8-14-10 Hodgepodge

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What will I invent this month?

Among the other "man caves" mentioned in the article I discussed yesterday was Thomas Edison's library in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Looking him up and seeing that he holds 1093 patents, I did the math. That's an average of about a patent a month, every month across his entire, 84-year lifespan.

This was actually true for a while.

For a few months, commenters on Paul Krugman's blog made it, "one of the more informative and interesting places to hear economics debated,"at least until he changed his comment policy gave up.

Two Good Beers

I recently got chances to taste two beers I'd never had before and liked both of them: abbey-style Grimbergen Double Ale, and a black IPA by 21st Amendment Brewery. The second of these was a variant on the IPA style I'd never heard of.

From the Vault

Last weekend, my wife and I were in Maine to see her parents, who often spend some time up there each summer. Back in '07, I posted pictures from the same lobstering town.

You may have missed ...

... Andrew Dalton's discussion of why the mosque at the site of the World Trade Center Atrocities of 2001 has hit such a raw nerve. Money quote: "[N]ow, the one group of people who do seem confident are the followers of the same malevolent religion that catalyzed (though did not ultimately cause) so much of the mess we're in." Read the whole thing.

-- CAV

6 comments:

Jason said...

Unfortunately, I think the hysteria over the mosque reeks of typical conservative timidity, as a away to evade having to confront the fundamental issue and identify and argue for a decisive, bold, overpowering attack (likely using weapons of mass destruction) on one or two Islamic governments and their ardent supporters.

If the organizers and financiers of the mosque have given material or financial support to Islamic terrorist groups or Islamic theocratic dictatorships (and there is hard evidence that at least one main organizer is part of an organization that has given money to the criminal Flotilla group), then such people should be imprisoned.

If not guilty of that, Islamic people, or even a Nazi or Communist can preach any ideas they wish. Our government can wiretap their phones and computers to make sure they are not indeed providing material support to Islamic terrorists or governments, but otherwise they are free to speak (and open up a mosque in which to speak) if it is just speech.

Stopping this mosque from being built for faulty symbolic reasons does not make anyone safer; bad, nationalistic, conservative reasoning is intellectually and philosophically destructive.

Gus Van Horn said...

I agree with what you're saying, but as with many other cultural phenomena, see a mixture of factors at work. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be incensed and alarmed that this is happening.

For comparison, look at legitimate concerns over Obama's command economy agenda versus lunatics who oppose him simply because he's "secular", or black (there are a few, even today), or "not really" a citizen.

Jason said...

Gus,
The thing is, I view the mania over the mosque as as a way of avoiding the short-term, but necessary disruption and suffering of a real war.

If we actually fought a real war, in which we dropped weapons of mass destruction on one or two Islamic countries (and more if necessary), for a short period there might be some attacks on American soil. An Islamic government (before crushed) might stupidly send some bombers over here, or a small number of Islamic Americans might join the Islamist side in the war and carry out acts of terrorism here.

Until defeat of the Islamists, which would be swift, it is possible that tens or even hundreds of thousands of Americans could be killed, maimed, and otherwise have their lives seriously disrupted because of such attacks here. The fault of course would be appeasement up until this point, and anyway the damage would be much smaller than if we essentially do nothing by continuing to fight superficial wars with our hands tied behind our backs. We currently leave ourselves open to major terrorist attacks, and possibly eventual attacks by Islamic governments themselves.

In general, Americans today would rather meekly keep their fingers crossed hoping for an internal semi-freedom-favoring revolution amongst Muslims in the Middle East, instead of making the smart, tough decision to brave through some domestic attacks, in the name of long-term safety and freedom.

But I don't think we'll fight a real war until we make major cultural steps towards a society full of people worth risking one's life for, a society where the average person is more or less a hero and serious thinker and valuer on the scale of Dominique Francon, Judge Narragansett, Hank Rearden, and the other characters of Ayn Rand's fiction. Such people do not exist today.

-Jason

Gus Van Horn said...

Jason,

I think you're being overly pessimistic, and attributing too much meekness to too many Americans. At least lots of people still get worked up about things like this!

Consider the full context of the average Joe: a government he can barely influence (if at all) hasn't squashed the roaches in the Middle East in nearly a decade. Leftists, including a President who barely seems like a real human being most of the time, shout from the rooftops about not offending the "sensibilities" of a barbaric death cult whose scriptures preach that we should become like them or be executed. The damned towers haven't been rebuilt. Any one of these things is enough to legitimately make one indignant and angry. What better trigger than this worthless mosque?

As Objectivists, you and I can see the causes of and solutions for all of these things better than most other people -- including that anyone whose beliefs preclude a proper military response like the one you outline is partially to blame for this mess. While many people, to the degree that they don't favor a proper response, may well have a guilty element in their emotional response, I think that it is mostly coming from a still-intact (and healthy) sense of life for most people. That's something we can work with to turn things around.

Now, on one point, I completely disagree with you:

"But I don't think we'll fight a real war until we make major cultural steps towards a society full of people worth risking one's life for, a society where the average person is more or less a hero and serious thinker and valuer on the scale of Dominique Francon, Judge Narragansett, Hank Rearden, and the other characters of Ayn Rand's fiction. Such people do not exist today."

No. The main good characters in Rand's novels are her projections of ideal men of ability. A society with a decent number of people like this and a bunch of Eddie Willers is really the goal, and that is hardly unprecedented. Did every soldier who died in the American Revolution have the stature of Thomas Jefferson? No, and were our society today like that one, we'd have taken care of these scumbags long ago.

Things are bad, but they are hardly hopeless.

Gus

Andrew Dalton said...

Conservatives who want to block the mosque by government force are wrong, but that does not mean that the mosque is morally or culturally benign.

This recent New York Times editorial pushes the obnoxious view that it's not enough to politically tolerate the mosque; we have to like it, too:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/opinion/17tue2.html

Gus Van Horn said...

"Conservatives who want to block the mosque by government force are wrong, but that does not mean that the mosque is morally or culturally benign."

Agreed.