Hezbollah v. the Lebanese Nation, Hezbollah v. the United Nations

Hezbollah v. the Lebanese Nation, Hezbollah v. the United Nations

In a recent post, Mark described the violence Hezbollah intentionally inflicts on the Lebanese people

As Hezbollah is a semi-4GW organization, it obeys no recognized rules of warfare yet escapes much in the way of blame, and intentionally seeks maximum civilian casualties among Lebanese Shiites from Israeli retaliation, there are certain political realities that cannot be ignored:

Yet the common people of Lebanon are not the only victim’s of rejectionist violence in Lebanon’s Civil War. The Party of God is also targeting United Nations missions:

Sites of Terrorist Attacks

The geographically-aware Catholicgauze has blogged on the War in Lebanon before.

A Modest Proposal for the Middle East

Pull out of Iraq while having the air force bomb the Ba’athist government in Syria and the Party of God in Lebanon.

The net results (viz. the April 2003 invasion of Iraq)

  • No more minority (Sunni Ba’ath) government in Iraq
  • No more minority (Alawite Ba’ath) government in Syria
  • No more minority (Hizbollah) government in Lebanon

Our legacy is three rational states, a huge improvement over the mess with British and French made.

Review of "Murder in China Red" by Dean Barrett

After 9/11 I read almost no fiction. What tragedies are there to read when one is living in the greatest Tragedy of one’s life? Likewise, with my home state voting against the Senate Majority Leadership, what comedy can match the Comedy of GOP control of government? I drifted to news sources such as The Economist, and later to wise strategists such as Thomas Barnett and Mark Safranski. My difficulty with fiction continued even after I wished to, because I could not focus on fictional plots and fictional stories.

Thus I am grateful to mystery writer Dean Barrett for bringing back normalcy to my reading habits. Along with C.S. Lewis, Barrett as made me enjoy fiction again by painting exotic worlds with real problems. If Ayn Rand’s writings are Romantic Realism — people as they should be in the world as it is — Barrett and Lewis write Realistic Romance — people as they are in the world as it should be.

With that teaser behind us, continue on for my review of Dean Barrett’s Murder in China Red (A Chinaman Mystery).

I was suspicious almost immediately after purchasing Murder in China Red. Unlike the other Barrett novels I read and enjoyed it does not take place in the exotic Orient but the mundane East — specifically, New York. The “China Red” in the title refers to the color vermilion, and the “Chinaman” in the series is the professional name of a private detective who immigrated from Beijing during the Cultural Revolution.

Yet Dean Barrett pulled through. The author has done with once before, with his Vietnam-era tale Memoirs of a Bangkok Warrior. In that tale there was no mystery, only a happy tale of army hijinx that because more sad, and romantic, as the pages turn. Memoirs of a Bangkok Warrior established Barrett as an author who can go outside his genre, and succeed at the difficult task of evoking the atmosphere of a foreign land and time.

Murder in China Red is the complement to Memoirs of a Bangkok Warrior. All the cliches of a detective novel are on full display: the grizzled investigator, the dysfunctional ex-family, the feud with the police, the crummy office, secret agents, even the love to be avenged. Yet the author accomplishes this without his usual evocative atmosphere, instead focusing on building an excellent detective story.

Throughout the book, Barrett also succeeds at the difficult task of building a coherent myth-cycle. The hero of Murder in China Red is a step-brother of the hero in Skytrain to Murder, though they do not meet in either setting. Literary shadows are used to good effect, as characters known to both are tantalizingly outlined.

Murder in China Red is an excellent collection to anyone’s fiction library. Dean Barrett is an excellent author, adept at whatever he tries. From painting a landscape, to boiling a detective, to offering exciting and adventure, Barrett’s pen is mightier than even an femme fatale’s Smith & Wesson 4506.

Murder in China Red, a Chinaman Mystery, by Dean Barrett, is 260 pages. It retails for $11.95 at Amazon.com or $10.75 at Barnes & Noble. Both Skytrain to Murder and Memoirs of a Bangkok Warrior have been previously mentioned on tdaxp.

Review of "Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus" by Dillon Burroughs

Earlier this year I received Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman, PhD. Misquoting Jesus (Amazon.com price, $15.72) is a piece of popular, critical scholarship that attacks the notion that the New Testament could be divinely inspired. While the first four chapters of that book are universally admired, Dr. Ehrman completely fails at his given task. Since its publication Misquoting Jesus has become a media darling, leading to an NPR interview, various press reports, and detailed refutations from blogs.

After my review I received a copy of Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus: Why You Can Still Believe, from the publishing company, Nimble Books. Mr. Burroughs (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) wrote the book-length criticism of Misquoting Jesus to correct some of Ehrman’s errors and generally restore biblical criticism to its primary task of buttressing the Christian faith. This project is successful. (Read on to see how.)

Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus: Why You Can Still Believe is essentially a literature review of the controversy. I recently completed two much smaller literature review on narrower topics (on OODA and PNM theories), so I can imagine the troubles Burroughs went through.

The bulk of the book is composed to the basic criticisms of Ehrman’s fallacious Misquoting Jesus. Burroughs aptly separates true things Ehrman says from false things, and it careful to note ambiguous points as well. It is perhaps this last task that is the most important, because a dish of deception with a dash of truth is poison. For instance, the non-controversial false Trinitarian formula in the New Testament is disposed of, because no Bibles before the Modern era had that incorrect verse. (Thus, it was irrelevant to the evolution of Christian doctrine.) Likewise, the question of Christ’s anger before a healing is well described.

Burroughs is a critical scholar, and Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus is an excellent example of such a work. Near the end of the book the author describes how anti-Christian texts can be responded too, and displays an excellent grasp of unintended consequences of hasty actions. Christianity is an essentially political religion, going back to Jesus and Paul, and Burroughs’ work is a fine contribution to that tradition.

The weakest section of Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus is chapter 9, “Women’s Issues in Misquoting Jesus.” The controversy over sex and gender roles in Christianity is sidestepped, in spite of its fascinating implications for Christian victory. Perhaps the author is avoiding the issue out of fear of controversy. If so, too bad.

Several of Burrough’s comments would make for fine discussion topics. A serious consideration of King James Only arguments was informative. (While the KJV-Only Movement is almost certainly wrong, every proponent I have heard argued with reason and conviction.) Likewise, many of Burrough’s strategic comments can placed along the spectrum of meaningful conflict, if one wished to use modern Christian apologetics as an example of ideological struggle.

Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus is a fine summary of Christian responses to Misquoting Jesus. I am grateful to the publisher for supplying me with a copy. It runs roughly 65 pages, and is available for $12.94 from Amazon.com. The book’s publisher, W. Frederick Zimmerman of Nimble Books LLC, is also a blogger. Another review of the book is available from Evangelical Textual Criticism.

A reflection on both books, and this review, is available from Brett Maxwell. My own book on Christianity, Revolutionary Strategies in Early Christianity: 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) Against the Roman Empire, and the Counterinsurgency (COIN) Campaign to Save It, is now available from Amazon.com.

Basileus Romaion v. Imperator Romaniae

Catholicgauze notes that 745 years, today, the Roman Empire was crushed by the Empire of the Romans. On that date Byzantine Emperor Michael VII defeated Latin Emperor Baldwin II, restoring Constantinople to Greek rule. Nowadays the Turks are in charge.

Catholicgauze also explains how that the end of the this civilizational wars between the Roman Emperors led to the fall of the Greek Empire

In a twist of irony Michael VII’s rise to emperor restarted the fall of the empire. He withdrew troops from Asia Minor to fight wars of reunification in Greece and against the Bulgarians. The lack of troops on his east flank allowed the Arabs to conquer more territory. Michael also refused to reform the government and bureaucracy of the empire which the term “byzantine” (number 4) comes from.

Wikipedia shows that the Latin Empire, at least in legal fiction, also survived its catastrophic defeat. The title of Empire of Rome was used until Emperor James, who willed the title to the Duke of Anjou — who never cared enough to use the title himself. Thus the Latin Empire fades into history.

(Unrelated, Enterra CEO Stephen DeAngelis adds his thoughts to an article that begins with Rome as a Multinational Enterprise…)

The Multiethnic State of Iran

Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Iran…,” by Razib, Gene Expression, 16 July 2006, http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2006/07/lebanon_israel_syria_irani.php.

My friends over at Coming Anarchy have fun with ethnogeography, even involved featuring ethnic maps of China, Thailand, Turkestan (twice!). Certainly it’s time for one one Iran, especially with interesting facts like this:

Iran’s diverse population should be fertile ground for a covert operation. Iran is only 51 percent Persian. Azerbaijanis and Kurds comprise nearly 35 percent of the population. Seventy percent are under 30, and the jobless rate hovers near 20 percent.

The current Supreme Leader of Iran is an ethnic Azeri. Azeris are prominent in the military and in business. They are likely overrepresented in the clerical caste. The original capital of the Safavids, the dynasty which created the modern Shia identity of Iran 500 years ago, was in Tabriz, in the heart of Azeri country. The rulers of Iran up until the 20th century were usually Turkic, and could be argued to have been Azeri. I will admit I don’t know much about the details right now, but when I see blatantly implausible contentions being thrown out there, I smell something rotten….

The concept of a multiethnic Iran is important, because Iran’s Shia friends find themselves in Multiethnic Lebanon.

In a comment on the ensuring discussion, blogger Razib writes

1) there is a small azeri nation next door, which is poorer than they are (3 times as many azeris live in iran as in the nation-state with that name).

2) the azeris dominate the military, the current de facto head of state is an azeri ethnically, as is the head of the revolutionary guards.

3) historically azeris and their affinal turks dominated the temporal posts in the state, and it can be argued that they founded the modern nation of iran bounded with its current geography united by a shia religion.

Read the whole thing.

Positive Review of "Lady in the Water" by M. Night Shyamalan

M. Night Shyamalan is best known for his 1999 movie The Sixth Sense. That movie became famous for a last scene that completely changed the meaning of nearly every scene that preceded it. The country was swept up by the wonder that writer/director Shyamalan created through that twist ending, and the rest of Shyamalan’s career until now has been an attempt to re-create that moment.

The two movies that followed The Sixth Sense, 2000’s Unbreakable and 2002 Signs, were not able to reach this goal. The ending of Unbreakable was nearly identical to The Sixth Sense (they even use the same actor — Bruce Willis — for the protagonist), while Signs aimed for a feeling of warmth by the end instead of a change in meaning.

Shyamalan’s fourth film — The Village — was a return to the medium that made him famous. It was not just the movie’s “twist ending” — nor the identity and nature of the Creatures surrounding The Village, nor the properties of the forbidden woods — but that it was a horror tale in the greatest tradition. Indeed, The Village reaches further into the horror genre than The Sixth Sense did, showing us not just a strange world that should not be, but a familiar world that must not be.

The Village is terrible — full of terror — because we see nearly everything through the villain’s eyes. Other movies of course attempt this, 2001’s Donnie Darko notable coming very close, but the relentlessness of The Village is exceptions. As feeling human beings, we believe that if we understand someone’s motives — if they have the emotions that we do, and the needs that we do — then their actions cannot be horrible. The Village shatters this helpful illusion, portraying the hideous control of a madman over a hamlet without breaking out of the madman’s world.

Yet if The Sixth Sense and The Village are Tragedies, in the classic sense, then Lady in the Water is a true Comedy. Throughout the movie action inevitable builds, but the viewer must always wonder: “If this The Village again? Is that man mad.” The subtle claustrophobia of The Village returns, even stronger now that one looks for it, and one is painfully aware that no alternative perspective is available. Flashes of what other characters see are gut wrenching, yet even here the audience is deceived. Apparent gibbering madness and drug-induced dementia are laughed off, truly showing Shymalan’s ability to exploit film’s ability of misdirection to the hilt.

Brilliant movies are comprehensible on many levels, and Lady in the Water is brilliant. Not only is it a Comedy in the sense of being anti-Tragedy, it is a comedy in the sense of being funny. The audience in the theatre was often laughing, and the happiness in the room was wonderful. (The comedy is also probably what earned the movie hateful reviews, such as Medved’s comment that the movie is “a full-out, flamboyant cinematic disaster, a work of nearly unparalleled arrogance and vapidity”: a film critic is the main target of human relief. Some of his best lines would give away plot points to reproduce here, but let it be said that film critics in this movie are treated as lawyers are in many others.)

I am very happy to have seen Lady in the Water. You will be too. Goo see it.

How Many Electoral Votes Have You Earned Travelling?

While I was in Fort Wayne, my friend Biz suggested that I calculate the states I had visited. He says that a state only counts as visited if one had mingled among the local people by buying some thing, and that airports did not count. I thus looked online for a clickable states visited map, and I was unimpressed with what was available. So I used a clickable electoral college map similar to the one I used for my analysis of the West Wing election

tdaxp has been in 279 electoral votes worth of states (plus one district!)

While I have an absolute electoral votes without them, I have included Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia as “undecided.” Like every other American I have spent time in Atlanta’s airport, I drove through Tennessee on my recent interesting adventure, and was previously in a bus in Mississippi.

More Videogames, Less Violence

Adam of The Metropolis Times is a longtime blogfriend of tdaxp. Recently he has taken to vidcasting, and one such vidcast (on video games and crime) has been taken up by the popular videogames-and-politics site Game Politics.

Watch the video

Don’t Tread On Videogames

and join the discussion.

The link between electronic entertainment and a peaceful society has been discussed on tdaxp before

And remember: watch the video.