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Friday, January 30, 2009

Fact vs Opinion

In a comment to my post below Glenn writes:

"My problem with the Israeli attack on Gaza is two-fold. First, as far as I can tell, the Israelis made no serious attempt to identify combatants before they started blowing things up. Second, I fail to see any possible relationship between the Israeli actions and the cessation of rocket attacks. This was an indiscriminate tantrum which killed 1,300 Arabs and 13 Israelis."

I have a problem with both folds of Glenn's problem and of course with his conclusion. To the first point I understand the Israelis indeed took great pains to identify combatants, and to the second point the Israeli action did force Hamas to stop their rocket attacks. My own conclusion is that far from being an "indiscriminate tantrum" it was rather as precise a military operation as it could possibly have been given the density of the population and Hamas cowardly propensity to use as much of their own population as possible as human shields against the Israelis.

Some time ago at the old Cafe it was Glenn that first pointed out to me (I know, it's something I should have realized long before) that new information we consider to be fact is often (even usually) greatly influenced by our pre-existing opinions. This new information - which we now consider factual - then reinforces the original opinion.

This tendency is probably at play here. Glenn is a smart man and I don't consider myself that stupid either. Yet here we are, looking at the same information, and walking away with completely different opinions on the matter because we perceive two completely different versions of what the true facts are.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Gaza Family Martyr Business

For when you see those Palestinian "civilian" casualty numbers: A very depressing read. (via Jonah Goldberg at NRO)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Canada on Gaza

Are the Canadian's getting less pansyish these days? Have I been judging them too harshly all along? Is something else going on? I don't know.

The National Post carries the official positions of the Conservatives, Liberals, and New Democrats concerning the current unpleasantness occurring in Gaza. Only the New D's are objectively rooting for Hamas to get a free pass. Both Liberals and Conservatives seem to agree with the common-sense propositions that a)Israel ought to be able to defend itself against rocket attacks and b) the rocket attacks must cease before Israel can be reasonably required to stop defending itself.

I'm starting to like these guys better again. Which is good.

Israel in Gaza

Interesting on-line article by Robert Kaplan in The Atlantic.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ann Boleyn

A couple weeks ago we rented the movie The Other Boleyn Girl. Since I don't know much about Ann Boleyn - and had never heard of her sister - I went to the library and checked out "Ann Boleyn, A Biography" by Marie Louise Bruce. I can't find a link to the book on-line. It was published in 1972 and seems to be out of print.

I enjoyed both book (excellent and informative) and movie (Hollywood brain rot but enough to get me interested in the real Ann Boleyn). Of course the movie took great liberties with the facts of Mary's and Ann's lives. Historical movies usually tell more about the period in which they're produced than they do about the period the story is supposed to cover.

Ann Boleyn was an extraordinary person, both in the movie and in life; and the real Mary Boleyn was - well, let's just say - not the girl in the movie.

Note on the usual, gratuitous, anti-Christian cheap-shot required in all standard Hollywood productions: According to Bruce, Ann was not charged with witchcraft, and witchcraft was not a felony in England in 1536. The charges of Treason and conspiring to kill the King were quite enough to have her condemned. It's typical whoever made the movie thought it necessary to add a new charge to Queen Ann's indictment.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

A bit of metaphysics for 2009, from the Eighth Psalm:

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet(.)

Somebody (Chesterton maybe?) said the problem with atheists is that once a person stops believing in God, he can start to believe in anything. How does one stand his ground if one doesn't know where it is?

Imagine trying to argue fashionable metaphysical foolishness with the psalmist? That mankind should be considered, say, a 'virus' on the 'organism' of Mother Earth, or that humanity is simply another species with no more 'rights' than dolphins? We all start with assumptions when we look at the world, and it's good to remember what our assumptions are. One can do much worse than start with the Eighth Psalm. Many do.