Aleppo, and other tragedies

There were a number of deadly attacks yesterday (Berlin, Cairo, Jordan, Turkey (multiple)), while the Aleppo tragedy is continuing and a significant part of the world is mired in disaster every day.  I sometimes feel bad that I do not post more about such topics, but often I do not have a fresh perspective to offer, nor do I find it cathartic to consume my own self-righteousness, quite the contrary.  I also find it problematic to elevate the commonly-shared “tragedy of the day” above the less immediately publicized tragedies.  UNICEF for instance claims that three million children die each year for reasons that can be traced back to malnutrition.  WHO claims that seven million deaths each year can be attributed to air pollution.  Maybe those are not the correct numbers, but you cannot talk them down to anywhere near zero.

Sometimes I feel there is a kind of impossibility theorem, suggesting there is no morally appropriate response to changes in the scope of widespread tragedies.  It seems wrong to be happy that “fewer people than usual suffered and died today,” also wrong to let particular upward blips in death and suffering so fully capture one’s attention because of social framing, and all the more wrong to think changes in the numbers do not matter at all.  And why is hardly anyone upset about Irkutsk?

This post is not the best I can do, but it is what I have done.  The image is a depiction of a long-since-gone 16th century Aleppo, by Nasuh Al-Matrakî, via Rabih Alameddine.



Don't feel bad, we're only human. If we truly thought about all the suffering in the world that happens every single day we wouldn't be able to function. You have to remember there is also much good in the world, and more importantly focus on the good that you can do in your own part of it.

Says the man who cyberstalks me...

Did you notice how surreal (art term) the Turkish shooting seemed? Like something staged. Gruesome, and you could see the bullets zip out the front of the hapless RU diplomat. Life imitating a very disturbing horror flick. Seems in the video the gunman ran out of words after the initial fury. He seemed of limited intelligence but those are the kind of people recruited to do stuff like this.

Nah I just call you out on your loneliness. Stalking is what you do to Scott Sumner.

Ray' s talking is not far behind.

Yes, it was a shocking murder, all the more because the gunman had lots of time and space.There seemed to be no security around. He was kind of on stage for a while with the dying ambassador on the floor..

Absolutely correct, really weird how much video there is of this in real time....feels like a first of some kind for new media. Although it then hearkens back to 1981 and all the video of Reagan getting shot.

Maybe not so weird. What's the chance that it was pre-arranged?

By whom?

Well Dilma Rousseff looks good for it. Someone from Brazil anyway. Suspicious, they are. As you would know if you had been within a thousand miles of Brazil.

The policeman shared the Islamist President's ideology, he was paid by the Islamist President, and presumably got his job as part of the Islamist President's purge of secularists. An Islamist President who has been fighting with Putin. So how hard is it to connect the dots?

Evidently, the Russian aggressor is blameless as always. It is not like the FSB/KGB had spent all its existence in false flag attacks all around the world (in Brazil, too). Oh, I forgot that graph. Putin is now 350% better than he was before the election.

Russia has been after Constantinople for quite some time. With such a weak leader coming into the White House, she may finally grab it.

As a charcter in one of Brazil's most important literary epicals said, "If there is justice in this world, the Russians will never enter Constantinople". Well, actually, now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople. Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks.

* literary epics

Thiago, only 350%? Surely you jest.

Uribe, we don't have a weak leader coming into the White House. He's very aggressive-- toward the goal of increasing his own power and money. Where he is leading us, is the problem.

Thiago Ribeiro December 20, 2016 at 7:12 am

Evidently, the Russian aggressor is blameless as always.

The fat Russian guy was shot in the back of the head as he gave a speech. As a guest of the Turkish government. It is kind of hard to argue he was the aggressor. In this case anyway.

It is not like the FSB/KGB had spent all its existence in false flag attacks all around the world (in Brazil, too).

Sure but embrace the power of "and". There is no reason to think there is a good guy here or that they are not as bad as each other.

There seemed to be no security around.

We are still in the first 24 hours so lots of rumors are flying. But, I thought he was the security. He's a Turkish cop who got his way into the bodyguard job and then did the assassination.

Black Mirror, episode 1. Halal version.


Another nonsensical post from our krugman devotee, tyler cowen. tyler, you freaking thief, i'm still waiting on my $240 refund for principles of modern economics. horribly written. you even listed trump as a businessman years ago in the first edition. what a cuck. leave krugman and picketty alone. they're better econs than you.

libertarians dont exist and this blog is going down the drain.

but hey, tell me where the best dumplings in some ching chong province are

Just picture this guy...probably super handsome and rich. Tons of friends.

But also not able to make legitimaite use of spellcheck. Quite unpresidented.

It's Chong Qing province.

I'm fairly certain it is one word, not two.

Tyler's Son, Tyler seems like a Krugman devotee to you? How far Right are you? Fascist or something?

Make MR Great Again!

My favorite guy on the internet: The guy that posts on a website that he claims sucks.

For the record, earlier today, somewhere on Twitter, I read a lament for the citizens of Irkutsk (the Twitter guy said that alcoholism is a devastatingly cruel addiction - he mentioned the vile liquid that the addicts thought they needed to drink). In most countries on this earth, there are multiple houses of prayer - monasteries, convents, that sort of thing - where every morning humble people pray for those who have died the previous night and every evening humble people pray for those who have died during the day. They are often mocked, and often selfish men with guns cowardly approach those monasteries and commit murder and other crimes. None of us can explain evil.

WTF is the tragedy in Aleppo? Jihadis are getting smoked--this is good. Tyler showing hate for Christians who all support Assad vs jihadi cannibals

The city's population has paid a heavy price for Assad's dictatorship triumph.

WTF, dude.

Both (or more accurately "all") sides have committed terrible crimes. A government victory will alleviate much suffering of this brutal war. The war may be coming to an end, a reason to be cautiously optimistic. The capture of Aleppo is a good thing.

When I want to smoke jihadis the first thing I do is bomb the hospitals. That cuts off the cannibals access to fresh dead bodies. That's just good planning.

This really is good planning. Also, kill the children, cannibals like them. "I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout."

Children that age are made from filth. You would be better off eating raw wild hog.

I am npt sure they are good for your health, I am saying they are delicious or so I am told by my friends.

At least he's modest about his dietary proposals.

Indeed. But it is only a proposal anyway.

Aleppo was more about freedom fighting than jihadism.

Has the fighting ceased between the terrorists that the CIA sponsored and the terrorists that the Pentagon sponsored? If so, is it because the Russkis have killed the lot of them?

Put otherwise, probably none of us has any useful knowledge of what the hell is going on in Syria. Nor, I suspect, will we ever learn much. There's no news source left that we could possibly trust to even attempt to be honest.

That would presuppose knowing which resources came from where and who was fighting for what.

The fact of having pretty low quality answers to these questions is assumed to be quite related to the fact that they didn't hand out a lot of guns and money. (Obama was supposed to get behind the freedom fighters, because there's nothing more American than fighting for freedom.)

Islam is an occasionalist religion, i.e., everything comes from God. In Islamic theology, God has 99 names, and He has no partner in any of His names. One of His names is "al-Mumit", i.e., the Giver of death. He and He alone gives death. People die at their appointed time and in the manner of God's choosing. Do not get hung up on secondary causes, but rather, see through them to the Causer of causes.

"Secondary causes are only a veil to occupy the common people. God's elect see through the causes, to the Causer of causes." —Rumi

What is your point Ahmed ?Aleppo is God's plan, so nothing to worry about ? let's move on ?

No, that would be fatalism.

You act, knowing that what you do is also part of God's will. You are but an instrument of God.

God encompasses all things.

There is no God. Stop hiding behind an imaginary chimera. If what you really think is "they deserved to die for X reasons", just say so.


If there is no God, as you have stated, then humans are only highly evolved accidents.

Which begs the question, why are you bothered by the death of accidents?

"If what you really think is “they deserved to die for X reasons”, just say so."

Man was created solely for worship. If a society becomes sufficiently Godless, then God destroys that society. There is nothing new here.

"And when We intend to destroy a city, We command its affluent but they defiantly disobey therein; so the word comes into effect upon it, and We destroy it with [complete] destruction." —Qur'an 17:16

"And how many have We destroyed from the generations after Noah. And sufficient is your Lord, concerning the sins of His servants, as Acquainted and Seeing." —Qur'an 17:17

"humans are only highly evolved accidents": that's about the size of it.

What a bunch of crap.

As a Christian (and general opponent of Islam), I could stand to hear more from Ahmed. I'd enjoy a good theological debate, and learning more about the predominant religion of the the region can only serve to help understand how people think over there.

Materialism is solidly entrenched in determinism, which renders it useless as a philosophy. The free will and determinist debate is in Christianity as well, with an emphasis on the Free Will in almost all branches... but almost all branches still have to struggle with the 'But God has a plan for everything' aspect of God.

I have to head out to the field for the day and will probably not be able to post further, but Ahmed, please continue and provide counterpoints and all that - too much polemics on this message board and not enough theology!


The Islamic doctrine of acquisition ("kasb" in Arabic) is the only doctrine that preserves both Divine sovereignty and free will. Every other doctrine falls apart in the face of logic and necessitates a theodicy. In Islam, there is no theodicy. None is required.

There is not an atom in this universe that is moved or stilled except by Divine decree.

Briefly stated, the doctrine of acquisition states that all acts come from God. These acts then attach themselves to the servant, according to his nature. People are rewarded or punished by God, as the case may be, not for the acts but for their nature which attracts those acts. And no one is wronged a whit.

Below is a link to "kasb" in Encyclopedia Britannica:


"As a Christian (and general opponent of Islam),"

I am a Muslim, but am not an opponent of Christianity. But the Christianity that I believe in is not the same Christianity you know. What is now called "mystical Christianity".

Christianity is an esoteric religion in the allegorist tradition. In early Christianity, there was a battle between the literalists and the allegorists. In 325 AD, at the Council of Nicaea, the Roman Emperor Constantine, a recent convert to Christianity, sided with the literalists. For the next hundred years, the allegorists were attacked at every turn, including destroying their scriptures, the most famous being the Gospel of Thomas.

In 1945, an Egyptian farmer digging his field smashed into a vase and the found inside of it, the long lost Gospel of Thomas.

True Christianity, for those who have eyes to see, is being rediscovered. That is why in America, religion is dying and being replaced with spirituality.

Theodicy isn't an issue in Christianity either, but people get confused about the nature of time (acting as if it exists) and free will.

You are right, Christianity in the US is not in healthy shape. I think when the full weight of what the sexual revolution entails, plus the rise of puritanic marxists, it will be ripe for another great revival.

I hope this isn't too non-PC, but that description of humans as basically totally automated and lacking in free will is terrifying. It might be true but that would suck.

No, free will is not infringed.

There is an ideology which combines both free will and determinism called compatibilism.

[Quote from Wikipedia]
"Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are compatible ideas, and that it is possible to believe in both without being logically inconsistent."

A link to the full article is below:

Except determinism is ruled out by Quantum Mechanics. The universe is probabilistic. Case closed.

QM is a model, not reality. That we can usefully model a set of observations as probabilities doesn't prove the universe is non-deterministic. See also "superdeterminism".


Except that Quantum Mechanics ran into the problem of non-locality, i.e., quantum entanglement, i.e., Einsteins "spooky action at a distance". Instant communication which conflicts with General Relativity which says that nothing can travel faster than light.

But as Einstein said: "God does not play with dice."

The Qur'an relates that Asaf bin Barkhiyya, a vizier under King Solomon transported the throne of the Queen of Sheba from Yemen to Jerusalem in the blink of an eye. Okay, still possible under the speed of light. But then along comes Ibn Arabi writing in "The Bezels Of Wisdom" and says the phrase "blink of an eye", or alternatively "before your glance returns to you" is just a figure of speech. The movement of the throne was instantaneous, i.e., faster than light travel.

We in Islam were dealing with and solved these issues long before you encountered them.

Karen Harding: Causality Then And Now: Al Ghazali And Quantum Theory (pdf link below)

@Dan Riley,

Thank you for an excellent comment!

If I may expound on your comment with the following quote from Wikipedia:

"In quantum mechanics, superdeterminism is a hypothetical class of theories that evade Bell's theorem by virtue of being completely deterministic. Bell's theorem depends on the assumption of "free will", which does not apply to deterministic theories. It is conceivable that someone could exploit this loophole to construct a local hidden variable theory that reproduces the predictions of quantum mechanics. Superdeterminists do not recognize the existence of genuine chances or possibilities anywhere in the cosmos." —Wikipedia

This incidentally, is in complete accordance with the Islamic point of view, i.e., there is no randomness, only the illusion of randomness.

Also, there is no causality, only the illusion of causality.

The converse is also terrifying.

"Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does." - Jean-Paul Sartre

So says Jean-Paul. There are others who also think they are authorities on the subject too.

It could be thought of as a little more fatalist than a Grim Reaper or some other sort of "appointed time" approach.

Hinduism is also an occasionalist religion, i.e., everything comes from God.

When Arjuna is troubled by the thought of having to kill people, some of whom are his own relatives, Krishna, who has incarnated as a human replies as follows:

"I am come as Time, the waster of the peoples,
Ready for that hour that ripens to their ruin.
All these hosts must die; strike, stay your hand—no matter.

Therefore, strike. Win kingdom, wealth, and glory.
Arjuna, arise, O ambidextrous bowman.
Seem to slay. By me these men are slain already.

You but smite the dead."


Most religions are very intertwined with murder and war.

Most wars are intertwined with "you have something I want".

It shouldn't be surprising that religions concerned with right and wrong would have something to say about war.

It might be more about people than religion.

Islam is very intertwined with war. Most wars in history were not fought over religion, but most religious wars are Islamic. Islam it literally at war with any place that a) isn't Islamic and b) allows Muslims into its territory.

Not even wrong.

I'm reminded of the comparison between the number of lives being lost (at the time) in the Vietnam War as compared to automobile accidents. The difference is that the Vietnam War could be ended, but automobile accidents could not be ended without ceasing to use automobiles.

We really can't solve global malnutrition or air pollution in any feasible way, but there are things which can be done about Aleppo.

"We really can’t solve global malnutrition or air pollution in any feasible way..."

"Solving" a problem is potentially a high bar to cross. Polio still hasn't been "solved" in the sense of not being completely eradicated but it is no longer a serious health threat except in a handful of places. Similarly, there is plenty that can be done to mitigate pollution and make a serious dent in malnutrition. In fact, both of these look far more tractable than the wider mess in Syria.

We, the Russians, Syrians, Iranians and God knows who else are all trying to do things about Aleppo. Perhaps the wrong things that could be done are being done. Perhaps there are only things that make us feel better.

On the contrary our marginal unit of effort on illness or malnutrition is far more likely to relieve suffering than trying to somehow interfere in the intractable war in Aleppo.

What should the us do? Who could we bomb to improve the state of the city? Supply chains are cut off and it's too dangerous to move in.

There are hundreds and thousand of things formally happening at this very moment directly intended to address both of those issues. So you can pretty much just ignore whether anyone needs to worry about that.

I think the world is getting better on many fronts: poverty/disease/war/crime/longevity but slowly. Still there are shocking news of murder and mayhem every day. You have to screen them out to some extent, enjoy the simple pleasures of your day and not let them overwhelm you.

IIRC, the global extreme poverty rate (living on less than $1.50 a day) was 40% in 1990 but 20% in 2010. Poverty really is in the process of being crushed.

That's a relatively easy problem to fix compared to stopping war.

That's a pretty meaningless stat on its own, if we're talking about large numbers of people moving from $1.40 to $1.60 or something vaguely like that.

Evil does not exist. It is only an illusion held by atheists and deists. Deists being those who believe in a creating God but not a sustaining God.

That is not to say that evil people don't exist. It's just that they hold no real power. They do only that which is in accordance with God's will. As the Prophet Joseph said to his brothers: "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good".

It is said that the greatest mystery in life is the merging of the personal and the Divine will.

“Evil does not exist; once you have crossed the threshold, all is good. Once in another world, you must hold your tongue.” —Franz Kafka

Perhaps I've said too much.

The first claim of your post has been rejected by many scientific experiments that show that in many social animal species, there is a sense of right and wrong.

"We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we can live - by positing bodies, lines, planes, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content; without these articles of faith nobody could now endure life. But that does not prove them. Life is no argument. The conditions of life might include error." - Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Nietchze is probably the most misunderstood philosopher. I respect the guy.

I wish I could find Pratchetts quote from Hogfather. Grind the universe up into a powder, run it through the finest sieve, and find me one atom of mercy or courage or justice. Some things are more real than the physical world.

I was ready to write off Nietzsche then I ran across this saying of his:

"The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.” —Friedrich Nietzsche

I don't think he got to sound his ideas off a thousand people before he wrote it down.

He was somewhat of a genius recluse, no?

Oof. Evil does exist, and it is undeniable. There's two modes of thought on how evil exists - the absence of God (imagine a vacuum), or the opposition of God (antimatter vs matter). The Problem of Pain / Why Bad Things Happen is 100% reconciled in Christianity by the presence of free will. There is no joy in being surrounded by soulless automatons. Think of Gepetto in Pinnochio - his most fervent wish was for his creation, his marionnette, to become a real boy. The Divine Plan has us vulnerable to falling - and indeed we have - but in the end to be redeemed and saved, and join God in communion as his children.

It's a painful path, but it's the only path that leaves us to becoming real people while still becoming reunited with God.

Sorry for my shotgun approach and rushed reading, I had 10 minutes before I had a forced restart update (we can all agree that Windows 10 is evil) . I agree that evil holds no real power in a reality sustained by God, and that God's will can subvert the designs of evil men into good.


"I agree that evil holds no real power in a reality sustained by God, and that God’s will can subvert the designs of evil men into good."

Exactly. In that men carrying out their free will enact the will of God.

There is a crucial difference there. Your view of that is too solipistic. Men exercising (or not) free will can do so in the absence of God, or even to defy him. I could post "It is Good to kill apostates" even though that is a lie. It is God who would use my hate as a tool to strengthen the righteous. You can fight God. It's just not a winning move.

That God can transmute things to his will and that everything IS his will have radically different conclusions. Morality can exist in one but not the other.

Ahmed, I'd love to continue this but my computer is made out of suck and stupid and I'm headed out into the field for the day. If I can post on mobile I will, but please continue and give counterpoints. Thanks!!!


This is a replay to post #67 but I can't find a "REPLY" link there.

"You can fight God."

Not even remotely possible.

"And to Allah submits whatever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly." —Qur'an 13:15

In 586 BC, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem. Here is how the Qur'an records it:

"We raised against you servants of Ours, possessed of mighty strength." —Qur'an 17:5

Nebuchadnezzar was a sun worshiper, yet he did God's will just the same.

After a certain point comments stop nesting, and custom has it we continue to reply to the next-highest comment. This system is a mess but I can follow thoughts across nests.

Qu'ran 4:34 something something and for those women from whom you fear betrayal, rebuke them, abandon them in bed, then hit them. That has as much merit as me citing jacob wrestling with an angel to be named Wrestles With God, aka Israel. Being divinely named for fighting with God by God is a pretty good bet that God thinks you can fight with God. If you want to argue it with him you can, it just makes you silly. So I'm willing to table scripture in favor of reason (another divine gift) if you are. Plus it lets the nonreligious join the conversation.

Speaking of Israel, we can agree what the Nazis did to them was evil. I reject any God that planned the holocaust or willed it. That is the works of Man. But surely Hitler could not have foreseen that it would be the catalyst for the reemergence of a homeland for the Jewish faith-but God did. Transmutation. The evil still occurred, was still real, but it is not nor ever shall be king.

Ahmed, my biggest confusion with your philosophy is-what is good and what is evil if everything is God's will? It appears that you have an amoral setup if me punching an orphan is as acceptable to God as me feeding it. What should I strive for? Should I strive at all? I know Islam has its own commandments, but to reconcile that with a Spinozaesque 'we are but a dream of God' just... doesn't seem to work. Where can I go with such a philosophy, what can I build with it?

It's kind of hard when the tradition doesn't have a "it can't be good or evil if there's no choice" kind of argumentation coming from some quarters.

To things that have no choice or will, I can ascribe no malice nor weal. A tornado is merely a force of nature, it does what tornadoes do. Don't build trailer parks in front of tornadoes. Crocodiles do what crocodiles do - don't put your children in the crocodile exhibit, because crocodiles eat things. It's what they do. Nate, I don't understand how things that have no choice can be innately evil or good.

The 7 Sins that will damn a soul to Hell in Islam, from what I gather:

1) Shirk (associating things with Allah/setting things as equal to him/polytheism?)

2) Witchcraft/ trafficking with the djinn/devils

3) Killing someone whom Allah has forbidden us to kill

4) Usury

5) Theft from orphans

6) Fleeing the battlefield

7) Slandering chaste women of faith.

I can only assume these things are NOT Allah's will. If you say simply that for the Muslim there is no contradiction between all things are Allah's will and these are not, I will simply accept it. That's... a bit how the Trinity works in Christianity, that we're just supposed to accept it and move on, but it doesn't sit well with Reason (not that Reason is the final word, but it is a tool given to us to use)


Perhaps I can illustrate this with an example:

A man decides to go down to an ice cream shop and kill a bunch of people. At that exact instant, a bunch of people get an intense craving for ice cream, i.e., God brings them to their place of death.

Being that the span of life is a fixed decree, the idea of a life being cut short in Islam, and Hinduism for that matter, is nonsensical. People die at their appointed time, and in the manner and place of God's choosing.

From that perspective, there is no evil. But the person who does the killing goes to the hellfire, on account of killing people without cause.

Free will and determinism, in harmony, as I've described.


"It appears that you have an amoral setup if me punching an orphan is as acceptable to God as me feeding it."

As I said earlier, all acts proceed from God. You automatically assumed that you have the power to act, independent of God's will. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If it is in your nature to punch orphans, and an orphan needs to be punched, then you will punch an orphan, and be punished for that.

If it is in your nature to feed an orphan, then God feeds that orphan through you, and you will be rewarded for doing so, conditioned on understanding that God fed an orphan through you.

If however, you say that you are the one that saved the orphan, then you are punished for pretending to be God, i.e., the Giver of sustenance. This is "shirk", i.e., associationism aka polytheism, the major sin in Islam.

At the end of the day, the orphan gets exactly what God has decreed for it. God encompasses all things.

Why does the ice cream shop killer or orphan puncher get punished? They were merely performing God's acts? If you say you are the one who saved the orphan, it isn't you saying it, it is God causing you to say it. How does that justify punishment?

If the answer is God makes you do these things so that He can punish you for them, then He is a pretty merciless God.


No, God does not compel anyone to do anything.

The acts proceed from God and you acquire these acts by virtue of your nature. Being that they are in accordance with your nature, you do not see them as coming from other than yourself.

But you just told me they come from God, so I now know that they come from someone other than myself.

God created me, and my nature, and is the cause of all things. Why should I be punished for His use of me?

The evil or good is in intent, not outcome.

So, we speak of a "tragic storm" that killed a thousand people, but not an "evil storm".


You're not punished for the act, but rather for your nature.

One person is selfish, the next is altruistic. One is humble, another is arrogant, and so on. God does not create them this way or that. In that, they do have a choice.

But created beings can not be efficient causes. For if they were, then God would not be sovereign.


I asked for a clarification, and I got it. From here on out would be strong theological disagreement. Suffice to say we do indeed worship different gods, so with that I shall leave you with a Thank You for clarifying :)

You see, msg, god isn't punishing you for your actions which he caused, he's punishing you for your nature he created. Totally different and cool.

This is a pretty gross thread

I wouldn't say gross, this guy is being very respectful. I'm blown away by how crazy he sounds though. Just can't get my head around the jibber jabber. Which, I guess, is my nature.

What can you do? Adopt a few? That's the most you can do.

The other option is to influence politics to use the violence of the State to which you are enslaved (and accomplice, allow me to say) to play God. Think about how immoral and stupid it would be. Do you think it is right to force other people to pay for a crusade to make you feel right? What about the increased risk of revenge (terrorism is such a devalued word) from the people that your guys will attack? And what about the collateral damage that the intervention will provoke, do you really think that having 18-year-old hormonal kids driving drones with hellfires (ten kilos of explosive, thermobaric effect) is a good way to be sure you won't kill innocent people? Tuez-les tous, Dieu recoinnatra les siens? And, most importantly, who are you to decide who's right and who's wrong? You live in a suburb of a freaking American city, how can you possibly understand what's going on there without spending a few years to learn it, in the field? Are you really so naive to believe to what the media are telling us?

I sure hope you've been to Aleppo in recent years, to be lecturing someone for their naivety in not visiting a war zone before writing their opinions.

It is not opinions that worry me, it is interventions.

Nobody has the moral right to intervene using my money, putting my blood at risk and crash a party when he is not invited. He could have the moral right to do it only if he does it in his name, with his money and after pledging his support to somebody that is clearly a non-aggressor victim. Good luck to find one over there.

Yeah, there are no children in Aleppo. All aggressors.

I'm not sure if you're blaming him for doing something or blaming him for what he didn't do.

It seems like you're quite prepared to use your moral right to debate where the money should go. So ... maybe it would be consistent to think others will do the same, and that others still will eventually be following through on allocations that you don't like.

So, there's a process. It is not completely illegitimate. That is its moral authority. Among other things, that moral authority involves not questioning the results of an election (of course, do a recount or two if it looks to be maybe a good idea) even when you wish it were otherwise.

Using violence or threat of violence to extorsionate money is immoral. It doesn't matter if an individual or a legal construct like the State does it. Taxation is theft, always.

Regarding children, if they are young enough not to have homesteaded themselves, and nobody already homesteaded their education, you have the moral right to do it, I guess bringing the children where you live. You can go there or recruit people to go there to do that. At your name and with your resources.

You're a real sweetie Massimo. Lotta spectrum going on there.

Or to put it another way, the human race. Are you in or you out?

Tyler's confusion is understandable; there is no sensible connection between mass murder, poor nutrition in poor countries, a politcal assassination, and a case of alcohol poisoning. Drawing some moral equivalence between all of them would confuse anybody. As much as one might grasp for an interconnecting theory to bring meaning, the simpler explanations are usually correct. Each of these events has a proximate cause and its next layer, but even if one digs deep, a common core is not always there to be found.

Indeed, one can argue that such digging distracts us from facing the clear reason that stares us in the face. The assassin in Turkey said plainly why he did what he did, poor nutrition (my field) is caused by multi-sectoral weaknesses & failures in a society, terrorists are rarely shy about declaring their reasons, and poor alcoholics will drink anything (I lived in the FSU for 9 years and can tell you stories you wouldn't believe-- sterno mixed with perfume is called "a girl scout's tears").

Is there a "morally appropriate response to changes in the scope of widespread tragedies"? Of course there is. Realize the change that so strikes you is that more people are able to do these things. The motivations are not new; barbaric as the actions might be they are considered, reasoned responses not new in our world. That they are mobile, visible, and larger in many cases is what presents the challenge to us. The search for an 'impossibility theory' is just navel gazing.

No society is designed to undernourish its members; it would be self-defeating.

A century ago, three of ten American workers labored in agriculture, most at sustenance farming. Today, we can see that the poorer nations have larger proportions of their labor devoted to agriculture, again most by far for sustenance. Malnutrition is a successful outcome of sustenance farming, relatively speaking.

The passive evils of poverty, malnutrition, and disease (including addiction) are simply not comparable to the premeditated evils perpetrated with full intent upon others. And none of these things are really even tragedies. The original theme of tragedy was that evil befalls a good person through a fatal flaw in his own character, however otherwise exemplary. Now it is used to describe almost any misfortune befallen upon almost anyone, whatever the cause or degree of contributory negligence. This damages the language by blurring precise meanings - a malnourishment of communication, if you will.

A billion dollars for irrigation (more food/nutrition) in 5 different West African countries can be compared to a billion dollars to address a situation in Aleppo which can be compared to a billion dollars.

The other two seem kind of outliers here. Maybe the point is a little different about that part.

UNICEF for instance claims that three million children die each year for reasons that can be traced back to malnutrition. WHO claims that seven million deaths each year can be attributed to air pollution. Maybe those are not the correct numbers, but you cannot talk them down to anywhere near zero.

There is a world of difference between deaths that are emergent - that is, caused by an unwanted and often intended by-product of some other feature of a society - from poor policy decisions and those that are the deliberate work of evil people.

These problems are largely the result of stupidity among Third World people but even among the stupid there are degrees of wrongness. African Socialism was and is a bad idea. But it is not as vicious as political Islam.

Gotta give this one a +1, regardless of the source

Really? The Holocaust every year just doesn't matter? A few Europeans dead are more important? Sorry, it is like saying Al Capone ws worse than Hitler. It doesn't matterbwho did it or how deliberate it was, we are talking about millions of human beings being betrayed and, for all practical effects, killed by their leaders. It is the most pressing issue of our time.

I wonder if it would be too much to ask that you read what I say, and perhaps, you know, understand it, before replying? Your comment has nothing whatsoever to do with what I said.

Although we do say Hitler was worse than Stalin and it is likely because killing Western Europeans shocks us more than killing Belorussians.

Again, those regimes are, for all practical effects, killing 7 million people a year. It is hard to argue it is better than Islam killing a few Westerners now and then.

'Cause Hitler never killed Belorussians and Stalin never persecuted Germans and Greeks in the Soviet Union...

What if someone told you that those deaths happened because ... the policy was going to happen but someone stopped it.

It stopping something that you know will save 3 million lives kind of like causing them? Even a bit?

Also, I theorize that conquering and ruling a place for a few generations more might have been related to their existing institutional capacity at the time of independence. This might explain why China, for example, could develop faster, but they did not.

Also, about "political Islam" - there is also the possibility to look at real world conditions and completely ignore any consideration whatsoever of whether religion has anything to do with anything. And then to wonder if it might just not really have that much to do with religion.

Hey ... ever wonder if it might poss off an American if someone kills the president and installs a puppet? Might not go over well. It might not matter what religion Americans practice for the "political religion" response to come.

That doesn't explain the main cause of Middle East bloodshed. It isn't the US, or even Israel. It's Sunni vs Shi'a.

Were wars between Catholics and Protestants really about religion, or telling the pope to go fuck himself, we rule ourselves?

Or, at least the king can choose a second wife if he wants to.

It is true that stopping something that would have prevented millions of deaths is a problem. But it is not of the same order as directly killing millions of people. So Stalin had millions of people killed. So did Mao. But both also killed millions of people in famines that were an inevitable - and predictable - response to their policies. The former is worse than the latter even if the latter is bad enough.

Likewise, the Indian National Congress undid most of the economic reforms India had and reduced India to the "Hindu rate of growth". Just as they put an end to India's involvement with the world market in 1947. Killing millions in the process - but only indirectly. Also bad. But not as bad as starving people to death in order to build tank factories.

You can pretend that Islam has nothing to do with the violence in the Middle East if you like. I am not sure it will help you. Where there are Muslims there is violence. That is not a coincidence. It is too common.

I am not sure how Americans would react. But the West has done this experiment - the British Crown removed the elected Australian Prime Minister for being a typical banana republic idiot - Chavez before Chavez. I have not been to Australia for a while, but perhaps you can tell me how many Australians have attacked the knee caps of other Australians with power drills lately?

It's called a "mobilization factor".

So, when there are conditions ripe for conflict, this is the "mobilizing factor" in the conflict.

But underlying causes are more likely to include things like ... I dunno, long story ... history and the present.

Perhaps you could suggest that commerce is a better solution to the problem of scarcity than is violence; and that the rule of law (contract, in its many forms) is more just than the rule of men (with their many guns).

Because tjose contracts won't be enforced by men with guns. Oh, God...

21 Jan 2017, all suffering will cease. At least in headlines as Trump tweets intentionally divert questions from intractable horrors.

Most suffering goes unnoted in the US. I listen to several hours of bbc most nights these days, and Aleppo is only a bigger deal by a bit because Greece is so close. Sudan is worse, or maybe Somalia. Sudan for the quick loss of hope. Somalia for the multigenerational suffering with no hope of resolution. But then there is DPRK.

Asia is improving since I moved beyond weekly reader in the 60s. Africa has gotten worse. And better. The Mideast has gotten worse since my birth, Nov 1947, and I see Trump making sure the trend continues.

But at least Trump will end forever the Two State Solution, and Israel will become officially apartheid.

1. Jihadists are defeated in Aleppo.
2. Jihadists kill Europeans in terrorist attacks.

This is the same thing to you, Tyler? Do you enjoy playing disgusting sophistry of this kind just to see what you can get away with? Does this amuse you?

A "tragedy" is when bad things happen without clear human agency in either side. None of these are tragedies. These are acts of war. Wars have sides. You have to choose. It seems clear which you have chosen.

Is it obvious that it is Jihadists who are defeated in Aleppo ? Not more complex , with Sunni moderates also in the mix?

The moderates are the first to be purged by the jihadists.

Probably 6'2", 210 lbs of lean muscle, great hair and teeth, a couple of beautiful girlfriends, earns $250K/year at age 28, accomplished skier and all-around athlete. Yep, I have this guy pegged.

The civil population in Aleppo has suffered much more than Westerners have with the recent attacks. Sorry, but not everything is about American political interests. And no, the word "tragedy" doesn't mean what you think it means as any literate person knows.

I never thought I would live to see the Neo-Nazis and other White supremacists going mainstream in the USA...

Funny how nobody talked about what the US-funded jihadists were doing to the civilian population. For the Saudi-funded media civilians only count when the enemies of Saudi Arabia are doing the killing. Assad was "executing children", while Al Qaeda was just engaging in social justice. Give me a break.

Wasn't the complaint that they never bothered to hand out most of the guns they thought about handing out? Specifically ... because they just didn't really know who the jihadists were?

I doubt I ever will.

Most of the people getting killed in Aleppo had nothing to do with jihad, and were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is pretty common in wars, in fact--most of the people living in Dresden or Hiroshima were probably not any worse than anyone else, they were just standing on the spot marked "X" on the wrong day.

Exactly right, albatross

Existence is tragic. It ends in the same way for all of us.

I think your post reads like one written by someone who, at the time of writing it, did not believe in the inevitability of his own death. Which is not meant as an insult, as I think that is true of most of us, most of the time. Like right now, even as I write this, I am pretty sure I will live forever, so death does seem sort of tragic.

The other day I attended a memorial for a poker dealer who launched his Benz into the scrub desert and died at 40. Looking at all the sadness in the room and feeling none, I put on a grim face and enjoyed the appetizers.

In Syria, the distinction between Sunni Muslim extremists like ISIS and Sunni Muslim moderates like the insurgents is anything but clear. Is Assad, with Putin's assistance, killing the extremists or the moderates? Sunni Muslims make up over 85% of the Muslims in Syria, Shiite - Alawite - Muslims less than 15% (that was the split before the civil war), roughly the same split of Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims worldwide. Assad, a Shiite (Alawite), can't kill every Sunni Muslim in Syria. On the other hand, if the Sunni insurgents prevail and overthrow the Assad government, it would mean certain death for Assad and the other Shiites in Syria. Who are the greater threat to us, Sunnis or Shiites? Sunni Arab Muslims attacked us on 9/11, Sunni Arab Muslims killed and maimed thousands of our soldiers in Iraq, and Sunni Arab Muslims (ISIS) have committed unspeakable acts of violence in Iraq and Syria against Shiites and Christians. Why are Muslims killing other Muslims? Why not focus their hatred on their common enemy rather than each other? Wouldn't that bring an end to the senseless violence in Syria? It might. That seems to be Trump's approach to the crisis by appointing an ambassador to Israel who supports Jewish settlements in the west bank and opposes a two-state solution. Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims can go back to killing Jews instead of each other. Of course, they might go back to killing us, too.

Why not focus their hatred on their common enemy rather than each other? Wouldn’t that bring an end to the senseless violence in Syria? It might. That seems to be Trump’s approach to the crisis by appointing an ambassador to Israel who supports Jewish settlements in the west bank and opposes a two-state solution. Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims can go back to killing Jews instead of each other. Of course, they might go back to killing us, too.

This is the wedge (one of them) that's going to split the Democrat's Coalition of the Fringes. Black and latino ethnic activists tend to identify with Palestinians over Jews. In appointng Friedman, Trump protects his Right flank and forces a Democrat split.

I've always suspected that Hezbollah, the Shiite extremist organization, was created by Shiites (Iran) to focus Sunni Muslim attention on Jews rather than on Shiites. After all, who is the greater threat to Shiite Muslims (i.e., Iran), Jews or Sunni Muslims? If Trump did appoint Friedman as a wedge to split Democrats, it's Jews who will pay a very high price.

Yeah. But we know only bigoted white xenophobes decide political questions in terms of their collective ethnic or credal interest.

The forces of civilization have overthrown the forces of barbarism in Aleppo. Urban fighting among large numbers of non-combatants is ugly, as the survivors of any war in Europe or Southeast Asia can remind you. The authoritarian Assad regime remains popular (and now, extremely popular) with the Alawites and Christians and also with the Sunnis who make up the majority of the army. The Syrians have seen how the Wahabbist alternative treats its subjects. If we're going to pick sides next time, how about the one which doesn't put women in burkas and shoot them for "adultery" after ad hoc trials on the sidewalk. Islam was imposed on Syria by foreign invaders, by the way.

And while we're perched atop our high horses, there is no doubt that if, say, coastal SC were to declare its independence the federal government would bomb it to rubble and any inhabitants loyal to the rebel forces would be vaporized. The clash of civilizations continues and history has not ended.

"The forces of civilization have overthrown the forces of barbarism in Aleppo."

There are no the forces of civilization in Aleppo. All sides are barbarians.

How many Syrians do you know?

Same as you. None.

Satan and God were not the options. Somewhere in between.

P.S. - I don't think Satan wears a burka, not should he/she have to if he/she does not want to ... unless he/she wants to then WTF do I care?

P.P.S - How come no one ever defends gender equality when it comes to Satan?

I don't think gender really comes into the equation with the supernatural. I don't think that spirits have genitalia. I mean, Jesus had a penis, but he didn't seem overly concerned about penises and vaginas, and if it gave him any extra credence, it was only because of the culture he was in.

Hopefully by equating gender with genitalia I have not turned into an oppressive transphobic shitlord.

There were, and probably still are, many examples of the Irkutsk tragedy in the good ol' US of A, since it's a legal requirement that ethanol untaxed for drinking purposes be adulterated with poison.

And also, the President is a Democrat, for whom you voted. It hardly makes you feel good, or elevates your status, to point out the horrors in the world that he has either directly created or completely ignored for many years.

But don't worry - you'll get over it on Jan 20.

Because Hillary Clinton lost the deeply historic 2016 election.

If you're celebrating more that someone else lost than the fact that you one ... what does that say?

It says the truth, the 2016 election was not about who you were for, it was entirely about who you were (more) against.

You're probably right ...

But against-ness can't carry out the policies you desire. Only who and what you are FOR can do that.

Version 1.0
Advice mostly to myself -- Life is short. Pick and choose your battles. The people making the sorts decisions leading to Aleppo's almost never listen directly to public comment. A new wave of fascism sweeps across the globe every fifty years or so supported by an imperative that everyone must always be totally involved with every moral crusade every minute of every day. Nonpartisanship and nonparticipation become illegal and re-education classes normal. Try to figure out where you ~can~ make an intelligent difference and avoid busybodies and other distractions. Avoid expressing feelings of guilt lest others see you as a potential victim for their guilt-tripping.
Version 1.1.
As moral partisanship and false certainty once again sweep across the globe, all failures to participate every minute of every day in all approved moral crusades will be met with severe scoldings and public humiliations. The only exceptions might be for those who sufficiently express remorse on their blogs for not understanding what is acceptable behavior and immediately enrolling in officially sanctioned sensitivity-training classes.

Good advice. This part stands out to me: "Try to figure out where you ~can~ make an intelligent difference and avoid busybodies and other distractions. Avoid expressing feelings of guilt lest others see you as a potential victim for their guilt-tripping".

The disease that holds that Americans can solve all of the world's problems will hopefully be cured with a new isolationist administration. The fact is, we only care about these places because we have televisions. Just as we only really care about the homeless when they panhandle in front of us and urinate in our path. So, don't watch TV. If there is a real strategic problem maybe it's worth paying attention to. I for one prefer to see them fight themsleves into the dust. Bad seed, bad religion, bad politics, bad everything over there.

We should solve the problems we can, and recognize which those are.

I think there is a prayer about that.

Also, Russia should have legalized marijuana a long time ago. Definitely safer than a vodka habit.

This also triggers the thought - was part of the hate on the Clinton Foundation that they were doing good work in Africa?

Peculiar kind of narcissism to hijack this post to lob the racist grenade at your political foes. Jeebus, take a break.

Actually I was just going for aid in Africa vs America First.

If the opposing philosophy is to look inward, leave others to take care of themselves, the people who engage with the world are contrary to that.

They are globalists.

White Nationalists want progressives to spend more time on African problems and less on America.

To restate more clearly, if a major theme of the campaign was "against globalization," then international aid efforts are not going to impress the "against globalization" crowd.

You are right, Anon.

You just are getting this push back because Right Wingers just like to bash progressives.

A Right Winger calling a progressive narcissistic. Now that is rich.

Get a giddy feeling from that?

Hint that you're racist as bleep: "sees fit to call others racist when mentioning fact of helping Africans."

If you want to do somethng useful to avoid these tragedies in the future fight against the types of political and cultural relativisim you find popular on your local campus.

alleppo-->media-created myth for the purpose of manufacturing consent for more war

tyler cowen-->trendsucking media stoolie

It's a big planet; mind your own garden.

And shun anyone who reads the daily news.

Well, that logically follows.

Please make a list for me of all the wonderful things you have done for the people of Aleppo.

I gave to two religious world aid organizations this morning.

I have supported a few over the years. I have never shaved my head, gave away all my belongings, and joined the monastery. But then I don't think gods or ethics really require us to go that far. If we all do something, that is a lot.

Now, in case anyone would criticize this kind of public morality:

Oh, you wrote a couple checks? Gee whiz, I write checks too, I just don't see it as a vehicle for moral pontificating.

If you want the moral high ground, you'll need a bit of dirt under the fingernails there.

Maybe I just sang "This little light of mine" too many times as a kid.

But I really don't get this new (or MR specific?) idea that we should do good, but secretly.

This idea that moral encouragement should be publicly discouraged.

(Basically Brian thinks he is doing "good" by putting a basket over my little light. Weird.)

"Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward."

I missed that good answer, being gone for a day, but I disagree.

I think public morality reinforces public morality. It is one of the things that makes Utah, and Denmark, work.

(blowing a trumpet would have been naming amounts, rather than just publicly endorsing the action.)

One time someone mentioned to me that if someone else crap is on fire, either the fire might spread, or if it burns everything down they might land up camped out in ... my back garden.

Thinking about these things is not dumb.

Here is the last stanza of Guantanamera. There are those who look to the "sea" and do things that may or may not have far reaching consequences. And there are those who look to the "streams" and try to repair the world, one person at a time. Neither view is wrong. What's important is to commit to the work of repair, big or small.


+1. I got my credit card out and looked to the creek.

TC - do you have SAD? Everyone is dead in the end. If that's depressing you, I suggest counseling - far more effective than mood improving drugs. I (for a change) agree with you: the media & public's concern for terror events, while blatantly ignoring the far more death-dealing human tragedies around the world makes zero sense to me, and never did. I never understood why we tolerate a death rate of 20 - 30,000 a year in traffic accidents - as if we have no choice. Anyway, it's better to light one candle... Or, like they say: most people are sheep.

Based on the premise that the malicious state has never enforced traffic safety with the barrel of a gun?

I think you would actually be hard pressed to find a major source of death or destruction that governments around the world do not address.

This is, or rationally should be, a discussion if current and future allocation, opportunity costs.

Making little old ladies remove their shoes at the airport makes perfect sense, just like allowing people to drive on city streets with a German shepherd cavorting around on the front seat.

In terms of what economists should do, I like what Bob Shiller did. In the midst of his online course in Finance (perhaps discussing ROI) he said "pause the tape and go give $x to Unicef. You can save y lives. You will never get higher return than that."

"Think locally, act globally!"

This is pure feel-goods. UNICEF doesn't have much accountability, and the life you save is just as likely to end up a Sudanese militant or Pashtun pederast. Like Brian said, mind your own garden.

Poor grasp of statistics.

Charity is for suckers, good call A-G

You know nothing about me personally or what I do within my sphere.

This reminds me of a common divide between liberals and conservatives. The former hate humans and love humanity, and the latter hate humanity and love humans. Liberals have leap-frogging loyalties. They despise their poorer countrymen for their gauche tastes and archaic attitudes, and love the supposed UNICEF beneficiary they only know from UNICEF marketing materials.

Have all those NGO's crawling all over Haiti ever even gotten around to building the place a sewage treatment plant? This is why sending anonymous dollars to unaccountable trans-national bureaucracies is indeed for suckers.

I must be a moderate, because I give to Habitat as well.

All I know about you is based on your posts here. It's not pretty.

Do passive-aggressive Han males care about anything other than relative status? Asking for a friend.

There is some really weird psychology here that prevents the right from saying "yeah, giving is good, I gave too."

Maybe it is simple as them being so hung up on status that such agreement is a loss.

But they should straighten up, because right now they are selling a two point plan:

1. Government should not do what charity can do.

2. Don't do charity either.

@A-G: Why don't you ask one? I just realized you think I'm a Han male.

Islam is a social/political/religion system that demands violence and is insatiable. It cannot be reformed and it cannot be integrated into polite society. So we will continue to see more and more death from it. More countries invaded, occupied and infidels killed or enslaved until we realize the only solution is to destroy it. Much like the world waited too long to confront Nazi Germany it will wait too long to confront Nazi Islam. So Islam will grow stronger and more militant until we acknowledge that it cannot be accommodated and must be destroyed. That wait, that inability to make the obvious decision to fight it will mean that in the end it must be WW III with all the death and destruction that is implied by a world war.

Really? Remind me again when Jews stopped stoning Christians and people who broke the Sabbath and why. Their holy books and prophets are every bit as bloodthristy as Islam's are. What is the difference (I mean, besides skin collor)And it would be funny if Islam were inherently violent and yet had waited a millenium and a half to wage a world war against the West . Such nice guys!

Um, TT, I'm not nearly as anti-Islam as GWTW but Islam didn't wait even a year to wage world war against the West, right after its inception in the 7th century. Today most of the believers have no interest in that, but a significant and bloodthirsty percentage still do. Jews not so much. When did the Jews stop persecuting Christians? When Christianity grew much stronger.

Jews stoning Christians?

Maybe a few times in the first century AD. Jews never had political power in the Christian era until 1948.

"I mean, besides skin collor [sic]"

Plenty of Jews darker than Arab Muslims.

"Their holy books and prophets are every bit as bloodthristy as Islam’s are."
I truly don't know, I haven't read the Quran the Tanakh or for that matter much of the bible. My comments are based on their words and actions. The West is in denial and as long as they refuse to accept that radical Islam declared war on the West decades ago they will continue to lose that war.

"What is the difference (I mean, besides skin collor)"

I know some Muslims and have seen many on TV and I'm stumped about the skin color thingy. Perhaps that is your first instinct to slander those you disagree with.

"And it would be funny if Islam were inherently violent and yet had waited a millenium and a half to wage a world war against the West ."

It was always there, more subdued a millennium and a half ago but what kicked it into high gear was money, or more specifically trillions in oil revenues. Now Saudi princes dole out billions to various terrorist organizations to wage jihad. There goal and intent is to invade every country, primarily by immigration, seek power and wage jihad. In the last 30-40 years or so radical Islam has waged open war in a couple dozen small countries around the world and we now see them actively bringing that war to the West.

Our armies are in their lands.

They are the threat to us.

But I'm not brainwashed.

"...Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke. 13:4-5 ESV)

The traditional Christian advice is to repent and turn back to helping your neighbor who is in front of you. The fate of Aleppo is above my pay grade, but my neighbor whose troubles might be small in comparison is never-the-less given to me. Like Tiny Tim to Scrooge.

Also more than 2 dozens people died in one night from drug overdoes in Canada's province of British Columbia and half of them in Vancouver! Canada is the one of the wealthiest countries in the world!

My understanding is that the problem in Vancouver is a combination of 1) a pleasant climate for the homeless, so they move there and 2) an area of the city that contains 15,000? 25,000? addicts and homeless.

I find the implied conflation of positing about tragedies and self righteousness both revealing and problematic. It assumes the worse of empathy which is a terrible precedent.

It's okay to simultaneously believe that life is sacred regardless of nationality/identity while also recognizing that tragedy closer to home (whether home is geographic or cultural), and tragedy in the form of deliberate violence, is more jarring, and that caring or paying more attention to this isn't somehow irrational or biased.

Here are some people who have all of these problems solved:

article by Fredrik deBoer at his blog, from yesterday. Explains Aleppo, 9/11 etc. Title of the article is:

Chickens come home to roost all over

Dissent Magazine article, May 23, 2016 on how to structure societies non-destructively, decreasing war, violence, and other destruction. Title of article is:

Karl Polanyi for President.

My guess is that the Syrian civil war is a situation where it's really hard to make things better--the whole situation looks like a hopeless bloody tangle of bad actors and evil hidden motives and endless willingness to shed blood and commit atrocities. If you were looking for a place where your efforts might help, I'm not sure where it would be, but Syria might be about the least promising place.

And Syria is a microcosm of the Middle East in general. It's been a dysfunctional quagmire for centuries, no matter what the US does or doesn't do policy-wise. But even quagmires have ebbs and flows of violence, I hope this conflict burns out sooner rather than later. It probably will do so once Assad and the Russians establish control again. Then it will be pretty similar to Saddam's Iraq, but with the ethnicities reversed (minority Shiites in charge instead).

It was obvious 6 months ago that the "rebels" could not hold Aleppo. They should have abandoned it and re-formed in a better tactical location. If you have noticed, ISIS in Syria and Iraq abandons untenable places and attacks at a new location.

Much of the death and destruction in Aleppo could have been avoided. Now, they lost and in the Middle East, losers pay.

The West should keep its guilt in check. We had nothing to do with the disaster and could not have prevented it without a massive US armed effort. Why die for Aleppo?

And a massive US armed effort would only have exchanged the current disaster for a new one (as shown in Iraq). So remember that next time you bash Obama, or Bush, or Trump, or Clinton for Middle East dysfunction. It doesn't matter what we do or don't do.

Well it sure is a lot less expensive, and has fewer fatalities and casualties on the part of our own soldiers, if we do nothing.

Which is exactly why Obama stayed out of it for the most part.


I'm not a real superstitious person, but this unnerves me.

"One of the most famous recurring miracles — even if one not quite sanctioned by the Catholic Church — is the liquefaction of the dried blood of San Gennaro, or St. Januarius, a bishop of Naples martyred around 305 A.D. and the city's patron saint. Starting in 1389, the vial of San Gennaro's blood typically turns liquid three times a year: on the Saturday before the first Sunday of May; on his saint's feast day, Sept. 19; and on Dec. 16, the day Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 1631. The blood liquefied on Sept. 19 this year, but not on Dec. 16. "In local lore, the failure of the blood to liquefy signals war, famine, disease, or other disaster," Catholic News Agency reports."

So ghost stories unnerve you? There are plenty of others you can read. Look in the fiction section of your library.

Apart from the difficulty of intervention, and perhaps, finally, a cautious concern, re committing ourselves, for our "reputation" that may be either a sign of weakness or prudence, I think we have arrived at a point where it is difficult for people in the part of the world where birth control is effectively practiced, to care about parts of the world there they are still having children with abandon. When you decline to deal with the immediate messiness of family, you have essentially uttered your last word on the value of human life.*

In America many of us enjoy the freedom to choose even the nature of our small sacrifices, typically computed in terms of coffee drinks foregone.

It seems that, to develop to our fullest potential, it was necessary that we should become somewhat stunted in the moral dimension.

*Or so it seems to me; perhaps men and women operate on different moral planes.

The parts of the world where they are having children with abandon are rapidly disappearing, and soon very few people will be doing that.

"The parts of the world where they are having children with abandon are rapidly disappearing, and soon very few people will be doing that."

Do you have a link for that? Everything I read tells me the opposite. The population of Africa and some M.E. countries is exploding.

Peri, the world over, when people, especially women, get more educated, families have fewer children. So if you spread education throughout the world, then the population problem is solved.

A cool feature of Demographic Transition "theory" is how its proponents are equally giddy with happiness whether it works or whether it doesn't - where it is failing, as in Africa, failure is nonetheless going to yield incredibly rich "dividends" that will ensure - plenty of education and thus declining fertility! We're gold either way.

In Islamic theology, God has ninety-nine names. This is not an exact number. There are a few others. One of the names of God is the letter "h", i.e., the aspirate. From the moment a human is born, he begins to utter the name of God with every breath.

That is why, with the addition of the aspirate, i.e., the letter "h", Abram becomes Abraham and Sarai becomes Sarah:

"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you … God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.” Genesis 17.1-6, 15.

The above comment was to the atheist commenters who believe it is beneath their dignity to worship God, not knowing that they began to worship God from the first instance that the doctor smacked them on the ass.

They can choose not to worship God for about as long as they can hold their breath, which is not very long at all.

"“And to Allah submits whatever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly and unwillingly.” —Qur’an 13:15

To echo Sam the Sham's comment above, the world you describe seems totally meaningless. If we are all simply agents of God regardless of what we do or do not do, whether we believe or do not, then everything is pretty pointless. Whatever I choose to do or not do, believe or not believe, is exactly as God willed it, and thus I have no agency or morality. I'm a robot, and if my programming tells me to kill as many Muslim children as I can, that was exactly the will of God.

I reject this philosophy, and you hearing that can only reply 'sure you do, it's God's will'.

Who created Allah, Ahmed?

Same thing as whatever created the universe we all inhabit. Hint: we don't know.


"Who created Allah?"

Creation is bound up in time and involves a before and an after, i.e., a thing coming into existence in time. Because time does not exist, and is an illusion of the mind, the question of who created God does not arise.

You will say: I do not understand. That is because you are trying to understand with mind, what is beyond mind. You are wrapped in the illusion of time, hence, the reason for your question.


Further to my comment, one does not even have to be a believer in God to understand that time is not that fixed thing it was believed to be.

Einstein's theory of relativity says that as things approach the speed of light, time slows down. At the speed of light, time stops.

If a man hops in his car and drives around the block, the gap in age between him and his wife closes, ever so slightly, bizarre as that may seem. But all scientists believe that now.


Gosh, an unusual amount of discussion today about God's will, whether spirits have genitals, how many names God has etc.

I guess those kinds of discussions are inevitable in our post-truth world.

Welcome to the end of your post-modern journey.

Maybe that Turkish gunman was moderate rebel also.

Maybe the Turkish gunman was just some guy whose family was killed in Aleppo, who had no particular political beliefs or membership in any military organization. Assad is slaughtering his people. Russia is helping defend Assad while he does that. If that happened to your family, wouldn't you be pissed off at both Assad and Russia?

Rebellion is hard. Rebel against any established, well-armed government, and they'll turn you into a pink mist. Given my temperament, I'd counsel my family members if you shoot at the king, you had better not bloody well miss.

Violence is necessary only if you want to substitute your own collectivistic ideology for the existing collectivistic ideology, or if you live in a real screwed place where emigration is not an option (North Korea is the only example coming to my mind). If you just want to live your own free life, you do not need to rebel, you can just ignore the assholes. Buy in black markets, use bitcoins, use always Thor, evade taxes as much as you can, use the marketplaces in the deep web, be an entrepreneur, or at least an independent contractor, home-school your kids, use Coursera or Edx to maintain your value in the market, etc. Last option, emigrate.

I tried to use Thor for anonymous communications, but the hammers were too heavy for me to lift. Maybe try onions next time?

People die -- that's an obvious biological fact. But there's a great difference of reason, whether there's 93 yo passed away following 7 years fighting cancer, or 12 people smashed by a truck in Xmas market by some random lunatic.

Re Irkutsk -- it's even funny to mention in this respect :)
Do you think that people drinking household window cleaning liquids deserve as much commiseration as children killed in an airstrike?
If so, you're mentally impaired, sorry.

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