Game over, man. I blame the Bush Administration for this:

A letter from the Gene Expression Omnibus arrived in the mail today. Their lawyers claim that use of the term "Gene Expression" for this weblog is "Trademark Infringement." After talking to a friend who is an attorney I've decided to take the site down until I can be clear about my rights and liabilities. I'm assuming that this blog will be up soon, but if it isn't, it was good while it lasted.

well, that's it then. Razib continues to blog at Science Blogs.

(don't worry, GNXP fans. I have a sneaking suspicion all will be right with the world in two days)


pimping for speakers' fees

go read Matoko-chan. She quotes from an important post at Aqoul about the Manifesto of supposed "muslim" moderates - actually a band of secularists, apostates, and a self-proclaimed muslim "refusenik".

She closes with this essential observation:
We absolutely suck at memetic warfare.
If i could do something, i would instantiate program funding for both al-Iraqiya and al-Jazeerha to run programs of scholarly debate on the Qu'ran. No content control. Get the best scholars in the ME debating these issues in public.

But all i seem to be able to do is be frustrated about how simple it is to manipulate peoples' belief systems for evil, while no one seems interested in doing it for good.

also flagged by matoko - the comment by Glenn that the Dubai ports fiasco may be an example of we being outplayed - in a game meant to isolate us from our Arab allies and thus torpedo the goal of bringing liberty to the Middle East. And who wins should that goal falter?


hearts and minds

Editorial in the Gulf News on the whole Dubai Ports World affair:

Nevertheless, the whole affair served as a lesson for other Arab companies who may have thought of investing in what has proved to be a hostile US atmosphere. All the free trade talk proved to be just empty rhetoric. Another irony is that the Democrats, the supporters of globalisation, were the key opponents of the deal. There must have been something else behind the sudden change of heart.

It was definitely not the concern for national security, as they fully know the Bush administration had run a meticulous review of the deal, which established it was not a threat. Was it the "Israeli element" as some have suggested? Maybe. Otherwise, why would some Congress members bombard the

DP World executive, during last week's hearing, with questions about the Arab boycott of Israel? Did they want to force the UAE to end the pan-Arab boycott of Israel in order approve the deal?

These questions need to be investigated. But the fact remains it was an ugly scene in Washington. Other foreign-owned companies run US ports but they were not Arab. That is the message.

And we got it.

Meanwhile, Chinese government-owned companies control terminals in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities, and both ends of the Panama Canal.

Had the present Administation been taking port security seriously for the past five years, this whole afair would have been rendered moot. Instead we have this fiasco.


Sectarian violence or civil war?

Dan Darling has an important piece at Threatwatch that analyzes whether the sectarian violence in the aftermath of the Samariyya bombing amounts to a genuine civil war or not. FWIW I agree that the sectarian violence after the Samariyya bombing probably did not amount to a genuine civil war, and that if anything Iraq has already been embroiled in a low-level civil war of sorts ever since the first post-invasion bombing at the shrines of Najaf that killed an ayatollah (Hakim?).

However, my opinion is that if a successful destruction of the shrines in Karbala or Najaf is carried out, then we will assuredly see a true and genuine civil war, with likely breakup of the country resulting. I've previously mentioned that in my view, partition of Iraq is tantamount to defeat of our goals (however you wish to define them).

Also, I don't really buy into the Iranian angle for Samarriya, as others have suggested. If anything I think that Iran benefits mroe from a united Iraq dominated politically by the Shi'a rather than a sectarian breakup. I don't see how a civil war really benefits Iranian aspirations; in many ways it actually hinders them, because it would create a hostile Sunni state on their doorstep.

open letter to the MSA at U of Illinois

I wanted to share another link, this time from Ali Eteraz. In it, he details his involvement in the Cartoon controversy, specifically chastising the muslim students association for their utterly abdication of their responsibility to use their media exposure for a genuine cause - instead, they wasted it on a trivial matter by falsely attempting to suggest a latent Islamophobia in America.

That there are Islamophobes in the US is not a matter of dispute; but the assertion that the environment in America is equivalent to that in Europe is quite easily refuted. Ali does a fine job of making the case - though he starts out with the relevant backstory first. It is a worthy read.

Also, in comments at Eteraz' site, Thabet points to this FindLaw article about the Cartoon controversy that makes a number of important points. Among them, the emphasis on the different legal environments in Europe and America with respect to free speech and hate speech laws. I personally strongly support a boycott of Danish goods, because what offended me was not the expression, but rather but the intent of the speech in question.



In the wake of various polls that purportedly prove that British muslims desire Talibanesque rule, I'd like to bring attention to the following commentary on Shari'a from Thabet of the Muslims Under Progress blog:

Shari'ah exists where ever Muslims happen to exist. So if a Muslim decides not to eat a bacon sandwich, to avoid alcohol, to visit the mosque on a Friday, to perform the qui-daily pray, to pay zakat, to ritually wash herself, and the Muslim does all this living in London, New York or Sydney, then shari'ah is in existence and being observed.

This teaser excerpt does not do the essay justice; please do read the rest. Or not, as you prefer - I have discharged my duty. Thabet is based in the UK and thus speaks with more authority than I - as well as similar biases.

Those with more interest in understanding Shari'ah are also advised to research the Abbasid Inquisition, and the battle between the Rationalists vs the Traditionalists. Disclaimer, I am Shi'a, and thus biased towards Rationalism in a fundamental way. But Shari'ah as understood today largely arise from the victory of the Traditionalists within mainstream Sunni Islam and represented a form of political control. I welcome dialouge on this topic from genuinely interested observers.