Friday, July 29, 2005

Jihadists' Tactics

This is a good overview of the Jihadist's tactics, based primarily on a book called "The Quranic Concept of War". It is interesting to note that it confirms one of John Lewis' contentions that to win a war, one must attack and defeat the homeland of one's enemy. Unfortunately our enemies recognize it, but our own government does not. From the article:

“Another point made by the author is that the war should be carried out in the opponent’s territory. “The aggressor was always met and destroyed in his own territory.” The ‘aggressor’ is anyone who stands in the way of Jihad.”

Hat tip: AbleKaneAdventures

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Public School Teachers' Agenda

Andrew Coulson has written a short piece examining the agenda of the teachers' union. And wouldn't you know it -- the agenda barely includes teaching kids.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Poverty in Africa

This is a good article discussing poverty in Africa. The author presents excellent arguments to the effect that throwing money at Africa will not only not solve the problems there, but in many cases will actually make them worse.
Hat tip: AbleKaneAdventures

ARI Editorials

ARI has recently published three excellent editorials. Presented in order of my personal preference, they are:
The Terrorists' Motivation: Islam
Lance Armstrong's Heroism Is a Moral Inspiration
Fight the Root of Terrorism With Bombs, Not Bread

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Educational Experiences

Objectivists often decry the state of higher education. But for those who either didn't take classes in the humanities, or weren't attuned to the agenda being advanced, the Objectivist complaints often sound exaggerated and even slightly paranoid. To anyone in this group (and particularly to parents who are wondering what their kids are being taught), I suggest taking an occasional trip over to Zach Oakes' Teaching the Impossible series. It's basically an ongoing chronicle detailing the leftist, subjectivist, anti-capitalist arguments he faces everyday at college. I hope he has the energy and stomach to keep posting throughout his college career.

Hat tip: Anger Management

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Plato & Christianity

I enjoyed this quote from Will Durant summarizing how Plato's ideas lead to those of Christianity.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I happened to be at the "State of ARI" talk given at OCON last week, and had the unexpected pleasure of seeing Onk given a public thank you gift & speech by his OAC students. I know that he takes his teaching duties very seriously, and works hard at them, so the students' recognition of his efforts must have been very gratifying. And from an ARI supporter (and future student), please accept my thanks and congratulations as well!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Charles Moore on Britain's Response to the London Attacks

Andrew Medworth (whose blog I recommend enthusiastically), recently put up a link to this article which argues that the English government must radically change its approach to dealing with Muslims if it is to have any hope of preventing future violence by Islamic terrorists. And while it is worth reading, to me it illustrates just how far we still have to go in getting the proper ideas into our culture.

First, even though the author, Charles Moore, makes the excellent observation that for the religious fanatic "in principle, there is no end to his killing until everyone who does not share his particular version of truth is exterminated", he does not go on to say that this arises from the essence of following a religion: faith. Unable to name the root issue of reason vs. faith, Moore observes that in its modern incarnation, Christianity is a less violent religion than Islam, yet can only explain it by saying that Islam is a "much more literal religion than Christianity". If he could see that reason and faith are opposites, then he would realize that modern Christianity is only better because it has been "watered down" by secular, pro-reason values and methods that are completely at odds with its essence (and the essence of any other faith). Similarly, he would realize that to act on faith is to take a doctrine “literally”. The extent to which one interjects one’s own reason into the process of religion (by interpreting and judging) is the extent to which one places oneself above and outside of the religion. That is why, regardless of which religion is being practiced, someone who follows its doctrines literally is given the name “fundamentalist”. Thus fundamentalist Christians follow the same approach as “literal” Muslims. And there is no doubt (and much historical evidence) that if fundamentalist Christians continue their rise, the results they will produce will be the same as those currently being wreaked by their Islamic counterparts.

So, when evaluating the danger from religion, the important question isn't which religion is better, but which is being practiced more consistently.

Also, though in some portions of the essay Moore calls for more self-criticism from within the Muslim community, in others he seems to have no answer to the moderates claiming to be pressured by the fundamentalists. For example, he says (explaining why Muslim leaders don't speak out against the fundamentalists): "The second reason is that the leaders are frightened. In private conversations with the moderates, one is always told that they are under "enormous pressure", that they risk losing control of their own people, and therefore they cannot say very fierce things against the extremists. One must accept that this pressure exists, which only goes to show how serious the problem is."

Leaving aside the idea that "controlling" others is not a proper goal to be sought, if Moore saw the importance of principles, rather than accepting this excuse he might ask: "If they can't speak out now, when will they be able to do so?" Surely the more they appease the fundamentalists, the more the fundamentalists' power will grow, and the less likely it will be that the so-called moderates will be able to oppose them in the future.

But in truth the excuse given by the moderates rings hollow.

The more likely explanation is that the “moderates” agree with the essential ideas and goals of the fundamentalists, it’s just that they won’t go to “extremes”, i.e. that they won’t act consistently on their beliefs. And because they share the basic ideas and goals (but perhaps not the violent methods) of the fundamentalists, the moderates can offer no opposition. Such is the power of ideas.

Housing Bubble

As a follow-up to Rob's post, this article provides some interesting data arguing for the existence of a housing bubble. I found the evidence of varying quality, with these two graphs being the most convincing:

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Van Gogh's Killer Acted on Religious Principle

The killer of Dutch filmmaker has proudly announced that he murdered in the name of his religion. A few excerpts from the article:
"I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion,"

(As an explanation to the mother of his victim) "I acted out of conviction -- not because I hated your son."

This case crystallizes the difference between men of reason and men of faith: with the former one can persuade and convince by appealing to observable facts; with the latter either you are struck by a revelation and believe as he does, or he kills you....