Thursday, September 28, 2006

The End

The staff at the LHG is made up of those society has rejected: the homeless, 40 year old virgins, single mothers on welfare, street corner prostitutes, retired superstar athletes, and assistant professors. In our offices, we spend a good chunk of time arguing over who has it worse. All sorts of positions have been taken. The most controversial (and perhaps bitter) argues that while the homeless have their freedom and virgins their chastity, while single mothers have their children, prostitutes their pretty woman, and retired superstar athletes their money, assistant professors have none of the above. And just when they think things might be okay, an arbitrary exercise of power reminds them that their fate is not in their hands.

Here at the LHG we rise and fall together. If some of us go, we all do. This gig is over - thanks for your time.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Celebrity Death Match

my money is on the brunette

Celebrity authors, we meant (not heavyweights like Stephen King or JK Rowling, celebrity authors in the nerd world, not the real world). One one side atheist crusador Sam Harris, on the other ex nun Karen Armstrong. Who's right about the future of Islam? Read them here and here, and then flip a coin to decide who's right.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Spank Me Please


At some point in the past decade, spanking and washing your kid's mouth with soap vanished from the annals of proper child rearing. What is a parent supposed to do? Fortunately for them, Jesus Camp picks up the slack. Don't despair: with or without a mouth full of Dove, your kid will praise the Lord.

Monday, September 18, 2006

On Muslims and Mayhem

i've come to suck your blood...

Unless you've got your head in the sand you by now know that the pope has pissed of the Muslim world by - perhaps - criticizing Islam and its prophet. More specifically, Benedict delivered a speech where he quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor as saying, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Doesn't sound good. But are Muslims and the press taking the statement out of context? After all, everyone agrees that Benedict's comments on Islam were but a small part of his address. Now you can see for yourself. At Informed Comment you can find the complete text of Benedict's address and the best commentary LHG has found thus far.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Better than Porn


A big chunk of our readership comes from academia. See above: University of Texas, Yale, University of Pennyslvania, University of Miami - who are these people? Students looking for paper ideas? Faculty looking for lecture tips? Administrators procrastinating? Whoever you are and whatever your intentions might be, the LHG thanks you for stopping by.

Still Waiting for Godot

face it: godot's not coming

Samuel Beckett is one of those writers that you're supposed to like if you fancy yourself at least a tiny bit intellectual. It is thus with some shame that the LHG confesses to having sat through Waiting for Godot on two ocassions (the first time on a high school literary magazine field trip, the second time on an attempt to offer an original date to a very unlucky girl) and both times having been bored senseless. In Paris, when the play was first performed spectators rioted - it's beyond us why they even bothered. But we do like how Beckett describes his take on language:

"More and more my own language appears to me like a veil that must be torn apart in order to get at the things (or the Nothingness) behind it. Grammar and Style. To me they seem to have become as irrelevant as a Victorian bathing suit or the impertubability of a true gentleman. A mask. Let us hope the time will come... when language is most efficiently used where it is being most efficiently misused. As we cannot eliminate language all at once, we should at least leave nothing undone that might contribute to its falling into disrepute. To bore one hole after another in it, until what lurks behind it - be it something or nothing - begins to seep through; I cannot imagine a higher goal for a writer today."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

On Philosophers and Fashion

One of our staff members who dabbles in philosophy is often seen bicycling around the neighborhood on a pink bike and his hair tied back into puffy pig tails. Mind you, he's straight. So what gives? In a diary entry Susan Sontag describes the French philosopher Jean Wahl who wrote a book on existentialism that was required reading at a LHG retreat two months back:

"Yesterday I went to my first Paris cocktail party, at Jean Wahl's...Wahl very much lived up to my expectations - a tiny slim birdlike old man with lank white hair and a thin mouth, terribly distracted and unkempt. Baggy black suit with three large holes in the rear end through which you could see his (white) underwear, and he'd just come from a late afternoon lecture - on Claudel - at the Sorbonne."

Can it be that philosophers and philosopher wannabees, given over to thought as their highest pursuit, have no time to spend on common courtesy?

Underwear is now obligatory at the LHG.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Reza Strikes Again

We once posted a plee directed toward Reza Aslan's agent. Needless to say, he has yet to call. Meanwhile, Reza keeps playing the public intellectual game. Click here for his piece on "The War for Islam" published in yesterday's Boston Globe. It's worthwhile reading.

PS. If the Boston Globe forces you to register, fear not. Just typing for username and password for password will do the trick.

The LHG, as always, at your service.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11th, Five Years Ago Today

Above a video that reviews the events. A word of warning: the footage is graphic and the music sappy (we think it's better seen on mute). Below, two articles in Sundays New York Times give the LHG a sense of hope five years after 9-1. The first reports that:

In 2005, more people from Muslim countries became legal permanent United States residents — nearly 96,000 — than in any year in the previous two decades. More than 40,000 of them were admitted last year, the highest annual number since the terrorist attacks, according to data on 22 countries provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

Many have made the journey unbowed by tales of immigrant hardship, and despite their own opposition to American policy in the Middle East. They come seeking the same promise that has drawn foreigners to the United States for many decades, according to a range of experts and immigrants: economic opportunity and political freedom. Those lures, both powerful and familiar, have been enough to conquer fears that America is an inhospitable place for Muslims.

Why is this hopeful? It's hopeful because every year thousands of Muslims are choosing the United States as their home. These Muslims are showing that Islam can thrive in a pluralist society, in a society with a separation between church and state. They are showing in practice what Tariq Ramadan has said in his books - that there is no fundamental incompatability between Islam and the West. Indeed, the United States has one of the largest Muslim populations the world over. The central battle of the "war on terror" is the struggle for the hearts and minds of Muslims. Maybe there is still a chance that the United States can win that battle.

The second article reports that:

Abu Zubaydah, the first Osama bin Laden henchman captured by the United States after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was bloodied and feverish when a C.I.A. security team delivered him to a secret safe house in Thailand for interrogation in the early spring of 2002. Bullet fragments had ripped through his abdomen and groin during a firefight in Pakistan several days earlier when he had been captured.

The events that unfolded at the safe house over the next few weeks proved to be fateful for the Bush administration. Within days, Mr. Zubaydah was being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques — he was stripped, held in an icy room and jarred by earsplittingly loud music — the genesis of practices later adopted by some within the military, and widely used by the Central Intelligence Agency in handling prominent terrorism suspects at secret overseas prisons.

President Bush pointedly cited the capture and interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah in his speech last Wednesday announcing the transfer of Mr. Zubaydah and 13 others to the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. And he used it to call for ratification of the tough techniques employed in the questioning.

But rather than the smooth process depicted by Mr. Bush, interviews with nearly a dozen current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials briefed on the process show, the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah was fraught with sharp disputes, debates about the legality and utility of harsh interrogation methods, and a rupture between the FBI and the C.I.A. that has yet to heal.

Why is the hopeful? It's hopeful because at a time when the federal government has curtailed civil liberties and openly boasted of breaking the Geneva Convention members of the FBI not only protest the mistreatment of prisoners, but more importantly are allowed to do so. As long as there is dissent and debate, there is also hope that the United States can recover its moral compass. Despite the criticism of U.S. foreign policy that at times has appeared on this blog we at the LHG are, to paraphrase a close friend, glad that the United States won the cold war.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

All You Need to Know About the WTO

the nay sayers

Readers of the LHG will know that we're interested in globalization as a political and economic process. And when it comes to globalization, few topics are more controversial than the WTO. When the WTO is discussed, passion flame. Is it good? Is it bad? Some say it's an engine for free trade and development in the Third world, others claim that the WTO's version of free trade is not fair trade, that in fact it's just a pawn for the interests of rich countries. Indeed, wherever the WTO summit meets, protests follow. It's practically impossible to get an objective and impartial take on the organization.

Until now. After months of research, the LHG has found a remarkable website that will tell you everything you need to know. Plumb its depths, read, explore, learn. The facts are here. As the X-Files used to say, the truth is out there.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

On the Lure of Academia's Siren Song

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Religious Roots of Violence: Islam IV

not one of the 70 virgins: his niece is cute

(Previously on the LHG: The Religious Roots of Violence: Islam I, II, and III)

Osama Bin Laden:

This is also where Bin Laden comes in: Osama's dad had a flair for palace building and over the years royal favor turned his family business into the largest construction company in Saudi Arabia and one of the largest in the Middle East. The Bin Laden children were raised and educated with Saudi princes and had contact with leaders of Islamic movements all over the Muslim world.

Soon after the Soviet invasion of Afganistan Bin Laden started to raise money for the resistance. By 1984 he had established a guest house in Peshawar to house fighters bound for the front. In 1988 he established a database of all the jihadists and other volunteers who had passed through his camps - giving birth to an organizational structure built around a computer file whose Arabic title Al Qaeda (the [data] base) would become famous later.

When Bin Laden returned to visit Saudi Arabia he warned the Saudis that Iraq was planning to invade Kuwait. This embarrased the Saudi government which at the time was on good terms with Hussein. When the Iraquis did invade Kuwait in 1990, Bin Laden offered his fighters to defend the Saudi kingdom. Instead of accepting the offer, the Saudi government accepted US military assistance. This convinced Bin Laden that the Saudi's Islamic credentials were a sham.

For him, driving out the Americans is the condition for reclaiming Islam in the peninsula. In 1996 he issued a "Declaration of Jihad against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places: Expel the polytheists from the Arabian Peninsula." And on August 7th of 1998, on the anniversery of the arrival of American troops in Saudi Arabia, two huge explosions rocked the US embassies in Nairobi Kenya and Dar es Salaam Tanzania.

The rest is well known.

(Christianity coming soon)
Blog Directory & Search engine