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Rottenness brewing

Ethnic and cultural division in the United States gets a fair amount of press, but ethnic and cultural division in Europe may be a more pressing problem. Specifically, integrating the decidedly non-European Muslim immigrants into their newfound homes.

Britain's problems have seen more light since the London subway bombings, and Theo van Gogh's murder in the Netherlands exposed a lot of hostility brewing there. Now, trouble in Denmark has come to my attention. The story is this: a writer could not find an artist to illustrate his book about Muhammad because Muslims consider it blasphemous to depict the Prophet, and no writer wanted to risk the backlash. Jyllands-Posten, Denmark's leading newspaper, caught wind of this and decided to test how much self-censorship there was. They published 12 illustrations, each by a different artist, and here's where the integration challenge is revealed.

The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten is being protected by security guards and several cartoonists have gone into hiding after the newspaper published a series of twelve cartoons ... about the prophet Muhammad. According to the Islam it is blasphemous to make images of the prophet. Muslim fundamentalists have threatened to bomb the paper’s offices and kill the cartoonists.

Oh, it gets better.

The publication led to outrage among the Muslim immigrants living in Denmark. 5,000 of them took to the streets to protest. Muslim organisations have demanded an apology, but Juste [the editor] rejects this idea: “We live in a democracy. That’s why we can use all the journalistic methods we want to. Satire is accepted in this country, and you can make caricatures,” he said. The Danish imam Raed Hlayhel reacted with the statement: “This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims. Muslims will never accept this kind of humiliation. The article has insulted every Muslim in the world.”

(italics mine)

This was back in October. Now the Danish government is advising its citizens not to travel to Pakistan after the Pakistani religous party Jamaat-e-Islami has offered a bounty to anyone who kills the illustrators mentioned above. This is an extreme reaction, but the more moderate reactions are not reassuring either: several Muslim countries sent a letter to the Danish Prime Minister demanding an apology from the newspaper. Read more »

Drug Craziness

What, to you, was the strongest message to come from the Van Nguyen case?

It seemed clear to me that this was a perfect example of 1) the madness the War on Drugs inspires, and 2) the injustice of mandatory minimum sentencing (and in this case, a mandatory death sentence). Read more »

Dr. Ecstasy on Ecstasy

The Age has an interesting article in which Dr. Alexander Shulgin, the man who invented the drug known as ecstasy, laments its recent fate. Specifically, that the stigma associated with rave culture means it's less likely that ecstasy can be used to help the mentally ill. "Its very excellent potential for being used as medicine has been badly jeopardised." Read more »

Go Oprah!

I was going to comment on this WSJ piece about Oprah being shown in Saudi Arabia and becoming incredibly popular with young Saudi women, but commenter Twba on Hit and Run beat me to it.


Fuck the FCC (again!)

The FCC just doesn't stop.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin said networks should aid parents in making choices.

He warned if cable and satellite channels did not protect against indecency they could face being regulated by the FCC.

US TVs are required to have a V-Chip able to block shows based on a rating.

But currently, obscenity and indecency rules apply only to over-the-air broadcasters.

Rumsfeld\'s world

Rumsfeld decides which gripes are legitimate:

WASHINGTON -- Donald Rumsfeld said he will look it up, but for now, he disagrees with calling the enemy in Iraq part of an "insurgency."

The U.S. defense secretary made that point to reporters at a Pentagon news conference Tuesday. He said he suddenly decided the enemy aren't actually insurgents.


According to a Steven Pinker lecture, Sony's official answer to the question of how to pluralize "Walkman":

"Sony Walkman brand personal stereos"

Apparently they don't want the word to become an ordinary word for trademark reasons.

I\'m not ashamed to say

I'll admit it: I don't give a damn about Judith Miller, Bob Woodward, Valerie Plame, Plamegate, or anything related to any of those. Really. I could not care less. It still amazes me how much news I encounter about them, but I guess it makes sense because only journalists really care about it and they write the news.

Who's with me?

Against political tests

We've all seen those internet political quizzes in which you fill out a bunch of questions and get mapped onto a chart. I already know where I stand, but I get a kick out of seeing how far off I get placed. Indeed, these tests always seem like they will place libertarians the least accurately. Read more »

The not-quite-enduring legacy of public works

This is from an article on renaissance man Viktor Schreckengost in the current issue of Modernism Magazine:

Modernism Magazine on Schreckengost

All these raindrops make a flood

In The Skeptical Environmentalist (so far an excellent read), Bjørn Lomborg wrote:

... Over the same period Denmark actually went even further and "delinked" the connection between a higher GDP and higher energy consumption: in total Denmark used less energy in 1989 than in 1970 despite the DGP growing by 48 percent during that time.

Sex scenes on TV nearly double; Senator upset; TV programming still sucks

Before another one of my colleagues can get a word in edgewise, I thought I'd continue talking about American politics. Who do you think this quote refers to:

Sen. X, who participated in a panel discussion in Washington where the Kaiser Family Foundation study was released, warned that the TV industry is ignoring parental concerns "at their own peril.''

If the industry "fails to act -- if it fails to give parents advanced controls and new choices -- Congress will,'' X said.

Kerry the PATRIOT

While we're lately on the subject of our screwy political system, feast your eyes on this:

Having your cake and eating it too.

Repeal the Patriot Act, and elect pro-Patriot Act John Kerry. Lovely.

Because of how our system here is set up, if you're going to be politically involved you have to settle on one of two bad package deals, or work ceaselessly to scrounge up a few votes here and there. Doesn't it make you proud to be an American?

Tips from a cop

I had the opportunity to pick the brain of a career law enforcement officer yesterday, and he had a few interesting things to say. I don't have the time or inclination to relay them all to you, but a few tips:

If you get pulled over, be polite. Yelling will definitely get you a ticket. You might get one anyway, but you ought to try your best not to. You're not going to convince the cop of the error of his ways no matter what you do. Read more »

We\'re not in Kansas, and thank the Fates for that

As dead-set as I am against teaching "Intelligent Design" in science classes, at least I can take consolation in the fact that it really doesn't matter much. It's not like some kid will have promise but then be exposed to "Intelligent Design" and never turn into a great biologist. Those who might have an impact will figure it out, and those who won't, well, it doesn't matter much anyway. Once the evangelical fad starts to decline, people can start admitting again how ridiculous this idea was. Read more »