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August 2007
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October 2007

September 2007

Duke Division

KC Johnson has begun to wind down his outstanding Durham in Wonderland blog, which details the infamous Duke “rape” case, along with the PC prejudice and general bad faith of various “activist” faculty members. Those with an interest in tenured ideologues and hokum merchants will find plenty to entertain, and it’s worth casting an eye over this table, which prompts the following comment from a DIW reader:

“Looking at the departmental affiliations of the good guys it's hard not to conclude that the widest gulf on campus is not the one separating black and white or the one separating men and women, but the one separating the quantitative, fact-based disciplines from what the humanities have deteriorated into. Whether universities survive as useful institutions will depend on whether the anti-rationalists can be exorcised.”

I’m not exactly sure how the culprits (and the cultural environment in which they flourish) might be “exorcised”, so I guess large swathes of academia will continue to decline, in terms of both substance and reputation. Or perhaps there will come a point at which drastic measures have to be taken in order to save the institution from the accumulation of parasites on its back. Maybe parents will no longer be willing to pay $40,000 a year for their children to be misled and stupefied at the hands of, say, Wahneema Lubiano, who labels herself a “post-structuralist teacher-critic leftist” and who sees no reason to distinguish between her role in the classroom and her bizarre political “activism”.

Related. And. (H/T. The Thin Man.)

Friday Ephemera

Bloxorz. One block, one hole, 33 levels. // Via Infosthetics, the science of boomerangs. // The secret of invisibility. “Walk unseen among people or crowds.” $19.95 // 1” cube wooden speakers. 1.5 Watts. // Mirin Dajo, human pincushion. (1947) More. // Di-positronium and the gamma ray annihilation laser. More. // Make your own Moon surface. Some explosives required. (H/T, Coudal.) // Washing hair in zero gravity. // Guess who. (H/T, Artblog.) // Via Denis Dutton, astronomy and empire. A mutual history. (mp3) // Jeff Goldstein on “negotiating” with al-Qaeda. Live and let live meets live as we say. // Ehsan Jami and the Committee of Ex-Muslims. “We no longer tolerate the intolerance of Islam.” Jami says Muslims should be free to leave Islam without being killed. Death threats ensue. More. // Abrogation in Islam. Mecca versus Medina; how the monstrous is made legitimate. // The power of prayer. // The power of Hubble. (H/T, Stephen Hicks.) // TV’s best (and most improbable) science fiction makeover. Much better than this old tosh. // On pregnancy payouts. // 1939 New York World’s Fair. Adverts, postcards, visions of tomorrow. // The Castle House Tower. Eco-building chic. More. // Tokyo skyline time-lapse. 35 years in 20 seconds. (H/T, AntiCitizenOne.) // Case Study: LSD Woman talks to protesting hotdog. Things turn ugly. (1969) // Via The Thin Man, Doris takes a different kind of trip.

Jargon and Jihad

Via DSTPFW, here’s Christopher Hitchens on Tariq Ramadan and the mainstreaming of Islamic imperialism.

“French author Caroline Fourest has made an intensive study of Ramadan's discrepant appearances in Europe and in the Muslim world, and has concluded that he speaks with a forked tongue and deliberately gives different impressions to different audiences. Having listened to him, I would say that the problem is not quite that. He possesses a command of postmodern and sociological jargon (of the sort that you may easily recognize by its repetitive use of the terms space and discourse to delineate the arena of thinkable debate), and he has a smooth way with euphemism.

Thus, he tells Egyptian television that the destruction of the Israeli state is for the moment ‘impossible’ and in Mantua described the idea of stoning adulterous women as ‘unimplementable’. This is something less than a full condemnation, but he is quick to say that simple condemnation of such things would reduce his own ‘credibility’ in the eyes of a Muslim audience that, or so he claims, he wants to modernize by stealth.”

More on Mr Ramadan’s “discrepant” pronouncements, and those who squint at him optimistically, here.

Jamfest of the Lost

The ever-vigilant Zombie documents the convergence of Saturday’s Power to the Peaceful Festival and 9/11 Truth March in San Francisco. Behold an unsightly collision of Maoists, vegans, conspiracy theorists and the Cannabis Action Network. Together at last. There are photos and clips galore, but for some reason these tickled me. Oh, and take care to avert your eyes from the ill-fitting tights of Spider-Man.

Socialist_action Freedom_fashions

More. Related.

One Year, Six Years

Today seems as good a day as any to read Daphne Patai’s article on academia and denial, Letter to a Friend: On Islamic Fundamentalism, written September 11, 2006.

“It’s true I share your distaste for all types of religious fundamentalism. But that doesn’t prevent me from noting the different demands and agendas of each type, as well as their numbers and influence in the real world today… Nor, if one tracks their actions, which is far more important than their rhetoric, does it appear that each type of fundamentalism is equally harmful, equally destructive in its influence around the world… If you are still tempted to worry as much, as you wrote, about Christian fundamentalists as about Muslim ones, just ask yourself about the agenda of each group, their numbers, their geographical presence, their past and present violent actions, the political responses to them, and the sort of press they each get in the West.”

More. Related. And.

Friday Ephemera

Charles and Ray Eames’ Information Machine. (1958) // The top 50 documents of all time. Discuss. // Denis Dutton, Charles Murray and Claire Fox on elitism and the freedom to excel. // Dutton on Alan Sokal, Stanley Fish and academic standards. // Norman Geras on the non-existent rights of non-existent future people. // And on the word ‘arse’. // The Tulse Luper Suitcases. A personal history of uranium. More. And. Game. // The Guardian gets tumescent for Ernesto “Che” Guevara. “His image and name would continue to inspire millions…” // Pious jihadists bomb Pakistan music shops; threaten barbers, doctors, drivers. “Stop playing music... or face bomb attacks.” // The 3 Conjectures. // Make your own rheopectic slime. Thickens impressively. May stain furnishings and irritate eyes. // Polyester resin, sugar and cocaine. // A map of the visible universe. Some details not shown. // World Freehand Circle Drawing Champion, Alexander Overwijk. // Famous curves. // Curvy aquarium. // Nepal airline sacrifices goats to appease gods. // Diabolical earthquake machine. (H/T, Vitruvius.) // Via 1+1=3, the colour palettes of famous paintings. Monet, Matisse, Dali, Warhol. // Palette generator. Swipes colour schemes from images of your choosing. (H/T, Drawn!) // Living in a Reversed World. // Mix tape USB drive. (H/T, Strange/Beautiful.) // The Lost Format Preservation Society. Four track, VCR, floppy disc, U-matic. // Trapped with Wham! “I thought I was going to die.” // And, via The Thin Man, it’s Mr Jim Reeves.

A Fear of Ideas

Published in 3:AM magazine, here’s my discussion with the Muslim novelist and exile Tahir Aslam Gora. On Islam, freedom and denial.

“It seems to me that the ideas being expressed most freely are far from tolerant and those who call for a more open-minded formulation of Islam are most likely to be intimidated or suppressed. One might note the recent experience of the reformist author Taslima Nasreen, whose book launch ended in her being violently assaulted by Islamic lawmakers and members of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, whose piety entailed throwing chairs at a terrified woman. Hyderabad police even filed a case against Nasreen for allegedly ‘creating religious tensions’ and writing ‘provocative literature’ - which rather highlights the scale of the change in outlook that’s required.”

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