Friday, March 09, 2007
Pedes. They bother me.
My wife is finishing up her fourth year of medical school, during which she does month-long "rotations", working with other physicians in various specializations of medicine. This month, she's working in pediatrics, which is a great way to get sick, as any parent with young children can tell you, I am sure. Yesterday evening, she developed nausea, and was up with it much of the night. We're hoping it's just food poisoning. If this post seems a little loopy, blame it on less than optimal sleep on my part.
And if I suddenly disappear for a few days, that will mean I've caught something from her. Blame it on the kids!
And speaking of kids, yesterday's events reminded me of W.C. Fields' famous dislike for children, and caused me to look for and find some quotations of his. Some of them are very funny.
Something for the Cultural Relativists
Or, more precisely, this is something for anyone who is actually open to reason and may sometimes find something said by cultural relativists plausible. Wretchard of the Belmont Club makes comments on how Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel has played to different audiences, and ends with a point directly pertinent to a recent post here on a similar subject:
[W]here the comparison breaks down is that Noam Chomsky is free to walk the streets and get rich without hindrance, whereas Hirsi Ali can go nowhere without a bodyguard and that her collaborator, Theo Van Gogh was used as a tackboard to post a message to Hirsi Ali, with a knife through van Gogh's heart replacing the tack. That incident, properly construed, should have been a notice not so much to Hirsi Ali, whom you may judge as you like, but to Islam itself. Whose side are you on? And the question was addressed not only to Hirsi Ali but to Islam.(HT: Isaac Schrodinger)
And speaking of recent posts, ...
I would like to thank the good folks at junkscience.com for linking to yesterday's global warming post. I think that the next time they update their archives, the link and blurb will wind up here.
Some time ago, I linked to an article about hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. The situation has become unspeakably worse there, as described by this jaw-dropping article at The New Republic. A free subscription is required, but do it for this article. Besides, they have good stuff frequently enough to make the hassle worthwhile, anyway.
Less than ten miles from Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's mansion in Harare -- the largest private residence on the African continent -- Cleophus Masxigora digs for mice. On a good day, he told me, he can find 100 to 200. To capture the vermin, he burns brush to immobilize them, then kills them with several thumps of a shovel. This practice has become so widespread in Zimbabwe that, as a Zimbabwean journalist informed me, state-run television has broadcast warnings against citizens setting brush fires. Masxigora began hunting mice to support (and feed) his wife and three children soon after Mugabe began confiscating thousands of productive, white-owned farms in 2000, a policy that has since led to mass starvation. Not long ago, Zimbabwe, the "breadbasket of Africa," exported meat and produced what was widely considered to be Africa's finest livestock. Today, Masxigora tells me that each mouse nets $30 Zim dollars, about 12 cents, which makes him a wealthy man in Zimbabwe. "This is beef to us," he told me in August. [bold added]I have one major complaint with this article: It implies positive moral judgement of Robert Mugabe's economic policies, stating that "[t]he conditions Mugabe rendered in Zimbabwe ... stem [in part] from idealistic economic and social policies gone awry" -- apparently indifferent to the fact that collectivization , which violates individual rights, and always reduces a nation's standard of living and reserving condemnation for the regime only for "genocide", i.e., the purposeful, selective starvation of its political opponents!
In other words, the main criticism is not that Mugabe is running Zimbabwe into the ground, but that he is doing so unequally! This mirrors the major leftist complaint against Western societies, which is that there are great "inequalities" in accumulated wealth -- never mind that the wealthy have generally earned their money or that even the poorest in America are better off than virtually anyone in Zimbabwe.
But then, when one regards individuals as without rights, or as subordinate to the collective at best, and holds uniformity to be an ideal, one becomes blind to the fact that the "smallest minority", as Ayn Rand once put it is "the individual". Viewed in this light, every socialist dictatorship is guilty of "genocide" countless times over!
Genocide is wrong only because murder is wrong. And oppression of a minority is wrong only because violating the rights of its constituent individuals is wrong. There is no meaningful difference between a government that drives a minority into poverty and oppression and one that does the same thing wholesale to its entire populace. In this respect, leftist condemnations of genocide are missing the big picture at best and constitute dishonest distractions from essential issues at worst.
Robert Mugabe deserves to be deposed, tried as a criminal against humanity, and executed because he is a tyrant. Genocide is only the tip of this iceberg. (HT: Glenn Reynolds)
An Inconvenient Parallel
Greg Perkins recently viewed Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and writes a very thought-provoking review.
Sigh. Gore's movie is without a doubt the strongest, slickest, most utterly dishonest piece of propaganda I have ever seen. So much so that I was getting depressed because any regular person watching it pretty much should react with something on the order of, "If even half of what Gore says is right, we're all doomed and have to do something NOW!" It has already won Academy awards, it seems set to earn him an honorary doctorate and a Nobel peace prize, and he might even parlay all this rock-star visibility and seeming authority/vision into a winning Presidential run or perhaps some kind of UN Global Environmental Czar position.Read the whole thing.
Bo's sea stories are always lots of fun, partly because he leaves out such things as "the interminable critique, the finger pointing, the ass chewing, the hate and discontent heaped upon us by Naval Reactors, and a few characters who should STILL remain nameless", and partly just because he's so damned funny. I got a big kick out of reading "a day in the life of a nuclear submariner".
Today: Corrected a typo.