Sunday, April 03, 2011

Middle East Policy: An Interview with Bernard Lewis by Bari Weiss at the Wall Street Journal in 'The Tyrannies Are Doomed' -- So What Comes Thereafter?

Bernard Lewis, a leading scholar on the Middle East, is interviewed in Princeton, N.J. by Bari Weiss at the Wall Street Journal online in The Tyrannies Are Doomed:
""I think that the tyrannies are doomed," Mr. Lewis says as we sit by the windows in his library, teeming with thousands of books in the dozen or so languages he's mastered. "The real question is what will come instead.""
Here is what Lewis thinks about the involvement of the West in Middle East affairs. Bari Weiss writes:
Elections, he argues, should be the culmination—not the beginning—of a gradual political process. Thus "to lay the stress all the time on elections, parliamentary Western-style elections, is a dangerous delusion....
The whole Islamic tradition is very clearly against autocratic and irresponsible rule.... There is a very strong tradition—both historical and legal, both practical and theoretical—of limited, controlled government....

Even in France, where they claim to have invented freedom, they're on their fifth republic and who knows how many more there will be before they get settled down.... I don't think we can assume that the Anglo-American system of democracy is a sort of world rule, a world ideal," he says. Instead, Muslims should be "allowed—and indeed helped and encouraged—to develop their own ways of doing things."

In other words: To figure out how to build freer, better societies, Muslims need not look across the ocean. They need only look back into their own history."
It is a longer article and very interesting, right or wrong. Read the whole thing here.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

A Firefox Add-On for Serious Users: "Jurmala Sky" Personas for Mozilla Firefox 4: Use Together with Binary Turf ColorfulTabs for Firefox 4

Firefox 4 is faster than Firefox 3.x, but the oppressive black and grey design is not my cup of tea at all, as you have to squint to view functions like the forward and back buttons. Terrible. It looks like it was designed for future optometry patients.

In real life, you have the sky above and I think that is a healthier color direction. I experimented a bit with colors and came up with a "peaceful" subdued bluish mottled-type color mixture (e.g D7E5EE, D3EaEA, D5E3EC, etc.) that is good on the eyes for everyday work. The header has to be there pleasantly but it should not impinge on page viewing. The Jurmala Sky Personas that I created results from the sky at the top of a photo I made last year at Jurmala, Latvia at the beach, and here you see a section of the sky only -- i.e. it is not a uniform color.

You can view it and download and use it (click "wear it") from (you can always replace it with the default Firefox header at Add-Ons at the click of a button if you do not like it).

Then add the Binary Turf ColorfulTabs for Firefox 4 {released March 29, 2011} which you can install from

After you install the Colorful Tabs which were a bit too bright for me for everyday use, in the Firefox menu go into Add-Ons and select Extensions and then click options for Colorful Tabs.

For the menu item "General", you can use random colors, the default palette, or fix your own colors for your domains. I set the "fading level" to 5, otherwise the default level 1 makes the colors too bright, but you can choose from a scale of 1 to 9. I checked the "highlight the currently selected tab" which is very useful and much preferable to the white default highlight in Firefox 4. I enabled the context menu on the tabs. You can also enable a background image for tabs or enable coloring of the All-Tabs-Popup menu.

At the menu item "Presets" one can preset domain colors.

That way you get all of the speed advantages of Firefox 4 without its poor choice of colors and header. Also the grey tabs in default Firefox 4 are awful. They should find a designer who is not in the middle of depression.

Three Mount Rushmore Presidents Were Land Surveyors: The Territorial Imperative: You Have to Understand the Importance of Property in Law, Politics and History: LAND not POTS ruled

One of the most useful books I ever read was Robert Ardrey's Territorial Imperative. Hat tip to CaryGEE. Considered outdated by some -- we disagree, the book remains essential to understand ancient history and also modern current events.

Jeffrey  J. Anderson in his later similarly titled The Territorial Imperative: Pluralism, Corporatism and Economic Crisis, writes in the Preface;
"Politics is rooted in territory. State-building, war-making, pork-barreling, gerrymandering -- the examples are legion. Much the same can be said about markets, which allocate resources not just to firms, sectors, factors of production, and individuals, but also to subdivisions of the national space. Indeed, the spatial dimension of the political economy is so prevalent that it is easily, if not frequently, overlooked."
It all has to do, ultimately, with land. Walter O'Brien, Staff Writer at the Asbury Park Press in Land surveyors take the measure of our lives | The Asbury Park Press | writes:
"Jeffrey Baldwin, a Hillsborough resident and licensed surveyor since 1991 who has been chief surveyor for the Somerset County Engineering Department for about six years, said that surveying is one of the world's oldest professions, dating to ancient Egyptians who mapped out parcels of land to assess taxes. Many historical figures, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, have been surveyors.

'We like to look up at Mount Rushmore and say that it's three surveyors and some other guy,'' Baldwin joked."
There is a reason that three of America's greatest Presidents were previously land surveyors. You have to understand land to rule.

I say that as someone who also worked on a land survey team in my college days.

One reason why archaeologists and similar professions are often far off the mark in their historical theories about the past is that they are generally people who do not understand the importance of land and land survey to ancient cultures.

LAND was the guiding force of history -- not POTS.

Professions such as lawyers understand this.

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