Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Lest we forget, Osama's Friends are Like...Well...

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From a CNN story this month:

"A kinder, gentler Taliban?

The Taliban rose to power in the 1990s in response to corrupt warlords who were busy tearing the country apart.

Corruption is once again a serious problem, this time for the U.S.-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, and the Taliban code of conduct is aimed at exploiting that advantage.

"Taliban may not use Jihad equipment or property for personal ends" reads rule nine, while rule 10 says each Taliban is held "accountable to his superiors in matters of money spending and equipment usage."

This is clear PR, Brachman says. "The Taliban recognizes that it has the reputation of being a band of brutal barbarians interested only in clubbing women back to the Stone Age. This rule sheet reads like an effort to put a kinder, gentler, more moderate and professional face on the movement."

Until you get to rules 24 and 25, which make it clear that the Taliban's current campaign of destroying schools around Afghanistan and terrorizing teachers will continue as long as schools dare teach something other than the Taliban version of Islam.

"It is forbidden to work as a teacher under the current puppet regime, because this strengthens the system of the infidels," says rule 24. And if a teacher refuses a warning to give up his job, reads rule 25, "he must be beaten."

"If the teacher still continues to instruct contrary to the principles of Islam, the district commander or a group leader must kill him," it continues.

When schools are burned, the Taliban rules say it is important that religious texts be removed from the buildings first.
Defining the Taliban

Journalist Rizvi says that each of the 30 rules reveals much about the Taliban and how it has evolved over the last five years.

One rule, notes Rizvi, says that only the highest levels of the Taliban can approve work for an NGO (the non-governmental organizations that do much of the aid and reconstruction work in Afghanistan). Rizvi says this means "they have planted people inside NGOs."

One reason for the handbook is to put the Taliban's religious views front and center to its members, adds Brachman. "The first rule is classic in that it welcomes believers of Islam into their movement. Punishments and judgments are stated as playing out according to Islamic law. "

He also sees it as a move -- as the Taliban raises its military profile -- to set a certain standard of professionalism and behavior.

Along with rules about not smoking cigarettes and not allowing murderers to join the Taliban, there also is this entry: Taliban "are not allowed to take young boys with no facial hair onto the battlefield or into their private quarters."

Sexual abuse, says Rizvi, has always been a problem for the movement, especially in some of the madrassas (religious schools) that feed recruits to the movement.

Controlling bad behavior, according to Brachman, is just one of the ways "the Taliban are aggressively seeking to update their organization inside and out."

And that, he says, is a worrying sign, as worrying as their increased presence on the battlefield."

Just when you thought it couldn't get any wierder !

Merry Christmas !

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Monday, December 25, 2006

The Dictatorship of Nice

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I have been making up a series of jokes lately about Osama bin Ladin.

I have told them in classes where I substitute, when I have encountered kids trying to play a game on the net where they try to knock out a cartoon Osama. My wife informs me that this is a Bad Idea because there are some people who think Osama's OK, and view anything that insults him and his followers as insulting to anyone of Arab/Islamic religiousity or ethnicity or racial background. She thinks that if there was a complaint I could be endangering my livelihood from that source.

Frankly, if there's a danger to my livelyhood from insulting Osama bin Laden, then we are all in far greater danger than we know.

Making bad puns about his name, which have nothing to do with his Arab/Islamic religiousity or ethnicity or racial background, is a right Benjamin Franklin and Tom Jefferson fought for, and which I view as my birthright as an American. The plays on words do involve his Arabic name, but hey, he's Arabic, is that my fault ?

Let's face it, if the Muslim/Arabic world was truly unhappy with him, they would build massive jails in Pakistan, herd every last borderland tribal person into them, pay them handsomely for the inconvenience, and thus starve Osama out. That would get the issue over, and, like Saddam, he would become part of past history.

The Dictatorship of Nice is a working title for a tome about bad politically incorrect puns that i may start to sell on EBay. I have to run check Google to see that it's not already taken. I really think that the PC dictatorship has swung way too far. My wife calls one of our dogs, "Big Butt," as an occasionally cute nickname. I called him that the other night and she said I wasn't allowed to. It was sort of on the order of them "N" word being a piece of personal property belonging only to people of the racial/ethnic group involved. It's their word, and don't you forget it ! Any, of course, don't use it... IN THIS CASE, i DO NOT HAVE A "BIG BUTT," and I'll leave the rest of the case for you to draw your own conclusions....

I got a copy of Paul Robeson's 25 Greatest Hits, including, "It's Sleepytime Down South," in which he doesn't use the "N" word. He uses a word even worse than "coloured." It's the "D" word which has been so thoroughly banned from speech I haven't even heard Richard Pryor like comedians use it. "Darky's" or "Darkies," which to modern ears untrained in history probably sounds like some new underground oxygen dance bar. It's so odd that it should be so prominent in several songs by this very broadly talented guy, whom many who considered a venerated inspirational and practical leader of the civil rights movement of the early twentieth century.

Anyway, I promised I'd tell my faithful reader('s) what's very holy but not at all religious.

A Bagal, as long as you are not not eating it as part of a religious observance. Does eating it as part of an ethinic observance count as religious, darned if I know...

What else is holy but not at all religious ?

heh heh heh

How about a box of donuts, all covered with Christmas sprinkles ?????

Live Long and Prosper !


Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Different Take on the Bible

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I found this quite fascinating....

10:31 AM PDT, August 2, 2006, updated at 7:40 AM PDT, August 4, 2006
Hi All,
Today marks my initiation to not just one, but two new media: comics, and the "plog."

The former - and what I'll share with you below - is the first collection of my first regular comic book, Testament. The second, is this extremely "push-y" form of blogging from Amazon known as the Plog.

I was surprised to see these little messages when I logged into Amazon, apparently from authors whose books I've purchased in the past. Before clicking the window completely closed forever, though, I figured it was my duty to investigate - and determine whether this was a vehicle for true author-reader communications, or simply one for crass marketing.

Seems it's both - which really isn't so terrible when you pause to remember that we are sitting here in an online store. Why not get messages from authors who you might like to hear from, even if it is about a new release?

And, at least in my case, I've got messages to share other than "buy my book." (Still, if you could click along and grab a discounted copy of my new work, I'd greatly appreciate it!)
Testament: Akedah

So much for the Plog aspect. As for comics, well, for those of you who are only familiar with my media thinking or my Judaism writings, it may seem like something of a stretch. But, in actuality, it's about the most logical medium for the ideas I've been trying to express since I began writing.

Testament is, ultimately, about the Bible. I'm trying to show that these stories aren't so important because they happened at one moment in history, but because they are still happening, now. These stories actually describe the dynamics underlying our personal choices in every moment, and the forces at play in our most global conflicts.

So I've juxtaposed Bible stories - stark and historically considered interpretations of Torah that I hope invigorate the contemporary Midrash - with a brand new story of a near-future where the draft has been reinstated and the world is adopting several new self-enslaving technologies. In other words, I'm juxtaposing the Bible with our day-after-tomorrow real world. By doing so, I hope to show how we still engage in child sacrifice - every time we send a kid off to war. And how we still practice idolatry through our worship of the almight dollar (in G-d we trust). And how we're still the victims of mental bondage, courtesy of Madison Avenue's latest techniques of behavioral control.

In the world of Testament, technology and media are our magicks and mysteries - making hackers today's equivalent of the Israelites.

Testament has been a great joy to write because I'm finally working in a medium where I can connect the dots between what must have appeared to be a very disparate collection of book subjects. To me, they're all the same subject; and the world of "sequential narrative" - as comics people like to call it - has allowed me to tell this story in a more cohesive and coherent way than ever before.

More soon. And feel free to stop by my "regular" blog at rushkoff.com to discuss any of this with me.

Most of all, thanks for having bought one of my books at some point in Amazon's history. Without you, I wouldn't be a writer.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Are There Control Freaks in Heaven ?

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Just Asking...........

What's very holy, but not at all religious ?

tune in next time for the surprise answer.......

Friday, December 08, 2006

DirecTV Newmixs is BIASED !

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102 on DirecTV is supposedly a smorgasbord of various news sources, but no CSPAN or NASA. When you hit the site it always starts with FOX news, and you have to wait ten to fifteen seconds before you can switch channels. When you do switch you have to adjust the volume upwards a bit for NBC MSNBC and Blooomberg, and you have to shift the volume upwards a lot for CNN's offerings.

When you zoom in on just on channel, and then zoom back out, it always goes right back to the FOX channel. Again, you have to turn the volume down and wait another nine to fifteen second to choose something else.

To make the other channels even more unpalatable, they've taken to boosting the audio way WAY UP on the CNN obnoxious commercials, where the FOX commercials experience only a mild boost.

All of this is clearly designed to rope you into FOX and friends.

I will be switching back to DishNet when my lease is up on DirecTV, I miss the NASA channel.

The way Forward from FAILURE !

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Silly string gives soldiers in Iraq a way of detecting bomb trip wires without triggering the explosions. Very, very, clever ! Silly string is that squirty stuff that is sold as a kid's toy. If the Pentagon developed it, the price tag would be $200/can !

Bush Spin Doctors are taking the word "failure" and flipping it to "forward" where upwards would really be more appropriate, for the hole Bush has dug the country into. Maybe Bush should spray the entire White House press corps with silly string to look for trip wires....

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Throwing Baby Out with Bath Water

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Well, this is still a good place for techno thoughts, at least until GOOGLE demands that you submit to their toolbar...

It seems that in Virginia they're going to dump the 10 codes altogether. These are the codes the cops and others use to simplyfy talking on the radio, "10-4" and the like. It seems too many different counties came up with their own versions, meanings for the same codes, so that when 9/11 occurred, they all got confused. The codes have been around since the 30's, but regionalism crept in, as it always does in languages.

It would seem to me however, that the codes are a good thing, they just need to be restandardized, and the easiest wasy to do this would be to put a letter just after the attention getting "10." So ten four would be come 10 A 4 and would have a nationalized meaning, and it would be illegal to change them.

On another communications issue, the donut theory of the universe at EPhilosophy and Physics Campfire is fascinating. It ties right in with a Christian radio station that was discussing the need for peace and harmony among Protestants, with an admonition to not get panties in a knot over sprinkling water or being dunked in water, at what ages and how many times. Couldn't help but call this the Variable Donut School of Baptism, which brings me right back to a quote on the Donut Theory of the Universe.

"Cardinal Dr. Reginald Peach, speaking from his home in Wes, England, said: “The Donut Theory of Creation doesn’t really change a thing for the spiritually minded. Because then you have to ask yourself: who baked the donut?”

have yourself a very merry and glazed Christmas !