Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   if this country had a little more skip
Thursday, February 28 2002
On, I saw a link to an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal called "Why the Muslims Misjudged Us." Let me just get this out first, what a crock of self-congratulatory pro-Western bullshit! The author, Victor Davis Hanson, does make one good point in his article, that democracy is not something that you set loose in an instant and then sit back to reap its rewards. Democracy requires real fundamentals: basic civil rights, a literate inquisitive population, and economic support systems. Trying to create democracy wholesale in a place where the only food is stolen, for example, is a prescription for failure. Indeed, many people worry about democracy's prospects in this country given, for example, the similarities between our "free" press and Arthur Anderson Accounting.
Where Hanson fails is where he tries to explain the failure of Islamic culture in competition with the West. Making points as leisurely as he does, his article isn't particularly interesting, and I was sort of asleep at the wheel when I ran into this bit of guardrail:

Values and traditions--not guns, germs and steel--explain why a tiny Greece of 50,000 square miles crushed a Persia 20 times larger; why Rome, not Carthage, created world government; why Cortés was in Tenochtitlàn, and Montezuma not in Barcelona.

I've read Guns, Germs and Steel, and I can tell you that, unlike this article, that book takes the time to back up its points with real evidence. From that book I know, for example, that Montezuma's civilization was constrained by geographical circumstances to a narrow east-west band through Mexico, cut off from the rest of the world and without domestic animals other than dogs. But Cortés, in addition to his own personal cruelty, was drawing on the fruits of a wide band of civilization stretching from Spain to Japan. There was no contest between those civilizations when they met, and certainly human rights and democracy played no role in their conflict. Indeed, the pagan Vikings and Huns, despite their primitive Bronze Age ideologies, succeeded in displacing civilized Christians throughout Europe and leaving descendents who persist to this day.
As I see it, the fall of Islamic culture with respect to the West was the result of a process no one at the Wall Street Journal ever wants to discuss: ecological destruction. Simply put, the West has the advantage of mature ideologies and technologies applied in lands that weren't spoiled developing them: first Northern Europe, then North America and Australia. Meanwhile, the unfortunate cultures now present in the Middle East (and also places like Greece) are left with the depleted lands where our cherished ideas (religious and cultural) were developed. After thousands of years of exploitation, those once-fertile lands are mostly useless for agriculture (examine the "Fertile Crescent" if you disagree). The only resources left in these ancient cultural birthplaces are recently-discovered oil reserves, which, unlike agriculture, can easily be monopolized and controlled by elites or foreign corporations. The reason democracy is so hard to come by in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Persia is that there is no diffuse economic basis for the survival of their people. We Americans were indeed lucky, we were in the right place at the right time. We need to get used to that fact and stop thinking we as people are somehow special, that there's no relationship between our good economic circumstances and our democratic politics. We also need to start recognizing that our bullheaded arrogance has real consequences in a world where things are far easier to break than they are to make.

crazy-ass links

The S.N.I.T.C.H. Network - What's this about? A network of people serving as vigilante informants on their turban-donning neighbors? The creepiest part is where kids are instructed on how to inform on their Muslim parents.

stealing software in computer stores - Back in the early 90s, I used to do this in the consumer Macintosh section of the Montgomery Ward in Staunton. I'd carry a box of floppies and a copy of CompactPro. Building and copying out the segmented archives took forever, but at least the applications were smaller in those days. I think this was how I got my copy of Microsoft Word 6.0 for Macintosh. What a useless piece of crap!

SMS.CA - Michæl Pousti, the disgraced former CEO of, is the CEO of yet another future bankrupt company of America. I wonder if there is a way I can short sell their stock before they go public. It's interesting to see that this site has the same copied Yahoo design that Pousti had ordered for back when he thought it would bring in more investor dollars that way. (He was right.)

come on people, a little anarchy is called for here

Has anyone heard the newly-released Nixon tape, the one where our former president casually mentions the grand Jewish media conspiracy and then suggests using tactical nuclear bombs in southeast Asia? I was watching a news program where these tapes were discussed and the analysis was all frustratingly civil and low-key. You know how talking heads on news programs can be, especially when those level heads belong to the likes of David Gergen. Why was no one on that show willing to call a spade a spade? Richard Nixon sounded like comic book evil on those tapes, a veritable Mr. Burns figure. If this country had a little more skip to its step, there'd be a mob of people outside the Nixon library right now toppling statues and setting fire to SUVs.

happy anniversary baby

Today was the first anniversary of my reunion with Gretchen after a precisely 12 year estrangement. We celebrated by going out to dinner in Greenwich Village at Lupa, an unpretentious Italian restaurant run by a celebrity chef. Evidently this chef has a somewhat egalitarian bent because one of his life callings is to bring fine cuisine to the great unwashed masses. Only a third of Lupa can be reserved, so two thirds of the restaurant is allocated on a first come, first served basis. This results in long lines out in front of the place, even in cold weather such as we had today. But Gretchen and I were lucky. We showed up at around 6:30pm and told the guy at the door that today was our anniversary, and were seated immediately. As expected, the food was excellent. Some of it, like my lemon-cod hors d'oeuvre, was positively precious. But there was one exception to the perfection. Our pasta was a bit too far towards the ultraviolet end of the al dente spectrum. I'm fully aware that real Italians like their pasta a bit tougher than Americans do, but this was so tough it raised concerns about its digestibility. Indeed, Gretchen suffered from so many stomach complaints later tonight that she slept out on the couch.

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