There was an error in this gadget

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Global Warming Explained

Okay, not really. But Power Line posts some quotes from a real live scientist concerning a few things we know and/or don't know about global "warming" or "climate change" or whatever it is we are calling it this week.

I'd been wondering why I never see these sorts of step-by-step discussions of how global "warming" supposedly happens, and what still needs to be proved before we can know it really is happening. Maybe the reason we don't see many of these explanations is that they make it clear no one really knows what significant effect - if any - man truly has on the overall temperature of the planet's atmosphere.

Pakistani Emergency - Who's on First?

My humble and completely speculative comments on Musharraf and Bhutto, and the current hate and discontent in Pakistan.

Original post to which I commented is at Captain's Quarters, one of my favorite blogs, and can be found here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lovers' Lane in Hyderabad

My flat is on Hi-Tek City Road, near Gachibowli. A couple kilometers away are Hyderabad's Botanical Gardens. It costs Rs 15 (about 39 cents) to enter. I'm not really a botany kind of guy. I went in once because I hoped I could use it as a place to walk for exercise. It isn't that big. Also, it's quite the local lovers' lane. It seemed like every tree, every bush, had a couple laying underneath it, doing what couples often do when they're laying under trees and bushes. It wasn't x-rated, at least what I saw, but it was what any teenager of my generation would have labelled 'necking'. I didn't want to irritate people that wanted some privacy.

Yesterday my walk took me past the entrance of the gardens and I noticed something I hadn't before: many - maybe most? - of the couples walking in, or walking out, or riding to or from the gardens on motorcycles were Muslim couples. The women were in black burkas. (Not all Muslim women in Hyderabad wear them but many do.)

So I wonder: are the Botanical Gardens, like, the place where young Muslim couples go to, well, you know? Hey, I'm just asking the question. I had an anonymous comment on an earlier post concerning Indian dowries, and I wonder if this will elicit some response.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

History of the Peloponnesian Wars

I finished Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian Wars within the last month. I started it a couple times over the years and if it weren’t for really long flights and airport waits between Newark, NJ, and Hyderabad, India, I probably never would have got it done.

1. Am I the only guy that didn’t know the history ends at the twenty-first year of that thirty-year war? It was embarrassing. For a minute I wondered if there was a second volume I forgot to bring with me.

2. It sure is easier to take over an enemy if you can get some of the enemy’s own citizens to help. The number of cities that fell through the treachery of cabals and factions during that long-ago war (and since then, too, I’m sure) was truly eye-opening.

3. The Lacedaemonians don’t really come off that badly in the history. I’ve heard all about the capricious Helot murdering, etc., and Thucydides, an Athenian after all, occasionally remembers to mention some sort of depravity of the Spartan society but the fact is the Lacedaemonians came across as sensible men that had a cold-eyed view of how easily wars could go wrong, and how dangerous it was to go to war. They seemed to be mostly very careful in their decisions and limited in their aims.

4. That Alcibiades. What an A-hole.

Indians and the Invasion of Iraq

I heard a couple of views expressed by Indian friends last night concerning our invasion of Iraq:

1. The United States did ourselves considerable harm allowing Saddam's execution to turn into the banana republic revenge-fest it became. It never occurred to me to watch a video of Saddam's end but apparently a lot of people around the world, including my friends in India, did watch it. The complaint, if I understand the one expressed last night, is that while it may have been necessary to hang the man, civilization demands this sort of thing be conducted - at least when carried out by the U.S. - with dignity. And yes, I know that officially Saddam was hanged by the government of Iraq. But the world justifiably attaches it to the United States.

2. Indians in general opposed our invasion because they liked Saddam. From their point of view, Saddam never did anything to them, and he gave India a break on oil prices.

I am sympathetic to the first point. Heck, I'm in total agreement. On the second point, my feeling is that's just too bad for India they have to pay full market price for oil. But it never occurred to me that someone as brutal and odious as Saddam Hussein would be considered an ally by the most populous democracy on earth.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Liberty, not Democracy

Today's Opinion Journal carries an article about Natan Sharansky.

Sharansky is one very vocal proponent of "democratization" of the Middle East, an idea that currently seems much out of fashion. He makes an interesting comment (and a true one, as far as it goes) when he says ""Democracy is a rather problematic word, because democracy is about technique. I would prefer freedom. I would say people don't want to live under constant fear."

Just so. The American Founders were never particularly interested in "democracy", they wanted liberty and they feared democracy had a pretty good historical record for, among other things, immediately preceding dictatorships and tyrannies. Their ambivalence and, in some cases, outright hostility to democracy is well known and is sometimes used as one of the cudgels with which to beat their memory.

But Sharansky is right, though he does not go far enough, and the Founders were right. A gang-rape, after all, is very democratic. Democracy is not the highest political good, and, if not treated carefully, can in fact destroy higher political goods, such as liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My Bible Reading

A couple weeks ago I finished reading The Bible. It's taken a long time. I didn't read it straight through, cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation. I had long ago read Job. I read Leviticus as part of a Sunday School class. I tried to read one Psalm per day, in addition to other readings, and mostly alternated between New Testament and Old. I'd finish an NT book, then read the next OT book, and so on. I also didn't read the Proverbs all in a row. I enjoyed reading one chapter on occasion and then reading the next at some later date. I used a 3 by 5 card as one of my bookmarks and listed which OT book and which NT book was next in my queue, along with which Psalm was next on the list and which chapter of Proverbs.

When you do it that way you end up with all the minor prophets of the OT left over and you have to read those all straight through if you want to finish completely before you re-start the New Testament. The 3 x 5 card is almost completely filled in.

So now I've started over. I finished Genesis again, am at about 15 Psalm, and have re-read the first three chapters of the Gospel of Matthew.