5:58 PM May 31, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Robots work in swarms and hives

iRobot and Frontline Robotics are teaching robots how to work together.

The goal of iRobot's swarm project is to coordinate the actions of groups of hundreds of individual robots. A Swarm Operating System (SwarmOS) is under development to control as many as 10,000 robots or SwarmBots.

What could possibly go wrong?

5:32 PM May 31, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

"Deep Throat", subject of much Boomer interest, has 'fessed up.

If I cared anything about this, I'd quote some of the story.

But I don't.

5:22 PM May 31, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Flying Fists of Fury

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Five Thai Buddhist monks have been defrocked and fined after a brawl with monks from a nearby temple, police and newspapers said Tuesday.

The street fight was the culmination of years of antagonism between monks from the two temples who had often exchanged curses, insults and rude gestures as they collected alms on different sides of a road, the Manager newspaper said.

"When an ordinary person is given a middle-finger sign, he will be mad. So am I," it quoted one of the defrocked monks, Boonlert Boonpan, as saying after the brawl in the northeastern state of Nong Khai Monday.

Boonlert said he usually carried a knuckle-duster in his shoulder bag during the morning collection of alms on which Bhuddist monks depend, it said.

No word on which group of monks had superior Kung Fu.

Pai Mei was unavailable for comment.

1:24 PM May 29, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

UK Quran protests at U.S. Embassy

A British policeman said the language was offensive and unpleasant in the extreme. But police overlooked that and the fact that more than a few of the young men in the crowd covered their faces, technically a violation of British law, according to the police.

Wouldn't want to offend any of those guys by telling them that their hoods were agains the law, or anything.

Shouting, "Down, down USA; down, down USA," the protesters called for the killing of Americans, the death of the U.S. president, the death of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the bombing of Britain, and the annihilation of the U.S. capital: "Nuke, nuke Washington; Nuke, nuke Washington! Bomb, bomb the Pentagon."

Remember this story the next time someone tells you that Islam is a peaceful religion.

Some of the militant Islamic rhetoric smacked of incitement to commit murder, CNN's Senior International Correspondent Walter Rodgers reported.

Gosh, Walt, do you really think so? I guess it's possible that "Bomb, bomb the Pentagon" is actually an incitment to urban renewal, so don't jump to any conclusions.....

"Death, death Tony Blair; death, death Tony Blair. Death, death George Bush," the protesters chanted.

Then again, jump away, Walt!

"The only language we speak today is the language of jihad," said one protester.

You mean that "inner struggle" jihad we heard so much about after 9/11?

Holding their Qurans high, they called for death and mayhem, praising the destruction of New York's twin towers on September 11, 2001, and saying the White House is next.

It is scenes like this that fill me with respect and love for Muslims.

Before they broke up, the protesters joined in meditation, and then they all prayed.

I wonder what they prayed for? World peace and understanding? Justice and prosperity for all? Blood and souls for their lord Arioch?

I firmly believe that Islam is Satan's response to Christ's Redemption. Did you expect him to just give up without a fight?

12:39 PM May 29, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

In his Washington Times column, Victor Davis Hanson writes that it's High noon for high news

With each expose the harm has been cumulative, driving the public away from a stained mainstream media. News purists mock the yelling of conservative talk radio, hypersensitive renegade bloggers on the Internet and cable news' sharp elbows. They shouldn't. All provide an antidote to "disinterested" High News the public no longer entirely believes.

Bigheaded lectures for the umpteenth time about the "century-old standards" at the New York Times, the "legacy" of Edward R. Murrow or the "prestige" of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism don't cut it anymore in a world of Jayson Blair, Eason Jordan and Dan Rather.

Liberal copycats of talk radio fail, not because they are always boring but because there is little market or even need for such a counter-establishment media. The progressive audience already finds its views embedded in a New York Times or CBS "news" story. So why turn to a redundant and less adept Al Franken, Phil Donahue or Arianna Huffington?

4:18 PM May 27, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Another quote from The Cloister Walk:

For nearly twenty years, my immediate family has lived as a three-generation commune in Honolulu….over the years, the family has found many reasons to value this way of life. “There’s always somebody home at my house,” one niece told her kindergarten teacher, who asked how she might reach family members during the day. (With two ministers, a financial planner, a jazz musician, and a law office manager, there’s only one person who works on a nine-to-five schedule.) And one year, I was touched to hear my four-year-old nephew call out, “Anybody! Anybody!” when he was in some kind of jam and needed help. I was one of the four family members who responded (three adults and a teenager), and I thought to myself, there are worse ways to learn about trust in this world.

from The Christmas Music, page 81

Happiness Continues

10:25 AM May 27, 2005by Rob Ritchie

It's Friday! I usually stop by Starbucks on the way to work on Friday morning, and treat myself to a latte and croissant for breakfast.

Yes, I am a latte drinking, iPod listening, PT Cruiser driving conservative Republican. Try finding me on the survey!

Sea World (the most underrated attraction in Orlando, IMNSHO) is celebrating the opening of a new show: Blue Horizons and to promote it, they PICKED UP THE TAB for my coffee and pastry.

Update: Not just my tab; SW was paying for a coffee and pastry at all Orlando-area Starbucks between the hours of 7 and 9, their peak hours, I think.

Isn't that great? Now I have to figure out some other way to treat myself.

So, here are some pictures of the hibiscuses blooming in my yard. This particular plant took a real beating during the hurricanes last year, so I'm glad to see it come back.

7:20 PM May 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Actually, it's of little interest to me where the Great One decides to hang his hat; I can certainly sympathize with his desire to live somewhere warm.

But as long as I know his URL, he's my digital neighbor.

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the....

5:35 PM May 26, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Is it possible to buy happiness?

Before last Saturday, I would have answered with a resounding No!

Since then, I bought one of these and or the first time in years, I have music in my life again .

The week before, I bought one of these for myself (and yes, for you keeping score, we got one for Mrs. Agnostic a few months ago) and I'm remembering how much fun it is to drive to work.

And I'm happy. So happy, that I'm taking more interest in my work and less in this blog.

I'm not going to shut it down or anything drastic.

But...I'm so happy, it's hard to bitch. And it seems that that's what I mostly do around here.

La-dee-da-dee-dum! Zoom!

5:01 PM May 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

This is interesting:

Virtually every major news agency in the world has reported without verification that between 15 and 18 Afghanis were killed in the riots.

There's just one problem. There is no more evidence for these deaths than there is that a U.S. interrogator flushed a Quran down the toilet.

Not a single name of even one victim has been released. No details of the circumstances of the riots were released from any official sources – either U.S. or Afghan.

Who were these victims? Were they rioters killed by police or military forces? Were they innocent victims attacked by fanatics? Were they Afghanis? Were they relief workers?

G2B has examined every English-language news story about these deaths through Lexis Nexis. G2B has scoured the Internet, including foreign and non-English-language news sources for any details of these deaths. And G2B has queried both U.S. and Afghan official sources for any details about these alleged deaths.

Pious gratitude to: lgf

12:21 PM May 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Technical disclaimer: Unless indicated either by context or notation, all numeric values presented on this blog are intended to express Base-10 real numbers.

10:40 PM May 25, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Another quote from The Cloister Walk:

Being a lector is a unique experience; it feels nothing like reading poems, my own or anyone else's, to an audience. And it's certainly not a performance; no emoting, or the monks would have my hide. The Liturgy of the Word is prayer. You pray the scriptures with, and for, the people assembled, and the words go out to them, touching them in ways only God can imagine. The words are all that matter, and you send them out as prayer, hoping to become invisible behind them.

from New York City: the Trappist Connection, page 68

10:50 AM May 24, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Via Instapundit, here's The Inevitable Sith Post-Mortem, a detailed and interesting look at the film.

You probably shouldn't read it unless you've already seen the movie.

Update:  If you liked that, he's got three further posts as well:

More Sith Happens
Forcing Our Way Onwards
The End

11:15 AM May 23, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Real busy today, so I can't do much posting.

But I direct you to today's Bleat.

James has been watching some movies. As it happens, I've been watching the same movies, and while our opinions don't agree entirely such that the corners are even, he speaks for me when he writes:

“Team America” was made by 17 year old boys who cut class to smoke cigarettes. “Star Wars” was made by a sophomore who was bumped ahead to the senior class because of his smarts, but never fit in and spent lunch hour drawing rocketships in his notebook. “The Incredibles” was made by 30 year olds who remembered what it was like to be 16, but didn’t particularly care to revisit those days, because it’s so much better to be 30, with a spouse and a kid and a house and a sense that you’re tied to something. Not an attitude; not some animist mumbo jumbo, but something large enough to behold and small enough to do. “Duty” is a punchline in “Team America”; it’s a rote trope in Star Wars that has no more meaning than love or honor any other word that passes Lucas’ cardboard lips. But it meant something in “The Incredibles,” and all the more so because no one ever stopped to deliver a lecture on the subject.

1:28 PM May 22, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Another quote from The Cloister Walk:

Walter Brueggeman...suggests that "a sense of call in our time is profoundly countercultural," and notes that "the ideology of our time is that we can live 'an uncalled life,' one not referred to any purpose beyond one's self." I suspect that this idol of the autonomous, uncalled life has a shadow side that demands that we resist the notion that another might be different, might indeed experience a call. Our idol of the autonomous individual is a sham; the truth is we expect everyone to be the same, and dismiss as elitist those who are working through a call to any genuine vocation. It may be that our culture so fears the necessary other that it has grown unable to identify and name real differences without becoming defensive about them.

from Jeremiah as Writer: The Necessary Other, page 41

4:22 PM May 21, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Charles at LGF has posted a report On Operation Matador written by Marine Colonel Bob Chase.

You should read it.

12:49 PM May 21, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Frequent contributer DuckyDan searches the Internet so you (and I) don't have to!

His latest find (and appropriately timed, since I'm going to see "Revenge of the Sith" this afternoon):

Store Wars

Very clever, and only slightly more political than George Lucas.

12:10 AM May 20, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Oh she’s crazy alright, crazy like a crazy genius girl.

That she is.

(Two links)

6:54 PM May 19, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Paul Mirengoff of Powerline demonstrates what The Senate Democrats' idea of mainstream is, with an interesting example from 1994, when the Democrats were the majority controlling the Senate.

The Senate was asked to confirm Judge H. Lee Sarokin for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, whose behavior and judgement were lauded by Senator Leahy but "lambasted" but the Third Circuit itself.

Mirengoff concludes "The Republicans opposed Sarokin, but did not filibuster. Sarokin got his up-or-down vote and was confirmed."

3:50 PM May 19, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

CAIR's Hate Crimes Nonsense by Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha is a must read:

Should you read Unequal Protection: The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States 2005, an annual report issued last week by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), you'll learn how the Muslim experience in America is worsening. Specifically, the number of "anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States" has gone up dramatically: from 42 cases in 2002, to 93 cases in 2003, to 141 in 2004.

This news prompted headlines in the mainstream media. "Muslims Report 50% Increase in Bias Crimes," announced the New York Times; "Crimes, Complaints Involving Muslims Rise," broadcast the Washington Post; and "Muslims Cite a Rise in Hate Crimes," echoed the Los Angeles Times. That these leading newspapers treated the CAIR study as a serious piece of research served as an important endorsement.

But CAIR is part of the Wahhabi Lobby, so (unlike the mainstream media reporters) we thought it a good idea to take a closer look at the report.

To see what they found, read the rest.

Hyuk! Wahhabi Lobby. Classic.

Pious gratitude to: DuckyDan

1:00 PM May 18, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Via Bogus Gold, I find this Dennis Prager TCS column, which concludes:

It is quite remarkable that many Muslims believe that an American interrogator flushing pages of the Koran is worthy of rioting, but all the torture, slaughter, terror and mass murder done by Muslims in the name of the Koran are unworthy of even a peaceful protest.

Nevertheless, one will have to search extensively for any editorials condemning these primitives in the Western press, let alone in the Muslim press. This is because moral expectations of Muslims are lower than those of other religious groups. Behavior that would be held in contempt if engaged in by Christians or Jews is not only not condemned, it is frequently "understood" when done by Muslims.

That, not phony reports about an American desecrating Koranic pages, should really upset Muslims. It won't. Just as the CBS and Newsweek debacles won't upset the American news media. The lowest of the Muslim world and the elite of the Western world: Anti-Americanism makes strange bedfellows.

Pious gratitude to: Silver

11:33 AM May 18, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

The way Captain Ed describes it, the option hardly sounds "nuclear":

[T]he script will likely follow this narrative. Frist will move the nominations for debate, and probably allow the debate on Owen and/or Brown to continue all week long, ensuring that "freedom of speech", as Robert Byrd has publicly fretted, does not become an issue. After each Senator has had a chance to weigh in on the debate -- and that will probably be the key for Frist -- he will move for cloture, and lose the vote due to the Democrat filibuster.

After losing on cloture, Frist will appeal to the chair, claiming that the filibuster rule does not apply to judicial nominations as that is a Constitutional duty of the Senate and cannot be blocked by a minority. The chair, who will most likely be Vice President Dick Cheney in his role as President of the Senate, will agree with the interpretation and rule that cloture does not apply. The Democrats will object to this ruling and attempt to overrule it, but the interpretation will only need a majority for enforcement. At that point, a precedent will have been set, and cloture will be out of order on any subsequent judicial nominations.

11:14 AM May 18, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Another tranquil sermon from the Religion of Peace

We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again. The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain and the entire world – except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule, because they are treacherous by nature, as they have been throughout history. The day will come when everything will be relived of the Jews - even the stones and trees which were harmed by them. Listen to the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew.

11:49 AM May 17, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

The Anchoress has an enlightening conversation with "Network Guy" about the Newsweek-down-the-crapper story.

10:20 AM May 17, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Dan sent me links to a couple of cool movies.

This one is just funny: Eye of the tiger

...and this is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time: Rockfish

Update:  I guess I should warn you that unless you have a fast connection, these movies will take a long time to download.

8:59 PM May 15, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Here's a great column by Mark Steyn that you should read:

Bolton's sin is telling truth about system

Remember the tsunami? Big story, 300,000 dead; America and other rich countries too "stingy" in their response; government ministers from every capital on earth announcing on CNN every 10 minutes more and more millions and gazillions. It was in all the papers for a week or two, but not a lot of water under the bridge since then, and as a result this interesting statistic may not have caught your eye:

Five hundred containers, representing one-quarter of all aid sent to Sri Lanka since the tsunami hit on Dec. 26, are still sitting on the dock in Colombo, unclaimed or unprocessed.

At the Indonesian port of Medan, 1,500 containers of aid are still sitting on the dock.

Four months ago, did you chip in to the tsunami relief effort? Did your company? A Scottish subsidiary of the Body Shop donated a 40-foot container of "Lemon Squidgit" and other premium soap, which arrived at Medan in January and has languished there ever since because of "incomplete paperwork,'' according to Indonesian customs officials.

What's this got to do with Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the UN? You'll have to read the rest to find out.

8:06 PM May 15, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Glenn Reynolds in one of his rare editorializations:

People died, and U.S. military and diplomatic efforts were damaged, because -- let's be clear here -- Newsweek was too anxious to get out a story that would make the Bush Administration and the military look bad.

More:  Afghan clerics threaten Muslim holy war over Koran

Jeeze, another holy war? Can't we finish the current one first?

Update:  This seems about right

2:53 PM May 15, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I hereby make a promise: If I ever get an email from a reader as unhinged as this one that Kathryn Lopez received over at The Corner, (and honestly, I hope I do!) I will post it in its entirety.

Pious gratitude to: Michelle Malkin

1:07 PM May 15, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I'm currently working through The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris.

As I find passages that strike me as interesting or amusing, I'll share them. Here's one:

Monasticism is a way of life, and monasteries are full of real people. In considering the great tensions that have always existed in the monastic imperative – between structure and freedom, diversity and unity, openness to the world and retreat from it – monks are better off when they retain the ability to laugh at themselves. One monk, when asked about diversity in his small community, said that there were people who can meditate all day and others who can’t sit still for five minutes; monks who are scholars and those who are semiliterate; chatterboxes and those who emulate Calvin Coolidge with regard to speech. “But,” he said, “our biggest problem is that each man here had a mother who fried potatoes in a different way.”

from The Difference, page 21

12:55 PM May 15, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

If creationists attacked the Periodic Table of elements the way they attack evolution, it might look something like this:

Click for a larger image

© Skeptical Enquirer 2005 Vol. 29, No. 3 May / June 2005

11:38 PM May 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I have to concur with Lynn when she writes hmmmmmm....

Move you mouse around and click things. Fun!

Opposites Attract

7:03 PM May 14, 2005by Rob Ritchie

5:40 PM May 13, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

How does Victor Davis Hanson manage to produce such wonderful columns each and every week? I suspect that he's actually a hive being from another planet or something, with internal multi-pathway writing algorithms operating at all times.

Today's offering is a must read (but in my opinion, they all are): Remembering World War II

As the world commemorated the 60th anniversary of the end of the European Theater of World War II, revisionism was the norm. In the last few years, new books and articles have argued for a complete rethinking of the war. The only consistent theme in this various second-guessing was a diminution of the American contribution and suspicion of our very motives.

Indeed, most recent op-eds commemorating V-E day either blamed the United States for Hamburg or for the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, or for our supposed failure to credit the Russians for their sacrifices.

It is true that the Russians paid a horrendous price. Perhaps two out of every three soldiers of the Wehrmacht fell on the Eastern Front. We in the West must always remember that such a tragic sacrifice allowed Hitler to be defeated with far less American British, Canadian, and Australian dead.

That being said, the Anglo-Americans waged a global war well beyond the capability of the Soviet Union. They invaded North Africa, took Sicily, and landed in Italy, in addition to fighting a massive land war in central Europe. We had fewer casualties than did the Russians because we fought more wisely, were better equipped, and were not surprised to the same degree by a treacherous former ally that we had supplied.

4:47 PM May 13, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Newsweek magazine has been able to do what bin Laden, Hussein and Quadaffi and Arafat could not: Stir Up the "Arab Street":

KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Angry protests raged across the Muslim world from Gaza to Indonesia on Friday over a report U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran, with calls for retaliation and a rising death toll.

Governments demanded investigations and thousands took to the streets in outrage over a Newsweek magazine report that interrogators at a U.S. military prison in Cuba had put the Muslim holy book on toilets, in at least one case flushing it down.

Firewood and Coals

11:07 AM May 13, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Last night, Mrs. Agnostic and I went out to supper at a local Latin restaurant I'd heard about: Leños Y Carbon ("Firewood and Coals").

I have a Colombian work acquaintance who had recommended the place, but our experience was similar to that of Orlando CityBeat Writer Bao Le-Huu. We weren't very impressed.

The empanadas appetizer, charitably described by Le-Huu as having a filling "graced with a supple texture more akin to paté than ground beef" was, in fact, corned-beef hash. While not unpleasant (and the pepper sauce was spicy and flavorful), they were clearly inferior to the delicious empanadas available at other Latin restaurants in the Oak Ridge or 436 areas of Orlando.

The salads came without choice of dressing: the creamy, mayonaise-based dressing was not to my wife's taste. I found it flavorless and vaguely unpleasant.

Both the wife and I had beef dishes that were unexceptional. She had a grilled steak that had little to recommend it, while I had a flat fried steak covered with onions. The service was a little slow and the atmosphere, far from showing any "elegance" was noisy, with a large telvision blaring Spanish-language music videos and butcher-paper covered tables.

The portions were generous, but not overly so when compared with the price of the meal.

The next time we are in the mood for Latin food, we're going back to Pio Pio.

10:52 AM May 13, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

On this inauspicious day, the Great One reveals his dark secret:

I’m one of those retrograde hidebound [...]'s, alas.

What is he? Creationist? Who fan? Whig? Cyberluddite?

You'll have to follow the link to find out.

And thus my pointless plan to drive traffic to his site continues....

7:03 PM May 12, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

People like this is what the death penalty was made for:

The man accused of stabbing to death his 8-year-old daughter and her best friend hunted his child down in a park in a fit of rage because she was supposed to be confined to the house for stealing money, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Pious gratitude to: La Shawn Barber

I wish I was surprised

5:34 PM May 12, 2005by Rob Ritchie

18 Percent Of Florida Seniors Flunk FCAT

About 18 percent of Florida high school seniors have failed to pass state examinations needed to get a diploma.

Figures from the state Education Department show 27,000 of 150,000 seniors have failed to pass at least one of the required exams.

About 60 percent of them also lack credits or have grade point averages that are too low for graduation.

5:43 PM May 11, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Best line: "Christ is not speaking to the press at this time"

It can't come soon enough for me!

10:20 AM May 10, 2005by Rob Ritchie

6:53 PM May 9, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Well-traveled Iowahawk shares his experiences from visits to all fifty US States!

For example:

In California I walked along Hollywood's Boulevard of Broken Dreams and learned the American Dream has its dark, seedy side. Every year thousands of naïve beautiful actresses come here harboring fantasies of stardom in the Hollywood Machine. Most of these naïve girls will end up signing gigantic studio contracts and move to Malibu. Only then do they discover the tragic truth: the Hollywood Machine has sold me a $20 map.


I had heard about Connecticut nutmeg, so I decided to buy some of the state’s famous brown spice from an independent New Haven street vendor. I have to admit it was a little bitter at first, but after five or six vials I found myself anxiously returning for another tasty rock of that sweet, relaxing Connecticut nutmeg.


Inside Michigan’s notorious Eight Mile, they all laughed and jeered when I pulled up my hood and got up on stage in that sweaty hip hop club, where I challenged champion Detroit rapper KTO to a throwdown battle on the mic. The laughing continued while he peppered me with a menacing mad flow of rhymes and beats and insults. And when his hurtful personal remarks finally caused me to run for the bathroom in tears, I suppose there was probably even more laughing.


I don't know if I’ll ever hear a more haunting sound than cry of Minnesota's beloved loon -- government radio superstar Garrison Keillor.

By my count, there are over 40 more, all more-or-less hi-larrious.


5:45 PM May 9, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

From several sources, I find a wonderful tribute to William Shatner

Give it a read, it's very interesting.

4:00 PM May 7, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Joseph Britt discusses Arab indiffence to the massacre in Darfur, and the media's indifference to it:

You don't need to be a master geo-strategist or have a doctorate in comparative anthropology to figure out that a culture and religion indifferent or worse to murder on a large scale is going to be a problem for the civilized countries. Egyptian, Saudi, and other Arab Muslims who object to this characterization of them have it within their power to prove me wrong, or not, by what they finally do about Darfur. Journalists like Friedman and Kristof can make their contribution by writing about it, even if it does mean they have to pick up a few checks the next time they're in Cairo.

6:26 PM May 6, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Jihad begot the Crusades

Inundated by [...] disingenuous apologetics Westerners have remained largely ignorant of jihad—the Islamic war of conquest. Thus the chattering classes, confused all too easily by superficial similarities, equate jihad with the Crusades. In fact, there are many fundamental differences between the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad, and the Crusades, as they derive from widely divergent religions and civilizations.

Jihad, as a nascent ideology, originated from the putative military activities of Muhammad himself, described in the Muslim sacred texts. September 622 C.E. marks a defining event in Islam- the hijra. Muhammad and a coterie of followers (the Muhajirun), persecuted by fellow Banu Quraysh tribesmen who rejected Muhammad’s authenticity as a divine messenger, fled from Mecca to Yathrib, later known as Al-Medina (Medina). Gil notes that Muslim sources described Yathrib as having been a Jewish city founded by a Palestinian diaspora population which had survived the revolt against the Romans. [4] Distinct from the nomadic Arab tribes, the Jews of the north Arabian peninsula were highly productive oasis farmers. These Jews were eventually joined by itinerant Arab tribes from southern Arabia who settled adjacent to them and transitioned to a sedentary existence.

Following Muhammad’s arrival, he created a “new order”

Yeah? Then what happened?

The Crusades as an historical phenomenon were a reaction to events resulting from over 450 years of previous jihad campaigns. At the close of the 11th century, particularly after the crushing Byzantine defeat by the Seljuk Turks at Manzikert in 1071, Christendom, including Europe, was under existential threat by a confluence of Muslim advances. To the West, the Almoravid Berber Muslim tribes drove into Spain and pushed northward, pillaging and massacring the Christian populations they encountered. In the East, following their victory at Manzikert, the Seljuks put Armenia to fire and sword, and within a decade they had conquered three-fourths of Asia Minor.

Pious gratitude to: lgf

Not soon enough...

2:45 PM May 6, 2005by Rob Ritchie

"Everybody is still very angry that the insurgents attacked us when the kids were around. Their day will come."

2:27 PM May 6, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Gotta love those German Popes!


1:59 PM May 6, 2005by Rob Ritchie

1. If you were a writer, what kinds of books would you write?

I’d like to write hard-boiled mysteries featuring tough two-fisted detectives and the pliant dolls who fall for them like a ton of bricks. I never will, though, because the previous sentence is an example of how I write.

2. Do you expect to ever be famous in your lifetime? If yes, what do you expect to be famous for?

Not a chance.

3. Say something liberal.

Creationism and Intelligent Design have no place in the science curricula of American public schools.

4. Say something conservative.

The Liberal Agenda is ruinous to the prosperity and success of this nation, and the implementation of their policies is damaging to people and the environment.

5. What did you dream about last night?

I had a strange dream where I had a second, secret job as a government agent. I was given an assignment to go to New York City over the same weekend which, coincidentally, I had a business trip for my first job. I had to keep everybody in the dark about my official assignment (which apparently was to line up snipers to kill someone!) and make sure my wife didn’t find out. I woke up with a full bladder.

6. What have you read this week? Include everything: magazines, emails, blogs, books, etc.

“The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History”, lots and lots of blogs, many, many , emails, “Javascript – the Definitive Guide”, “SQL Server 2000”, “A Cloister Walk”, Orlando Sentinel, the church bulletin, all the comics on my comics page, Skeptical Inquirer magazine, restaurant menus. Oh, I read some of the Reader’s Digest in the waiting room of the optometrist’s office last evening.

7. Tell me about your worst date ever.

This was with a girl who gave me her number in a bar. (This, in itself was such an unusual occurrence that I remember it clearly!) We made the date, but that morning I started coming down with cold symptoms so I dosed myself up with cold medicine and soldiered on. Picked her up at her place, we spent a long time sitting on her porch trying to come up with topics of conversation before we went out to eat. My head was dizzy and my mouth was dry from the medicine. Honestly, I can’t remember any more about it, except that we didn’t go on a second date. Simply awful.

8. Name three of your bad habits and three of your good habits.

I interrupt
I drive too fast
I ignore my yard

I’m tidy
I don’t procrastinate
I bathe whether I need to or not

9. Tell me something you're very proud of.

I’m proud of the fact that I somehow conned my wonderful wife into marrying me.

10. Give me a piece of wisdom that I should pass on to Parker Grace (who is now twelve weeks old).

Your parents are probably smarter than you think they are; and you are probably not as smart as you think you are; but somehow you will impress each other with your brilliance twenty times a day.

via: mitch

10:18 AM May 6, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

The infinite is possible at Zombo.com

2:10 PM May 5, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Here are two good posts over at Bogus Gold (thanks Silver!) debunking the ridiculous "theocracy" fears popular with the panty-wetting Left these days.

Both are worthy of your attention.

5:59 PM May 4, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Ok, I sometimes mock the llamas, but other times I quote them slavishly. This is one of the latter times:

More Geek than thou

Steve on "the elements of Episode I & II that betrayed/screwed up the latter movies":

The material culture---the clothes, the decoration of everyday objects, body language etc.---just doesn't match the simplicity and 70s cheesiness of the original movies. The presence of technology and its use is all wrong to, as their society in effect de-advances in how everyday ordinary technology looks and is used.

He's exactly right, and I never was able to put my finger on it before.

1:48 PM May 4, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Via Instapundit, I find this Instapunk post defending Laura Bush's weekend joke-fest.

I think he has it exactly right.

BTW, to turn off that annoying music, click the button.

Update:  Another analysis over at INDC Journal is worth a look too.

1:26 PM May 4, 2005

by Rob Ritchie


Doggone toaster pastries!

11:40 AM May 4, 2005by Rob Ritchie

I yield to no one in my admiration for Publix-brand Cinnamon and Sugar Toaster Pastries.

They embody all the characteristics one looks for in a convenent morning repast: sweet, gooey filling wrapped in a flaky crust, and all at an economical price.

But the icing on the top gets too hot while in the toaster oven, and today as I was removing one this sticky lava adhered to my index fingertip and raised a blister.

Now I'm trying to type with an adhesive bandage on my finger and it's causing me to produce even more typos than usual.

Which is annoying enough that I've decided to post about it.

More Star Wars...Goodness?

10:39 AM May 4, 2005by Rob Ritchie

If these guys link to something, so should I: Jim Geraghty's recognition of George Lucas's precarious moral position:

Let me get this straight. With villains in Attack of the Clones that consisted of the “Trade Federation”, “Commerce Guild”, “Techno Union” and “Intergalactic Banking Clan”, etc., I’m being warned about the dangers of capitalism from a man who made perhaps more money from merchandising than any other man in history. I’m getting lectured about the dangers of greed from man who authorized, “C-3POs” breakfast cereal, “The Star Wars Christmas Special” featuring Bea Arthur’s musical number, and not one but two Ewoks made-for-TV movies.

I’m being warned about the dangers of technology, and the glory of primitive cultures like the Ewoks, who are able to defeat the ‘technological terror’ of the Empire, in what is supposedly an allegory of Vietnam. Technology is bad, soulless, dangerous, and dehumanizing. Mmm-hmm. This from a man who replaced a tall man in a hairy suit, a projecting the human-eyed loyalty and sadness of Chewbacca, with the CGI cinematic war crime that is Jar-Jar Binks. A man who tossed aside the Yoda puppet, the spaceship models, the stop-motion animation of the Imperial walkers to go all-computer-animation-and-green-screen, all-the-time.

I’m being warned about the dangers of a “you’re either with me or against me” attitude, and the viewing of the world in a black and white morality, from a filmmaker who has his villain dress entirely in black, choke the life out of helpless pilots, and blows up entire planets. This from a man whose nuanced moral view required an edit to make Greedo shoot first.

Keep your hopes high and your expectations low.

6:52 PM May 3, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Hey! If there's any shark jumping to be done, I want in on it:

After all, if you yip in glass houses...

Totaly ackurait

6:11 PM May 3, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Your English Skills:

Grammar: 100%
Punctuation: 100%
Vocabulary: 100%
Spelling: 40%

Does Your English Cut the Mustard?

Which explains my heavy reliance upon spell-checkers and dictionaries....and asking Mrs. Agnostic "How do you spell...."

5:49 PM May 3, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I'd seen previews of Rosie O'Donnel's "Magic Retard" movie, and it never even entered my head to watch it.

Which is why I'm a Crawling Amphibian: I think small (and slimy).

Others see the preview and think: Live-blogging gold!

Warning: Serious strong-language ahead, especially in the comments, which you must read.

pious gratitude to: llama butchers

12:19 PM May 3, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

On Iraqi television, they have a popular show where captured insurgent terrorists are questioned by authorities.

LGF often posts snippets of these interrogations. The terrorists confess their crimes, which are often "astoundingly vile".

6:49 PM May 2, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

To quote the Anchoress: Long live Testaclese!

1:45 PM May 2, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Chris? Norm? Nick?

Jeeze, is everybody in Minneapolis named Coleman?

4:25 PM May 1, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Like the bumper-sticker says, "Mean People Suck"

For 20 years I have kept my silence. I will do so no longer. In the debate over John Bolton's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, it finally has been made clear to me that a human being who yells at another human being does not deserve to hold high office. It's what Sen. George Voinovich calls “the Kitchen Test.”

And so, it's time I finally told the painful truth: Ted Kennedy yelled at me. He hurt my feelings. Therefore, those who believe John Bolton does not deserve to be confirmed must surely also agree that Senator Kennedy must step down. Here is the never-before-told story:

Follow the link to read the traumatizing tale.