Poetry / The Lost Castle of Glyndwr:

From the Medieval Welsh Poem Goddodin:
Gododin gomynnaf oth blegyt.
yg gwyd cant en aryal en emwyt.
a guarchan mab dwywei da wrhyt
poet gno en vn tyno treissyt.
er pan want maws mvr trin.
er pan aeth daear ar aneirin.
nu neut ysgaras nat a gododin.

Gododdin, I make this claim on your behalf
In the presence of the throng boldly in the court:
And the song of the son of Dwywai, of high courage,
May it be manifest in the one place that it vanquishes.
Since the gentle one, the wall-of-battle, was slain,
Since earth covered Aneirin,
Poetry is now departed from the Gododdin.

I'm now worried about those tourists:

InstaPundit, sage of Knoxville, has been concerned for some time about the disappearances of (now more than thirty) foreign tourists in the south of Algeria. It's been one of those Bermuda triangle stories, which became fascinating recently when a band of Bedouin nomads rode into one of the cities in Algeria and reported finding a secret complex of tunnels in the desert. Since then it has come to appear that the tourists are being held hostage by Islamists who have sought them as hostages against Western involvement in Algeria.

The Algerian government is now responding, and so it is just now that I'm becoming worried. The Algerian government, you see, is rather French. El Moudjahid, an Algerian newspaper, presents the account of the government's reply:

. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Pr�sident de la R�publique, a re�u, mercredi au si�ge de la Pr�sidence, M. Juergen Chrobog, secr�taire d�Etat aux Affaires �trang�res de la R�publique f�d�rale d�Allemagne et envoy� sp�cial du chancelier f�d�ral, M. Gerhard Schro�der.
L�audience s�est d�roul�e en pr�sence du ministre d�Etat, ministre des Affaires �trang�res, M. Abdelaziz Belkhadem et du ministre d�Etat, ministre de l�Int�rieur et des Collectivit�s locales, M. Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, ainsi que de l�ambassadeur de la R�publique f�d�rale d�Allemagne � Alger, M. Hans-Peter Schiff.
M. Chrobog est porteur d�un message du chancelier f�d�ral au Pr�sident Bouteflika.
Got that? The whole first paragraph is nothing but: The President met, at the President's seat, with the German Secretary of state for foreign affairs and a bunch of other ministers whose ranks and titles are recited at great length. Did they do anything? Yes! The German brought a letter and gave it to the President and ministers. That's what the whole paragraph says.

And what did the letter say? Only this: "L�Allemagne satisfaite des efforts d�ploy�s par l�Alg�rie pour retrouver les touristes disparus." That is, "Germany is satisfied with the efforts to recover the lost tourists." Doesn't Germany have a Marine Corps? Maybe they'd like to borrow ours for a few hours?

Corruption in Forsyth County:

Alleged corruption, anyway. I've recently been introduced to this site on the subject of "Local Organized Judicial Crime" in Forsyth County, Georgia--I'm guessing that's a euphamism for corrupt public officials. Makes for interesting reading.

Poetry is dead, writes Bruce Wexler in Newsweek. Why?
Anyone can write a bad poem. To appreciate a good one, though, takes knowledge and commitment. As a society, we lack this knowledge and commitment. People don�t possess the patience to read a poem 20 times before the sound and sense of it takes hold. They aren�t willing to let the words wash over them like a wave, demanding instead for the meaning to flow clearly and quickly. They want narrative-driven forms, stand-alone art that doesn�t require an understanding of the larger context. I, too, want these things. I am part of a world that apotheosizes the trendy, and poetry is just about as untrendy as it gets.
Well, we have come again to "rolling back the 20th century." The kind of poetry Wexler means is the kind he mentions by name in the article--�I Knew a Woman� by Theodore Roethke, Eliot�s �Prufrock." This 20th century poetry is surpassingly arrogant. It demands that your read it twenty times to begin to appreciate it with all the self-surety of an archbishop presenting his ring.

Not so the older forms, especially the epic forms. Highly developed poetic forms rest upon strength of imagery, the ability to grab you and move you viscerally. The arcane twists and turns of such forms--skaldic kennings, for example--arise only because the forms themselves are so enticing. People read Homer twenty times, a hundred times, not because they want to appreciate Homer. They read and reread him because they do appreciate Homer. From the first time you hear it read, the old oral epics grab you by the throat. The Iliad describes the hunger of the Myrmidon's, Achilles' heroes, as they enter the war at last:

Hungry as wolves that rend and bolt raw flesh, hearts filled with battle-frenzy that never dies--off on the cliffs, ripping apart some big-antlered stag they gorge on the kill till all their jaws drip red with blood, then down in a pack they lope to a pooling, dark spring, their lean sharp tongues lapping the water's surface. . . .
So the Myrmidons, arranged as they were about Patroclus, Achilles' friend and doomed to die.
High Roller:

Bill Bennet, author of multiple books with titles like The Book of Virtues, turns out to be a high stakes gambler. Good for him! I never could take him seriously before, but now I may go out and read some of what he has to say. Never trust any man who wants to talk about virtue, but has cultivated no vice. A cultivated vice is the frank recognition of the imperfectability of mankind. Without that recognition, no serious discussion of morality is possible.
Patriotism Watch:

The link off WashingtonPost.com today reads: "Ellen Goodman: America's Gift to the World." Now, that could suggest that Ms. Goodman is America's gift to the world, if you didn't already know that Ms. Goodman is a regular columnist for the Post.

But even if you did know that, the link proves to be misleading. I lept onto her column, eager to read her expressions of patriotism, which for her would have been remarkable and rare. Surely she was finally giving in to her patriotism because of the war in Iraq, or our rebuilding and education efforts in Afghanistan, one of the places where American soldiers were endangering themselves to bring food, freedom, or peace.

Nope. When you get to the article, the real headline proves to be: Smoking: America's Gift to the World. True to form, alas.

More Bad Thinking:

Opening up a CIA domestic intel service. The FBI and the CIA are separate entities not by accident, but for cause. The two methodologies are necessary to make sure that American liberties are protected.

Hutchison Whampoa is out of the bid to buy Global Crossing telecommunications. GC ran a number of sensitive US Federal programs. Hutchinson Whampoa is owned by a subject of the People's Republic of China, and reputed to enjoy close ties to the People's Liberation Army. Our national security is a bit safer without our communications passing through a PRC-owned company.
A little life left in it:

I've recently held that racism was effectively dead in Georgia. Apparently there are still a few holdouts. Link via Drudge.
The Lost Castle of Glyndwr:

Readers of the previous article know that this was described in heroic verse by the poet Iolo Goch. I have looked in vain for a translation of the poem on the internet--it was most recently translated in a 1993 work by D. Johnston, and as such is still in copyright. In its place I give you this poem by Medieval Welsh poet Dafydd ab Gwylim, his ode to May, into whose bounty we enter:
Many a poet in his lay
Told me May would come again.
Truly sang the bard - for May
Yesterday began to reign!
She is like a bounteous lord,
Gold enough she gives to me -
Gold such as the poets hoard -
'Florins' of the mead and tree,
Hazel-flowers, and 'fleurs-de-lis.'
Underneath her leafy wings
I am safe from treason's stings;
I am full of wrath with May
That she will not always stay!
Maidens never hear of love
But when she has plumed the grove.
Giver of the gift of song,
To the poet's heart and tongue.
May! majestic child of heaven,
To the earth is glory given,
Verdant hills, days long and clear,
Come when she is hovering near.
Stars, ye cannot journey on
Joyously when she is gone!
Ye are not so glossy bright,
Blackbirds, when she takes her flight;
Sweetest art thou nightingale
Poet, thou cans't tell thy tale
With a lighter heart, when May
Rules with all liner bright array!

Two more big discoveries announced this week. In Wales, archaeologists have discovered the lost castle of Glyndwr. And in Egypt, a high priest's chamber.

Thanks to Wren's Nest for these links.

Arts & Sciences:

In response to my contention that psychology is not a science (see Monday's log), I've been asked to read Our Inner Conflicts by Karen Horney, M.D. Dr. Horney was one of the founders of psychoanalysis, both a friend and competitor to Freud, and compiled the basis of psychology's theories of neuroses. One of psychology's defenders asked me to consider her work at length before I made up my mind that psychology was not a science. I have now completed my study of the work, and am ready to report.

Dr. Horney's work has several things to be said in its favor. In particular the vision of sanity she presents is appealing, and in fact almost perfectly echoes G. K. Chesterton's vision of sanity from Orthodoxy. Chesterton, of course, was not a psychologist, but a Catholic: his thoughts on why men departed from sanity did not hinge upon theories of psychological conflict, but sin. Yet the two visions of sanity are almost perfect copies: each is a vision of wholeheartedness, coupled with responsibility and an ability to respond to things genuinely and without pretense. Both visions are powerful, appealing, and deeply human. Either, or indeed both, could be correct.

Both are empirical. Neither is scientific. Understanding why psychology is not science requires a short examination of what science is. The religious view is not in any danger of being taken for science, as it has no pretenses in that direction. The religious view takes its authority from faith, which is ultimately not testable beyond the confines of one man's heart. But psychology partakes of studies, not prayer; it holds conferences, publishes journals, engages in peer review and debate: how can I hold that it is a thing more like religion than like physics?

Science requires that all principles be not only testable, but falsifiable. Newtonian physics felt, at the turn of the 20th century, that it had basically solved all but a few straggling problems, and was remarkably close to a complete explanation of how the universe worked. It still viewed atoms as unsplittable, and had no knowledge of quarks or quantums. When the "new physics" came along, it undermined the entirety of the discipline as it existed. Everything had to be cast out or reexamined: a resolution is still out of reach.

Psychology's bedrock claims are not similarly falsifiable. Behavioral psychology claims that the mind is an illusion of the brain: its evidence is that it can explain behavior by reference only to chemical properties of the brain, and therefore a mind is unnecessary. That kind of argument is a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad ignorantiam, that is, the argument from ignorance. The fact is that behavioral psychology cannot show that there is no mind, any more than it can show that there is. At the last, it is engaged in an act of faith, upon which principle no scientific inquiry is possible.

Behavioral psychology is not alone: all psychology ultimately is based upon unscientific principles which must be accepted, or not, on faith. Freud's Oedipal complex, for example, was meant to exist in all men; if analysis showed something consistent with it, the psychologist said, "Aha! The Oedipal complex at work!" If analysis failed to show anything consistent with it, the psychologist replied, "Aha! You are repressing your Oedipal complex." The fact that the complex might not exist was not possible, therefore it could not be the case. Jungian psychology similarly posits a "collective unconscious," and it is ultimately your acceptance of the existence of that collective unconscious which qualifies you to practice Jungian analysis. You can't be a Jungian and not accept the collective unconscious. Cognitive dissonance theory posits that the human mind (or brain) can't accept two mutually exclusive propositions without feeling agitation to resolve them. I have occasionally debated this point with cognitive therapists, and found that evidence against this central proposition is finally dismissed. It has to be, as the central principle can't be proven, nor can it be disproven: it must be accepted on faith.

Yet psychology retains the respect due only to real sciences, and with it the force to legally deprive a man of his freedom, his job, or certain rights which are available only to those held to be "mentally competent" to exercise them. Psychology's ability to maintain this illusion is due to its empiricism--that is, to the fact that it bases its conclusions on real-world examples, which gives it the flavor of science. Empiricism, practiced by Aristotle, was indeed the precursor of science. I said that Dr. Horney was empirical, and she is. She really has done a lot of research, and a lot of analysis, and a lot of thinking about the examples she has met. Empiricism is not science, however. That is another way of addressing the line of questions which takes the form, "But if (e.g.) behaviorists can in fact explain all human behavior without reference to a mind--if they can really do it--does that not show that they are right?" The answer lies with the Greeks.

Ancient Greek navigators developed a complex mechanical device for navigation, called the Antikythera mechanism. It aided navigation by predicting where certain stars should be in the sky at given times of the night, at given points of the year. The Greeks thought that the earth was the center of the universe, however, which should pose a problem for correct prediction of astral movements. When they encountered those problems, though, they just thought around them:

The Greeks believed in an earth-centric universe and accounted for celestial bodies' motions using elaborate models based on epicycles, in which each body describes a circle (the epicycle) around a point that itself moves in a circle around the earth. Mr Wright found evidence that the Antikythera mechanism would have been able to reproduce the motions of the sun and moon accurately, using an epicyclic model devised by Hipparchus, and of the planets Mercury and Venus, using an epicyclic model derived by Apollonius of Perga. (These models, which predate the mechanism, were subsequently incorporated into the work of Claudius Ptolemy in the second century AD.)
Epicycles were able to correctly account for the movement of astral bodies without discarding the core--and inaccurate--principle of the earth's centrality. The development of epicycles is an astonishing, indeed a magnificient, human accomplishment. It is a beautiful piece of human artifice. Its only flaw is that it fails to be correct.

Psychology is in just this position. Insofar as it simply wishes to guide a given ship to a given port (say, an unhappy person to that vision of sanity) it may serve as a perfectly useful model. So long as it is applied to that, and only that, it may be functional. The problem arises when you start making wider judgements based upon its core principles--for example, what sort of people ought to enjoy freedoms, or ought to hold jobs. If the core principle is wrong, you could end up making very bad, hurtful judgements.

Ultimately epicycles were set aside because they partook of the realm of physics, and better methods of observation allowed us to see plainly that the earth was not the center of the universe. Psychology is a different animal because its core principles are finally untestable, unfalsifiable, and unscientific. There is no evidence that can be brought to bear, either today or conceptually in the future, that could really put an end to the question of whether or not we have minds separate from our brains; or whether "inner conflicts" yield "disorders" from some kind of normality, rather than simply informing the development of a unique person who wasn't meant to be anything other than what they are. These things at last can't be tested.

I have nothing against people making decisions in their personal life on the basis of psychology, if they feel inclined. I don't mind them choosing this thing over that thing on the basis of Tarot card readings, for that matter. I have said that arts are the noblest of human endeavors precisely because they are the most human. Psychology is an art. It should be proud of it. It must also, however, discard the false authority that it has laid claim to under the guise of being a science. People can--should!--choose to build their lives around the mastery of some art that is particularly appealing to them. No government or corporate entity, though, should make decisions involving fundamental liberties on the basis of signs and portents, the readings of seers, or the analysis of a psychologist.

May Day:

Although the Washington Post lists the story as "World Marks May Day," it's really mostly a few crowds of communists and the remnant of the hard-left labor unions. The exceptions are in Germany, where this seems to have turned into an annual riot-for-fun-and-profit day among the youth; and Russia, oddly enough:
In Russia, pro-Kremlin parties and trade unions stole the show from the fading Communist opposition by organizing a rally in central Moscow that drew an estimated 25,000 people. The peaceful, flower-waving crowd cheerfully marched down Moscow's main thoroughfare, joined by the city's mayor Yuri Luzhkov and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
More Bad Thinking:

Textbooks are heavily censored--we wouldn't want to teach the wrong lessons, right? Even Plato talked about that in the Republic. It's a lesson holders of education degrees take seriously:
What do dinosaurs, mountains, deserts, brave boys, shy girls, men fixing roofs, women baking cookies, elderly people in wheelchairs, athletic African Americans, God, heathens, witches, owls, birthday cake and religious fanatics all have in common? Trick question? Not really. As we learn from Diane Ravitch's eye-opening book "The Language Police," all of the above share the common fate of having been banned from the textbooks or test questions (or both) being used in today's schools.
I always thought it was odd that Plato made Socrates the mouthpiece for this idea when it was presented in the Republic. Socrates' life was one of searching out and examining all ideas, everything he could, though in the end it meant his death to carry on. I have never understood why Plato felt it was appropriate to make Socrates an advocate for censoring what children encounter in order to control the development of their minds and attitudes. Socrates' approach was the opposite: to encounter widely, but think it through.

But the panels making these decisions were obviously not taught to think things through. Rather than introducing textbooks and tests that would expand student's horizons, they try to restrict the horizons as much as possible to avoid testing them on unfamiliar concepts:

Stranger still, a story about a heroic blind youth who climbed to the top of Mt. McKinley was rejected, not only because of its implicit suggestion that blind people might have a harder time than people with sight, but also because it was alleged to contain "regional bias": According to the panel's bizarre way of thinking, students who lived in non-mountainous areas would theoretically be at a "disadvantage" in comprehending a story about mountain climbing. Stories set in deserts, cold climates, tropical climates or by the seaside, Ravitch learned, are similarly verboten as test topics, since not all students have had personal experience of these regions.
What exactly do they teach at education school?

Link via Arts & Letters Daily.

Pakistan: Ally?

Reports are mixed, but this report in Pakistan's Daily Times is encouraging. The US government considers them a key ally, and reports that Pakistan is third in the world in the seizure of terrorist assets. The first two governments are the US and Switzerland, for reasons that will be obvious. Pakistan is surely third in part because of the massive number of terrorists operating out of, or through, its offices. Still, the fact that they are so heavily involved in seizures indicates that terror groups do not enjoy the full backing of the government, but only of elements within it.

First, the good news: six members of al Qaeda have been arrested in Pakistan, including Tawfiq bin Attash. The other five look like small fish, but Tawfiq has in the past been named by the CIA as one of the leaders of the Cole bombing and the attacks on our African embassies.

Now the bad news: The United States has signed a ceasefire with a terrorist group. The group in question is the People's Mujahidin, an Iranian organization that we were bombing just fifteen days ago.

There are two things about this which are of concern. The more important is, what standing does a terrorist group have to enter into formal negotiations with the United States? The willingness of the government to negotiate with them gives them a legitimacy that they, being in fact a band of brigands, do not deserve. We will certainly regret this.

The second area of concern has to do with the image of the United States in terrorist-producing regions. It was precisely the image of weakness after Somalia, we now know, that inspired the Cole and embassy bombings; and the weak response against those was central to the planning of 9/11. For now, it looks like the response is muted: the Balochistan Post reports the story under the headline, "United States signs deal with terror group: Big terrorist seeks help of small terrorists." The story reads like pragmatism rather than cowardice on our part, as the People's Mujahidin are opposed to the current government in Iran. This looks like it is part of a US effort to undermine the Iranian government, and perhaps it is.

Speaking of terrorism, the dispute between the IRA and Northern Irish groups has managed to derail the power-sharing elections again.

A great career awaits:

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Iraqi information minister may still be alive. According to the report, he's tried to turn himself in to US forces, but they don't think he's important enough to arrest.

John Derbyshire's column today is remarkable on several occasions. Here are two, but the whole column--indeed, the whole body of his political writings--deserves reading when leisure permits:
It is easy to think of very large and disastrous social consequences that have followed from private sexual activity. There is, for example, the great explosion of illegitimacy that followed the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and that has wreaked such havoc on our society. There is also the dreadful AIDS epidemic, spread in the USA mainly by private sexual activity, which has killed tens of thousands of people. There is of course a great deal more to be said on both these topics, and room for plenty of opinions about the proper scope and authority of the state in these things. I am only pointing out that the proposition: "Society at large has no legitimate interest in citizens' private sexual activities" is so obviously false as to be, well, infantile. And yet, amazing to say, a lot of grown-up people seem to believe it.
And the second:
The Santorum business brought to the fore an outfit called "The Human Rights Campaign." You would never know from its name that this is a homosexualist lobbying organization. I have no problem with HRC's existence � homosexuals have as much right to organize and lobby as the rest of us � but I do have a problem with that name � viz., it's dishonest. The name of an organization ought to give some clue as to what the organization is for. Why don't they call themselves "The Homosexual Rights Campaign," or "The Campaign for Tolerance of Alternative Sexuality," or something like that? If they want to be a little more in-your-face, they could go for something with a defiant or humorous twist: "The Sodomite Sodality," perhaps. Don't they understand that this straining at bland respectability just makes them look shifty?

Readers, I have decided to launch a movement for the legalization of dog meat as a marketable foodstuff. My movement will be named: "The Campaign for Truth, Justice, Harmony and Peace." Everyone OK with that?
Al Qaeda in Iraq:

A terrorist is captured in western Iraq. Administration officials quickly point out that they don't know if he had any connection to the Iraqi government. I'm always amazed by how cautious the Bush administration is with its pronouncements, in view of their public image as outrageous cowboys.
A Mythic Day:

...in the Corner. Thanks to them for these links, one to a magnificient archaeological find that may be the tomb of Gilgamesh. Also, there is a link to this article on dragons.
Caves in Afghanistan:

U.S. Special Forces find 80 metric tons of high explosives and 124 metric tons of small arms ammunition hidden in Afghan caves. But that's not all:
Earlier this month, Romanian soldiers discovered thousands of rockets and more than 1 million rounds of ammunition in what the US military then described as the largest weapons cache discovered by US-led forces in Afghanistan.

The find near Qalat, capital of southern Zabul province, included 3,000 107mm rockets, 250,000 rounds of 12.7mm machinegun ammunition, about 1 million rounds of small arms ammunition and other ammunition and mines.

Afghan forces earlier this month also discovered about 18 caves full of ammunition and weapons near Maimana.

Each cave was 15 metres by five metres by four metres high, Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said when he announced the finds.

Those weapons appeared to have been stockpiled during Afghanistan's 1992-1996 civil war, however, not a Taliban or Al Qaeda arsenal.

US special forces also uncovered six smaller caches of weapons including 400 107mm rockets and machineguns in the Madr valley north-east of Bamiyan in central Afghanistan.
Link via the Agonist.
Now I know what to get as a wedding gift:

Minnesota passes a "shall-issue" law on concealed firearms. Maybe I'll spring for a pistol for Kevin, my sister's suitor.
The "Ban that Polarized a Nation":

Foxhunting in Scotland. Really, though, outright banning of traditional liberties should always polarize a nation--preferably into the camp in favor of voting out the scoundrels who did it, and camp composed of only the scoundrels themselves.
Great, if true:

Mugabe to step down?
Progressing right back...

Earlier this week, I said:
Progressive--I like that. Let's progress right on past the wasteland of modernism, exactly by returning to the old values of classical liberalism. It was, after all, the classical liberal who first propounded the idea that all men were created equal, and that some rights were endowed inalienably.
From The Nation, an article by William Grider:

...The movement's grand ambition--one can no longer say grandiose--is to roll back the twentieth century, quite literally. That is, defenestrate the federal government and reduce its scale and powers to a level well below what it was before the New Deal's centralization. With that accomplished, movement conservatives envision a restored society in which the prevailing values and power relationships resemble the America that existed around 1900, when William McKinley was President.

I'm not aware of being part of any movement, but it sounds like I may have some allies out there. If they want to stop at 1900, though, they're pulling up short. I say we keep right on rolling to, say, 1787. If we get to pick our period of values and power relationships, I'll take the Washington administration.
PBR Watch:

My grandfather's beer, and my favorite American beer, has apparently reached the apex of coolness. Jonah Goldberg of NRO mentions it today, and even links to the PBR Homepage. Always did like the stuff--good to see it getting its due.
Mr. Powell blows smoke:

Today's NY Times article on the DPRK negotiations includes this gem from Colin Powell:
Mr. Powell said the North Koreans had not threatened during the talks to begin testing nuclear weapons. They never "used the word test," he said.
Did they use the word "is"? Or was it just that we can say they didn't use the word "test," as the statements were written in Korean?

The DPRK has, in the past, signed specific treaties and then broken them immediately. The State Department is now trying to read things into their choice of words in nonbinding negotiations? This is akin to a judge deciding to let a career criminal go unpunished, not because he promised not to rob any more banks, but because, describing his plans to visit the bank next week, he didn't use the word "rob."


An offer from the DPRK hinges upon our abandoning our antagonistic policy toward them. What policy would that be? Forswearing war at every opportunity?
Arts & Sciences:

From the beginning of a piece on failed civilizations:
In particular many of the so-called hard scientists such as physicists or biologists, don't consider history to be a science. The situation is even more extreme because, he points out, even historians themselves don't consider history to be a science. Historians don't get training in the scientific methods; they don't get training in statistics; they don't get training in the experimental method or problems of doing experiments on historical subjects; and they'll often say that history is not a science, history is closer to an art.
Historians often say that history is not a science because history is not a science. One of the central problems with modern society is its increasing inability to tell the difference between what is a science, and what isn't. This is directly related to the prestige that has come to be associated with the label of "science" during the 20th century.

In part because of the tremendous material advances brought us by science, the concept of science enjoys considerable standing. The best way to make sure that your ideas are put into practice is to convince others that they are scientific: to say that something is scientific is commonly thought to be the same as saying that it is true beyond the possibility of counterargument. Psychology (from the Greek, psyche-, or "spirit/soul," and -ology, or "study of"), which claims to be the science of the mind, has so convinced the majority of Westerners that it is scientific that a psychologist's testimony alone can strip a man of his freedom, serve as reason not to hire him, or to fire him from a job he already has. A man can be subjected to forced injections of drugs and imprisonment based on nothing more than a psychologist's assessment.

This all rests upon a misunderstanding of just what science is. Science is one kind of inquiry, a particular kind that rests upon two general principles: the method of making no assertions that cannot be tested and falsified; and the complete transparency and open debate of all assertions being made, none of which are ever to be taken as invunerable. Science is indeed a great thing; it is indeed powerful.

It isn't -everything-, though, and it isn't all powerful. There are some endeavors that are not, and can not be, science. History is one of them. So, as it happens, is "psychology," which would be more honestly called philopsyche, after the fashion of philosophy. Anything which involves the working of the human mind isn't and cannot be a science. This is simply because the human mind isn't observable, and therefore, it is not testable. Regardless of how cautiously you design your tests, the fact is that you are simply guessing about the why of a given decision. You can't really observe the process of decision making.

Stripping these so-called "social sciences" of the notion that they are sciences is one of the greatest services we could do for our culture. There is nothing more noble than art, exactly because there is nothing more human than art. We ought to be proud to be performing the arts, practicing the arts. There are too many, though, who are unwilling to compete in a fair and open atmosphere. They wish to hide behind the authority of science, even if they must do so illegitimately.

And they must: science was never about stifiling debate, but always about enforcing it systematically. Psychology, sociology, and the rest do not--as history does--recognize honestly the fact that their methods simply cannot be scientifically tested, cannot be falsified, cannot be proven nor disproven. As such, all of their assertions deserve a healthy scepticism. That scepticism should be the healthier for the fact that these so-called disciplines will not admit the truth about their methods. They are a blight upon our way of thinking, and of conceiving the world.

This article from the Policy Review deserves special mention.
Arts & Letters Daily:

My favorite of all similar sites, Arts & Letters Daily is one I rarely link to because I'd feel the need to speak to almost every piece. If you don't make a habit of reading it, you might wish to reconsider.
On which topic:

Babbin today:
There were several night missions aimed at capturing Saddam last week. The Marines and spec ops guys searched several caves and tunnels near Tikrit. Some had been recently occupied, but neither Saddam nor his sons were found.
A Very Merry Un-Birthday:

To Saddam, who is surely dead--or soon to be. One almost hopes he is alive, just so he can enjoy a birthday celebration in constant expectation of the arrival of Marine Force Recon.
Libya's chairmanship of the UN Human Rights Commission:

Even Le Monde can't let it go any longer.
Les choses avaient mal commenc�, cette ann�e, avec l'aide regrettable de la France, par l'�lection malencontreuse � la pr�sidence de la repr�sentante de la Libye, et elles se sont mal poursuivies. . . .
Cette commission est devenue une parodie d'elle-m�me et la majorit� des 53 Etats membres se satisfont de cette situation.
My French is what it is, but that's roughly, "Things began badly, this year, with the regrettable aid of France, with the election to the presidency of Libya's representative, and they have continued badly. . . . This commission has become a parody of herself, and the majority of the 53 member-states are satisfied with this situation."
Arab Conspiracy Theories:

From Albawaba.com.