So I was thinking about why I haven’t blogging much lately (and why when I have it’s not been particularly substantial). I’m not really much busier, though blogging tends be lower priority than the various other ways I spend my free time these days.
The real reason is this: I have no clue about most of what’s going on. Yes, I could mock religious fundamentalists or random conservative stupidity, but it seems silly right now. I have opinions about the economy, but no confidence in them and little ability to discuss them in-depth. Current policy in Iraq and Afghanistan? I guess Iraq is going in the right direction and I’m increasingly dubious about whether there’s anything to accomplish there and if it’s even possible to accomplish that. Obama in general has been alright, but I’m not sure if I’d say he’s doing well. Still too early to tell, anyway.
So there you go. Navel-gazing is all I have left.
Since I’m such a slacker and haven’t posted at all this week, my fairly pedestrian thoughts on Norman Finkelstein’s lecture last night.
There were around 120 people in attendance, mostly students (obviously). Finkelstein spoke for about an hour and a half and then took questions for another forty five minutes. His talk was essentially a basic history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, nothing that I hadn’t heard before. It’s hard to do that in an hour and a half and Finkelstein spent most of his time talking about pre-1967 events. In what I’ve read of his work (a book and various interviews), he comes off as somewhat arrogant and combative. So it was surprising to me when he came off as pretty mild and conciliatory during his lecture. Aside from microphone trouble and some odd over-explanation (am I overestimating the student body when I say that he didn’t need to define caveat and quid pro quo?), he did quite well.
The question and answer period was pretty boring. He asked for “dissenters” to come up first, obviously used to people objecting strenuously to his statements. We only got one towards the end, though it was hard to tell if he was annoyed at what Finkelstein had said or was having trouble processing information that was so contrary to what he had heard before. His question led to the most interesting (to me) point of the night. He took issue with the practicality of refugees returning to Israel, the so-called “right of return” issue. Which is a genuine problem and Finkelstein’s response was that it’s unjust to refuse them such a right and that if Israel is going to do so, they need to make them an offer. An obvious position in retrospect, but it struck me because that’s an issue that I often dismiss out of hand because there’s simply no chance of Israel accepting a right of return.
So not the most interesting night, but a fairly unique one for this campus. He was brought here by a couple of students from Gaza, which should answer the question of why we would get someone like Finkelstein.
According to posters on campus, Norman Finkelstein will be speaking at MSU next Wednesday about Israel/Palestine.
I can’t say I expected this to ever happen. I wonder what his reception will be?
Michael Ledeen thinks we should be worried about Iranian diplomats in Nicaragua. Iran has “easy entry” into the U.S. from there the article he links states that Iran uses Hizbollah to attack its enemies from their embassies, so clearly they’re gearing up for a proxy war against us.
I assume Ledeen’s next post is going to be about how we need to start covertly funding counter-revolutionaries to destabilize Ortega’s government, which is just a
Soviet Iranian proxy. Luckily, he’s just the person to connect us to some Islamic radicals we can sell weapons to to cover the cost.
Mark Hemingway is an idiot. That’s what I assume from this, anyway. He quotes this approvingly:
Abstinence-only education doesn’t actually exist. It’s a term used by critics of abstinence education rather than purveyors, who prefer, simply, abstinence education. The term “abstinence-only” attempts to create the perception that abstinence education is a narrow and unrealistic approach. While such loaded terms are to be expected of activists, the media usage of the term is regrettable.
Seriously? I thought the purpose of that term was to describe it accurately. Abstinence education is included in all sex educations programs. “Activists” object to programs that teach abstinence exclusively. They’re not against abstinence education. The unique feature is the “only” part of abstinence-only sex education. Conservatives want to try and hide behind inaccurate language and make their unrealistic social engineering scheme look less stupid.
There’s another quote in the article he cites that’s pretty interesting:
The liberal caricature of abstinence education is of school marms rapping the knuckles of teens and telling them—day after day—not to have sex. In fact, a review of curricula for abstinence education programs shows surprisingly little about sex—and a lot about building self-esteem, understanding risky behavior, finding responsible partners, and growing a family.
I don’t know, I though most of us were aware that these people try to dress up their lies with supposedly engaging activities. I had to sit through a presentation promoting abstinence alone in high school (this was separate from our normal sex ed class, which also included abstinence). It certainly wasn’t school marms imploring us to not have sex, but it was still absurd.
I can’t believe conservatives are still on this bandwagon. Oh wait, yes I can. They love to use the phrase “social engineering” to describe liberal social programs, but they’re all too happy to try out common sense-defying schemes when their magic book says so. Never mind that we know they don’t work. If we just close our eyes and wish hard enough (also known as praying), human nature will magically change! Any time now. Really.
I got 296/400, which CAP says is “very progressive.” Who knew?
Jonah Goldberg’s own readers think he’s an idiot. Awesome.
(I’m referring to his update, not the sarcastic email)
And while you’re at it, there’s this.
The Vatican attempts to defend itself from atheists:
“We believe that however creation has come about and evolved, ultimately God is the creator of all things,” he said on the sidelines of the conference.
But while the Vatican did not exclude any area of science, it did reject as “absurd” the atheist notion of biologist and author Richard Dawkins and others that evolution proves there is no God, he said.
“Of course we think that’s absurd and not at all proven,” he said. “But other than that … the Vatican has recognized that it doesn’t stand in the way of scientific realities.”
Do these people not pay attention? I’ve never read anything by Dawkins that says evolution disproves the existence of gods. He does say that evolution is an explanation of the the history of life that doesn’t require a god. That’s what his “intellectually fulfilled atheist” comment means. The Vatican can say a god gave us souls at some point or kicked off the process, but such a claim isn’t a worthwhile explanation of anything in the history of life.