Quick Roundup 20

Monday, February 13, 2006

New Blog Template

I'm pretty happy with the appearance of the new blog template I installed yesterday -- on standards-compliant browsers. I understand that users of Microsoft Internet Explorer were having problems with content being obscured by the sidebar at the right. Thanks to David the Machine, that problem has been fixed as far as I can tell.

There were also some aesthetic problems. I know that on at least some Windows machines, the sidebar obscures part of the masthead. But even in the aesthetics department, I got good help from readers while I was working on something else last night. Curtis Weeks helped me get something fixed that I was pulling out my hair over: My title is now vertically centered in the masthead.

In any case, if you're using IE, my apologies for any appearance glitches or other inconvenience. I am aware that you guys can't cut and paste from my blog very well at the moment. If there are any other problems, please let me know so I can address them during the next few days.

What is a prison for, anyway?

I had to spend the day Saturday at work, but things were slow enough that I got to blog on "faith-based prisons". But on rereading the post, which I liked, I noticed something: I had forgotten to ask, "What is the purpose of a prison?

Indeed, there are so many things wrong with this proposal that I missed what is perhaps the most important one! Namely: The major premise of this proposal is that prisons exist to reform criminals. This premise unavoidably leads one to propose some kind of moral education for inmates, not to mention forget what prisons are really for: protection of the general public from criminals. We lock up people such as Joseph Edward Duncan not to preach to them, but to keep them from harming anyone else. How do we know whether a prison "works"? Not by whether released inmates succeed in remaining out of prison, but by whether dangerous men are kept off the streets.
I couldn't just leave something that important unaddressed.

Egypt, Japan, and Dhimmitude

Two bloggers I follow show us, taken together, exactly what is at stake in the cartoon riots: whether we will remain free or bow to the whims of the mullahs.

First, Eric Scheie at Classical Values, in a very informative post, shows that the Egyptians, supposedly so outraged by Western depictions of their "prophet", published some of the same cartoons in their own papers! For example:


This is pretty interesting because this same country, a bastion of Moslem free speech at first blush, sure is testy about other countries doing exactly the same thing. Via Riding Sun, I have learned that the Egyptian government has, rather than offered to calm any Moslems in Japan if the cartoons are published, has instead basically threatened Japan with Moslem violence over these very same cartoons. The Gaijin Biker quotes the Japan Times.
Attacks like the ones on the Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon last weekend could take place in Japan if the media here insult Muslims by reprinting cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, Egyptian Ambassador to Japan Hisham Badr warned Friday.

"This is not a question of freedom of expression... This is a question of blaspheme of religion," Badr said in an interview with The Japan Times. "It touches a very raw nerve" with Muslims worldwide.

...

"Reprinting (the images) is a provocation," the ambassador said. "It is as if they are saying 'we don't care about your feelings.'" [GB's emphasis]
In other words, it is exactly as I said:
The cartoons were not "incitement". They were an excuse to riot which the Moslems seized upon, calculating that the West is unclear enough about the underlying moral issues to fight back effectively. And what does this excuse buy? The Moslems, while being the actual aggressors here get to pose as victims, and hope to get away with what they are doing as a result. These cartoons no more injure Moslems than my calling a grown woman a girl harmed women.
Actually, with all this talk about feelings, my original comparison of Moslems with politically correct, man-hating women is especially apt. And is it any wonder that these brave Islamic warriors would pick on Japan, when its public officials fold without provocation?

Sad News

Andy at the Charlotte Capitalist mourns the passing of his dog. It was very kind of the folks at the Carnival of Dogs to dedicate this week's edition to Skate, an Australian Cattle Dog.

Sir Robin was braver.

Myrhaf, I see, also read that incredible statement of abject surrender to Iran that Wretchard blogged at The Belmont Club. The money quote comes from a Guardian Unlimited article by Polly Toynbee:
[I]f you cannot win, give up at once to minimise the damage. Get off the high horse and start to negotiate terms on which Iran can be allowed to enrich uranium. It amounts to turning a blind eye to their weapons potential while striking a deal that saves their face, affords them some dignity and entices them economically into becoming a more stable force. [my bold]
Wretchard parses this one perfectly.

As every MBA (but presumably not Polly Toynbee) knows, the unspoken alternative to negotiation is the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement or BATNA.

BATNA is a term coined by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 bestseller, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Without Giving In. ... In the simplest terms, if the proposed agreement is better than your BATNA, then you should accept it. If the agreement is not better than your BATNA, then you should reopen negotiations. If you cannot improve the agreement, then you should at least consider withdrawing from the negotiations and pursuing your alternative (though the costs of doing that must be considered as well).

My teachers put it this way: BATNA is the penalty you pay when you walk away from the negotiating table. Since Polly Toynbee argues that Teheran should face no penalty for walking away from the negotiating table then there is no reason it cannot continue to do whatever it wants.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what war is "good for" to cite part of a popular leftist anthem.

-- CAV

Updates

2-14-05: Added image.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great new look, keep up the good work.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks, Grant. It took a good chunk of a day, but I've been wanting to do this since about October and just never had the time. Templates can be had either with a Creative Commons license (This template is based on one. See footer for link.) or even public domain, but it's still tedious to get all the Blogger code and any extras in, and then there's the matter of Internet Explorer, which some people take into account and others don't.

Probably what is most time-consuming is how ultra-painful it is to use Blogger's template editor. A few tips: (1) You should have a backup of your old template available elsewhere because it's easy to accidentally hit "save changes" instead of "delete edits". (2) Your template may look good in "preview" mode and still have glitches, which is what happened to me twice. (3) Do as much editing as possible outside Blogger and bring tour template in at the last moment.

Gus

Gus