Papa-Lu: October 2007 Archives

Boomers

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PJ O'Rourke on the Boomers coming of age - Social Security Age.

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Uh-oh

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This is disappointing

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"Sam Brownback warms to Giuliani"

Also, apparently it takes a lefty blogger to call Rudy out:

"[Giuliani] has as many child molester priests at his consulting firm than women in senior campaign positions."
~ Matthew Yglesias

Happy voting in 08, fellow Catholics!

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Music-blogging

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The Gates of Paradise

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Say what you will about Garry Wills, this NY Review of Books piece about newly restored 15th century bronze door panels from the shrine of John the Baptist in Florence is worth a click, and if you're in NYC it would be worth a trip to the MMoA to lay your eyes upon three of the ten panels.

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Reverence is...

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Your two year old shooting you with the rosary decade ring he wrapped around his toes during the 5th sorrowful mystery.

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The Case Against Perfection

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This seems to be an interesting book that came out earlier this summer.

The philosophical battle, as Sandel sees it, is between the Promethean aspiration to master nature, to take it and remold it into an image of our own making, and his own ethic centering on the "giftedness of human life" which holds that "our talents and powers are not wholly our own doing, nor even fully ours, despite the efforts we expend to develop and exercise them" and that "not everything in the world is [morally] open to any use we may desire or devise." (27) A significant implication of the "giftedness" approach is that children, too, should be seen as a gift and that some of our fundamental values are threatened when we do not respect that giftedness.

The Jesuit weekly America hosted a discussion between two medical ethics experts about the book on their website.

The New York Times review from Will Saletan, Slate's pro-choice hand-wringer, is here.

Harvard (where Sandel teaches) has a pdf excerpt from the book here.

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Ahhh... the 21st century

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Lawrence Fisheries has a webpage.

Late night, fish chips
2-1-8 tactics

If you recognize that reference I command you to leave a comment.

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Psychological Warfare

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I don't think I've ever seen anything like this before:

Country singer Danielle Peck, an Ohio native who used to date the Boston Red Sox ace, was scheduled to sing the national anthem and "God Bless America" on Thursday night for Game 5 of the AL championship series.

Beckett was set to pitch, with his team on the brink of elimination. Boston trailed the Cleveland Indians 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Peck was a substitute for Taylor Swift, another country star, who was originally slated to handle the singing duties.

"(Peck's) record company called and said she's got Ohio ties and we said, 'Perfect,"' Indians vice president Bob DiBiasio said...

DiBiasio said the Indians were unaware of the history between Beckett and Peck.

"An incredible coincidence," he said. "Honestly."

Uh-huh.

Beckett doesn't seem to have been too distracted:
8.0 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 11 K

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First Things

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I just finished perusing the Aug/Sept issue of First Things. Some thoughts:

  • This piece on global warming is one of the best attempt at denial I've seen, and I'd be interested in a rebuttal.
  • I was surprised at some of the negativity of this review of Jesus of Nazareth. It makes sense though - it must be tough to edit the Pope. In the Pope's defense, he did turn 80 this year and one could understand how the pressure to get the thing published would lead to some of the omissions that irk the reviewer.
  • I skimmed Harvey Mansfield's article on politics and it didn't really make much sense. Furthermore, I was so bored by it I didn't go back to give it a closer read. If somebody wants to try to persuade me to revisit it, fire away.
  • Victor Davis Hanson's review of a new book about the Battle of Lepanto is enjoyable.
  • Algis Valiunas' review of a revisitation of Victor Hugo's life and Les Miserables is a charming, adventurous read. There's much, much good in there.
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Is this the best we can do?

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When the Tribune's "conservative" columnist's case against abortion is that "anyone who can go to black-tie dinners and face the haranguing of rich donors for his pro-life stance has the backbone to support tax cuts too," because, gee, politicians have never, ever been known to take cynical stances on issues to placate their constituencies and accumulate power.

On the other hand, we should take all the allies we can get, and he does go on to point out that in the face of their own doubts about when life begins, abortion advocates take the dubious line of "we don't know, so you can kill it." Goldberg probably represents many others around the country who, though they are not fully on board with respecting life from conception onward, still are uneasy with abortion on demand and wish to grant the fetus at least some legal protection. We should be happy to work with them and achieve what we can.

On the whole, however, the column is somewhat embarassing and definitely unhelpful. If he could get his tax cuts from pro-choice politicians, would he feel as strongly about protecting the unborn?

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Catholic Nerd Day!

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A consistory has been announced! New cardinals! Here's the list. Here is John Allen's analysis.

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To read this week

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  • Vanity Fair's interview with Stephen Colbert
  • A lengthy, excellent excerpt from Anthony Esolen's Ironies of Faith. The particular irony of faith discussed is that of time, the context is Tolkein's short story "Leaf, by Niggle."
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Timely

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The NY Sun reviews War and Peace.

I kid, I kid. There's a new translation out.

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The simple life

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Cardinal George refuses Tribune request to do a style piece on the archbishop's mansion.

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That sound you hear...

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...is the simultaneous combustion of the heads of feminists all over the English-speaking world.

Dr Miller is an evolutionary psychologist—and the author of the theory that the large brains of humans evolved to attract the opposite sex in much the same way that a peacock's tail does. His latest foray, into the flesh-pots of Albuquerque, is intended to investigate an orthodoxy of human mating theory. This is that in people, oestrus—the outward signs of ovulation—has been lost, so that men cannot tell when women are fertile.

This theory is based on the idea that in evolutionary terms it benefits women to disguise when they are fertile so that their menfolk will stick around all the time. Otherwise, the theory goes, a man might go hunting for alternative mating opportunities at moments when he knew that his partner was infertile and thus that her infidelity could not result in children.

However, this should result in an evolutionary arms race between the sexes, as men evolve ever-heightened sensitivity to signs of female fertility. Dr Miller thought lap-dancing clubs a good place to study this arms race, because male detection of female fertility cues would probably translate into an easily quantifiable signal, namely dollars earned. He therefore recruited some of the girls into his experiment, with a view to comparing the earnings of those on the Pill (whose fertility was thus suppressed) with those not on the Pill.

The results support the idea that if evolution has favoured concealed ovulation in women, it has also favoured ovulation-detection in men. The average earnings per shift of women who were ovulating was $335. During menstruation (when they were infertile) that dropped to $185—about what women on the Pill made throughout the month. The lessons are clear. A woman is sexier when she is most fertile. And if she wishes to earn a good living as a dancer, she should stay off the Pill.

There's a lot to unpack there. First off, you gotta wonder where this guy gets his grant money.

More seriously, I do recall a comment by a female friend of mine that one of the reasons she got hit on so much at her office was that she was the only lady there who wasn't chemically neutered.

Really, this is intuitive, and the evolutionary theory posited in the second paragraph can be turned right around. It may benefit women (evolutionarily, not morally, of course) more for the signs of their fertility to be discernible to ensure that a mate is available at the right time. Even if he doesn't "stick around." In fact, looking at the reproductive tendencies of our own lower classes confirms this: women using less birth control, men not sticking around, very high birth rates.

Which, ahem, is why marriage and the traditional family are so important. Without it, society has no effective way (outside of legal coercion) of matching up fathers with the children they beget. With the drastic weakening of marriage we've seen over the past several decades, we have - ta da! - lots of fatherless children, even with widely available birth control. (Which gives the idea that men are good at sniffing out fertile women a little more credibility.)

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The Economist on the Cubs

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This season Chicagoans grew giddy as their “loveable losers” advanced to the playoffs. More than 42,000 fans came to the Cubs' game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on October 6th, many wearing T-shirts that read “Goat-busters” or “Just Believe!”. Less than four hours later, the Cubs had lost again. Some fans sighed; some cried. And the seasons, they go round and round.

There's a lot of pain in those five sentences.

P.S. The Economist seems to have added a Chicago correspondent, there have been several Windy City-related stories these past few weeks.

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Fatherhood

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Speaking about the epidemic of fatherlessness in black families, Mr. Cosby imagined a young fatherless child thinking: “Somewhere in my life a person called my father has not shown up, and I feel very sad about this because I don’t know if I’m ugly — I don’t know what the reason is.”

Dr. Poussaint, referring to boys who get into trouble, added: “I think a lot of these males kind of have a father hunger and actually grieve that they don’t have a father. And I think later a lot of that turns into anger. ‘Why aren’t you with me? Why don’t you care about me?’ ”

The absence of fathers, and the resultant feelings of abandonment felt by boys and girls, inevitably affect the children’s sense of self-worth, he said.

- Bob Herbert on Bill Crosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint's noble crusade to encourage men to be fathers.

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On Prayer and Public Schools

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The role of religion in the public schools is a frequent point of debate between the religious teachers and me. They argue religion in the school will improve behavior and increase academic performance, while I do not understand why people feel the tyrannous need to force their particular religion on the public sector.

Or maybe some feel the tyrannous need to force all religion except irreligion out of the public sector.

Oh, and in case you're wondering what "teaching" consists of in Chicago Public Schools (emphasis mine, and no offense, mom):

Almost all of the students in our school are religious and we have difficult discussions about abortion, homosexuality, the power of prayer, etc. For instance, which is the bigger sin: to “kill my child” through abortion or for an unstable and unprepared teenager to bring another child into the world? Of course, neither the students nor I ever sway the other’s opinion.

These damn religions kids won't swallow my pro-abortion propaganda! As Shea would say: reason #983643264923432 (or whatever he's up to these days) to homeschool.

Lest you think there's some looming merger of religion with Illinois schools, the author's hissy fit (complete with pictures of BLACKS IN CHURCH to really scare you!) is because the state legislature overrode Gov Bla's veto of a bill requiring schools to hire chaplains break at noon for the Angelus teach Scripture, scrap evolution for young-earth creationsism start with a moment of silence.

Isn't it interesting how hatred of religion can lead to an abandonment of reason?

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Weekend Reading

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  • NCR's John Allen's interview with Cardinal George.
  • Cheryl Miller's review of the somewhat frightening Everything Conceivable, a book that casts an indifferent eye on our assisted reproduction mess. Warning, although the review is good, things like this might make you want to bang your head against the wall:
    What of the babies who are the goal of these new reproductive technologies? The procedures of ART can harm the very children they help to create. Infertile fathers often pass their infertility down to their sons. Prematurity is now the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, in part due to the “epidemic” of multiple births to IVF patients. Multiples are twenty times more likely to die in the first month of their lives than singletons; those multiples that survive are more likely to have respiratory difficulties, learning disabilities, and other problems. Cerebral palsy, for instance, has become more common in the United States, even as its major cause, jaundice, has been all but eliminated. And even IVF singletons are less healthy than non-IVF children: they tend to be smaller and are more likely to be born with birth defects, including bowel and genital deformations and eye cancer.

    And yet press reports abound with stories of “designer babies.” Would-be parents relying on sperm or egg donations try to micromanage every part of the donor selection process—eye color, height, musical or athletic ability, even political leanings—in part, no doubt, because they desperately want to exert some control over a process in which they are largely powerless. Mundy tries, at times, to play this tendency down, arguing that most fertility patients don’t want to design a perfect baby; they’re grateful to have any baby. She quotes a nurse who tells her, “I’ve never come across a patient who wants to design their baby.”

    This seems willfully naïve, even unbelievable. As much as Mundy wants to get past the stereotype of the super-picky fertility patient practicing “yuppie eugenics,” the stories she tells reinforce it. One couple fights over how tall their egg donor should be; another, to head off such squabbles, creates a mathematical formula for potential egg donors: “health plus education times looks, add back social sports.” “What are you going to do, get someone with [an SAT score of] 1550, or are you going to cheat your child and get them a mom with a 1210?” asks the parent who devised that “unofficial algorithm.” Such sentiments might strike the reader as shallow and laughable, but underneath these attitudes lie some unsavory (and decidedly illiberal) assumptions about human equality. One self-described “ardent social liberal” explains her feelings about donating her excess embryos (created using both an egg and sperm donor) thus: “These could be superstar embryos. I didn’t want to put them with high school graduates; you have the product of a doctor and a lawyer, and I wanted them to have the benefit of being around people like them.”

  • John Robb's look at the future of terrorism from this summer edition of City Journal. An eye-opening read, but given recent events, the author's touting of Blackwater as a possible solution to the threat of terrorism in our cities is unfortunate.

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That sound you hear...

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...is me filling the building with laughter because I am now subscribed to the Car Talk podcast.

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What to do about tobacoo?

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Yes, yes, cigarettes kill people and cigarette production is horrible for the environment.

This, people, is why the Good Lord, in His infintely generous wisdom, gave us the pipe.

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Rudy G: "I hate Clinton most!"

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As for the line-item veto, Rudy saw it, somewhat counter-intuitively, as yet another opportunity to tout his anti-Clinton credentials. "I took President Clinton to court [over the line-item veto] and I beat him," Rudy said. "And I don't think it's a bad idea to have a Republican presidential candidate who actually has beat President Clinton at something." (Would scrabble count? Rock-scissors-paper?)

Oh brother. Rudy 08: He hates terrorists AND Hilary!

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Career Path

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I'm in the wrong racket. I should be tracking rubber duckies around the world's seas.

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"Cheap Grace" and Homosexuality

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Eve Tushnet:

I can get it for you wholesale: Dietrich Bonhoeffer's rejection of "cheap grace" was a huge turning point in Morrison's life, specifically w/r/t homosexuality. And while I think that language gets appropriated very quickly and easily, such that "he jests at scars who never felt a wound" and straight people get to tell gay people we're seeking "cheap grace" if we don't accept a fairly deep and humiliating sacrifice, I really did like how Morrison presented the idea in this talk: I felt like he was challenging all of us to look at all of the places in our lives where we were seeking cheap grace.

RTWT, as they say.

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At your leisure...

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...you might check out:

  • What's with the boom in spicy food? Baby boomers:
    Chiefly because of degenerating olfactory nerves, most aging people experience a diminished sense of taste, whether they realize it or not. But unlike previous generations, the nation's 80 million boomers have broad appetites, a full set of teeth, and the spending power to shape the entire food market.

  • The 10 Most Insane Sports in the World

    Go and belly-laugh

  • Lefty v. Lefty on Lefties

    Ezra Klein savages Mark Penn's Microtrends.

    I first flipped through Microtrends while at the YearlyKos convention, and Penn, astonishingly, seemed to comprehend the importance of the loosely connected, grassroots-driven, progressive movement’s flowering. “I suspect the lefty boom will bring a surge in the promotion of sheer creative energy,” Penn writes, “driven by an idea that is at the heart of this book—that small groups of people, sharing common experiences, can increasingly be drawn together to rally for their interests.” I was shocked—Penn was speaking admirably of “lefties,” not trying to recast them as moderates, not trying to write them out of the party? He was endorsing open-source politics, rather than a top-down structure? I had misjudged the man!

    I read on. Penn was talking about actual lefties—people who are born left-handed. Increasingly grim, I absorbed the first hard blows of Penn’s interpretative technique: “More lefties,” he enthuses, “could mean more military innovation: Famous military leaders from Charlemagne to Alexander the Great to Julius Caesar to Napoleon—as well as Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf—were left-handed.” He uses the same thunderingly awful logic to argue that we’ll see more art and music greats, more famous criminals, more great comedians, more “executive greatness,” and better tennis and basketball players...

    What’s more amazing is this: A page earlier, Penn argues that the rise in lefties has nothing to do with there being more lefties, and everything to do with more permissive parenting. In other words, where children used to be trained out of left-handedness, now parents “shrug their shoulders, saying it’s okay.” So not only does Penn fail to prove that lefties are genetically different in some important way, he also suggests that the gene pool is no different, and that there are as many of them around now as always. It’s a fallacy atop an error built around something that isn’t happening.

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On Global Warming

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Whether ardent carbon restrictionist or adamant denier, whatever your stance, surely, you must find today's Get Fuzzy hilarious

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Stuff it, Mariotti

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You want me to roll out the gush and the goo, the ``Go Cubs Go'' chorus, the Pat-and-Ronnie bop. You want me to suggest an emergency Bill Murray visit, an Ernie Banks pep talk, a Harry-and-Jack seance and all those desperate devices Cubdom pulls from its tail when 99 Seasons of Fear on the Wall are about to become 100.

Not really Jay. Nobody who's read more than one ofyour columns expects anything more than pompous half-educated vitriol. We'd like you to get fired and have to go cover the Lansing Lugnuts and have the SunTimes hand your column over to somebody with something new and/or interesting to say,

There's always next year.

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Francis and Clare

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Instead of looking at each other, Clare and Francis looked in the same direction, and we know what "direction" that was in their case. Clare and Francis were like two eyes always looking in the same direction. Two eyes are not just two eyes, I mean, not just one eye repeated. Neither of the two eyes is just an extra or a spare eye. Two eyes looking at an object from different angles give depth and relief to the object, enabling us to enfold it in our gaze. That is how it was for Clare and Francis.

From this beautiful homily by Fr. Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household.

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Sun Times advocates rootedness and localized economies!

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Well, not really, but sportswriter Chris DeLuca does point out that part of Arizona's success stems from the fact that they have few hired gun free agents and lots of talent that came up through the system together and played with each other for years before making it to the big leagues. Insert analogy to increased social mobility leading to reduced trust and increased expensive bureaucracies to safeguard the integrity of transactions that could once have been settled with a handshake here. It's a nice point, but it doesn't make me feel all that much better that my Cubbies are down 0-2. :(

Game Three tonight: GO CUBS!

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Honor

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Whatever you think of Christopher Hitchens, and I think I've made my opinion clear elsewhere on this blog, this is a truly moving piece.

I don't exaggerate by much when I say that I froze. I certainly felt a very deep pang of cold dismay. I had just returned from a visit to Iraq with my own son (who is 23, as was young Mr. Daily) and had found myself in a deeply pessimistic frame of mind about the war. Was it possible that I had helped persuade someone I had never met to place himself in the path of an I.E.D.?
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Speaking of our crazed foreign policy

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Many of the contractors we're paying to fight our war are from Latin America.

So.... to whose laws are these guys subject?

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Two-faced

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This article seems to be an important contribution to the effort to understand bin Ladenism. Even if, like me, you think the war in Iraq a mistake, and think the coming war with Iran is as well, it's important to keep in mind that there are many Islamists who think their religion not just condones, but mandates violence towards the infidel.

Face 1:

After the events of 9/11, my increased interest in Arabic language and history led me to enroll in Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. Before and during my studies at Georgetown, I avidly read any and all posted Al Qaeda messages. The group's motivation seemed clear enough: retaliation. According to its widely disseminated statements, the West in general, and the United States in particular, had been — overtly and covertly — oppressing and exploiting the Islamic world. The accusations included: unqualified U.S. support for Israel at the expense of Palestinians; deaths of Iraqi children due to U.N. sanctions; U.S. support for dictatorial regimes in the Muslim world; and, most recently, Western occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Every single message directed to the West by Al Qaeda includes most of these core grievances, culminating with the statement that it is the Islamic world's duty to defend itself. "After all this, does the prey not have the right, when bound and dragged to its slaughter, to escape? Does it not have the right, while being slaughtered, to lash out with its paw?" bin Laden asks.

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Even the 9/11 strikes are explained as acts of reprisal. After describing the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, where several high-rise apartment buildings were leveled, reportedly leaving some 18,000 Arabs dead, bin Laden, in a 2004 message directed at Americans, said: "As I looked upon those crumpling towers in Lebanon, I was struck by the idea of punishing the oppressor in kind by destroying towers in America — giving them a taste of their own medicine and deterring them from murdering our women and children."

Face 2:

Soon after 9/11, an influential group of Saudis wrote an open letter to the United States saying, "The heart of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is justice, kindness, and charity." Bin Laden wrote in response:

As to the relationship between Muslims and infidels, this is summarized by the Most High's Word: "We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us — till you believe in Allah alone." So there is an enmity, evidenced by fierce hostility from the heart. And this fierce hostility — that is, battle — ceases only if the infidel submits to the authority of Islam, or if his blood is forbidden from being shed, or if Muslims are at that point in time weak and incapable. But if the hate at any time extinguishes from the heart, this is great apostasy! Allah Almighty's Word to his Prophet recounts in summation the true relationship: "O Prophet! Wage war against the infidels and hypocrites and be ruthless. Their abode is hell — an evil fate!" Such, then, is the basis and foundation of the relationship between the infidel and the Muslim. Battle, animosity, and hatred — directed from the Muslim to the infidel — is the foundation of our religion. And we consider this a justice and kindness to them.

Bin Laden goes so far as to say that the West's purported hostility toward Islam is wholly predicated on Islam's innate hostility toward the rest of the world, contradicting his own propaganda: "The West is hostile to us on account of ... offensive jihad."

America needs to change its Middle East policy - not to appease al Qaeda, but simply because it's a bad policy. The happy side effect would be to remove one pre-text for terrorism. It won't solve the problem, because we'll still have to deal with the Face 2 folks, but we'll have the world (including many more Middle Easterners) on our side when Peace Through War ideology is no longer shaping our policy.

P.S. Kudos to the Chronicle of Higher Education for publishing this. I was pleasantly surprised to see it there. It gives it more legitimacy for them to talk about this than for, say, the Weekly Standard to print it.

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E-mail, succinctly

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Forget Send, this is all you need to read about email, and it's pure gold for misanthropes.

Correct emailing practice does not exist. The true mood of the form is spontaneity, alacrity—the right time to reply to a message is right away. But do that and your life is gone. So you reject the spontaneous spirit of email; you hold off replying for hours, days, even weeks. By then the initiatory email has gone stale, and your reply is bound to be labored. You compensate for the offense with a needlessly elaborate message. You ask polite questions to which you pray there will never come an answer. Oh, but there will....

Email is good for one thing only: flirtation. The problem with flirtation has always been that the nervousness you feel in front of the object of your infatuation deprives you of your wittiness. But with email you can spend an hour refining a casual sally. You trade clever notes as weightless, pretty, and tickling as feathers. The email, like the Petrarchan sonnet, is properly a seduction device, and everyone knows that the SUBJECT line should really read PRETEXT.

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Euler

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John Derbyshire's tribute to 18th century mathematician Leonhard Euler is very much worth reading. Yeah, I know what I just wrote, but it's true.

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That's one word for it

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3 year old, as I'm emptying his potty into the toilet: "Are you amazed at my poop?!"

Hmmm... someday the boy will bring a young lady home, and instead of whipping out a photo album, I'm going to load my blog archives!

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That sucked

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Game 1: 3-1 D-Backs

I meant to blog this earlier in the week, but my take on the series is that man for man, the Cubs are the better team, but the most telling stats are:

  1. Arizona was 14th out of 16 teams in the NL in scoring runs - they actually got out-scored by their opponents on average - but still managed to pull off the best record in the NL.

  2. They led the league in 1-run wins. This almost necessarily follows from 1), but what they say together is that Arizona is opportunistic and good at ekeing out just enough runs to win.

Playoff games are usually close and are won by the team that doesn't make mistakes.

That's what happened today. What was the mistake? Pulling Zambrano after only 86 pitches. I'm currently listening to Lou Piniella rationalize it, saying he wanted to save Z to start him in game 4, the problem is the Cubs have to get to game 4 for that strategy to work. If the Cubs had been ahead at that point, I could see pulling Z, but with a tie game and Z dealing, Lou should have kept him in and penciled in Jason Marquis or planned on giving Z a short-start on Sunday.

Either way, it was a mistake. Arizona, a young, scrappy, opportunistic team, took advantage and were just good enough, as they've been all year long.

If we're going to win this, we can't make mistakes.

One more thing: I'm honestly not jumping to a conclusion from one performance, but I don't agree with putting Marmol in. Yes, he's been lights out all year, but he's still very young. That seemed to me to be the kind of high-pressure situation they were prepping Wood for the past few weeks. If Marmol were a pressure-pitcher, he'd have been made the Cubs' closer months ago.

On the positive side, it should only get easier for the Cubs' offense. I wouldn't mind seeing Dan Davis in Cubby blue some day, but look for Lilly to have no mercy tomorrow night.

GO CUBS!!!

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Voila!

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3-year old, after falling off bed: "Did you see my trick?"

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October Papal Prayer Intentions

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Here are the Holy Father's prayer intentions for the month of October

General Prayer Intention: That the Christians who are in minority situations may have the strength and courage to live their faith and persevere in bearing witness to it.

Mission intention: That Missionary Day may be a propitious occasion for kindling an ever greater missionary awareness in every baptized person.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Papa-Lu in October 2007.

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