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 TeasersScottm@GNXP Blogview

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I found this video to a Arabic-speaking, “Jerry Springer” like show on the question of Jinn possession and faith healing. In the past, Razib has noted the rise in Indian society of skeptics of the “God men” who go to events arranged by them and demonstrate exactly how they performed their “miracles; he has also noted the need for such skeptics in Islamic society. This video shows an attempt at that.

It features a “crescent table” discussion of disease and Jinn possession; with a moderator, a faith-healing sheik, and a couple of researchers into the difference between Jinn possession and mental illness. The fourth guest is one of these skeptics, and he immediately falls into seizures, replicating what a possession would be like, in order to undermine the other three “experts”. Unfortunately, the three have their defense at the ready and note that the man is either an actor or mentally ill; thereby providing an “out” for themselves (i.e. it is not Jinn possession unless “I” say it is a Jinn possession, otherwise it is just mental illness)

But, it is a welcoming sign that skeptics are beginning to challenge the faith healers.

Posted by scottm at 03:00 PM

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Tunku Varadarajan, of the WSJ, has a humorous column in today’s WSJ online (free registration maybe required) in which he speculates on why five of the seven last spelling bee champions have been of Indian origin. Many of the possibilities he presents are ideas, which have been put forward here at this blog, including culture:

This attitude draws on a particular Indian cultural trait, bequeathed to broader Indian society by the Brahminical upper stratum: Success at letters is the sweetest sort of success, the achievement nonpareil…. Indian pedagogy relies heavily on rote memorization–the result of a fusion of Victorian teaching methods imposed by the British and ancient Hindu practice, in which the guru (or teacher) imparted his learning to pupils via an oral tradition. (The Victorians, for their part, regarded correct spelling almost as a moral virtue, and certainly as a caste “signifier,” to use a clumsy anthropological term.)

And he (formerly) tough U.S. immigration policy:

Educationally, Indian-Americans are the cream of the crop of a fifth of humanity, thanks to U.S. immigration laws, which, for decades, let in only doctors and engineers and mathematicians. So these children are the kids of parents who themselves competed–probably at a ferocious level–to get into the best Indian schools, and then to get here.

Go check it out; it is a very good read.

Posted by scottm at 11:29 AM

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My friend Perry, over at his blog*, has a post up describing why conservatives should regard the recent Supreme Court decision allowing Federal law to overrule state laws on medical marijuana not as a victory (as it keeps pot out of peoples’ hands) but as a terrible defeat. The crux of his argument, which right-bloggers have remained silent on, is that it uses the commerce clause to utterly destroy the Tenth Amendment, which reads:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This is one amendment that conservatives usually stand stalwart on, even in the face of slanderously vile criticism (i.e. equating ‘states right’ with slavery and racism). But some ‘conservatives’ (i.e. Antonin Scalia) allowed political temporal concerns (i.e. marijuana laws) to overwhelm their principled stance. In his opinion for the majority,

“Congress’s regulatory authority over intrastate activities that are not themselves part of interstate commerce (including activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce) derives from the Necessary and Proper Clause.”

Anotnin shows this tendency to not understand the underlying ramifications of his decision.

On the other side, the “liberals” on the court understood that ten states’ laws allowing medical marijuana were less important then pushing forward their principles and beliefs on the relationship between Congress and the states: they defeated the law based, in part, on the logic Scalia presented.

But all is not lost for the right, three lone judges understood that this was not just an isolated case, but important in the larger picture of the concept of the Federal government. Justice Thomas, in his dissent, presents the core argument that “the right” should pick up on:

Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything—and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.

In the face of a real defeat, one conservative understands the long-term implications.

*While you are on Perry’s blog, have a look around, it is quite a well-written webblog.

Update The WSJ has a nice summary on the decision (free registration recquired)

Posted by scottm at 01:35 PM

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Human Events Online has published a report of what works conservative scholars consider the most damaging. They asked each of the 15 judges to vote for ten books and score each of their votes on an inverse score scale (i.e. #1 on each person’s list received a score of 10, #2 a 9, #10 a 1).

Below the break you can find the list, a description of each, and my thoughts.

1. The Communist Manifesto

Summary: Marx and Engels, born in Germany in 1818 and 1820, respectively, were the intellectual godfathers of communism. Engels was the original limousine leftist: A wealthy textile heir, he financed Marx for much of his life. In 1848, the two co-authored The Communist Manifesto as a platform for a group they belonged to called the Communist League. The Manifesto envisions history as a class struggle between oppressed workers and oppressive owners, calling for a workers’ revolution so property, family and nation-states can be abolished and a proletarian Utopia established. The Evil Empire of the Soviet Union put the Manifesto into practice.

2. Mein Kampf

Summary: Mein Kampf (My Struggle) was initially published in two parts in 1925 and 1926 after Hitler was imprisoned for leading Nazi Brown Shirts in the so-called “Beer Hall Putsch” that tried to overthrow the Bavarian government. Here Hitler explained his racist, anti-Semitic vision for Germany, laying out a Nazi program pointing directly to World War II and the Holocaust. He envisioned the mass murder of Jews, and a war against France to precede a war against Russia to carve out “lebensraum” (“living room”) for Germans in Eastern Europe. The book was originally ignored. But not after Hitler rose to power. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, there were 10 million copies in circulation by 1945.

3. Quotations from Chairman Mao

Summary: Mao, who died in 1976, was the leader of the Red Army in the fight for control of China against the anti-Communist forces of Chiang Kai-shek before, during and after World War II. Victorious, in 1949, he founded the People’s Republic of China, enslaving the world’s most populous nation in communism. In 1966, he published Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, otherwise known as The Little Red Book, as a tool in the “Cultural Revolution” he launched to push the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese society back in his ideological direction. Aided by compulsory distribution in China, billions were printed. Western leftists were enamored with its Marxist anti-Americanism. “It is the task of the people of the whole world to put an end to the aggression and oppression perpetrated by imperialism, and chiefly by U.S. imperialism,” wrote Mao.

4. The Kinsey Report

Summary: Alfred Kinsey was a zoologist at Indiana University who, in 1948, published a study called Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, commonly known as The Kinsey Report. Five years later, he published Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. The reports were designed to give a scientific gloss to the normalization of promiscuity and deviancy. “Kinsey’s initial report, released in 1948 . . . stunned the nation by saying that American men were so sexually wild that 95% of them could be accused of some kind of sexual offense under 1940s laws,” the Washington Times reported last year when a movie on Kinsey was released. “The report included reports of sexual activity by boys–even babies–and said that 37% of adult males had had at least one homosexual experience. . . . The 1953 book also included reports of sexual activity involving girls younger than age 4, and suggested that sex between adults and children could be beneficial.”

5. Democracy and Education

Summary: John Dewey, who lived from 1859 until 1952, was a “progressive” philosopher and leading advocate for secular humanism in American life, who taught at the University of Chicago and at Columbia. He signed the Humanist Manifesto and rejected traditional religion and moral absolutes. In Democracy and Education, in pompous and opaque prose, he disparaged schooling that focused on traditional character development and endowing children with hard knowledge, and encouraged the teaching of thinking “skills” instead. His views had great influence on the direction of American education–particularly in public schools–and helped nurture the Clinton generation.

6. Das Kapital

Summary: Marx died after publishing a first volume of this massive book, after which his benefactor Engels edited and published two additional volumes that Marx had drafted. Das Kapital forces the round peg of capitalism into the square hole of Marx’s materialistic theory of history, portraying capitalism as an ugly phase in the development of human society in which capitalists inevitably and amorally exploit labor by paying the cheapest possible wages to earn the greatest possible profits. Marx theorized that the inevitable eventual outcome would be global proletarian revolution. He could not have predicted 21st Century America: a free, affluent society based on capitalism and representative government that people the world over envy and seek to emulate.

7. The Feminine Mystique

Summary: In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan, born in 1921, disparaged traditional stay-at-home motherhood as life in “a comfortable concentration camp”–a role that degraded women and denied them true fulfillment in life. She later became founding president of the National Organization for Women. Her original vocation, tellingly, was not stay-at-home motherhood but left-wing journalism. As David Horowitz wrote in a review for Salon.com of Betty Friedan and the Making of the Feminine Mystique by Daniel Horowitz (no relation to David): The author documents that “Friedan was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America’s Cold War fifth column and for a time even the lover of a young Communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects in Berkeley’s radiation lab with J. Robert Oppenheimer.”

8. The Course of Positive Philosophy

Summary: Comte, the product of a royalist Catholic family that survived the French Revolution, turned his back on his political and cultural heritage, announcing as a teenager, “I have naturally ceased to believe in God.” Later, in the six volumes of The Course of Positive Philosophy, he coined the term “sociology.” He did so while theorizing that the human mind had developed beyond “theology” (a belief that there is a God who governs the universe), through “metaphysics” (in this case defined as the French revolutionaries’ reliance on abstract assertions of “rights” without a God), to “positivism,” in which man alone, through scientific observation, could determine the way things ought to be.

9. Beyond Good and Evil

Summary: An oft-scribbled bit of college-campus graffiti says: “‘God is dead’–Nietzsche” followed by “‘Nietzsche is dead’–God.” Nietzsche’s profession that “God is dead” appeared in his 1882 book, The Gay Science, but under-girded the basic theme of Beyond Good and Evil, which was published four years later. Here Nietzsche argued that men are driven by an amoral “Will to Power,” and that superior men will sweep aside religiously inspired moral rules, which he deemed as artificial as any other moral rules, to craft whatever rules would help them dominate the world around them. “Life itself is essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of the strange and weaker, suppression, severity, imposition of one’s own forms, incorporation and, at the least and mildest, exploitation,” he wrote. The Nazis loved Nietzsche..

10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

Summary: Keynes was a member of the British elite–educated at Eton and Cambridge–who as a liberal Cambridge economics professor wrote General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money in the mid
st of the Great Depression. The book is a recipe for ever-expanding government. When the business cycle threatens a contraction of industry, and thus of jobs, he argued, the government should run up deficits, borrowing and spending money to spur economic activity. FDR adopted the idea as U.S. policy, and the U.S. government now has a $2.6-trillion annual budget and an $8-trillion dollar debt.

There were also a number of runner-ups which only requirement was that two or more judges voted for them. I won’t go into complete detail, but I will point out one book that I think should have made the list (and in the top 5), but did not:

-Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Obviously a book which has led to the death of millions a year should be listed.
There was also a few books which I thought had no business being on the list:

-Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin
-On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
-Descent of Man by Charles Darwin

Finally, while I don’t recognize most of the names of the judges on the list, I think they skew towards more economic conservatism. While there are obviously social-religious conservative sentiment expressed in the selection; most of the books picked seem to show a inclination amongst the judges for anti-statism/libertarian conservatism/

Posted by scottm at 11:38 AM

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Ronald Bailey, of Reason Magazine, reports on a 3-day conference with prominent neuroscientists and theologians called ”Our Minds and Us”. Concerned subjects are: Mind-brain duality, bioethics involved in understanding which structures of the brain are involved in things like violence and depression, and existential questions of “What is the self”. Check it out.

Posted by scottm at 09:51 AM

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pregnant_small.jpg

Posted by scottm at 12:25 PM

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What makes a Firefly’s tail glow?

(I’m pretty sure Razib knows the answer, so I’ll ask him to sit this one out)

UPDATE OK That one was easy and AG got it in the comments, so I’ll ask a second question: why is complete COX-2 inhibition not a good thing? (COX-2 is the protein implicated in colon, breast and prostate cancer for which drugs such as Vioxx inhibit)

Posted by scottm at 10:51 AM

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This week, Jacqueline over at her blog is going to be discussing all the political issues that polite society avoids; abortion, God, discrimination, biological basis of race. Go and get into the fray.

Posted by scottm at 12:41 PM

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(All information in this blog post was found in an Advertisement in the Febuary 13, 2005 edition of the Imblerian, so nothing improper is being posted on this blog)

A Lecture by Dr. Jeanne Chasseguet

Quote from advertisement A rebellion against the biological order seems to have silently infiltrated our world view. Suicide bombers appear to share with writers such as Mishima, Pasolini and Foucault a fascination with destruction. A liberation from the body to reestablish a- possibly mystical-union of soul and cosmos and an assertion of the mind’s omnipotence appear to be common features of behaviors that seem to be taken for granted in contemporary thought. Is the new misogyny, which rejects motherhood in the name of feminism, contributing in any way to these trends? This review of our society by a woman psychoanalyst–a non-medic and graduate of the Institut d’Etudes Politques in Paris–presents a sharp and rigorous analysis of the strange and violent menchanisms that are erupting in the world today.

A public lecture on Feb 26 2005 at 8 am at OHSU, I might go.

Posted by scottm at 11:52 AM

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I know it sounds like something only a kid would be interested in, but Caltech has a website up that very seriously looks into the Science of Snowflakes. It goes fairly in depth about how they form and why they form such different forms. A fun site that allowed me to draw on my crystallograhy background.

morphologydiagram.jpg

P.S. Someone should have edited the page as this line comes up

Ice Ih is the normal form of ice; ice Ic is formed by depositing vapor at very low temperatures (below 140°K)

Anyone see the problem in that line?

Posted by scottm at 07:12 AM

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Stephen Green over at Vodkapundit has been delving into an old passion of his, maps and the true boundries of nation-states. It’s interesting that he is basing his mapmaking on the unconventional ideas of migration and “effective” governments.

Here is his North American map

Posted by scottm at 10:43 PM

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I sure many of you have seen the study reported in the Washington Post on AA beliefs concerning HIV. Here’s the breakdown of data:

aids_012505.gif

These beliefs are explained in the article as being based on

“This is not a bunch of crazy people running around saying they’re out to get us,” Akbar said. The belief “comes from the reality of 300 years of slavery and 100 years of post-slavery exploitation”

Akbar cited the Tuskegee experiment conducted by the federal government between 1932 and 1972. In it, scientists told black men they were being treated for syphilis but actually withheld treatment so they could study the course of the disease.

I have my doubts. In my reading of HIV/AIDS research conducted in Africa I continually find examples of similar beliefs in goups that have little connection to the slave trade or the Tuskegee experiment, as this abstract details. So to me this is less an artifact of the American experience than of a cultural remnant from Africa.

Posted by scottm at 03:48 PM

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(Cross-posted at my site, Organic republican)

Report on a South Asian, muslim, Norwegian born pop singer named Deeyah, whose slightly risgue style has angered enough muslims in Norway that she has fled to England for her own safety. Reading several reports on the subject of this singer and her plight, as well as watching some of her videos makes me wonder: is the anger she is generating completely attributable to her being a muslim who bares skin, or is there some sense of frustration from her fellow South Asians for her westernizing their traditional culture?

One thing that I think stands out in this case is that she is not an apostate, she is still a practicing muslim. So she stands as a success story for the west, a woman who draws on her heritage and her birth country’s culture and values and successfully blends them to become a moderate ethnic/religious role model. Too bad she is being run out of country after country, maybe she’ll have to finally move to the U.S.

Any way, I don’t care. She’s a good singer, with an interesting style. And, oh yeah, she’s hot.

Addendum from Razib: Please note that in the Norwegian context “South Asian” is basically synomous with people of Pakistani origin. This is a community that has had some issues with assimilation. Also, please note that a recent Miss Norway of half-Persian origin was discovered to have some done hard-core porn.

bolly_0089_0003.jpg

deeyah_gallery_6.jpg

Posted by scottm at 04:59 PM

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Reuters reports that South Africa’s high crime rate has prompted the inventive class to produce some very interesting security-related technology. Some of these are impractical (like the flame thrower-equipped car) or just variations on an extant theme (computers that notify the owner and “squawk’ with a car-alarm like alert when stolen), but at least one could be very useful in the US:

With a computer circuit board concealed in the butt and a revolutionary laser firing mechanism instead of the traditional hammer, the “South African Intelligent Firearm” would not look out of place on the set of a science fiction movie.

The really clever bit is in the handle, which reads the user’s thumb print so only the rightful owner can fire it. And when it shoots, a camera takes a digital photo of the target, noting the time and the date — just in case the user ends up in court having to justify opening fire.

While thumb print IDs have been supported by the left in the US, it’s interesting that the opposite seems to be happening in SA. Perhaps gun robberies are frequent enough that such measures are necessary? In any case, it seems that desperation is the mother of invention.

GC comments:

More from the article:

In Johannesburg’s wealthy northern suburbs scarcely a house is without radio-controlled gates, infra-red anti-burglar beams and electric fences that bring armed security guards bursting through the door at the drop of an intruder’s hat.

“Joburgers” have become a byword for obsession with security, with an advert for cheap flights to the Indian Ocean resort of Durban showing a young boy on the beach building a sandcastle complete with an elaborate system of razor-wire.

While [some people] assure us that crime is plummeting in SA, the South African reality is quite different…

Update:

In the previous post, I said that Abiola Lapite was a modern day Walter Duranty for denying the horrifying death toll (more than a quarter million to date) in South Africa by implying that the whites deserved it for apartheid. This is a false statement, for Abiola Lapite is in fact not a modern day Walter Duranty. Unlike the Ukraine, there is no famine in South Africa, only the highest rape and murder rates in the industrialized world. Furthermore, South Africa is warm while the Ukraine is cold. And the countries are totally different: “Ukraine” has many fewer letters than “the Republic of South Africa”. It is clear the metaphor must be junked.

So in response to his threat of libel action, I have decided to come clean. What IS true is that Abiola Lapite is a modern day Stalin, Mao, and Hitler. And, oh yes, a Dahmer.

Yes, you heard me: he is personally responsible for the deaths of millions. And he molests young Laotian boys before eating them.

And he enjoys sex with goats.

That is all :)

Posted by scottm at 05:49 PM

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Reuters reports that the high crime in South Africa combined with an inventive class has produced some revolutionary security-based technology. Some of these are impractical (like the flame throwing car) or just variation on a theme (computers that notify the owner and “squawk’ with a car-alarm like alert when stolen), but one could be very useful especially in the U.S.

With a computer circuit board concealed in the butt and a revolutionary laser firing mechanism instead of the traditional hammer, the “South African Intelligent Firearm” would not look out of place on the set of a science fiction movie.

The really clever bit is in the handle, which reads the user’s thumb print so only the rightful owner can fire it.

And when it shoots, a camera takes a digital photo of the target, noting the time and the date — just in case the user ends up in court having to justify opening fire.

Only people in this desperate situation could override conventional wisdom (that
thumb print ID’s would be a problem) and create/test something that is admittedly needed.

Posted by scottm at 05:48 PM

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I was listening to C-SPAN this morning when they had some guy on to interview and he kept saying things like “the gap” and “the core” so I became interested. It was http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/">Thomas P.M. Barnett and he is a strategic consultant who works for the U.S. Naval War college. He’s a professor, but his writings are lucid and a little funny sometimes, and he has a novel way of viewing the world.

Heads up for eBay: it’s called Bollywood, not Hollywood. Remember the difference, cause it mostly comes down to how you portray sex.

The story tells you once again that this so-called “clash of civilizations” is really mostly a “clash of gender issues”

That’s your “clash of civilizations.” Not some grand military struggle between tectonic forces, but a melodrama played out in living rooms.

Update After I published this I noticed someone’s previous post disappeared. I did not intend this.

Update II After reading most of his blog I’ve slightly changed my mind.
I like his writing and he makes a lot of good points, but it’s when you congeal them into a cohesive whole that problems start. He denies he is a neo-con, and I kinda believe him – he’s worse. If you start putting together his ideas it becomes clear that he wants to transform America into a state funding a giant military and an army of international social workers, and he is not doing it in the best interests of the U.S. (which is something at least the Neo-cons pay lip service to) but instead for the world. I still reccommend him, but from a position of understanding the full spectrum of international policy thinking.

Posted by scottm at 02:32 AM

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I’m cross posting this on GNXP-SciFi but I thought it was relevant to the topics on this blog (e.g. multiculturalism) to post here. Apparently, a university in Decatur, IL is considering offering a course in Star Trek. The idea behind the class?

“This class will boldly go where no one has gone before, as we explore the lore, politics, philosophy, groundbreaking multiculturalism (emphasis added) and historical contexts of the popular science fiction series and phenomenon known as Star Trek,” the school’s course calendar boasts. “It’s a way to discuss a lot of academic topics using Star Trek as a focus or a lens,” O’Conner told the Herald & Review, a local paper.

Great. The post-modernists and multiculturalists are poaching on Geek Territory to brainwash a whole new generation.

Posted by scottm at 07:10 PM

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CNBC has a story up about a woman, Kathy Brittain White, the former CIO of Cardinal Health, starting a company called Rural Sourcing. The aim of the company? To move low paying IT jobs to the dirt-poor parts of rural America instead of to foreign countries such as India.

Now, I am not an economist, so my thoughts are those of a layman, but I see two problems;

1) Rural America is sparsely populated compared to densely populated India, so it is more of a workers market. In India it is much easier to keep salaries low since if a talented individual wants a raise you can easily fire him and find another qualified person within a day, not so in Arkansas where quality workers would be hard to find.

2) Related to the first. The closer proximity of Rural America to big population centers where the cost of living is much higher would result in an increased rate of increase in the cost of living in the said rural areas.

So, in my opinion, it is a good short-term solution but the outsourcing to India is still better in the long term. But that is my layman’s opinion and would enjoy hearing from our economist readers.

Thanks to JS Henderson at Mises Economics Blog for the tip.

Update Heh, I just had a thought. IT jobs require a certain level of intelligence and education that may be lacking in rural places such as Arkansas (no, I am not calling all Southerners stupid), so you may have an exodus from big urban centers to the rural areas. Think of it, an unemployed, college-educated, person in a big city might trade a high urban salary and the city lifestyle for a job in a place where said salary would provide a decent living. This would probably result in the ‘natives’ still being unemployed and the ‘cultural’ destruction of the rural areas by the ‘city-slickers’.

Posted by scottm at 01:01 PM

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We now all now about Steve Sailer’s story in the American conservative comparing State’s White Fertility rates and the likelyhood of that state going for Bush in the last election. As a followup to this story, Dave Kopel guest-blogging at Glennreynolds.com points out Kos, of the Arch-leftist blog DailyKos, trying to spin this as the inherent immorality of the red states.

When Red States get their social problems under control, and things such as teen pregnancy down to nationwide lows, then they can try and foist their solutions on the rest of the country.

But as things currently stand, on this issue (as well as others like divorce), the Red States have no ground to stand on. Those crazy New Englad [sic] liberals are running circles around them in this tangible measure of their residents’ “values”.

I think this needs to be commented on since it is an example of the rampant political bigotry arising on the left, it is also important to show the creation of the new wog for the left, red-staters.

The etymology of the term “wog” shows it to come from England during their time of exploration and colonization. It is a term meaning “other” and implying to those it is used upon that they are; less than human, unintelligent, and immoral. If you take the recent “IQ by state vs. candidate preference” hoax, combine with Kos’ own words showing he thinks red-staters are immoral “When Red States get their social problems under control” and less-than-human (i.e. not worthy of contributing to a national debate in a democracy) “then they can try and foist their solutions on the rest of the country.”, one can see that he (and the left as a whole) considers the Bush voters as Wogs.

This is simple bigotry and, for a healthy democracy, it must stop.

Posted by scottm at 07:17 PM

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Searchmiracle.com seems to have hijacked my browser. I keep getting links inserted on my own blog that I did not insert. I would not care much but it insists on highlighting as a link the first four letters of the word ‘analogy’.

Does anyone know how to take it back from them? I’ve tried everything I know. Has anyone else experienced this? In all my years of surfing I have not.

Posted by scottm at 05:13 AM

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