Monthly Archives: May 2010

Mosquery or Mockery?

A hot topic in the news these days is the building of a Mosque in New York city. Nothing noteworthy about that… Except that it is two blocks from the site of Islam’s Finest hour, Ground Zero – the place where the Twin Towers fell and nearly three thousand people died… while Muslims the world over yodeled with joy.

On the one side is a congregation of Muslims who say that this is their way of “Reaching Out” and “Building Bridges” in the community. On the other side is just about everybody else, who think that this is a Really Bad Idea.

The mosque will cost about $100M to build. Nobody knows where the money will come from, but the smart money is that it comes from Saudi Arabia – the nation that “supplied” the majority of the 9-11 terrorists. The site is currently used as an overflow prayer area for another Mosque.

The evil that was perpetrated on September the 11th has been roundly denounced by everyone in Islam. Everyone, that is, except for their highest-ranking clerics, who have remained eerily silent.

Yes, atrocities have been committed in the name of God before – but we have ‘fessed up, wised up and moved forward, If the Pope or other leaders of the Christian Faith defended the Crusades, the Inquisition or the Holocaust – or even suggested that they were anything less than evil,  one could expect similar outrage. Yet the world seems to be falling over itself to be nice to Muslims.

Whenever and wherever disaster strikes, Christian charities are the first on the ground with aid and food. Muslim charities, if there are any, are unreported. Given that charity is one of the five pillars of Islam, we can only assume that the Muslim faith has a PR problem.

Please don’t give me any of that “all-religions-are-equal” crap. Christianity does not spread at gunpoint. It does not demand “repentance or death”. It does not require the killing of unbelievers, and it doesn’t require the extermination of everyone who disagrees with their viewpoint. A Christian Fundamentalist is required to die for his faith, if necessary. A Muslim Fundamentalist is encouraged to kill for his.

Christianity is, by its nature, counter cultural – it flourishes best when oppressed. Islam is mono cultural – it flourishes only in a vacuum, when all competing or dissenting voices have been silenced. The very word “Islam” after all, means “submission”.

The only parallel I could think of would be to build a Shinto Shrine at Pearl Harbor, next door to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. Even though it was sixty years ago, there are many today who would still be outraged. Then as now the words “Never Forget” are emblazoned across the nation’s soul.

Community Board 1 approved the building of the mosque. Methinks they will be unemployed real soon.

Bottom line: Most Muslims are ordinary peace-loving people with whom I have no quarrel, even if I happen to believe that they are wrong. We can agree to disagree on that one. But no matter which way you slice it, building a Mosque that close to the site of an abomination that was inflicted in the name of their faith cannot fail to be interpreted as anything other than a slap in the face.

If the Muslims of New York wanted to make enemies of America, this would be just the right way to do it.

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Randslide!

Yesterday was a great day for Kentucky. Rand Paul won the Republican nomination for the Senate election this November.

I had hoped that it would happen, but did not think that it would. Rand was up against some pretty tough competition. He was branded by the media as “the Tea Party candidate”, and painted by most of the media as a Raving Rightie. Even his own party heavily endorsed his main opponent, Trey Grayson, who waged one of the dirtiest campaigns that i have ever seen.

Rand was endorsed by Jim Bunning, (whose seat Rand will be fighting for in November), and Sarah Palin (which may be an asset or a liability). Most telling of all, James Dobson initially endorsed Grayson but switched to Paul after he spoke with Paul and realised that he had been “misinformed” (that’s policalspeak for “I was lied to”… but by whom?).

Grayson represented the establishment and the Republican Party as it is, Paul represented a return to the old ways of limited Government and reduced spending. Kentucky Republicans yesterday delivered the smackdown to the establishment, with Paul netting nearly twice as many votes as Grayson.

Rand’s father, Ron Paul – dubbed “Doctor No” after his habit for voting against bills for which there is no clear constitutional mandate – is often regarded as the only honest man in Washington. Electing Rand this November will give us two.

To quote Han Solo “You’re all clear, kid – now let’s blow this thing and go home!

Why your listing sucks

In my twelve years on ebay and six years on Craigslist, the one thing that has not changed is the level of human stupidity. Here are some of the things that people put in listings that make me go “NEXT!!!”

  • Mis-spelling the name of a key term in the title: “Inspirion” is a common, though understandable one, in spite of the fact that it is printed across the item that you are trying to sell. Nothing says “I’m too stupid to be allowed on the Internet” like the word “Labtop” – if someone searches for a “Laptop” they will not see your listing. It only takes thirty seconds’ work to not look stupid.
  • Pictorial Shenanigans: The inclusion of a picture makes a huge difference. For one thing it shows people that you actually have the item you claim to be selling. Don’t use a “stock” picture – this looks and smells like a scam, particularly if it is a big-ticket or high-demand item. Wherever possible, use an actual picture of the item for sale few things put me off as quickly as a listing with a pic of a new retail boxed item when the item offered is a used item with no box – but this is common practice on eBay. If you don’t have a camera, borrow one. It’s not that hard…
  • Too little information: Some sellers apparently think you can read their mind. A listing titled “Ipod for sale”  could mean anything from a 2001-vintage 4GB First-gen model to a brand-new 160GB monster. Is it a iPod/classic, a “mini”, a “Nano” or a “touch”?. Try to answer the obvious questions up front. What is it? How old is it? How long have you had it? Otherwise you’ll get a bunch of emails asking the same questions, which leads to much annoyance all round.
  • Too much information: Others go to the opposite extreme; they surf to the manufacturer’s website, copy all the info and then paste it into their listing. The end result is a huge wodge of information – usually poorly-formatted – that half the viewers don’t want to see and the other half already know. I call this practice “barfing“, as it looks like they barfed the specs all over the listing. Use a link instead; it’s not exactly hard…

and finally…

  • Price realistically: It is sadly amusing to see someone asking a ridiculously high price for a new item. This is particularly true with computers, where a $1000+ item can lose half of its value before you have got it home. Remember that computers depreciate in value faster than cars; after three years they have lost most of their value, and after six years it is difficult to give ’em away. So check eBay’s “completed auctions” and get the bad news up front.