No reason for optimism in Iraq - BBC

John Simpson is far from a doomsayer so now I worry even more!

Carl Beeth

Why I Published Those Cartoons

Flemming Rose the Culture Editor of Jyllands-Posten explains his side of the story.

Carl Beeth

Hamas Without Veils - NRO

It’s rare that I agree with something said in the NRO but this echoes how I see it.

Carl Beeth

Want to see a graphic illustration of what the google censorship in China means? Then take a look at this chinese version of a google images search then do the same in the normal google images search. Very Scary!

World map by population

Carl Beeth

Does religious belief damage a society?

There is a short article in the times online about a study that finds more religious democracies worse off in social ills than their less religious counterparts.
In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.
I don't doubt the statistics but I have second thoughts on the conclusion. I think that it is more probable that countries with a functioning social safety net tend to become less religious over time. It works something like this, as people feel more confidant that their public services can help them in their hour of need they feel less the need to rely on a higher power. I think a big reason the US is so religious compared to Europe is that they don't have a functioning social safety net, and if one is very cynical, one could even think that the reason the religious right are in bed with the neocons is that they both benefit in different ways from weakening the state.

Banksy in the West Bank

Banksy, one of my favorite artists for the moment is sowing his disruptions on the west bank wall.

99.9% of graffiti is crap and vandalism but Banksy proves that the medium can be interesting. I would love to see public service graffiti. Something around dog shit in Brussels seems sort of appropriate, or some kind of pirate signalization to make people in Brussels stand on the right in escalators.

Peter Jennings

John Simpson has an obituary on Peter Jennings that rings very true. I had the privilege to meet him a couple of times when I worked as local ABC News gofer in Brussels whenever there was a presidential visit to NATO. I was amazed how nice he was and how generous he was with praise towards us gofers. I will always remember my experiences working for ABC News as some of the best learning experiences of my professional life. Rosemary Henderson the girl that first got me the job told me on the first day, "Whatever they ask you say yes, then you turn around and ask the next person how". I learned a lot of things real quick from that.

It’s incredibly sad that TV News in the US has almost been reduced to pure entertainment, sadly it will only get worse with the loss of Peter Jennings

America don't gloat over Lebanon

Of course Syria should leave Lebanon, but the lebanese people are making this happen not the Unites States. If the neo-cons and the US administration keep taking credit for what is currently happening in Lebanon it could seriously backfire. Look at todays demonstrations for a serious wake-up call.

Skype and Languages

John Barlow writes about getting Skype calls from chinese girls to practice english. This is once again one of those things where the internet changes everything, with telephones this would have been completely out of the question.

There is probably even a good web business brokering these contacts, it can be done on many levels:

  • People that are willing to exchange practice, for example an English speaker that wants to learn French could hook up with a french speaker wanting the reverse.
  • People that are willing to pay for private lessons and amateur or professional teachers.
  • People that are want to pay for private lessons and teachers amateur or profesional.

I still think Skype needs to be very careful about phone bots and spam creeping into the system.

Iraqi perspective on the elections

Salam Pax on the elections

Salam Pax has done a really humorous and informative guide to the upcoming iraqi elections

"Look, we all know there will be flaws in this election but let's give it a go.
It's not going to be perfect... but do you have a better solution?"

I really hope the elections bring some improvements

The Power of Nightmares

Just saw via one point zero that the excellent BBC documentary series "The power of Nightmares" is a available online. Even though the video is crap this is a must see.

In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world. Now they promise to protect us from nightmares.

The series follows the parallels in the rise of neo-conservatives in the US and Islamism in the middle east.

The Bellicose Curve

Faulty intelligence has catapulted the United States into war all too many times before.

Carl Beeth

Uganda turns back the Aids tide

BBC looks at a rare success story in Africa's struggle with AIDS

Carl Beeth

Zen Stories

Cool short zen stories

Carl Beeth