Shellfish or No Shellfish? St. Paul and Muhammed Cartoons

I posted this on my other site too.

Ok, so I've been thinking of an interesting issue in community dynamics. In some interactions, some people seem to be the limiting agents, and their preferences seem to take priority over others. Here's a couple of examples. St. Paul (A.K.A., Paul of Tarsus, a.k.a., Saul of Tarsus, a.k.a. Jimmy the Rat), wrote to one of his start-up cults about some problems they were having. It appears that the gentile-oriented Christians wanted to eat meat and have sex all the time like the rest of the hellenistic culture. They took a more liberal attitude toward the old Law, interpreting Christ's death and resurrection as an abolition of the dietary and cultural proscriptions. Many of the Jewish Christians, on the other hand, wanted to still keep Kosher and all that good stuff. So, Paul basically told the Gentile Christians, "You know, between you and me, that dietary stuff is all bologne (bad pun intended). But, it's not going to kill you to refrain from pork and shellfish, so if it bugs the other folks so much, just give it a rest." (this is the literal interpretation of the Greek). Here the people with the qualms, with the compunctions, with the misgivings (read the sissies) won the day. There was no compromise. Here's a modern day version. I'm hanging out with my buddies. One of them is a vegetarian, and four of them are not. We all love steak, and want to go to Little Zagrebs. But, we like our veggie buddy, and don't want him to starve or to be forced to eat a potato with relish or something lame. So, instead, we go to Moonbeam's Golden Tofu and Tobouli Shack, where I eat a pretty good Falafel and bean sprout sandwich. It's ok, but I really want a big, perfectly seasoned steak. Again, here the person with the most limits sets the rules for the community. You can think of some other examples. Roomates who are extremely sensitive to noise or messiness, group outings where people refuse to go to McDonald's, people with allergies to peanuts...I don't know, you get the picture. I find this phenomenon interesting because minority opinions seem to be able to win out over majority opinions, usually without much compromising. It is this lack of compromise that intrigues me. It seems like communities are overly willing to grant some inalienable right to groups or individuals who arbitrarily draw some line in the sand over which they declare they will not cross. Why do communities let these strong opinions dictate where the line is drawn, rather than insisting on a democratic process of negotiation? Of course, as in the case of the person with the allergy, they really do have a strict line. I think this recent cartoon hubub is an example of this issue. The sacredness of Sharia Law to Muslims does not give them an absolute right to draw the line of decency for the rest of the world. Ok, I should stop now, before I get too political. The short version is, I think this is an interesting community dynamic.


Blog change

Hey guys (and random visitors).

You may recall my blog whoredom. I'm changing my other blog from a Friendster blog to blogspot. Here's the new address. www.billygoatsgruff.blogspot.com. Ben, I'm linking my blog to this one. Feel free to link to me too.

It's odd...my interest in politics has waned rapidly over the past couple of months. I think I just got weary of thinking about things on that scale. I may be headed for the non-profit world. It may be a little more suitable for my fragile psyche. But who knows...Bush is coming to Indiana on Friday to stump for Rep. Sodrel, who's trying to fend off Baron Hill, whose seat he took int the last election. It looks like there's gonna be a lot of national heat on this election, and I might end up working on Hill's campaign, so maybe I'll get sucked back in.


Fantastic conversation on Neoconservatism

Check out Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon for some usually interesting, internet-friendly radio shows. Last night's show, in particular, was an interesting critique of ends and means of Neoconservatism with regards to Iraq.

The following description is from the show's (rather good) blog:

We will let two of the grander thinkers of our time take the measure of the Neo-Conservative fall in Iraq.

The global theorist Francis Fukuyama and the Scots historian Niall Ferguson will be measuring, not least, the collapse of their own hopes, dreams and ideas.

Fukuyama is in full repentant, revisionist flight from the broad Neo-Con adventure. Though he never endorsed the US war on Saddam Hussein, he had impeccable Neo-Con credentials, as a student of Allan Bloom, a grad school classmate and friend of William Kristol, and twice a member of Paul Wolfowitz’s staff. In his new book, America at the Crossroads Fukuyama abandons the Neo-Con taste for pre-emption, unilateralism, regime-change and US “benevolent hegemony,” because they seem now a bad mix of doctrines, not just because the Bush team drove them in to the sand in Iraq. His book extends a sulfurous argument that began two years ago with his old pal Charles Krauthammer, who never stopped celebrating the mission to Baghdad.

Said Fukuyama: “Reading Krauthammer, one gets the impression that the Iraq War – the archetypical application of American unipolarity – had been an unqualified success, with all of the assumptions and expectations on which the war had been based fully vindicated.” The Krauthammer logic, still apparently the Cheney logic in Iraq, seems to Fukuyama “utterly unrealistic in its overestimation of U.S. power and our ability to control events around the world… Of all of the different views that have now come to be associated with neoconservatives, the strangest one to me was the confidence that the United States could transform Iraq into a Western–style democracy, and to go on from there to democratize the broader Middle East.”

Niall Ferguson is a different version, maybe a different story. His colorfully illustrated celebration of empire three years ago, on the eve of the war on Iraq, had a simple directive from the spirit of Queen Victoria: it’s your turn, America. You’re an empire in fact — come out of the closet. Take up the white man’s burden (literally) and do the job!


I just like this picture

Ohh, those wacky German Scientists! What will they think of next?

A reason to dislike the French government

As if we needed one. Ha!

I don't normally think of the French in such terms because I don't normally think of the French. But their Ministry of Culture/Legislature's decision to create a law requiring Apple to open up it's proprietary system so that other companies may benefit from iTunes is retarded if only because it will prompt Apple to get out of the digital download biz in France.

However, while I was initially inclined to gripe about the French attempt to become culturally relevant via MP3 players, now I'm slightly curious. CNet says:

Under a draft law expected to be voted on in parliament on Thursday, consumers would be able to legally use software that converts digital content into any format.

It would no longer be illegal to crack digital rights management--the codes that protect music, films and other content--if it is to enable the conversion from one format to another, said Christian Vanneste, Rapporteur, a senior parliamentarian who helps guide law in France.

"It will force some proprietary systems to be opened up...You have to be able to download content and play it on any device," Vanneste told Reuters in a telephone interview Monday.
It will be interesting to see what becomes of this legal loophole for hacking DRM, will France become another haven for digital pirates?

(Sorry if any of this sounds forced, I'm tired of not posting stuff and this was the first thing that came to mind.)