Muhammed

OK, this guy is a total nutcase, of the Tim McVeigh type. He claimed to be a demolitions expert – he was a truck driver. He claimed to be a sniper – he shot expert once. He claimed to be a Green Beret – he was a truck driver!

He was stationed at Fort Ord and Fort Lewis, the two army posts I at which I was stationed during my years in the army. Suppose I ever met him? Nope, he was a truck driver in an engineering battalion. M.I. geeks don’t associate with anyone whose GT score is below 100.

Glad they caught this jackass, but it’s too bad he was military. McVeigh did enough damage, and the string of spouse killings is no ray of light either.

So, here’s a discussion question (not an invitation to a flame war) – Does the military attract violent men, do men become violent from being in the military, or is the correlation not statistically significant and the media is blowing it out of proportion? Discuss.
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One Nation

Since everyone else has weighed in on this…

What I find amusing is that the majority of people who are decrying the recent court ruling assume that Godless heathen atheists, probably baby-killing drugusers as well, are behind it all.

Sorry, but the majority of atheists who came to their beliefs through logic instead of a kneejerk reaction to some bad church experience really couldn’t care less about such matters. Would it offend you that your neighbor, the Buddhist, had a darma bracelet on? Probably not, because it does not affect you in any way. Same thing with words in the Pledge of Allegiance – if you are a true atheist, you wouldn’t care if the words “under God” were there or not, because it wouldn’t offend you to say something that you think is silly and mythical. No more than you would be offended by the names of the days of the week being Norse gods. Oh, no, I can’t say “Thursday” because it means I’m offering fealty to Thor. Whatever.

Quick! Close the barn, the horses have escaped!

The Washington Times today reports on the latest moves from the Office of Homeland Defense. The government wishes all federally-funded web sites to scrub all their information regarding weapons of mass destruction and clear it off their public sites. Of course, the information has already been saved by many people and automatic archiving systems such as Google and the internet Wayback Machine, but that’s irrelevant.

Much as the internet has been blamed for giving Timothy McVeigh information on how to blow up a building, here it gets stricter scrutiny than a public library once again. Hey, guys? Ever heard of the Anarchist’s Cookbook?
current_music: Incubus – Blood on the Ground
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DoD asks public to trust them

OSI not bad

This is a good followup to the earlier discussion about the DoD’s new propaganda office. Rumsfeld and friends claim that, although the office has the responsibility to “influence public opinion abroad,” they have no intention of lying to the media either domestically or overseas. Yep, I’d believe them without any oversight required, yes I would. Nothing like a clean track record of good deeds and completely forthcoming truthful statements to encourage everyone to believe you…
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Semantics

Mr. Bush said today that the United States was adhering to the “spirit of the Geneva Convention.”

As opposed to the letter of the Convention, I suppose. Interesting how the US was adamantly opposed to irregular treatment of various prisoners and detainees when other countries were doing it…
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The Real War

The Real War

By Thomas L. Friedman
New York Times
November 27, 2001

If 9/11 was indeed the onset of World War III, we have to understand what this war is about. We’re not fighting to eradicate “terrorism.” Terrorism is just a tool. We’re fighting to defeat an ideology: religious totalitarianism. World War II and the cold war were fought to defeat secular totalitarianism – Nazism and Communism – and World War III is a battle against religious totalitarianism, a view of the world that my faith must reign supreme and can be affirmed and held passionately only if all others are negated. That’s bin Ladenism. But unlike Nazism, religious totalitarianism can’t be fought by armies alone. It has to be fought in schools, mosques, churches and synagogues, and can be defeated only with the help of imams, rabbis and priests.

The generals we need to fight this war are people like Rabbi David Hartman, from the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. What first attracted me to Rabbi Hartman when I reported from Jerusalem was his contention that unless Jews reinterpreted their faith in a way that embraced modernity, without weakening religious passion, and in a way that affirmed that God speaks multiple languages and is not exhausted by just one faith, they would have no future in the land of Israel. And what also impressed me was that he knew where the battlefield was. He set up his own schools in Israel to compete with fundamentalist Jews, Muslims and Christians, who used their schools to preach exclusivist religious visions.

After recently visiting the Islamic madrasa in Pakistan where many Taliban leaders were educated, and seeing the fundamentalist religious education the young boys there were being given, I telephoned Rabbi Hartman and asked: How do we battle religious totalitarianism?

He answered: “All faiths that come out of the biblical tradition – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – have the tendency to believe that they have the exclusive truth. When the Taliban wiped out the Buddhist statues, that’s what they were saying. But others have said it too. The opposite of religious totalitarianism is an ideology of pluralism – an ideology that embraces religious diversity and the idea that my faith can be nurtured without claiming exclusive truth. America is the Mecca of that ideology, and that is what bin Laden hates and that is why America had to be destroyed.”

The future of the world may well be decided by how we fight this war. Can Islam, Christianity and Judaism know that God speaks Arabic on Fridays, Hebrew on Saturdays and Latin on Sundays, and that he welcomes different human beings approaching him through their own history, out of their language and cultural heritage? “Is single-minded fanaticism a necessity for passion and religious survival, or can we have a multilingual view of God – a notion that God is not exhausted by just one religious path?” asked Rabbi Hartman.

Many Jews and Christians have already argued that the answer to that question is yes, and some have gone back to their sacred texts to reinterpret their traditions to embrace modernity and pluralism, and to create space for secularism and alternative faiths. Others – Christian and Jewish fundamentalists – have rejected this notion, and that is what the battle is about within their faiths.

What is different about Islam is that while there have been a few attempts at such a reformation, none have flowered or found the support of a Muslim state. We patronize Islam, and mislead ourselves, by repeating the mantra that Islam is a faith with no serious problems accepting the secular West, modernity and pluralism, and the only problem is a few bin Ladens. Although there is a deep moral impulse in Islam for justice, charity and compassion, Islam has not developed a dominant religious philosophy that allows equal recognition of alternative faith communities. Bin Laden reflects the most extreme version of that exclusivity, and he hit us in the face with it on 9/11.

Christianity and Judaism struggled with this issue for centuries, but a similar internal struggle within Islam to re-examine its texts and articulate a path for how one can accept pluralism and modernity – and still be a passionate, devout Muslim – has not surfaced in any serious way. One hopes that now that the world spotlight has been put on this issue, mainstream Muslims too will realize that their future in this integrated, globalized world depends on their ability to reinterpret their past.

Bye bye Helms

The Wall Street Journal today has an editorial piece bidding farewell to that “Great Jacksonian” (sic) Jesse Helms. They believe that he should be lauded for his achievements during the civil rights battles of the 60s. Helms’ great achievement is that, when blacks in the 60s attempted to assert their civil rights, Helms was not, unlike previous Southern erstwhile segregationists, “directly and openly involved in the murder of black political leaders.” Wow, what a big-hearted tolerant fella he is, eh?
current_music: Travis – Why does it always rain on me?
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Snow and Random Crap

Wednesday –

How in the world did the US end up having an election this close? Wow. Let others ruminate on it, I’m thinking of more important things…

West Texas has snow. This is akin to Hell having snow, and about as likely in most minds. Of course, there are no snowplows, and all schools and even the local military base (I call it work) are closed for the day. Snow Day! Woohoo!

Farscape browser

I have nothing to talk about, but I got some cool new eye candy for my computer. Traci Lords is going to be on First Wave next season, so I felt a strong urge to have more SciFi Channel stuff. Here’s my desktop as it looks today (800×600 or 1152×864). Probably change it soon, since I usually like more minimal looks, but I’m feeling frivolous today.