Anasazi Ruins, Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Volunteer Austin

I am now volunteering at the Pickle Center in North Austin.  Looking for other opportunities that are equally challenging.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rejected by the Blanton

I am looking for volunteer opportunities here in Austin.  The UT Blanton Museum of Art seemed like a good idea.  So, I did all the training including 2 guided tours.  I was told that asking good questions was important, so I did so.  I also commented on some small mistakes that tour guides made.  My comments and corrections were done politely and were accurate. 

I am now told that there the guides made a total of 3 complaints about my behavior and that I am not welcome at the Blanton. 

I encourage anyone reading this post to visit the Blanton and ask the guides serious questions. Possibly you can piss them off without getting thrown out like I did.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

For Greater Glory

A really bad movie.  Too much killing, too many speaches, and neither side ever sends scouts out to look for ambushes...  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Again in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Less than two hours after President Obama left Afghanistan airspace on Wednesday, explosions shook the capital and the Interior Ministry said a suicide attacker had exploded a large bomb at the gates of a compound used by foreigners in the east of Kabul, killing seven Afghans.

 The dead included four civilians who were passing in a car when they were caught by the blast, a security guard at the compound, a student and another person who was on foot nearby, said Sediq Sediqqi, the Interior Ministry spokesman. Hospital officials said 18 other people had been hospitalized with injuries, including seven schoolchildren who were at a nearby school, and one person was in a critical condition. 

 The attack took place at the gate of a large compound called the Green Village, which houses private security guards, some foreign diplomats, United Nations employees and other foreign workers in the city, the spokesman said.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Another Attack on Tom Palaima by Me

 In the American Statesman today:

Re: April 26 Tom Palaima commentary,
"Incentives to cheat are many, but that's
no excuse."

Palaima writes, "some students in field
such as engineering, biology, marketing,
pre-law and pre-med can be so fixated on
doing well in their majors that they think
courses like mythology were they are
required to read, analyze, think and write,
are light entertainment."

Well, for students in of the hard disciples (sic)
Palaima seems to think so little of, a course
in mythology is light entertainment.

Certainly is is compared to those student's
majors where they also must read, analyze,
think and write.

Steven Zoraster

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Germany's nuclear power phaseout turns off environmentalists

KLEINENSIEL, Germany — When the German government shut down half the country's nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, followed two months later by a pledge to abandon nuclear power within a decade, environmentalists cheered.

A year later, however, criticism of the nuclear shutdown is emerging from a surprising source: some of the very activists who pushed for the phaseout.

They say poor planning of the shutdown and political opportunism by the government have actually worsened the toll on the environment in Germany, and Europe, at least in the short term.

To make up for the lost nuclear power, which supplied 22% of Germany's electricity before the phaseout began, the country has increased its reliance on brown coal, a particularly high emitter of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and a major contributor to global warming. Brown coal now supplies 25% of Germany's electricity, up from 23% a year ago.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Terrible Austin Infrastructure

Around 1960 my family was thrilled because Los Angeles built a sidewalk along Woodley Avenue in front of my house in the San Fernando Valley. The city was building sidewalks along all the streets in our neighborhood. Suddenly, I no longer had to walk home from elementary school on dirt paths alongside heavily trafficked roads. A few years later my younger brothers and I were able to walk to middle school on sidewalks, unlike my older brother who had walked on dirt.

Flash forward to 2012. Today I live in the Highland Park/Balcones neighborhood of Austin, which has poorer infrastructure for foot traffic than I experienced over 50 years ago in California. Mostly I walk in the street because there are no sidewalks. Behind Camp Mabry on Edgemont Drive and Madrona Drive there are no sidewalks. Up the hills west of Balcones on Ridge Oak Drive, Crestway Drive, and Highland Crest Drive there are no sidewalks.

There are sidewalks around Highland Park elementary school and along Balcones from Perry Lane to Northland. That’s it. If it were only me doing this it would not be worth an editorial in this newspaper. But many others use the same streets. I often pass other walkers and joggers, including neighbors walking dogs and parents pushing babies in strollers. All doing so in the street, because there are no sidewalks
Children who live farther than one block from the elementary school usually aren’t allowed to walk to and from school because that’s where the sidewalks stop. Although, I do occasionally see children walking on my lawn to keep off the street.
In fact, when I visit my family back in the San Fernando Valley, I notice that people who walk enjoy sidewalks that are usually better maintained than the sidewalks along most Austin streets outside of downtown.

City Council members say they want Austin to be a pedestrian friendly and walkable city but the evidence is lacking. The city often supports expenditures on consultant studies, incentive programs and grand initiatives while ignoring basic infrastructure needs such as neighborhood sidewalks.

Austin should get its priorities straight. If we truly want our citizens to exercise and walk to work and school when they live close enough to do so, let us spend money on the means to help them do so safely.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Reaction to Austin's Water Shortage

As I walk or drive around the Highland Park/Balcones neighborhood I notice how nature and man have combined to adapt to the recent water shortage. Lawns are usually in poor shape, if not actually dying. Plants that are doing well are things like Crape. Myrtle, Rosemary, Sage, Pyracantha (commonly known as Firerhorn) and many different cacti. Roses bushes are few, and those I looked closely at are doing
poorly. Those yards that look best often have as much well laid out rock paving as plants.

I started looking because I was worried that our yard would itself look bad compared to those of my neighbors. Well, not a problem. Our yard is no worse than many others, however, a brief period of thought sent me to the nearby nursery to buy Mountain Laurel, Sage, and Cacti to plant in my own front yard.

A hedge of Pyracantha

But I will never plant Pyracantha. I took out a 50 linear foot hedge
of Pyracanth a when I was 14, and today I recoil in fear when I see
just one of those horrible plants.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Yet Another Afghanistan Killing by the Usual Suspects

Rogue Afghan police officer: A Taliban infiltrator’s road to fratricide
The Washington Post
By Kevin Sieff and Javed Hamdard, Published: April 1

KABUL — Before the Afghan police officer named Asadullah killed eight of his colleagues and one civilian Friday morning, he spent years as a Taliban fighter, targeting men he called infidels and crisscrossing the Pakistani border with teams of insurgents.

But his first collaboration with the insurgency was the one his neighbors still find the most egregious: He granted the Taliban permission to kill his father, Ehsanullah.

Afghan and Western officials said they uncovered those details in conversations with Asadullah’s family and friends after the new police recruit and Taliban sleeper agent apparently drugged his colleagues and shot them in the head while they slept.

The incident is one of the bloodiest cases of fratricide in the 10-year-old war and comes amid a surge in attacks by rogue Afghan army and police personnel on their Afghan and American colleagues. At least 16 NATO service members have been killed by men in Afghan army and police uniforms since January, an increase compared with the same period in previous years.

Monday, March 26, 2012

From a Blog Post on Islam in Norway

“In March 2011, the renowned Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz came to Oslo. He offered to lecture at three Norwegian universities without payment. They all turned him down. Thereafter, Dershowitz wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal where he conveyed how anti-Semitic Norwegian academics let him know that he was persona non grata. This affair made me ashamed to be Norwegian. I am looking forward to the day when the present government will be defeated. Then hopefully, an end will come to their propaganda and the misleading image of Israel which they continuously portray to the Norwegian public.”

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The New York Times on Egypt and Palestine

The New York Times really thinks that brokering a closer relationship between Hamas and Fatah is a move towards stability in the Middle East? Yes, according to the first few paragraphs from an online article:

CAIRO — As it prepares to take power in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is overhauling its relations with the two main Palestinian factions in an effort to put new pressure on Israel for an independent Palestinian state.

Officials of the Brotherhood, Egypt’s dominant Islamist movement, are pressing its militant Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, which controls Gaza, to make new compromises with Fatah, the Western-backed Palestinian leadership that has committed to peace with Israel and runs the West Bank.

The intervention in the Palestinian issue is the clearest indication yet that as it moves into a position of authority, the Brotherhood, the largest vote getter in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, intends to both moderate its positions on foreign policy and reconfigure Egypt’s.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Copy of an e-mail I sent to Tom Palaima this Morning

Professor of Classics at UT Austin had yet another anti-American column in the American Statesman this morning. His twisted wording managed to imply that the United States is uniquely evil in the way it wages war. As a classical scholar Dr. Palaima know this is not true. Obviously he does this to further his agenda amongst less educated. He shows great contempt for his readers many who will not see though his false arguments.

Still, I suspect most American veterans themselves would dislike the article, no matter what they felt about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is the e-mail:


Tom Palaima

I read you guest editorial in the American Statesman
this morning. I was bother by it because you seem
to indicate that the insane action of one American
soldier was indicative of the unique way we wage war.

You certainly did not mention that killing of otherwise
innocent civilians and captured soldiers has been a fact
of war since the beginning of history. The Romans
sacked cities that did not surrender, killing among others
Archimedes during the capture of Syracuse during the 2nd
Punic War.

I have on my shelves books with eye-witness accounts of
American killing captured German soldiers during WW2.

Of course we both know I could go on and on.

I and everyone I know is for leaving Afghanistan and
everywhere else in the Middle East today.

But you as a classical scholar should offer you readers
more information about long history of crimes committed
during wars since, well, since forever.

I am sure that most reading of you article do not have
the deep knowledge that you, and I, and even my wife share.

I am truly disappointed. Any thought of going to Thursday's
evening talk which I knew about before reading your column
just ended.

Steven Zoraster
3329 Perry Lane
Austin, Texas 7831

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cyrenaica Still Wants to be Independent

16 March 2012 BBC

Libya rally on Cyrenaica autonomy plan ends in violence

Vehicle belonging to pro-federalism supporters damaged by youths in Benghazi. Anti-federalism protesters drove the rally from Freedom Square, Benghazi, witnesses said.

Clashes at a rally calling for a semi-autonomous territory to be created in eastern Libya have left one person dead in the city of Benghazi, reports say.

Witnesses said a crowd demanding a semi-autonomous region of Cyrenaica was attacked by armed men.

The plan calls for a regional parliament with control over the police but stops short of dividing Libya.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Karzai is at the End of Whose Rope?

From today's The New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai chastised the United States on Friday, saying he was at “the end of the rope” over what he termed America’s lack of cooperation in investigating the American soldier who went on a rampage earlier this month and killed 16 civilians in southern Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai had previously dispatched a delegation to investigate the killings in Panjwai district of Kandahar Province, and he said on Friday that American officials did not cooperate with the Afghan inquiry. He made the comments after meeting at the presidential palace in Kabul with relatives of those killed.

The Afghan leader also questioned whether only a single American soldier was involved in the massacre, which took place on March 11. He said the accounts of villagers — many of whom have claimed multiple soldiers took part in the shootings — did not match the American assertion that the killings were the work of a lone, rogue soldier.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Did We Just Win the War In Afghanistan?

One American soldier goes crazy, murdering many innocent civilians. Instead of rioting most Afghans keep a low profile. Heads down.

Another irrational rampage by an American and maybe the Afghan Army (such as it is) AND the Taliban will surrender? To us?

I have read a different take on this event and the fact that rioting has not occurred because of it. That is that killing civilians over some trivial feud is not a big deal in Afghanistan, but burning the Koran is RELIGION which these savages take seriously and are willing to riot and kill over.

Our experience there shows that according to civilized standards these people cannot be tamed.

Certainly the particular American who committed the crime in question deserves to be punished by our military. I have read he is already out of Afghanistan. The rest of our people there can not leave soon enough. Tomorrow would be a good day to start.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review of "Camp of the Saints"

Camp of the Saints is a novel written in 1973 predicting the fall of Western Civilization to a wave of foreign immigrants which sets off internal rebellions by the immigrant underclass already in Europe and the United States.

That this book make such a prediction so long ago is why it is respected today, when waves of immigrants are changing the ethnic and cultural makeup of much of Europe (Muslim) and many parts of the United States (Hispanic). Otherwise it is not a well written book.

Problems include:

1) The point of view chances suddenly, so that the reader has trouble knowing whether the time is before the immigration, during it, or after it.

2) The author manages to distance the reader from most events with elaborate writing.

3) The characters are not well developed.

Many reviewers on complained that the book is racist. They are right, but that did not bother me because I found it just another way the author was using to beat me over the head with his dramatic predictions.

I more or less enjoyed reading the book but will not read it again.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cyrenaica Independent?

From the National Post, a Canadian Newspaper:

TRIPOLI — Civic leaders from Libya’s eastern Cyrenaica province will on Tuesday launch a push for regional autonomy, posing a new challenge to the country’s fragile cohesion after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Five thousand people are due to attend an inaugural “Congress of the People of Cyrenaica” near the eastern city of Benghazi where they will set out a proposal for Libya to be transformed into a federal state, one of the organizers said.

“We would like in Cyrenaica to take care of housing, education and other things and would delegate national security, defence … to the central government,” said Mohammed Buisier, a Libyan-American who is helping organize the congress.

“We believe in one Libya,” he told Reuters by telephone from Benghazi, cradle of the revolution against Gaddafi last year.

“People in Cyrenaica have for 40 years suffered from negligence … If we keep this negligence towards the east, I cannot guarantee that Libya will be united in 25 years time.”

Monday, March 5, 2012

Heck, a Direct Quote from the LA Times on Afghanistan

REPORTING FROM KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- Reflecting continuing tensions over the burning of Korans at Bagram air base, a suicide bomber tried Monday to breach an outer gate of the giant U.S.-run installation north of Afghanistan's capital.

The attack killed two Afghan laborers who were leaving the base, the provincial governor said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility in a text message sent to journalists, but the claim could not be immediately verified. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for a number of violent incidents that took place as riots rocked the country last month over what U.S. officials have called the inadvertent burning of copies of the Muslim holy book at Bagram.

Monday's bombing took place about 6 p.m. as many workers were leaving the base. Abdul Basir Salangi, the governor of Parwan province, where the base is located, said the bomber ran toward a gate manned by Afghan security forces and detonated his explosives there. Four Afghan workers were wounded, he said.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Man and Water in Austin

Texas Sage

As I walk and drive around the Highland Park, Balconnes area of Austin, I note how nature and man have combined to adapt to the recent water scarcity. Lawns are usually in poor shape, if not actually dying. Plants that are doing well are things like Crape Myrtle, Rosemary, Sage, Pyracantha and many different cacti. Roses bushes are few, and those I looked closely at are doing poorly. Those yards that look best often have as much space covered by well laid out rock paving as by plants.

I started looking at other people's property because I was worried that our yard would look bad compared to those of my neighbors. Well, not a problem. Ours is no worse than many others. In fact, a brief period of thought sent me to the nearby Nursery to buy mountain laurel, Sage, and cacti to plant in my own front yard.

But I will never plant Pyracantha. I took out a 50 linear foot hedge of Pyracantha when I was 14, and today recoil in fear when I see just one of those horrible plants.

Friday, March 2, 2012

They Hate Us

Just read yet another article in the Austin newspaper about the killing of 2 more Americans in Afghanistan. One was "a civilian literacy instructor hired to teach Afghan soldiers how to read".

Who cares if they can read? They hate us. They hate all foreigners. They always have and always will.

Let's think about the reading part. If they can read they can understand the instructions on the weapons they capture from us? This is a good thing? Or just unimportant because you do not have to read to use an AK-47?

We must leave. Now. I hold Obama responsible for failing to respond to these and previous outrages by pulling out of Afghanistan

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Afghanistan Again. Two Americans Shot While Training

KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO said two American soldiers were killed on Thursday when at least one Afghan turned his gun on them in southern Afghanistan, raising further questions about the Afghan security forces.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Articles on Afghan Riots in LA Times and The New York Times

Today, both The LA Times and The New York Times have online articles about the political fallout of the ongoing riots in Afghanistan. And especially the dead Americans killed by our "friends" over there. Could this be the being of the end of our commitment to that country? God, I hope so. But, Obama is not going to admit we are defeated there and the Republicans probably will be just as bad if they win in November 2012.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Review of "Safe House"

I did not expect to like the movie Safe House staring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. I expected yet another spy story of betrayal and revenge with too many car chases and too many fights.

Well the movie did have too many car chases and too many - way too many - fights. But it was redeemed by all the unexpected turns in the story. I think one character is buying a ticket for one purpose, and it turns out he is buying it for a different but perfectly logical purpose. I expect one character to walk though the door and a different character does. And the bad guy I thought dead is still alive. (Just for long enough to be killed yet again by one of the good guys.)

Maybe you have to have low expectations based on seeing so many similar movies in the past. Think Three Days of the Condor or the Bourne Movies.

Well, I had the low expectation and had seen all those movies and I loved this one.

More Afghan Violence Against Americans

These are are friends?

From The New York Times:

Blast Injures U.S. Soldiers as Riots Rage in Afghanistan


Published: February 26, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — A grenade thrown by Afghan protesters wounded at least six American service members in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, officials said, as new details emerged in the investigation of the shooting death of two American officers within the Interior Ministry building the day before.

Rioting continued across the country on Sunday as anger over the burning of Korans by the American military continued unabated, putting the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States on shaky new ground. At least one Afghan was killed in clashes with the Afghan police.

A few details of the killing within the Interior Ministry were emerging, although many reports offered conflicting views of what had happened. According to three Afghan security officials familiar with the case, the main suspect was Abdul Saboor, who was said to have worked in the ministry for more than a year as a driver. The two American officers who were killed were shot in the head and the pistol used to kill them was equipped with a silencer, the officials said.

Afghan officials said that Mr. Saboor was at large, apparently able to leave the ministry without complication after the shooting. That suggested to some observers that he may have had help in the attack.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Now Afgans Security People are Killing Americans

Americans are dying to protect these people from whom? From themselves? Yet another outrage with an Afghan on the US payroll turning his weapon on Americans!

Again from The New York Times:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two American officers were shot dead inside the Interior Ministry building here on Saturday, as outrage continued to erupt violently across the country at the American military’s burning of Korans at a NATO army base.

A U.S. military vehicle drives on the road leading to the Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul on Saturday. Two American soldiers were shot dead inside the Interior Ministry.

The NATO commander, Gen. John R. Allen, immediately ordered all military advisers withdrawn from Afghan ministries in Kabul, in a startling admission of how deep the crisis had become, with anti-American fury reaching deeply into even the Afghan security forces and ministries working most closely with the coalition.

Although there was no official statement that the gunman was an Afghan, in an e-mail sent to Western officials here from NATO headquarters the episode was described as “green on blue,” which is the military term used here when Afghan security forces turn their weapons on their Western military allies.

The killings, which happened within one of the most tightly secured areas of the ministry, add to the drumbeat of concern about a deepening animosity between civilians and militaries on both sides that had led to American and coalition forces being killed in increasing numbers even before the Koran burning ignited nationwide rioting. Now, the withdrawal from Afghan ministries suddenly calls into question the coalitions’ entire strategy of joint operations with Afghan forces across the country, although General Allen said NATO was still committed to fighting the war in Afghanistan.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Yet More Rioting in Afghanistan

From The New York Times:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Angry and violent protests broke out in Kabul after the midday prayer on Friday and gunfire could be heard near the large Eid Gah Mosque where a crowd of more than 1,000 people gathered in the center of the capital.

The protests were in response to the burning of several Korans at the largest NATO air base in the country on Monday night, which the military afterward said was a inadvertent mistake and apologized for profusely.

A second angry protest by an estimated 4,000 people armed with rocks and sticks was surging along the Kabul-Jalalabad road in the east of the city and moving toward central Kabul. At least seven police vehicles were seen retreating as the crowd hurled a barrage of stones. A few of the protesters were waving the white flag of the Taliban and some were wearing head wrappings with a jihad slogan written on them: “I sacrifice myself.”

Protesters throughout the city were also shouting “Death to America.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

And Another Day of Anti-American Riots in Afghanistan

A direct quote from today's The New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — Protests against the burning by NATO personnel of an undisclosed number of Korans spilled into a second day on Wednesday and seemed poised to widen as the United States Embassy in Kabul suspended all travel by its staff and NATO soldiers in the capital appeared to be restricting their movements, keeping military vehicles off the streets.

Demonstrations turned violent on Wednesday morning in the capital and in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan where one person was killed and at least six injured, according to government officials. Protesters attempting to break into the NATO base at the Jalalabad airfield set fire to six fuel tankers in a nearby parking lot.

In Kabul, protesters threw rocks at Afghan Army vehicles and shouted anti-American slogans as they blocked the main road to eastern Afghanistan.

The stench of burning rubber still lingered after the worst of the protest was over. Ten demonstrators and 12 police officers were injured, officials said. The Kabul police chief, Mohammed Ayoub Salangi, was also pelted with rocks but was not hurt.

The Associated Press said security forces fired into the air as hundreds of protesters gathered outside a housing complex for foreigners on the outskirts of Kabul, the capital, and set a fuel truck ablaze.

The protesters chanted slogans including: “Death to America,” witnesses said.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Afghans Riot Over Rumors of Burned Korans

Rioting outside Bargram Air Base near Kabul

Now are "friends" in Afghanistan are rioting because they think NATO forces burned Korans. A three paragraph quote from The New York Times:

"The crowd at Bagram, estimated at more than 2,000, shouted 'Death to America' and 'We don’t want them anymore,' according to witnesses who were reached by telephone. Witnesses said gunfire could be heard and security forces were firing rubber bullets.

"Some in the crowd were singing Taliban songs and several Urdu speakers, described as Pakistanis, were making speeches to the crowd.

"The protesters closed the district government building and stopped people trying to come to the center of the city before dispersing in the afternoon as the demonstration ended."

Once again my opinion is that we should leave the Afghans to do their own insane killing of each other. Bring our soldiers home tomorrow. And, naturally, The New York Times seems to blame NATO as much as the Afghans for their irrational anger

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Washington Post Calls for Arming Syrian Rebels

Pro-democracy fighters in Syria?

The Washington Post writes that Syrian rebels should be armed by outside aid under UN leadership. This is idiotic. The end of the Assad regime will lead to rule by Islamic extremists and factional fighting as it has done in Egypt and Libya. But, of course, nobody in the media pays attention to what has happened in those two countries! Below is a quote from story in the Post.

"So how to stop the massacres? The most available and workable solution is tactical and materiel support for the anti-regime forces, delivered through neighbors such as Turkey or the Persian Gulf states. Opponents say that would increase the violence, but violence in Syria will continue to escalate as long as the regime believes it can survive by force. Others worry that radicals among the opposition will be empowered. But what will strengthen extremists the most is the failure of democratic nations to act and the entry of groups such as al-Qaeda into the vacuum."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review of "Mohammed & Charlemagne Revisited"

This review is from: Mohammed & Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy (Kindle Edition)
Scott argues that the collapse of Latin-Greek civilization in Western Europe happened not in the 5th century during the migrations of the Goths, Vandals and other Germanic peoples, but was delayed until the 7th century.

Among other evidence of continuity after the fall of Rome, Scott writes the the barbarian kings issued coins with the face of the Eastern Roman Emperor on them until about 640AD. He also shows that learning, long distance trade, building, intensive agriculture, and other facets of Latin-Greek culture continued until about that date.

Archeologist cited in the book have found serious soil erosion only after that same 640 date. This is true not only for all of Western Europe but also for North Africa and much of the Middle East.

So, what happened in the Mediterranean world about that time? The Arab-Islamic conquests. Which effectively forced trade across the Mediterranean to be given up, the abandonment of coastal agriculture, and the building of the first castles near the sea. The pirate raids and looting carried out by the Arabs destroyed Roman civilization, not those Germans, who only wanted to benefit from the culture they took over.

There is other evidence on the state of early Islam that counters the standard model of the first Islamic civilizations being good, and post-fall-of-Rome civilization in the west being bad. That is the failure of archeologists to find any evidence of large cities in early Islamic lands. No massive ruins in 8th or 9th century Baghdad or Cordoba, supposedly centers of large, prosperous Islamic civilizations, with beautiful palaces and Mosques. I found this very surprising and evidence that clinched the author's arguments.

A very well argued book that attacks several recent books on the fall of Rome and the benefits of Islamic culture.

And then at the end of the book, Scott goes off on a tangent suggesting...

Well, read the book.

P.S. Emmet Scott often publishes online in something names New English Review. It you are interested in the impact of Islam on current affairs and the problems of western culture due to our general decline in morality, religious belief, and social responsibility, I suggest looking at the Review's web pages at the start of each month. The URL is:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Egypt, the US, The New York Times, and Islam

Typical Egyptian Soccer Game

The New York Times has an article online today about the female head of Egypt's Planning and International Cooperation push to arrest and try those American caught over in Cairo doing working for various international aid organizations. To quote the Times:

"With $1.5 billion in annual American aid hanging in the balance, Egypt’s top military officer and de facto chief executive is asking Ms. Abul Naga to moderate her tone. But she has become more caustic than ever, issuing her own warnings for Washington to back off. If the United States is not careful, she says, it may push Egypt closer to Iran."

Good grief. Does our government not know that the Islamic radicals have WON in Egypt? Did not those silly foreign aid workers in Egypt know something like this was going to happen?

Beside the fact that the Times is also clue-less about the truth about Egypt and the whole Middle East, the false note in the quoted paragraph above is the threat that Egypt might ally itself with Iran. Come on! The Times itself does not know that Egypt is Sunni and Iran is Shia? And that those two sects of Islam hate each other as much as they hate us?


Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost (DVD)

Innocents Lost should have been named Redemption, because that is the primary theme in this movie starring Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone, sometimes chief of police in Paradise, Massachusetts. The previous movie in this series was lame, this one excellent.

Most of the characters from previous books and movies are back, including officers Luther "Suitcase" Simpson and Rose Gammon, State Police Captain Healy, Boston mob boss Gino Fish, and even former Paradise city councilman - and former criminal, Hasting Hathaway

As I wrote above, redemption is the key to this movie. Hathaway is thinking of putting himself up again for city council as a reformed criminal who has learned his lesson from his past jail time. Gino Fish gets a bit of redemption by identifying a bad guy who has gone against Fish's strange code of criminal behavior. Suitcase follows his own code of honor (taught to him by Stone) by resigning because he does not like the thoroughly unlikable new Police Chief. And Healy and Stone earn a few good points to weigh against past sins by getting a kid wrongly convicted of murder freed from that charge.

Without giving too much of the plot away I will tell you that as always in these Jesse Stone movies there are multiple story lines going on, some finished with a bang and some left hanging waiting for a yet another sequel.

This movie holds together so well because all the characters seem at ease with each other and their roles in the ongoing Jesse Stone drama. Oh, and by the way, there are hints that Jesse is getting over his dependence on his ex-wife.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Libya Today in the New York Times

The country that witnessed the Arab world’s most sweeping revolution is foundering. So is its capital, where a semblance of normality has returned after the chaotic days of the fall of Tripoli last August. But no one would consider a city ordinary where militiamen tortured to death an urbane former diplomat two weeks ago, where hundreds of refugees deemed loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi waited hopelessly in a camp and where a government official acknowledged that “freedom is a problem.” Much about the scene on Wednesday was lamentable, perhaps because the discord was so commonplace.


A sense of entropy lingers here. Some state employees have gone without salaries for a year, and Mr. Shamis acknowledged that the government had no idea how to channel enough money into the economy so that it would be felt in the streets. Tripoli residents complain about a lack of transparency in government decisions. Ministries still seem paralyzed by the tendency, instilled during the dictatorship, to defer every decision to the top.


The militias are proving to be the scourge of the revolution’s aftermath. Though they have dismantled most of their checkpoints in the capital, they remain a force, here and elsewhere. A Human Rights Watch researcher estimated there are 250 separate militias in the coastal city of Misurata, the scene of perhaps the fiercest battle of the revolution. In recent months those militias have become the most loathed in the country.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The New York Times on Egypt and Islam

Cairo on a Good Day

Today, the 4th of February 2012, the New York Times has posted an editorial online complaining that the Egyptian military may not give up its influence over the government of that country. The author of the article writes, “The danger is that in the future, without accountability to elected civilian authorities, the Egyptian military and security services will seek to increase their power by manipulating Islamic extremist organizations in volatile and strategically sensitive areas like the Sinai Peninsula.”

We should be so lucky. If the military does not intervene, then Egypt will go the way of Iran with Islamic rulers who will make that country a viciously anti-western, anti-modern, failed state. Just like Somalia, but worse because it is so much larger in both population and regional influence. And because it is part of the heartland of the Middle East, rather than on the edge.

The editorial goes on complain that Egypt may go the way of Pakistan where the intelligence services and the Military manipulate Islamic groups to maintain power. Again we will be lucky if that happens. That is if anyone still believes that it is the Military in Pakistan that controls the terrorists rather than the terrorists who control the Military or, at least, work in close cooperation with it to run the country for the benefit of both.

This is yet another example of how blind the MSM is to the true roll of Islam in the world today.

See the full editorial at: