Religion I can get behind: Buddhists build temple out of 1 million beer bottles. Man, I would have killed to be the materials subcontractor on that job.
Truly odd news: Kyle is not overtrained, and he's considering racing smarter. In other news, hell froze over yesterday, and cats & dogs signed a historic truce...
Serious talk. Avert your eyes if you don't want to hear it. Here's an update on the Christoper Hitchens incident I mentioned last week; it is published here by the author and pro-democracy activist Michael Totten, who witnessed the event and was mildly assaulted himself. Hitchens, it seems, was fairly seriously beaten. Totten told Hitchens, post-beating, that he should have warned Hitchens ahead of time of the Syrian National Socialist Party's violent proclivities and quasi-Syrian governmental role:
“I would have done it anyway. One must take a stand. One simply must.”It seems to me that it's no longer in fashion to oppose tyranny and evil; rather we in the west are looking for some allies abroad who can keep good order in the streets and make the trains run more or less on time, though we're very open to negotiation on the railway timetables, and probably willing to compromise on the order thing to a certain extent as well, if pressed. Domestically, we're happy to take minor issues, describe them in apocalyptic terms, then flatter ourselves that we've done a brave thing by stating an opinion about it among friends. You hear the term often enough in public debate, or variations of it, but the "moral equivalent of war" generally isn't morally equivalent to war in any way. I'm sure if we could get VA benefits for it, most of us would sign up for a War on Bad Investment Banking Practices, and you can even foresee something like that being rolled out. But the reason we don't get VA benefits for that is because accountants and guys who badly misjudged how securitized mortgages could reverse leverage don't shoot back, or kick your ass in the streets of Beirut.
Political fads, the sentiment of a moment, come and go, but the failure to allow one's self to recognize and oppose the really big evils, the ones that carry negative, tangible consequences if you take them on, is always regretted bitterly later on, albeit not always to the same extent by all people. Sure, it's easy to preen with opposition to a particular politician or some policy, but is the thing you're opposing freighted with the moral baggage you credit to it? If the reward for your opposition was a really stiff beating, would you still oppose it? Moral distinctions matter, both in gauging the nature of the problems you face, and in making the decision to oppose them. I disagree with Hitchens often, particularly on two of his major points, but you could do worse than to have Hitch's moral compass.