Saturday, December 15, 2007

The War Between the Sexes -- To the Benefit of Whom, Exactly?

In the not so distant future, women may be "farmed" for the purposes of pleasing men, according to Angry Harry, a men's right activist (someone whose attitudes I don't share, but will respond to below).
If anything, the chances are not so much that women will take over the planet and exterminate the men, but that men will start to 'farm' women for their very own purposes - just like they currently do with cows.

And, quite frankly, unless women in the west get their act together and start supporting men rather than making enemies out of them by supporting divisive feminists who do little more than continually stir up hatred toward them, and who, therefore, also undermine the whole well-being of their very own societies, then they shall surely deserve to be tamed, domesticated and harvested for the good of the planet, and, of course, for the contentment and happiness of the men who dwell upon it!

He's talking about Harems, basically.

And Harems have, unfortunately, been a feature of many human societies for millennia, and they are nothing I'd like to see return, in any form.

I don't agree with the author's mean-spirited attitude nor his small-minded approach.

But I do think I've observed that in societies where only a small elite have any power, where both men and women are mostly "little people" with little wealth, or ability to protect themselves and their families on their own, women are more likely to....
  1. Think their men are contemptible and useless, and treat them accordingly
  2. Offer themselves sexually to powerful people in the hierarchy, in order to advance their family's fortunes
  3. Be "protected" as part of a Harem, in societies that allow polygamy
Due to #1, the humiliated men may take this out violently on the women, even push for laws limiting womens' power. This may make them feel better to think how "powerful" they are, but it still leaves them powerless (and still humiliated) in front of more powerful men regarding #2 and #3.

I have long thought that this is less an issue about "men vs women" than it is about how if one group of people looks to an existing power hierarchy to help it "bash" a second group of people, rather than simply standing up for its own freedom and defense and establishing a free and fair playing field, BOTH groups end up as slaves to that power hierarchy.

"Feminism is the revolutionary notion that women should be treated like human beings". I believe that probably 97% of women in the West think like that (and most men), and that this, and equal treatment in law and society, as peers with men, is what their goal is.

However, there is some virulent man-hating practiced by some women (engendered to a great extent, of course, by socially institutionalized abuse of women in the past), and this is recognized and disapproved of by some prominent women in our society (see "Who Stole Feminism?").

I do feel that the peculiar encouragement and rewarding of such behavior by some in our government, seems almost intended to create the situation of mutual estrangement and weakness that I've described above.

Such a situation can only benefit a tiny power elite, which has historically been a group of men who exploit women for their own purposes... Stalin's USSR having been one of the most flagrant examples in a "modern" country.

I find such a situation disgusting to contemplate. I much prefer men and women free to operate independently, and to be able to cooperate on the basis of mutual benefit, mutual respect, with neither group being persecuted under the law to "please" the other.
"Never invite a foreign army into your country, because they will end up ruling it" -- Machiavelli

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Two Sad Days for EU Governance

Two EU whistleblowers lose in the EU court system, with chilling verdicts, and commentary, from EU officialdom: The cases of Bernard Connolly and Marta Andreasen.

Turkey is more democratic than the EU -- Daniel Hannan
If the EU were a country applying to join itself, runs a Brussels joke, it would be turned down for not being democratic enough.

The old saw is being vindicated anew by the EU’s treatment of Turkey. Ankara has been told that it must alter its legal code to permit criticism of Turkish nationality. Fair enough: while it’s none of our business to tell Turks how to order their internal affairs, the provision has always struck me as a demeaning one. Turkey should be above such touchiness.

But here’s the thing. While the EU hectors Ankara about its legislation, it is slowly building a corpus of Euro-law which proscribes criticism of the European Union. The clearest precedent has been the case of Bernard Connolly, a British Commission official who, out of office hours, wrote a book called The Rotten Heart of Europe, which criticised the single currency.

He was dismissed from his post for criticising the European project, and went on to challenge his former employers on grounds of free speech. When the Euro-judge — a Spaniard, as it happened — handed down his verdict, it contained a bone-chilling phrase. Freedom of speech, said the judge, was not an absolute right: “Criticism of the European Union, like blasphemy, lies outside its terms”.

Meanwhile, the EU has created the new offence of “xenophobia”. How, I wonder, might “xenophobia” be interpreted by a zealous Euro-integrationist? The Commission, for example, has already described opposition to the euro as “monetary xenophobia”.

Look at the whole business from Ankara’s point of view. Turkey is told to be more democratic by an organisation [the EU Commission] that is run by 27 unelected commissars and their accompanying apparat. It is ordered to face up to its past by a body that pretends to have been born out of a reaction against fascism, ignoring the Nazi and Quisling backgrounds of many of its founders. It is nagged about getting more women into politics, despite having elected its first female head of government 14 years ago — a landmark that 18 out of the EU’s 27 member states have yet to reach, let alone the European Commission, 20 of whose 27 members are men. It lectured about free movement by a European Union that continues, in breach of its repeated promises, to blockade the Turkish part of Cyprus.

My point is not that Turkey is always right. But the EU’s hypocrisy and heavy-handedness in the negotiations is causing even the most Westernised Turks to bristle. The Turko-sceptic majority in Brussels keeps dangling the prospect of a radicalised and orientalised Turanistan before us. If they carry on like this, they might just succeed in making their preposterous fears come true.

And a timely update of a related story that's been going on for a few years now.

Marta Andreesen, an EU official who went public with the information that the EU Commission is nearly $300M off in their accounting, has lost her whistleblowing case:

Her predecessor, EU Auditor Dougal Watt, went into hiding for some time a few years ago, for having revealed the same information. He'd received death threats... from members of the government, presumably. Who else's ox was being gored, if not theirs?
Commission officials have welcomed the judgment against Mrs Andreasen. "The court has now rejected Mrs Andreasen's claims and upheld our decision to dismiss her for misconduct. The commission is entitled to respect, trust and loyalty from its officials," said a spokesman.
How about, "The citizens of the EU are entitled to accountability, transparency and respect from their government" ?
The commission claims that Mrs Andreasen broke internal rules of "hierarchy" by going to the press and MEPs with her concerns over standards of EU accounting.

"Her allegations were not new and were rather general. And to be a whistleblower you have to respect certain channels," one official said.
Arrogant, smug, and blithely self-contradictory.

That sort of attitude on the part of the EU goverment, including its local minions where I lived (for several years, as a non-citizen) has much to do with my having decided not to remain there.

Is this what is meant when we are told Europe is more civilized than the US?

I had thought that being ruled by smug, condenscending, vindictive unelected poobahs was something that civilized countries sought to put behind them.

Apparently the truth about being "civilized" is more complex than that... something we peasants can't be expected to understand, naturally.

The School Shooting in Finland

Finnish gun law:
"The ownership and use of firearms is regulated by the Firearms Act of 1998.Firearms can only be obtained with an acquisition license, which can be applied for at the local police for €32. A separate license is required for each individual firearm and family members can have parallel licenses to use the same firearm. According to law, the firearms must be stored in a locked space..."
These are tighter controls than in most US states.

Someone writes:
I'm quite sure guns are not allowed in schools (what country are they allowed in?).

Switzerland for one.

Where, interestingly enough, we rarely if ever hear of a school shooting, and crime rates are quite low (far lower than gun-free Britain, in fact).

Who would try to shoot up a school where the staff can be armed?

The US was once constituted in the same way, in most jurisdictions... school shootings in the US became a visible problem only after a federal law was passed some years ago that forbade guns on school grounds.

What maniac can resist a building full of defenseless children and adults?

As the EU began to emerge as a political union, a condition of membership in this new club was a tightening of member countries' gun laws (in some cases they were already strict, in others, less so). I believe the restrictive 1998 Finnish law is an artifact of that process.

Create a corral full of defenseless people, and you can guarantee that sooner or later a maniac will show up to harm them, with or without a gun.

If they show up with a gun, some politicians will use this as a pretext for further "reasonable" gun control measures (and other "protective" powers), creating more defenseless people in the process (except for the politicians, of course, who get armed guards, but their lives are worth more than those of mere peasants).

As crime (including shootings) climbs, the cycle continues.

In whose interest could such seemingly counterproductive laws be? Whose indeed:

Such concerns are among those that have led Switzerland and Norway NOT to join the EU.

Both countries have similarly unrestrictive gun laws, low crime, and few shootings. Much like most of the US, outside of a few crime and corruption hellholes like New York, Chicago, LA and DC, where legal guns are either banned or tightly restricted.

Norway, in addition, has had the experience prior to WWII of one of its politicians reassuring them they did not need their guns anymore, then inviting the Nazis in for a feast at the corral. (You can read about this politician by googling "Quisling". You can find out about the man, as well as the species of politician he represents, a species that is global in range and far from extinct).

Such lessons were not lost on the postwar Norwegians, though they seem to have been lost (or never considered) on the part of some other folks.

Friday, November 2, 2007

What is an aristocrat?

An aristocrat....

... is someone who thinks they are entitled to privileges other people don't have

... thinks the world owes them a living

... asserts, haughtily, that others should legitimately be expected to "sacrifice" for the sake of the aristocrat's agenda

... has usually risen to power by riding the coattails of and/or sucking up to an existing power hierarchy, rather than through any real-world skills

... has very likely never worked a real job in his/her life

... doesn't like the idea of people being able to prosper without their approval and/or largesse

... thinks that "leadership" consists of forcing their countrymen do what the aristocrat wants without argument or recourse

... thinks that "leadership" of their countrymen legitimately includes yelling, coercion and threats

... considers it an insult to have their pronouncements challenged, or to be asked to explain or debate them

... thinks he/she should be able to silence people whose opinions they don't agree with

... thinks it's OK to force other people to follow rules they don't deign to follow themselves

Why would anyone want to give more political power to people like that?

You don't think Stalin qualifies as an aristocrat? Re-read the list above, then read about his life. I recommend Simon Sebag Montefiore's "Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar"

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Value of "Borat"

[Originally published Wed Mar 21, 2007]

A few days ago, I finally rented "Borat".

Never before to my recollection have I turned off a film in anger. But I did this time. Just after the "Dining Society" scene. I tried watching some more this evening, but stopped again after the guy's antique shop got busted up.

Some here may recall that a while back, I posted in support of the idea of this film, which among other things, tweaks the noses of a number of cultures that have been, and in some cases still are, openly and unrepentantly anti-Semitic, and does it right in their front yards.

This, in my view, is a Good Thing. And the "Running of the Jew"? An absolutely brilliant scene. It deserves to be propagated as a viral video.

What I object to, and finally could no longer bear to watch, was all the collateral damage to people who seemed entirely decent, and undeserving of such abuse. I felt particularly awful knowing that the station manager who let him on the air got fired for it, and I felt dreadful for the etiquette teacher and the dining party.

I still do. And I am still furious and sad on their behalf.

But after thinking about this for a few more days, I think I see a unique value in this film, though it comes at a cost of "collateral damage" that may have been too high for some of the victims.

Most of us are aware at an intellectual level, at least, of what it must have been like for Holocaust victims, and Jews (and those similarly oppressed) down the centuries, living as second- or tenth-class citizens in societies where they could be abused at will.

Do you want to REALLY know the feeling of OUTRAGE, on a gut emotional level, of having one of your cherished holy places violated by an unspeakably insulting, boorish invader (as when the Nazis forced Jews to recite anti-Semitic propaganda in their own synagogues) ? Watch the rodeo scene of this film, particularly the ending where he does the national anthem.

Do you really want to know the feeling of outrage, of having a boorish invader come into your home and visit the most outrageous, humiliating scatological insults upon the kindly host? Watch the Dining Society scene.

Do you want to understand what it's like having such an invader randomly bust up your shop, and receive only insulting "apologies" in return, and compensation that (if it comes at all) is insufficient (as has happened to Jews and similarly oppressed minorities for centuries, in most parts of the world) ? Watch where the guy's shop gets busted up.

But here's the difference.

In the historical examples above, the victims felt compelled to be "nice" to the boorish, insulting invaders of their homes, shops and religious places, because if they did not, even worse acts were likely to follow.

In the film, the victims felt (initially) compelled to be nice because we are taught (rightly) to be at least initially tolerant of those whose ways may be different from our own.

In other words, the people in the film CHOSE to be nice. They weren't being nice in fear of their lives, as some people are, and have been in some times and places, obliged to be.

In our society the people being outraged could, and did, run the offenders off their property, in one case already having called the police. And they had an enforceable, legally recognized right to do it. And thank God for that.

The victims of Kristallnacht didn't have that option. Nor did the million or so Jews in various Middle Eastern countries who were run out of their shops and homes in those countries during the 20s, 30s and 40s (or in past centuries).

Now, imagine living in a society where you would have to put up with such outrages, QUIETLY AND WITHOUT PROTEST, FOR YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. No calling the sherriff. In fact, a lot of the time, he'd probably be the one doing the insulting, stealing and destroying.

Imagine having to quietly put up with things being stolen from you in front of your eyes. Your religious places desecrated and made filthy. Your goods damaged or destroyed without recourse. The sanctity of your home invaded. AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO, WITHOUT RISKING FURTHER OUTRAGE, DAMAGE OR DEATH. You just have to stand there and take it, your whole life. The same for your kids.

We all know that "low self esteem", and the stress of being bullied, are harmful to people, particularly children, both psychologically and physically. What kind of personal damage must such a situation do to those who must suffer it (not to mention the social impoverishment that seems to affect entire societies where such practices are tolerated) ?

Wouldn't YOU want to move away from such a life, if you could?

What I feel I have come away with from this film is just a sliver, a hint of the anger and outrage that some people must feel every day of their lives. Something that goes beyond an intellectual understanding of that experience, but a real gut, emotional blow. Leading, I feel, to more of a REAL understanding of what this sort of thing does to people.

Not just Jews, but French Protestants at time of the Huguenot massacres. Quakers in England 200+ years ago. The Chinese in many Asia-Pacific countries. Hindus in Africa. Armenians in Turkey. Turks in Bulgaria. Persians in Zanzibar.

All of these outrages are the product of societies where it is, for some reason, acceptable to "automatically" hate and oppress certain groups, and where there is no equal protection under the law. Societies where each group has its own (so-called) "protected" status. Societies which are, in effect, governed by Dhimmi law, whether that word is used or not.

I never did finish watching Borat. I feel that I have gotten the point. I didn't see the scene where he gets an enthusiastic ranch owner to agree that it should be possible to hunt Jews, but I know it's there, and I'm glad that person was exposed. I just can't bear to watch any more decent, innocent people getting caught up in the collateral damage.

But I'm glad I watched as much as I did.

And I'm glad I felt as outraged, angry and sad as I did. So much so that it took me days to understand why I was feeling what I felt.

Because now, I feel I have just the tiniest sliver of real EMOTIONAL understanding of something I have understood intellectually for a very long time.

And I'm grateful for the realization that, unlike people who must live with such things every day of their lives, I can turn off the movie. The victims in the film were, unlike those people, able to quite rightly run him off their property and out of their lives. In my view, it's so important to realize that not everyone has choices like that. And that's an awful thing.

Sacha Baron Cohen is not going to get any hugs from me. And I struggle with the question of whether "the ends justify the means" of having presented the message of his film given the collateral damage involved.

But I'm glad I saw the film. And I'm glad for the pain it caused me and the increased understanding I feel it brought.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Solving the Problem of "Chav Culture"

I have been seeing a lot of vitriol against "chav culture" in the UK (and similar such phenomena elsewhere), on and off and for some time.

What is a chav, you ask? Click here.

Not only do some people disapprove (as do I) of the rude, lazy, even violent nature of this latest and greatest version of yob culture, they let phrases like "shoot them all" or "put them in a ditch and burn them" slip past their lips.

Irrespective of how many people are actually serious about such views (few, I hope), I don't believe that the solution is, or can be, just hatin' on the chavs.

Rather than trying to "destroy" Chav culture, why not try to raise awareness among the Chavs and encourage them to improve their lot, as Malcolm X and the -- yes -- Nation of Islam did (and still do) for thousands in the US, who at one time or another might have been considered Chav-like?

Make no mistake -- I am no fan of Louis Farrakhan, nor of the hate he and some others in NOI have been known to espouse.

However, what NOI has done, and still does, is encourage people to stand up and regain their dignity, in both behavior and dress, to get educated, to be faithful within relationships, and hold their families together.

I think few people who've read Malcolm X's autobiography and the story of how NOI began, and the stark changes it made in many lives, can fail to be moved.

Don't want "radical" Islam in your town, you say? Well, I have nothing against Islam or Islamists (only violent sociopaths, who exist irrespective of religion), but it doesn't have to be Islam. It could just as well be Unitarianism or Buddhism, so long as the unifying principles of pride, dignity, education, family and self-improvement are preserved.

These are certainly values around which the Islamic community conspicuously gathers, and who can fault them for that?

And think of this. Do you think that immigrants from Islamic countries, of all ages, proud of their history, culture and religion, aren't sickened at the spectacle of Chavs, and even more sickened at the thought of becoming like them (or their children becoming like them) ?

Don't you think that a "radical" Islamic leader in the neighborhood, offering the local youth something of pride and dignity (and power), above the level of the goatlike Chav existence, might have a powerful effect among that set of youth, and possibly their elders as well?

Where is a more attractive alternative for them?

For some time now, I have thought what the Chavs and those like them need is someone like Malcolm X (Islamic or otherwise) to go in there and wake them up to their own pride and full potential.

After all, the Chavs didn't just spring out of the ground, and they're not made of fungus or anything else different from you and me.

They are the descendants of people who grew up in and inhabited one of the world's most powerful, most democratic, most literate and most ACCOMPLISHED countries.

Who will wake them up to their potential? We know it can be done.

We also have to consider who might not want them woken up, from neighborhood poobahs who prefer everyone ignorant and violent, or fearful and weak, to national poobahs who might want much the same.

Either way, IMO the solution is not destruction, deportation or extermination.

It is, rather, about awakening and standing up.

I'm not quite sure, either, why the use of a Bible should, in the eyes of some, be suspect in such an enterprise.

Whether you believe in God or not, it can't be denied that the book in question contains a lot of useful advice (not, perhaps, always to be taken literally), compiled over a period of 4,000 years in a place where life was generally not easy.

Handy life tips for people living in a harsh world, at any time or place.

Plus, you have the useful advice from a harsh world (Old Testament) combined with a reminder to love, forgive and "be excellent to each other" (New Testament).

Sounds like a winning combo to me.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Why Marriage?

Ideally (in my view) a marriage is a union between two people who want to spend the rest of their lives together, accompanied by legal support of various kinds that encourages them to do so, partly but not entirely to provide a stable environment to raise children, and to reduce (if not eliminate) the instance of fatherless children, the spread of sexual diseases, and societal unrest and violence due to sexual jealousy.

Unfortunately, in the past in most places and in the present in many, marriage has often been a legal excuse for a man to abuse a woman and get away with it.

Unfortunately, in many Western countries today, the pendulum has swung the other way, and marriage often means, for the man, "find someone you don't like and buy them a house, leave, and then pay them half your earnings for the rest of your life", which is also a distinctly abusive situation.

Somewhere, I think there is room for a legal structure that provides the (in my opinion) good bits from the first paragraph, while treating BOTH members of the arrangement as adults, and expecting adult, not-abusive behavior from both. This may involve mutually agreed "term limits" of 5, 10, 20 or so years.

Until such things are settled, the idea of marriage presents significantly scary prospects to one or both participants, and the notion of simply "living together" where the relationship is sustained by mutual benefit and respect (and just possibly love) may seem, and be, more attractive.

I do think marriage has good aspects and advantages, not least some of the ones from the first paragraph. It won't work, though, unless both people are willing to work at it, through thick and thin.

When that works, it's a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

On Fence-Sitting

People at both ends of our political spectrum are nuts -- Somebody

Surely it's more useful to engage with the substance of someone's opinions (of any portion of the spectrum) than to simply dismiss them with an insult?

Such statements have the whiff of fence-sitting, where the insulter adopts the convenient position of being able to dump derision on people who actually express an opinion, while not committing to any position him/herself.

Very gratifying for some folks, I'm sure, but not terribly useful for participating in the mechanisms of civic discussion and consensus.

There's also the commonly held notion that someone who feels the need to resort to insults is implicitly admitting they haven't a leg to stand on, when it comes to the merits of a discussion.

Of course, if one is sitting on a fence all the time, one's legs aren't being used much.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The continued destruction of a national education system

"Uneducated people are easier to govern" -- Saparmurat Niyazov, former dictator of Turkmenistan

UK Private schools must share teaching 'expertise'

So it's not enough that UK private schools must share their playing fields and sports facilities with children from state schools, after "New" Labour irresponsibly and mendaciously sold off state schools' sporting grounds to developers?

It's not enough that UK parents who send their children to private schools have to struggle to pay for that, on top of the tax money they pay to send other peoples' children to state schools?

The problem is not a lack of "expertise" in UK state schools. There are, and have been, plenty of knowledgeable, motivated people in the UK state school system.

The problem is that they are quite frequently crushed in any attempt to improve conditions in those schools. Rather a lot of them have also been the victims of violence from students, or thuggish parents, from whom the government refuses to protect them in any meaningful way.

Over the years, many have quit the system in despair, even moved overseas to teach in countries whose governments are somewhat more serious about running a functional educational establishment.

So now the UK government, having done what it can to cripple education in state schools, is doing ever more to crush it in independent schools.

If the UK government is serious about importing private school "expertise" into state schools, it will simply step aside and permit those skilled and motivated individuals working in state schools today to emulate the successes of private schools, rather than burdening the staff and teachers of the private schools with additional responsibilities to "help" a government that not only can't be arsed to help itself, but is in fact actively hostile to anyone being so helped.

However, I'm sure a few private schools will be spared this destructive tide, at least to some extent.

Those schools to which certain prominent "New" Labour leaders, in the style of US "limousine liberals", hypocritically send their own children.

Needless to say, similar situations exist in some other countries as well, or at least parts of them, whose politicians have similar attitudes.

I'm sure Mr Niyazov would approve.

Stories the SciFi channel SHOULD be filming

OK, great. The SciFi Channel produced the new Battlestar Galactica, Room 10, The Dresden Files, and Eureka. Class acts all. BG in particular makes up for many, many past sins.

But why, why on Earth are they still wasting precious airtime by also making and showing multiple films, repeatedly and ad nauseam, about giant reptiles, solar flares, volcanoes, and giant mummies?

But the worst, least forgivable offense is the SciFi's waste of precious sci-fi bandwidth for weekly broadcasting of Pro Wrestling. The mind reels.

There are still so many excellent scifi stories that have never been put to film. Why don't they devote resources to filming those?

Here are a few of my candidates:
  • Half Past Human, and The Godwhale, by T. J. Bass
  • Run for the Stars, and Santa Claus vs. S.P.I.D.E.R., by Harlan Ellison
  • The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • A proper version of The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
  • A Child of All Ages, by P. J. Plauger
  • Windhaven, by Holly Tuttle and George R. R. Martin
Oh well. At least they broadcast The Twilight Zone in the wee hours.

Smelling the early 60s

I have been smelling delightful aroma of the early 1960s. Possibly the late 1950s.

This happens whenever I go to the bowling alley.

You, too can experience this.
  1. Visit one of the many US bowling alleys that was built during the era above, and still has the vintage Jetsons-style ball-return equipment.
  2. Stand just above the place where the ball comes out (where the little conveyor belt carries it up from below), and take a whiff of the air coming out.
  3. You will catch the delightful odor of woodwork, machinery, and oil that has been in place down there since that time.

Is today's UK toxic to "Lunar Men"?

The original "Lunar Men" of pre-Victorian England, celebrated for their genius, curiosity and inventiveness:

Over the past few years, I've formed the opinion that in today's UK, people like the "Lunar Men" are, to an unusual extent in a modern country, feared, reviled and despised by the power structure. The official, and increasingly popular, tendency is to undermine such people and "put them in their place" wherever possible.

Recent real-world examples of (what are arguably) the effects of their absence or inhibition:

I've long felt that much of what's happening in the UK today is a striking (if not surprising) parallel to the events in Atlas Shrugged, a book written many decades ago.

I'm sure it's purely a coincidence that the notion of even reading that book gets slammed so often in the popular media...

Enabling torture, rape and mutilation [Warning: Graphic]

News item: New York woman, denied protection by NYC police, is permanently disfigured by rejected suitor

News item: In Bangladesh, women disfigured by rejected suitors; Infant forced to drink acid, horribly disfigured

News item: Women and other vulnerable persons beg for help from police, are refused, raped, beaten. Court rules that police had no legal duty to protect

News item: A woman in Iran faces execution for defending herself and her niece against rapists

These and similar items are detailed in the following links. Beware, there are some alarming graphics.

Disfigurement of children is particularly horrific, and not unknown as a method for thuggish men to inflict punishment on women who don't do what the thugs want.

What these stories have in common is that defenseless victims (usually, but not always, women) are not protected by the authorities, while at the same time being denied the means to defend themselves and their loved ones independently of such protection.

We seem to hear of such stories far more often from places where people are denied the right and the means to legally defend themselves.

And that's not surprising. If a cowardly thug wishes to throw acid into a woman's face, or force her 1-month-old infant to drink it, will he feel more, or less, empowered to do so in a jurisdiction where the woman might be armed, with a legal right to use the weapon on him if he's violent?

The acid-throwing parallel between the NYC and Bangladesh stories is IMO particularly enlightening. It illustrates very clearly that "gun control", and a general denial of legal means and right to self-defense, represent the most primitive, unjust and despicable sort of 3rd world "governance".

In my view, people who consider themselves liberal and enlightened, yet support "gun control", should have a good long think about the implications of their position.


On identifying and developing one's personal gifts

I'm convinced that everyone has at least one "gift", in terms of a talent or skill that's both above the norm, and gives its "owner" pleasure to exercise.

It may be singing, painting, drawing, a musical instrument, motorcycle jumping, entertaining, writing, public speaking, computer architecture, marine architecture, sculpture, soldiering, cooking, hairdressing, biology, political leadership, healing, or just being excellent with animals or children.

I am also convinced that rather too many people are never encouraged and/or given a chance to try to identify what these gifts are, or to exercise them.

The older I get, the more I realize what a sad, even terrible, thing that is.

It's not that there's necessarily a professional niche for every person's gift, or that someone gifted in one area might not want to have a "day job" in another (unless they DO find their professional gift niche, of course), but the idea of a gift never being developed or used is really abhorrent to me.

I know a few people who I think have had this happen to them. In one case, the person was encouraged to become a doctor even though he didn't want to be one. He was OK at it, but hated the profession. I'm not sure what his other talents might have been, but when I compare that with people who aspire to be doctors in order to help people (some of whom I've known), it just about makes me weep thinking about it.

Someone else I know who never wanted anything else in her life than to become a homemaker, mother and loving wife, was pressured very hard to become a sparkly high-society trophy wife and Culture Vulture, and when she resisted that, was cruelly abused and then dumped. (She was a great, if somewhat sad, mother, by the way. I know her kids. Her ex, who is now lonely and bitter, really missed out.)

I know someone else who, from the best of personal intentions and with open eyes, went into a technical field. During uni, that person was in the informal choir for a few years. During the voice tryouts, the music dept. chairman quite gravely told the person they had a professional-quality voice, and they should continue developing it. The person, deciding there were already too many struggling musicians in the world, decided to stick with the "day job". He's been pretty good at it over the years, but his heart's not in it. He's actually thinking of trying to get into voice-over work now, as a sideline at least. Better late than never, I guess.

I am aware of some other examples. Never developing a gift is sad enough, but actually suppressing it is horrible. And it seems to twist people into some pretty nasty shapes sometimes.

Bring out the gifts, I say! Bring back parties with the participants singing and playing instruments, rather than listening to the dang CD player! Get the kids that are obsessed with drawing in school in front of an art teacher. Get the clownish ones in front of a drama teacher.

And for God's sake don't get into the wrong field if you can help it.

And if you do, for God's sake exersize dat gift on da side! Exclamation Cool

It's not about "races", it's about behavior

I would really, really like to see race dropped as the criterion for pretty much anything... unless it's effective and just re-adjustment of the results of of previous racial prejudice... aka Affirmative Action, which I think has (in the US) pretty much accomplished what it set out to do.

Racial prejudice makes us unjustly suspicious of good people who mean us no harm, and whose friendship and support might benefit us (and vice versa.)

Racial prejudice can make us unduly trusting of abusive or even monstrous people who happen to look and/or speak like us.

Overcorrecting for racial prejudice (reverse discrimination) makes us accept horrible behavior from some people, since they're from an 'oppressed minority', even when their horrible behavior is directed at other people who look and/or speak like them.

Racial prejudice (or overcorrecting for it) can lead us to leave those victims insufficiently protected, since 'those people should take care of their own'.

The rules should be very simple. if someone's a criminal, they get arrested. If someone's a victim, they get protected. If someone's a neighbor (and isn't known to be bad), you're neighborly with them. Your kids play with their kids. You loan each other sugar and flour. You may go to church together. You celebrate your shared values.

It should never be about skin color, even if someone vicious, or simply ignorant or thoughtless, on one side or another tries to make it an issue. It's about how well people treat each other, how trustworthy they are, how honest, how well they behave.

The bad ones need stiff motivation to change their behavior, knowing the the good folks of any color or background will come to each others' aid. The incorrigible ones need to be removed from society.

Color is not an issue. Behavior is.

All the good folks, the ones who take care of each other, gather around the village fire at night, and help comfort and protect each other from the darkness that will, to some extent, always be outside the circle of light.

I hope we can finally drop the 'race' issue once and for all, and concentrate on the things that are really important.