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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

In February of 1985 I got married. It was a lovely wedding, a nice day, the day after which my new husband, Scott, and I took off for some post-ceremony together time in San Luis Obispo … one of our favorite places on the planet.

We had been together for about five years by that point and had developed a reputation for being a bit of an odd couple … not in the Oscar/Felix sense, but somewhat outside the norm … a fact underlined and much commented upon by the fact that we took a computer with us on our honeymoon.

Sure, today no one would think of heading off for two weeks without at least a phone to keep them connected, with a laptop or an iPad considered little more extraneous than sexy lingerie and a toothbrush as not Tweeting events and updating Facebook status would be dereliction of duty, but in 1985?

Way back in those dinosaur days our cell phone was the size of a phone BOOK and a call cost as much as a bottle of decent champaign … and I’d always opt for the champaign. Postcards were about all anyone would expect from a newly married couple off debauching their way into the troth recently plighted

For us, though? Well, we had Mac, and we weren’t about to go anywhere without him … which is just about as close as I can get to saying I did a honeymoon with Steve Jobs.

I’d actually forgotten about having the Mac with us until today’s news reached me and all my personal Mac-related history flooded back.

My first Mac had 512K, having let Scott do the groundbreaking with his 128, and I’ve never looked back.

Of course, the shift from IBM Selectric typewriter to Macintosh was like the first breath after emerging from a smoke-filled room into clean mountain air, and with a small mountain of diskettes I soon learned now much easier it was to think and produce with MacWrite, even to MacDraw and MacPaint. I set my dot matrix printer flying into clackety hyperdrive cutting and pasting with no need of scissors or paste.

When bored, I’d get Mac to talk to me, putting words in his mouth I wanted to hear, with no idea I’d someday link the cadence to Stephen Hawking.

Over the years Mac taught me how to grow with him, to expand my boundaries to touch on the fringes of his as he taunted me with possibilities beyond my direct need and willingness to wrap my head around what he could get done for me.

That little box of smiling face greeted me daily for years, then was followed by a series of astounding innovations in various shapes, sizes and colors with welcomes I could choose and vary and tweak to my heart’s delight.

Many years later, a different husband moved me to a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean and Mac and I grew even closer. He became not only my workmate, but my lifeline to the rest of the world.

Yes, the rest is history, and a part of that history died yesterday. As one friend put it, he was the Thomas Edison of our time.

RIP Steve Jobs.

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An end-of-year update from one of the most effective organizations on the ground in any country …

Dear friends and partners,

Today is the last day of our program year and what a year it has been. We had so many goals – so much we wanted to do. We had so many dreams we wanted to achieve – dreams that each of you made happen.

Let me share some of our highlights.

This year our goal was to work with and reach out to 42,545 families with 340,228 dependents – we ended the year with 43,546 families with 348,368 dependents – we worked with another 358 families in cottage industry. It is a remarkable achievement.

Our goal for our New Year starting this week is to reach out to 59,140 families with 473,120 dependents. Together we can do it.

The core of our program is savings: 90% of acute poverty is attitudinal – a mindset created by any number of factors – for our families it has been 40 years of war and genocide. It results in despair – an inability to think ahead – to plan for the future – what is the use – I will lose all anyway. It results in an often heard slogan from our families – we are bad – a statement that reflects
their inability to grasp the loss of so much in their lives.

Savings breaks down the attitude for savings involves people starting dreams – achievable dreams – it involves saying they are worth something – no matter how insignificant we think that something is. It involves action, for the people must give of their own money – it involves people standing with them, cheering them on – it involves achieving those dreams and making new ones.

Their initial savings isn’t much – usually .25 cents a week – but those little bits of money grow into big money – our families saved $2,037,313.90 this year but what is the miracle is the purchase and life changes brought about – they purchased $10,919,450.00 worth of goods and services. Savings works – for families pull together all their resources to make a positive change in their lives – we as Tabitha staff are cheerleaders, encouraging and celebrating each achievement.

The families say to us – you helped us to think again. The attitude has changed. It is so very good.

We talked about our impacts on families – we always start with basic necessities of which eating better food is a key marker – in our newest expansion areas people eat only once a day – rice and whatever insect’s people can scavenge from the fields. This year 27,907 families were able to achieve better food. I asked the managers what that meant – it means people are eating two to three meals a day which are balanced with vegetables and fruit daily and meat and fish at least twice a week. As we were talking, I asked how much do you think that costs a day say for a family of 8 – the universal answer was $5.00 a day – we started multiplying the numbers – families eating
times day times cost in a year and the end figure boggled our minds -over 50 million dollars worth – it is teaching all of us about the micro economics of food.

13,129 families are moving towards food security with their ability to purchase 3 months supply of rice. All of our families were able to purchase basics such as clothing, sleeping mats, beds, tables and chairs, pots and pans, mosquito nets and much more.

Water and its life giving strength – we were enabled to install 2015 sources of water – with over 1000 hectares of land put under year round cultivation – earning our families an average of $500.00 US per month – or $6,000.00 per year up from the low of $300.00 per year.

In Income generation, especially in agriculture and fishing – 18,728 families were able to raise animals such as pigs, chickens, ducks, cows, etc.. Another 18,893 families were able to grow crops such as rice and vegetables year round – it is so very good.

We talked about the number of school aged children in our program- in the communes where we work – and how many got to attend school this year. We had a dream to build 7 schools and we ended up building 14 schools. We talked about the impact it has on the children in our program. In our new areas, an average of one child per family is able to go to school – in areas where we are in mid – program – the average is 3 out of the five – in the areas where we built our schools – it is 4 out of the 5 children. This year we enabled 120,878 children to attend school for the first time.

Our dream this past year was to have 55 teams come and build 950 houses – we had 97 teams come with 2,425 volunteers come and help build 1,182 houses for our families. It is so very good – The volunteers become friends and supporters – people who have a deeper understanding of poverty and its impact on people.

It has been an amazing year – a year of being blessed and giving blessings. I thank my God for this privilege. I thank my God for the staff and for each of you who have made so much happen this year. I pray that our dreams for the next year will bear much fruit for those whom we serve.

Janne

Tabitha USA was established in 2003 to provide funding and support for Tabitha Cambodia, a humanitarian NGO in Cambodia. Our mission is to improve the lives of people living in poverty in Cambodia. We seek to raise funds to support Tabitha Cambodia’s community development efforts, which include a savings program, house-building, digging water wells, and building schools. Tabitha USA is an official IRS 501 (c)(3) non profit organization that grants all donations tax-exempt status.

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Ah, the subtle swaying of simple minds ...

Election furor in the US.

Some of that here, too, with the National Assembly vote very soon.

Palestine’s bid for membership in the UN will be vetoed.

An execution in Georgia took place.

Austerity measures are protested in Greece.

Facebook makes changes.

Just a few of the topics swirling this morning that bring to mind a recent discussion on democracy, what it means, what it is, and what’s do be done with it, spawned partly from last week’s declared International Day of Democracy marked on the 15th.

So, what exactly did that occasion celebrate?

democracy
diˈmäkrəsē
noun ( pl. -cies)

a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives : capitalism and democracy are ascendant in the third world.

• a state governed in such a way : a multiparty democracy.

• control of an organization or group by the majority of its members : the intended extension of industrial democracy.

• the practice or principles of social equality : demands for greater democracy.

ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from French démocratie, via late Latin from Greek dēmokratia, from dēmos ‘the people’ + -kratia ‘power, rule.’

As a quick read through the democratically organized Wiki shows, democracy comes in many different flavors.

You’ve got your Representative Democracy, your Consensus Democracy, your Deliberative Democracy, Cosmopolitan Democracy, democracy Representative, Parliamentary, Presidential (and Semi-Presidential), direct, inclusive,
participatory, Socialist, Sortition, Supranational and the Anarchists … any of which can be liberal … or not … characterized by Majority Rule, but, as mentioned, ” … it is also possible for a minority to be oppressed by a “tyranny of the majority”.

While there is no universally accepted definition of ‘democracy’, equality and freedom have both been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times.These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to legislative processes.

Nice idea, heh?

Those of us who were around during the time the US was busy wrestling dominos in the course of “saving the world for democracy” might be forgiven for thinking democracy a new-ish, western-ish concept since not a lot of talk about Mesopotamia, Phoenicia and India, cultures that adhered to democratic practices before the Greeks came up with the word, entered debates over whether or not dropping cluster bombs over Cambodia was a good plan.

Democracy went from being a Greek word to a Buzz word once … dum de dum dum … communism gave it something to bounce off of and resonate, and as is the nature of such things it became undemocratic to question the righteousness rightness of democracy.

It doesn’t take a deep investigation into history to see how that worked out. Do the term McCarthyism ring a bell?

During the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person’s real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment and/or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment.

As Thomas Jefferson so aptly put it: A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.

So, is democracy a red herring, a set of shiny, jangling keys designed to take our eyes off the prize of true freedom and call it healthy compromise?

American history is rife with praise for the democratic way of doing government, starting as it did from roots dug from monarch trees that had held the mountaintop for centuries, but perhaps the motivation was best summed up years later by that very British brain, Winston Churchill, when he said, ” … democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

Unless the world ends in 2012, there is much more to come in the way of evolving systems of governing bits of our increasingly crowded planet. Power will shift, economies will weaken and strengthen in little relation to rightness or wrongness, wars will happen and winners will be touted as those holding the true path to glory. People will even adjust to Facebook altering the way feeds work.

“Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either [aristocracy or monarchy]. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”
~ John Adams

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Ten years ago today I was on a sofa in North Carolina staring into the beautiful eyes of my granddaughter who had just passed her first month on earth. My daughter had handed her into my care so she could get a bit more sleep and I was about as content as I’ve ever been with perfect, tiny fingers grasping one of mine as the baby girl dozed in my arms.

I lunged for the phone when it rang, hoping my daughter wouldn’t be disturbed, and was surprised, yet happy, to hear my son’s voice on the other end. It was very early in California, an unexpected time for him to be calling the East Coast.

“Mom,” he said, interrupting my queries as to what the heck had him up at the crack of dawn. “Turn on the TV.”

Tucking the phone under my chin and the baby against my chest, I fumbled for the remote to the huge set and clicked.

Of course everyone saw what I saw.

“What the fuck is happening?” I asked Jaren.

“We’re under attack, Mom.”

The second plane came in before I’d managed to absorb anything but terror, and like the rest of America the only words that came to mind were: Oh my god!

The juxtaposition of realities … the new life in my arms, the new horror in New York … could only compound the distress.

“What sort of world do you have now, Baby?” I asked.

Part of the answer I knew then: her world was one in which people drove planes into buildings full of other people.

In efforts to try to gain perspective, I conjured an image of another woman at another time holding another newborn as a radio announced the attack on Pearl Harbor, that woman asking the same question I just had just posed to the cosmos.

The specter rising from that was World War III.

Over the 10 years between then and now that has not happened. We have not experienced mass conscription or concentrated conflict inflicting colossal damage across great swathes of the developed world or food rationing or bombs dropping on our beds or that-country-against-this-country, but rather sporadic terrorist attacks and religious fanaticism and fear.

Civil wars and oppression and human rights abuses continue as they always have, people starve and fight and kill and rape and poverty breeds the hungry, the uneducated and the dangerous while wealth motivates those hungry for power and equally dangerous. While many strive to survive, others do what they can to protect, to inspire, to effect change for the positive to varying degrees of success and failure.

The world of my granddaughter turns out to be not much different, in human terms, than the one my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother … and so on … and I were born into — a world where people perform deeds of great kindness and acts of almost unimaginable horror.

No, my granddaughter will not be able to sling on a backpack equipped with a Swiss army knife and a couple of pints of contact lens solution then board a plane like I did. She’ll learn to travel without belts in slip-on shoes and allow 3 hours for check-in. She’ll probably never sip a cocktail in a rooftop bar overlooking a major city without at least some trepidation. She may look askance at those who dress and worship differently and choose to surround herself with the familiar for illusions of safety.

History will show her that paradigms shift, that deadly enemies, the evils incarnate, eventually become familiar trading partners no matter how dissimilar they may be in look and faith and culture and background as it absorbs the dead and those imprinted with images of fire and smoke and collapsing monoliths full of humanity pass along.

We no longer tremble at the thought of Japanese or Germans, no matter the price they exacted from the world only a bit more than half a century ago in their bids to accomplish their goals, but have contextualized the horrors and moved beyond as we comprehend new evil, new enemies,

This is how we humans do things. This is how we have always done things, and it’s history that dictates wrong from right as it divides winners from losers.

What will be far different for the children born with the rubble and toxic dust of the Twin Towers in their path are the impacts of events less dramatic in the making but much more in outcome and harder to live with — the results of the relentless attack of man on the planet.

There is no template for putting the climate back together after an onslaught, for negotiating a truce between rising seas and inundated land. No reconciliation can be won once patterns of weather are so drastically changed that the seas no longer function as Earth’s lungs.

Reparations will be futile and even discussion of them will set human against human, as will attempts to share out slices of the ever-diminishing pie. Once again, wars will be waged and many will die, a circumstance that will relieve a bit of Earth’s burden, but when she’s too wounded to carry on we’re done and all fights are over.

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Pierre Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

On the blog no topic is ever really dead, so no surprise at today’s resurrection of overpopulation of this planet by humans as issue du jour again.

A recent reference to Soylent Green as a menu item that would reduce burdens created by more mouths to feed on fewer resources brought recycling into the discussion. What the heck, heh?

As this article in today’s BBC points out, we’re quickly running out of room for storing all the empty containers we will all drop …

Resting beside our loved ones when the time comes is a reassuring notion for the living. Families pay thousands of pounds for land where generations can rest in peace together for eternity.

But in the UK at least, the ground is filling up.

Should I wish to, I could not be buried near to my relatives at Yardley Cemetery in south Birmingham. Space there ran out in 1962.

Similarly, I would struggle to find a place near another strand of my family in Halesowen. There is no room left underground there and other facilities at nearby Lye and Wollescote are expected to run out in the next four years.

What if I head south? I lived in Brighton once and a seaside burial sounds quite nice. But four of the seven cemeteries run by Brighton and Hove Council are already full, and of the three remaining, one is for Orthodox Jews only.

Yes, the days of great whopping tombs constructed over the illustrious dead are about done, and even the standard single 3’x7’x77″ plot is only a short term stopgap measure in some places.

Some countries use a “double decker” approach to avoid overcrowding.

In Germany, graves are reused after only 30 years, the existing remains usually being exhumed and cremated. In Australia and New Zealand, “dig and deepen” is carried out in urban areas as a matter of routine.

Tim Morris, chief executive of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, says it is time to change tack.

“It’s a no-brainer,” he says. “Re-use is common in lots of other countries, and was common practice in the UK until the 1850s. I’ve spent some time with some German gravediggers and there the limit is 30 years, but people aren’t happy with that, they want it lowered to 20.”

With my son buried between my father and my grandfather within feet of my great-grandparents, the idea of breaking up the family appalls me, but I do understand the need to free up space in areas more populated than the tiny town in Northern California where they lie. Even there the population of dead outnumbers the living by about 300%.

Those laid to rest in one spot in perpetuity add up over the centuries, after all, and even though the real estate per occupant may be no bigger than a broom closet acres can covered in just a couple of generations. Where habitation has been continuous for hundreds of generations … well … a visit to Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris gives a clue to what crowding looks like.

Cremation, of course, is not only an option but a societal dictate in some cultures. There’s no doubt it leaves more land available for the living, but it’s not everyone’s idea of an appropriate exit strategy.

With death being such a huge part of life, traditional methods of dealing with our dead are almost hardwired, and although some of us couldn’t care less what happens with our form once we shuck it those we leave behind usually react with strong feelings and attachments to one comforting protocol or another.

Even the realm of the dead is changing, however.

With space for the living growing more spare and precious and increasing concerns over our impact on our Earth, another method of dealing with the dead has been invented … and patented.

Promession may just be the way to go in future.

Promession is different from all other alternative burial methods because it is a gentle and clean process which uses vibration to reduce the body remains.

The method is based on three steps:

— Reducing the body of the deceased to a fine powder, thereby allowing subsequent decomposition to be aerobic. This is achieved by submerging the body in liquid nitrogen, making the remains so brittle that they shatter into a powder as the result of slight vibrations. The powder is then dried, reducing the deceased remains to around 30% of their original body weight.

— Removing and recycling metals within the powdered remains.

— Shallow-burying the powder in a biodegradable casket.

It is clear that to produce liquid nitrogen or LN2 on its own would be relatively costly, however this is offset by other factors when it is used to replace environmentally hazardous alternatives; Nitrogen is a by-product of the essential oxygen industry and for every 1 part oxygen, there are 4 parts of nitrogen produced; therefore the Promession method effectively recycles this waste product which otherwise is released back into the atmosphere.

Sweden, Great Britain and South Korea are already close to opening Promatoria (facilities for Promession-based funerals) that will fill the bill environmentally and legally.

The volume of remains left is about a third of the original body weight; the advantages include avoiding the release of pollutants into the atmosphere (for instance, mercury vapour from dental fillings) and the rapid decomposition of the remains (within 6 to 12 months of burial) and the return of the body to life’s cycle. Promession allows for families to be buried in the same plot without disturbing previous remains and meets the requirements of new European Union pollution laws.

It is yet to be seen if Promession will catch on, but I suspect some will sign up to have liquid nitrogen with their obsequies. It is more palatable than ending up on a cracker.

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Sam and Cj on the eve of Raksha Babdhan

Today is the 13th of August, but it is also, according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar, Shravan Poornima … the full moon day of the month of Shravan … time to celebrate Raksha Bandhan.

Raksha Bandhan (Hindi: रक्षाबंधन, Punjabi: ਰਕਸ਼ਾਬੰਧਨ, Urdu: رکشا بندھن the bond of protection), or Rakhi (Hindi: राखी, Punjabi: ਰਾਖੀ, Urdu: راکھی), is a festival primarily observed in North India, which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. The festival is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims. The central ceremony involves the tying of a rakhi (sacred thread) by a sister on her brother’s wrist. This symbolizes the sister’s love and prayers for her brother’s well-being, and the brother’s lifelong vow to protect her.

I have to wonder why such an important occasion hasn’t managed to spread more widely, as a celebration of the bonds between brothers and sisters is noticeably lacking in most of the world, a reality that undervalues a relationship that should be extolled, rhapsodized and encouraged toward its great potential.

As a thread in the fabric of society, the tensile strength of the tie linking sister to brother has the capacity to weave a structure than can stand strong against much that will rip the loosely knitted to shreds, but today the apparent impetus is to sever this particular attachment.

Too often it seems competition between siblings is created as a tool in families where divide and conquer props a power base or love and acceptance are doled out in doses. Pitted against each other, weakness can be manipulated, strength may morph into bullying and an every-child-for-himself mentality can result contributing greatly to the ME, ME, ME issues discussed in yesterday’s post.

Sibling rivalry has become an accepted component of family life in many cultures, an expected reaction …

David Levy introduced the term “sibling rivalry” in 1941, claiming that for an older sibling “the aggressive response to the new baby is so typical that it is safe to say it is a common feature of family life.”

Is there a question as to why brother/sister relationships aren’t celebrated in an atmosphere of anticipated conflict? Not according to this article in Psychology Today:

Western culture has an obsession with sibling rivalry that began with the story of Cain and Abel and was elaborated by Freud, who labeled and dwelt on the competition between siblings for parental love and attention. It’s colored our perception of sibship ever since. Therapists and lay people alike tend to view the relationship largely as one of struggle and controversy. We have no rituals that make, break, or celebrate the sibling bond. And family experts have underemphasized the sibling relationship, instead concentrating on parents and children and husbands and wives. Small wonder that sibling rivalry is accepted as the normal state of affairs.

More than a world apart are the views of western culture –Cain and Able and Sigmund — from the roots that celebrate the connection:

Raksha Bandhan was a ritual followed by Lord Yama (the Lord of Death) and his sister Yamuna, (the river in northern India). Yamuna tied rakhi to Yama and bestowed immortality. Yama was so moved by the serenity of the occasion that he declared that whoever gets a rakhi tied from his sister and promised her protection, will become immortal.

How incredibly sad it is that so many of us were never shown the path that was wide enough to walk together, but rather steered toward a harder, lonelier road where independence was valued over attachment to those who should be our closest allies, the sharers of our history, fellow inmates in the involuntary incarceration a family can represent.

Could it be that something as simple as incorporating a ceremony into our culture, a commemoration of the value of brothers and sisters, might teach us to treasure the ties and accept the significance of very real bonds?

It certainly couldn’t hurt.

With that thought, we’re observing Raksha Bandhan and encouraging others to take advantage of the day to celebrate threads too often forgotten.

Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.
~ Susan Scarf Merrell

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Having mentioned in a recent post that I have friends in Norway so therefore could personalize the horror there should the news of mass murder not ring familiar enough, it’s fitting I follow thoughts prompted by one of those friends as my mind wanders plains dotted with roving herds of psychonutjobs.

It was a line in Bobby’s answer to my question, “How’s Norway?” that sent me in the direction today’s blog should take:

I am happy for the way Norway pulled together and is moving on, as Obama put it that Norway has shown the true way to overcome terror by uniting and not hating, though I contemplate on the fact if we would have the same peace, unity and love had the bomber been anything BUT white….

Hm.

Bobby is Norwegian, but not white. Born In Norway to parents of Indian and Pakistani origins, he has spent his life in a perfect environment in which to develop a perspective that takes in the wider picture.

I am ok, too, less surprised then many others or to be honest not surprised at all at the event. this is and has been a peaceful country for many many years but I have never been under the false pretense that we are “always safe in Norway” …

No illusions of guaranteed safety may sound merely sensible to many living in the world today, but it is understandable that many Norwegians could have been lulled into buying those. For long a racially homogeneous society of well-educated, industrious folks tempered by cold rather than heat with a small population (4.9 million, the second least populated country in Europe) and Christian since shortly before the year 1000, the country is known for keeping its head down having declared itself neutral in both world wars and opting out of the EU.

(And, yes, I do know about the Sami people, the occupation of Norway and the Free Norwegian Force, but don’t feel an entire history lesson appropriate right now.)

As the Wiki indicates, Norway is a very white place, and we’re not talking snow, although there is a lot of that, as Magnar has mentioned. There are immigrants, of course, but of the 12.2% of incoming residents less than half (5.8%) come from places where people tend to brown eyes over blue, dark hair over blond and complexions more colorful than alabaster, and one might assume that those folks have been paying attention to any Nazi-like grumbling.

While 4,081,698 Norwegians self-identify as some flavor of Christian, 98,953 say Islam is their persuasion of preference, a ratio some find intolerable in the usual intolerant ways.

Given the numbers, it would seem odd that hot on the heels of the bombing and massacre an easy assumption implied a Muslim have been on the business end of the weapons.

When the attack began last Friday afternoon with a huge car-bomb detonated outside the main government buildings, Norway’s Muslim community braced itself for the worst, assuming that what had happened was the work of Islamist militants.

It was an assumption made by many around the world.

There’s a knee jerk for you, and one obviously not just a white response. (And that is not an “off the hook” for Fox, by the way.) It’s no wonder Muslims react with dread and non-Muslims jump from headline to jihad … just one reason those who aspire to journalism (or pretend to) should keep their fucking mouths shut until there is is actually something to talk about.

Mehtab Afsar, secretary-general of the Islamic Council of Norway, was leading a delegation abroad when he started receiving phone calls from Oslo from frightened members of the Muslim community.

“We heard some Muslims had already been beaten up in Oslo,” he said, “and women who were scared phoned me asking for help.”

“I was just hoping it was not true.”

Egomaniacal ass hats do come in all colors, shapes and sizes (although the overwhelming majority dangle dicks), a lesson that should have been learned sixteen years ago in Oklahoma City.

Don’t know about you, but it’s very hard for me to imagine a non-blond, ethnic-looking dude strolling into a camp on a Nordic island and getting everyone to gather round, cop uniform or not. The fact that the fuck wad was the picture of Hitler’s dream boy made it easier in a world where the darker the worser.

But, to Bobby’s thought provoking comment …

Norway’s got the warm fuzzies going now, all solidarity and support, with the mayor of Oslo telling CNN when relating the eventual fate of the mass murderer: “We’re going to punish him with democracy and love.”

My not-so-white friend wondering over how this would be playing out had the monster not looked so much like everyone else, practiced a different religion and been an immigrant instead of a “thoroughbred Norwegian” deserves more than a little thought.

Would the following still be the prime minister’s claim?

Norway’s prime minister pledged that his country would remain “an open society” in the wake of Friday’s massacre in Oslo and a nearby youth camp but said the bloodshed has changed the nation.

Does the fact that the monster grew from within, not without, make it easier to close ranks and pull together? Is it harder to point fingers when no matter how many do it comes back inside the circle?

For that matter, does a relatively conservative Christian country have any impetus to crack down on conservative Christians? Is the world ready to deal with the reality of Christian terrorists?

Many Christians cringe when Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik is described as a “Christian terrorist.” But that is what he is.

Breivik, in his manifesto, writes of al Qaeda with admiration, as if he would love to create a Christian version of their religious cadre. Though he only occasionally quotes scripture, and admires the church in Norway largely as a cultural center for Christendom, he is captivated by Christian history. Breivik is fascinated with the Crusades and imagines himself to be a member of the Knights Templar, the crusader army of a thousand years ago. He would like to have a Christian army comparable to al Qaeda’s Muslim militia.

So if bin Laden was a Muslim terrorist, Breivik is a Christian terrorist.

And if Anders had been an Abdullah … even an acting-alone-singular-insane-egomaniacal-fanatic … would Norway look like it does today?

In addition to reading Bobby here, you can check out his blog where he talks about his varied interests … body building, fashion guru-ness and other interests, which occasionally include arguing with me. His last post addresses the issues we’re talking about here … )

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