Sunday, January 25, 2009
Anyway, the music at my station is fairly good so, "Move it!"
An eccentric philosophy professor gave a one question final exam after a semester dealing with a broad array of topics.
The class was already seated and ready to go when the professor picked up his chair, plopped it on his desk and wrote on the board: "Using everything we have learned this semester, prove that this chair does not exist."
Fingers flew, erasers erased, notebooks were filled in furious fashion. Some students wrote over 30 pages in one hour attempting to refute the existence of the chair. One member of the class however, was up and finished in less than a minute.
Weeks later when the grades were posted, the student who finished in one minute got an A.
The rest of the group wondered how he could have gotten an A when he had barely written anything at all.
This is what he wrote:
[HT -- Noodlefood]
Friday, January 23, 2009
I think its a very pertinent question to ask given the global warming -- animal rights agenda, government intervention and the refusal to look Islamic totalitarianism in eye.
The civilized world has blamed Israel time and again for the atrocities that Palestine should be held responsible for.
Here is a news report that caught my eyes a few days ago --
GAZA (Reuters) - Hamas vowed Monday to rearm in defiance of any Israeli and international efforts to prevent the Islamist militant group from replenishing its arsenal of rockets and other weapons after the Gaza war.
"Do whatever you want. Manufacturing the holy weapons is our mission and we know how to acquire weapons," Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas's armed wing, told a news conference.
Calls to rearm to use ceasefires only to rearm are not new to the Hamas. It's not in vogue anymore -- blaming Israel. Really. Israel should attack Palestine and mop up the totalitarian culture with full moral certainty and rectitude. No doubt about it.
Oh, and coming back to the world going nuts -- its just another testament that ideas can change the world -- for the better or worse.
This being the continuation of Fr. Botros' examination of Muhammad's sexual morality (or lack thereof). See here for Part I. Last we left the priest and his co-host, the former noted that, "No less than 20 Islamic sources—such as the hadiths of Ahmad bin Hanbal—relay that Muhammad used to suck on the tongues of boys and girls.”
Botros proceeded to read aloud from various sources, such as a hadith relayed by Abu Hurreira (deemed an extremely reliable narrator), where Muhammad sucked on the tongues of his cousin (and future caliph) Ali’s two boys, Hassan and Hussein—they of revered Shia memory.
Next he read a hadith of Muhammad sucking on the tongue of his own daughter, Fatima. Fr Botros also added that the Arabic word for “suck” (muss) cannot, as some apologists insist, mean anything but “suck.” “After all,” added the perspicacious priest, “this is the same word used when discussing Muhammad’s 'activities' with his wives, especially his beloved child-bride, Aisha.”
With an extremely disgusted look on his face, Botros turned towards the camera and said: “Dear lady, imagine, for a moment, coming home to find your husband sucking on your daughter’s tongue? What would you do? It’s even worse: it’s your prophet—the most “morally upright” man, a man to be emulated by the world! A man who on record used to go around sucking the tongues of his wives, his daughters, and young boys: Are these the activities of the man described in the Koran as being the pinnacle of moral perfection?”
“Muhammad would not sleep until he kissed his daughter Fatima and nuzzled his face in her bosom [the priest provided the appropriate sources]. Dear lady! what would you say to your husband sleeping with his face in your daughter’s breast—is that the height of morality?!”
At this point, Fr Botros, looking downcast, began apologizing profusely, saying he could only imagine how all these anecdotes must be troubling for Muslims, to which the co-host reassured him: “It’s not your fault, father, but rather the fault of those Muslims recording these vile incidences. Either way: Muslims must know. More please.”
Botros continued reading more revealing hadiths, including one from the Musnad of Ahmad bin Hanbal, which records Muhammad seeing a 2-3 year old girl in her mother’s arms. Muhammad was so “impressed” by her that he said, “By Allah, if this girl reaches marrying age and I am still alive, I will surely marry her.”
Another hadith goes on to say that Muhammad ended up dying before this particular girl reached marriage age, to which the by now vexed priest, unable to contain himself, exclaimed, “Awwww! Poor prophet! He missed one!”
Botros then told viewers to keep this last hadith in mind, for “context,” as he read another hadith from the Sunan of Bin Said, which records Muhammad saying “I hugged so-and-so when she was a child and found that I greatly desired her.”
“What prophet is this you follow?!” cried the outraged Coptic priest. “Where is his morality? This is the man that Muslims follow slavishly? Use your minds!”
It was late in the night, yet Fr Botros was not done cataloging his findings regarding the prophet’s “sexual” habits (these shows are an hour and a half long). So, when he moved on to a hadith depicting Muhammad lying next to a dead woman in her grave, as well as pointing to hadith categories called “intercourse with a dead woman,” I happily turned off the satellite and called it a night—till this moment, as I am (somewhat reluctantly) revisiting my notes to prepare this report.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
So here come my recent insights --
Human's have the distinctive power of abstraction, differentiation and integration -- which enables us to do many things beyond the sensory perceptual level
We segregate entities into units on the basis of differentiation and integration. When an animal look at an apple -- it only has a fleeting sensation of the apple before its eyes or the higher animals may even retain a few sensation and form a precept. But that is the end of its cognition growth. Man, on the other hand, has the power of abstraction that is -- of selective focus. A man may look at an apple and can choose to selectively focus on the color or the shape of the apple instead of focusing on the entity as a whole. He can look at two apples and isolate the same distinguishing features; differentiating, for instance, between an apple and a banana and integrating two or more apples.
Language transforms concepts into concretes and gives them the status of entities and comes in especially handy we talk of higher level concepts.
We differentiate entities that are strikingly different from each other and this is a relatively easy thing to do. The question always has been -- what is the same? What is the basis for integrating a set of entities under the same concepts? Ayn Rand's seminal discovery in this regard is that entities that have similar characteristics or similar attributes are commensurable i.e. that entities having the same distinguishing feature can be measured quantitatively.
The function of concept formation is to condense vast amounts of data into a folder which we can conveniently use when the need arises in our daily course of life. To condense such data, we retain the distinguishing characteristic between two or more entities but omit to measure the intensity or the degree of the distinguishing characteristic between the entities. We understand that the degree should exist in some quantity but may exist in any quantity. We abstract (selective focus) characteristics from their measurement.
Concepts of consciousness also follow the rule of measurement omission. Here, there are two attributes to measure -- content and action(intensity). For instance, love is love -- regardless of whether one is talking about Friend A or Friend B or thought is thought regardless of what is it that one is thinking about. In other words, the content of the concept remains omitted. Another aspect that is omitted is the attribute of intensity. For instance, the concept love does not take into account whome do you love more -- your parents or your friends. The attribute of intensity -- of more or less -- of how much is not taken into account In other words, the what and the how remain omitted.
Another aspect of concept formation is definitions. Definitions, taking Peikoff's example, can best be viewed as the label to the folder -- the folder representing the concept and the label representing the definition of the concept. If we acquire any new knowledge about a particular concept, the new data will be stored in the folder which subsumes the respective concept. This is what Ayn Rand called the open ended nature of concepts -- that they subsume all the data which was known, is known and will be known about the said concept. However, a disadvantage that could arise from the open ended nature of concepts is that one will have to carry loads of information with him at any given time -- thus making it impossible to retain and summon such information whenever necessary.
This is where definitions come into play. Definitions, as mentioned earlier, serve as labels to the folder thus helping us economize a large amount of data subsumed under the concept. However, for a valid definition, it should emphasize on the fundamental characteristic of the particular involved -- and fundamental does not necessarily mean the obvious characteristic. Fundamental here refers to the distinguishing characteristic which is responsible for most of the other resulting differences. For instance, Greg in the course of the recording gave an excellent example where people earlier thought that whales were fish since they lived in the water. It was only later that biologists found that whales infact were mammals and were more similar to dogs than fish. In the present case, although it is tempting to equate whales with fish -- they differ with each other fundamentally and this difference between fish and whales puts the great divide. Fundamental in this case means that mammals do not breathe with gills, give birth to younger ones and so on. This is the fundamental similarity between whales and dogs and the fundamental difference between whales and fishes. It would thus aid us better to arrange concepts in such a fashion that distinguish fundamental differences than obvious ones to give identity to our concepts.
This does not mean that Objectivism agrees with skepticism in any fashion. Even if one groups two entities under the same concept due to obvious similarties and not the fundamental ones -- he would still be correct to the best of his knowledge if he has conformed to reality. If any new facts were found and if one had to reclassify, for example, whales as mammals instead of fish, it would not lead to any chaos in concept formation. If the old definition based on the obvious similarity conforms to facts -- then the new definition cannot contradict it. To continue with our example, the fact that whales are mammals does not alter the fact that they still live in water! At any given stage, if one correctly forms a definitions conforming to facts -- any new knowledge will not be a threat to already estabilished valid knowledge.
All in all, concepts help us in unit reduction i.e. they condense enormity of the universe using the "human" method which is the conceptual faculty.
[Next in the series: Some Of My Insights -- Objectivity]
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I have just bought a copy of the book, Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and can't wait to dig through it. Since I've been doing a lot of blogging on Islam (almost the last 9 posts consecutively), I've been wanting to take a peak into the Islamic world and what better way than to hear an account of it first hand.
I've done some preliminary research on the book, Infidel and found it on the recommendation list of Noodlefood (if you are not subscribing to NoodleFood already, you sure are missing out on a great deal) and wanted to give it a try. I also found a video of Ayaan Harsi Ali and a review by Gina on the book.
I can't wait to get my hands on it!
Update -- I've just watched the video I've linked above and I just had to state the obvious. The woman is so ready for Objectivism. Although she said the usual stuff about human rights and democracy like Robert Spencer, they sure do lean on the side of justice and the free-market in each of their arguments. In the video, when one of the audience member started off with the usual "what's so great about democracy and people are poor here too"(democracy implying a floating abstraction as the best social system ever discovered), she replied something to the effect of "I would rather be poor and free than be a slave" and also "If you ask any person in a third world country, where would you go given a plane, most people would opt for America". Lets hope she finds Ayn Rand.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
According to this news report
Patna, Jan 15 : The author of a book that reportedly questioned Islamic tenets has been arrested and charged with hurting the sentiments of the Muslim community, police said Thursday.
Ahmad's 154-page book stirred a controversy by questioning the 10 tenets of Islam and the functioning of the Khalifas.
On Monday, Maulana Kari Abdullah Bukhari, chief cleric of the Jama Masjid in Munger district, had complained about Ahmad and his wife Nilofer Yasin, who is the publisher of the book.
"The complainant told the police that there are objectionable references to Islam in the book," Patna Superintendent of Police Anwar Hussain said.
Islamists are attacking the most basic rights of man -- the right to speak and express their views on any any matter in general -- and Islam in particular. If we concede the right to free speech, the rest will be tragedy.
Any argument for capitalism should propose to outlaw the costly, inefficient government agencies which make it mandatory for manufacturers to undergo quality checks under government beauracrats. Such independent product certification will also be more reliable as they face bankruptcy and expensive lawsuits if they get it wrong. We should rid ourselves of the statist mess we put in place.
[HT -- Noodlefood]
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The recent attacks by Israel in the Gaza strip have received much media coverage and stirred a lot of international figures into action. However, what we saw on television were not "just the facts" but loads of context dropping and countless hi-clarity pictures which told us the stories of endless Gaza residents who were in dire need of the basic necessities of life. With lightning speed (if not clarity), the civilized world has decided to blame Israel for all the casualties that are being inflicted in the Gaza strip. It is indeed sad that the mainstream media has decided to voluntarily blind itself to facts and principles. They have been condemned Israel – a country that upholds the individual rights of its citizens – and glorified rightless people living under a notorious government in Palestine.
Here are a few facts about the crisis that one clearly needs to analyze before one pronounces his judgment upon the issue.Hamas had contested in the elections in Gaza and won with an overwhelming majority of the two-thirds of the seats it contested. Hamas is also a terrorist organization whose central belief, in their own words is "nothing is loftier or deeper in nationalism than waging Jihad against the enemy and confronting him when he sets foot on the land of the Muslims." When will this Jihad end? The Hamas Charter quotes Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood: "Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors."
The civilized world's claim that a ceasefire should be negotiated has been tried previously. Given Hamas's direction, it should come of no surprise that Hamas was more than willing to break the ceasefire. Hamas had fired about 215 rockets during the six month "ceasefire" period -- aimed solely to kill civilians.
Hamas has also publicy declared that it WILL use the ceasefire only to recoup. In other words, there is no such thing as ending the aggression per se.
Given such a mess, I don't know how can anybody blame Israel for defending their civilians lives. They didn't ask for this either but what can any nation that upholds individual rights do when such fanatics -- Nazis or Islamists -- attack them with such moral certainty and rectitude? In my experience, people usually agree that a sovereign state has the right to protect the lives of its civilians but what usually seems out of place is the killing of innocent civilians (although they in fact did elected Hamas), in the hands of evil Israeli's. Lets take a step back and then answer some of these questions.
Should Israel be permitted to kill innocent civilians?
If somebody had to be blamed for the killing of civilians in Gaza -- it, without question, should be Hamas and the residents of Gaza themselves --who brought this onto themselves by electing a fanatical group. Hamas has always, as a rule tried to attack innocent civilians in Israel. What of Israel's children and civilians? Don't they qualify as civilians too? Even worse ,the Hamas has used kids as human shields and killed 40 out of its own citizens for aiding Israel. They have a long-standing habit of storing and launching its weapons from mosques and other civilian areas. It boasts about hiding its operatives in places like hospitals. Israel on the other hand, phones people and drops leaflets to warn civilians of the coming attacks -- at the cost of element of surprise. Isn't it a little fanatical to blame Israel for all the killings of civilians -- on both sides of the border?
All this said, I don't think any civilian of any aggressor country can claim a right to live. What if, for instance, Israel thought it were a better strategic position and chose to drop an atom bomb or something? Would that render Israel immoral? I wouldn't think so. A government, elected or not, is an agent of its citizens in the international sphere -- whether anyone likes it or not. This is why one should have read his books or watched TV and found out exactly what his government deserves. What else is the point of the political process? If it were a problem in their own country, we could simply say, "Let them suffer in their own misery." But when the people's agent harms a civilized country -- its people cant say --"We claim no responsibility for the terror attack by our agent on your land." It is senseless.
Aren't there more Palestinian casualties -- that is not proportionate damage!
Israel's casualties are much lesser than compared to the Palestinians simply because Israel considers it important to care about its citizens life -- which is the government's job in the first place. Hence, they have warning systems and bunkers for their citizens protection. On the other hand, Palestinians store weapons in civilian areas, use civilians as human shields and kill their own citizens for helping the Israeli army. Does it come as a surprise that the number of civilian casualties differ in such great number!!?
It is important for the media and the civilized to understand who is the thug here. Hamas is the thug because it is the true, authentic representative of Islam and is acting solely on the teachings of the Koran and other religious edicts. As historian John Lewis highlighted recently at FacingJihad, the threat of Islamic totalitarianism is against every country that upholds the individual rights of its citizens. It is these individual rights that the Islamists seek to destroy. If we wish to put up a fights againsts the Islamists, the civilized world should support Israel in an unqualified manner to keep us from reverting back to the Dark Ages -- to a time where honor killing is commonplace and where the good becomes the exception instead of the rule.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Life TV’s Father Zakaria Botros recently ran a show dedicated to discussing the question of morality and how it is—or should be—one of the hallmarks of “prophethood.” At the start, he posed the focal question of the show: “Was Muhammad the prophet a moral man—the most upright man, worthy of being emulated by the world?”
He opened the show by relying on an Ibn Taymiyya quote, which evaluated the signs of prophethood. Taymiyya asserted that there are many false-prophets, such as Musailima “the Liar,” a contemporary of Muhammad. Taymiyya concluded that many of these so-called prophets are, in fact, “possessed,” and that the only way to determine the authenticity of any prophet is by examining his biography (sira) and deeds, and see if he be found worthy of the title.
Being that this is the first of several episodes devoted to examining the concepts of morality and prophethood (with the notion that the former reinforces the latter), the theme for this particular episode was “purity” (tahara): "Was Muhammad a 'pure' man?"—in this context, a question concerning his sexual mores (or lack thereof).
After the preliminaries, Botros looked at the camera and gave a stern warning: “This episode is for adults only! I am going to discuss many things that make me blush for shame, so please: have the women and children leave the room.”
He then asked Muslims watching to keep in mind the question “Is this the prophet I follow?” as he delineated some of Muhammad’s sexual habits.
First, from the Koran, Botros read verses unequivocally stating that Muhammad is the paragon of all virtue and morality, such as “And most surely you [Muhammad] conform (yourself) to sublime morality [68: 4].” He further quoted the ulema, such as Ibn Kathir, all insisting that Muhammad was the “Noblest of all humanity, and the greatest of prophets.”
Botros and his ex-Muslim cohost—the priest had insisted that it be a man for this particular show, lest he be too ashamed to delineate Muhammad’s sexual habits—discussed Koran 4:3, which “limits” a Muslim's wives to four, plus “what your right hands possess,” that is, slave-girls.
That was apparently not good enough for Muhammad, asserted Botros; an entire verse had to be “revealed” justifying more women for him (Koran 33:50). In fact, Father Botros has carefully compiled a list of all the women—66 are known—to have had sexual relations with Muhammad.
Botros said that was only normal: according to Sirat Al-Halabi, Muhammad can have a woman no matter what, even against her will; and if Muhammad desired a married woman, her husband would have had to divorce her. According to Ibn Sa’ad, who wrote another authoritative biographical account of Muhammad, “The prophet did not die till all women were permitted him” (see Kitab Al Tabaqat Al Kubra, v.8, 194).
The co-host, rather abruptly, interjected – “What of all those rumors that Muhammad exhibited homosexual tendencies?”
Botros dropped his face in his hands and mumbled, “So you still insist we discuss that?” The co-host was adamant, saying it was for Muslims’ own good to know everything.
Thus Botros, after profusely apologizing to his Muslim viewers, saying how embarrassing this was for him, declared: “Look! We’re merely readers here, bringing up what we have read in Islam’s own books! If Muslims don't like it, they should go and burn these books.”
The first anecdote discussed by the priest revolved around a hadith that, while some ulema say is “weak,” is, nonetheless according to Botros, present in 44 Islamic books—including some highly respected collections, such as Sunan Bayhaqi and Al Halabi.
According to this hadith, a man named Zahir, who used to declare that “the prophet loves me,” said that one day Muhammad crept unawares behind him and put him in a bear-hug. Zahir, alarmed, yelled, “Get off me!” After turning his head and discovering that it was Muhammad, he stopped struggling and proceeded to “push his back into the prophet’s chest—prayers and blessings upon him."
Another curious hadith contained in Sunan Bayhaqi and which traces to Sunan Abu Dawud (one of the six canonical hadith collections), has Muhammad lifting up his shirt for a man who proceeded to kiss his entire torso, “from his bellybutton to his armpits.”
Botros looked casually at the camera and said, “Imagine if the sheikh of Al Azhar [nearest Muslim equivalent to the pope] went around lifting his shirt for men to kiss his torso” (he proceeded to make smacking kissing noises, for effect).
Said the co-host: “Surely there’s more?”
Botros: “Indeed there is. No less than 20 Islamic sources—such as the hadiths of Ahmad bin Hanbal—relay that Muhammad used to suck on the tongues of boys and girls"...
[Stay tuned for part II of "The perverse sexual habits of the Prophet"]
Friday, January 9, 2009
The above is a video of the Hamas trying to use kids as human shields to protect themselves from the Israeli army. While I hear the constant claim that Israelis are killing civilians -- it just pisses me off that these commentators never mention the Hamas targeting only civilians as a rule, while the Israelis do it out of necessity -- and in the present case, risked the element of surprise to warn the civilians. How the fuck did we get to blaming Israel for the whole problem the Hamas created in the first place!!?
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Instead, they did what we would most likely expect them do -- kidnapped them, locked them up and released him only after he said one of his son's name was Gabriel, the angel that narrated the Koran from Allah to Muhammad I am guessing.
And what's more, Taliban is clearly operating in Pakistan given the journalist account. At this point, given such overwhelming evidence, it would be nuts to claim Pakistan didn't know shit about the Mumbai blasts.
Langan, at the terror camp heard an ex-Pakistani minister on the BBC one day denying Al Qaeda operated camps inside the country.
"I had to turn up the radio to hear his denial over the sound of gunfire from all the training camps," Langan said, grinning.
I must admit, after the rude shock, I find JihadWatch very informative and awesome regarding Islamic totalitarianism.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I am done with sense perception and volition and have just entered epistemology. I quickly wanted to jot some of my insights..you know, track my journey a bit. (Volition was and still is a pain to get straight..so expect some shakiness).
So here they come --
1. Our senses have an identity and because it does have an identity -- it is limited. Simply because we have a means of perception does not mean we cannot know reality.
2. The distinction between form and object. (On a side note, everything we ever perceive is only our form of perception, to get to the object that is literally "out there" -- we have to conceptualize, draw abstractions and the like.
3. It does not matter in what form we perceive any object (electron level or Universe level) as long as we can conceptualize. Its the reason normal people and color blind people don't hold different theories of physics. Sense perception represent only our starting points of investigation.
4. Naive realism is wrong as no sense perception can exist in objects as apart from human mechanism.
And under volition --
5. The opposite of determinism is not indeterminism but chosen.
6. There are causes for our actions but they are chosen by the individual himself.
7. Any person is free to be in focus and expend the necessary effort or can drop his mental reins and relax instead of focusing. One cannot ask for a cause as to why a person chose to be in focus or not be in focus.
[Next in the series: Some Of My Insights -- Concept-Formation]
P.S. I am extremely happy as the blog is finally serving its purpose. I started off just to put things down instead of blurting things out -- and looks like my long, just kicking off intellectual journey won't go unrecorded. Hooray!