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Everything posted by Kale

  1. Peace. I guess you have. But as I said, here where I live, and throughout the country (with the exception of certain urban areas) Americans have removed pornography from video-rental stores and magazine-stores simply by refusing to enter the stores that sell it and supporting those that don't. Most people simply do not like pornography and don't want it around. This doesn't mean that it's not around. Most Americans don't like marmalade either, but it's not hard to get it if you want it. Now, if you want to define stuff like cheerleaders and women's beach volleyball as pornograpy, I can't argue. Most people do like that. But it's not pornography, it's just immodesty.
  2. Your Cats And Dog Stories

    Peace, everyone! Hah! You can teach cats all sorts of things. What you can't do is bully them into doing things. I have three cats. They all sing when you ask them to. "Mew!" "Mew!" "Mew!" And they all come when you call them by name, most of the time. One will slap your hand with her paw (no claws) when you say, "Gimme five!" One plays fetch -- she chases a toy that you've thrown and brings it back for you to throw again. Until she gets tired, anyway. Anybody can do this, it is easy. It's fun, too. You can use the same method to train your dog, and your dog will learn faster, too. Learn about it at "you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_clickertraining(contact admin if its a beneficial link)"]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_clickertraining(contact admin if its a beneficial link)[/url] In science-speak, clicker training is 'Operant Conditioning with A Secondary Re-enforcer'. Its the way dolphins are trained but it works for any animal. You never punish the animal. And it works really fast. My friend just trained her puppy to stand on its hind legs and spin around, in fifteen minutes. I know a guy who uses it to train his hawks, and when he goes to the beach he takes about ten-fifteen minutes and trains a wild seagull -- just any gull that happens to be at the beach that day -- to chase all the other gulls away so there is only one gull swooping around and pooping on his family, instead of a hundred. Very cool.
  3. Who Is Jesus?

    Peace, all. And here I've been calling myself a Christian all these years when I'm a Unitarian and believe Jesus was a prophet, not God incarnate. Oops. How embarrassing to learn that I'm not really a Christian. I wonder what I am. Actually, this isn't news to me. I've heard it so much that I can't even be bothered to find this rudeness annoying any more. Hi, Wanderer! :D C'mon over here and stand next to me, we'll form a Heretics Club. There will be snacks.
  4. Peace. If all I had said was 'Oh yeah? Well, in Cairo they act badly too," it would be true that I was behaving childishly. However, my description of discraceful behavior on the streets of Cairo was followed by these additional statements: There is a tendancy among Muslim IF users to talk about Western culture as if all there is to it is its flaws. Anyway, I'd be a pretty big jerk if I lived in Egypt but spent almost all of my time in a Quaker community and then went about claiming I knew all there was to know about Muslim Egyptians, first-hand experience having shown me they're a dirty people who always leer at women while chain-smoking, shooting up, and urinating on the outer walls of buildings. I thought I was being clear. In my opinion, the biggest myth about the west that's perpetuated around here is this idea: the flaws of Western culture are the core of Western culture. If you go back and re-read the first page of this thread, I think you'll find that brother slave was not telling of his 'myth' about the West. He said that the thread is pointless and that he has no misconceptions about the West. His comments about the behavior of people on the East End and the pornography industry were not presented as subjects on which he required clarification, they were presented as proofs that his perception of the West is accurate. Like I said, I thought my point clear. You're right, I could have done a better job of saying it. I confess that I find this west-bashing phenomenon most tedious and annoying. I got testy. I'll call it 'vaguely irritated' and a few steps below 'offended.' Don't give it another thought, my friend. I won't. You're a pleasure to know. :D I think it should be kept in mind that the things that are most visible about a culture are not necessarily predominant. The US has pretty terrible crime statistics, but not all that many people are criminal, and certainly there are hundreds of times more crimes on television than in any US community. Also, the crime statistics can appear inflated -- some 40-50% of people being punished for crimes in the US have committed 'petty crimes.' Those who have committed violent crimes or stolen property of very significant value are quite a small percentage of US 'criminals.' Similarly with pornography. It is terrible, yes. You might want to see if you can get the documentary television show Nick Broomfield's Weird Weekends and watch the episode about pornography. Broomfield goes to Los Angeles and more or less pretends that he wants to become an actor in pornography (that is, a prostitute who is filmed) and investigates it. There's part where Broomfield is on the set of a pornographic movie while they are filming. It doesn't show the set or what is going on, the camera remains focused on Broomfield's face. You must understand that the look of pity and horror and disgust on his face is the very feeling that most Westerners, the people he made the TV show for, feel. There is also, hilarious and terrible, parts where Broomfield is talking to a young man who is a pornography-prostitute. This young man keeps saying how working in is much better than being in the army. The way he talks, it seems he firmly believes there are no other options in his life. It's very sad. In the nearest city to where I live, shops that sell pornography are outnumbered by shops that sell nothing but comic books, three to one. There are more shops dedicated solely to electric toy train-sets than to pornography. And very few places that are not specialty stores dealing in pornography will sell pornography -- people object and refuse to go into newstands that also stock pornography, so it's better business not to sell it. When video-tapes and VCRs first came out on the market, all the video-rental stores had pornography. Back then, most people didn't own VCRs but would rent one occassionally, with the rental movie. Probably the Dedicated Masturbator was the first person on his street to own a VCR, so it paid off for the early rental-stores to have pornography. Now the only places that rent pornographic videos are pornography stores. As VCRs became a commonplace household item instead of a rare luxury, the video stores changed. Most Americans don't like pornography, so much so they don't like to rent the latest Spiderman movie from a shop that has a little semi-hidden out of the way selection of pornography. As soon as renting videos became something that a large number of mainstream people did on a weekly basis, any video store that didn't stock pornography would do better than one that did, because most people would rather rent movies from someplace that doesn't remind them that pornography exists. I really can't explain why people dress so immodestly. And they do, for the most part. A great many people who dress immodestly don't behave that way, though. A great deal of Western art that might seem hideously full of sexual impropriety is in fact making a mockery of what it depicts. Admittedly, from my experience, a great many Westerners are adulterous, or married to someone who is, and Westerners now seem to spend their young adulthood in what is best described as 'serial monagomy' -- they have a sexual relationship with only one person at a time, but frequently change who that person is. This is so normal that most people act like it's the right thing to do. I utterly lost my taste for it after my one, and only, and lamentable high school boyfriend, and went about being chaste until, to my suprise, I married. So I can't explain why people do it. It seems to me very harmful, and that everyone would think, "well, that was dreadful" after having the first short-lived and loyalty-free sex relationship, stop, and tell their children how wretched it is. There is a little movement of young girls who vow chastity until marriage now, and hang out together to support each other. This is a good thing, but it's so linked with reactionary Christianity that I'm not sure how widespread it can become. It will help, at least. I rather miss that sword-weilding Robert E. Howard heroine who's deadly martial prowess was somehow mystically linked to her virginity. People are always crying and agonizing over their 'love' affairs, but it never seems to occur to them that this system could be simply uncool and a bad way to go about things.
  5. Peace. Sulemaan, I don't object to criticism of the West. What I object to, is people Western social problems as The Western Lifestyle. My point was not "look in your own backyard before you start criticising mine." It was "If it's fair for slave to describe the discraceful behavior he sees on London's East End as 'the western lifestyle' it must be fair for me to describe the discraceful behavior of Muslim men on the streets of Cairo as 'the Muslim lifestyle'." Except, hey, that's not the Muslim lifestyle. It's a social problem that exists among Muslims. It would never stand with you if I were to describe abusing women and growing opium as 'the Muslim lifestyle.' There is nothing even remotely unfair about me objecting to someone calling promiscuity and drug abuse 'the western lifestyle.'
  6. Peace. The west doesn't make those people behave like that. Those people chose to behave like that. The western ideal of freedom is not freedom to behave immorally. It's more about freedom to not be forced to behave immorally by others whose morals are different from your own. It is true that the biggest producers of pornography are in the west. This does not mean that everybody looks at it, or that everybody likes that it is made. I don't know how many people look at it, but you don't have to have that huge a segment of the population buying it to still make a big industry. A great many people hate pornography and want to ban it, and a great many more people hate pornography but think censorship is the wrong solution. People in these two camps far outnumber people who enjoy pornography. Western men don't talk to Muslim women because they think that Muslim women are not permitted to talk to men outside their own families. It's not about being unable to chat her up. It's about not wanting to offend her or make her uncomfortable.
  7. Peace, all. True 'nuff. But you know. I have it on good authority that all you have to do is walk around Cairo if you want to see a lot of leering at women, heavy cigarette smoking, drug abuse, public urination and general uncleanliness. There is a tendancy among Muslim IF users to talk about Western culture as if all there is to it is its flaws. If you notice this and also occassionally watch US Television's portrayal of Muslims, you'll find there's something funny. If it's funny "Ha-Ha!" or funny "Oh my I'm going to throw up," depends on your character and mood. Anyway, I'd be a pretty big jerk if I lived in Egypt but spent almost all of my time in a Quaker community and then went about claiming I knew all there was to know about Muslim Egyptians, first-hand experience having shown me they're a dirty people who always leer at women while chain-smoking, shooting up, and urinating on the outer walls of buildings.
  8. Malthus And Overpopulation

    Peace. Oh, people judge children by adult standards all the time. They tell them, "That was very grown up of you," and that's a compliment. A positive judgement is a judgement. We expect children to make childish mistakes and it is not fair to expect otherwise, but saying that a mistake is understandable is not the same as saying it's not really a mistake. They do try it. Agricultural colleges have 'experimental' farms that try all sorts of things. If the goal is to produce the maximum amount of high-quality food on the minimum amount of space, without depleting the soil of nutrients, this 'ancient' agriculture is best. Modern Western agriculture doesn't have that goal, though. What it wants is uniformity. If you go to McDonalds and get some french fries, you're not just eating any old potato Solanum tuberosum. You're eating Solanum tuberosum "Russet." It's not Solanum tuberosum "Yukon Gold" or Solanum tuberosum "Andean Garnet." They taste differently, and McDonald's wants their french fries to taste the same the world around. Same business with about anything. The company that mills and markets wheat flour wants every bag to taste the same. If Hard Red Durham wheat is more productive in your climate than another variety, you're still going to grow the variety that the miller will buy. Modern agriculture also limits itself to methods that can use the machines we have now. The Iroquois' "Three Sisters" method of agriculture involved planting corn, pole-beans and squash in the same plot. All three crops produce better this way, in less space, and if you're turning the soil by hand it's a lot less work. Nobody has invented a machine that can harvest a field of Three Sisters. I have no doubt that it would be possible to do so, and thus increase the productivity of thousands upon thousands of acres of farmland while simultaneously reducing the need for fertilizers. Because all people are responsible for the welfare of children. My question is, what is it about rich people that makes you think they have more right to have children than poor people? Why? Because he is a parapalegic, T's children will not enjoy some advantages that other children have. And they might, in fact, die because he's less able to take care of them than someone who has use of his legs. Because a poor person is poor, his children will not enjoy some advantages that other children have. And they might, in fact, die because he's less able to take care of them than someone who is rich. So a lack of money (which could adversely effect the children) is a very important matter when determining who is a fit parent, but a lack of something else (which could also adversely effect the children) has nothing to do with it? I'm not advocating government imposed salaries, precisely. I am advocating that certain standards of practice be enforced for businesses. One standard being, you cannot make profit when the people doing the work don't make enough money to live on. You say that a person who cannot afford to care for his children ought not to have them, but you do not agree that a business that cannot afford to pay its worker enough for a decent diet, housing and clothes ought not to be in business? As for market laws, governments interfere with them all the time. American slaughterhouses are inspected and must meet sanitation requirements and be in compliance with laws against animal cruelty. This costs the slaughterhouse money. It would be cheaper to run a dirty slaughterhouse. Nobody need know, and you can market the meat at full price. Is there something wrong with a government protecting people and animals by demanding that slaughterhouses be clean and use humane methods? If so, why is there something wrong with a government protecting people by demanding that businesses pay a fair wage? There aren't minimum wage laws in every country. And of course overpopulation does not make wages go up. And yes, labour is a commodity, but the market is not open. The price of a Mexican-made t-shirt in the US is about the same as the price of an American-made t-shirt in the US. Market forces set that price. But the price of the labour used to make the shirts is grossly different. "Free trade" laws mean that Hanes may sell their t-shirts wherever they can get the best price, but immigration laws mean that Average Jose' cannot sell his labour where he can get the best price. If the North American Free Trade Agreement meant that there was free trade for every commodity, labour included, we'd have a jolly period of migration across the continent, followed by a equalization of wages. As it is, it just makes exploitation of poor countries where wages are low easier and more profitable. This phenomenon is increasing. Is this really any different from having only one man in town who is allowed to sell rice, and letting him charge whatever he wants for it? We used to have laws against monopolies, and against price-gouging. I never said that Kale. I said it very clear: we have to find the right middle way between no children and as many as possible. Sure you did. You say that a poor person ought to limit the number of children in his family. Though at least you do seem to be giving even the most destitute person the right to have two or three. But you seem to be saying that a rich person need not restrict the number of children he has unless he wants to. So you're saying that lower class people ought not to have (more than three) children. I was thinking about these two families I know. Four kids each. One family is very poor. Things are better for them now, but when I knew them, they lived in apartment that was just two rooms. They were, in fact, in violation of a child-welfare law that says that kids above a certain age must not share a bedroom with their parents or with siblings of the opposite sex. The kids didn't seem to mind. They're happy, bright, lively kids. I used to have the most interesting conversations with their 8-year-old son. A very smart and charming child. Those kids are loving and considerate to each other, and to folks in the neighborhood. The other family is in a three-story house with six bedrooms, a dining room, a living room, and a room that's just for their ridiculously huge television and video games. Their 8-year-old son appears to be dumb as rocks, cannot have an intelligible conversation, much less an interesting one, is cruel to his siblings, refuses to share toys, is rude, and so on. Certainly the rich kids are in a better situation. But almost as certainly, the poor kids are better citizens. Which goes to show that rich people aren't better parents than poor people. If, as you say, there is a limit to the number of jobs that can be created, why does it make a difference wether the workers came from rich or poor families? The rich 8-year-old will probably grow up to be an educated man with have a good-paying job, but he probably won't grow up to be smart, generous and considerate. The poor kid is already growing up to be a smart, generous and considerate man, but it's likely that he won't be as educated, and will work low-paying jobs, and perhaps be unemployed a lot. Is it really right to say that the poor parents ought not to have so many children, while it's just fine for the rich ones to? Is it better? Those limited jobs and limited education opportunities, well. If that obnoxious rich child had never been born, the kindly and talented poor child would have a better chance of getting those things. Of course children have rights. But you are saying that it is the sole responsibility of parents to insure that children recieve what is their right. It's not. It's everyone's responsibility. Otherwise, if a child's parents die, he doesn't get his rights because nobody else is obliged to provide for him. Sorry. It's not okay to let children go without food, clean water, shelter, education simply because their parents cannot provide that for them. It doesn't matter if the parents are deficient because they're poor or because they're dead. What if a person is doing well, making a lot of money, and has a lot of kids but then loses his source of income and becomes terribly poor? Is it now wrong for him to have these children, when it was right a year ago? What should we do about it? Nothing, since children are the parent's responsiblity alone? I thought it was generally agreed in the west that it is everyone's responsibility to educate children. Otherwise we wouldn't have public schools. China's birth rate was forced down, and they became more affluent. But I don't think you can prove that there was a drop in European birth rates before there was an increase in affluence. As you say, societies with lower birthrates (at least in the case of modern China) become more affluent. But it does not mean that it is not true that affluent societies naturally come to have lower birth rates. Europe doesn't prove me wrong, and China's special situation renders it useless as a source of data concerning this matter. I'm pretty sure lower birth rates in the US cooresponded with increased affluence caused by the 'New Deal.' Which consisted of welfare programs. Birth control didn't create the New Deal. Obviously I don't think people ought to have children for the purpose of making their religion grow. And I think birth control should be made available and used, and everybody ought to have smaller families. But I'm not going to say just poor people ought to have smaller families. Or that poor people create their own poverty by having too many children. I apologize, about the dumb thing. I didn't mean to say that you are dumb. You're not. I am quite enjoying our conversation. I just meant I think it's a dumb idea. I have a lot of them myself. I speculate that intelligent people tend to have more dumb ideas than dull people, actually. On account of them having more ideas to begin with, and being capable of a greater variety of them.
  9. Any Car Mechanic?

    Peace. If you remove the tape player completely (probably to do this you must go 'round the other side and reach it from under the front hood) you will most likely find that the tape isn't really deep inside it, and can be pushed out with a finger.
  10. Equality in Islam

    Peace. Erm. I'm sorry. Imagine that I believe that people who eat cheese after eight o'clock in the evening will have nightmares. By this rule that I believe, pleasant dreams shall not be reached by people who eat cheese at night. People who eat cheese at night are therefor, in my thinking, unequal to those who don't. Maybe this is actually true, even. But even if it was, there's nothing about it that ought to make me conclude that I should treat nighttime cheese-eaters differently from other people. Let them have their cheese-induced nightmares if they insist on eating cheese at night. Their foolishness doesn't mean I ought to try to make their waking hours more difficult. Or that I should try to be especially nice to them because they're going to have nightmares. Substitute 'not eating cheese at night' for 'faith in Jesus' and 'pleasant dreams' for 'heaven' and I still don't think it makes sense. If Muslims want to say that God has told them to treat Muslims and non-Muslims unequally, and that this is fair because any law of God's is neccesarily fair, well. It would be more dignified and courteous to avoid pretending that 'equality' is a word that applies to such a situation.
  11. Malthus And Overpopulation

    Peace, all. It's not only reasonable, to do otherwise is dumb. The goal in engineering light bulbs is to produce a light bulb that never wears out and is 100% efficient at transforming electricity into light. This light bulb has never been built and probably never will. It is, so to speak, an angelic light bulb. It's all very well to say that Edison's original light bulb was great and wonderful. But there would be no improvement in light bulbs if people compared them only with other contemporary designs and did not consider how they measured up against the angelic light bulb. It would be foolish to teach about Edison's light bulb without mentioning its flaws, and the fact of other designs that are closer to the angelic light bulb. Human societies tend to be more complex and difficult to make than light bulbs, but the same holds true. I'm not suggesting that we ought to go back in time and put the Spanish on trial for their crimes. Or that we should go back and give Thomas Edison a beating for inventing a less efficient light bulb than was technically possible. Just that we take note that we can do better. And that we consider the project of doing better to be more important than fostering our pride by glorifying an imperfect past so that the glow of its glory washes out its evils and renders them invisible. You cannot learn from what you do not see. Appearantly they had not only the best ancient agricultural system, but the most sophisticated agriculture in human history. Other than that, I don't really know much about those civilisations. The Iroquois people were very humane. I suppose I could be in accordance with your request that we judge the Spaniards only in comparison with their contemporaries and denounce them heartily because they couldn't hold a candle to the peaceful, egalitarian, just and prosperous society of the Iroquois. Who probably didn't do a lot of maths, and never made very permanent or monumental structures, and lacked a system of writing, so maybe you don't want to count them as a civilisation. I don't know why you think I have said these things. Oh, I'd call it overpopulated. I like my space. It's just not a crisis. I could have more people living in my house than I'd like and still not have the septic system get overloaded, you know? You will find that did not say that the rich couldn't get rich if there were no poor. I said they'd have a much harder time of it. If they starve, it is a genocide. If, by some means, they are forced not to have children, it is also a genocide. Are rich parents who have more than five children (but can afford to bring them all up in the lap of luxury) 100% innocent? A person's poverty makes him an unworthy parent? How about my friend T. He's a paraplegic. Most paralegic's can't have children and he's quite pleased with himself these past few years. But T has trouble with his toddler going places he can't follow in the chair, and he'll never go hiking or skiing with her, and probably, since he's a big man, his shoulders will go before she's grown and his mobility will be even less. T's poverty-of-physical-ability means that his kids will have to go without some experiences, and he might not be able to run to the rescue at a life-and-death moment. So, should I say that T. is an unworthy parent, and that he shouldn't have children? Birth control is a very good idea. But the solution to poverty is not birth control. As for people being greedy, there is greedy and there is greedy. When you have governments that allow businesses to pay workers near-starvation wages and yet make enormous profits, and then go so far as to give those businesses tax-breaks and even grants? Is it appropriate that thousands of workers should make poverty-wages while the company that employs them reports enormous profits? Part of the solution would be to insist that if a company wishes to pay workers wages that still leave them impovershed, that company better prove that it's a hair's breadth from going broke. The other part of the solution is simply to actually spend public funds on public good. Which includes programs to help the poor. In the US we've got this deal where welfare benefits and childcare assistance programs are cut, while Bush gives big grants to wealthy corporations and sells a few thousand acres of public land to a mining interest at a dollar an acre when a similar acre sold between two private investors would go for twenty thousand. For what we spent on the first few months in Iraq (which isn't good for the American public or the Iraqi public) we could have fed, watered, and provided basic medical care for every impovershed person in the world for eight years. Or thereabouts. According to the UN development council's numbers about how many poor people there are in the world and what it would cost to take care of them, anyway. Surely not. But that's not really the point. I advocate limited family sizes for everybody, but I refuse to say that any particular class of persons ought not to have children. Or even that somebody who wants to have sixteen children is somehow wrong to want that, or that it is somehow blameworthy for him to have sixteen children. Birth rates in Europe have gone down, and standard of living has gone up. You attribute the causal relationship backwards, I think. Nobody ran around Europe screaming, "You lousy Europeans, having so many children you can't afford to feed!" and convinced everybody to have fewer. Nor did the European people arrive at any sort of group consensus on the matter, nor did any country pass laws forbidding people from having more than a few children. People often measure wealth and security in terms of family. It is valid to do so. Rural Chinese people hate the one child rule, because in their culture sons take care of their elderly parents. If your one child was a daughter, or your son died before you did, you'd be in serious trouble. Probably relatively few people actually think, "Lets have a lot of kids so even if a few don't make it, there will be some around to look after us when we get old," but this feeling is there. From a biological standpoint, where the goal is just to pass your genetic information along, and not necessarily survive long or be happy, it pays off for an organism in a higher-stress situation to put all of its effort into reproducing before the dangerous circumstances kill it, and to reproduce very often, as the circumstances are equally dangerous for its offspring. Having experienced a stable prosperity, where most people lived into old age, many Europeans lost the desire to have a lot of children. Which makes sense in a situation where your kids are very likely to live, and the way to make sure you enjoy the benefits and pleasures of a stable family is not to have a lot of them, but to treat a few very well and put as much effort as possible into insuring their success. Or so I speculate. As I said, people don't really think that way, and it's the sort of conclusion one makes when pretending to be watching the Earth from outer space. But it's true that more affluent societies have lower birth rates, and I believe this phenomenon will cross cultural boundries -- birthrates in India going down, birthrates in the US going up if poverty here continues to increase and social-welfare programs continue to be destroyed. So, IFers! How many kids does the average Muslim family have? Do you have more or fewer brothers and sisters than your parents did? Do you want a larger or a smaller family than your parents had? How about the difference between your parents and your grandparents?
  12. Equality in Islam

    Peace, all. Every person is different from every other person. For hundreds of years, most white Americans believed that black people are fundamentally different from white people. They used this as an excuse to treat black people and white people differently. Everyone knows who got treated better. Since black people are, in fact, visibly different from white people, do you suppose institutionalized racism was reasonable? (Not necessarily right, I'm sure you don't think that, but a reasonable stance for people to take in the absence of the anti-racist message in the Qu'ran.) I utterly fail to follow you. Are you suggesting that it is alright to treat someone badly if he enjoys the comfort of believing himself destined for heaven? It seems to me that Muslims also have this belief. Or are you simply emphasising a difference between Muslims and Christians? Yes. A difference exists. However, I do not see how that difference necessitates unequal civic rights and status. Or even makes it reasonable.
  13. Equality in Islam

    Peace, all. No. The American neo-cons are not the same as actual American conservatives. Though conservatives don't know it. Neo-con values are not the traditional values of the American people. Hm. PNAC actually says, 'global domination.' There's not a lot of other ways one can take it. As for the difference between domination and leadership, in this context? Leaders are followed willingly. Those who dominate do not necessarily lead at all -- they drive their 'followers' by force or threat of force. Historically, the distinction gets muddy -- Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader, and only a leader. He didn't force or threaten people into joining the civil rights movement. Augusto Pinochet dominated his country, but probably to his cronies he was at least in part a leader. Nick Fox is a leader in the field of raptor biology (hawks, not dinosaurs) and lots of American falconers 'follow' him in the sense that they attempt to reproduce his superior methods. The United States Fish and Wildlife service dominates falconers in America by threat of force -- you have to use some of their techniques pertaining to housing and equipment, or they will take away your liscence and then you will be arrested if you continue to practice falconry.
  14. Malthus And Overpopulation

    Peace, everyone. Hehe! I don't generally think of myself as an expert. If I was your boss, you'd have to agree with me because it was me saying it, and not because I was necessarily convincing. I don't mind the jokes, I'm amused by them. I stopped trying to make jokes on IF because they often don't cross the cultural divide here and confuse folks. Saying that the Spanish conquest of South America was better for the Native peoples than the English/American conquest of North America is just not the same as saying that the Spanish conquest was good. I don't have to compare the Spaniards with their contemporaries to say that their conquest was unjust. I compare their behavior with ideals of justice instead. I really doubt your first statement. History of mass slaughter by Spanish colonists is pretty readily available. Okay, more Indians survived the Spanish than survived the English -- the Spanish enslaved them, the English exterminated them. But the Spanish habit of forcing Indians to work in mines rather than in their gardens caused widespread malnutrition and probably killed a very large number of people who would otherwise have lived, and caused terrible suffering for a enormous number of people who would otherwise have lived well. As for sickness, probably 90-90% of the population of the East coast of what is now the US died of disease brought from Europe. The first American colonies were built on the sites of what had formerly been Indian towns -- European colonists made use of the cleared farmland. This wasn't really the colonist's fault. Nobody could haveknown, at the time, that this would happen. Respecting someone's culture to the point of not destroying it and enslaving its people is rather different from saying that everything about it is acceptable. An equitable contact would have probably resulted in an eventual extermination of the practice of human sacrifice, done willingly. As for what's on TV, or what might be if history had gone differently, you're silly. By that reasoning, I might conclude that since Spanish culture was not destroyed, the Spanish people must still force Indians to collect gold for them, and cut the hands off the ones who don't do it. Native American peoples are fully capable of cultural advancement, just like other peoples. The first question is irrelevant, as right-action is not defined as "behaving better than anybody else who happens to be around." As for the second, I don't know what the Dutch would do now. I speculate that if the Spanish had met the Indians as equals, both parties might have benefitted from the contact. Northern Europe lives on potatos, Africa lives on corn, both came from the Americas and their value is immeasurable. The American Natives could have benefitted by emulating Old World's frequent use of the wheel (the Indians invented it, but never made much use of it) of sailing ships, of more efficient weaving-looms, of apples and a few other agricultural products, and so on. All of this could have happened without slavery and genocide. I don't take all of the Bible literally, and even if I did, I don't think 'Be fruitful and multiply' is a command for modern humans. All living creatures were given this command, but it was followed by 'fill the Earth.' Once the Earth is full, you're done. Probably there are enough people. I'm all for birth control, and think safe and effective modern methods of contraception ought to be made available for all people, and that all people ought to be encouraged to limit the number of children they have. The goal is to eventually have a situation where the human population is stable. If this doesn't happen relatively soon, we'll have a real population crisis -- too many people, too few resources. But right now, we don't have a population crisis. There's enough for everyone. If you saw a village of a hundred families where one family owned 98% land and grew absurdly rich and fat off it, while all the other people in the village had only a tiny plot, and could only grow enough to die slowly of malnutrition, you would not say the village was overpopulated. Earth is like that, right now. It's a greed crisis. Communism implies mutual ownership of everything, and every person recieving an equal share. This isn't the answer. Poverty will always exist, even in such a situation -- there will always be somebody who is cleverer and can use the same resources as everyone else to get a better standard of living, and there will always be someone who is foolish and uses his share in a stupid way that results in his standard of living being worse than the average. The clever guy will be 'rich' and the foolish one will be 'poor.' We can't really end poverty, it's a relative thing. What we can do is raise the bar, so that poverty doesn't mean you are starving, naked, and have no shelter, clean water, or sanitary facilities. We don't need communism to do that, just social welfare programs. Historically, Islam has been all for free enterprise, private ownership, and people accumulating wealth, but it also has requirements for people to contribute to social welfare programs that made poverty a survivable and not particularly torturious condition. This isn't communism. It's just accepting, as a people, that everyone is responsible for improving the condition of his fellow man.
  15. Equality in Islam

    Peace, all. Well, if I found a counter-argument for it, I'd be sitting here trying to tell you Islam is not true. I could give that a try, but I don't want to and feel it would be wrong of me to, and rude. As for ignoring principle beliefs, you can. I could argue about the justice of Jesus' teachings without resorting to telling you that his teachings must be just because it is a fundamental belief of mine that they must be. Yes, two or three times, and maybe. You might say I didn't believe it because I might believe something that's not literal about it. Or I might say I had no idea what it means. "Neo Conservatives." Associated with Washington 'think tanks' which invent policy. "you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.newamericancentury(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/"]PNAC[/url]. Read around in that site. It really does say 'global domination.'
  16. Malthus And Overpopulation

    Peace. I have no idea. I imagine it's not very different. Depending on the company. The only Mexican company I'm familiar with the workings of is a family who weave hammocks. There are lots of them, but they're probably not exploiting the workers, because they're all related. Anyway, I didn't say that American greed was responsible, as if Americans are the only people capable of greed. These American companies (which are now 'multinationals' and loyal to no country) have just managed to be more dramatically greedy than others. Greed is responsible, and people have it regardless of what country they're from or their race. Well, without the poor, rich people would have a much much harder time getting richer. Doesn't matter if the poor are dead or if they're well-off enough that they don't need to work for starvation wages, they'd no longer be a resource easy to exploit. Aside from that, your assessment is correct. Advocating that poor people not have children is advocating a sort of genocide for the poor. It is atrocious to suppose that a person's poverty makes him unworthy to be a parent. A poor person is just as likely to produce a child who will make wonderful contributions to society as a rich person is, and a poor child is just as valuable as a rich one. Yes. If leaders chose to use public funds for the public good, instead of using them to help themselves and their friends get richer, if leaders chose to regulate business to prevent the sort of brutal exploitation that goes on now, nobody would starve. Hmm. Asking, you're talking as if the drain of healthy young people from Spain to the colonies was riches for the Americas. I'm afraid that from the point of view of the people who already lived in the Americas, this was no influx of riches, it was poison, death and disaster. It wasn't good for Spain, it was incredibly bad for the Native American people. I'm sure some folks got awfully rich, though. Anyway, they weren't all stone-age people, some of them were working bronze. Some of them had cities, and bridges, and they understood higher mathematics. Probably they might have built their own universities once the idea was given them, if the Europeans had met with them as equals and had an exchange instead of a slaughter. As for Spain giving agriculture to the new world, erm, not a bit of it. The Incan people had sophisticated agriculture. Modern tribal peoples in the Andes also do. I've been reading about potatoes and have now encountered two authors in a row describing their agriculture as the 'most sophisticated' in the world. The mountains create these little microclimates, so every little plot is better for certain things. They've got 3000 varieties of potato. In your scale of actual wealth, the first sets of potatoes imported to Europe were of infinately greater value than all the gold of the New World that men have grabbed and trodden on and slaughtered one another for. Universities live on potatoes. Anyway, matters of the actual value of potatoes versus their cost, one can't claim that colonialism's expense to the mother country means that the colonized country is benefitting. Unless you decide to enumerate a country's benefit in terms of how much money people who live there make, in total, and don't pay any mind to how it's divided up or the conditions under which people live. Yes. Still is, but now it's the American rich.
  17. Batman Vs Spiderman

    Peace, Sulemaan. Aww, c'mon. If we ever learned anything from Stan Lee, it's that random accidents causing fantastically beneficial mutations in humans can result from innumerable causes. Do you get comic books in Islamic countries? Or is it just the Batman movies? The Spiderman comic was never very interesting, but Batman sometimes was. Though it never compared with some of the better titles, which have fortunately so far not been made into movies. I like the sci-fi stories of Polish writer Stanislaw Lem.
  18. White Horse?what Does It Symbolize?

    Peace. What's it doing?
  19. Equality in Islam

    Peace, all. Naw. Logic is a math. Mathematicians and philosophers generally know it. Ignore this premise, because it is unworkable. By placing it into an argument about Ed's baldness, I've shown that it renders everything inconclusive. Ignore it because we can't agree on it. And because just what the implications of Premise S are in any given situation is dependant on your understanding of the Qu'ran. Which is subjective: In answer to your second question, I do believe in God. As for the Qu'ran, I believe what I read, but I don't believe what a lot of other people say it says. Are the zakat and jizyah the only taxes people have to pay? I thought there were other taxes paying for infrastructure and services. Obviously, I want to pay taxes for infrastructure and services. I don't want to pay for the military (though a home guard that actually stays at home I might be willing to contribute to) and think I ought to pay the same level of taxes but be able to stipulate that none of my share goes to war. But most people do want their country to have an army. If zakat = (jizyah + additional money to be used for projects non-Muslims would object to funding) that's fair. Other posters and the history books don't make it sound as if that is the case, and you're not clear about it yourself.
  20. Malthus And Overpopulation

    Peace, everyone. You have tried to say that global unemployment is a symptom of overpopulation. Too many people, too few jobs. Sounds very simple. What you seem to be overlooking is that anyone's job, whatever it is, is eventually aimed at looking after people. You cannot sell t-shirts unless there are people to buy them. If the Mexican t-shirt factory workers I've been talking about were paid first-world wages, what they would do is spend that money. They might pay for child-care for their children, that sort of thing. They might buy them clothes, and add meat and cheese to their diet. Somebody has to grow and make those things. There's really only so much cheese a multi-millionare can eat. It's the needs and wants of larger groups of people who have some money to spend on them that creates jobs. The so-called 'Conservatives' here in the USA would have you believe that jobs are created by enormous wealth coupled with a greedy person's desire to increase that wealth, but without that large group of people living above subsistance level, you can't market anything but, oh, cheap rice. Maybe you think that, if everybody had a higher standard of living, our overpopulation would mean we'd wipe out the world's resources? As the UN noted, there's no shortage of food being grown on Earth. Obviously some things would be rare, but probably not real necessities. The truth is, human beings invented every technology necessary to create an (almost totally) environmentally stable society, complete with sanitation, electricity, refrigeration, medicine, rapid transportation and the whole bit, before 1972. As standards of living improve, infant mortality goes down and life expectancy increases. But birth rates also go down, because people choose it. Encouraging people to have fewer children is a good idea, but I find it rather awful to try to enforce that on them, or even to suggest that their having children makes them more responsible for environmental and economic problems than others. Right now, there's enough for everybody and then some. You're correct. The ancient Egyptians are credited with having invented the condom. They had some very absurd decorative ones, too. Ancient peoples also knew about using a sponge or other absorbant material soaked in vinegar, placed up near the woman's cervix. Latex condoms and modern diaphrams or contraceptive sponges are more effective versions of very old techniques. Many peoples have also been aware of certain plants that, when eaten or consumed as tea at about the time when she would mensturate normally, will make a woman start to menstruate even if she's actually in the early stages of pregnancy - a miscarriage. As I understand it, birth control pills and 'the morning after pill' work the same way.
  21. Equality in Islam

    Peace. Thanks, Zienab. I don't want to offend anybody. Well, people's ability to do logic is effected by their state of mind. But logic is essentially mathematic. It's not really the logic that's effected, it's the person's ability to do it without making errors. Someone who's freaking out isn't going to do well on the exam, but that doesn't mean the mathematics are flawed, just the person. Knowledge, yes. If I build an argument based on a false premise or premises, the conclusion I make is only as good as guessing, even if I do my logic perfectly. You've been telling me that my conclusion in this thread is false because in my logic I haven't taken into account (what we will call) Premise S. Premise S is something God knows but we do not. I understand what you are saying. I'm not going to argue about the validity of Premise S. I'm just trying to say that we can't use Premise S. in our argument. Premise S. breaks the logical bank, so to speak: A: If a person shaves his head, he'll be bald. B: Ed shaved his head. Conclusion: Ed is bald. A: If a person shaves his head, he'll be bald. B: Ed shaved his head. S: Something happens that God knows about but we don't. Conclusion: ? Premise S. might be true, but it is unproven and I'm sure you can see from the above how it destroys an argument. Silly example, but make A "Discriminating on the basis of religion is inequitable" B "Shari'ah law discriminates on the basis of religion" and you'll have jist of our discussion. If you're doing the kind of reasoning that Islamic scholars do, I suppose you may get to use Premise S in some cases, because that mode of argument takes the absolute validity of a (presumably) standardized understanding of the Qu'ran as a sort of metapremise. I'm sure you understand why I don't think about it that way. So, for the purposes of our discussion, setting Premise S aside would be a good idea. Others aren't doing too badly without it -- people have presented the idea that my premise B is false because Shari'ah is only nominally, not functionally, discriminating. I have doubts about that, but I'm learning things. Of course not. :D I'm awfully quick to tell people that I think they're wrong, but very slow to get upset about it. One of the joys of having studied philosophy, were you argue all day. Downside is that I like to argue and forget that other people aren't used to this kind of thing and do get upset. I try not to be careful not to do that.
  22. Malthus And Overpopulation

    Peace, everyone. Hello, Asking. Hmm. There's something about your post there that makes me think you're being rhetorical and want me to conclude that if third-world workers got first-world wages, it would drive prices up and make everybody's money worth less, leaving poverty unchanged. But the Hanes t-shirt example rather disproves that. We're talking a price increase of 6 cents per t-shirt to double the wage of those workers. Sara Lee could absorb that cost without even coming close to breaking the company. Or they could charge 6 cents more per t-shirt and cause American consumers to. Well, not notice. I can buy a t-shirt, made in the USA, for $5. Same as the lowest-priced Hanes t-shirt, except US minimum wage laws mean that those workers don't make twice what Mexican workers make, they make around four times as much, at least. I can buy a t-shirt, made in the USA in a Union shop, for $8. Right in the middle of the price-range for a Hanes t-shirt, but Union workers are not working for minimum wage. I am probably seriously underestimating if I figure they make twice the minimum wage. So, you've got these workers making ten times as much money as the Mexican workers make, and yet the price of the t-shirts they produce is the same, and the quality of the materials used in the American-made shirt is the same or better. So where does the money go? Somebody makes a profit from the exploitation of those Mexican workers. It's not the people who buy and wear the shirts. I might buy two or three t-shirts in a year. If I bought Hanes t-shirts, the 'profit' I'd enjoy from not doubling the wage of Mexican t-shirt factory workers would be a stunning eighteen cents. According to "you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.usatoday(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/money/companies/management/2003-03-31-ceo-comp-chart-salary.htm"]this page from USA Today[/url], the CEO of the Sara Lee corporation, C. Steven McMillan, was paid $1,050,000 in 2002. So figure. 6 cents more per t-shirt, 384 t-shirts an hour, 40 hours a week, fifty-two weeks a year, cost of doubling the t-shirt making team's wage is less than $48,000 a year. Take that money directly out of C. Steven McMillan's pay, and you can double the wage of 19 teams of Mexican workers (228 people) and C. Steven McMillan can still be paid over $100,000 a year, which is a more than comfortable income. There are probably plenty of other places within the Sara Lee corporation where certain individuals are making huge amounts of money. These people aren't skimming the fat, they're su(king blood. Same business with a lot of manufactured goods. Nike is notorious for grotesquely exploiting third-world workers, and yet their shoes actually cost significantly more than the American-made boots I wear, or the British-made oxfords I just bought a few weeks ago.
  23. Malthus And Overpopulation

    Peace. According to the UN development committee assessment I read a few years ago, if the food produced on Earth were distributed equitably, every human being could have, every day, three thousand calories. Included in that would be a pound of animal protein food -- eggs or milk/yoghurt/cheese or meat. Staggering, isn't it? Very few people need to eat that much. We have enough food to make everyone in the world fat, or increase our population by another 3 billion, without turning any more soil. World hunger is not caused by a world food shortage. Greed is to blame, in this age of freezers and fast transportation. Overpopulation does not cause low wages. Wages are set by people. In Moncolva, Mexico, where they make Hanes T-shirts, the company estimates that, including bonuses and benefits, a worker costs about $1.68 an hour. A team of twelve workers makes 384 t-shirts in an hour. These t-shirts retail in the US for $5-$12. So workers make somewhere between 1 percent and 1/40th of a percent of the retail price. This fellow Alan Howard (author, "The Women of Monvolca", Z Magazine, February 2004) figures if Hanes were to double their pay, each t-shirt will cost. Erm. 5.3 cents more. Greed is to blame. (In Mexico, there is one labour law that is consistantly enforced -- a period of paid maternity leave. The workers say women must test negative on a pregnancy test or they won't be hired, and if you get pregnant they will try to force you to quit, or transfer you to the part of the assembly line where you have to throw bundles of t-shirts. The lifting can cause women to miscarry. Did you know that Hanes is a subsidiary of the Sara Lee company. They pride themselves on having more women workers than any other company in the world. So forward for women's rights. I puke on you and your delicious confection, you filthy cheesecake people. I'm all for slowing the population growth, and eventually reaching a goal of zero growth. I can't equate contraception with killing children, and people have always practiced various (and historically, often ineffective) means of preventing conception. It's really not healthy for a woman to get pregnant as often as she possibly could.
  24. Is The Usa Going To Invade Iran?

    Peace. Ugh. Yeah, Aburafay. What an awful thought. And one I've heard before. I really can't fathom my country's mindless and heartless support of israel. It's horrifying. I have no idea if Iran would really attempt to attack israel with nuclear weapons. I've got a rather fine reason to be right suspicious of intelligence claiming some oil-rich country with a ruler the US doesn't like is working to develop nuclear weapons. A reminder by IF Moderator: We remind our members that discussing politics is not allowed in IF. We only allow the posting of: - news (at: "you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_forums.gawaher(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/index.php?showforum=140)"]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_forums.gawaher(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/index.php?showforum=140)[/url] - articles (at: "you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_forums.gawaher(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/index.php?showforum=127)"]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_forums.gawaher(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/index.php?showforum=127)[/url] Posting any political issue is a violation of IF rules.
  25. Equality in Islam

    Peace, everyone. Hi, Sulemaan. This is dragging, but I don't think I'm confused. I don't doubt that plenty of non-Muslim people have lived happy lives under Islamic rule. As it happens, I care about principles. So do the people I associate with. And I think everyone ought to. I do mind giving tax and knowing this money is used to kill people. It's not human nature that makes me pay it, it's threat of force, and a system where tax is taken directly from my pay. Anyway, Quakers as a group object to being taxed to pay for war and have organized the Peace Tax Fund, an attempt to push law that will allow conscientous objectors to choose to have that portion of their taxes go to other projects. Some Quakers who own their own businesses (or otherwise have access to such paperwork so they're actually able to do it) scrupulously calculate the portion of their taxes spent on war and withhold that money, giving it to charities that work for peace. Eventually they'll probably be a royal legal stink about this one. We'll see what comes of it. As for paying for your own skin, well. Um. Because I am a non-Muslim, I pay this tax for my protection, but Muslims don't pay it. Presumably Muslims are also protected. This leads one to conclude that Muslims are protected because of their merit, while non-Muslims, being less meritous, must pay. Bah. Either that, or it's just a tax to pay for the priveledge of not joining the army, which I object to. I believe I do understand. I was making quite a fine distinction and just didn't express it quite well enough. The creation of a just and noble society by promoting Islam vs. the promotion of Islam accomplished by creating a just and noble society. I know that Islam's public laws and individual practices intend to create a just and noble society. I just don't think the Shari'ah as it seems to be practiced and has been in history, is up to the task in the modern world. This doesn't mean that the actual Shari'ah as it ought to be and have been practiced wouldn't accomplish this, though. Like this: The Quran made it quite clear that God takes a pretty dim view of slavery and doesn't want people to practice it, right? But it also contains laws pertaining to slavery, which made the practice much less terrible for the slaves than other systems of slavery did. It also caused slavery to die out without causing anybody's head to explode or causing people to give up on the Islamic ideals because they found them impossible and incomprehensible. Similarly, the Qu'ran says that you ought to treat people equitably. The Shari'ah law stuff that I know about sometimes treats non-Muslims inequitably, but like the slave laws, the system revolutionized the way subject peoples were treated, vastly for the better, and perhaps so much so that the people who were being treated inequitably were unable to identify the unfairness. But just as slavery was intended to go extinct as human societies advanced, so are all inequitable practices. Peace, Aburafay! Yes. Though it is that the tax is levied on the basis of religion rather than use -- there's nothing unfair about the fact that people who live in Durango don't pay the taxes that support the public library system here, they don't use it. I'm afraid I find it hard to imagine what project a government ought to do specifically for non-Muslims such that they ought to pay a separate tax. No, I don't really care if I end up paying the lesser of the two. It'd annoy me, probably, but it's not the price tag, but the principle. A bit like this business were I may ask the admins to set it up so my posts here will appear instantly, but I don't, because I think it's unfair that Muslims who've proven themselves to be courteous and good-intentioned can't do the same. My little insignificant mini-protest of an insignificant mini-injustice, but there you go. Fund three seems pretty strange. I wouldn't want to pay that. Fund five, hmm. If they're traveling for the sake of converting people to Islam, no. If they're traveling for the sake of fighting, no. If this is a fund that goes to allow people who cannot afford to, to go on hajj, I'd pay it. It is important for people's happiness and well-being that they be able to fulfil the requirements of their religion. But I wouldn't want people to be required by law to pay this. Eight, no. I'm not supposed to make war with my body or my work or my money. And obviously, paying for someone else to prosthelytize his religion isn't something I especially want to do. Peace, Zeinab! I am sorry you find me blasphemous. I am being objective. Nobody invented rules of logic. People discover and articulate them. They're not subjective any more than 2+2=4 is. Peace, L0new0lf! You're right. But nobody would object if everyone paid the same taxes for public works that benefit all, and then the Muslims paid their own portion that goes specifically to projects that benefit only Muslims, and paid that, to make up their full zakat obligation. Respectfully submit that you ought to want to protect me and others who object to violence. Our presence makes for a better society. Conscientious objectors have long been accused of taking a free ride when it comes to national defense but I propose that people who work diligently for peace can contribute far more to improving and protecting a nation's security than anybody who joins the armed forces. What do you suppose would happen to me, in this hypothetical Islamic state, if I calculated how much of my jizya was used for military purposes and withheld that amount?