Monday, September 07, 2009

Iran’s Universities Punish Students Who Disputed Vote

Iran’s Universities Punish Students Who Disputed Vote - NYTimes.com
Iranian universities have begun disciplining and suspending students who took part in street protests after the disputed presidential election in June, reformist Web sites reported Friday and Saturday.

The new disciplinary actions came as officials reported that a presidential panel has begun an investigation of the humanities curriculums at universities, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported. Although the panel was formed a year ago, it did not start work until after recent calls to purge universities of professors and curriculums deemed “un-Islamic,” based on the fear that the teaching of secular concepts helped fuel the political unrest following the June 12 election.

The investigation will report its findings directly to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Mehr reported.

For weeks, the authorities have voiced concern about the possibility of renewed protests as students return for the fall semester, which begins Sept. 23. Some of the worst clashes during the post-election protests took place at universities in Tehran and elsewhere. Last week, five students at the University of Mashad who had openly supported an opposition candidate were arrested with no official explanation, several Web sites reported.
I've been an employee at a University for 15 years, and as such I have been very aware of the tongue-in-cheek axiom that "... this would be a nice place to work, if it was not for the students".

Students are ... difficult. They are irreverent, headstrong, and they think they know it all even if they flunked "History of Western Civilization" in their first term at school.

Both of those comments are, of course, offered tongue in cheek.

The fact is, the University (or College) is usually the first opportunity for young people be challenged by concepts which had not occurred to them in what may have been a sheltered life in a provincial culture.

As I walk across campus on my way to lunch, or just taking a strol as a break from my geekish labors, I sometimes encounter groups of students offering petitions, interviewing people for polls, handing out pamphlets or just standing silent vigil ... such as staking thousands of crosses in the ground to exemplify the numbers of babies killed in abortions during the past year, or the number of Iranians killed during the past year.

Those of us who encounter university students as part of our daily environment are often challenged by what seems to us to be contrary, often radical thoughts. It is part of the maturation process that young people try on various societal and political stances before they eventually find one that works for them. I agree with few of them, and sometimes they are obnoxious in their surety that their viewpoints are more valid than mine. I've had a half-century more experience to establish my opinions than they have theirs, but you just can't try to win an argument with them.

Okay, so you can ... but it's a lost cause and a waste of time. They are almost invariably confident that, although they may only convinced of this 'one thing' they are absolutely convinced that they know what must be done to make the world a better place.

[sigh]

Perhaps they're right; perhaps they're wrong. Either way, this part of the educational experience. They need to win a few arguments to teach them confidence. They need to lose a few arguments to teach them that, although they are clear in their opinions and they are able to voice their arguments clearly, that doesn't mean that they are always going to convince others to change their minds.

It's part of the education process that sometimes the most valuable lessons you learn at University are not taught in a classroom.

Which brings us back to the original news report.

Iran held a Presidential Election, and charges were made that the election was rigged. Students protested, as students will. Students were arrested, assaulted ... one was murdered. (Apologies for inappropriate commercial preceding the vide.)

The Strong-Arm National Government "won", in the sense that student protests were treated as riots and in the end, only the Government has guns.

There's a lesson there, but it's not the point.

The Government just couldn't leave it alone. Not content with merely "putting down student riots, with unfortunate collateral damage", the Government of Iran has initiated a policy of following up on intelligence gathered during the demonstrations. They have identified student leaders, and have initiated a concerted campaign to punish these individuals.

The new disciplinary actions have taken place at universities in Tehran, Tabriz and Shiraz, where the Intelligence Ministry forwarded the names of politically active students to the university authorities, according to a report on the Peykiran Web site that named several students.

Some were suspended for up to two years, while others were barred from dormitories or subjected to disciplinary proceedings, the report said. At Tehran University, 50 students living in the dormitories were questioned for hours by a disciplinary committee, according to Advar News, a student-run Web site.

Politically active students have long been vulnerable to disciplinary measures or outright bans from universities, but such exclusions have become more common in the past three years.

Meanwhile, political pressure to further Islamize Iran’s higher education establishment has intensified in recent days, with more leading clerics warning about the danger of subversive and secular ideas.
It seems to me that the Iranian Government has just made a major mis-step. The penalties being imposed upon dissenters may not be terribly burdonsome ... after all, the students are not being converted into ground meat by tree-limb chippers, as Sadaam Hussein's enforcers are notoriously said to do. So why is this such a bad thing?


As I said earlier, the University is how young people learn, and not all of the most important lessons are learned in the classroom.

What is the Iranian Government teaching these students?

  • You do not have a voice in your government.
  • You are not free; you are not citizens. You are an embarrassment, because you dared to speak out.
  • Your country ... or at least, your government ... will allow you to learn only those lessons which are pre-approved
  • You are not allowed to think for yourself. You are only allowed to adhere to the party line
  • When you protest the official Government line, you become vulnerable to arbitrary and unilateral punishment against which you have no right to defend yourself.
This is, I think, the policy and doctrine of a Government which cannot defend itself. And it will eventually come back against the Iranian Government and kick them in the ass. Hard. Eventually, it will be the downfall of this particular government, and some day these students will become influential members of this government ... if they do not indeed become the Iranian Government.

It has been forty years since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and the current regime has had ample time to exemplify a theocracy gone wild. For several years there has been much unrest among the citizens of Iran. They are beginning to see that an Islamic Nation has no room for free thinkers.

Perhaps today, the next generation of Iranians can see that unless they cleave to the politics and the religion of their fathers, they will have no say in the future of their nation. This is grounds for a New Revolution.

It may not happen immediately.

China had a mini-revolution in 1989, culminating in the events in Tiananmen Square.

The Chinese Government has not been overthrown, and perhaps it is this example which encourages the Iranians to impose draconian solutions to their own popular unrest.

Still, for the moment it may be sufficient that Iran has demonstrated their inability to evince popular support for the official Government position.

The next step is either increasingly draconian solutions to "student riots", or increasing popular dissatisfaction with the Iranian Government, or both. Probably both.

Revolution hasn't worked in China, to bring down an unpopular government. Yet. And it may take another 40 years before it works in Iran.

One thing is clear; the Iranian Government has just drawn a line in the sand, and they are waiting breathlessly to see if it works.

It may work ... today. Probably it will work tomorrow. Students are reluctant to accept limitations on their new-found philosophical and political freedom, and as long as their country permits no legal redress from governmental excess, it will remain a festering boil on the hide of the Iranian people.

These are not just Iranians, they are Aryans , they are Persians. They are a proud people, a culture of fighters. They are the people of Herodotus, Cyrus and Xenophon. Soldiers and scholars. They are the people who invented the Parthian Shot ... they do not yield easily, and even in retreat they have shown themselves to still be a threat to their enemy.

The Iranian Government may learn to regret their intemperate actions.

Let us hope this will come to be.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Military Science Fiction: Part 1

MSF means "Military Science Fiction".

In a moment of Full Disclosure, I admit that I am a Solitary Reader.

I read a LOT. I always have a book (or two or three or four) 'going' all the time. I read a book at home in the evening to put myself to sleep, I read another book in the morning to while away the time as I try to wake up ... I am not A Morning Person. I have a book at work, which I dip into for a couple of chapters during lunch and/or breaks, and in-between times I have a book or two in my briefcase, which goes everywhere with me.

I love mysteries, adventure stories, spy novels, and almost any kind of fiction.

What I like best is Science Fiction (I was a charter subscriber to Galaxy Magazine), and of all the various sub-genres of SF, I am particularly fond of MSF.

I blame this on two writers:

E.E. "Doc" Smith (the "lensman" series), and Robert Heinlein (especially the "Juvenile Novels" which he often published in "Boys Life Magazine", and the "Woodrow Wilson Smith" novels).

During this article I will attempt to name the most important writers in this genre, and provide links to either their personal websites or more often to the AMAZON.COM links where you can purchase these books. This is an attempt to appeal to catholic (in the sense if 'universal', rather that relikgious-themed) tastes. Not every author/series/theme will appeal to every reader, but I want to explore the subject thoroughly, if not exhaustively. I'll provide as much information as possible within a one-hour timeframe initially, and it will be incomplete. I intend to continue building on this theme in future days. I won't try to complete the exploration of MSF in a single article. Instead, I'll continue to author Part 2 through Part "n" in future days, as I expect to expand on the theme. I haven't outlined this project, so at this point I have no idea how many parts to expect. Extrapolating at least 4 authors per artice, you can look forward (or not) to at least 16 authors in at least four Parts. Expect most authors to receive the most cursory attention: I'm dealing with a lot of information and don't wish to exclude laudatory authors. The intent is to expand your interest, if it exists, to sample MSF authors which are new to you.


Here is the first of a long list of MSF writers I admire, and frequently read.

David Drake:
... is perhaps the Dean of MSF authors. Drake is a Vietnam Vet, a doctoral-level scholar of History, and an exceptionally prolific writer. He got his start writing 'horror stories' with a MSF them based on his experiences during the Viet Nam war. He hit the ground running in the 1970-1980 period with his "Hammer's Slammers" series, expanded into slightly divergent themes (he loves to use his scholastic expertise to introduce the SF interpretation of historical figures, such as his "Belisarius" series), and then turned to collaborative projects such as his "General" series ("The Forge", "The Hammer", "The Anvil", "The Steel", "The Sword") with S.M. Stirling (see below). This series has been re-published in a 2-book series; "War Lord" and Conqueror". I read this last series annually, but I have just bought the two-book reprint version because my original 5-book series is in paperback format and they are becoming too ragged. Drake has many other MSF series, many with co-authors, and for the past five years he has branched out into the "Science/Fantasy" novel field ... which is no science, and all fantasy. If you like that genre, it's not bad. Also, Drake has continued with his "Lieutenant Leary" series to satisfy his hard-core MSF fans.

Steven M. Stirling:
Steve Stirling started his carreer as an independent writer, but his writing never gained full acceptance until his collaboration with Drake in "The General" series. Since then his "Draka" series became more popular, and he wrote two more books on the same theme. He gained much recognition when he teamed with Anne McCaffery in "The Ship Who Sang". He gained a LOT of attention with his 3-book "Nantucket" series (What happens when an island is transported 3000 years into the past), and even more when he followed it up with his (so far) 5-book "Corvallis" series (What happens to the rest of the world which is 'left behind'?)

Stirling has become an almost definitively "Apocalyptic" author, dealing with such themes as an isolated portion of 20th century culture being transported 'magically' into the deep past (see FLINT and "1632").

He has also written some Fantasy novels, in minor series. Because Stirling is such an excellent writer his characters are appealing and the reader discovers a concern for their progress and safety. This is, I believe, the mark of a Master.

David Weber
:
David Weber is redoubtably best known as the author of the Honor Harrington series, which has spawned a plethora of related novels (that is, embodied in the "Honorverse", but in which H0nor Harrington is not the main character).

He has several other series which are usually minor to this one (exception: see John Ringo) but he has made a living and a career writing about his most famous hero Honor Harrington.

Reading Weber is an act of will. His style includes excruciating detail in side-stories ... all of which unarguably advance the plot and provide useful color and background to the main story. My opinion is that these diversions from the main theme often detract from the reader's area of interest, but that may be a personal bias. Regardless of your ultimate evaluation, there is no question that Weber is a craftsman, providing appealing characters, fully realized plots, and continuity which proves he has always, ALWAYS scoped his story-line at least 3 books ahead of whatever book he is writing.

Either that, or he covers any errors seamlessly.

If this seems a criticism of Weber, I apologize for damning him with faint praise. He is, above all, a story teller. If you doubt that, see the evaluation of the next author, John Ringo.

John Ringo:
Ringo co-authored the MARDUKE series (aka: "March Upcountry", et al) with Weber. Readers really liked the series, which portrayed a futuristic interstellar empire, a foppish prince with an assigned company of dedicated bodyguards, all dumped on a mankilling primitive planet as part of an empirical coup d' etat. Hint: the prince grows, the bodyguard company shrinks.

Ringo has a couple of other series, including the Posleen Wars (earth invaded by particularly nasty aliens in current time) and The Council Wars. The posleen are never-ending, but if you enjoy a series of tales about an implacable foe who eats their defeated enemy ... along with their young, and their fallen, then the Posleen Wars is for you. The Council Wars is very much like David Drake's NORTHWORLD trilogy, in which technology passes for magic and allow an 'elite-ocracy" to take over a world (somewhat simalar again to Zelazny's "Chronicles of Amber" series), this one



In the next MSF article ("Part 2") I will discuss John Dalmas, Rick Shelley, Jerry Pournelle, and Larry Niven ... with a cursory homage to Harry Turtledove.

In Part 3, we'll visit women MSF authors, including Elizabeth Moon, Anne McCaffery, Lois McMaster Bujold and perhaps a fourth woman author yet to be named.

In Part 4, we'll talk about The Masters. A more extended discussion of Robert Heinlein, plus Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, Poul Anderson, and "all their ilk". Possible contenders: Hal Clement, A.E Van Vogt, and ... well, we'll see.

In Part 5, we'll hover around the John Ringo books to talk about his c0-authors (subsequent to David Weber) such as Tom Kratman, Julie Cochrane, Travis S. Tyler, Michael Z. Williamson, Linda Evans, and the author of the BOLO series, Keith Laumer. This promises to be a big one, because Ringo is the current Pocket Rocket of the MSF world and his co-authors are making hay while the sun shines.

In Part 6, wrap up with such luminaries as Eric Flint, John Scazi, Orson Scott Card, perhaps a Surprise Guest (Terry Pratchett?), and anyone who seems to be inadvertently left out.

If you're not interested in the subject, it will be easy enough to avoid these articles. If the title is "Military Science Fiction: Part *", you'll know what to expect, and can avoid it or pounce upon it at will.

After all, it's my blog and I write about things that interest me.

One of us must enjoy this. It may seem selfish, but I hope it's ... you.

And ... oh yes ... as you read this series, you will perhaps be struck by the manner in which themes originate by one author (drake NORTHWORLD) only to be continued by another (Ringo, preceded by another. See WHOM it is next time.)

The Truth About The Tyranny of Political Correctness

Pajamas TV - Afterburner with Bill Whittle - MSNBC & The Great Liberal Narrative: The Truth About The Tyranny of Political Correctness

I can't take credit for finding this particularly meaty Bill Wittle commentary on Pajamas TV. That has to go to Kevin at The Smallest Minority.

To give Kevin credit rather than go directly to the 13 minute video, please go to TSM and read his personal context in "Entropy Happens".

I found both TSM and Wittle's video such interesting and thought-provoking "reads" that I subscribed to Pajamas TV.

Well, I could hardly subscribe to TSM ... although it is on my list of Daily Reads.

Oh, you're asking "What's the video about?" Well, invest 13 minutes of your personal time and find out for yourself. The title should be a give-away. But if you tire of being yielding to "words have power" politics, with rules constructed and enforced by the most egregious violators of their own rules, you should enjoy it as much as I do.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

HR45 -More "Blair Holt" Bill of 2009

I received this information in an Email today:

Check it out here: http://www.snopes.com/politics/guns/blairholt.asp

Senate Bill SB-2099 will require us to put on our 2009 1040 federal tax form all guns that you have or own. It may require fingerprints and a tax of $50 per gun. This bill was introduced on Feb.. 24.. This bill will become public knowledge 30 days after it is voted into law.. This is an amendment to the Internal Revenue Act of 1986. This means that the Finance Committee can pass this without the Senate voting on it at all..


The full text of the proposed amendment is on the U.S. Senate homepage, http://www.senate.gov/ You can find the bill by doing a search by the bill number, SB-2099.
You know who to call; I strongly suggest you do. Please send a copy of this e-mail to every gun owner you know. http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h45/text

Congress is now starting on the firearms confiscation bill. If it passes, gun owners will become criminals if you don't fully comply.

It has started.

Very Important for you to be aware of a new bill HR 45 introduced into the House. This is the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing & Record of Sale Act of 2009.

Even gun shop owners didn't know about this because the government is trying to fly it under the radar.

To find out about this - go to any government website and type in HR 45 or Google HR 45 Blair Holt Firearm Licensing & Record of Sales Act of 2009. You will get all the information.

Basically this would make it illegal to own a firearm - any rifle with a clip or ANY pistol unless:

It is registered -You are fingerprinted -You supply a current Driver's License -You supply yourSocial Security # -You will submit to a physical & mental evaluation at any time of their choosing -Each update - change or ownership through private or public sale must be reported and costs $25 - Failure to do so you automatically lose the right to own a firearm and are subject up to a year in jail. -There is a child provision clause on page 16 section 305 stating a child-access provision. Gun must be locked and inaccessible to any child under 18. -They would have the right to come and inspect that you are storing your gun safely away from accessibility to children and fine is punishable for up to 5 yrs. in prison.

If you think this is a joke - go to the website and take your pick of many options to read this. It is long and lengthy. But, more and more people are becoming aware of this. Pass the word along. Any hunters in your family pass this along.

This is just a "termite" approach to complete confiscation of guns and disarming of our society to the point we have no defense - chip away a little here and there until the goal is accomplished before anyone realizes it.

This is one to act on whether you own a gun or not.

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.45:

http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h45/show

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-45

Please.. copy and send this out to EVERYONE in the USA , whether you support the Right to Bear Arms or are for gun control. We all should have the right to choose.

This email is a confusing montage of HR45 and SB2099 (Note that both are referenced, as if interchangeably, in the email.)

Rule of thumb: if an Email Scare is inconsistent, it's probably bullshit.

Note: HR45 and SB2099 are both real. They were introduced in January, 2009.

This is not "New News" here at Cogito Ergo Geek. I wrote about this bill on January 19, 2009, in an article titled "New Gun_Grabber Bil from Illinois (HR 45)".

As far as SB 2099 is concerned, the NRA wrote about it here on August 14, 2009.

Friday, August 14, 2009
Over the past few months, NRA-ILA has received hundreds of e-mails warning us about "SB-2099," a bill that would supposedly require you to report all your guns on your income tax return every April 15. Like many rumors, there's just a grain of truth to this one. Someone's recycling an old alert, which wasn't even very accurate when it was new. There actually was a U.S. Senate bill with that number that would have taxed handguns -- nine years ago. It was introduced by anti-gun Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and it would have included handguns under the National Firearms Act's tax and registration scheme. This has nothing to do with anyone's Form 1040, of course. Fortunately, S. 2099 disappeared without any action by the Senate, back when Bill Clinton was still in the White House. We reported about it back then, just as we report about new anti-gun bills every week. Now, it's time for gun owners to drop this old distraction and focus on the real threats at hand.
As for HB 45, it was introduced on January 6, 2009, by Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) with NO co-sponsors. It was sent to the House Committe on February 9, 2009, and then referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

There it has languished, ever since.

Note that bills in both the House and the Senate are valid until the end of that congressional session. If they are not passed by the end of the session, they are by default considered to have 'died in committee'. The author may re-introduce the bill during the next Congressional Session, at which time each bill must start the slow climb to enactment all over again.

This is the 111th Congressional Session. It began on January 6, 2009, and will continue until the "targeted adjournment" on October 30, 2009.

If this bill couldn't get out of committee by now, you can bet your brass that Congress is too busy with Obamacare and other mega-buck boondogles of this administration to waste any time on a bill which can only serve to lower Public opinion of Congress from its already all-time-low of 11% approval rate.

And any congress-critter who voted for a hypothetically passed bill such as this can be certain to face stiff opposition when they run for re-election in 2010.

As the man said: "Now, it's time for gun owners to drop this old distraction and focus on the real threats at hand."