Cades Cove, Smoky Mountain National Park

Very scenic. And very crowded…

Cades Cove
 

Flower

Macro shot of a flower…

Flower
 

Photologs

Photologs are weblogs with pictures instead of words. David Gallagher has an article in Slate about them.

I have added some photologs to my blogroll on the left. PhotoBlogs has a good list of photologs. PhotoDude is a fellow Atlantan who has photos as well as commentary on politics and other stuff on his website.

Suicide Bomber or Homicide Bomber

Juan Non-Volokh of the world’s 2nd biggest conspiracy talks about the Orwellian use of the term “homicide bomber” when suicide bomber more clearly expresses their action.

Wahabis as Born-Again

Bin Gregory notes that:

Wahhabism is the ideology of discontent. A study just waiting to be conducted is to compare affilliation with wahhabism to lack of religious upbringing [outside of the gulf, of course]. My own observation is that wahhabism appeals more to those who were irreligious in their youth and are then “converted”, and those who come from irreligious households, where it plays into that perennial youthful vice of condemning your elders. It’s hard to imagine the appeal of a creed that says the last thousand years of Islamic practice are corrupt to anyone with respect for the piety of their forefathers.

This is an interesting take on Wahabism. As a Muslim, I can offer some anecdotal evidence about this. The extremist and/or Wahabi strain of Islam, in my personal experience, is found mostly among people who are born-again Muslims. They can be Muslims born and raised in the West who found religion as a sort of rebellion from the mild religion/culture of their parents. They can be immigrants from Muslim countries who found religion as a reaction against Western society. There are also increasingly people in Muslim countries who are finding an extreme form of Islam somewhat late in life after a somewhat irreligious existence.

As I was growing up I have seen the emergence of extremist political Islam and have seen it become somewhat fashionable among especially the middle class to adhere to stricter and more extremist views of Islam. I think one of the reasons extremism is spreading in the Muslim world is that the field has been left open for extremist leaders. There are not many moderate Muslim intellectuals and leaders spreading their message or spending money at even a fraction of what the Wahabis do.

This post is getting long. So I’ll discuss my thoughts on the reasons for the emergence of extremist Islam, especially from the perspective of Pakistan (where I was born and raised), in a later post.

(Via Bill Allison’s excellent blog Ideofact. I especially recommend his series on Syed Qutb, the last post on which can be found here.)

Bush Tax Cut

Very interesting table from the Tax Policy Center about how the Bush tax cut of last year would affect the rich and the poor after it is all phased in. Overall, the change in after-tax income will be 1.8%. The richest 1% get 4.5% however. The worst-off: those in the bottom 20% as well as the top 10% minus the top 1%. That’s curious indeed. (Courtesy of Max Sawicky)

France

As CalPundit says, nobody in the US likes France. And it’s not just about politics. As a French friend of mine, now settled in the US, jokingly said, “France is a nice place but beware of those French people.” When we were going to France in the summer, everyone we knew told us how rude the French are and that they don’t speak English even when they know the language. That would have been a disaster for us since my French vocabulary is limited to about 10-20 words. We were pleasantly surprised though by the politeness of people in Paris and in the the Loire valley. People made an effort to communicate even if their English was not much better than my French. At the car rental, nobody knew English, but another customer who was French and was laving was considerate enough to translate.

Then there was the incident about a pick-pocket stealing my wife’s wallet at Versailles. Both the tourism office and police were very polite and helpful. What’s more, we got a letter about a month after returning that the wallet was found and we got everything back except for some small amount of cash.

What Christian Theologian Are You?

“Sin is incurable by the strength of man, nor does free will have any validity here,
so that even the saints say: ‘The evil which I do not wish, this I do.’ ‘You are not doing the
things which you wish.’ ‘Since my loins are filled with illusions,’ etc.”

You are Martin Luther!
Yeah, you have a way of letting everyone know how you
feel, usually with Bible quotes attached, and will think your way through the issues, although
sometimes you make no sense! You aren’t always sure of yourself, and you can change your mind about
things, something you actually consider a strength. You can take solitude, especially with some music.

What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson

Who am I?

I am a graduate student in engineering at a public school in the Southeast US. My research interests are in image and video analysis, computer vision and graphics. Other than research and teaching, I like to camp and hike, travel and take photographs with my digital camera. I am also very much into science fiction, history, politics and international affairs.

Blogroll

I just added a blogroll to the left of the blogs I read. As you can see, most of them deal with politics. I am very interested in politics and international affairs and waste a lot of time reading about it instead of working on my research. You’ll probably also notice that I am a liberal, though I do like reading conservative and libertarian blogs. My favorite conservative blog is Volokh Conspiracy. Eugene Volokh, a Law Professor at UCLA, is good and argues his points very convincingly. One of my favorite libertarian blogs is Jim Henley’s Unqualified Offerings whose Washington DC sniper coverage is the best there is.