Thursday, May 29, 2003

Vacation Over

OK, not so much a vacation as a mixed business/pleasure trip. In any case, I was out there, on a roadtrip, having a fine old time, spending money, and having more fun than an over 50 Dad with two little kids and his one and only wife is supposed to be able to have. But here it is, less than two weeks later and we are back at home base, and the old habits will surely reassert themselves. Blogging will resume later today, Blogspot willing. (For those of you who don't know this, Blogger is undergoing a reorganization, and our ability to post has been spotty at best. I actually tried to post while on the road, but it failed. Such are the pitfalls of blogging. But now that I am at home, all will be restored, I hope!)

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Ruminations on the Palistinians

Recently I stumbled upon a copy of Edward Said's The Question of Palestine, and I reread parts of it. For those of you who don't know, it is Said's seminal work justifying the Palestinian cause. It established Said as a Palestinian spokesman, and established the academic study of Orientalism as a so-called mainstream course of study. I found the book at a garage sale, put on sale by a former philosophy student at University of Washington. It is a sad comment that this is the work that philosophy students are given to establish their background in Palestinian history. It is neither a history, nor is Said truly a Palestinian, if such a thing truly exists. As Said defines the type, there are about four million Palistinians, but he defines it the way the Supreme Court defines pornography. You know it when you see it. Since Said has made something of a career out of his supposed Palistinian background, we can understand his motivation. I guess it is similar to Jerry Rivers having no success in his career until he changed his appellation to Rivera and claiming Mexican status for himself.

Anyway, Said refers continually to the Zionist Entity as a colonial occupation, which begs the question of the original homeland for the colonists. No opposing view is given anywhere in the book, so the fact that the original Zionists bought the land, or the fact that the United Nations granted the land to the Jewish people is nowhere to be found. Personally, the fact that the local Arabs sided with Hitler in the war makes the choice of territory particularly sweet, but a more objective source might note that the fact of continuous Jewish habitation in the region for three thousand years before the Balfour Declaration gives the Hebrews at least as much "right" to live there as the Egyptian Said family.

What is particularly galling about the book is the complete absence of any reference to Islam, or any Islamic responsibility to provide for their co-religionists. He notes the continued status of the Palestinians in the region as refugees, without discussing the reasons for their continued status as such, when all other refugee populations assimilated somewhere over fifty years. The fact that their evacuation of the land was voluntary, all of the wars against the Jews were promulgated by the Arabs, and that the only nation in the region who gives the Palistinians a fair shake is Israel, is completely missing from the book as well.

Twenty four years after the copyright of the book, a few items stand out as portents for the future of the "Palestinian" people. First, their two best friends, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, have gone a long way towards making the American polity an enemy of any group that wages Jihad using terrorist means, against any American ally or American electoral constituency. Another good sign is the resurgence of patriotic thought here. Funny what a mere few thousand murders of American innocents can do to change American resolve. The election of an American president who is not afraid to say, and to act on what he truly believes is refreshing as well, and a source for optimism in the heart of this conservative American Jew.

Said's main emphasis is the colonial nature of Israel and it's imperialist master, the United States. Recently in the Guardian's review of Said's latest book, they referred to him thus:
Said's main argument: that much of western scholarship and journalism on Asia and Africa helped, directly or not, western imperialists in "dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient" ... Said is billed mainly as the politically correct academic who accuses all western writers on the Orient of racist and imperialist bias.
If even the Guardian is growing ever so slightly apart from this academic windbag, there may be hope for the future of the Jews after all. If only the Palestinians would realize that they can not succeed in killing all of the Jews, or driving them into the sea, they might be able to make and live in peace. There is precious little evidence that such is the case. But little by little, reality seems to be appearing in the debate over the question of Palestine.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Google to Blogs: Get Lost

Well, maybe not. At least not yet. But the signs are unmistakable that the current predominance that blogs have in Google (and other search engines) results, is threatened with imminent demotion, if not actually coming to an end.

There is a pretty hot thread at Slashdot wherein many posters claim that they are tired of having results from blogs drowning out the primary sources that searchers are looking for. I never realized that so many tech-heads so dislike the blogosphere, but clearly, many of them do. This story has its origins in a statement made by Google CEO Eric Schmidt that 'Soon the company will also offer a service for searching Web logs, known as "blogs."' And logically, if Google offers a "service" that indexes blogs, the main Google index will not.

They did the same thing with Usenet, you may remember, and after a bit of an argument things are now fine with Usenet being separately indexed, but I wonder if these two things are similar at all. For one thing, how will Google, or anyone else, tell blogs from "primary sources?" Who is going to tell Andrew Sullivan or Stephen den Beste that they are not "primary sources?" What about James Lileks? Somehow I don't think that Eric Schmidt has really thought this thing out. How will he tell the difference, when the software is the same, the content is of the same type, and therefore the difference between the two sources is simply and purely subjective. Other than the economics, how is Daily Pundit different from the New York Times? Well, the Times keeps the letters page separate from the news and editorial pages, and Bill Quick works alone while the Quacks at the Times have an almost unlimited budget.

And how will this divorce be delineated? Let's look at the news aggregators, like InstaPundit and Drudge Report. Are they blogs or not? Who decides? I know to go there, but what about the newbies? How will they find blog content if it is in a separate index? How will they ever know to look there? (They have never discovered Usenet. Who searches Deja News anyway?) I guess that they will have to be satisfied with, what else? Google News!

If this comes to pass, it will be another instance of the Establishment keeping the people down, and I say that as a reactionary conservative, not some looney leftie. The great accomplishment of the Blogosphere is the freedom of writers to publish without being edited by a multinational media conglomerate, or, even worse, Howell Raines. In this marketplace of ideas, all words start out as equal. The readers, and the readers alone, decide what they will read. No editor (for better or worse) tells me what the write about, or what slant to put on the story. But now Google wants to tell the World that the body of work produced by, say, the Warbloggers, will not be mingled with the "approved" content from the editorial pages of the Times and the Guardian? Is Schmidt, a leftie kid who was a pure nobody a few short years ago, now empowered to hide our opinions behind a Google Tab? We shall see, boys and girls, but I don't think that this will come to pass, or the Blogosphere will go down without a fight. Who was it who said: "never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel?". I think that aphorism applies to us.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Bears Under Attack

"Activists sue U.S. Wildlife Service over the killing of bears" reads the headline in a news item. Apparently an environmental group is challenging a federal agency's policy of killing black bears that strip bark from young trees in timber plantations in western Oregon. I'm serious. It may sound like a joke, but it is rather the way that some do-gooders attempt to "protect" our "environment."

The Numbers: 110 out of 25,000 bears are killed each year in order to protect "more than one million dollars" worth of timber. I am often, when I contemplate such activities, driven to note the enormous wealth of our great nation. Like the "Million Dollar Salmon*", the amount of money that is spent on the protection of wildlife here is nothing short of amazing. This extreme affluence should make us all proud. Let both sides choose their weapons, and may the best man win!

* Million dollar Salmon: I have previously written extensively on the million dollar Salmon of SeaTac airport. Apparently the airport needed an additional runway. Environmental groups sued to stop the construction. A compromise was enacted in which Two Hundred and Ten Million dollars was spent in order to provide a reservoir that would facilitate continuous flow into a stream, the natural flow of which would be adversely impacted by the construction. This reservoir would protect the lives of approximately 200 salmon, thus the "Million Dollar Salmon" sobriquet was applied to the project by yours truly. Apparently, I am the only person in the State of Washington who did the math and realized that this project would cost ONE MILLION DOLLARS PER SALMON. In the local papers it was reported that since this would be federal dollars, and that if the project was not constructed the federal government would merely not spend, and therefore keep, the $210,000,000.00, the project was, and I kid you not, the local papers reported, FREE!!! In case you care, the particular Salmon that were affected are not of a species that is on the endangered species list. These are just normal, meat salmon. You can be proud that your government is willing to spend over $40,000 per pound to preserve the habitat of these lucky fish. At about $2,000,000 per year to maintain the dams and regulate the water level in the stream, that amounts to $500 dollars per pound each year to support the lifestyles of these tasty morsels of Lox for the residents of Washington to put on their bagels. What a country!!!

Friday, May 02, 2003

Who Stands Alone

Eleven thousand soldiers lay beneath the dirt and stone,
all buried on a distant land so far away from home.
For just a strip of dismal beach they paid a hero's price,
to save a foreign nation they all made the sacrifice.

And now the shores of Normandy are lined with blocks of white,
Americans who didn't turn from someone else's plight.
Eleven thousand reasons for the French to take our side,
but in the moment of our need, they chose to run and hide.

Chirac said every war means loss, perhaps for France that's true,
for they've lost every battle since the days of Waterloo.
Without a soldier worth a damn to be found in the region,
the French became the only land to need a Foreign Legion.

You French all say we're arrogant. Well hell, we've earned the right--
We saved your sorry nation when you lacked the guts to fight.
But now you've made a big mistake, and one that you'll regret;
you took sides with our enemies, and that we won't forget.

It wasn't just our citizens you spit on when you turned,
but every one of ours who fell the day the towers burned.
You spit upon our soldiers, on our pilots and Marines,
and now you'll get a little sense of just what payback means.

So keep your Paris fashions and your wine and your champagne,
and find some other market that will buy your aeroplanes.
And try to find somebody else to wear your French cologne,
for you're about to find out what it means to stand alone.

You see, you need us far more than we ever needed you.
America has better friends who know how to be true.
I'd rather stand with warriors who have the will and might,
than huddle in the dark with those whose only flag is white.

I'll take the Brits, the Aussies, the Israelis and the rest,
for when it comes to valor we have seen that they're the best.
We'll count on one another as we face a moment dire,
while you sit on the sideline with a sign "friendship for hire."
We'll win this war without you and we'll total up the cost,
and take it from your foreign aid, and then you'll feel the loss.
And when your nation starts to fall, well Frenchie, you can spare us,
just call the Germans for a hand, they know the way to Paris.

Unknown Author