling the shirt?

According to the article:

World Cup Muslim Fans Urged to “Give Example”

BERLIN, May 25, 2006 ( – With right-wing groups charging batteries to provoke Muslim teams taking part in the FIFA World Cup, to kick off on June 9, Muslim fans are urged not to fall into the trap and to serve as an example.

A German Muslim website has exhorted Muslim football supporters to take into their strides provocations by right-wingers.

“Muslim fans should give an example of Muslim behavior and enjoy the contests no matter what the results are,” wrote the muslimmarkt website…

“The far right-wingers are out to provoke the fans to cause riots, particularly during the matches of the Iranian team.”

T-shirts emblazoned with anti-Muslim slurs are already been circulated by far rightists.

One of these T-shirts reads “Islamophobic And Proud Of It”.

Am I proud of it, or what? Hoo-ee! We made the German Muslims afraid of Islamophobia!

Well, it’s a start.

Let’s read some more of the article, to get the bird’s-eye lowdown on this caper.

Right-wing groups are encouraging supporters to flock to Iran’s matches and use Israeli flags in supporting any team playing against the Islamic republic.

Israeli flags are being delivered to the homes of those interested at 25 euros per piece.

Okay, now we know — it’s the friends of Israel who are behind this plot. The international Zionist cabal and its willing dupes are making and distributing these shirts. And, no doubt, making a huge profit at the same time.

But wait! There’s more:

Germany has been a scene of a spate of race-related attacks in the run-up to the World Cup, raising concern of violence and intolerance during the world gala.

In the latest incident a politician of Turkish origin was beaten and slashed with a broken bottle in Lichtenberg, a suburb of Berlin known as a neo-Nazi stronghold, at the weekend.

Does this mean that neo-Nazis are handing out Israeli flags and encouraging demonstrations on behalf of the Jews?

Will. Not. Compute.

But… when the worldwide Jewish conspiracy is involved, anything is possible. Presumably they’re putting mind-altering drugs into Berlin’s water supply to turn the local skinheads into compliant servants of the neocons.

To make matters even more convoluted, Seafarious, a commenter at Rantburg, has doubts that the T-shirts even exist:

NOW. The questions are:

1. Does this shirt even exist outside of the Islam-Online photo library?
 a. GoV does not have a Cafe Press store.
 b. I’m not even sure that the shirt exists at Cafe Press, the logo almost looks like it was photoshopped onto a picture of the shirt.
 c. I did a search for “Islamophobia” at Cafe Press, and found no matches. (Though that doesn’t surprise me.)
2. If the shirts do exist somewhere, which “Right wing extremists groups” are distributing them and how did Islam-Online discover them and get a picture? Why are no groups specifically named?

I can confirm that Gates of Vienna does not sell “Islamophobic” merchandise, although I wish we did. From our point of view, the button exists only as an orginal bitmap and two jpegs. That’s it.

Now, right after I posted the button image, and word about it spread through the blogosphere, the German blogs seemed to take a particular interest in it. One fellow wrote me to say that he wanted to buy some of buttons, and where were they available? I wrote him (and others) and told them that there was no “real” button, but that I would be happy if some enterprising individual wanted to use the image to make buttons, coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc.

So… maybe one of them did.

Or maybe not. Maybe this is a truly postmodern internet event, with non-existent photoshopped buttons photoshopped onto imaginary t-shirts and spread around the globe in virtual form, alarming the sensitive and the gullible.

If any of our German readers sees someone wearing a real version of this shirt, please take a photo of and send it to us, and I’ll post it for all to see.

But please — no photoshop jobs!

Update: Commenter St. Pancake at LGF tells me that the shirts really are for sale, and gives a link to this online shop. I can’t get in without a password, but St. Pancake quotes from it:

Islamophobic and proud of it!
Promodoro Raglan Kurzarm, Baseball T-Shirt aus 100% Baumwolle, weiß/navy
Preis 19,90 € zzgl. Versandkosten

Yes, they are for sale.

If anyone can actually get me onto the page, I’d be grateful!

Happy Birthday to Dymphna

Happy Birthday to DymphnaToday is Dymphna’s birthday. She’s over 21, but not yet 100.

The future Baron and I got her The Force of Reason by Oriana Fallaci. We'll probably be posting on it here in due course; it looks like an excellent book, based on the quick glance I got at it in Barnes and Noble.

Come to think of it, it’s a wonder that Barnes and Noble had it on display. Won’t there be a riot?

Dymphna’s not awake yet, and doesn’t know this is going up. Those so inclined can leave a happy birthday comment for her, to greet her when she wakes up!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ronald Reagan is Smiling

Tonight, consistent with our obligations of the ABM treaty and recognizing the need for closer consultation with our allies, I’m taking an important first step. I am directing a comprehensive and intensive effort to define a long-term research and development program to begin to achieve our ultimate goal of eliminating the threat posed by strategic nuclear missiles. This could pave the way for arms control measures to eliminate the weapons themselves. We seek neither military superiority nor political advantage. Our only purpose — one all people share — is to search for ways to reduce the danger of nuclear war.

Ronald Reagan, March 23, 1983

It has taken twenty-three years, but Ronald Reagan’s dream of a Strategic Defense Initiative is that much closer to being realized. Here is yesterday’s AP report:

Military Shoots Down Test Missile Target

USS Lake ErieHONOLULU — For the first time, a Navy ship at sea successfully shot down a long-range missile in its final seconds of flight, the military said Wednesday.

The test was seen as an important step toward giving ships the ability to shoot down weapons as they are about to hit their targets. Until now, the Standard Missile 2 was only launched from ships to intercept a long-range missile in the early or middle stage of flight.

For the test, a missile fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai was destroyed in its final stage by an SM-2 launched from USS Lake Erie.

The Navy already can shoot down a missile in its final stage with a Patriot Advanced Capability 3, or PAC-3, missile launched from land.

The experiment with the SM-2 could broaden a warship’s capability, said Rear Adm. Barry McCullough, director of surface warfare on the staff of the chief of naval operations.

The Pearl Harbor-based Lake Erie is equipped with technology that allows it to detect and track intercontinental ballistic missiles. Since 2004, U.S. warships with ICBM tracking technology have been patrolling the Sea of Japan, on the lookout for missiles from North Korea.

The U.S. military is installing missile tracking radar and interceptor missiles on 18 U.S. Pacific Fleet ships. It is also equipping underground silos in Alaska and California with interceptor missiles.

Why did it take twenty-three years instead of five, or ten?

Readers of a certain age will recall the immense resistance to SDI that President Reagan encountered in a Democrat-controlled Congress. His successor, George H.W. Bush, was surrounded by stability-freaks — the Scowcroft wing of the national security establishment — and never pressed overly hard for something the Democrats would have obstructed in any case.

When the House passed into Republican hands in 1994, the situation changed, but by that time there was a Democrat in the White House to obstruct SDI from the executive side. Short of killing the project outright (which was not possible, given the statutory mandate), President Clinton did everything he could, withholding funding, delaying testing, weakening and reducing component projects, all in order to appease an enemy who no longer even existed.

It wasn’t until George W. Bush took office that SDI became more than a dream and a set of plans. Now we are that much closer to making the North Korean and Iranian nuclear capabilities irrelevant, at least as far as the United States is concerned.

The past two decades of delay demonstrate the rigid lock that the pacifist Left has had on public conversation about our national security.

It is bizarre and quaint to assert that preventing a nuclear attack against our country is “destabilizing” and “provocative”, and endangers peace. But that was the dogma for many years, and still is in some circles. Remember all those editorials… “Star Wars” won’t work, and would be a bad idea even if it did work. What more could you expect from that amiable dunce?

Just think how a successful missile defense redraws the strategic map. The United States and Canada — and maybe Western Europe, if they behave themselves — will be protected from long range missiles. Iran is still a threat, but not to the same players in the game. It could still threaten Russia, and China, and Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, just to name a few…

I wonder which world leader is going to change his tune, and when.

UPDATE (from Dymphna): Spook 86 at “In From the Cold” has an expanded version of this saga, with the kind of information which makes his blog so invaluable. Read Missile Defense From the Sea.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Beryllium in the Hands of the Terrorists…

BerylliumThe comments on my earlier post about beryllium were too sanguine for our Russian correspondent; G.O. has sent another email warning us about beryllium. He identifies himself as a metallurgist, and his expertise makes him worried about the dangers of beryllium oxide:

In the hands of the terrorists, I believe, beryllium could be more dangerous than radioactive materials which are extremely easy to detect. Be-metal could be converted into the fine powder by firing it in the cheapest pottery kiln.

But most important Be-oxide is undetectable and highly inert. It could be easily mixed with a foodstuff (or almost anything). If terrorists would dump Be-oxide powder in the air conditioning/heating system of a building — few weeks later — suddenly every occupant of that building will get ill having (seems to be) a fast progressing lung cancer. If I would have a horrible dilemma to choose to be exposed to a dirty-bomb or Be-oxide powder I would choose dirty-bomb in a heart beat. The chance of surviving a dirty-bomb is very good and it is highly unlikely someone would bring undetected radioactive stuff home and kill the whole family.

Exposure to the Be-oxide dust is very difficult to detect and it is always fatal.

Beryllium toxicity information is usually based on Be-metal info, the fact that the killer is Be-oxide, a fine dust, is always somewhat camouflaged. For example, a machinist working with beryllium bronze (alloy of copper with ~1% Be — very popular family of industrial alloys) could develop beryllium disease in thirty years, but his exposure to Be-oxide is so negligible that it is practically impossible to measure.

Now, I’m an utter layman in these matters. However, I ask the commenters who pooh-poohed the idea of using of beryllium as a terrorist weapon to answer G.O.’s points substantively; i.e., why do you think beryllium oxide is not a concern?

Remember, a ton of beryllium went missing in Sweden a while back. That could make a lot of Be-oxide powder…

I know it’s difficult to work with and transport, but would the payoff be high enough to make it attractive?

Protests in Iran

Protesters in TabrizMichael Ledeen has repeatedly emphasized that the best way to achieve our policy objectives with respect to Iran is to support the indigenous opposition and thus undermine the regime. A spontaneous uprising against the mullahs, supported by the United States, could legitimize a new democratic government in Iran and make the issue of nuclear weapons less apocalyptic.

It may be that such an uprising is beginning right now. According to the expatriate Iranian blogger The Spirit of Man, students staged massive protest rallies in Iran today:

Protests in Tehran

There are confirmed reports from inside of Iran about students protesting in and around the University of Tehran, mainly at Kuy-e-Daneshgah where famous protests against the regime were held in July of 1999 and June & July of 2003.

This can be a very important moment. I really think these guys need massive support right now to be able to achieve some thing, at least if we expect the change to come from inside of Iran.

A blogger says there are about 2000 students clashing with the security officers in western parts of Tehran where their campus is located. Many were detained, 40 police officers injured and 200 students wounded. He says, it started by a group of 20-30 students and then more people joined the crowd.

All we can do is stand on the sidelines and witness. Since the legacy media are unlikely to pay any attention, we’ll have to spread the word in the blogosphere.

Pass it on.

Watcher’s Council Winners for May 19th

Watcher's CouncilSome excellent entries for the week of May 19th.

Callimachus struck a nerve with this post on Public Virtue. I like it when one member wins decisively; it means that what he or she has to say is, in some way, essential or else it is a novel synthesis. Being historically illiterate on many levels (as all-too-many Americans are), I was riveted by his words:

As Americans set up their infant republic, one of the images foremost in their minds was how republics die. All the classical republics, they knew, had come to an end in anarchy and then tyranny. Classical and modern writers had taken up the theme of the death of a republic so often and so minutely that by the 18th century the process could be described in almost clinical medical terms. The learned men knew it from their classical educations, and the common people knew it from the popular plays of the day, such as “Julius Caesar” and Addison’s “Cato” (which Washington had performed for the troops at Valley Forge, notwithstanding a Congressional ban on theaters).

[The influence of theater on Revolutionary-era politics probably was enormous, and I don’t know if anyone has studied it properly. Otway’s “Venice Preserved,” for example, was one reason Venice was not brought up among the model republics when America’s Founders were doing their work. How different the country might have been without that now-forgotten play.]

The vital principle in keeping a republic alive was public virtue. This was virtue in the classical, not the Christian, definition. The Christian, seeking to be not of this world in Roman times, turned pagan virtue on its head.

Classical virtue was not in the least bit meek, but it strove to be first in doing good for one’s country and coveted the glory that comes with unrelenting devotion to the good of the people. It expressed itself in endurance, industry, frugality, and probity -- many of which were consistent with Christianity. Gertrude Himmelfarb has ably condensed the classical idea of virtue as “the will and capacity to put the public interest over the private.”

In these brief remarks (and I left out some vital introduction to the text) Callimachus explains why our civic culture looks Christian, but in reality its virtues predate the coming of Christianity. In my opinion the latter simply took up those qualities and gave them a Christian gloss, as Augustine did so brilliantly in his “City of God.” Without the Platonists, Augustine would not have been possible. Neither would our Constitution.

If you would learn something new (which some famous book character or other claimed was "the only solace" against the griefs of life), then bookmark Callimachus’ Done With Mirrors. Even I, who do not approve of blogs which don't allow comments, go there often, humbly with hat in hand...

Second place was earned for “Conservative Fatigue Syndrome” by Shrinkwrapped. It is a rich post, containing many more comparisons and explanations by others than I can give you here. But this is the main Shrinkwrapped Summation for Conservative Fatigue Syndrome:

All of the explanations for CFS have some explanatory power, but symptom complexes are always multiply determined. I would propose that in the background of all our discontent there lurks the sense that the worst is yet to come.

The elephant in the room, which too much of our political and media culture seem to have conspired to overlook, is that the war is still in its early stages and we are finishing the easy parts, al Qaeda and Iraq. If we have had so much trouble mobilizing the support for the easy work, how can anyone be confident that we can address the more difficult problems that are facing us? Unless our enemies make the foolish mistake of attacking us again before they are ready to destroy our ability to carry on the fight, I think there is almost no chance that we can preemptively and adequately wage the next phase of this war.

The idea that we will have to struggle to protect ourselves and maintain support for the Military and the Intelligence services to do their job, and ultimately will almost certainly be attacked again, is enough to make anyone disconsolate.

I’ll say! No wonder we all grow weary. No wonder Bush seems battle-fatigued.

Of the non-Council posts, You Dissin My God placed first with his --

simple, non-denominational, test to determine if your religion is worthy of respect. All you have to do is answer the questions YES or NO.

The “questions” are a hoot, and a few of them could have been applied to, oh, let’s say the Puritans, whose God definitely didn’t consider laughter very godly. On the other hand, my favorite question, Is decapitation considered a valid form of religious expression?, continues to haunt moderate Muslims, and also accounts for any number of apostates –- who, of course, would also face beheading for thinking they had permission to think outside the very small box of radical Islam. Radical, resentful, bent-on-revenge for phantasied humiliation.

Let’s face it: attempted dialogue with a terrorist is a waste of…umm, life.

A comparison between the treatment doled out to Senator Kennedy, Jr. for his drugged-out life, and Rush Limbaugh for his opiated fall from grace won second place. Calling his essay Kennedy's Stigma is Limbaugh's Crime, Don Surber says:

Pat Kennedy is not getting the Rush Limbaugh treatment. There is no prosecutor seeking Kennedy’s medical records to find out who prescribed him painkillers. No, he is a congressman who suffers not just bipolar disorder but -- according to the New York Times -- a “stigma” of depression.

Because that is what the story is about -- stigma. Actually, the story is not about the stigma. It is NYT shorthand for “you people are too ignorant, prejudiced and close-minded to appreciate the greatness of Patrick Kennedy and what he suffers.”

Why he had asthma as a child. And “his mother struggled with alcohol dependence.” No mention is made of his father being a drunk. The New York Times does not use words like drunk. In fact, I am pretty sure had he gotten arrested for DWI, the NYT would have called it “Driving While Struggling With Alcohol Dependence.”


…people can complain all they want about the NSA. The real threat to our liberties is that a critic of Congress has just been given the shaft -- has just had his medical records seized by a prosecutor -- while a member of that same Congress -- a legacy member, I might add -- is protected by the law.

That is your America, where the same thing that lands a critic in court fighting to remain out of jail, gets sympathy for a congressman. Stigma, eh? Poor little rich boy.

I’m no fan of the Kennedys. I lived too long in Massachusetts for that. But even with all the persecution of Limbaugh, he leads a charmed life compared to anyone from the K clan.

Patrick Kennedy is a sad case. Born to a hopelessly alcoholic mother long since declared incapable of handling her own affairs, a lying (remember his Harvard scholastic record?), libertine and cowardly father who left a woman to die while he tried to cover his nether parts, and his own battle with bone cancer as a child – this guy lives the life of the damned already. No wonder he’s a drug addict. I would be, too.

All those Kennedys are living examples of the sins of the fathers visited on the children. I agree with Mr. Surber that he is a “poor little rich boy.” Lord, is he ever. It’s amazing he finds the will to get up in the morning. All the drugs in the world can’t cure his pain of having been born into such a family.

The rest of the posts, always worth your while, are still up at The Watcher's place.

CORRECTION: A reader sent in a reminder regarding the Kennedy saga. It was not Patrick who had bone cancer, it was Teddy, Jr. She’s right; I’d forgotten there were other children in that sad alliance. The oldest child, Kara, also developed cancer as a child but both survived. Teddy has a law degree from the University of Connecticut. Unusual for a wealthy person to attend law school at night, but that’s what he did. He's considered a potential opponent for Joe Not-Liberal-Enough Lieberman for this year's run.

The children have legal custody of their mother. She was — is — a valiant woman and worked hard to overcome her addiction, without success. She is also recovering from breast cancer.

From a public vantage point, it seems that Patrick, who escaped the cancer sword ( so far), has had a harder road to hoe. As a commenter remarked, being in that family is like being born into your own Eugene O’Neill play.

And another thing: Callimachus does have comments enabled. My bad.

Those Cynical Motoon Imams

Jihad for fun and ProphetThose who followed the Mohammed Cartoon Caper will remember Danish imam Raed Hlayhel. After the Motoons were published last year in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, a carefully staged uproar started in the Danish Muslim community.

Now flash back to Editors Weblog, October 14, 2005:

Yesterday, a group of 16 Muslim organizations demanded the paper to apologize for printing the cartoons, reports Aljazeera. The group said, “The newspaper has with its action deliberately stepped on Islam’s ethical and moral values with the purpose of contempt and ridiculing Muslims’ feelings, their holy sites and their religious symbols”. The Islam bans any depiction of the prophet. Jyllands-Posten, which received several threats after publishing the cartoons, said it would not apologize for the cartoons and cited the freedom of speech, writes The Guardian.

Already last week, Imam Raed Hlayhel criticized the publication. He stated, “This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims. Muslims will never accept this kind of humiliation. The article has insulted every Muslim in the world. We demand an apology!”

It’s not surprising that the more militant Danish Muslims would find democracy “worthless”, is it? After all, it doesn’t advance their Islamist aims or hasten the ascendancy of the Caliphate.

Hlayhel had gained notoriety in Denmark back in 2004 for his assertion that Danish women, with their provocative dress and lascivious manner, were inviting rape.

After the cartoon crisis erupted, Hlayhel went on a tour of the Middle East with the Motoons, adding a few bogus ones of his own for their enhanced inflammatory content. The predictable brouhaha followed, with Western dhimmis falling all over each other to abase themselves before the defenders of the Prophet.

Now Sugiero has this update on Imam Hlayhel:

The following article, containing segments from a Friday Prayer held by imam shaykh Raed Hlayhel March 31, was published in Jyllands-Posten May 20. I’ve found it worth translating, because it shows how the despicable Danish imams took advantage of the cartoon controversy.

Via JP, hattip Polemiken:

“The Muhammed controversy was a sign from Allah and a test for the believers. The whole case has been good for the Muslims because it has revealed the infidels, hypocrites and the arrogants. It has also given us, the Muslims, an opportunity to profile ourselves”, imam shaykh Raed Hlayhel stated during his Friday Prayer.

“Good for the Muslims,” indeed. This Danish imam and his colleagues have played the gullible Western press like a ukelele. Erect the hoops, and we’ll jump through them, one after the other.

And we’re not done with the Motoons yet. Expect them to be dusted off when the Iranian crisis really heats up. Look for spontaneous outpourings of righteous Islamic rage carefully targeted to gain the most leverage over the Europeans when the time comes.

As the Saudi Gazette has pointed out, there is scriptural justification for taking action against the blasphemous cartoonists:

Due to the seriousness of the crime of insulting the prophets, scholars concur with the verdict given by Ibn Hazm in his Muhallâ: It is therefore proven that whoever insults the Prophet (peace be upon him) is an unbeliever and an enemy of Allah. Therefore, it is proven that anyone who blasphemes against Allah, insults an angel, calumniates a prophet or mocks him, or makes fun of the verses of the scripture or the divine legislation is an apostate.

It is as stated in the Qur’ân: And if you ask them, they will surely say we were only conversing and playing. Say, Is it Allah and His verses and His messengers that you were mocking? Make no excuse; you have disbelieved... [Surah al-Tawbah: 65-66]

Theo Van Gogh was murdered. The Danish cartoonists went into hiding. Comedy Central censored South Park’s episode ridiculing Mohammed, citing their fear of Muslim violence.

Is it any wonder the Islamists think they’ve got us on the run?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Beryllium Update

BerylliumIn the last few days I have received quite an education about beryllium, thanks to the distributed intelligence of the internet. After the Swedish anthrax post got linked all over the blogosphere, the comments and emails started coming in.

The latest is an email from a Russian reader, G.O.:

Beryllium oxide powder is extremely deadly.

The killer is beryllium oxide which causes berylliosis — a progressive chronic disease similar to asbestosis but with a very fast incubation period; it usually kills in few weeks. One inhale of beryllium oxide dust is a sure death sentence. No cure.

Before the danger of Be-oxide was recognized, workers involved in the fabrication of Be-ceramic died, also died their families and even pets. In the USSR communal apartments all the occupants of Be-contaminated apartments died. (People brought minute amounts of Be-oxide on their clothes).

Beryllium oxide is a superior ceramic; it has a very high temperature work range — over 3000 degrees Celsius. Most remarkable (and unique): Be-oxide is good a dielectric at very high temperature. Be-oxide is similar to aluminum oxide in mechanical properties and adhesion to the base metal. This is the reason why Be metal is relatively benign – unless it is ground into a powder. Fine Be oxide powder is indestructible and extremely deadly.

So… even though beryllium is not radioactive, it sounds like it might be dangerous in the hands of the terrorists.

Previous beryllium-related posts are here and here.

The 21st Carnival of Homeschooling

Progressive Dinner Party hosted at Principled Discovery

Principled Discovery says: Invite a friend and enjoy the food, travel and conversation as we get to know each other a little better.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Interview With Starling David Hunter, PhD

For any of our readers not familiar with the blog, The Business of America is Business, you are in for a pleasant surprise should you decide to visit. Like the experience of potato chips, you won’t be able to stop at just one page. For those who already know Starling David Hunter, I hope this interview with him enhances your understanding of what he is doing and why.

At present, Starling teaches at the American University in Dubai, in the UAE. But his path there was a circuitous one. He began with an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and worked for Boeing and Exxon before going back to Duke to get his PhD in Organizational Theory. From there he went on to teach at MIT’s Sloan’s Master’s programs.

While mulling over the idea of teaching abroad, Starling’s department was one of a group approached by a delegation from the UAE. They were intent on improving the educational system in the Emirates and wanted to engage teachers from top tier colleges to consult on ways to improve. After speaking with one of the delegates, Starling decided to sign on for the job of assisting the UAE’s young people in learning how to assess, analyze, and think critically.

I first “met” Starling in a comment he left on The Belmont Club. Like other of Wretchard’s progeny, after hanging out at the Club, he decided to strike out on his own. And so he has, ending up with his current blog. The experience of reading that first comment – I no longer remember its subject – made me realize that he was an important find. Probably most of us are economically illiterate, and nothing has proved it more vividly than the latest rise in oil prices. It is one thing for private citizens to be ignorant; it is quite another to hear the wrong-headed, downright stupid bloviations and “solutions” emanating from the hallowed halls of our national Congress. That is scary. Starling has become my light in this dark vale of unknowing. When I want to figure out what might be going on, I head over to Biz to see what he might have to say.

You probably know that the title of Starling’s blog comes from a quote of Calvin Coolidge, who was Harding’s vice president and assumed office when Harding died two years after being sworn in. Coolidge’s economic ideas are obviously congenial with Starling’s. On reading him, you see why.

Starling has an easy style, a measured and pleasant tone. Unlike certain of us, he never rants: the consummate teacher. For example, here is his response in the comments to one of the Baron’s posts regarding the obvious bias of National Public Radio:

Now as for the substance of the NPR commentary. Although my research involve the economics of technological innovation, my training is not as an economist. That having been said, I do recognize that economics statistics not placed in a context can be very misleading. Anyone, whether on the left or right can create misleading impressions by what economic indicators they mention and how, as well as by which ones they leave out. What is important to keep in mind is that just as there is no single measure of physical health, there is not single measure of economic health either. The social sciences simply don’t have that degree of precision. Econometric models don’t always do that good of a job predicting and describing the phenomena they consider.

Now as for NPR’s bias, there is not doubt that they do lean left. I’m 42 and have been listening to them regularly since I was 19 and for me their bias is a settled question. Hank noted that NPR appears to work from a script. This they indeed do. Here are some of the ideals that motivate their partisan perspectives:

1) Capitalism is unjust. It creates winners and losers as evidenced by the unequal distribution of income that it produces.
2) Business is not, by definition, socially responsible. That is to say, running a business is not in and of itself a responsible thing to do. Providing goods and services that people, keeping people gainfully employed, and paying taxes is not inherently virtuous. It only becomes that when business leaders sign on to various notions of corporate social responsibility.
3) Private enterprise should exist to serve the needs of the “workers” not the owners and only secondarily customers. That is to say, the profit motive is unseemly and the desire to maximize profits instead of developing people is the closest thing these folks recognize as “sin”. Besides, workers, not managers and “money men” and owners, create all the value.

A few posts from my archives that relate to these topics include: The Road (that ought to be) Less Traveled series about a fawning NYT article on Hugo Chavez’ “21st century Socialism” and Dispatch from a Parallel Universe about the NYT’s coverage of Wal-mart.

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The Interview

How did you end up in Dubai? In the time you’ve been there, what’s your impression? What preconceptions did you have that you’ve since changed?

The UAE has for a few yeas been very interested in upgrading its educational system. They know that they have done poorly in preparing their students to become anything resembling independent thinkers capable of adding to the knowledge economy. One of the ways they have set about offsetting this is to engage top tier US institutions of higher education to consult them on how to improve. One such school was MIT. A few years back a delegation from MIT included my department head and a few other senior colleagues and administrative staff from the business school. They came and visited the Emirates’ universities and spoke with Sheikh Nayhan about a strategic plan for improving colleges and universities. When MIT contingent came here they visited America University of Sharjah. One of the people they met was a beautiful and talent mid-career professional woman by the name of Sheika Lubna al-Qassimi. She was running a software company at the time. Lubna was invited to visit MIT. When she did, an email was sent around asking who wanted to meet with her. I was one of the people who met her that day. We talked and I told her I was soon leaving MIT and considering teaching abroad. She recommend that I check out AU Sharjah and Education City in Qatar. I did and now I am here. Shortly after her visit to MIT, Lubna got appointed to be the UAE Minister of Economy and Planning thereby scuttling all the hopes I had of marrying her! ;-)
Class section 1

Related post: Sand and Deliver

Can you say a bit about your students?

In short, I love them. The photos say it all. They are a fine bunch of kids who are like most undergraduates: they are peer conscious, a little unsure of their place in the world, ambitious, needing of guidance and sometime a swift kick in the shorts, eager to learn, surprisingly attractive; multi-lingual, they all speak more than one language and are cosmopolitan to a degree; all have traveled to several countries. They are perhaps more family oriented and prone to show much more deference and respect to their profs than US students do. On the whole they are very eager to learn more about the US and perhaps to travel or study there. Many, however, cannot. For example, one of my best students is from Saudi Arabia and belongs to a very large and well-connected clan. Unfortunately for him, one or two of 19 hijackers carry the same last name, i.e., they belong to that same clan. There is no way this kind can get into the US to study now. Yet, I think he would make a fine student. Instead, he’ll be studying in the UK or Europe.

In one post, when you were discussing juvenile delinquents you made the point that some of those in Dubai who work with them feel that too much affluence can lead to aimlessness and delinquency. So you’re saying the opposite here of the Leftist mantra: “poverty is the root of all social evil.” Can you comment on the downside of affluence where you are?

There is this idea that too much unearned wealth leads to a certain lack of motivation to achieve more so than dissolute behavior. See this article from the Gulf News for an example of what I mean.

In short, the story says that “locals” , i.e. Emirati citizens, prefer work in the public sector. In the private sector, you see, they do things like make people work 8AM-5PM!

The private sector is preferred by the non-local Arabs and Muslims who are not entitled to the generous state benefits given by the Emirates to its citizens. Only about 15 percent of the population here are citizens.

The women are extraordinarily graceful, considerate, and attractive. The men are also well mannered and respectful. I find myself very comfortable in their presence and, since I like talking about religion, we always have plenty to talk about.

One other thing about the corrupting effects of unearned wealth bears mentioning: If an expat wants to start a business in the UAE, they have to have a local partner. People can start signing on to those at age 16. It is said that many boys in well-connected families start signing up for these deals and drop out of high school and live well on their partnership revenues, driving their fast cars and sometimes partying with fast women. Still, there is a wonderful part about all this: there is a lot of capital here and not as many ideas. If you have a good idea for a business, getting funding is not hard.

How do your students differ from those you had in the US? Or do they?
Class section 1

There are three major groups of students. Locals or Emirati citizens, Arab expat who are not citizens, and Asian expats, e.g. Indian, Pakistanis. There are also small numbers of Africans, Europeans, Chinese, Russians, and other non-Arab Muslims. It’s hard to generalize about them beyond the fact that they are more respectful, a little less comfortable with discursive modes of teaching (they prefer to be lectured to rather than talked with), very eager to learn and very unaware of the subtleties of American culture, politics, and life. Many have traveled there on vacation but only a few have spent any real time there. Virtually all would like to go. A few were studying in the US at the time of 9/11 and their parents made them return, especially the Saudis. These students all recognize that Osama ruined their chances for any further study in the US.

Do you think business is a key to transformation in the Middle East? It doesn’t appear to have a significant middle class — at least that’s how it appears from here. How can that change?

Absolutely I do think so. While I take issue with Tammy Bruce’s assertion that the UAE is an Islamist government, she is on to something. All of the Muslim and Arab governments in the world are caught between two forces. Modernity and radical Islamists. As I see it, there is a battle between those who want to provide a way to integrate their nations in the world economy and those who want to pull back from it until such time as they can figure out how to dominate it. The modernizers recognize that wise investment of oil revenues- while they still last- is the key not only to prosperity, but to marginalizing the Islamists. If they can build something resembling a modern economy, i.e., one not dependent just on income from one source, they have a chance to create conditions where the Islamists have less opportunity to mess it all up. As for those countries without oil and large Islamists populations, e.g. Egypt, I see very little future for them in the near term.

Does Dubai itself encourage small businesses and entrepreneurs?

Yes, they do. But as I mentioned before, there is a “tax” you have to pay, i.e., you have to take on a local partner.

Is there a lot of state regulation?

There are a lot of anti-capitalist rules here. In particular there are state granted monopolies on many staple items. Certain families were granted in some cases the sole right to sell certain products. It was only last fall that there was a decision to break these monopolies. From The Gulf News last October:

The UAE Cabinet on Monday issued a decision breaking the monopoly of agents who have exclusive agency rights to import basic foods. The decision allows traders to directly import 14 staples including milk powder and condensed milk, canned and frozen vegetables, poultry, edible oil, rice and wheat, fish products, meat and meat products, tea, coffee, sugar, all types of cheese, pasta, baby formula and nappies.

You can imagine that these monopolies prevent there from being competition in certain arenas and probably stifle innovation in others by raising the cost of doing business. It is good that these regulations go by the wayside.

From what I read, the government is part of every large corporation. Is that true all the way down?

That part I am not sure about. I don’t think they have a stake in the corner grocery or the local Indian vegetarian restaurant. That would require too much oversight and monitoring. That’s why it has been outsourced to locals, I think.

What’s your impression of where the US may have gone wrong in the DPW deal?

I wrote about it here: Live Blogging CNN, and here: The Unions, The Senators, and the Ports, plus The Unions, The Senators, and the Ports, Part II

In short, somebody neglected to note how badly the long shore unions want into the national security arena. There were some mistakes made over here by the UAE officials too. As I wrote in one post:

Far from being a “business deal” that got politicized”, this was something far more significant: it was a perfect storm of interests and issues and institutions. It was a confluence of forces man, rather than nature, that created a political firestorm rather than a hurricane or nor’easter. It was storm in which the strangest of political bedfellows found common ground and security in homeland security while those at sea found, quite literally, no port safe.

What do you think the blowback will be in the Middle East in general and Dubai in particular re this incident?

Two months ago, I thought a lot. Now, I am not so sure. The way to tell is with the next big purchase of jet airliners. If the UAE airlines start buying more Airbus and less Boeing, you know they are angry. Still, I think they’ll take it in stride. My students were quite offended by it all because many of the political cartoons showing the Emirates, and thus them, in league with OBL was hurtful. Still, if they had stood up a few weeks earlier for the free speech rights of the Danes, I think it would have turned out better for DPW.

You state that your interests are in "the economics of technological innovation." How do you separate that part (the economics of tech progress) from its cultural impact?

Starling and studentsMy interests are limited to a very narrow subset of questions that fall under the questions “economics of technical progress”. I look at the consequences on firm performance and organization structure from the adoption of information technology. My focus in my thesis was on the retail sector. Now I also investigate quality measure of software and business process patents. I have a paper with a co-author coming out soon in The Berkeley Journal of Law and Technology. It’s very good to read it you have trouble getting to sleep one night.

Which economists do you respect?

Mostly the classical liberal economists. This I have come to realize only lately, however. My training is not in economics but in management and organization theory. Among those I most admire are Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell.

What would you call your own economic philosophy?

In short, markets over hierarchies. That is to say, market-based mechanism should be used wherever possible. Markets are not perfect. There are some areas where they are not appropriate. Still, I favor them more than centralized, government-mandates and controlled arrangements.

I noticed you mention being from Savannah and that it has the largest Irish concentration. Having been to the St. Patrick’s Day parade there (and spent some time at Tybee Beach in my youth), I was aware of that (besides, Flannery O’Connor talks about it somewhere). How young were you when you left? You also mention in passing that your ancestry is Irish (as is mine, obviously). Should we call you Black Irish? Are you familiar with the term? “Hunter” isn’t an Irish name — is this a maternal link? BTW, did you know that Ireland and the Middle East have been said to bear some cultural similarities? As in “tribal” and “suspicious”?

My father’s family is from Savannah. I didn’t grow up there. I grew up in Seattle, Denver, and Phoenix. The Irish blood comes from the fact that my father’s grandfather was Irish. His last name was Innis. He did not raise my grandfather after age 10 or 11 and when My grandfather went back to his people, they renamed him “Hunter”.

I can’t find the post you did on Larry Summers and his tribulations. I remember thinking I’d not seen the conflict described as well anywhere else. Can you offer some quotes from that post or give me a link?

I think I put this on my “Rhetorical Flourishes” blog: Miss Understanding Larry Summers. I hardly write there anymore.

Yes, now I remember it. You really hit the nail on the head in your explanation of what the social sciences do. You said:

I think a big part of the reason Prof. Hopkins was so disgusted by Summers’ remarks is that failed to grasp the fact that there are empirical ways to test the hypotheses that Summers proposed. And given that Summers was arguably the most accomplished economist of his generation (if memory serves me correctly he got tenured at Harvard at age 28, directly out of grad school. That’s equivalent of going pro straight out of high school and then getting league MVP in your rookie year) it’s not hard to imagine that he could easily talk past or over the head of some of any audience.

Hopkins, smart woman that she undoubtedly is, thought that she didn’t have to provide any counter-factual evidence. For her, and others like her, she is the only evidence needed. She’s a woman and a highly capable scientist. In her line of work, one compelling counter-factual piece of evidence is often sufficient to disprove a theory or hypothesis. Thus, the mere suggestion that women might have a lower aptitude for math and science is tantamount to an attack on the very fiber of her being. It flies in the face of every standard of fairness and decency. Moreover, the mere mention of such ideas could serve to discourage a generation of young women, already in the minority, from pursuing careers in science.

This is not, I think, the message Summers, a social scientist, meant to convey.

The more I read your blog, the more I realize I don’t know. Most of us are economically illiterate. Do you have any concrete suggestions for changing that condition? Specific books, blogs, people, that seem to know what is going on and can explain it clearly?

I wish I knew more myself. What I know I picked up by way of hanging around MIT and listening to seminars. My reading in the area is pretty limited. One thing I would say is that there is economics the discipline and economics the approach to understanding. Many of the methods economists use and the assumptions they make are familiar to me and thus I have some rudimentary understanding of what they talk about. The Economics Round table blog might be a good start, as would Café Hayek, the freakanomics blog, the “Conspiracy to keep you poor and stupid” blog, and a few others like Larry Kudlow and Thomas Sowell’s columns on Townhall.

Economics Roundtable
Café Hayek
The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid
Larry Kudlow
Thomas Sowell
Also good is the weekly Carnival of the Capitalists
And The Carnival of Business
Finally, Tech Central Station has excellent reporting as do The Wall Street Journal and The Economist.

If you could change one thing about the US today, what would it be? (I vacillate between a radical change in the tax code and a radical downsizing of the government, beginning with the Department of Education. Just sayin’…)

I have to go for the flat tax. I almost took a teaching job in Hong Kong in 2000. There they have a flat tax of 15%. I thought, if the ChiComs can have a flat tax, why can’t we? The number would be less than 20%. My concern is, though, that optimizing one part of a system could throw the rest out of whack.

Do you have a motto you live by?

I am a human being. As such I don’t define myself by my race, wealth, politics, role, etc.

What person had the most influence in your life?

My father, an Army officer who fought in Vietnam and aspiring politician who died in 1972, and my step-father, a business school professor who is now, in his retirement, a pastor. In a day and age where many black kids grew up without fathers, I was lucky to have two. I thinks this means my mom is a good woman! ;-)

And, of course, “why do you blog?”

Blogging for me is liberating. I had much trouble writing in an academic style. I could do the analytics but the style didn’t fit me. You can see from recent teaching notes that I posted this week on my blog, that I have actually been writing in the blogging style for years. I just never knew what to do with the notes and similar insights. I had grown accustomed to mulling these things over in my head but not recording them. Now I am. Also, I should admit that Wretchard is one of the big reasons why I blog. I never mentioned this to him or in the comments of his blog, but after I read that first post by him, I thought… I should do something like this. Not that I expected to do it as well, but I thought I should try. It was the first blog I think I started reading on a regular basis.

You might find it interesting to know that I rarely read business blogs. Most of my time is spent reading political blogs and applying that kind of analytical perspective to business issues.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do an interview with me. Let me know if anything needs clarifying.

Thank you, Starling. You are certainly very clear. I guess that’s what makes a good teacher. Your students are fortunate.