discarded lies: wednesday, november 26, 2014 6:57 am zst
selling meteors to dinosaurs
daily archive: 04/03/2005
zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Blogging Regulations
San Francisco May Regulate Blogging | Personal Democracy Forum
Just when you thought the Federal Election Commission had it out for the blogosphere, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors took it up a notch and announced yesterday that it will soon vote on a city ordinance that would require local bloggers to register with the city Ethics Commission and report all blog-related costs that exceed $1,000 in the aggregate.

Blogs that mention candidates for local office that receive more than 500 hits will be forced to pay a registration fee and will be subject to website traffic audits, according to Chad Jacobs, a San Francisco City Attorney.
I have two words for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors: bite me.

(a cold SNPA to RIP Ford for this one and they can bite him too)
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
After Maskhadov
The violent demise on March 8 of Aslan Maskhadov, former president of Chechnya and supreme commander of the Chechen militant forces, is President Vladimir Putin’s short-term gain, but it may be Russia’s long-term loss. Now the war in Chechnya will further lose its “national liberation" character and the pretense of Chechen independence, which Maskhadov symbolized, and Moscow will confront the deadly face of Islamic extremist terrorism.

As the crisis in the North Caucasus develops, the Bush Administration should follow the situation closely. This can be done through a dialogue with the Russian government and contacts between non-government experts, including representatives of North Caucasus indigenous communities.

Washington should cooperate in tracking and intercepting financial flows, terrorists, technical expertise, and training capabilities. The U.S. and Russia should develop models of identifying, monitoring, and rendering ineffective radical Islamist centers of incitement for violence and terrorist activities—such as mosques and religious academies—without causing casualties among innocent civilians or widespread popular dissatisfaction. The Administration should also assist in strengthening traditional, local, moderate Islam, including support for educational, cultural, spiritual, and media activities in the region.

Finally, the U.S. should cooperate with the federal and local governments in the area, as well as business communities and non-governmental organizations, to apply models of free-market–based economic development and enhancement for the role of women in local societies, which would neutralize the influence of the radical Islamists who are likely to come to power after Maskhadov’s death.
You should read it all, it's an excellent analysis of the threat in the Caucasus and why it's in the best interests of the U.S. to be involved. After Maskhadov: Islamist Terrorism Threatens North Caucasus and Russia
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
No comment
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Papal Elections
While the guessing game begins on who will be the next Pope, here's a quick look about how papal elections were carried in the past. Reading this article made me appreciate John Paul II even more. I really hope the next Pope is as good as a person as he was.

Conclaves Have Colorful, Checkered History
Conclaves have a checkered, colorful past that belies the air of sanctity and solemnity surrounding modern papal elections.

The first time cardinals were locked up until they elected a pope was in 1241. The Holy See was in a state of virtual war with the German emperor, Frederick II, who held two of the 12 "princes of the church" prisoner.

Anxious for a new pope, the ruler of Rome had the remaining 10 cardinals confined in a squalid, crumbling palace. It worked. After a relatively short 60 days, they elected Celestine IV.

But Celestine lived just 17 days and a long and anxious interregnum of 18 months followed.

Another even longer interregnum came after the death of Pope Clement IV. By the fall of 1271, the Throne of St. Peter had been vacant for three years. Again, the people locked up the cardinals, this time putting them on a diet of bread and water. The roof of the papal palace was also ripped off, exposing the cardinals to the elements.

Again, extreme measures worked. Within three months, the cardinals had elected Pope Gregory X, who decided to institutionalize the practice of the conclave, a word that literally means "with a key."

Gregory's rules were tough — the cardinals' rations were slowly reduced over the course of the conclave — but they worked. The next few papal elections were quick.

Conclaves weren't just tough, they were often hotbeds of political intrigue and corruption.

In his memoirs, Pius II, one of the Renaissance popes, recalled with distaste the unsavory plotting at the 1458 conclave in which he was elected. Most of it took place in the privy, he said, calling it "a fit place for such elections!"

The 1484 conclave wasn't much better. The man who became Innocent VIII bribed electors by signing their promotions in his cell the night before the decisive vote.

The bribery was even more naked in the 1492 election of the Borgia family pope, Alexander VI. A worldly and ruthless Spaniard who had at least eight illegitimate children by three women when he became pope, he handed out dozens of plums — abbeys, fortresses, towns, bishoprics — to nail down votes.

Secular interference was often as blatant as the corruption. For centuries Europe's Catholic monarchs claimed the right to veto candidates and it eventually became routine for their ambassadors to attend conclaves.

The last veto was exercised as recently as 1903 by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and Hungary. The new pope, Pius X, then abolished the royal right of "exclusion."
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Wringing our hands about Hizballah
I was suprised when President Bush said he hoped Hizballah would not turn out to be a terrorist organisation. What have they been all this time, kindergarteners? Mr. President, in case you don't remember this date, October 23, 2003, here's a little reminder:
How can we forget the fact that in 1983 a Hezbollah suicide driver crashed a one-thousand-pound bomb into the Marine Barracks in Beirut and killed 241 of our best and brightest? What about the hostages they took and tortured? What about the CIA Beirut station chief William Buckley who they kidnapped and slowly drowned to death by forcing a pipe down his throat and flooding him with water? They made tapes of his agony and sent it to the CIA. I'm told that former CIA Director William Casey almost went crazy when he heard them, and this propelled him to Iran-Contra, to try to free the hostages.
But I guess having put all that in the past, Washington policy makers are now facing another dilemma: what to do when the terrorists become the politicians. The Hizballah Conundrum
Hizballah’s armed and terror capabilities must be addressed within the context of freeing and democratizing Lebanon. The best way to pressure the organization, which is highly sensitive to its domestic standing in Lebanon, is to maneuver it into making a choice between its domestic and regional agendas. If it chooses the domestic agenda, it will be restrained and pressured to disarm; if it chooses the regional, it will lose vital domestic support. Some practical policy recommendations follow:

• The removal of the armed Iranian presence, together with the heavy military equipment it shares with Hizballah (such as rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles), should be an integral part of the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559. With Israel and Syria out of Lebanon, Iran should not be permitted to remain as the only foreign armed presence. The next stage for implementing Resolution 1559 would be the disarmament of Hizballah’s remaining substantial military capabilities, some of which were provided by the Syrians.

• Syria should be pressured to end any further arms shipments to Hizballah, either directly or through Syrian territory. Concurrently, the international community should consider placing international monitors at critical entry points to Lebanon (e.g., international air and sea ports and the main crossings from Syria) in order to monitor possible arms shipments to Hizballah.

• The European Union (EU) would do well to announce that unless Hizballah lays down its arms, the group will be added to the European terrorism list, and the EU will refrain from dealing with Hizballah politically. Presenting Hizballah with a stark choice—acceptance if it renounces violence, political shunning if it continues to engage in terrorism—will more likely enhance Hizballah’s will to play a responsible role in Lebanese politics.

• While Hizballah is trying to fuel Palestinian terrorism below the international radar screen (acting behind the scenes and keeping a low public profile), it is important to shine the spotlight on any of its persistent terror activities (including the recruiting, funding, and launching of Palestinian terrorists) meant to destroy the current Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire (to which even Hamas has agreed).

• The international community must energize the Lebanese opposition on the issue of Hizballah’s heavy military weapons. The opposition should be encouraged to place this issue on the agenda of a national dialogue, specifically at this moment critical to Lebanese national unity. To illustrate the price Lebanon is paying for Hizballah’s dark side, the international community could present a substantial aid package to Lebanon conditioned on the advance of this front (U.S. assistance to Lebanon in 2004 amounted to approximately $35 million).

• The international community could tie an additional assistance program to the Lebanese army’s deployment in southern Lebanon. This kind of package, designed to strengthen the Lebanese army, would substantiate international pressure to deploy the army in the south with the task of asserting Lebanese sovereignty and preventing cross-border attacks. The move would deny Hizballah armed control of this area under its traditional excuse of protecting Lebanon against Israel.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Fatima's Secret
This is a rough translation of an article that appeared in Eleftherotypia (Greek only), on March 16, 2005.

Her name is Fatima, she's a Muslim and she lives in the Turkish part of Lefkosia, Cyprus. But her real name is Vassiliki Charalambous, she's a Greek Cypriot from Lemessos, an orphan who grew up in Lefkosia and who fell in love and married Mustafa, a Turkish Cypriot.

Her family disowned her when she chose to change her faith rather than leave Mustafa. She eventually had five children with him but none of them knew until recently that their mother was Greek. Half a century later, when the barricades that divide the island opened and the Cypriots came together again, Vassiliki told her children her secret.

Cyprus in the 1950s: The Greek Church is rousing the Greek Cypriots to unite with Greece. In Cyprus, Greeks and Turks have lived in harmony for centuries except for the one thing that always separated them - religion. The Greeks, Christian Orthodox, did not accept the Turkish Cypriots. The Turkish Cypriots, although Muslim, have traditionally been a secular society with very little emphasis on religion. Even weddings are almost always civil affairs and not religious ones. The Greeks on the other hand, were and are very religious, with churches full on Sundays and marriages being fully religious affairs.

In the four centuries that Christians and Muslims have been living side by side in Cyprus, mixed marriages are rare phenomena that carry heavy social penalties. This is what happened to Fatima/Vassiliki. She kept her secret for half a century. Today, in her 75 years, she represents the tragic history of Cyprus.

Vassiliki grew up near the mines of Amiantos, south of Mt Troodos. Her mother's name was Anna and her father's name was Charalambos. She lost her parents when she was 10 and she went to live with her sister Lella who was 10 years older and was living in Lefkosia.

1953: Taktakalas, old Lefkosia: Vassiliki met and fell in love with Mustafa. They were difficult times, the Greek Cypriots were preparing for union with Greece. The relations between the two communities froze and the wall between their religious differences became even taller. Vassiliki's family tried to dissuade her from marrying Mustafa but she didn't listen to them. She converted to Islam, took the name Fatima, got married to Mustafa and moved to the Turkish section of Lefkosia. They built their house away from the town, in an area where there were no other families. With no neighbours, away from the Greek Cypriots and at a distance from the Turkish Cypriots, they started a new life.

In 1955 EOKA started its battle. The British, in order to hold on to Cyprus, they fueled the Turkish fanaticism. The Greek Cypriots, ready for a long time, joined the chess board of nationalism: EOKA, TMT, killings, blood, hatred, suspicion, prejudice, dividing lines and barbed wires.

(A parenthetical note - this is not included in the original article but here's a short background about EOKA: a Greek Cypriot terrorist organisation led by Colonel George Grivas and encouraged by the island's Greek Orthodox archbishop Makarios, EOKA began a guerrilla war for "enosis" (union with Greece) against British occupying forces together with terrorist attacks on the island's Turkish minority. Here's additional information about the political history of Cyprus.)

In 1960, with the creation of an independent Cyprus, a bi-communal nation with treaties that precluded both union and partition, hope was born again. But in 1963 these treaties fell apart and union with Greece became a central issue once again. The Turkish Cypriots were already oriented towards partition. Once again, there were kidnappings, killings, destruction of properties, hatred and new walls on the ground and in people's minds. In this nationalistic fervor, Greek Cypriot "fighters" killed Mustafa in cold blood because he was Turkish. Without knowing that he had five children who were half-Greek.

Fatima, as the "wife of a martyr" as the Turkish Cypriots call the people who were killed in 1963, had the duty of writing off Vassiliki, her Greek self, and raising her children as descendants of a hero of the struggle. But she resisted. She raised her children free from nationalism and intolerance and taught them to accept the "other" even if this "other" killed their father.

In 1974, when the wall became 330 km long and too tall to be crossed, Vassiliki continued her personal struggle in life. She worked as a seamstress and raised her five children until they became adults and had jobs and families. In 2000, all her children participated with the other tens of thousands of Turkish Cypriots in the street protests against Denktash.

Fatima's youngest son, Dogan, is a member of the bi-communal choir that opened the way in the struggle for understanding and reconciliation between the two communities in Cyprus. When the barricades opened, Dogan immediately went to get a Republic of Cyprus passport but he couldn't prove his mother was a Turkish Cypriot because she didn't show in any of the population registers. So he went to his mother to ask her the two basic questions: where was she born and who were her parents.

Seventy-five-year-old Fatima understood that it was time to tell her children the truth. "My real name is Vassiliki Charalambous. I'm a Greek Cypriot. I fell in love with Mustafa, your father and I married him in 1953. I had to change my name. This is why they couldn't find me", she told Dogan and gave him her birth certificate which showed her real name.

"It was natural that I went into shock. I couldn't speak. After 45 years I learned at that moment that I'm half Greek Cypriot and that my mother was carrying this unbearable secret for a whole 50 years", Dogan said to the newspaper "Politis" which brought this story to light.

"She had never talked about her background. She never spoke Greek. She was an average Turkish Cypriot woman. When I got over my shock, I asked my mother to tell me her story in detail. I was very curious. I had to learn. I had to learn my mother's story, my heritage", says Dogan.

And the relatives?

Mustafa's relatives accepted Vassiliki and respected her secret. But her children don't believe they have anything to hide. They are Turkish Cypriots in thought but proud that they have relatives on the other side of the wall. They went public with their secret and are trying to locate their relatives. "So many years have gone by, I don't know which of my relatives are still alive, where they live, if they have families, where do they work and if they know my mother's story" said Dogan in the newspaper "Politis", publicising his story in order to locate his relatives.

Vassiliki's story was shown in all the TV channels and was talked about widely in all of Cyprus. But there's been no response yet. Either Vassiliki's relatives haven't happened to hear the story or the walls in people's minds are still impenetrable.

The Politis newspaper has a list with the relatives' names and a plea to help re-unite the family (in Greek).

Το μυστικό της Φατμά ήταν ότι ονομάζεται Βασιλική!
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Sunday's Quiz
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throbert in Channel Ж:
Defining atheism (plus, pedant-proofing your home)



In a thread on the death of John Paul II, evariste commented as follows:

Frank-not really! :-) I remember the conversation about atheism/ agnosticism well. In it I held that saying you're agnostic is a much bolder statement than saying you're an atheist. The core agnostic belief is that whether there is a God or not is unknowable, that human beings are incapable of truly ever knowing. Being human is pretty crappy, but it's not so crappy that we're incapable of knowing whether God exists. I say I'm an atheist because I don't believe in God right now, and I say it because I'm convinced if there is a God, we're capable of knowing Him. I'm not unwilling to entertain the possibility of God's existing, and I find much of value in Christianity and Judaism.


I understand evariste's point exactly and it seems to be more or less identical to my own position, but in the interest of precision, let's take a look at the meanings of "atheism" and especially of "agnosticism" -- while evariste's sense of the word is widely used, philosophers of religious belief and "unbelief" would call this a rather colloquial, informal definition, to put it politely. As coined historically by T.H. Huxley, agnosticism meant --

...oh, wait, but as long as I'm dragging Throbert's Big Manly Dic-
tionary
off the shelf, let me first take the opportunity to share this useful anti-pedant hint for the next time some pencil-necked LLL type goes into meeble-meeble-meeble! mode over Dubya's pronunciation of "nuclear." As the friendly word mavens at Random House observe, without much exaggeration:

[The] notorious mispronunciation of nuclear is without question the one most hated and resented in the English-speaking world... and the one most likely to inspire the listener to fury, ranting, the tearing of hair, and gagging.



Well, that's certainly true -- I was reminded of this issue after visiting the blog of a former "Web Friend" in re the Terri Schiavo case. My splenetic digression on my Web Friend is Invis-O-Texted to spare readers who have probably heard the same complaints before.

[Invis-O-Text: ON]

He enjoys berating "red staters" for their stupidity, but after Bush's 2004 State of the Union address -- which was before my resignation from the mailing list on which the Web Friend and I used to converse -- his idea of analysis was: "Bush didn't even answer any of the questions! And could we please have a President who can get his subject-verb agreement right? And it's NOO-klee-ur, for fuck's sake!" I have long resisted linking on DL or LGF to his blog or those of my other former super-liberal friends, because I don't want to hear accusations that I've urged my evil Rethuglican cronies to spam their comments section. But now I don't care anymore -- I just need to vent about the people I used to associate with. He is a decent guy at heart, despite his tragic case of Bush Derangement Syndrome, so if you visit his blog, please heed Hanlon's Razor, "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity," and Throbert's Corollary to Hanlon's Razor, "Never attribute to innate stupidity that which can be adequately explained by honest ignorance."
 
Or, paraphrasing someone else -- "Forgive him, he knows not what he writes."


[Invis-O-Text: OFF]

Okay, getting back to "NUKE-ya-ler" -- some people take his characteristic pronunciation of the word as proof that G.W. Bush has the intellectual capacity of an agnathid, but is that really so? The Random House folks explain the factors behind this "mispronunciation":

As for "why," two common forces underlie this error. The first is metathesis, a tendency to switch things--in this case, sounds. Confusion happens. Just listen to people trying to say "relevant" or "prevalent"; "cavalry" or "Calvary." The "l" and "v" frequently switch places as the speaker's eyes glaze over. [...] With nuclear, you can think of the switch, in simplified form, as occurring between the sounds "y" and "l" in the final two syllables, if we render them as "-kluh-yuhr" (the correct one) and "-kyuh-luhr" (the unmentionable).



So, the next time some Magnificant Brain kvetches about "NUKE-yuh-lar," you can promptly explain that it's an instance of metathesis. But that's not all...

The second [factor] is analogy. I was surprised to find no other word in English that ends in the two syllables represented by -cle-ar. (Any examples out there from you detective types?) The sounds of -cu-lar are another matter. Hundreds of such words bombard our ears daily: "molecular," "spectacular," "particular," "vascular," "muscular," "circular," "macular". . . I could go on. Of course, people are perfectly capable of saying sounds similar to nuclear across word boundaries: e.g., "a new, clear sky," "a new Clio award."



The one important point that the Random House editors leave out is that "NUKE-yah-lar" is an established dialectal pronunciation that speakers in certain regions learn from each other and reinforce in each other -- it's not a haphazard, individual error. Since the bashing of Dubya on this point tends to be especially heated when it comes from politically-correct liberals, you might also gently point out that questioning his intellect over "NUKE-yah-lar" is just as wrongheaded and rude as assuming that "Ebonics" speakers are dumb because they say aks a question -- itself an example of a solidly established dialect variant originating by metathesis!



Hey, the Brain In A Jar is correct -- famous spoonerisms such as "you have hissed your mystery lesson!" and "king-quering kongs their titles take" are also examples of metathesis, though in this case occurring between words rather than within a single word.

Okay, now going back to the definition of agnosticism... well, damn, that's plenty of reading to hold you guys for the time being, so let me get some coffee and breakfast in me, first.

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