Quick Roundup 214

Monday, July 02, 2007

Zimbabwean Bishop Wants Invasion

Glenn Reynolds links to a news article about the ever-worsening situation in Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe's leading cleric has called on Britain to invade the country and topple President Robert Mugabe. Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, warned that millions were facing death from famine, unable to survive amid inflation believed to have soared to 15,000%.

Mugabe, 83, had proved intransigent despite the "massive risk to life", said Ncube, the head of Zimbabwe’s 1m Catholics. "I think it is justified for Britain to raid Zimbabwe and remove Mugabe," he said. "We should do it ourselves but there's too much fear. I'm ready to lead the people, guns blazing, but the people are not ready."

Some parts of Zimbabwe have seen 95% of crops fail, leaving families with only two or three weeks' food supply to last a year. Prices in the shops are more than doubling every week and Christopher Dell, the American ambassador, predicts that by the end of the year inflation could hit 1.5m%.

Ncube said that far from helping those struggling on less than £1 a week, Mugabe had just spent £1m on surveillance equipment to monitor phone calls and e-mails. "How can you expect people to rise up when even our church services are attended by state intelligence people?"
Reynolds follows this up by asking, "Can't somebody just bump him off?"

Remember Bishop Ncube's plea the next time you hear some pacifist bleating that "War is not the answer." In fact, war is (part of) the only answer to tyranny. Read on.

Having said, the the remarks of both Ncube and Reynolds bring up related issues also worth remembering. First of all, any free country has the right (but not the obligation) to invade Zimbabwe. This is because the Mugabe government, clearly dedicated to violating the rights of its citizens, is effectively a criminal cartel and cannot claim the legitimacy of existing to protect its people.

However, the decision by any country concerning whether to conduct such an invasion should be based solely on whether doing so would protect is own citizens from foreign aggression. It is wrong to demand that soldiers risk life and limb for any other purpose.

Were such things better understood generally, I wonder whether the situation would have ever gotten so bad in Zimbabwe in the first place. Would other African nations that had depended on Zimbabwe for food stood by while Mugabe stole property from white farmers to pass out as loot to his incompetent cronies -- thereby destroying his nation's agricultural sector? Would Zimbabweans, knowing that their country poses no military threat, have seen that the task of their liberation would very likely fall to themselves, and so have revolted by now?

Finally, while things are so bad that "bumping off" Mugabe would almost have to improve the situation in Zimbabwe in the short term, the underlying cultural forces that make a ruler like him possible will hold any real improvements in check beyond a certain point. As powerful and rich as Britain is, Zimbabweans will ultimately have to become able to take care of themselves.

Until altruism is dislodged as the overwhelmingly dominant moral code of Zimbabwe, people will continue to see criminal behavior on the part of the government as legitimate; they will continue waiting to be rescued rather than acting to claim their lives for their own; and they will remain wretched pawns in bloody chess games started by whatever tyrant happens to come along. Ultimately, Zimbabwe will have to save itself regardless of whether anyone else saves it from its current crisis. There simply is no other way.

Here, too. And more so.

This post over at Noodle Food gave me a sympathetic chuckle.
Please do not send me messages via the messaging systems of web sites like FaceBook, ObjectivismOnline, and the like. I cannot stand to use them: I want all my messaging in one place, with one interface, and one archive.
And she at least checks hers! If anyone wishes to contact me (and doesn't know how to already), here are the instructions.

That reminds me: Since the Smithsonian has its eyes on my current cell phone, I'm hunting around for a new one and my wife wants me to be sure to have texting ability. (Can you even avoid having that anymore?) She wants to be able to text me things like shopping errands and the like, which is fine by me, as long as it's in somewhat proper English.

Aside from finding text message abbreviations annoying on aesthetic grounds, sending a text message strikes me as a great way to combine the inconveniences of both the telephone and email. Maybe I'll learn otherwise, but I see this as one more thing I'd prefer not to bother with.

(Hah! And I still don't do IM! I recall having a comment exchange with someone -- the Resident Egoist, I think-- some time ago about that.)

Hmmm. Since I'm talking about cell phones anyway.... I'm looking for a good, basic phone. I use Sprint right now, but feel no particular loyalty towards them. I don't want or need to be able to take pictures or surf the web with it, either. Any recommendations out there for providers or phones?

Look who's happy about flooding!

It seems that blaming the victim for natural disasters is neither confined to America nor to those used car salesmen of religion, the televangelists:
The floods that have devastated swathes of the country are God's judgment on the immorality and greed of modern society, according to senior Church of England bishops.

One diocesan bishop has even claimed that laws that have undermined marriage, including the introduction of pro-gay legislation, have provoked God to act by sending the storms that have left thousands of people homeless.
This really is no surprise coming from a religious figure. But it is yet another warning sign that religion is generally on the ascent again in the West. This is a laughable assertion made for despicable reasons, and yet it will be taken into serious consideration by many people.

Watch that Soy!

I haven't gotten to read them, but Bo posts quite a few links about what does and does not occur in soy, that staple of the loony left. Here's an excerpt from one of his excerpts:
Soy milk does not contain the nutrients that children need for their growth. In fact, the idea that soy milk is healthy, in and of itself, is a complete myth. Feeding your baby soy milk will lead to severe vitamin, mineral, fatty acid and amino acid deficiencies that can clearly be deadly.
That milk also, according to these articles, contains a type of fatty acid that displaces another crucial for normal brain function.

With New York having just banned trans fats from its restaurants, could you imagine the hysterics and demagoguing that we'd be seeing these days if soybeans were a human invention? Leaving aside the many other issues such bans raise, we see once again in this double standard that the environmentalist movement (as exemplified in its food hysteria branch) is fundamentally anti-reason.

No food has everything we need. That is why man is an omnivore. Furthermore, every food contains harmful chemicals. The underlying difference between what gets banned and what doesn't is this: What did man invent and what didn't he invent?

Note that such laws are "sold" to us on the basis of what is good for us, and yet, the decision as to what is or isn't "good" derives from the view that the application of human intelligence is inherently bad -- as opposed to what is required for man's survival!

And, oh yeah. Memo to conservatives: The proper reaction to this isn't to tell the liberals they should ban soy products in the name of avoiding "hypocrisy". It's to make a strong case that banning anything from the diet of an adult is morally wrong.

-- CAV


: (1) Corrected a typo. (2) Added a clause to soy section.


Dismuke said...

Actually, text messaging combines the worst of not just phone and email but CHAT as well - which is my most despised method of communication. It combines the absolute worst elements of written communication with that of improvisational verbal communication. And punching keys multiple times in order to get to a specific letter - well, that is for the birds.

My present cell phone is an Audiovox CDM-8900 which I have had since 2004, I believe. It has a camera which I almost never use, a built in cell phone browser (which I never use and I suspect that Verizon will not be supporting soon) and text messaging capabilities. I love the phone. One of the things that is very nice about it is that it flips open and actually extends down to my mouth area when I speak. Phones that don't go down that far drive me nuts. Sure, they probably pick up my voice - but I nevertheless get in the habit of twisting my head into the direction of the microphone to talk. The phone is also a tri-mode type of phone that will also work when I am out in remote areas where the digital sort of cell service that one finds in the cities does not exist. The phone will function just fine on analogue if that is all that is available - though analogue will consume battery life faster.

Here is why I recommend the phone if all you want is something that is very basic: Since it is a discontinued model, you can buy the things on ebay for VERY little money. If my current one were to break today, I would go to ebay and get another.

I keep an eye out on new cell phone models every so often and the new ones really do not offer much in the way of what I really need to justify the price. I already have an mp3 player so I don't need a phone for that purpose. I already have a decent camera and the ones on cell phones are pretty pathetic. Some phones are coming out with the ability to stream audio and pick up Internet radio stations such as Radio Dismuke (that is if the RIAA doesn't shut them down and replace them with FM carbon copies) but, at present, the price of the data plans are too high for me to justify.

I know for a fact that the phone is compatible for Verizon as that is what I have. My GUESS is it would be compatible with Sprint. Your best bet is to call them up and ask. You can find various sorts of tech specs and reviews of the phone at: http://www.mobiledia.com/phones/audiovox/cdm-8900.html

As far as networks go, I have had outstanding luck with Verizon. I rarely have the sort of coverage problems that I hear about from people with competitive services. The only bad thing I have noticed about their network is when a friend who is in New York City for the summer and also has Verizon calls the conversation usually cuts out multiple times. I had bad luck with my cell phone up there as well - so I don't know if that is a Verizon thing or a New York City thing. But here in Texas, their network has always been rock solid for me. My term contract with them has expired and I am on a month to month. My only reluctance in signing a new term contract is the stories I keep hearing from people who sign up for their high speed wireless Internet service. They advertise the plans as "unlimited" and then tell you in small print that it is only for unlimited surfing and email and that you are not ALLOWED to view videos or listen to audio. If you use more than 5 gigs bandwidth in a given month, they terminate your contract with no warning whatsoever. For those who subscribe to that service for their laptops - well, 5 gigs is nothing in this day of Internet radio (at least for a couple of more weeks) and YouTube. Sprint, on the other hand, has an excellent reputation in this area and their "unlimited" data plan has, up to now, been what they advertise it to be. Since I might eventually want to get such a data plan, I am hesitant about being locked in a contract with Verizon.

Bottom line is if you are just looking for something basic you can save yourself quite a lot of money by simply going to ebay and seeing what is there be it the CDM-8900 or some other recent but no longer current phone that will suit your needs. The phones the cell phone companies sell in their stores are usually very high priced and you are required to enter into a new term contract in order to get a price break on the phones. If you can find a good ebay phone that is compatible with your existing carrier, all you have to do is call them up to switch the service to your new phone and you remain under your existing contract. Since the technology and features on cell phones keeps evolving, they are like computers in that their value depreciates very rapidly. It makes no sense to pay top dollar for a phone if all you are looking for is the very basics because the phone will be considered antiquated by the time your term contract is up. The only exception to this I can think of is if it is to your advantage to enter into a new contract because of a lower rate. Then it would be worth your while to see what sorts of rebates and offers they have on low end phones.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you for that recommendation, and for telling me about eBay as well. That is something I never would have thought about doing. And that web site.

You may have single-handedly turned what looks like a time-consuming chore into something I can accomplish quickly and painlessly.

Sid said...

I, too, despise cellphones that are meant to be show-off toys. I hardly use SMS, either: just pick up the phone and talk! It usually comes out a lot cheaper in the end, too. The phone companies here openly admit that because so many people use text, they keep text rates high and call rates low.

I'd look at one of the lower end Nokias. I don't know about the US, but their build quality in India is absolutely the best. I'm looking at the Nokia 2865 as my next phone, but I've yet to make a final decision.

This test may help for the North American market.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you, Sid! That test really cut through the fog. I now have a short list of new phones I can look at, too, for the price of answering a few questions.

For the benefit of others who might stop by:

"There are 20 important features that matter when buying a cell phone, and 209 phones on the market!

"This test will look at each phone and find the very 5 best for your needs, in less than 2 minutes!"

I remembered wanting one "extra feature": speaker-phone capability -- so I can leverage driving time/be able to work while on the phone. That test accounted for that.

Gus Van Horn said...

And this test lets you compare plans.

Andrew Dalton said...

It's interesting that this latest bit of religious nuttery comes from someone who's not Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, or Fred Phelps; not from the U.S. (the major stronghold of fundamentalist Christianity); and not even from a very conservative church. I suspect that as the religionists become bolder, we will see more of this sort of outspoken irrationalism from unexpected quarters.

David, The Machine said...

The MOTOFONE is about as bare-bones as you can get, but it’s not primarily for sale in the US, though a trip to ebay can fix that.

Gus Van Horn said...


Yeah. The Anglicans of all denominations. It would be funny if it eren't indicative of a trend.


Thank you for that recommendation.