Sunday, June 29, 2008

Shahar downs Dinara

From the Wimbledon site:

Congratulations to Shahar Peer for her win over Dinara Safina.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

divine hands

Detail of Kwan Yin figure, Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
photo by Akuppa @ flickr

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the bit of us that made God

The tragedy of modern atheism is to have ignored just how many aspects of religion continue to be interesting even when the central tenets of the great faiths are discovered to be entirely implausible. Indeed, it’s precisely when we stop believing in the idea that gods made religions that things become interesting, for it is then that we can focus on the human imagination which dreamt these creeds up. We can recognise that the needs which led people to do so must still in some way be active, albeit dormant, in modern secular man. God may be dead, but the bit of us that made God continues to stir.

from Alain de Botton: A Religion For Atheists

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a natural tragedy

Through no fault of their own, the Regev, Goldwasser and Schalit families have become the mouthpieces of Hizbullah and Hamas. This is as natural as it is tragic.

The moment their sons were abducted, the Schalit, Regev and Goldwasser families also became prisoners. In constant agony over the fate of their sons, these families are incapable of acknowledging the cruel and devastating fact that the safety of three soldiers cannot be placed above Israel's national security. In their unmitigated suffering, they cannot come to terms with this horrible fact because for them the country, and indeed the world, is made up of their loved ones. This is the natural human condition. Each person's world is defined by the presence and absence of his loved ones. For the Goldwassers, Regevs and Schalits, Israel is a meaningless, cold, dark place when it doesn't include their sons Ehud, Eldad and Gilad.

And it is precisely for this reason that they cannot be allowed to dictate policy. It is precisely for this reason that the only ones who can responsibly weigh Israel's options for releasing them are those who are not personally affected by their plight.

Caroline Glick: Not a personal affair

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new world confusion

Frankfurter Rundschau 25.06.2008

Arno Widmann witnessed a memorable meeting at Schloss Elmau, between Tariq Ramadan, the controversial voice of European Muslims, and Jürgen Habermas, the "leading theorist of the new world confusion." Extremely impressed by Ramadan, Widmann was inspired to consider whether German Jews were not the first Germans. "Most Germans saw themselves as Hesseners, Frankfurters, Bavarians, Pfalzians rather than Germans. The Jews were not given the opportunity to see themselves as Bavarians. They wanted to be Germans. Perhaps Europe is in a similar situation today. The Irish are first and foremost Irish, the Danish are Danish, the Germans Germans and the Belgians are primarily Flemish or Walloon. Immigrants who are prevented from becoming Irish, Danes and Germans but who are called upon to be more European that Europeans ever were, have no option other than to become Europeans. They will be the first true Europeans. No Europe without Muslims."


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left-wing Muslims

Frankfurter Rundschau 23.06.2008

In an interview with Michael Hesse, French Islam expert Olivier Roy locates the origins for the radicalisation of young Muslims not in Islam but in Western politics: "The West thinks that Islam is the root of radicalisation, so we automatically see Bin Laden as the trailblazer of the Muslim world. We should really be fighting him as a terrorist, not as a Muslim. Young Muslims do not become terrorists because they read the Koran or frequent a mosque. They do it for effect. They are the true heirs to the ultra left-wing groups of the 1970s: obsessed with America and Wall Street, they are more anti-imperialist than any proponent of Sharia. You only need to look at the videos of the hostage decapitations in Iraq to see that they are replicating the murder of Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades – this has nothing to do with the traditional Muslim imagination."


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a shameful prayer

From comments at the Dry Bones post on the anti-Israel Presbyterian Conference:
eidel said...
My mother (of blessed memory) always warned me;"scratch a goy and you'll find an anti-Semite."
I poo pooed her but life has shown me she was right.

avi said...
Just proves that despite supposedly enlightened policies and minds of the goyim, the only ones we Jews can rely on is god and other Jews. We truly are alone in this world.

Arizona said...
What eidel and avi posted above, above goys being unreliable as allies, is quite untrue on an *individual basis*. I'm a post-Christian goy (even a neo-gnostic) and I'm 100% behind Israel. I would lay down my life for Israel if I thought it would really help. However, what eidel and avi have said is sadly quite true on a *group basis*. The major non-Jewish groups that could be and should be defending Israel are just not doing it. They include the UN and the EU but also the US. Bush, I think, remains personally loyal but Rice has sold out and the polls indicate that the US people at large will vote in Obama who will surely not defend Israel.

I was moved to tears when I recently read Hillel Halkin's "Israel's Lonely Last Resort", moved because I just know he's not exaggerating. In political terms, Israel is alone and I can but pray that she has the strength to get through all this alone. It is not a hopeless prayer but it is a deeply shameful one.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

calico ghost town

photo by florenzkalvarec @ flickr


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

...but somebody has to do it

The post title is the Jerusalem Post title of the following NY Sun article by Hillel Halkin [my emphasis]:

So now it's official. The Israeli air force is in an advanced stage of training to attack Iranian nuclear installations. If the massive overflight of the eastern Mediterranean by Israeli jets earlier this month was indeed the "dress rehearsal" for such an attack that it has been called, it was a rehearsal to which the public was invited - or at least, the intelligence agencies of the countries that tracked the operation on their radar screens.

You don't, of course, conduct such an operation when you have already decided to strike; at that point, the more secrecy, the better. You conduct it when you don't want to strike and think your only hope of avoiding it is to convince the world that you will do it unless you are given a good reason not to. This month's air maneuvers, it might be said, were Israel's plea to the world to be shown that such a reason exists.

But the world is not going to oblige. The same countries that were too short-sighted and greedy to do anything significant about stopping the Iranian nuclear-bomb program ten, five, or two years ago, when oil prices were low and Iran were vulnerable to economic and diplomatic pressures, are not about to lift a finger now. Even a year ago, when climbing oil prices had already ruled out the economic feasibility of an embargo on Iranian oil, a sudden freeze on Iran's assets and funds by Western governments could have caused the Iranian leadership to think twice. Now, while these governments have predictably wasted yet another year by jawing toothlessly away about the need for sanctions, Iran has reportedly transferred most of those assets and funds elsewhere.

NOR IS President Bush likely to leave the White House in a blaze of penetration bombs by ordering a last-minute American attack on Iran. The Republican Party wants to win the November election, and the president knows that Americans fighting in another Middle-Eastern country and $200-or-more-a-barrel oil is not going to help. Bush has talked more bravely about stopping the Iranians than any other Western leader, but what he has not done until now will not be done before his term is over - unless, that is, he chooses to do it between the elections and his successor's inauguration in January, which would be a historically unprecedented use of lame-duck power that is hard to imagine.

And John McCain? If elected, he might be Israel's last chance of not having to go it alone. But McCain himself doesn't know at this stage what he would do, and he is currently behind in the polls. Barack Obama would be only slightly more likely to attack Iran than Vladimir Putin. He has already made it clear that he would rather talk to the Iranians than fight them, and they will be delighted to discuss with him any subject he chooses while the centrifuges go on spinning in Natanz.

Of course, even a President Obama, let alone a President McCain, might be supportive of an Israeli attack should it take place. In general, as evidenced by the muted international response to the Israeli air exercise, the list of countries that might not mind seeing Israel stick it to the Iranians is a long one. Besides the US, it might include quite a few European states and even some Arab ones. As long as they themselves don't have to run the risk of a) military failure, b) retaliatory Iranian missile and terror attacks, and c) being blamed for astronomical oil prices, plenty of governments would permit themselves a hidden smile of satisfaction while voting to condemn an Israeli attack at the United Nations.

ISRAELIS HAVE every right to feel anger at such hypocrisy. True, a nuclear Iran would be more of a menace to them than to others, but it would be a menace to nearly everyone. There is something genuinely revolting about a world that preaches the need for peacefully dissuading the Iranians from developing atomic weapons while knowingly practicing a policy that in the end leaves Israel no choice but to send its planes into the air.

Israelis also have the right to feel fear. A lot could go wrong with an attack on Iran. Iranian targets could be missed or insufficiently damaged; dummy objectives could be hit while the real ones are kept secret in the earth; Israeli planes could be shot down and Israeli pilots taken hostage; Israeli towns and cities could come under heavy missile and rocket fire not just from Iran, but from Lebanon, Gaza, and even Syria; Israeli casualties could run into the many thousands.

Anyone who thinks that Israel is straining at the leash to get at the Iranians has not the slightest conception of its society. Israelis are good and scared of attacking Iran, as they should be. They are just even more scared of an Iran that could annihilate them, as Iranian leaders have repeatedly said they would love to do.

But Israelis also have the right to feel pride - pride not only that they have one of the few air forces in the world with the military capability to stop Iran, but also that history has chosen them, even if they would rather it had chosen someone else, to be in the front ranks of the campaign.

Even now, it is not too late for them to hope that they will have partners. And if it is not a hope that has much to lean on, at least this time Jews can lean on themselves.

Hillel Halkin: Israel's Lonely Last Resort

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Monday, June 23, 2008

remaking our gods

to Janusz S. Kowalik
Reader comment on article: The Enemy Has a Name
in response to reader comment: To Anne Julienne

Submitted by Anne Julienne (Australia), Jun 21, 2008 at 18:48

Your desire for "the total or nearly total secularization of the planet" is not realistic. Some parts of Europe are highly secularized (only 10-20% religious in France, Germany, etc) but most of the world is not like that and Europe is, in any case, succumbing to Islam in a slow and steady process of appeasement, demographic decline, and post-modern uncertainty. The current situation requires nothing less than that we remake our gods and especially our attitudes to our gods so that both the secular and the religious, both the Christians and the Muslims, can live in peace. Eliminating the one or the other from the equation is not gonna work, bloodshed or no bloodshed.


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liberté, égalité, fraternité

A posting at the Sydney Atheists message board:

Hi Ansgar

Thanks for your thoughts on that article. I posted it in resources as the original article seemed a good summing up and I also thought German-speaking people might enjoy the original in German.

A couple of days ago and out of curiosity, I attended a church service at the Anglican cathedral. I was brought up Roman Catholic and had never attended Protestant church services, so I'm curious to see how it is there. I was appalled. It was like nothing had changed since I was 16 and walked out of my own church. The people there seemed to me to be alien, as if coming from another planet.

When I read accounts of, for example, an atheist's encounter with a Jehovah's Witness person, I get a similar impression. It's like talking to an alien.

My apologies for giving a wrong impression of the article but Habermas gives quite a bit of space to what needs to be done from the religious side. He points out the liberal developments in the Christian churches and expects that, in time, something similar will happen for Islam. Patience is needed for coercion would likely slow things down rather than speed things up.

He seems to me to be a European secularist writing to other European secularists, so it makes sense that his main message urges a change in consciousness on their part.

I fully agree with his conclusion as an ideal - and it matters not what label is attached to that ideal. I just can't see it in myself and nor, in your own post, can I see it in you. Talk of deity makes sense for you when translated into secular language. This is a kind of reductionism, closely akin to material reductionism: oh, the soul and consciousness make perfect sense once you see them as ("mere") epiphenomena of brain functioning. How often do you hesitate and wonder how secular language makes sense in or can be likewise translated into metaphysical language?

It sounds to me like a German speaker talking to an English speaker and showing off how well he can translate the English into German (while the English speaker is slyly doing the same in reverse, of course). The German is confident that one day only German will be needed as the English will become obsolete (this because German is clear and precise while English is thoroughly bastardized). Likewise, the Englishman expects the German language to die out (this because it is now a minority language soon to be taken over, in any case, by Turkish or Arabic).

Seriously, Ansgar, do you see any real future for the religious mindset and its language? Do you have any real sense of égalité with theists?

Sure, you would uphold liberté by defending theists' rights to self-expression (except when lapsing into attempts at disrupting a Pope's visit). Sure, you would uphold fraternité by acknowledging that you feel hunger, thirst, lust, drowsiness, ambition, self-loathing, wonder, hope, despair, etc, etc, just like any other human being, religious or otherwise. But honestly, can you make a claim for égalité? Can any of us make such a claim?

Doesn't the future lie with those who will know how to survive the next holocaust (planetoid impact, flood, plague, earthquake, war, cold war, whatever) while the past will become the dustbin for the dinosaurs who cannot? Don't we, each and every one of us, believe we are privileged to belong to the future?


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

quatrain 97

From Sunlight, three interpretations of Quatrain 97:

Our drunkenness does not come from wine.
The joy of our gathering
does not come from the harp or rubaab.
With no celestial beauty to fill our cup,
Without friends, without singing, without wine,
We burst out like madmen,
rolling drunk on the floor.

version by Jonathan Star and Shahram Shiva

We don't need wine to get drunk,
or instruments and singing to feel ecstatic.
No poets, no leaders, no songs,
yet we jump around totally wild.

version by Coleman Barks

i don't really need wine
to get drunk
i don't really need music
to feel delight
without a wine pal
music and dance
i'm intoxicated
happy and gone

trans Nader Khalili

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Wimbledon what if

The top three tennis ranks could change considerably depending on the outcome at Wimbledon in the next two weeks.

The biggest plausible change is this:
Hewitt defeats Federer and Nadal wins the tournament. Nadal then #1 on 6055 and Federer #2 on 6050.

More plausible is this:
Djokovic defeats Federer and goes on to win, defeating Nadal at the final. Federer remains #1 on 6350, Djokovic now #2 on 5910 and Nadal #3 on 5755.

Also plausible:
As above but Nadal beats Djokovic in the final. Federer remains #1 on 6350 with Nadal at #2 on 6055 and Djokovic at #3 on 5610. This would put just one tournament win between the top three players.

Djokovic could only reach the #1 ranking if he won and Federer went down in the 1st round, a highly unlikely scenario.

This narrowing of ranking points makes for an exciting Wimbledon ahead.


if the truth be told

Two different world views
Reader comment on article: The Enemy Has a Name

Submitted by Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai (India), Jun 20, 2008 at 00:44

Dr. Pipes could be trying to pinpoint the enemy, Islamism, but would be missing the wood for the trees.

Radicals are acting like an army committed the protect the civilians, the moderates.

Both have their roles cut out. And still both are part of one society.

When the chips are down, Muslim world unites at different levels with remarkable speed and unity of mind and purpose. The more Muslim world is subjected to stress and trauma, the more it reacts out of a sense of self-preservation.

Bush's war on terror was more of an imperialist campaign to conquer the world that remained to be conquered. So there was no reason to restrict its focus to one face. For Bush, the enemy has many faces. Under the circumstance, Dr. Pipes' analysis is reduced to a narrow selfserving proposition.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai


Thank you, Ghulam
Reader comment on article: The Enemy Has a Name
in response to reader comment: Two different world views

Submitted by Anne Julienne (Australia), Jun 20, 2008 at 18:12

You've expressed the truth as seen by a Muslim in a few well chosen words.

To me, as a non-Muslim, your view fails to explain sep 11 and fails to acknowledge that Bush's wars were a response to that unprovoked attack. Through incidents like the Rushdie novel and the Danish cartoons, we now know that Muslims feel threatened or "subjected to stress and trauma" at the very slightest of slights.

We in the West will not continue to tread carefully as if on egg shells. We in the West might be more capable of uniting against Islam than you give us credit for. Good clear statements disclosing the Muslim mentality are useful to us.

So, thank you for your comment.


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litmus test

Acceptance of Israel is an excellent litmus test but ... what to do with all of those non-Muslim mostly Leftist anti-Semites who don't pass the test either?

It's bad that most of the Muslim world is anti-Israel but it's even worse that so many in our midst are allied with them on this point. Perhaps "Islamism" is not a full enough description of the enemy after all.

For me, as a non-Jewish (and lapsed Christian) Zionist, Israel is the thing that should define us all. It is the great moral issue of our time and the great test that God (however understood) has set us. We stand or fall as a decent humanity on how we view Israel and on how much or how little we are prepared to tolerate the existential threats to her, whether they come from a mad Iranian president or a mad Jew-hater closer at hand.


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Thursday, June 19, 2008

bye bye Küng

“They do not recognize themselves in our picture of Islam, because they want to be loyal citizens of the Islamic religion,” says [Küng], calling for fairness in the condemnations by the West. “Those who make Islam responsible for kidnappings, suicide attacks, car bombs and beheadings carried out by a few blind extremists ought at the same time to condemn Christianity or Judaism for the barbarous maltreatment of prisoners, the air strikes and tank attacks carried out by the US Army - several 10,000 civilians have been murdered in Iraq alone - and the terrorism of the Israeli army of occupation in Palestine.”

source via dhimmiwatch

That's it for me: Hans Küng has lost any shred of respect I might have had for him. This obnoxious moral equivalence between Islamic acts of supremacist and racist terrorism and Israel's reasonable security measures, this is totally abhorrent to me. The man is mad, quite quite mad.

Here is one of the better comments from the common man at dhimmiwatch:
I have nothing but a high school diploma (which they probably gave to me out of pity), and even I can immediately see where this professor is going wrong. As Spencer said, there's no theological basis for the US Army's actions or how prisoners are treated in Guantanamo Bay. I also like how he uses the term "murder" to describe collateral damage in Iraq.



Monday, June 16, 2008

third Jesus

I've just finished reading Deepak Chopra: The Third Jesus (Rider, 2008). I think he has a nice idea when he identifies the third Jesus as the one we receive and understand in contrast to the first or historical Jesus and the second Jesus of theological dogma. Chopra understands this third Jesus a little more specifically as a teacher wishing to show others the path to God-consciousness. So Jesus as Chopra's hero is clearly Chopra himself.

I found the endless talk of God-consciousness a little tedious by about a quarter of the way through the book but I plowed ahead to give the author his due. In the end he was not convincing, not to me. I think it comes down to a question of language. Does the expression "God-consciousness" really lead us to a greater clarity as to what Jesus was trying to teach? For me, no. It's too cumbersome an expression. I think I know Chopra better from reading the book but I don't believe I know Jesus better.

I would like to see what Chopra makes of Mohammad. I guess he'll get around to that sooner or later.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

quatrain 77

From Sunlight, four interpretations of Quatrain 77:

Doing as others told me,
I was blind.
Coming when others called me,
I was lost.

Then I left everyone,
myself as well.
Then I found everyone,
myself as well.

version by Jonathan Star and Shahram Shiva

for awhile
i chose myself to adore
losing me in me
i deserved no more
it seemed i couldn't
see myself
yet i knew
when i stepped out
then me and myself
i beheld

trans Nader Khalili

For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.
From within, I couldn't decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name being called.
Then I walked outside.

version by Coleman Barks

Imitating others,
I failed to find myself.
I looked inside and discovered
I only knew my name.
When I stepped outside
I found my real Self.

trans Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

a prayer for victory

These are terrible times for world Jewry. Islamic Jew-hatred is genocidal. The international Left has betrayed us. Our leaders are weak. Our friends are few and far between.

If we wish to persevere in this environment we must embrace those who support us while eschewing those - even in our own ranks - who tell us that support for Israel is conditional. Now is not the time to quibble over Christian theology. Now is the time to stand united with our friends against our common enemies.

from Caroline Glick: Jews united for Israel's friends

As one of the "few and far between", I pray that the Jews of the world will listen to this lady. May she gain victory over those ideologues, especially those Jewish ideologues, who would sacrifice Israel to anything short of the Very Ultimate.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

the secrets

A couple of additional translations of quatrain 1411, originally under the best joy.

I can't let you know
all the secrets
I can't open to you
all the doors
there is something inside
that makes me happy
but I can't put my finger
on its source

trans Nader Khalili

The secrets are bursting inside me
but to give them away and
expose them to mockery, I cannot.
Something inside me is bursting with joy
but to put my finger on it, I cannot.

trans Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi

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