Friday, September 29, 2006

Israel gets blamed for a lot of nasty things. One common accusation and criticism is that they have acted genocidally against Moslems. And it is true, that since their War of Independence in 1948, about 60,000 Moslems have died in the various Israeli-Arab conflicts, including the two Intafadas and the War in Lebanon. However, in the same time period, France has been responsible for killing about half a million Moslems, while the Russians have killed about a million. And Moslem countries, while they've criticized and fought against Israel, have killed about 8.5 million Muslims all by themselves. But somehow, for some reason, the world only criticizes the Jews. I wonder why?

A quote from an article in Ma'ariv:

The tragedy is that in Arab and Muslim countries a massacre is happening. A genocide protected by the silence of the world. A genocide protected by a deception that is perhaps unparalleled in the history of mankind. A genocide that has no connection to Israel, to Zionism or to Jews. A genocide of mainly Arabs and Muslims, by Arabs and Muslims.

This is not a matter of opinion or viewpoint. This is the result of factual examination, as precise as possible, of the numbers of victims of various wars and conflicts that have taken place since the establishment of the State of Israel up till this time, in which the massacre continues. It is, indeed, death on a massive scale. A massacre. It is the wiping out of villages and cities and whole populations. And the world is silent. The Muslims are indeed abandoned. They are murdered and the world is silent. And if it bothers to open its mouth, it doesn’t complain about the murderers. It doesn’t complain about the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity. It complains about Israel.

Take a look at this rather lengthy article published originally in Hebrew and translated by the blogger at Not A Fish.

Oh, and keep in mind an important point: Israel has a free press. Ma'ariv is one of dozens of daily papers in the Jewish state. Not something one can say about most of the Moslem countries who might want to criticize.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I do get the feeling that many people in the West do not understand the problem. Clifford D. May states the uncomfortable situation for the West well:

Many commentators have noted the apparent irony: The pope suggests Islam encourages violence — and Muslims riot in protest.

Many commentators have pointed out the apparent hypocrisy: Muslims are outraged by cartoons satirizing Islamic extremism while in Muslim countries Christianity and Judaism are attacked viciously and routinely.

Many commentators are missing the point: These protesters — and those who incite them — are not asking for mutual respect and equality. They are not saying: “It’s wrong to speak ill of a religion.” They are saying: “It’s wrong to speak ill of our religion.” They are not standing up for a principle. They are laying down the law. They are making it as clear as they can that they will not tolerate “infidels” criticizing Muslims. They also are making it clear that infidels should expect criticism — and much worse — from Muslims.

They are attempting nothing less than the establishment of a new world order in which the supremacy of what they call the Nation of Islam is acknowledged, and “unbelievers” submit — or die. Call it an offer you can’t refuse....

....Imad Hamto, a Palestinian religious leader, said: “We want to use the words of the Prophet Muhammad and tell the pope: ‘Aslim Taslam’” The Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh explained: “Aslim Taslam is a phrase that was taken from the letters sent by the Prophet Muhammad to the chiefs of tribes in his times in which he reportedly urged them to convert to Islam to spare their lives.”

It is not only those readily identified as extremists who voice such views. The prime minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, seemed to strike a conciliatory note, saying that the Pope’s expression of regret for his remarks was “acceptable.” But he added: “[W]e hope there are no more statements that can anger the Muslims.”

Similarly, on National Public Radio, a George Washington University professor, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, argued that statements such as those quoted by the pope — expressing sentiments some Muslims may find offensive — must be viewed as a form of violence.

Is the Western ideal of freedom of speech and of the press threatened? Of course but that’s only part of what is at work here. More significantly, Americans and Europeans are being relegated to the status of a dhimmi — the Arabic word applied to those conquered by Muslim armies between the 7th and 17th centuries. Based on shari’a law, dhimmis are meant to “feel themselves subdued,” to acknowledge their inferiority compared to Muslims.

In some ways, we already have done so. For example, Muslims are welcome in the Vatican, even as Christians are banned from setting foot in Mecca. We do not object to Saudis building mosques in America and Europe, even as they prohibit churches and synagogues on Arabian soil.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Getting back to science fiction, something that I enjoy a great deal. I've been engrossed in a series of books begun by Eric Flint, the first of which is entitled 1632. You can easily get it at posits a temporal accident set in motion by aliens winds up sending a small chunk of West Virginia back to 17th century Germany in the middle of the 30 Years War. The chunk happens to encompass an entire town made up of good old boys and girls who set out to bring American ideals of liberty and justice to the Middle Ages. Fun ensues. It is a good story and a great series of books, still in the process of being written and published. I highly recommend them.
From a column in the Washington Post:

Today's Islamists seem to have not even a sense of irony. They fail to see the richness of the following sequence. The pope makes a reference to a 14th-century Byzantine emperor's remark about Islam imposing itself by the sword, and to protest this linking of Islam and violence:

· In the West Bank and Gaza, Muslims attack seven churches.

· In London, the ever-dependable radical Anjem Choudary tells demonstrators at Westminster Cathedral that the pope is now condemned to death.

· In Mogadishu, Somali religious leader Abubukar Hassan Malin calls on Muslims to "hunt down" the pope. The pope not being quite at hand, they do the next best thing: shoot dead, execution-style, an Italian nun who worked in a children's hospital.

"How dare you say Islam is a violent religion? I'll kill you for it" is not exactly the best way to go about refuting the charge. But of course, refuting is not the point here. The point is intimidation.

The whole article is well worth reading.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Besides doing my customary rewriting today, I also busied myself with things relating to the new server that the Quartz Hill School of Theology website has been moved to (thanks to Rick Curtis). We are in the process of adding various bells and whistles. For instance, the Aeropagus, our bulletin board/discussion forum is being completely redone. At the moment, it is still being put together and the look of it is not quite what we'd like, but it does function just fine. Eventually we'll link it to the home page of the site, and in a more obvious manner than it's former incarnation. If you'd like a preview, take a look now at the new Areopagus

I set the new DNS for our new server yesterday with Educause, the organization in charge of handling the .edu domain on the web. But not all ISPs had updated their DNS list yet, as of the time I was writing this--for instance, MY ISP hasn't updated yet (grumble) and it has been more than 24 hours. I've read it can take 3 to 4 days for the change to a new server to propagate through the internet.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe writes about Islam:

This time it was a 14th-century quote from a Byzantine ruler that set off -- or rather, was exploited by Islamist firebrands to ignite -- the international demonstrations, death threats, and violence. Earlier this year it was cartoons about Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. Last year it was a Newsweek report, later debunked, that a Koran had been descecrated by a US interrogator in Guantanamo. Before that it was Jerry Falwell's comment on ``60 Minutes" that Mohammed was a ``terrorist." Back in 1989 it was the publication of Salman Rushdie's satirical novel, ``The Satanic Verses."

In every case, the pretext for the Muslim rage was the claim that Islam had been insulted. Freedom of speech was irrelevant: While the rioters and those inciting them routinely insult Christianity, Judaism, and other religions, they demand that no one be allowed to denigrate Islam or its prophet. It is a staggering double standard, and too many in the West seem willing to go along with it. Witness the editorials in US newspapers this week scolding the pope for his speech. Recall the State Department's condemnation of the Danish cartoons last winter.

Of course nobody's faith should be gratuitously affronted. But the real insult to Islam is not a line from a papal speech or a cartoon about Mohammed. It is the violence, terror, and bloodshed that Islamist fanatics unleash in the name of their religion -- and the unwillingness of most of the world's Muslims to say or do anything to stop them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

And, as of about 5:30 PM, the website and mailserver seem to be back up and running. Thank you Rick!

The new server is up, but at the moment will still take you to the old sever until we change the DNS; the site has been uploaded onto the new server and all seems to be functioning fine, except for the Google ads, which have the old formatting problem. Doubtless we'll get that fixed soon. So the new server should go live within a day or so I think. Users should notice nothing different, at least at first. But there will be some enhancements coming...
Once again the Quartz Hill School of Theology has suffered a spam attack, taking the website and our email server down around 6 AM this morning. On the bright side, Rick Curtis is even now busy transferring the site to a new machine that should have better security and keep this from happening to us again. So the site should be back soon, better than ever.
Interesting. Some complained about cutting taxes, and yet an interesting tidbit:

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. government recorded record-high overall and corporate tax receipts on Sept. 15, which was a quarterly deadline for tax payments, the Treasury said Monday.
Total tax receipts were $85.8 billion on Friday, compared with the previous one-day record of $71 billion on Sept. 15 of last year, the Treasury said.
Within the overall figure, corporate tax receipts Friday were $71.8 billion, up from $63 billion in September of last year.
Treasury Undersecretary for Domestic Finance Randal Quarles said Friday's numbers provided a "continuing demonstration of the strength of the U.S. economy."
"In fact, Friday's gross receipts were the largest in a single day in the nation's history - 20% higher than receipts on the same quarterly tax payment date last year," Quarles said in a statement.
-By Benton Ives-Halperin, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9255;

Do you suppose that Laffer fellow knew what he was talking about after all?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Moslem leaders routinely refer to Jews as the offspring of apes and pigs. They say similarly unpleasant things about Christians. They have a history of spreading their faith by the sword. Recently two newsmen taken hostage in Gaza were forced to convert to Islam on pain of death. But oddly, if anyone says anything Moslems don't like, they start rioting, burning stuff down, and demand apologies or beheadings.

Jerry Pournelle comments on his website:

What strikes me is this: all these imams get up and call for the destruction of Western civilization and death to Jews, we're supposed to - and do - accept that with equanimity.
But when the Pope quotes a beleaguered Byzantine emperor who was under military assault by Moslems, there are demonstrations in the Middle East. And the Pope is "upset" that Moslems would be offended.

No negative comments on Moslems to be allowed? At all?

Of course not. And to show how peaceful and civilized they all were, they went out and burned down four Christian churches. If the people of the US burned a mosque we would have years of sensitivity training, our children would have one and only one subject in school, guilt, advanced guilt, more guilt. We are no good. They are all good. What is it you do not understand about that? You need sensitivity training.

Do you not know that Western Civilization is the source of all the ills of the world, and anyone who would defend a horror like that is a monster who needs to be punished until he understands? Sensitivity training. That will do the trick.

I can't find anything in there to disagree with. I want to hope that most Moslems are not violent extremists. I suspect those that are not, however many of them there are, are generally too afraid to speak out, however, given the nature of the extremists and their likely reaction.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Once again spammers hit our server and took down both the Quartz Hill School of Theology website and our email server. Certain imprecatory psalms come to mind as I contemplate spammers.

Thanks to the efforts of Rick Curtis, who donates our server space, and Patrick at Quantum, the problem is now fixed and we're back. The site was down from about 6:00 PM Pacific Time on Thursday, September 14 until about noon Pacific Time Friday, September 15.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The mini-world formerly known as 2003 UB313, nicknamed "Xena," has received an official name from the International Astronomical Union: Eris. Its moon has been named Dysnomia. Eris is slightly larger than Pluto, and like Pluto, is classified as a Kuiper Belt Object and a "dwarf planet."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I sold a science fiction short story yesterday to the Amazon Shorts program. It's entitled Moon Over Aiyalon. Ray Bradbury read it many years ago and wrote me a nice letter telling me he liked it; however, in the years since I had written it, I had been unsuccessful in finding any publishers that agreed with Mr. Bradbury's assessment. Until now. In a few weeks the story will appear on, where anyone will be able to download it for only 49 cents.

It's a humorous story told in first person about an Israeli sideways time machine that proves unusually useful in countering terrorists.

Given the subject of the short story, it's ironic that the email from Amazon came on the fifth anniversary of 911.

The contract and author questionnaire that Amazon sent me is almost longer than the story; I'm still trying to fill it all out. On the bright side, they'll be promoting the story and conducting an advertizing campaign for it, and they will link it with my novel, so the two should drive sales for each other.

Monday, September 11, 2006

As a reminder on this day.

Remember, the people who blew up buildings and killed 2996 of us are the bad guys.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The first episode of Star Trek was broadcast 40 years ago today, on September 8, 1966. Live long, and prosper.
In case you are still on the fence about fighting the Islamic extremists, since their treatment of women, their beheadings, their blowing up of buses and restaurants hasn't convinced you that they might, really and truly, be bad guys: they are mean to dogs:

If a race of super-intelligent dogs were to land their spaceships on Earth, we would not have a hard time convincing them to join the U.S. in the "War on Terror." They wouldn't even need to see that infamous al-Qaeda tape of the dog being gassed to realize that the enemies of America are the enemies of all dogkind. Indeed, as it turns out, our Axis of Evil and theirs are not all that different.

"I call on the judiciary to arrest all long-legged, medium-legged, and short-legged dogs along with their long-legged owners," Gholamreza Hassani told worshippers last month, according to an Iranian newspaper, "otherwise I'll do it myself." This Iranian cleric is hardly a maverick; he is merely one of the more outspoken members of perhaps the most anti-canine regime in the world. Iranian officials regularly confiscate dogs and execute them unless the owners can provide adequate paperwork; even then the animals are often beaten and abused, and sometimes put to death anyway. In June, the sale of dogs was banned.

The rationale behind the periodic crackdowns is twofold. First, Islam is, quite simply, anti-dog. While the Koran makes few references to dogs, the Hadith — the collection of sayings of Muhammad's contemporaries and closest followers that forms the spine of Islamic law — contains over 400 references to dogs, almost all of them derogatory. Dogs are simply "unclean"; according to one widely cited hadith, angels cannot, or will not, enter a home that contains a dog. Dogs used for hunting or guarding are marginally okay, but even they are seen as spiritually dirty — the equivalent of useful pigs. (One hadith holds that if your guard dog licks a utensil in your home, you must wash it seven times and — inconveniently, it would seem, wash it an eighth time with dirt.) It is illegal to bring a dog into Saudi Arabia unless it has been certified as a seeing-eye, hunting, or guard dog. Even in secular Iraq, Saddam Hussein first made a name for himself as a boy by torturing and killing dogs with a white-hot steel bar.

From Jonah Goldberg.