July 18, 2006 at 12:03 am | In Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tragic

I don’t know what to say, other than that the loss of life is always, unconditionally, a tragedy.

Also, this:

The fate of Haifa’s dogs also tells us something about their owners and the situation in which they have found themselves. As we were walking around our neighborhood, after a few hours of quiet, we noticed a number of ownerless dogs looking for their homes.”

And I just heard this on Pandora:

Go Down, Moses Pete Seeger
Voice From The Mountain Nick Drake

Read this: Why international law matters from Jonathan Edelstein (via Dove’s Eye View):

But there is an even more fundamental reason why international law matters. It is very rare for a military victory, no matter how decisive, to end the underlying conflict, and when the war is over, the issues will still have to be resolved and the conflicting parties rebuilt. Any measure that conserves human life and civilian infrastructure during the war will make those tasks that much easier, while scorched-earth warfare might win an immediate victory at the cost of making the underlying conflict more intractable. Israel, for instance, has won all its wars, some more decisively than others, but even its most spectacular military victories have failed to resolve the political conflicts that lie at their root. The ultimate solution has to be political, and in those cases where wars must be fought, it’s important to fight them in a way that doesn’t make reconstruction and mediation more difficult. That means doing everything possible to protect civilian life on the other side, and not damaging infrastructure in a way that might threaten the postwar stability of the opposing state.

Israel clearly has the right to defend itself against Hizbullah’s attacks, and it can be frustrating to follow the rules when the enemy doesn’t acknowledge them. It can be difficult to hold back and be discriminating in the choice of targets when the enemy claims the right to attack civilian targets or even denies that there is such a thing as an Israeli civilian. Nevertheless, even aside from the fact that conserving human life is a moral good, following international humanitarian law and limiting the scope of warfare is critical if there is to be a hope of multilateral resolution and a postwar political settlement. The law is not meaningless either to the short-term realities of war or the politics of the underlying conflict, and the long-term dividends of conserving civilian life are much greater than the immediate costs.

Blog back?

July 16, 2006 at 11:49 pm | In Uncategorized | Comments Off on Blog back?

The last two weeks saw a notable lack of blogging on my part. Meanwhile news in the real world went from gee-that’s-bad to oh, my, goodness. More on that later. In the meantime:

The appeal of the title does not derive from its simplicity or its specificity but rather from the existential truth of it. It’s as if the author read the screenplay aloud to his two sons and asked them what the film should be called. The first son might reply, “Death Flight! Wait, wait, no! Poisonous Air!” The second son, if he were autistic, would reply, “Snakes on a Plane.” The second son would be right.

San Francisco was fun. I’ll post pictures tomorrow.

First they ignore you…

July 5, 2006 at 7:00 pm | In religion | Comments Off on First they ignore you…

This is a press release from the conservative Catholic League. Religious Left Seeks to Silence Church’s Voice:

A coalition of religious leaders in Massachusetts who are pro-gay marriage has lashed out at Boston Archbishop Sean Cardinal O’Malley and other Catholic leaders for opposing same-sex unions. The coalition accuses the Catholic leaders of practicing “religious discrimination” and has requested that they stop campaigning for laws that protect the institution of marriage.

We respect the Roman Catholic Church’s desire to speak in a public forum about this, but it has come to a point where the advocacy about same-sex marriage has come to impinge on our own religious practices, because not everyone believes same-sex marriage is wrong or sinful or against religious beliefs,” said the Rev. Tiffany Steinwert, a United Methodist minister who works with homosexuals. She added, “What happens when the Roman Catholic Church seeks to create public policy based on their religious beliefs is that they negate other religious beliefs that might be contrary to that.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responded as follows:

“It is important that the religious coalition stop practicing religious discrimination against Roman Catholics and stop campaigning for laws that weaken the institution of marriage.

We respect the religious coalition’s desire to speak in a public forum about this, but it has come to a point where the advocacy about same-sex marriage has come to impinge on our own religious practices, because not everyone believes that same-sex marriage is not wrong or sinful or against religious beliefs. What happens when the religious coalition seeks to create public policy based on their religious beliefs is that they negate other religious beliefs that might be contrary to that.”

The full quotation is, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” And yes, you read that right, Donohue basically responded with a big f u, but in a mocking sort of way. Over at Street Prophets, Frank Cocozzelli argues that this is a victory:

Why is this a victory? Simple: because the Catholic League, a significant player of the Religious Right, has finally felt threatened enough to attack us. It means that our side has made a significant impact on an issue now in the public discourse. But most of all, a reactionary group such as the so-called “Catholic” League has effectively admitted that it can no longer claim to reflect the sole voice of religious thought on any given matter.

Frank is right: we’re certainly past the ignore stage. Still, I hope we’re not stuck in-between the laugh at you and fight you stage.

…by the way, that quote is attributed to Gandhi all over the Internet, but I’ve learned not to trust the Internet when it comes to verifying a quote’s provenance. (Long story short: this quote should really be attributed to John F. Kennedy, Jr., misquoting Dante.) This longer version seems more believable as the original: “It’s the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.” — Tony Benn (b. 1925), British Labour politician. Quoted in Observer (London, October 6, 1991).

Oh, hopefully this will help some future Google searcher:

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality” — John F. Kennedy, misquoting Dante.

“If only gay sex caused global warming”

July 4, 2006 at 12:46 am | In politics, psychology | 1 Comment

Oh my. How did I miss this? And when is Prof. Gilbert going to get a blog? The Freakonomics guys did it to promote their book, and he’s going after the same audience with Stumbling on Happiness, right? (Ooh, looks like Levitt and Dubner are still at it. Cool.)

Go read the whole thing:

If only gay sex caused global warming

Why we’re more scared of gay marriage and terrorism than a much deadlier threat.

NO ONE seems to care about the upcoming attack on the World Trade Center site. Why? Because it won’t involve villains with box cutters. Instead, it will involve melting ice sheets that swell the oceans and turn that particular block of lower Manhattan into an aquarium.

The odds of this happening in the next few decades are better than the odds that a disgruntled Saudi will sneak onto an airplane and detonate a shoe bomb. And yet our government will spend billions of dollars this year to prevent global terrorism and … well, essentially nothing to prevent global warming.

Why are we less worried about the more likely disaster? Because the human brain evolved to respond to threats that have four features — features that terrorism has and that global warming lacks.

Freshman year I e-mailed Prof. Horwitz to encourage him to blog. No answer yet. Maybe Gilbert will be more responsive.

That doesn’t sound like me…

July 4, 2006 at 12:11 am | In silly | Comments Off on That doesn’t sound like me…

Is there some sort of Internet scam that somehow involves registering fake MySpace accounts? Earlier today I wanted to see if I had a MySpace account (so I could post a comment on the Ezra Furman and the Harpoon‘s blog, of course). I tried a few e-mails on the lost password page and found out that I did, although I didn’t remember creating it and it had a weird password and e-mail I don’t use much. And it had some weird information already entered. I mean, I hate astrology. And gender constructs. Especially ones that don’t really fit, like “female” or United Kingdom:

25 years old
United Kingdom

Last Login: 7/3/2006


Are these the default settings or what?


July 3, 2006 at 11:28 pm | In fun | 1 Comment

This post has a sound track [press play if it appears, otherwise click here], taken from Cowabunga! The Surf Box.

I happened to be listening to that song on the train ride back, which was on the San Bernardino / Riverside line (one of the lyrics is “From Balboa to Anaheim / San Bernardino to Riverside / All the kids in all L.A. / Love to hear Dick Dale play”). Pretty cool.

On Saturday, after a trip to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills in search of the wears (wares?) of one Baruch Shemtov (see pictures below) Eric and I went to Zuma Beach, in Malibu.

I hope that’s not real fur. If memory serves the brown one was around $250 and the gray one was around $150. It was Eric’s idea.

Is that first song over? Here’s another.

(Both are by Dick Dale & the Del-Tones)

Zuma Beach was beautiful. So beautiful, I didn’t take any pictures. Fortunately, Flickr has way more and better pictures of Zuma Beach than my small digital camera could provide, so here’s a sampling (they’re all Creative Commons-licensed):

Water’s Edge

By LorE Denizen

Waves 1


By LorE Denizen

By Perched

The water was really, really cold, but lots of fun.

Oh, blog…

July 2, 2006 at 9:19 am | In Uncategorized | Comments Off on Oh, blog…

How I have neglected thee.

Theme: Pool by Borja Fernandez.
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