Quick Roundup 35

Monday, March 20, 2006

Will the "Forward Strategy" get crucified?

There is a case in Afghanistan of a former Moslem (who converted to Christianity) who faces execution because apostasy is a violation of Islamic law. I agree with Mike N. that Bush's focus on spreading "democracy" is a mistake that risks allowing these nations to become theocratic dictatorships very easily.

If we are going to conquer territory in the Middle East with the purpose of establishing free, friendly nations, we must be prepared to run them for as long as it takes for them to become accustomed to government that recognizes and protects individual rights.

I do not advocate any religion, but if this man wishes to convert to Christianity, then it is his right to do so. This neither picks anyone's pocket or breaks anyone's leg, as Thomas Jefferson might have put it. Conversely, there is no such thing as the "right" of anyone to murder another human being over his choice of religions.

Carnival of the Recipes

Richmond over at One for the Road... has done a very nice job with this week's Carnival of the Recipes, and seems very enthusiastic about the chili recipe I posted last week. I would have to say that I am at least as eager to try her Eggs Benedict Wyoming Style, which incorporates wild asparagus. Although I'll have to settle for store-bought asparagus here in H-Town, I am sure this will still be very good!

I also thank my friend Martin Lindeskog for "naturalizing" my recipe into his own carnival of the Danish Recipes. I look forward to learning about some interesting pepper substitutions as his crop matures this year and he experiments with the dish. (I wonder. Is it now "Danish Chili Van Horn"?)


And speaking of Martin, he has a quick post on the progress of his business venture.

Sunshine Week

In today's Houston Chronicle was this silly editorial about "Sunshine Week".

They call it "Sunshine Week," an annual effort by members of the American Society of Newspaper Editors to demonstrate the importance of open government.

It expresses a happy ideal. The reality is partly cloudy.

The Chronicle participated by checking on the salaries and benefits of public school superintendents.
A quick scan through the rest of the article revealed that no, Rick Casey had no epiphany about the absurdity of his employer's form of participation. He merely did as I expected, and wasted an entire column discussing salaries.

I would have been far more impressed with a comparison of a typical public school to a private one, such as the Van Damme Academy, followed by a pointed question like, "Why does our government confiscate money from everyone, parent or not, to fund a huge, inefficient bureaucracy that runs schools that are often worse than useless?"

Alas, it was not to be. As Casey himself says, but for the wrong reason, in the title to his column: "Sunshine Week? No, partly cloudy." And that would be putting it charitably.

Mike N. has more to say about "Sunshine Week".

The Great Satan Made Them Do It

Or: "How the left, which shares the Islamists' moral appraisal of the United States, uses moral relativism tactically."

This disgusting bit of solidarity with the enemy I encountered over at RealClear Politics makes the obscene and astoundingly evasive argument that if Iran makes a bomb, it's all America's fault!
Again, what would you do? The United States says it is at war, you are the enemy, and it will strike first if it decides that is in its national interest. But that is not likely to happen if you have nuclear weapons.
Never mind that Iran was the first state in the Middle East to expropriate Western oil properties. Or that it committed an act of war with its 1979 attack on the American embassy. Or that it has a long history of aiding and abetting terrorism against the West. Never mind that any and all of these are sufficient reason for America to label Iran as an enemy. No. Iran is just like us, and wouldn't you act in your own self-defense?

But near the end of the essay, we see whose side Richard Reeves is on and who he's rooting for, very nicely summed up.
What other people want is what we have, "things." Things like cars and iPods, clean water and good health. And they want us to leave them alone or treat them as grown-ups.

We are drowning in our own hype. If God really made us so much better than other people, we would have been able to beat the South Koreans and Mexicans in the opening rounds of the World Baseball Classic last week.
Or even the Iranians in the 1998 World Cup. How's that for an omen, Mr. Reeves? Now, please. Pack your bags and move to the winning side. We "losers", who really do want the mullahs to leave us alone, have a wobbly President to attend to before the possibility of preventive air strikes becomes a thing of the past.

Actually, now that I think of it, that last line is almost Lakoffian, in that Reeves frames his nastiness in theocratic lingo. That, like his moral relativism, is just a ruse designed to put his readers asleep to the fact that Iran is, in fact, very different from the United States, and that its attempts to acquire a nuclear arsenal have nothing to do with self-defense, or with fear of a country that is only defending itself.

French Students Protest Against Reality

Thomas Sowell has a very good piece on the most recent round of rioting in France (this one by French students) over at RealClear Politics.
Student riots in Paris remind us that education at elite academic institutions is not enough to teach either higher morals or basic economics. Not on their side of the Atlantic or on ours.

Why are students at the Sorbonne and other distinguished institutions out trashing the streets and attacking the police? Because they want privileges in the name of rights, and are too ignorant of economics to realize that those privileges cost them jobs.
Voting Rights for Felons?!?!

Another article I encountered at RealClear Politics makes an excellent point on the latest crusade by the left against punishing criminals.
The proposed felon voting rights legislation is a one-size-fits-all solution for a situation that is anything but one size. Do we really want, for example, the guys who were in the Stop Snitching DVD to leave prison and vote in a tight race for Baltimore state's attorney that pits a candidate who wants to keep witness intimidation a felony against one who wants to make it a misdemeanor?
Another Reason to Use a Pen Name

Awhile back, I enountered this article (via Diana Hsieh) about the inadvisability for academics to blog under their own names. Now there's this one, which includes other online activities and applies not just to academics.
An increasing number of employers are investigating potential hires online to find out more about an applicant than what's on their resume.

You may be the perfect candidate for the job, but if your name pulls up something incriminating in a Google search, you could lose your shot. "People do need to keep in mind that the information they post online - whether in a resume profile or otherwise - should be considered public information," warns Danielle C. Perry, director of public relations at Monster.com. Sure, you may not have intentionally posted something controversial about yourself online, but from blogs to dating profiles, the Web has become a place where people air dirty laundry without a thought, making it a dangerous place to mix business with pleasure.
This is very good to keep in mind.

Blogroll Additions

I have added two political commentary blogs to my blogroll which both deal rather frequently with the current war from their own interesting perspectives.

First is AbbaGav, the blog of a proud father in Israel, which I first encountered through a a Technorati listing of post in which he gave me a hat tip for pointing to a story on "Islamic basketball". I enjoyed this post, in which he takes a gander at several news photos (which he posts) and then starts wondering about a -- erm -- common theme.
Two different photographers, two different news services, lots of different photos from several different locations, both in the street and on a rooftop. But one "boy" featured in all of them. What is my point? I'm not disputing that there indeed was a protest that included the throwing of rocks, as stated. But when you see the same boy starring in all the pictures from both news services, you have to start to wonder about the relationship between the protestors and the news service stringers in creating this feature presentation. Photos that appear coordinated between spontaneous rock throwers and ostensibly objective photographers and reporters start to call into question the nature of what the protest represents.
The second new additon is Isaac Schroedinger, whose blog I visited today on Amit Ghate's recommendation. He came to Ghate's atttention when he made some very intelligent comments on his famous essay, "All for One."

I look forward to following both blogs and recommend them to my readers.

-- CAV


AbbaGav said...

Thank you for the link, I added you as well (you've got a lot of great stuff). I was pleased to get blogrolled at the same time as Isaac Schrodinger, as he has a really great blog and I'm glad he's getting noticed.

Amit Ghate said...

Hi Gus,

In reading about not using your real name, what would you say to the idea that if an employer likes the type of stuff you write, then it becomes an advantage rather than a disadvantage to use your real name when blogging? Plus it helps you find a job in which you can express your ideas without fear of condemnation or reprisals, something which, at least to me, is worth a lot...

Unknown said...

Yo, Gus, you write: "Although I'll have to settle for store-bought asparagus here in H-Town, I am sure this will still be very good!" Fresh asparagus is dreamy and store-bought is almost as good, but for the sake of all that is holy in the kitchen, don't ever buy it canned. That is foul, vile, noxious stuff. It's amazing how canning can do so much harm to something so good.

Vigilis said...

Thanks for the recipe, Gus, will try it soon - have been growing a little bit of asparagus in the organic garden. -Vigilis

Gus Van Horn said...


Thank you!


If I were a journalist or an opinion writer by training, your point would, in some contexts, be very well-taken, but I am not. This means that even if I liked everything I wrote from day one and had a huge following, I would have to remain very circumspect about my real-life identity.

Professionally, no one cares a whit about my political views, except insofar as most of my colleagues, being overwhelmingly very liberal (and far too often, very defensive about it) would feel threatened by them. (And it's hard to imagine ever getting the kind of opportunity you describe within my field.) There are other problematic aspects my blogging career would also present that I will not go into here. Suffice it to say that it would not be too far-fetched that I could get fired from my current job and seriously harm my chances of getting hired elsewhere if my avocation came to light. And until I find out what people in the "real world" are willing to pay people with my skill set to do (that won't also make it impossible for me to write), I'd better protect my "day job".

Unless, of course, the kind of opportunity you bring up, to write opinion for a living (or at least get paid actual money to do it) came up. In such a case, I figure that one of two scenarios would play out. Either (a, the unlikely one) I'd establish such a good track record that such an employer would come knocking at "Gus Van Horn's" door, in which case I could establish who I really am easily enough, or (b, more likely) I'd inquire after any opportunities that arose, in which case I could mention my pen name.

In short, I think it would be far easier to tell someone professionally interested in my writing who I am than it would be to undo the damage of making it easy for someone who is not (but could hurt me in my current profession) to discover who I am by simply punching my name into a search engine.

That is why the man behind the blog must remain a question whose answer remains available on a "need to know" basis.

Come to think of it.... While I'm daydreaming about doing my hobby full-time (and what writer doesn't?), my real name is such a common one that I'd need a pen name anyway just so people could remember me as a distinct entity!


Excellent point. I, fortunately, learned of the superiority of fresh vs. canned asparagus long ago.

Thanks for watching my back, though! :-)


You're welcome, and good luck! (I claim no responsibility for asparagus added to chili, though!)