8-6-11 Hodgepodge

Saturday, August 06, 2011

There and Back Again

This isn't just the alternate title to The Hobbit; it's also my take on the intellectual journey of the man behind the Moslem "Punk" movement, which sounds more like wishful thinking from journalists than reality to me:

The original novel was written by Michael Muhammad Knight, a radical himself by most standards. At 17 he left home in upstate New York to study Islam in a madrasa in Pakistan. Fleeing an abusive father, among other things, he converted to Islam as an act of rebellion. But he soon found plenty to rebel against within Islam -- not least its attitudes towards women, gay people and alcohol.

"So I imagined this fantasy world where Islam didn't have an absolute definition, and you had the power to define it yourself," Knight says today, a PhD student in Islamic studies in New York. That world was an imaginary Muslim punk scene called Taqwacore where these questions could all be resolved – "taqwa" being an Arabic term for consciousness of the divine. It was an attempt to reconcile his own fraught identity.
From whence he came, where he went, and to where he returned can be gleaned from the story of John Walker Lindh, as told by Christian Beenfeldt some years ago. That said, Knight, unlike Bilbo Baggins, hasn't really traveled very far.

Weekend Reading

"Not only is the position size substantial -- Washington's original loans were generously swapped for lower-ranked stock -- but because any sale would be publicly reviewed, the market would unquestionably anticipate the disposal." -- Jonathan Hoenig, in "When Will Uncle Sam Dump GM?" at SmartMoney

"What's required for prosperity isn't the right stimulus or budget, but philosophy: that of a free society based on capitalism, voluntary trade and individual rights. " -- Jonathan Hoenig, in "What Happens When Bad Ideas Fester" at SmartMoney

My Two Cents

The second Hoenig piece comprises brief commentary and a must-see pictorial of the destitution visible to a recent visitor to North Korea -- even though government minders restricted his access to the most prosperous areas.

Brian Phillips is Back!

The author of Live Oaks is back from writing a book, and is undertaking what I have called many times in the past, the "battle of imagination" at his new blog, Individual Rights and Government Wrongs. As he explains at Live Oaks:
Late last year I grew weary of writing about negative aspects of our culture. I decided that I would start writing about more positive topics. As I did research, I realized that I was uncovering information that was unknown to many people. I also realized that the information, if properly integrated, was perfect for a book.

... I soon realized that government without taxation was only a small part of a bigger issue--how a capitalist society functions.

My book explores this topic. I look at a multitude of topics--parks, mail, education, roads, sanitation, charity, and much more--and show how these services are provided by private companies and individuals, rather than government. I also examine the destructive consequences of government involvement in these areas. I present actual examples from history and the contemporary world.
A sample chapter of his book, which shares its title with the new blog, is available from the blog.

Astrophysics vs. Cancer

If this teaser doesn't get you to read the whole story, nothing will: "Heavy metals emit low-energy electrons when exposed to X-rays at specific energies, the researchers found. This raises the possibility that implants made of gold or platinum could allow doctors to destroy tumors with low-energy electrons, while exposing healthy tissue to far less radiation than is possible today, ..." (HT: John Cook)

-- CAV

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