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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Hair Shirt

This is the sort of thing that really sets The Kid’s teeth on edge. Yesterday it seems that some people at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan may have improperly put some Qurans in the burn bin. Of course, this threw the entire U.S. operation in Afghanistan into a tizzy and earlier today General John Allen, commander of all ISAF forces in theater, released this statement:

To the noble people of Afghanistan –

I have ordered an investigation into a report I received during the night that ISAF personnel at Bagram Airbase improperly disposed of a large number of Islamic religious materials which included Korans.

When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them. The materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities.

We are thoroughly investigating the incident and we are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again. I assure you … I promise you … this was NOT intentional in any way. I offer my sincere apologies for any offense this may have caused, to the President of Afghanistan, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and most importantly, to the noble people of Afghanistan.

I would like to thank the local Afghan people who helped us identify the error, and who worked with us to immediately take corrective action.
Manana, Tashakur.

Let us first state that we recognize that there is a line to be danced around here. General Allen and the U.S. government are bending over backwards to soothe Muslim outrage because, short term, to not do so puts U.S. military and civilian personnel at greater risk. However, The Kid maintains that the outsized wailing and gnashing of teeth puts more Americans in danger in the long term.

Ferchrissakes, we apologize more obsequiously for “offending Muslim sensibilities” than for accidentally killing people, and this is a problem. By wearing the hair shirt we are validating the overall Muslim narrative, that being the untouchability of Islam. And with every self-debasement concerning these incidents, we further solidify the image of our submission, and our status as dhimmis.

What we have consistently failed to understand is that this war is about the competing narratives. It’s not about the Taliban threat to the Afghan Government, or other micro-issues. We are saving ourselves grief on the tactical level, while ceding ground strategically. This puts American lives at risk long term. Our ideology, of openness, tolerance and Liberty is the correct one. That is the strategic political goal we should be defending, rather than submitting to the Islamic narrative. Our willingness, our eagerness, to debase ourselves for perfectly understandable mistakes does not make us look tolerant in the eyes of the enemy. It marks us as the “weak horse” ripe for exploitation.

Obviously, we cannot be successful by spitting in the eye of Muslim world, and we are not going to liberalize them overnight (or ever, if our current strategies are to be pursued). When we make mistakes, we should apologize. But there is a line between apology and self-debasement. Where that line is exactly, The Kid cannot tell you. But it’s clear General Allen sailed way over it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Am Spartacus!

Kid Various encourages everyone to join the #IAmSpartacus campaign on twitter:

Paul Chambers, a 27-year-old accountant, yesterday lost his appeal against his conviction and £1,000 fine for a comment he made in jest when he was concerned that he might miss a flight to Belfast.

"Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!" he wrote in January.

...Under the hashtag #IAmSpartacus – a reference to the film in which Spartacus's fellow gladiators show their solidarity with him by each proclaiming "I am Spartacus" – thousands of people have copied Chambers's original message.

This guy tweeted an obviously non-serious threat out of frustration, the tweet was picked up by British security authorities, and this man's life was ruined. He's was arrested, jailed, lost his job, etc. Because we have surrendered WAY too much liberty to the state in the name of "security."

The terribly sad thing is that as Kid Various repeated the message in a tweet, he was afraid. That's right, the Kid felt fear. In America. In our free society. Because what would happen if this tweet was picked up by the government? What if the government officials could not demonstrate any common-frickin'-sense? (which basically describes all government officials.) What if The Kid's employers, in another branch of the government, fail to demonstrate any common-frickin'-sense? The little voice in the back of The Kid's head was saying "Hey, is this the wisest course of action?"

Maybe it's not the wisest course of action. But it's definitely a necessary one. Because when the situation has deteriorated so much that you second guess yourself for sending out an innocuous tweet, things have gone too far. It's time people stand up and say "Enough!"

Enough with the naked body scans!

Enough with being pushed around by high-school dropout, minimum wage earning bureaucratic drones!

Enough with the cameras! (and the war on YOUR cameras!)

Enough with zero tolerance policies that remove all discretion!

Enough with the death of common-frickin'-sense!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

We Knew There Was A Reason...

That Stormtroopers couldn't hit the broadside of a friggin' Star Destroyer:

In one war-time study, a Brigadier General found that "only 15 to 20 [percent] would take any part with their weapons." And that this was consistently true, "whether the action was spread over a day, or two days, or three." Eighty percent of the soldiers would not fire, due to nothing more than their innate desire to not take a human life. We also know that the vast majority of shots fired in battle, miss.

Yep. They just have the normal human (clone) reaction to shoot wide. Oh yeah and those helmets? They should really forgo them:

That's right: If the Stormtroopers had just taken off their helmets, they would have probably won the war. Especially considering that they're an elite battalion of well-funded techno-warriors, up against a space hillbilly, a gigolo, a pampered socialite and a furry version of Sloth from the Goonies. It all comes down to the basic principle of dehumanization.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


We have been away a while haven't we? It's really quite sad, as life has overtaken Kid Various and his Idiom pals. We'll try to do better. If only for the fact that the intervening months have turned The Kid's mind to jelly. There is nothing better to honing your skills than writing every day, and right now, The Kid can't write anything longer than a laundry list. We're trying to make good. Please bear with us.

In any case, take a look at this lame review of "The Closing of The Muslim Mind" that The Kid wrote. The book isn't lame. It's fantastic. In fact, Kid Various thinks it required reading for those who want to understand the Long War. It's just the Kid's prose that's lacking. When he was in grad school, Kid Various could knock out 20 pages without batting an eye. Nowadays, uh... what was I saying????

Outstanding overview that pinpoints the decline of Islamic thought in the 9th century with the triumph of the Asharites over the Mutazalites. These names likely mean nothing to most Americans, but they are critically important to today's world and the conduct of the Long War.

Essentially, Sunni Islamic thought was initially extremely diverse (the book does not delve into Shiism.) The Mutazalites taught that God's creation was open to human reason. That, essentially, God's laws and intentions could be discovered by reason. In this, they clashed with the Asharites who felt that if God's will was divinable by human reason, if he followed laws that could be deduced by reason, then that put limits on his power. And God is all powerful. Therefore they rejected basic concepts like "cause and effect" which is the case to this very day. Strictly speaking, in Islam, there is no cause for anything except God. If one drops a ball, gravity does not make the ball fall. God makes the ball fall - directly. If does not act at that very moment, the ball will not fall.

By contrast, in Christianity, and in the Enlightenment culture spawned from it, God may be the first cause, but he has set up an order that can be divined by humans. He creates gravity that is the cause of the falling ball. He can perform a miracle and stop gravity, but in most cases he is not acting.

The triumph of the Asharites over the Mutazalites essentially put an end to Islamic philosophy, in favor of revelation and jurisprudence. In other words, it was not important to divine the meaning of God's laws and how they related to humans. Instead Islam demanded that humans simply follow revealed law, and then set up an elaborate system of jurisprudence to administer said law.

This has profound consequences for the present day. It's frequently said that Islam has not undergone an Enlightenment period. This is true, but what is worse, it will be difficult for it to do so, because of the demotion of reason in the Islamic faith, which is central to modernity.

This is an excellent book, very readable and is a great introduction to Sunni Islamic thought for the average reader.

Bring It On!

A public service announcement, from Dr. Steele:

Singaporean Health Care

If the Administration really wanted to "bend the cost curve down" they could do worse than to look at Singapore.

Medisave, which covers about 85 percent of all Singaporeans, is a component of a mandatory pension program. Employees typically pay 20 percent of their wages into the Central Provident Fund (CPF), while employers pay 13 percent. (Since 1992, the self-employed have also participated.) At the beginning of 2007, CPF had over $1 billion in surpluses.

Medisave accounts can be used to pay directly for hospital expenses incurred by an individual or his immediate family. Limits are in place on the extent of Medisave funds that can be used for daily hospital charges, physicians’ fees, and surgical fees. The idea is to cover fully the bills of most patients in state-subsidized wards of public hospitals. Beyond that, individuals dip into their own pockets or use benefits from insurance plans (see more on this below). Medisave can also be used for expensive outpatient treatments such as chemotherapy, renal dialysis, or HIV drugs.

Medishield, the second part of the program, is a national insurance plan that covers the higher cost of especially serious illness or accident, which in Singapore’s system is described as “catastrophic.” Singaporeans can choose Medishield or several private alternatives, some offered by firms listed on the Singaporean stock exchange. Premiums for the insurance plans, including Medishield, can be paid using Medisave accounts.

Medifund, the third part, was established by the government for the roughly 10 percent of Singaporeans who don’t have the means to pay for their medical needs, despite the government’s subsidy of hospital and outpatient costs. The fund was set up in 1993 with $150 million, with the budget surplus providing additional contributions since then. Only interest income, not capital, may be disbursed.

It's actually very close to the set up Kid Various has. The Kid has a health savings account and a high deductible insurance plan. He puts money into his HSA every pay period, and can take money out to pay for all health care costs up to $4,000. After $4,000 in expenses the insurance kicks in. Therefore, Kid Various gets cheap insurance (the high deductible plan is moocho cheapo because he is not using insurance to pay for little scrape and sneeze) and pays for regular maintenance out of his pocket - but can't spend that money (the HSA) on anything else so he doesn't waste it on hookers and blow - thus being incentivized to shop around for health care.

It's a great system, and as we all know, because the President promised "If you like your health plan, you can keep it..."

Oh wait a minute. Kid Various can't keep his health plan? It's illegal under the new Obamacare federal regulations? Oh Noes!

So what does Obamacare do instead? It severely curtails the use of flex plans by limiting them to $2500 per year. (The average annual cost of health care in the US is more than $7000 a year per-capita.)

For people who use flex plans, the sharply reduced amount means they’ll have to either buy a much more expensive insurance policy, or go uninsured. It’s a totally crazy move which flies in the face of Obamacare’s stated objective of making healthcare more affordable for everyone.

And of course, you should be reading (and re-reading) this excellent Obamacare primer:

ObamaCare: The sum of all fears

Recent polls reflect America’s zeal for repeal, as does an August ballot referendum in Missouri rebuking the individual mandate, which succeeded by a margin of 71-29. Throughout the lengthy public debate, President Obama and his surrogates consistently ridiculed and denounced critics of the bill as bad-faith, fear-mongering propaganda merchants.

The facts now prove there was plenty to fear in good faith.

We're Back! With Gay Animal Kingdom!

And... we're back! With Mutual of Omaha's Gay Animal Kingdom!

Giraffes have all-male orgies. So do bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, gray whales, and West Indian manatees. Japanese macaques, on the other hand, are ardent lesbians; the females enthusiastically mount each other. Bonobos, one of our closest primate relatives, are similar, except that their lesbian sexual encounters occur every two hours. Male bonobos engage in “penis fencing,” which leads, surprisingly enough, to ejaculation. They also give each other genital massages.

Don't ask us why we love this stuff. It's just our forte.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What America Will Look Like If The White House Gets Its Way | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

What America Will Look Like If The White House Gets Its Way | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

A picture of America’s future under Obamacare can be revealed, though, after peeling away the pages and digging through the dirt. Here’s 10 things you can expect:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Paying Zero for Public Services | Exploring the interactions among public opinion, governance, and the public sphere

Paying Zero for Public Services | Exploring the interactions among public opinion, governance, and the public sphere

Interesting. But I still don't understand what prevents the corrupt public official throwing the petitioner out of their office and then having them shot in the head when no one is looking.

Randy Barnett's response to 'State of the Union: How did he do?' - The Arena | POLITICO.COM

Randy Barnett's response to 'State of the Union: How did he do?' - The Arena | POLITICO.COM

Tacky, tacky, tacky...

In the history of the State of the Union has any President ever called out the Supreme Court by name, and egged on the Congress to jeer a Supreme Court decision, while the Justices were seated politely before him surrounded by hundreds Congressmen?

8 Things That Suck About the iPad - apple ipad - Gizmodo

8 Things That Suck About the iPad - apple ipad - Gizmodo

Ok, maybe The Kid won't have to buy one after all. The lack of multi-tasking is a big downer.

The Kid was upset because this looked like a Kindle-killer. And he likes his Kindle. It may be simple and not very expandable, but it's not meant to be. It's meant to do one thing well - replace a book. And that it does an excellent job at.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Al-Qaeda has a new strategy. Obama needs one, too. -

Al-Qaeda has a new strategy. Obama needs one, too. -

The Kid has often wondered why AQ has not yet deviated from its focus on the spectacular to overwhelming small scale attacks.