• Europe,  Islam

    Fascinating and horrifying

    I recently read this interview with a terrorist recruiter in the UK Prospect. It’s quite long but worth reading. The recruiter is some unassimilated Pakistani Brit who seems quite terrifying in his certainty. It brought to mind two things.

    1. It is uncanny how accurate Eric Hoffer was in describing this sort of person in The True Believer as rootless, no strong family, no national identity, no sense of self etc.
    2. The current situation seems to be similar to the international(ist) unrest Trotsky had in mind before he was forced out by Stalin. That is to say; having active agents throughout the world with no strong connections to the center of the movement. The Global Guerillas blog calls this Open Source Warfare.

    And now I see this article on the French deporting radical Muslim clerics. Hmm.

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  • Biz,  Hoffer

    Adventures in stereotyping

    I’m sure by now all of you have heard my “balloon” anecdote, which was the origin of my useful description of someone as a balloonist (someone who is more concerned with assigning blame than solving problems, often to the point of bringing in third parties simply to have someone to blame.

    I now get a new one. For people who are perfectionists in dealing with other people, let us call them teleporters. The source of all this was a discussion of the LP‘s recent date with reality regarding Iraq. From Men’s News Daily, via Q and O, in response to something by Lew Rockwell.

    Let’s instead scrunch our eyes tight, stick our fingers in our ears, and wish really, really hard. Then we can magically teleport to where we want to be instead of doing actual work to get there. And even better, if someone takes a step towards a freer society, let’s kick his legs out from under him rather than have the ideals and purity profaned by anything resembling an interaction with real life.

    Perfectly put. To paraphrase Hoffer, most people would rather have a perfect excuse than an imperfect accomplishment.

    Teleporter has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?

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  • Photography

    I see the Luxury Kings rehearse and

    All I get was one good picture out of 15. Oh well.

    On another note, the photo framing (or treatment technique anyway) is called Southern Preserve Plaquing (where the photo is mounted on beveled black wood and then coated with a non-gloss protective coating). Has anyone heard of it?

  • Law,  Society

    Nighttime thinking

    It’s probably meaningful that I come across this article on Urban surveillance networks and this article on profiling on the same day. Both of them are worth reading.

    Consider the following statement.

    An overwhelming majority of Americans think that racial profiling is wrong. A lesser number think that racial profiling is not worth doing under ordinary circumstances, a smaller number think it’s not worth doing under any circumstance.

    The above is an accurate description of public sentiment when 100% of the factor is race. Gender and age are usually thrown in as well. The above still holds true.

    But what happens when race is one factor of 50 and the profiling is being done by a computer? Assume a surveillance server can determine, height, weight, approximate age, race, gender, posture, gait, clothes, et al. Does it become acceptable at that point?

    This line of thought reminds of the last Supreme Court affirmative action decision where it was said that it was wrong for people to discriminate, but fine for computers to do so.

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  • Weirdness

    Random things

    Mapbuilder is way cool (HT: 5150)

    Sometime over the past week Drex messed up my rear derailer on my bike so now the gears won’t shift.

    I happened upon the Wikipedia entry on ethnic slurs and my current favorite is Chernozhopiy, which is “a person possessing a black ass” in Russian.

    Curiously Russians seem to use this to indicate all non-Europeans, not exclusively black people. Very strange. Also strange is the fact that most of the Asian countries have a term that literally means “White Ghost”. Also Criminal -(UK & NZ) an Australian (see also convict)