Nero's Fiddle
A View From The Handbasket

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Catblogging returns!
Posted by neros_fiddle at 8:32 AM
Griz attempted to use the Douglas Adams method for divining the Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe and Everything. Here's what she came up with. I think she's having us on.

5 comments on this post
Monday, March 17, 2008
Facts are stupid things
Posted by neros_fiddle at 2:29 PM

Reality: 85-year-old financial institutions are being sold for pennies on the dollar, as the Fed bails out lenders who got in over their heads in the subprime morass and frantically cuts rates and pulls out Depression-era tricks to try to minimize the brutality of the recession.

Our President this morning:

[O]ur financial institutions are strong and [...] our capital markets are functioning efficiently and effectively.

Reality: Global trends of supply and demand are triggering a permanent condition of ever-increasing oil prices, which will at the very least significantly impact First World standards of living and at worst set off global economic and military turmoil.

A random American filling up her van last week:

Faith Dansby, who was putting gas in her van at a Shell station on New Circle Road, said she is coping by trying to cut down on trips, such as getting her groceries once a week rather than making multiple runs.

"As Americans, we shouldn't have to go through this," she said.

Reality: The world consists of measurable events about which we can make several useful observations subject to repeated experimentation. These useful observations, sometimes called "math" and "science," can help us solve and avoid crippling problems like the two discussed above. Things like "math" and "science" can be taught to children in "schools," thus equipping them to improve the world in the future.

Government responds to the challenge:

The bill requires public schools to guarantee students the right to express their religious viewpoints in a public forum, in class, in homework and in other ways without being penalized. If a student’s religious beliefs were in conflict with scientific theory, and the student chose to express those beliefs rather than explain the theory in response to an exam question, the student’s incorrect response would be deemed satisfactory, according to this bill.

The school would be required to reward the student with a good grade, or be considered in violation of the law. Even simple, factual information such as the age of the earth (4.65 billion years) would be subject to the student’s belief, and if the student answered 6,000 years based on his or her religious belief, the school would have to credit it as correct.

2 comments on this post
Friday, March 14, 2008
Christians and Muslims unite against a common enemy
Posted by neros_fiddle at 2:03 PM
Amid all the talk of a Clash of Civilizations and all of the heated and outright murderous rhetoric (and actions) being traded between the followers of two slightly different variations on monotheism, it's heartwarming to that there's one thing that can cause Muslims and Christians to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and struggle together for common gain.

Fear of science.

War makes strange bed fellows, especially in Turkey, where a dispute over creationism vs Darwinism has created an unusual alliance between the country's Islamists and conservative Christians in the US.

Darwin's Theory of Evolution, in layman's terms, proposes that life descended from organisms through "survival of the fittest." Creationism holds that life was created by an all-knowing being, that is, God.

Creationism advocates from the US traveled to Istanbul May 2007 to meet with their counterparts, seeking to galvanize their link in the fight to bring creationism to schools and universities in their respective countries. The meeting was endorsed by Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas, a member of the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

"There are outstanding figures within Islamic theology who have participated in this discussion. There is no reason to be surprised, there is a very rich tradition," David Berlinski, keynote speaker for the meeting and an analyst for the US-based Discovery Institute, an organization that opposes what it terms "neo-Darwinism," told ISN Security Watch.

"This is a hot issue. We are in the midst of a worldwide religious revival. Historians 500 years from now will talk about the religious revival of the late 20th century and early 21st century."

The meeting appeared to be well received by the audience of college and high school students, drawn from the city's elite education institutions.

"Darwinism is, of course, against Muslim belief system as well," Ayse Sayman, a 20-year-old student at Istanbul's Bosphorus University told ISN Security Watch. "That is why it makes sense that it is debated here as well. And counter-arguments should be developed to the theory. That is why I am interested in this."

I've always said that extremist Christians and extremist Muslims are more alike than different. What I'd never considered is that they might figure that out. Shudder.

1 comments on this post
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
In case anyone still cares
Posted by neros_fiddle at 3:48 PM

Future of America found within

Five years, 4000 American lives, many thousands of Iraqi lives, half a trillion dollars and a still-smashed country later, the US military tells us:

This study found no 'smoking gun' (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda.

At risk of boring you, let's sum up.

- No weapons of mass destruction
- No involvement in 9/11
- No links to al Qaeda
- No region-wide flowering of democracy
- No lessening of the influence of radical movements

The Iraq War represents nothing less than a colossal, criminal failure of policy and morality, a completely indelible stain on American history. Period. Can anyone suggest a single positive outcome of this adventure?

And no, having a gang of Shiite thugs hang Saddam while taunting him does not count. Yes, we ejected Saddam from power, which is in a vacuum not a bad thing. But there is not yet any evidence whatsoever that we have replaced his regime with a superior alternative. In fact, all signs point to a monumentally corrupt fundamentalist Shiite-dominated coalition that is currently being held together with a steady supply of bribes to various Sunni warlords. So deposing Saddam is not yet a positive outcome, because Iraq is not yet better off.

And yet John McCain can point to his support for the war as an asset, not a liability in his campaign. George W. Bush can claim the credibility to decree that the United States should be allowed to torture people, and that claim goes largely unchallenged. (Although torture clearly didn't help us get accurate intelligence on Iraq.) The talking heads on TV can discuss the crippled US economy as though $275 million every day isn't being siphoned into the abyss of Iraq.

In case anyone still cares.

1 comments on this post
Like punk never happened
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:30 AM
Here's noted right-wing windbag Brent Bozell filling column-inches in the Washington Post:

It is time for McCain to be Reagan.

This is what conservatives call on him to do:

McCain must present a strategy to defeat the threat of radical Islam. He needs to call on the United States to rebuild its military infrastructure, so devastated by the Clinton administration.

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. It's still Clinton's fault, despite eight years of GOP rule. (One can only wonder how much "infrastructure rebuilding" could have been done with the military if we hadn't poured $500 billion down the Iraq war black hole.)

And while it's tempting to compare Reagan and McCain strictly on the basis of age (McCain would be two years older than Reagan upon taking office), the comparison falls apart pretty quickly after that. A better comparison would be to Bob Dole -- a grumpy war hero whose main claim to the Oval Office is, "It's my turn, dammit."

Like 1996, one gets the feeling that the GOP is more or less sitting this one out. Unlike 1996, when things were good and Clinton looked unbeatable, in 2008 things are rapidly devolving and I sort of suspect the Republicans would be glad to let Clinton or Obama take the fall for the next four years.

Also in the file of dubious advice from high-profile right-wing babblers, we have this from Bill Kristol in the New York Times:

Perhaps the most obvious way McCain could upend the normal dynamics of this year’s election would be a bold vice presidential choice. He could pick a hawkish and principled Democrat like Joe Lieberman. He could reach beyond the usual bevy of elected officials by tapping either David Petraeus or Raymond Odierno — the two generals who together, in an amazing demonstration of leadership and competence, turned the war in Iraq around last year. He could persuade the most impressive conservative in American public life, Clarence Thomas, to join the ticket. There are other unorthodox possibilities.

Hee hee. Really? Joe Lieberman (who, last I checked, isn't a Democrat, principled or otherwise)? Clarence Thomas?


2 comments on this post
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Looking big by acting small
Posted by neros_fiddle at 3:37 PM

That's the photo from the White House web site of Bush's endorsement of John McCain today. As far as I can tell, it's the only photo of the event on the site, therefore it's the alpha and omega of how the Administration wants you to perceive what took place.

Did they make him kiss Bush's ring, too?

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