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“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
— Thucydides

“A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”
— Jean-François Revel

"A Universal Doctrine of Women's Rights"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Excellent article by Phyllis Chesler and Marcia Pappas at PJM:

It is time for feminists, both women and men, of all faiths, and of no faith, to stand together for a woman’s right not to be murdered in the name of family honor. Indeed, we welcome men and women of all faiths, including Islam, to stand with us against female genital mutilation/castration, forced veiling, child marriage, arranged marriage, polygamy, and “honorcide,” and in favor of a woman’s right to live as a westerner in the West without being threatened and beaten for refusing to wear hijab, wanting to have non-Muslim friends, wear makeup, attend college, drive her own car, or end an abusive marriage. Muslim and Sikh women have been honor murdered in North America for all these alleged crimes against their religion and their culture.

Read the whole thing.

"The Lost Generation"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I have a bad habit of responding to e-mails that I should probably just let slide, as I did again yesterday when this YouTube video was enthusiastically recommended by a relative as “brilliant”. Below is my [diplomatic but fairly direct] reply. Is it just me, or does the tone of this thing bother anyone else?

Thought-provoking video!

I like the clever trick of reversing the words, but it’s hard for me to know what to make of the content, since it seems deeply cynical about the way things are now, and the priorities it appears to disparage are in many ways my own. Both work, as a means of achieving and striving to advance one’s art, and family life are important to me, in balance. Do I have to choose only one? (Interesting that the narrator’s voice sounds female; I wonder, would some object to the seeming implication that she should choose family life over work as the approved-of right thing?) Further, does choosing to focus my considerable efforts on my own life’s aspirations and my family’s well-being and happiness, instead of in some public sector endeavor (is that the implication of “changing the world”?), really make me “apathetic” and “lethargic”? I do not feel “lost” at all, but very much in my element doing exactly what I want and need to be doing, and what is also most likely to contribute something useful to the world.

Money isn’t the most important thing, but it’s a useful means of exchange, and a seemingly indispensible means to an end of achieving the life one wants. Maybe put differently, it certainly isn’t the most important thing … until one doesn’t have enough of it — then it can of course become painfully important. Family comes before money for money’s sake, to be sure, but it would hard to raise a family and realize one’s hopes for them without some measure of it.

I also think we can become better caretakers of the planet without having to beat ourselves up excessively over the things we do and the resources we use to do them. (Seems almost like the ideas of original sin, guilt, and the need to atone for our perceived offenses are deeply embedded in the human mind, even when not expressed in a religious context?) I like the aspiration to do things better and more wisely and efficiently, but that kind of gloomy approach always bothers me.

I do generally agree, and have said so before myself, that many of the essential ingredients of true happiness come from within. Maybe that is the key take-home point that I’m missing in getting hung up on all the rest leading up to it? If nothing else, hearing another’s perspective articulated can help to clarify things one takes for granted about one’s own. Thanks for the interesting video!

I think there’s more troublesome stuff in this that I missed commenting on too. The implication of “work”, for example, seems to be of something that takes unreasonably from one without giving back, rather than being an opportunity to pursue genuinely worthwhile goals and ambitions that produce reward (monetary, spiritual, and in my field technological) for yourself and others.

Guess I’m just glad I’m nowhere near that cynical?

Update: I just noticed that the creator of this clip is apparently still in college, so presumably hasn’t experienced having a career of any kind yet, let alone a fulfilling one. Maybe that explains the focus on money issues instead of achievement and fulfillment?

Jonah Goldberg: Obama's Fear Mongering

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jonah Goldberg on NRO:

“Rule 1: Never allow a crisis to go to waste,” White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told the New York Times right after the election. “They are opportunities to do big things.” Over the weekend, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told an audience at the European Parliament, “Never waste a good crisis.” Then President Obama explained in his Saturday radio and Internet address that there is “great opportunity in the midst of” the “great crisis” befalling America.

…now we have the president, along with his chief aides, admitting — boasting! — that they want to exploit a national emergency to further their preexisting agenda, and there’s no scandal. No one even calls it a gaffe. No, they call it leadership.

It’s not leadership. It’s fear mongering.

Franklin Roosevelt said that all we have to fear is fear itself. Now, Barack Obama tacitly admits that all he has to fear is the loss of fear itself.

In other realms of life, exploiting a crisis for your own purposes is an outrage. If a business uses a hurricane warning to price-gouge on vital supplies, it is a crime. When a liberal administration does it, it’s taking advantage of a historic opportunity.

Read the whole, brief article.

Hat tip: txdubp

It's Official: I'm a Dad!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A bit of very important good news to impart, for anyone reading my blog who hasn’t also been following me on Twitter: I recently became a father!

Two weeks ago, my wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Mom and son are both doing very well, and we are delighting in the incredible and wonderful experience of becoming parents to an adorable tiny new person. There have been plenty of half-sleepless nights of crying and comforting and feeding and diaper-changing since, but just being in the company of the amazing little guy has made it all worthwhile.

Posting here is likely to be less frequent than usual for a while, due to my newfound and greatly enjoyed duties of fatherhood taking precedence, but I fully intend to continue this project when I find time. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to post daily on Twitter, where I can always be found. (If you haven’t tried Twitter yet, I highly recommend giving it a whirl — I’ve been greatly enjoying both the medium and the great many new and interesting friends I’ve made there!)

Sincere thanks for the many kind wishes people have sent via Twitter and e-mail! I greatly appreciate the thoughtful notes, and am very happy to be able to share the joy of becoming a new parent!