We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Monday, September 17. 2012
Are All Teachers Still the Selfless Heroes of Yesteryear?
Buying a Home Is Now 45% Cheaper Than Renting
Unnecessary equivocation in life
Is this racism? Poll: 0% of Blacks Support Romney
Arguments for wind power are just hot air
And Now Let Us Gasp In Astonishment At What Just Happened To The Newspaper Business
CONCERNED VIRGINIA CITIZEN DISCUSSES MEDIA INFLUENCE
Florida Couple Wins $4.5 million: OB Didn’t Suggest Abortion for Damaged Child:
Nice payday for the ambulance-chaser
Wisconsin Judge Strikes Down Collective Bargaining Reform Law
Pakistani protesters march on U.S. Consulate; 1 dead:
Why is the Arab world so easily offended?
They aren't. Any excuse will do. It's the religion of perpetual outrage
Ben Stein: Mr. President, Mitt Romney Is Not the Enemy
An American woman reaches out to Muslims: PS We Love You Wonderful Muslims to Death.
I think it was satire, but it's hard to tell nowadays
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The Trulia study of how cheap home ownership is can be misleading. It assumes people have a down payment, among many other things.
The capital needed, upfront, to buy a home is not easy to pull together. Without a decent interest rate to encourage savings, people take longer to accumulate the funds required, as current interest rates benefit spenders over savers.
Thus, immediate rather than deferred gratification is rewarded, meaning renters will continue to grow since home ownership, regardless of benefits, will be viewed as a net 'bad'. You can't lose value on an apartment you rent, after all.
It's a perverse mindset, but it's real. Assuming this 'recovery' in housing is real is incorrect. It could be, but it will take some major shifts in attitude, interest rates, and housing prices. People simply don't see a huge value in owning a home which can decline in value (even though most capital loss has already occurred).
The assumption of recovery is based on purchasers buying lower-end or 'average' price homes. But the idea of a starter home, once very popular, is no longer the ideal. Starter homes are plentiful, but not as desirable to new buyers. So they need to save ever more to get the home they really want, and take longer to shift their values toward a starter home.
In the comments section, someone correctly noted this is actually the perfect time to buy a rental property as an income investment. I agree. The benefits will last longer, and there is more value in this approach.
Homeownership as a net 'good' will take years to recover - and the housing 'recovery' will take the same amount of time to truly take place.
Just to show how many people no longer can afford (or choose) to save for a downpayment....
Bulldog: Is this racism? Poll: 0% of Blacks Support Romney
The Democrats typically get large percentages of the black vote, even with white candidates. The poll has an overall margin of error of ±3%, but higher when measuring smaller portions of the electorate.
Blacks tend to reject policies of the Republican Party. While there are certainly many conservative blacks, the Republican Party made a conscious effort after Nixon to cobble together a coalition whites disaffected by the turmoil of the Civil Rights era. Consequently, they have used a variety of cultural clues to ensure that support, which has alienated blacks.
Here's the first comment on that thread:
The vast majority of blacks in America are essentially illiterate, verbally unintelligible brats who don’t have any skills, don’t have any self-control and only live for cheap self-gratification. Add to the mix that they feel totally insulated from any responsibilities and that they are owed…no matter what…complete respect and you’ve got the whole package.
Attributing what to me? You've clearly gone completely off your rocker.
Bulldog: Attributing what to me?
The question, "Is this racism?"
As for the first comment on that thread (by Anon-Y-Mouse), what that shows is the common reaction of people who refuse to accept that blacks may have valid reasons for voting Democratic. They must be stupid or something.
Did I write that, or has your trolling become completely irrational?
Bulldog: Did I write that?
Sorry. Got our B-dogs mixed up.
By the way, how is that comment's (Anon-y-mous) view any different from the VERY common Democratic view of a black Republican?
Here in New York, whenever the concept is mentioned in a discussion, the line "a traitor to their race" is used.
Is that a bad view, is it educated? But if I've heard it once, I've heard it a million times. Nobody in the Democratic Party questions it.
Interestingly, I have several black friends who are Republican. Their view? Blacks who vote Democrat do so because they have been culturally 'taught' to because the vast majority of public works seem to be provided by Democrats - and they seem to 'care more'. Which is, of course, idiotic in the extreme.
They don't believe it's racism, they just feel the Democrats do a better job of letting minorities know 'the check is in the mail'. They do.
Bulldog: By the way, how is that comment's (Anon-y-mous) view any different from the VERY common Democratic view of a black Republican?
People on all sides of the political spectrum tend to denigrate the opinions of those they disagree with. They can't understand how someone can come to the conclusions they do, so they think they must be stupid or something.
That's a fair commentary.
But given the views of my non-white Republican friends, I'd have to say there is a very thick element of racism (or a least a healthy dose of cynicism toward voters) in the Democratic perspective and approach to race.
I'm sure you'd disagree. But it's hard to miss.
And it could be that they are lying about their intentions because Obamamaniacs and lefties generally don't react calmly to disagreement. It's raaaaacist!
We need a poll asking how many Mormons are voting for Obama.
There is a valid use for wind power but not on a large scale - wind generators can't be effectively scaled up, but it can be effectively scaled down and when it's does, it becomes very useful as additional sources, or even a single source, of power for homes, boats, etc.
I agree, but the level of 'scaling up' varies.
There is a firm which produces wind generators with rotors which spin around the pole, rather than as propellers, the more common variety.
I looked into their pricing, and if I had the space on my street to put their largest version up, it could provide enough power for 8 homes and reduce (roughly) 60-70% of our electrical needs. The cost would be paid off in a reasonable time frame.
Downsides? No upfront capital, eyesore, noise, and lack of space.
I agree wind farms will most likely never create enough energy to produce much power at all. There's always a chance, but it's a long shot, at best.
I wish there were reasonable cost alternatives which could be easily slotted in to existing homes, but they really don't exist. The everyday cost of paying for current energy provision versus saving for the upfront costs of alternatives make it prohibitive (in some ways, it's similar to my comment on home ownership, above).
The president of egypt pledged that he would have the blind sheikh released. Last night, a reporter wandered around the area near our embassy in egypt. Plastered all over the place were large posters of the blind sheikh with the quote from the president of egypt displayed. The reporter, with these posters displayed all over the place behind him, went on to blather about the obscure film. You just cannot make this stuff up.
Bird Dog: Why is the Arab world so easily offended?
New media. They are being exposed to a level of diversity to which they are unaccustomed.
This has happened many times in history with new media. When radio was new, Orson Welles' broadcast of 'War of the Worlds' led people to leave their homes in panic. Hitler wielded radio to whip his nation into a fascist fervour, while Britain and America hung on every word of Churchill and FDR. McCarthy used the new medium of television to gain political power, then was consumed by it. John Kennedy won the television debate, but lost the radio debate, and became president. "Helps builds bodies 12 ways!" "4 out of 5 dentists recommend..." And that Nigerian prince who emailed you that he needed your help—that was quite a growth industry for a while.
People develop a tolerance after a while. They recognize the tropes. They disregard the hype. But it takes time for this process to occur. The Muslim culture will have to get used to the fact that their religion will be insulted by someone, somewhere on the Internet.
That's a vast oversimplification.
They were still offended in a massive way prior to 'new media'. Remember Salman Rushdie? How about Theo Van Gogh?
It's not going to end. They are offended because they are told to be offended, and such a large number are undereducated enough to not know better. We have people like this here in the US, and new media hasn't changed their behavior. In fact, the Muslim world's behavior hasn't changed at all - we just hear about it more, and their activities have become more violent.
Why is Professor Perry so concerned about a tv station plagiarizing his words? Geez--you'd think by now he would understand that the use of copy/paste now far outweighs any original use of language, or thoguht for that matter:all he has to do is read his student's papers with the same level of concern!
Where does the person who wrote that teacher piece live?
I teach middle school. After ten years and a masters in my subject matter and in education (yes, that one was pretty useless, but it's the game) I make 55k. If you adjust for our 10 week summer break, that's about 68k a year. Our state did away with defined benefits before I started, I get a 403B with a 7 percent match. Yes the older teachers have a sweet retirement deal.
Really, early days? That person either doesn't actually know any teachers, or only knows bad ones.
I did other things before teaching. I was in the army for a tour. In was in sales while my wife was in med school. The days are most definitely not shorter than most other occupations.
The days are most definitely not shorter than most other occupations.
I taught for two years as a middle-aged second career teacher. Seventy hours a week.
Bulldog: That's a vast oversimplification.
We'll cop to simplification.
Bulldog: They were still offended in a massive way prior to 'new media'. Remember Salman Rushdie? How about Theo Van Gogh?
Pervasive access to Western books and movies is a new phenomena for much of the Muslim world. Previously, societies could isolate themselves to a large degree. Now they find they can't. Western culture is hugely powerful, and fundamentalists are reacting to modernity. Again, it's not a new phenomenon. Think Martin Luther and the printing press.
Bulldog: It's not going to end. They are offended because they are told to be offended, and such a large number are undereducated enough to not know better.
Of course it will end. You say it yourself: People will become educated. People will tire of the violence. A new generation will replace the old.
Let's see. 1200 years on, and Islamic views of the common people are still about fighting war and eliminating opposition. You'll say it's not the common view, but history would say you're incorrect. The people have public leaders who utilize, quite effectively, the religion to pursue their agendas.
Pervasive access isn't new at all, that's just what you choose to believe. While 100 years ago the Arab world could effectively isolate themselves, they have not been able to since WWII, and probably even WWI.
It's nothing new. It's a cultural attitude. People don't tire of violence. If they did, the world would no longer be violent. While there are pockets of reduced violence, mainly in industrialized nations, there is still pervasive violence but it has different sources and outlets.
The only way the Arab world can overcome these attitudes is to grow economically, but many of their governments are not geared toward growth, and rather seek income accumulation for those in power. This MIGHT change, but I doubt it anytime soon.
Either way, it still makes your view an oversimplification and I'm certain 1200 years of history support my outlook rather than yours.
There are some reformers and moderates among the Islamic world. They are generally marginalized whenever possible by those using the religion for their own purposes - and if you don't believe that, just take a look at some of the wackier fundamentalist groups here in the US. Then simply take that template and drop it on a larger population. Even the 'new media' or access to it, is used to keep the people in line. Access alone is meaningless.
I have access to video games, and occasionally play Madden NFL (pretty well, too) with my son. Doesn't make me a 'gamer'. Access doesn't change anything - it's how the access is managed. Given the nature and background of those managing it, the future is not hopeful for them at this point.
Hell, we're still being managed in a country with plenty of access. People still think the embassy was a spontaneous event (Ambassador Rice said so yesterday!). HA! Large scale technical weapons? Warnings of an attack on the embassy? The safe house attacked in a coordinated fashion? Something smells really ugly about the PR in this particular case - and we're a nation with more access to information than most.
Bulldog: Let's see. 1200 years on, and Islamic views of the common people are still about fighting war and eliminating opposition.
War is hardly unique to the Islamic world.
Bulldog: Pervasive access isn't new at all, that's just what you choose to believe. While 100 years ago the Arab world could effectively isolate themselves, they have not been able to since WWII, and probably even WWI.
Western culture has become more and more an influence in recent times. The resulting conflict with modernity is causing significant social stress.
Bulldog: Hell, we're still being managed in a country with plenty of access. People still think the embassy was a spontaneous event (Ambassador Rice said so yesterday!).
Which makes the point. The rate of information is much higher, not all of which is accurate or complete.
I never said war was unique to the Islamic world. The nature of their approach to engaging foes has been for the last 300, at least.
More and more in "recent" times? OK - vague, hardly useful commentary. I could say it's more pervasive today than it was yesterday, and I'd be correct. Doesn't make it a meaningful point. Other nations have been infiltrated by Western culture without negative side effects of this kind. So...what's the point, exactly?
That final point actually undermines your original point relating to access - though you've simply changed your approach to your original point, so that's nothing new.
You originally said access to information and pervasiveness of Western culture was the cause. Now it's accuracy and completeness? I'm confused what it is you're trying to say.
If the point is accuracy and completeness, then my point of education and economics is correct. By being comfortable in your means and knowing how to decipher information, then you can make logic work for you.
Where the information comes from matters little, nor does the amount or the access.
Bulldog: More and more in "recent" times?
Yes. The Muslim world is being rapidly pulled into the modern era. This causes a backlash among cultural fundamentalists.
Bulldog: You originally said access to information and pervasiveness of Western culture was the cause. Now it's accuracy and completeness? I'm confused what it is you're trying to say.
It was actually your example of a modern person being inundated with new forms and levels of information. It's culture shock, even for those in the middle of the cultural transformation.
To add to Bulldog's point, Mark Steyn recently made an interesting observation. Thirty years ago, the graduating classes of a western college and one in Egypt would be very similar in dress. Now, however, they are very different. Both Egyptian classes were made up of Muslims, but the more recent class is much more radicalized. This seems to be a phenomenon that pops up every so often and seems to be fed by an undercurrent of radical Muslims who agitate for a global caliphate. This has been going on since Charles Martel. It doesn't have anything to do with access to Western thought or education. It has to do with an interpretation of a religion and people who promote that to the followers of that religion. It will end, but it doesn't appear that it will end any time soon and given history, it will likely reappear.
It has less to do with any religious interpretation and more to do with their inability to confront the failure of their society and economy. It's never good to have huge numbers of able-bodied men jobless and dependent on handouts. Humiliated and hopeless men have to find a scapegoat, and this century it's us. The religious explanations are a pretext. Israel built a thriving economy on the same kind of land they've got -- minus the oil -- and it's like heaping burning coals on their heads for them to have to witness it. So what do Israel, its Western allies, and capitalism all have in common? A culture that leads to prosperity that anyone could emulate if they chose? No: what they have in common is that they're enemies of Islam and must be blotted out.
Texan99: It has less to do with any religious interpretation and more to do with their inability to confront the failure of their society and economy.
That's certainly part of the problem. Many people want the advantages of modernity, but without changing anything. But change is all around them, so they react.
I doubt you could make that argument about the Barbary Pirates or the Moors who invaded Spain and tried to invade Europe but for Charles Martel. To say they're aspirations and barbarism was because of unemployment is quite a stretch.
True, I was referring to the current crop. But I doubt the pirates were worried about our freedoms, either. They were just interested in our loot.
Pervasive access to Western books and movies is a new phenomena for much of the Muslim world. Previously, societies could isolate themselves to a large degree. Now they find they can't.....Of course it will end. You say it yourself: People will become educated. People will tire of the violence. A new generation will replace the old.
By your hypothesis, the areas which have the longest exposure to the West should have the lowest amount of Islamic radicalism. That would be Pakistan and Bangladesh. The area which is now Pakistan had been ruled by the British from the 18th century to 1947. Yet Pakistan has about the highest number of deaths from terrorism in the Muslim world.
On the other hand, Bangladesh, ruled by the Brits for about the same amount of time, has a low incidence of terrorism.
Perhaps the difference is that Pakistan's ISI decided decades ago that Islamic radicalism was a good thing.
Gringo: By your hypothesis, the areas which have the longest exposure to the West should have the lowest amount of Islamic radicalism.
Not necessarily, as it is exposure which results in reaction. But as you suggest, there are many cultural factors involved in how countries respond to modernity. For instance, a country with a long history of diversity, such as Indonesia, is better able to modernize.
They are not "radical" Muslims. They are fundamentalist Muslims.
Muslims have been brought up in a culture where individual rights are few and are always subordinate to the family, clan and State. An extreme example is the killing of women by relatives who consider their behavior - engaging in premarital sex, refusing to marry who their family designates, wearing what they judge to be immodest clothing, etc. - to have dishonored the family. The rights to the family to a certain perception of honor overrides the right of a family member to life.
Their States are extensions of this. Despite anything written on a piece of paper, even if it's called a Constitution, the State can deny you any right. The State controls the media. It controls what can be printed or shown.
Their religions are extensions of this as well. The religion, as a group of those who are members of Islam, have rights that overrule those of minority religions and their members and that even overrides the individual rights of the members of that religion. This is expressed in the fact that there is no separation of religion and State, and that in majority Muslim countries their Constitutions state that all laws must conform to a particular religion - and when what are overtly illegal acts are taken against members of minority religions and their property, no effective official action is taken.
Now comes the West. It says that individuals have rights that cannot be violated by family, clan or State. And the State will effectively enforce this. This is beyond their experience. This is beyond their law. This is beyond millenia of their culture. They simply neither understand nor believe that this is even possible. They certainly don't believe that it's valid. They do not believe our culture is valid - and they demand that we accept that their culture is.
It was 1985 when we pulled together enough donors to sponsor a conference on integrating agriculture, architecture, and systems thinking. The local female faculty in Birkenstocks demanded to have women on the panel. We had already chosen two women for the panel--BUT THEY WERE THE WRONG WOMEN. Every effort was made to abort that conference until we surrendered to the demands of the unselected. We chose not to include them and they have since taken over that campus. Thirty years of nothing has come out of that campus--and you want to know why our schools have failed?
Between this thread and the Iceland thread, I'd say the MF blog has reached a tipping point. Ciao. RIP.
As Jephnol reminded me, there's stuff here to make you think. Though having a discussion with 'Z' is about as useless as I can conjure. Great credit to the 'Bull' for trying, though windmills come to mind.
you need to specify
... and remember, when you come to a fork in the road, there's probably a spoon somewhere nearby, and maybe a whole place setting