In the News

Good news. Geert Wilders was found not guilty in The Netherlands. It is a small victory against the forces of censorship and creeping Sharia in Europe, but a victory nonetheless. Free speech has to be protected if we value our freedom. Otherwise we will end up like those Islamic countries where people are strung up for speaking up. India’s situation continues to worsen with regards free speech — especially speech that upsets the “secularists,” who no doubt count the imam Bukhari as one of their own. The imam was in the news recently for protecting secularism in India by having his goons beat up a journalist.
Continue reading

Links for Dec 3rd, 2008: After the Smoke Has Cleared

Hi from Philadelphia, PA.

Blasphemous bras, heretical heels, yoga and me,” a funny opinion piece by Julia Suryakusuma for The Jakarta Post (Dec. 3, 2008) on a not-funny subject:

Yesterday morning I woke up early as usual and got ready for my early morning meditational yoga. It’s something I’ve been doing since 1981, clearing my mind and reinvigorating myself for the day ahead. It’s like getting your cell phone recharged, as simple as that.

But then I remembered reading that the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) is thinking of issuing a fatwa declaring yoga haram (forbidden), inspired by the Malaysian National Fatwa Council which has declared yoga haram because it “goes against the teachings of Islam”. Well, Malaysia is our sister country and they’ve done us the honor of imitating so many Indonesian things — batik, songs, language, even food! It’s understandable we should reciprocate.

To distract us from all the doom and gloom, check out Twinkle, twinkle little star (Desi style). This is funny only if you are a desi.; furriners will not get the joke. (Thanks to Prakash Advani for the link.)

But now back to the terror attack on Mumbai. WSJ published a very well written piece on Dec 1st which concisely reports the sequence of events as they were known then.

Pieced together from interviews with dozens of witnesses and officials, this account of the three days of the battle for Mumbai shows just how a small but ruthless group of skilled militants, attacking multiple targets in quick succession, managed to bring one of the world’s largest cities to its knees. The human toll — currently at 174 fatalities, including nine terrorists — was exacerbated by the Indian authorities’ lack of preparedness for such a major attack. But the chain of events also points to just how vulnerable any major city can be to this type of urban warfare.

It is worth reading, and reading soon before it disappears behind a subscription wall.

Here are pictures from The Big Picture on “Mumbai after the smoke has cleared.”

Links for 31Oct08

Exciting new and improved feature on this blog!! Finally, a way to kill more time for you.🙂

An Interview With E.O. Wilson, the Father of the Encyclopedia of Life. From the NYTimes. (Link thanks to Suhit.)

DR. E.O. WILSON: I’ve been in systematics and the mapping of biological diversity all my life. And a little more than ten years ago, I thought the time had come to undertake a complete mapping of the world’s fauna and flora.

Because remarkably–and this is little known even in the scientific community–we’ve only begun to explore this planet. It was 250 years ago this year that Karl Linneus, the great naturalist in Sweden, began what became the official form of biological classification: two names, like “homo sapiens” for us, and ranging the species in hierarchies according to how much they resemble one another. 250 years ago.

Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality. From Clay Shirkey’s writing on the internet. (Link thanks to Idling Inc.)

Inequality occurs in large and unconstrained social systems for the same reasons stop-and-go traffic occurs on busy roads, not because it is anyone’s goal, but because it is a reliable property that emerges from the normal functioning of the system. The relatively egalitarian distribution of readers in the early years had nothing to do with the nature of weblogs or webloggers. There just weren’t enough blogs to have really unequal distributions. Now there are.