Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Historians look back on the thousand-or-so years between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, and call them the Dark Ages. This is because science took a back seat to sectarian issues, and y’know, the big “we” didn’t do a whole lot. History during that time, for the most part, is a bunch of people bonking each other over the head and taking land back after it was taken away from them by some other guy bonking someone over the head. No cool theories about gravity, not much going on with communications or the written word, no real value placed on the acquisition of new information.
Well, there’s bound to be some similarly derogatory name invented for the twenty years or so in which we’re living right now. Our handicap, however, is not so much cognitive as it is cogitative. A thousand years ago, people weren’t too good at, or too keen on, acquiring information; nowadays they get ahold of it, and for the most part just jerk off into a wet paper bag when it comes time to figure out what the information means. The whole thing has some hope, just a faint one, of making sense to you only if you live in these times. To a future generation looking back, it is sure to be unexplainable, just as the things people did a millenium ago, to us, are incomprehensible.
A perfect case in point: The letters page of the Sacramento Bee from yesterday (third one down) (link requires registration). The burning of the six Sunni Muslims as they were leaving prayers over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Supposedly, in retaliation for attacks on a Shiite slum earlier, someone doused a family of Sunni worshippers with kerosene and set them alight. Iraqi police stood by and did nothing. Some other folks who tried to put the flames out, were stopped by the attackers. The Sunni Muslims burned to death.
Well, Flopping Aces has been looking into this and finding more and more and more problems with the story. You can get started on the whole sorry saga here. As of this writing, it’s probably most accurate to say the Associated Press has been working with the Iraqi police to try to verify the story — and, collectively, they’ve hit a rough patch. It would not be a departure from the realm of the undisputed, to go a bit further and say some parts of the story have been proven false. Like for example the employment status of a certain “spokesman” who got the whole story going.
So as a supporter of the war, I’m getting this finger waggled in my face about how I voted for it therefore I own it. But the basis for this argument is based on pure bullshit. Easily-detected bullshit. And furthermore…assuming the Sunnis and Shiites are fighting in something that could be called a “civil war,” since obviously there is some sectarian violence going on, nevermind the facts getting in the way…doesn’t this all just go back to the old debate about people & guns? I get mugged, I get shot, I get killed, who’s to blame. Society, or the asshole who pulled the trigger.
What is the argument being made with all the talk about civil war? People are killing each other and it’s America’s fault? That’s laughable. People were killing each other before we invaded. Is this all supposed to support some thesis about how Iraq was a lot better off when Saddam was in charge? If so, why has it become so rare that anyone has the balls to just come out and say that. Someone like Jonathan Chaitt, who thinks we should put Hussein right back in.
Or is it just that our hands are dirty. That it’s better to have people killing each other without our involvement, than with our involvement. Hey, it’s an argument worth making, all I ask is that when people make it they have the honesty to admit that is the argument they’re making. Is that too much to ask? Maybe we should come up with a name for this. They think everybody should behave like the cowardly citizens of Hadleyville in High Noon. That’s it. The Hadleyville Paradigm. The dictum that civilized people, when bad guys come around, crouch in their living rooms and peek out from closed shutters.
Yeah, yeah, you know what the Hadleyville shutter-peekers are going to say. They’re going to say if I believe so strongly in this war, I should be over there fighting it, and since I’m not it proves I’m some kind of hypocrite.
Problem with that argument: One guy goes over to fight the war — just one — and the argument is defeated. Forever. You need only one Marshal Will Kane to walk the lonely streets, and the Hadleyville shutter-peeker is reduced to the position of saying, “he shouldn’t be out there, he should be in a living room, pretending not to be home, peeking out from between shutter slats just like me.” And everyone’s going to understand this is a ludicrous argument, fitting only the Darkest of Times. It’s going to look like exactly what it is: Someone taking the easy way out, getting nasty because other people are taking a more courageous stand, thereby making him look bad.
And so instead, they’d rather talk about people like me. That, too, looks like exactly what it is: A distraction. It is an argument that must be inconsistent, and must everlastingly stay that way. I think we need to do a lot of things. I think we need to cut some taxes, and yet, I’m not running for Congress. Does that make me a hypocrite? I think the United Nations should be doing a lot of things differently, and yet if they have elections whereby I’m given the opportunity to energize this opinion into action, I’ve missed every single one. Does that make me a hypocrite? I like beer. I am not in the business of brewing beer. I have not put any of my investment dollars into beer companies. Hypocrite?
No, it really comes down to law and order. How long do we think bad guys should have, to just run around being bad guys? Saddam Hussein had twenty years before the invasion even got started. The shutter-peekers, picking up all this enemy propaganda and old-wives’-tales and urban-legend-gossip, and translating it into some argument of “we never shoulda done it” are trying to support a position that twenty years was not enough. Saddam Hussein should have had unlimited freedom to be a bad guy — forever. Which means all of the bad guys should have that long.
And note, it’s an absolute position. Much was done before the invasion of Iraq, to get other countries “on board” with it, to justify it with broad factions of people with disparate interests in human rights, weapons threats, etc. Seventeen resolutions ignored! Surely, it’s an absolute position to take, that this is somehow not enough; it’s a moderate position to take that y’know, maybe seventeen is enough, and it’s time to do something.
Future generations are sure to look back and raise the question: If the war is going so badly that the shutter-peeking can be made, somehow, to look good…wouldn’t this have been possible while relying on true things? Why all the urban legends? Why the propaganda?
And if anyone asks me, I’m going to have to give an answer to the effect of…well, even though a few years after the invasion we’d been snookered by an awful lot of stuff…somehow, at the end of 2006, verity was an attribute that still didn’t have a lot of value for many people. I don’t see any way around giving that answer. I hope nobody asks me to explain it. The best I can come up with, is that truth has a connection with justice; you need the former to get the latter. If what you want is anarchy, just bad guys marching down the streets of Hadleyville, while shutter-peekers peek out their shutters and hope the bad guys get bored and walk away — maybe this has an effect on you. Maybe this causes truth to not have much importance for you.
Maybe it comes down to that: justice through boredom. What is the attention span of a bad guy? Do bad guys get bored and stop being bad guys? Is boredom an adequate substitute for Gary Cooper? Can we have an orderly society in which, whenever there’s trouble in the town, we just come up with some arguments as to why it doesn’t concern us and then shutter ourselves up in our living rooms, until the bad guy gets bored?
Yeah, it does make sense. Facts wouldn’t matter too much to someone who thinks that way. Come to think of it, there’s only one question on which such an ostrich-type shutter-peeker would have any interest whatsoever, all others being trivial: Is he gone yet?
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