Monday, January 26, 2009

Don't Set Me Free, GI Joe!

Iraqi prisoners are refusing to leave prison because they want to finish their studies there. About twenty-three thousand adults and juveniles are held in two jails, Camp Cropper at Baghdad International Airport and Camp Bucca at Basr. Not only are prisoners demanding to be kept behind bars until they graduate, their parents are begging the jails to let the siblings of the prisoners be locked up with them so they can go to school, too.

Of the six thousand prisoners released from the camps since last September, only 12 have been recaptured, a recidivism rate of 0.02%, 1 in 500.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Male Bashing

The late Michael Crichton on the war between the sexes in "Men's Hearts":

Fault-finding through male stereotyping has some unpleasant aspects that should be mentioned. The first is this: if you can adopt the position that you're inherently skilled in some aspect of relationship say, intimacy and the other person is inherently deficient, then you have an unbeatable position of power. The other person is always on the defensive. He will always have his hands full trying to prove he isn't the way you say he is. This is a control dynamic.

The second is this: if both men and women have trouble expressing real intimacy, then both men and women experience tension in this area. A convenient way to get rid of that tension is to blame it on the other person. Everything would be fine if he'd just talk, or listen, or make a commitment. This is a scapegoat dynamic.

The third is this: if you treat another person as a stereotype, he will feel it, and sooner or later he will pay you back. This is a revenge dynamic.

The fourth is this: if you treat another person as a stereotype, you will miss a great deal of delight and richness in your association with him. This is a tragic dynamic.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sep 11 Terrorist Remains Rejected By Families

Seven years after the September 11 suicide skyjackings by Muslim terrorists, 1,126 (41%) of the 2,751 victims from the World Trade Center and five individuals from the Pentagon have not been identified. Despite extensive DNA analysis of all the recovered remains, no identifiable part of them has been found.

All four of the terrorists who hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, have been identified by their remains. Two more terrorists from the World Trade Center jets have been identified. Between them all, they amount to only 24 pounds of bone and flesh. The families of the terrorists refused to cooperate in contributing DNA, so it was collected from items in their hotel rooms.

From Newsweek:

So far none of the hijackers' families have come forward to request the remains. Khaled Abou El Fadl, a law professor at UCLA and an authority on Islamic law, says he would be surprised if they did: "I've heard many times in the Muslim community that to claim and bury a body of one of the hijackers is to admit or accept that it was indeed those hijackers who committed 9/11."

Reached by NEWSWEEK, one relative of Ziad Jarrah, the hijacker believed to have piloted Flight 93 into a Pennsylvania field, expressed just this kind of ambivalence. "Of course we want to get back his remains, but we are not planning to make any contact before things get clarified," said the relative, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation. He couldn't bring himself to admit that Jarrah had carried out the atrocities. "Maybe he participated," he says. "Maybe there is something we don't know." But then he paused. Perhaps, he conceded, his relative was indeed involved and he himself was just "engaging in wishful thinking." Admitting it outright, Professor El Fadl says, would run counter to the prevalent belief in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt that the attacks were actually an anti-Arab conspiracy perpetrated by the Bush administration. If he were related to one of the hijackers, he says, "I'd be scared for the harm that might befall the rest of my family by the Saudi or Egyptian government if I showed an interest," he says. "There is an environment of fear in countries like Saudi Arabia; it's hard to describe. The culture of terror is suffocating."
I'd like to see the charred remains displayed as artifacts in the September 11 museum which will surely be built one day, each set bearing the name and country of the terrorist.


The Religion of Environmentalism

Michael Crichton passed away unexpectedly in Los Angeles on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. Crichton was a story teller who gave us many good science-based tales like "Jurassic Park" and "Andromeda Strain" and created the TV show "ER". He also had a lot to say about environmentalism:

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday---these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don't want to talk anybody out of them, as I don't want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don't want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can't talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.

And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren't necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It's about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them. ...

We know from history that religions tend to kill people, and environmentalism has already killed somewhere between 10-30 million people since the 1970s.

Crichton said much more, which you should read by clicking on this link.

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