"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States

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Friday, January 21, 2005
  Saintly Behavior (or, These Guys Ought To Be Canonized Too...)
This post is food-friendly, just in case anyone's eating as they read this:
On the bathing-ghats, scattered here and there among reverent Hindus, indifferent Moslems and staring tourists, sit the Holy Men, Or Yogis, in whom the religion and philosophy of India find their ultimate and strangest expression. In lesser numbers one comes upon them in the woods or on the roadside, immovable and absorbed. Some are old, some are young; some wear a rag over the shoulders, some a cloth over the loins; some are clothed only in dust of ashes, sprinkled over the body and into the mottled hair. They squat cross-legged and motionless, staring at their noses or their navels. Some of them look squarely into the face of the sun hour after hour, day after day, letting themselves go slowly blind; some surround themselves with hot fires during the midday heat; some walk barefoot upon hot coals, or empty the colas upon their heads; some lie naked for thirty-five years on beds of iron spikes; some roll their bodies thousands of miles to a place of pilgrimage; some chain themselves to trees, or imprison themselves in cages, until they die; some bury themselves in the earth up to their necks, and remain that way for years or for life; some pass a wire through both cheeks, making it impossible to open the jaws, and so condemning themselves to live on liquids; some keep their fists clenched so long that their nails come through the back of the hand; some hold up an arm or a leg until it is withered and dead. Many of them sit quietly in one position, perhaps for years, eating leaves and nuts brought to them by the people, deliberately dulling every sense, and concentrating every thought, in the resolve to understand. Most of them avoid spectacular methods, and pursue truth in the quiet retreat of their homes.

Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, pg. 542
For anyone who's been looking for a benchmark to measure how far western civilization has come, this bit from the same page speaks volumes:
We have had such men in our Middle Ages, but we should have to look for them today in the nooks and crannies of Europe and America. India has had them for 2500 years--possibly from the prehistoric days when, perhaps, they were the shamans of savage tribes.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:09 AM
Thursday, January 20, 2005
  A Statue Is Worth A Thousand Words
Russian President Vladimir Putin is erecting a statue of Stalin in Moscow (hat tip: Michelle Malkin). I wonder what this might mean?
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 3:31 AM
  Phallocentric Knowledge
Timothy Sandefur has an interesting post on feminist epistemology. Here's a quote from the post I'm adding to my horror file, from feminist epistemologist Elizabeth Grosz:
Irigaray’s work thus remains indifferent to such traditional values as “truth” and “falsity” (where these are conceived as correspondence between propositions and reality), Aristotelian logic (the logic of the syllogism), and accounts of reason based upon them. This does not mean her work could be described as “irrational,” “illogical,” or “false.” On the contrary, her work is quite logical, rational, and true in terms of quite different criteria, perspectives, and values than those dominant now. She both combats and constructs, strategically questioning phallocentric knowledges without trying to replace them with more inclusive or more neutral truths. Instead, she attempts to reveal a politics of truth, logic or reason.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 3:24 AM
  O'Reilly on Intelligent Design
Apparently Bill O'Reilly defended Intelligent Design on last night's O'Reilly Factor (transcript here, hat tip: The Panda's Thumb). Here's a little vignette:
O’REILLY: OK. But science is incomplete in this area of creationism, is it not?

GRANT: Science is always incomplete in all areas.

O’REILLY: Well, I don’t agree with that. Science is not always incomplete and I’ll give you an example. There are twenty-four hours in a day. Alright. That’s science. And there are four seasons. That’s science. So you can state things with certainty in biology or any other science you want. However, if I’m a student in your class and you’re telling me, well, there might have been a meteor or big bang or there might have been this or there might have been that, I’m gonna raise my hand like the wise guy I am and say “Professor, might there be a higher power that contributed to the fact that we’re all here?” and you say - what?

GRANT: I say that’s something you need to question, you need to think about, you need to discuss with other people. You need to do that in the proper class. In the biology class we deal with science, with the natural world and what fits our conventional concepts of science.
God, I don't know which is worse, O'Reilly's attempt to defend science, or the scientist's appeal to falsification. Not to be outdone by his previous declarations, O'Reilly chose to end the segment by displaying his ability to integrate via essentials:
I wouldn’t teach the Bible. I - see, I agree that I wouldn’t say “Look, you guys should read Genesis and do the Adam and Eve nuh" - if I were professor of biology, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t do that. But I would say “Look, there are a lot of very brilliant scholars who believe the reason we have incomplete science on evolution is that there is a higher power involved in this and you should consider it as a scientist." I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, Professor. And I think the people like the ACLU, who don’t want you to mention it in your biology class, are the Taliban. I think THEY are the ones that are infringing on the rights of all American students by not allowing that to be at least considered.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 3:05 AM
  This Is A Little Long, But You'll Thank Me After You've Read It...
Intelligent Design for Dummies (hat tip: Pharyngula):
Q: What's Intelligent Design?
A: "The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion."

Q:I'm sorry, I was distracted by a sparkly object. What was that?
A: It's the science that concludes that life is so very, very complicated that by necessity it must have been created by an intelligence.

Q: I hear that! Why just the other day I tried to get on the bus but my pass was clipped to my pants so I had to jump up and down to try to reach the little machine -
A: No, no, I mean "complicated" as in "complex." DNA, cellular biology, etc. It's all so complex that there HAD to be a designer.

Q: Oh. Like God?
A: Not necessarily. Just an "intelligence." A lot of ID people are very careful to point out that they are scientists, and positing an "intelligence" that created life doesn't mean "God." Could be anything.

Q: Like a giant lobster.
A: Sure. Like a giant lobster.

Q: Or space aliens? Or a totally, like, super-smart cherry pie?
A: ... I suppose.

Q: So these ID guys don't believe in God.
A: Oh no, they do.

Q: All of them?
A: Pretty much. So what? Doesn't mean they can't be scientists.

Q: Oh. So there's all these scientific papers they write, right?
A: Yes.

Q: What do they say?
A: Well, they're diverse and technical, but they all come to the conclusion that life was created by an intelligence.

Q: Why?
A: Because it looks like it.

Q: That's it?
A: Pretty much. It's all about how the design of life resembles the designs of people. And a lot of stuff about how it's a better explanation than evolution.

Q: Okay, I am by definition a complete idiot, right?
A: Yes.

Q: But still... how does such a pursuit constitute a "science?" It seems to me that ID offers no direct evidence nor does it present a path for continued inquiry. It seems that the discipline exists only to shore up a single unprovable theory rather than to refine or further it. Is that actually science, or is that a meticulous manipulation of data for nonscientific ends?
A: Um...

Q: Furthermore, is this not an idea that exists to negate, forcing evolutionary theorists to prove that each and every natural phenomenon was NOT created by an intelligence?
A: Well...

Q: Whereas a real science would not just employ scientific methods to shore up a foregone conclusion, but rather use scientific methods to determine precisely how something operates, right?
A: It's science, all right? It's science.

Q: So what is ID doing to research the identity and characteristics of this "intelligence" that it posits?
A: Well, nothing that I've found yet...

Q: Because if they really wanted to research stuff, they'd be saying things like, "Well, could a giant lobster make a flower?" and, "Is there anything about the design of DNA that looks like something a space crustacean would come up with?"
A: I really think you need to get off this whole lobster thing.

Q: But these ID guys aren't looking into just who this intelligence is, are they?
A: No.

Q: Because they think it's God, right?
A: They don't say that.

Q: Because if they thought they saw evidence of giant superintelligent eyestalks peering down on them from under a celestial carapace, they'd be seriously bummed, wouldn't they?
A: I think this Q&A is over now.

Q: Yeah, but, the goal of science is to-
A: Hey, look at these keys.

Q: Oooooh - sparkly!
A: ...


 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 2:20 AM
  You Too Can Be Peter Keating For A Night...
I used to think spending $5000 for a pen was a waste of money, but at least you could write with it (hat tip: Marginal Revolution):
PartyBuddys, the inspiration of James King and Jason Roefaro, both 30 and both from Union City, N.J., promises to "make normal people feel fabulous for the night," according to its Web site, www.partybuddys.com.

Its night-out package includes a guide (the party buddy) to usher clients "through crowds of jealous bystanders," limousine service, complimentary drinks and V.I.P. treatment at six Manhattan clubs (Cielo, Plaid, Webster Hall, Copacabana, Spirit and China Club).

Fees for the night start at $350 a person; full rock-star treatment is available for $1,200.

Mr. King and Mr. Roefaro, who operate the business out of Mr. Roefaro's late grandmother's brick house in Union City, estimate that at least 60 percent of their clients are middle-aged professionals from out of town who have never visited a New York nightclub.

"This service is like paying to drive a race car or be taken up in a fighter plane," Mr. Roefaro said. "They're not race car drivers or fighter pilots, they're accountants and lawyers, but for a short time they can imagine they are. For that night, they're not an accountant; they're Paris Hilton or P. Diddy."
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:53 AM
  McCorvey v. Roe
"Jane Roe", A.K.A., Norma McCorvey has filed papers asking the Supreme Court to overturn the decision in Roe v. Wade. For those who didn't know, McCorvey has apparently undergone a "transformation", and become a die hard christian.

I saw her the other night on the news program Hannity and Colmes on Fox News. She stated her opposition to all abortion, and desire to see it become illegal throughout the US. Though her efforts haven't born any fruit, there is one thing that I must stridently take issue with: her assertion that because of Roe v. Wade, three generations of children have been killed. Let's be extremely clear here - if a child isn't born, then it never was.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:49 AM
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
  You Know You Have Faith When...
You imbibe and bathe in cow urine!
Purification rites took many an hour of Hindu life, for fears of pollution were as frequent in Indian religion as in modern hygiene. At any moment the Hindu might be made unclean--by improper food, by offal, by the touch of a Shudra, an Outcaste, a corpse, a menstruating woman, or in a hundred other ways. The woman herself, of course, was defiled by menstruation or childbirth; Brahmanical law required isolation in such cases, and complex hygienic precautions. After all such pollutions--or, as we should say, possible infections--the Hindu had to undergo ritual purification: in minor cases by such simple ceremonies as being sprinkled with holy water; in major cases by more complicated methods, culminating in the terrible Panchagavia. This purification was decreed as punishment for violating important caste laws (e.g., for leaving India), and consisted in drinking a mixture of "five substances" from the sacred cow: milk, curds, ghee, urine and dung.*

Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, pg. 521

* Ghee is clarified butter. Urine, says the Abbe Dubois (1820), "is looked upon as most efficacious for purifying any kind of uncleanness. I have often seen superstitious Hindus following the cows to pasture, waiting for the moment when they could collect the precious liquid in vessels of brass, and carrying it away while still warm to their houses. I have also seen them waiting to catch it in the hollow of their hands, drinking some of it and rubbing their faces and heads with the rest."
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 2:23 AM
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
  Iran, Abu Ghraib and the "War on Terror"
Noumenal Self has an excellent philosophical analysis of what the Bush Administration is doing vis a vis Iran. He also manages to tie it back in to the failed polices in Iraq and our use of torture.

His conclusion sums it up nicely:
The lesson of all of this is that we are in a moral conflict with Islam, and moral conflicts cannot be fought by stealth. We cannot behave like moral cockroaches, scurrying away into hiding whenever the light comes on. Evil must be confronted in the full light of day, and fully unapologetically. Otherwise, it is evil that will become unapologetic and feel free to work in broad daylight. That's not something we want in the daylight of our cities.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:20 AM
Monday, January 17, 2005
  Cox and Forkum - Serpentine Diplomacy
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:41 AM
Sunday, January 16, 2005
  I Don't Know If This Is Historically Accurate, But...
the point it makes is well put. From a blog entry on Ward Connerly, by Timothy Sandefur:
Lincoln is said to have once asked his audience, “how many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?”

“Five,” the audience answered.

“No,” Lincoln replied. “Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 7:20 AM
  What A Coincidence
The Washington Post had an article yesterday on a recent state supreme court decision in Virginia (hat tip: Instapundit).
The state Supreme Court yesterday struck down as unconstitutional a 19th-century Virginia law making it a crime for unmarried couples to have sex.

"We find no principled way to conclude . . . that the Virginia statute criminalizing intercourse between unmarried persons does not improperly abridge a personal relationship that is within the liberty interest of persons to choose," said the decision, written by Justice Elizabeth B. Lacy.
I wholeheartedly agree with the results in this case; government has no business interfering in the activity of consenting adults in the privacy of their bedrooms. What is especially interesting here is that the ruling by Virginia's state supreme court was based upon the ruling I've discussed recently in Lawrence v. Texas.
The ruling strikes down a law criminalizing fornication as a Class 4 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $250. The law had been on the books since the early 1800s but has not been enforced against consenting adults since 1847, lawyers said. The court based yesterday's ruling on a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning an anti-sodomy law in Texas. (emphasis added)
And later in the article:
Yesterday's ruling relied heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which involved a man who had been convicted of sodomy. In that case, the justices ruled in favor of the right for personal relationships to be free of governmental interference.

"The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime," the opinion said.
This is one of the wonderful things about the legal field; a proper decision forms the foundation and provides the means for further proper adjudication. Hopefully we will see more "Victorian" (read: theocratic) laws overturned in a similar fashion.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 7:13 AM
  The People and the Chairman
Jeff Jarvis has a great post on the over 500 complaints the FCC received following the Desperate Housewives ad, where (gasp! shudder!!) a woman's naked back was briefly exposed. So what's great about over 500 complaints? Well, they're directed against the Chairman and his cronies! Jeff's post quotes some of the best complaints, along with a link to others. The title of his post sums them all up nicely: Take that, Michael Powell!

Regarding the volume of compaints, Jeff notes:
that is about 170 times more letters than were penned in complaint against Married by America, yielding the biggest fine in FCC history. By this scale, then, Michael Powell should resign immediately and take the rest of the National Board of Prigs and Prudes with him.
To which I can only add: Amen!
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 2:13 AM
  Blog Updates...
I decided to scrap the commenting system blogger provides, and opt for one powered by HaloScan. It's more convenient than having to sign in to Blogger, or having to post comments anonymously.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:30 AM
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