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An Interesting Piece Of History

Jane Lampman reviews Karen Armstrong’s book, The Great Transformation which covers the era of the formation of the world’s great religions between 900 and 200 BCE. Sounds like an interesting counterbalance to the depressing reality of Jared Diamond’s Collapse.

It would seem that every few centuries people figure out that violence doesn’t work, but after a while we return to it. When I hear all of the people talking about how we should blow things up to settle a problem, I have to wonder how many of them have been in the path of destruction. Someday they will introduce the smell of war to movies and most people will figure it out: dead bodies, and that’s what we are talking about, don’t smell very nice.

April 4, 2006   2 Comments

Free Speech Involves Responsibility

Carla Seaquist makes the point: Free speech should soar above insult and injury.

Yes, you have the right to say anything you want, as long as it’s true. You have the right to express your opinion openly, no matter how unbelievable or divorced from reality. Others also have the right to say you are wrong and should just shut up.

The refusal to repeat things that are hurtful to others isn’t suppression of free speech; it is called manners. If you are going share space with other people you have to learn when not to speak to preserve the peace.

Unfortunately when one side is rude, crude, and unglued it does no good to hold your peace, because they won’t stop.

April 4, 2006   Comments Off on Free Speech Involves Responsibility

What Hath The Shrubbery Wrought?

Kevin Hayden at American Street has a concise quiz on the recent history in the Persian Gulf. If you have personally experienced history since the election of Richard Nixon and were paying attention to current affairs it is rather depressing.

My older instructors at the Defense Language Institute were unhappy when I pointed out that from the standpoint of the average Russian peasant the Soviet era was an improvement over the tsarist era that preceded it. Peasants received education and health care under the Soviets that didn’t exist for them under the tsars. They were oppressed under both systems, so the political changes didn’t really affect them.

It’s a good thing Saddam isn’t getting a jury trial.

April 4, 2006   2 Comments

We Have A Problem

The new predictions for this year’s hurricane season are out, and they are not comforting.

The Mid West is experiencing a record number of tornadoes and people are dying. Plants are budding and blooming sooner than ever. We have 100-year floods occurring every 10 years. The fire season has started sooner than ever. The world is in trouble, and the weather patterns are changing.

When do the powers that be figure out that it is time to do something before we run out of options? Will reducing pollution and greenhouse gases cost money? Absolutely. Will it cost as much as the tornadoes, wild fires, floods, droughts, and hurricanes we are currently experiencing? Not bloody likely.

April 4, 2006   6 Comments

Too Bad They Weren’t VIPs

During the coverage of Rice and Straw visiting Iraq the media forgot to mention that 13 US military died over the weekend.

It may not be obvious, but replacing a Secretary of State is actually easier than replacing an experienced infantryman or medic. There are hundreds of people qualified to be Secretary of State and more entering the pool every year. The number of people available to fill that infantry slot is decreasing.

Just so you know, when they report the death of Navy personnel in Iraq, they are almost always medics who serve with the Marines.

April 4, 2006   Comments Off on Too Bad They Weren’t VIPs

Black Out

Tom Burka has a fun post: Democrats Used to Loss of Power in Capitol.

I have a serious question: why doesn’t the Capitol have an emergency power system? Don’t they think that it’s pretty stupid that an auto accident or thunderstorm could halt the Congress? Does their computer system have battery back-up? Do they have an emergency plan other than panic?

April 4, 2006   Comments Off on Black Out

Flag That

Dave Neiwert has a point to make about those complaining about immigration protesters waving Mexican flags: the Shrubbery did it when he was campaigning for governor of Texas.

I don’t guess you ever see Italian flags on Columbus Day, Irish flags on St. Patrick’s Day, and everyone avoids Mexican flags on Cinco de Mayo.

These were the “American” flags my people saw when they arrived as immigrants:

April 4, 2006   Comments Off on Flag That