Friday, August 31, 2007

More Lunacy from Ahmadinejad

Here's more ranting by Iranian President Imajihadi. I swear, the guy is literally nuts. One cannot believe the things that he's saying in this news conference without being a conspiracy wacko. And he's setting foreign policy for a country that's trying attain nuclear weapons.

And, worst, we stand back and allow it to continue.

Here are some quotes:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday launched a new verbal attack against Israel, accusing Zionists of sowing conflict, publishing offensive cartoons and “lying about being Jewish.”

“Zionists are people without any religion,” Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly predicted that Israel is doomed to disappear, told a news conference in Tehran.

“They are lying about being Jewish because religion means brotherhood, friendship and respecting other divine religions,” he said.

He also said that “Zionists” were behind a cartoon in a Swedish newspaper depicting the head of the Prophet Mohammed on a dog’s body that sparked an official protest by Tehran to Stockholm.

“They do not want the Swedish government to be a friend of other nations. I strongly believe they are behind it (the cartoon). They thrive on conflict and war.

“They are an organised minority who have infiltrated the world. They are not even a 10,000-strong organisation,” he said.

And then the money quote:

“Anywhere they are found there is war. Anywhere where there is war they are behind it,” Ahmadinejad added.

Echoing his previous predictions about Israel’s future, the president said: “If the world is calm, people, Europeans, Germans even, will uproot them.”

And as the blog post says, you'll find all this in very few mainstream media outlets. This stuff should be front-page news, if our media really wanted the public to understand what's going on in the world.

"Bioshock" Not Objectivist-Friendly

If this The Phoenix review of the upcoming game "Bioshock" is any indication, then the game is certainly not based on Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, or on Atlas Shrugged. Here are some quotes that justify that comment.


According to BioShock’s foundation myth, Ryan envisioned his sub-aquatic metropolis (inspired by Ayn Rand, and especially Atlas Shrugged) as the place where man could realize his potential, unfettered by the restrictions placed upon him by government and religion. He populated the city with the greatest minds the world had to offer: industrialists, doctors, artists. Rapture had room only for the productive; there was no place for the weak, the infirm, or even the mediocre commoners that Ryan considered a drain on society.

Objectivism does not suppose that a society could function without government--there has to be some entity that can protect individual rights, which is the fundamental principle upon with Objectivist politics is based. Second, Ayn Rand had nothing against "the mediocre commoners," insofar as the typical person was as productive as his or her abilities made possible and to the extent that any person did not live life as a parasite upon the more productive. And so, from the beginning, the game's premises are perversions of Objectivism, not examples of it.


What you learn pretty quickly is that the first fissure in Ryan’s master plan opened with the discovery of an element called ADAM, which allowed for genetic modification far beyond the bounds of medical science. Freed from any ethical constraints, the people of Rapture set about developing strange and perverse abilities for themselves.

Notice that part, "freed from any ethical constraints." It's an implication that Objectivism has no ethics that would guide individuals in such a situation. Of course, Objectivism does have such an ethics, and it would result in individuals making the most rational long-term decisions possible--meaning, an Objectivist would be the last person to undergo a genetic modification without considering the possible effects. Then again, it's interesting that "developing strange and perverse abilities" is, according to the review, primarily an ethical question.


And yet, the freedom given the player is also subverted to give the game its greatest resonance: if the free will of one diminishes that of another, are they not both slaves? Andrew Ryan dreamed of a city where the great would not be constrained by the small; Rapture failed because he didn’t understand that the great rely on the small. As one character says, Ryan brought people to Rapture to be captains of industry, but they still needed someone to clean the toilets.

Again, although Objectivism does exalt the greatness of mankind, and therefore holds particular respect for those who utilize their abilities to the fullest, it does not conversely consider those without such abilities to be inferior. All Objectivism demands, morally, is that each individual strive for the highest that he can achieve, whether he's a brain surgeon or a janitor.

Objectivism in no way assumes that "the great (are) constrained by the small," except to the extent that government links a chain between them and makes slaves of the productive for the non-productive. If this review is correct, then "Bioshock" is a horrible rendition of Objectivism that will do nothing but perpetuate the negative stereotypes held by those who understand very little about the philosophy.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 4383 Diggs, is a link to a new way to advertise men's underwear. Again, a reversion to Digg's underlying prepubescence.

Russia Examined

Here's a nice piece in the Moscow Times that discusses the likelihood that Russian geopolitics will become even more strained in the last few months of Putin's Presidency. More than that, though, it discusses Russia's general approach to world affairs, and makes some interesting points.

A few choice quotes:

A curious pattern emerges when examining Russia's politics over the last quarter century. Fundamental changes come in eight-year cycles, and the transitions from the end of one cycle to the start of the next are accompanied by flare-ups in foreign relations.

An intense struggle for power took place from 1999 to 2000 at the end of President Boris Yeltsin's term. Those years saw the start of a second war in Chechnya, the rise of former KGB officer Putin, a corruption scandal involving members of Yeltsin's family and the Bank of New York affair -- all of which brought relations with the West to a critically low level. The situation began to stabilize only in the spring of 2000, when Putin took office and Western leaders started building bridges with the Kremlin.


It turned out that the West was not prepared for Moscow to assume a new, stronger position in international affairs. Up until recently, the Kremlin had been willing to compromise on most disputes with the West. But now Russia feels its own strength and is less inclined to give in to its partners' wishes.


Russia's ambitions and self-confidence, fed by its oil and gas euphoria, have become greater than its realistic abilities, given the global changes taking place in the modern world. Moscow's eagerness to make up for what it lost after the Soviet collapse as quickly as possible has proven stronger than a calmer, more rational calculation of what it can realistically achieve.

The West is quite disappointed after discovering a distressing fact: It really is difficult to resolve many important issues without Moscow's participation. But Russia is not interested in cooperating on someone else's terms. This stems not only from obstinacy, but also from a growing sense that Western formulas for managing global affairs are simply ineffective. From Moscow's point of view, the situation in Iraq and the turmoil in the Balkans are convincing evidence of this.

Read the whole thing. Incidentally, it says a bit about the West, as well.

Municipal Wi-Fi - On its Deathbed At Last

And, as I mentioned here and here and here, it seems that I was right. There's no business model for municipal Wi-Fi (meaning that, were any to be rolled out, they'd have to be funded by taxes), and newer technology can do the job better. The best thing is, they're failing before they had a chance to negate the newer technology, meaning that we can continue to look forward to privately-created technological advances that will make our lives easier and better.

As long as government just stays out of it.