When you read reports that the Muslim terrorists who bombed the London Underground may have gotten together for a pre-attack whitewater rafting trip in Wales, you realize that this is a very particular enemy -- and one that is recognizable to students of history.
This is the revolt of the privileged, Islamic version.
It has been brought to my attention lately that not everyone has the same moral code. (No, I don't work in rocket science -- why do you ask?)
Even having a religious grounding does not necessitate a moral system based on the heart, rather than the body. There is one story about an atheist. On his way to work every morning, and on his way home every evening, he would stop by the local shrine and kick the altar and religious images there to show his disgust with it. When he died, he went directly to heaven. When he, confused, asked why, he was told, "you came and paid me attention twice a day each day of your life. Even the most pious people rarely show me as much devotion as you have." Regardless of his beliefs, his actions earned him a place in heaven.
My sense of morality, as I have mentioned before, is grounded in my religious beliefs. Motives and thoughts carry as much moral weight as acts; to invent a ludicrous comparison, a man who has no thought of infidelity but sleeps with a woman he has mistaken for his wife (hey, it could happen!) is not as morally culpable as a man who, bent on infidelity, sleeps with his own wife who has disguised herself as a whore, although, on the surface of things, only the first man has committed a misdeed.
Similarly, a bomb aimed at a military target that kills innocent bystanders as an unintended and unfortunate side-effect stands on a different moral plane from a bomb with no other aim than the death of innocent bystanders. (Yes, yes, bombs, being inanimate, don't have moral aims and goals.... you know what I mean.)
In a few conversations I've had over the past while, I have learned that many people have a moral system like that in the atheist story above, based entirely on concrete actions, where motivations and mental states count for nothing. They are the people who see no moral difference in attacks aimed at civilians and those unsuccessful in avoiding all civilians, because the end result -- dead civilians -- is the same. Within my church, they are the people who see no difference between those who support women's ordination because of civil rights (or oppose it because of misogyny) and those who support (or oppose) it because of their interpretation of infallible scripture. They are those who think a doctor like my cousin who could save lives in the ER, but who goes into dermatology instead, is equally as reprehensible if she does it because her true passion lies with acne treatments or she does it because being home every day when her kids get home from school is her top priority as if she does it just for the high pay and nice hours.
Sometimes there are things you wish you hadn't found out about people. That it's all the same to them whether you are actively seeking to hurt them or you are simply misguided in your attempts to be nice to them may be one of those things.
Incidentally, if you're involved in some sort of foreign aid or international charity, please take the time to consider if you are truly doing something needed or if you are supplanting and destroying local industries.
There was a meeting here lately of a group of women involved in an organization that provides aid worldwide. One lady, who was reporting on what she'd seen in her investigative trip to one village in the organization's program, said, "now I see how important it is that we send over those bags of extra promotional t-shirts companies give us -- everyone there was wearing cast-off American clothing!" It never seemed to cross her mind that there must have been a tailor before the organization stepped in, but that it's rather difficult for a tailor to compete with free clothing. While providing new clothes to people who previously wore only rags, her group was also removing the livelihood of a village inhabitant and making him and his family dependent on her organization's welfare.
That organization does good work, and is definitely of the "teach a man to fish" mentality; said village has reached a stage of self-sufficiency and sufficient social well-being for the organization to pull out and focus on another village (where, from that lady's stories and photos, people are regularly starving to death). They focus on building up local industries, and the tailors do end up employed (I asked) -- making uniforms for kids who can now afford to go to school.
However, many other organizations focus more on meeting immediate needs than on preventing future need. In that way, they ultimately can discourage self-sufficiency (why pay, if you can get it for free?) and perpetuate the problems. Well-intentioned, yes, but seriously harmful.
This story -- "Woman 'miraculously' grows a penis" -- from Drudge reminds me of a paper a classmate wrote about Buddhist monastic groups' policies, as described in Sanskrit texts, about sex changes. It appears, if I remember correctly, that after such a spontaneous sex change as described above, a nun or monk could go be examined and then reassigned to the abbey/monastery now suitable. If it happened again, after examination, that person would be able to switch back. However, if it happened a third time, that person would be expelled from the community.
Apparently, spontaneous sex changes are all well and good, but if you've had three of them, you're taking things a bit too far.
I do have to wonder how often the situation came up, so that they had to codify it....
"For too long we've tiptoed round the fragile gallic ego, afraid of offending our neighbours across the channel.
"The truth is - and we know it - they think we're a bunch of stiff-upper-lipped, malingering, gin-drinking shopkeepers, bereft of style, who can't tell a Chablis from a Chardonnay.
"We think they're pompous, garlic-smelling, arrogant losers and collaborators, who pretentiously don't have sex but a 'rendezvous' in the boudoir. They do this frequently, at unsociable hours, and more often than not with someone other than their husband/wife."
Those spiffy little icons that show up next to certain (CNN, Instapundit, Bank of America, etc.) websites in the address bar... how does one get them -- that is, how does a website manager place one on his site? Mastercard's seems to just be the Netscape logo, so I assume there's a default I-haven't-uploaded-a-picture-yet setting as well. Inquiring minds (my father's mind, to be exact) want to know!
(And yes, I know there is terrible damage from the hurricane; I have several friends who lost their houses in Tropical Storm Allison a while back as well, and I know it's not funny to be flooded and blown away. He's still got a point, though!)