Archive | August, 2010

This is Your Brain on Stateless News

Center for a Stateless Society

Some C4SS-related items worth checking out: [Note that this does not mean that other C4SS-related items not listed here are not worth checking out!]

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Dinner With the Doctor

I know some of my readers regard even idle speculation as spoilerrific, so …


Doctor and Amy

Neil Gaiman is writing an episode for next season’s Doctor Who. (Yay!)

He’s had to cut over ten pages out of it. (Boo!)

He’s posted online a bit of dialogue that was cut. (Yay!)

Gaiman says this is spoiler-free, since it “tells you absolutely nothing about the story except that it now doesn’t have a scene with a bowl of food in it.” But of course that’s not quite true. We can infer, at least, that there are non-humanoid aliens in the story (since Amy would be unlikely to exclude humanoid aliens from the category of “people”), and that they are on sufficiently good terms with our protagonists to offer them food. (Of course prisoners get fed, so that doesn’t tell us all that much. The reference to “background radiation” makes me think of Daleks, but I can’t imagine Dalek cuisine being yummy even by Gallifreyan standards, and besides I somehow don’t expect a Dalek episode from Gaiman.)

Insofar As They’re Beings, Yes

The Rock of Eternity

Exchange last night in the elevator:

MY INTERLOCUTOR: What’s your field of study?

ME: Philosophy.

MY INTERLOCUTOR: Does that study, like, rocks and stuff?

Why Opponents of the Non-Ground-Zero Non-Mosque Are Tools For Al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda seeks to combat the idea that people of different religions can live harmoniously together in the same society. The anti-mosqueteers are certainly doing their best to combat this idea as well.

Blue Mosque

Al-Qaeda seeks to subordinate private property rights to religious law. This is exactly what the anti-mosqueteers do when they declare other people’s property “sacred ground” and propose on this basis to interfere with their peaceful use of it.

Al-Qaeda seeks to position itself as the representative of the entire Muslim community. The whole anti-mosqueteer position makes sense only on the assumption that they support al-Qaeda’s claim on this point – since otherwise banning an Islamic cultural center because the 9/11 highjackers were Muslim would be no more salient than banning a YMCA because the highjackers were male. (“A young woman said to me: ‘I have had the most horrible experiences with furriers; they robbed me, they burned the fur I entrusted to them. Well, they were all Jews.’ But why did she choose to hate Jews rather than furriers?” – Jean-Paul Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew.)

Al-Qaeda employs a double standard, condemning its enemies for killing innocents but excusing its own similar actions. This approach too gets its stamp of approval from the anti-mosqueteers, who express far more concern about what might be built near the site of the 9/11 bombings than about what might be built near the sites of American bombings of Muslims.

Al-Qaeda seeks to intimidate its opponents into appeasing its irrational demands. What are the anti-mosqueteers doing if not endorsing this tactic when they suggest that the Islamic Center should cave in and “compromise” out of concern for the anti-mosqueteeers’ “feelings,” regardless of the merits of those feelings? (Likewise, why couldn’t southern blacks compromise with the KKK? Sure, maybe legally the blacks were in the right, but the KKK’s bigoted feelings were strong and sincere and deserved respect, no?)

I’m not saying that the anti-mosqueteers are literally in the pay of al-Qaeda. But they might as well be.

A Puzzlement

I don’t get it. If Laura Schlessinger says “I’m Laura Schlessinger,” she gets no flak for it; everyone takes it in stride. But if I say the very same thing, people act like I’ve uttered some huge falsehood. Why the double standard?

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