Today's Blogs

The Next Salman Rushdie

Responding to a fatwa against Osama Bin Laden, bloggers are divided between cautious celebration and bitter reproach for the terrorist leader and his accommodators. They also puzzle over a new study that links wealth distribution to the movement of energy in gasses and David Byrne’s love affair with PowerPoint.

The next Salman Rushdie: The Islamic Commission of Spain issued an edict of denunciation, or fatwa, against Osama Bin Laden Thursday. The fatwa comes on the first anniversary of last March’s Madrid train bombings and condemns Bin Laden and al-Qaida for the crimes of apostasy and istihlal—living according to one’s own invented laws, rather than the laws of the Koran.

“Best Fatwa Ever,” declares irreverent Chicago lawyer Paul Noonan at The Electric Commentary. “Now We’re Talking!” cheers self-described “classical liberal” and freelance journalist Ed Driscoll, who hopes that Spanish Muslims will inspire others to follow suit. “It’s kind of ironic that they’ve just shown more backbone against bin Laden and al Qaida than Spain’s voters as a whole last year,” he adds. “Short of bringing bin Laden to justice I can’t think of a better way to honor those massacred at his bidding,” writesCalifornia Yankee in one of the day’s most popular posts. “American Muslims would have made a lot of points in the U.S., and helped the War Against Terrorism, had they done something like this after 9-11.”

Some bloggers are less congratulatory. Barcepundit Franco Alemán hates “to rain in their parade, but while it’s true that the ruling body who issued the fatwa is the main one, it’s hardly the only [Muslim organization] in Spain. … [W]e should wait a little before jumping up and down in joy opon hearing the news.” Conservative conglomerate Little Green Footballs takes note of the commission’s statement thanking the Spanish people for their tolerant behavior toward Muslims after March 11, and for preventing the kind of “disproportionate” reaction exemplified by the United States after Sept. 11. Thanking the Spanish for their tolerance, contends military blogger CDR Salamander, “does nothing to honor the dead. Only the murdering Islamofascists.”

Expat Yank Robert Tumminello takes issue with news stories that estimate there are 1 million Spanish Muslims. “Hmm, but less than a year ago,” he says, the Boston Globe counted only 500,000 Muslims in Spain, and guessed there were perhaps only 200,000 more living there illegally. “Quite a growing population,” he murmurs. Zionist  Smooth Stone points to an earlier fatwa *, issed by Palestinian leaders in 2003, against any Arab leaders aiding the United States.(Read the Haaretz story here).

Read more about the fatwa here and more about March 11 here.

Income distribution just a lot of hot air: The New Scientist explains the “econophysics” of wealth distribution. Physicists working at the University of Maryland have apparently shown that, except for the richest 3 percent of Americans, income distribution in the United States follows a graph of the energy distribution in a gas.

Greg Ransom from PRESTOPUNDIT thinks that, like all studies of wealth and poverty in America, this overlooks the massive influx of poverty through immigration and pretends the economy is a closed system. At The Washington Monthly, California liberal Kevin Drum writes that “treating 97% of the population like atoms in a gas bears a disturbing resemblance to orthodox Republican economics, doesn’t it?” He quotes economist Makoto Nirei, who thinks the gas model “seems to me not like an economic exchange process, but more like a burglar process. People randomly meet and one just beats up the other and takes their money.”

Read more about the article here.

David Byrne stops making sense: David Pescovitz from tech digest Boing Boing reports that former Talking Head David Byrne loves PowerPoint. “There’s a lot of criticism of PowerPoint,” admitted Byrne, who mentioned how the software limits users to seven bullet-points per page. “But if you can’t edit it down to seven, maybe you should think about talking about something else.”

Berkeley professor Doug Tygar thinks the lecture wasn’t just a gushy love-fest. “Byrne clearly noted Powerpoint’s numerous shortcomings,” he writes. Tygar thinks Byrne was nevertheless sincere in showing “admiration for Powerpoint’s forcing speakers to express their ideas concisely” and in suggesting PowerPoint presentations demonstrated the austere minimalism of Japanese theater and the plays of Bertolt Brecht.

Read the Berkeley press release here and more blog posts here.

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Correction, March 14: The article originally stated that this fatwa was “near-simultaneous” with the fatwa against Osama Bin Laden.  In fact, the edict had been issued in 2003. (Return to the corrected sentence.)