What Is ISIS?

It’s sure as hell not what the White House thinks it is:

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.

But this administration wishes to bury its head in its assthe sand.

It’s a long read, but well worth it, from The Atlantic.

[Update a few minutes later]

And then there’s this:

Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”

Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent.

According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”

There is no Pope of Islam. I’m pretty sure they know what Islam is more than our Theologian-in-Chief does.

[Update a few minutes later]

One more point. People who ignore the Caliphate as the goal of the Islamists ignore it at no just their, but our peril. That is the theological importance of ISIS control of territory and declaring itself a state. And as with the mullahs of Iran, do not ignore their own apocalyptic vision.

[Update a few minutes later]

This is a genocidal movement akin to Nazism.

Yes. In fact, it is much more theologically coherent, with a much longer historical pedigree. It’s just been relatively dormant for a few generations, so fools like Barack Obama cannot imagine how it can exist in the 21st century. And yes, unlike Nazism, it doesn’t have a technologically competent industrial state from which to operate. But also in the 21st century, it may not need one. Particularly when the state with the most potential capability to defeat it has a leader that pretends it does not exist.

[Update a while later]

But wait! There’s more! Remember when some people questioned my comment that the Left is implicitly allied with Islam? Check this out:

Abdul Muhid, 32, continued along these lines. He was dressed in mujahideen chic when I met him at a local restaurant: scruffy beard, Afghan cap, and a wallet outside of his clothes, attached with what looked like a shoulder holster. When we sat down, he was eager to discuss welfare. The Islamic State may have medieval-style punishments for moral crimes (lashes for boozing or fornication, stoning for adultery), but its social-welfare program is, at least in some aspects, progressive to a degree that would please an MSNBC pundit. Health care, he said, is free. (“Isn’t it free in Britain, too?,” I asked. “Not really,” he said. “Some procedures aren’t covered, such as vision.”) This provision of social welfare was not, he said, a policy choice of the Islamic State, but a policy obligation inherent in God’s law.

So really, they hate the Enlightenment, they want a welfare state, they’re genocidal, like the Nazis, Stalin, and Mao? What’s not to like?

Climate Skeptics

How and when did you become one?

A lot of interesting responses.

As some note there, to me the biggest deal with the release of the CRU data five years ago wasn’t (just) the duplicity and unscientific behavior revealed in the emails, but the utter crap that was the source code of the computer models. It was clear that it was not done by anyone familiar with computer science, numerical methods, or modeling, and the notion that we should have any confidence whatsoever in their output was societally insane. In terms of Matthews’ paper, I’d put myself somewhere between “lukewarmer” and “moderate skeptic.”

[Update a couple minutes later]

Starting to read through the comments. Here’s just one horror story:

Most of the claims being made by climate change advocates appear to run contrary to basic meteorology. As I’ve been attacked personally and professionally for offering contrary views, I decided to leave the field. I will defend my Atmospheric Science PhD thesis and walk away. It’s become clear to me that it is not possible to undertake independent research in any area that touches upon climate change if you have to make your living as a professional scientist on government grant money or have to rely on getting tenure at a university. The massive group think that I have encountered on this topic has cost me my career, many colleagues and has damaged my reputation among the few people I know in the field. I’m leaving to work in the financial industry. It’s a sad day when you feel that you have to leave a field that you are passionately interested in because you fear that you won’t be able to find a job once your views become widely known. Until free thought is allowed in the climate sciences, I will consider myself a skeptic of catastrophic human induced global warming.

Yup. Totally, totally politicized. It’s not a science any more. Unless you think that Lysenko was a scientist.

Jon Stewart

Kyle Smith isn’t as impressed with him as we’re supposed to be:

Though Stewart has often claimed he does a “fake news show,” “The Daily Show” isn’t that. It’s a real news show punctuated with puns, jokes, asides and the occasional moment of staged sanctimony.

It contains real, unstaged sound bites about the days’ events and interviews about important policy matters.
Stewart is a journalist: an irresponsible and unprofessional one.

Yes, as Jim Treacher put it, the “clown nose off, clown nose on” schtick got pretty tiresome. The tears of all those bewailing his departure are delicious.

ISIS Beheading Christians

in Libya.

Probably caused by an Internet video. Hillary and Susan Rice were unavailable for comment.

[Update a while later]

Denmark’s turn, and looking back at the Rushdie fatwa:

It’s not at all difficult to see the roots of now in what happened then. It’s not that Westerners weren’t already alarmed back then, though; they were. They just didn’t see the depth and breadth of what this phenomenon represented, and they didn’t quite know what to do. Nor do they now. And although political correctness was much weaker back then it already very much existed, and probably helped to hamper recognition of the dangers of this strain of Islam to the West itself. Those dangers are still not fully recognized by the governments of the West, in part for the very same reason.

Yes, Glenn is right. We should have nipped this in the bud in 1979, but we had the wrong president.

But it’s not in fact too late. We shouldn’t be droning Al Qaeda/ISIS leaders, we should be capturing and interrogating them. The people we should be droning are mullahs who issue fatwas (like the ones who stirred up all the rage over the cartoons). It would probably discourage them, at least somewhat. And dead mullahs don’t issue fatwas.

The Tulsa Totalitarians

This is outrageous:

Without affording him the hearing he was entitled to under TU’s University Student Conduct Policies & Procedures, and despite his husband’s affidavit, Tanaka found Barnett responsible for “harassment.” Tanaka also found Barnett guilty of retaliation and violating confidentiality requirements for speaking about the disciplinary charges with his husband—who was also his exculpatory witness.

Less than two months before Barnett was set to graduate, Tanaka not only suspended him until at least 2016 but also permanently banned him from receiving a degree in his major even upon his re-enrollment. Barnett was forced to wait two months for TU to respond to his appeal, which the university summarily denied on January 9 without explanation—leaving Barnett unable to earn his theater degree as planned.

I don’t think a theater degree is worth all that much, but he probably paid a lot for it, and he should at a minimum be reimbursed (though one can’t give him back the lost years of his life). But actually, as Glenn notes, this insanity won’t end until universities suffer legal and financial severe pain for it.

The Sunk-Cost Fallacy

in love, and automobile manufacturing.

This is a big problem for space enthusiasts. “Oh, we can’t cancel SLS/Orion! We’ve already spent so much on them, all that money would just go to waste!”

Well, since the purpose was really never anything except to maintain the work force, it wouldn’t really have gone to waste, and continuing them would waste even more, if our actual goal is to do useful things in space. We need to cut our losses as soon as politically possible.

New Computer Question

She kind of likes the Linux set up, but she really doesn’t want to give up things like (and this is an immediate issue), Turbotax. From what I find in searches, it doesn’t seem to play well with Wine, but it might be OK if I ran it in a virtual Windows machine. But don’t I still need to buy Windows in order to set one of those up? And is there an advantage to running it in a VM, other than not having to reboot into the OS?

Why The Media Hates Scott Walker

They think he has a time machine.

It would be nice if he did. That would be the best way to fix ObamaCare. Of course, the best use of it, at least in the recent past, would be to shove some sticks in the spokes of the 2008 Obama campaign, knowing now what we didn’t know then.

[Update a while later]

“Our most intelligent presidents have often been our worst presidents.” I think it’s a mistake to conflate “intelligence” with amount of “education.” Barack Obama (or Bill Clinton) has never struck me as particularly intelligent, unless by that you mean “cunning.” They’re certainly not wise. But yeah, Wilson was pretty bad, just as Obama is.

Scott Walker Didn’t Finish College


I, for one, am glad Howard Dean went to medical school before becoming a doctor. But most liberal arts degrees are overrated as a precondition for success and they are indisputably overpriced — hence the current student loan crisis. In the Internet era, there are many, many new ways to become educated. This sudden suspicion of Scott Walker seems a product of the fact that higher education is a world that liberals control utterly, and the entire economic model supporting it is on the verge of collapse.

Also, it seems to be the only “dirt” they can find on him.

Computer Problems

Welp, Windows (7) isn’t happy with the computer upgrade. It keeps running start-up repair, but it never boots.

[Update a while later]

It occurred to me that Windows might not have liked the BIOS settings. So I went into it, and found something under “Advanced” that enabled it for Windows 8 (which I was planning to upgrade to, anyway). When I did that, it told me that the graphics card was incompatible with that setting. So I pulled the card, and am running directly off the mother board. But now when I try to boot, it dumps me into an EFI shell…

[Update a few minutes later]

Well, this doesn’t seem to be an unusual problem

I tried moving the SATA port of the hard drive, but no joy.

[Evening update]

Well, isn’t this wonderful. I now have a computer that wantonly destroys USB drives.

[Update a minute after I typed that]

OK, it didn’t destroy the drive. It just made it take a couple minutes to recognize it. I guess that’s not quite as bad, but it still isn’t bootable.

[Late-evening update]

OK, now seriously, it is wrecking flash drives. That’s the second one today. I copy a bootable ISO to a drive, it doesn’t boot, then no other computer can even see the drive. That’s two. Today.

The Latest From Iraq

Great. The Junior Varsity strikes again.

[Update a while later]

Guess we have to wait and see.

Fifty Shades Of Dave Barry

He reviews the book:

So what kind of book is Fifty Shades of Grey? I would describe it, literary genre–wise, as “a porno book.” But it’s not the kind of porno men are accustomed to. When a man reads porno, he does not want to get bogged down in a bunch of unimportant details about the characters, such as who they are or what they think. A man wants to get right to the porno:

Chapter One
Bart Pronghammer walked into the hotel room and knitted his brow at the sight of a naked woman with breasts like regulation volleyballs.
“Let’s have sex,” she mused matter-of-factly.

A few paragraphs later they’re all done, and the male reader, having invested maybe ninety seconds of his time, can put the book down and go back to watching SportsCenter.

Apparently that is not what women want, porno-wise. What women want, to judge from Fifty Shades of Grey, is not just people doing It. Many pages go by in this book without any of It getting done, although there is a great deal of thinking and talking about It. The thoughts are provided by the narrator and main character, Anastasia Steele, who is a twenty-one-year-old American woman as well as such a clueless, self-absorbed ninny that you, the reader, find yourself wishing that you still smoked so you would have a cigarette lighter handy and thus could set fire to certain pages, especially the ones where Anastasia is telling you about her “inner goddess.” This is a hyperactive imaginary being—I keep picturing Tinker Bell—who reacts in a variety of ways to the many dramatic developments in Anastasia’s life, as we see in these actual quotes:

“My inner goddess is swaying and writhing to some primal carnal rhythm.”
“My very small inner goddess sways in a gentle victorious samba.”
“My inner goddess is doing the Dance of Seven Veils.”
“My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.”
“My inner goddess has stopped dancing and is staring, too, mouth open and drooling slightly.”
“My inner goddess jumps up and down, with cheerleading pom-poms, shouting ‘Yes’ at me.”
“My inner goddess is doing backflips in a routine worthy of a Russian Olympic gymnast.”
“My inner goddess pole-vaults over the fifteen-foot bar.”
“My inner goddess fist-pumps the air above her chaise longue.”

That’s right: Her inner goddess, in addition to dancing, cheerleading, pole vaulting, etc., apparently keeps furniture inside Anastasia’s head. Unfortunately, this means there is little room left for Anastasia’s brain, which, to judge from her thought process, is about the size of a walnut. On the other hand, Anastasia is physically very attractive, although she never seems to figure this out despite the fact that all the other characters keep telling her, over and over, how darned attractive she is.

Go read the rest. You know you want to.

[Afternoon update]

Some quotes that probably won’t make it into movie.

Scott Walker

The MSM is terrified to death of him.

They should be. He’s been my preferred candidate for a couple years. Among other things, college degrees are highly overrated. Many of the “elite” who have them aren’t really educated; they’re just credentialed.

[Update a while later]

Uncle Sam, The Nutritionist

He’s a terrible one:

Here’s a bet: someday saturated fats — full fat butter, whole milk, tallow, and other animal fats — will be welcomed back, just as cholesterol has been. Until then, plenty of damage will be done to our health and the way we eat.

The American Heart Association and the U.S. government have been recommending a low-cholesterol, low-saturated fat diet for more than half a century. In 1961, when the AHA’s guidelines first came out, one in seven Americans were obese. Now one in three are.

As I’ve often noted, these quacks killed my father thirty-five years ago.