A never ending war

This happened 13 years ago today:

poem-response-to-september-11-2001-phoenixtools11And we’re still fighting the same war (from the Washington Post):

President Obama began outlining a sweeping and long-term strategy Wednesday night for combatting the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, launching what could be the biggest counterterrorism campaign of his presidency. …

According to prepared remarks, Obama said the offensive against the militant group will not involve combat troops but a “steady, relentless effort” through airstrikes in both countries and support for military partners on the ground.

Al-Qaeda was made up of a bunch of psychopaths. And ISIL is made up of guys who al-Qaeda says are too extreme (from the New York Times).

While Al Qaeda remains committed to using terrorist tactics against the West and Arab governments, it has criticized ISIS for killing civilians and for waging war on other Muslims. This rivalry has disrupted the jihadist landscape across the Middle East and spurred new debates about how to fight jihad and what, exactly, an Islamic state is supposed to look like.

This is what happens when you let a bunch of religious nuts loose with high tech weaponry. I hope this Obama announcement has some effect, but sadly, all I think is going to happen is a lot of innocent people are going to die.

Demonstrations in D.C.

A very busy day in the nation’s capital yesterday (From the Washington Post):

Demonstrations drew thousands of people from around the country to the White House and the streets of downtown Washington on Saturday afternoon in peaceful protests.

In one, participants called for an end to the continued violence between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, advocates converged in the District to urge President Obama to take administrative action on issues involving undocumented immigrants. Both groups ended up at the White House in the afternoon, seeking a stage to voice their concerns.

The larger group, supporting the Palestinians, arrived by bus from big cities and many others drove hundreds of miles to participate, organizers said

“Free, free Palestine, killing children is a crime,” the crowd chanted. Several people held Palestinian flags, cardboard boxes representing coffins or posters with graphic images of the wounded. …

… At the same time, hundreds gathered — first at the Mall, and then at Freedom Plaza and at the White House — to push for ­immigration-policy reform..

I don’t usually go around the White House on Saturday, but I was biking to Northwest Washington to see a friend headed off to China, and just saw mobs of people everywhere and a huge police presence around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. For some reason, there were also a lot of people lined up to go on the White House grounds, and I didn’t think they had tours on the weekend.

And I will say that although this story gives the impression that both demonstrations drew equal attention. the reality is that the immigration gathering was nothing compared to the Gaza demonstration. I biked by Freedom Plaza and saw a very small group of people for the immigration rally. And to be honest, I’ve seen more people at the regular Sunday night tango sessions in Freedom Plaza than at the immigration rally.

For those of you who never pay attention to international news, you are aware, in the abstract, that people are getting killed as Israel and Gaza exchange rocket and missile fire. There are pretend cease-fires, but the minute one is announced, it’s broken. This is the death toll so far (click to enlarge):

Gaza-deathsThis is what the Gaza demonstration was about. The slaughter of children. No one would be demonstrating if it was just soldiers and militants killing each other.

Homophones: There awl gaze

I’m sorry, but at a certain point, the stupidity is just too much to absorb (from the Salt Lake City Tribune):

Homophones, as any English grammarian can tell you, are words that sound the same but have different meanings and often different spellings — such as be and bee, through and threw, which and witch, their and there.

This concept is taught early on to foreign students learning English because it can be confusing to someone whose native language does not have that feature.

But when the social-media specialist for a private Provo-based English language learning center wrote a blog explaining homophones, he was let go for creating the perception that the school promoted a gay agenda.

Tim Torkildson says after he wrote the blog on the website of his employer, Nomen Global Language Center, his boss and Nomen owner Clarke Woodger, called him into his office and told him he was fired.

As Torkildson tells it, Woodger said he could not trust him and that the blog about homophones was the last straw.

“Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality,” Woodger complained, according to Torkildson, who posted the exchange on his Facebook page.

Ewe sea, dam homophones Kant bee taut ore scene. Weir sic of they’re bazaar caul fore aural sects. Their knot strait, sew there fowl. Eye four won saver thee passed.

Butt watt dew ewe wont too ad, Bugs Bunny?

Like a girl …

After the Supreme Court ruling on whether women can control their bodies (the five old Catholic guys on the court say no), it’s time to think about the perception of women as weaklings who need a man to tell them what to do.

Which means it’s time to really reassess what people think when someone says, “You do that like a girl.”

 

Happy birthday Jean-Paul Sartre … or nothingness

Jean-Paul Sartre was born 109 years ago today.

Whatever.

If you studied French or philosophy in college, chances are you got hit with the rot of moral decay in “Les Mouches/The Flies” or the “Hell is other people” in “Huis Clos/No Exit.” Sartre was one of the major voices of existentialism, which in historical context could have been just a passing moral philosophy. But then the Nazis came along and concepts of morality, religion and life’s meaning were shattered by the physical and mental destruction they unleashed on humanity. And people wondered: Where do you find meaning in a meaningless world?

Sartre said:

I must be without remorse or regrets as I am without excuse; for from the instant of my upsurge into being, I carry the weight of the world by myself alone without help, engaged in a world for which I bear the whole responsibility without being able, whatever I do, to tear myself away from this responsibility for an instant.

He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1964. According to the prize committee:

[T]he existentialism Sartre formulated and popularized is profoundly original. Its popularity and that of its author reached a climax in the forties, and Sartre’s theoretical writings as well as his novels and plays constitute one of the main inspirational sources of modern literature. In his philosophical view atheism is taken for granted; the “loss of God” is not mourned. Man is condemned to freedom, a freedom from all authority, which he may seek to evade, distort, and deny but which he will have to face if he is to become a moral being. The meaning of man’s life is not established before his existence. Once the terrible freedom is acknowledged, man has to make this meaning himself, has to commit himself to a role in this world, has to commit his freedom. And this attempt to make oneself is futile without the “solidarity” of others.

But we’re in another age now. How would Sartre be received in a world of social media and Internet access?

Philosophie.fr Bulletin Board - 1936
Sartre died in 1980. Now, you have to carry the weight of the world by yourself alone without help.

I’m busy.

The bible says the Earth is flat …

… And in 1893, a South Dakota man put a map together to prove it (click to enlarge):

Orlando-Ferguson-flat-earth-map_editAccording to a 2011 Live Science article:

In 1893, Orlando Ferguson, a real estate developer based in South Dakota, drew a map of the Earth that combined biblical and scientific knowledge in a unique way. The map accompanied a 92-page lecture that Ferguson — referring to himself as a “professor” — delivered in town after town, traveling far and wide to share his theory of geography, highlighted by his belief that the Earth was flat.

Ferguson’s map represents the Earth as a giant, rectangular slab with a dimpled upper surface. Don Homuth of Salem, Ore., just donated one of two intact copies of the map to the Library of Congress. …

… “Ferguson was trying to make an updated version of the flat Earth theory to fit the biblical description of the Earth with known facts,” Bingham said. Typical of flat Earths, Ferguson’s Earth is a rectangular slab, the four corners of which are each guarded by an angel. “What makes his flat Earth different from other theories is his theory holds that the Earth is imprinted with an ‘inverse toroid.'” If you were to take a donut and press it into wet cement and then remove the donut, Bingham explained, the rounded impression it left in the cement would be what is known in mathematics as an inverse toroid.

“It’s pretty clever because it explains the Columbus phenomenon, where you see ships coming in over the horizon and gradually the mast gets taller and taller until you can see the ship,” Bingham said. “By 1893, most people knew about horizons so he had to come up with some way to explain that.”

There are plenty of people today who rely on the Bible as the basis of scientific fact. That’s why we have a 70,000-square-foot Creation Museum in Kentucky and people pushing intelligent design in schools. It was wrong then. It’s still wrong today.

A racist NBA team owner hits the jackpot

BmZJSRQIYAADSwCYou know about Donald Sterling, right? The Los Angeles Clippers owner who chastised his mistress … (Can we call her a mistress? I mean, she wasn’t his wife. He’s ancient and she’s definitely old enough to be his great granddaughter. And every major media outlet describes her as “his girlfriend.”) … sorry, I got distracted. Who chastised his mistress … who’s half black and half hispanic … for taking pictures with black men and bringing black people to basketball games.

Because if you don’t want to be seen with black people, the first place you want to be at is a basketball game.

The tape, of course, is a tour de force on how to claim you’re not racist as you say the most racist things you can think of. Then when your mistress (girlfriend?) says you’re being racist, call her a racist.

Wow!

So the NBA today did this:

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life from the NBA, Commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday, because of an audio recording in which he made racially charged comments to his girlfriend.

Silver said he would urge the Board of Governors to force the sale of the team and fined Sterling $2.5 million, the maximum Silver can levy under the NBA constitution and bylaws. The money, the league announced, will be donated to anti-discrimination and tolerance organizations that will be jointly selected by the NBA and the Players Association.

Now let’s consider the real impact of this ruling.

Donald Sterling has to sell his team. He bought the team in 1981 for $12.5 million. The team is currently in the NBA playoffs.

Now, a bad NBA team was sold just a few days ago (via ESPN.com).

Longtime Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl announced Wednesday that he has reached an agreement to sell the team to hedge-fund billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry for about $550 million. The deal is subject to approval by the NBA and its board of governors.

In January, Forbes valued the Bucks at $405 million, last among the league’s 30 franchises.

Kohl, a longtime U.S. senator who bought the team for $18 million in 1985, made keeping it in Milwaukee a condition of the sale. It’s also believed Kohl, while relinquishing majority control, will retain a significant percentage of the team.

Los Angeles isn’t Milwaukee. It’s a major media market. And the Bucks aren’t in the playoffs. The Clippers are.

So current estimates are that the Clippers will sell for more than $1 billion. And that money goes to …

Donald Sterling.

He owns the team. He gets the paycheck.

I’m sure he’s in agony right now because the NBA won’t let him be involved in a sport that features a race of people he doesn’t want to associate with.

I think the Northwestern and Princeton professors in the news recently will agree that there is merit to living in an oligarchy. If you’re an oligarch.