Carnival of the Vanities CIII

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Pete Holiday hosts the 103rd Carnival of the Vanities. I have much more to say about some excellent posts this time around than I usually do, so I'll put it all in the extended entry.

I'm always a sucker for anything that questions politically correct racial terminology, so I have to link to this post at Marty's Big Journey. Just don't assume this is a good argument against racial classification in general (or that I think it is). This is just a problem with the currently popular label 'African American'. It's not necessarily a reason not to use the term ever, but it's good to know that there are times when it's infelicitous to stick to the same terms all the time, because they don't cover everyone.

Watcher of Weasels puts into words exactly the reasons I'm not very interested in Chris Matthews anymore. After his coverage of the 2000 election, during which he clearly preferred Al Gore, I was fairly impressed at his willingness to consider both sides and be equally harsh with all. Now he just seems to be petty, rude, dismissive, sexist, conspiracy-theorizing, and unable to listen. I once thought he was smarter, more balanced, and more interesting than O'Reilly. Now he's more like Rush Limbaugh on all three.

Sneakeasy's Joint has some great quotes from Outspoken Republicans of Old.

This post at Dean's World makes an excellent point that societal standards for women's beauty are so ridiculously skewed that it almost takes starvation to achieve them. I think he goes a little far in calling skinny women not "real women" as if being naturally bone-thin somehow removes femininity. I also wonder if he doesn't go far enough. After all, the pictures he does show are more representative of the average woman than Hollywood, MTV, and Madison Avenue give us, but they still seem thinner to me than the average woman, and they're representative of the 19th century European woman at best. Given the kind of racial interaction we now have, I can't see how a collection of people this white should be offered as representative of womanhood in general. Despite my reservations along those lines, Dean's point can't be made too often. [I just looked through the trackbacks to Dean's post, and one of them describes his post as a deconstruction of beauty through the ages. That's just so wrong. It's a deconstruction of current societal standards of beauty, perhaps, but Dean's assuming and assering real standards of beauty independent of what culture happens to approve. That's not deconstructing beauty, whatever you think of it. Deconstructing beauty wouldn't allow any such thing.]

Idler Yet raises some hilarious questions about what would happen if we were to capture bin Laden now, giving some reasons why it's more likely now than before, suggesting how Democrats might respond, and bringing in what he calls the Unexpected Hanging problem, which I know as the Surprise Quiz Paradox. It's a fun post.

Most every time when I see someone talking about Islam as bad I dismiss them, because usually they don't understand Islam. If you're going to criticize something, make sure you know it. I know enough about Islam to know that most who criticize Bush's statements about its being a good religion don't know what they're talking about. They don't realize the varieties within Islam and its various sects (and yes, they do have sects despite what Muslim apologists claim in contrast to Christianity's sects). They don't realize the emphasis on charity and the appreciation within the Qur'an for what's good within the Bible, even if there are also harsh statements about Jews and Christians. They don't realize that most Muslims, at least in the locations the people saying these things will ever go, are peaceful. Even so, there are some quite dangerous things about Islam in almost all of its incarnations (though perhaps not all), even aside from the fact that as a Christian I have to think of it as inherently the deceptive work of the devil, but it's consistent for a Christian to say that and also say it's a good religion as religions go (not counting Christianity). In a refreshing move compared to most of what I see on this, John Ray, an atheist himself who doesn't really even believe in the devil (I would assume), gives some of those things about Islam that really are quite dangerous in a post on Dissecting Leftism. I'm close enough to agreeing with him on all of them that I'll let it stand as it is.

Finally, I want to say something about the way the host portrays my third post in the affirmative action series, the one on role models. Though it clearly wasn't as well prepared as the second post, I thought it was still a fairly balanced and nuanced post that admits some of where affirmative action critics haven't really given good arguments but leaves it open that this sort of argument can easily be outweighed by other considerations (and even signals that I'll explain that in later posts). I can't say much for Pete's misrepresentation of my post. It would have taken little effort to see the context of the other posts or simply to assume that because this was a series it must be only a piece of a larger puzzle and refrain from judgment without seeing the whole thing. By the end of our discussion, he seems to have come to that conclusion anyway, but it took much pressing for further information that he wouldn't give. All in all, not a very satisfying experience, particularly when every stage of our discussion involved a false assumption on his part, including his final comment calling it to a close, and each time his insistence on defending his every word sounded as if I had threatened his manhood even after I reconsidered my words many times just to be clear that I wasn't doing what he ended up concluding I was doing. But I tire of discussion with someone who resists being charitable to others just to come out on top, so I'll let it stand at that because he doesn't seem to think comments on a blog post are a good place to challenge misrepresentations made in that very blog post.

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