It takes a lot of balls to cover Hendrix, but musician Ron Pope said he grew up wanting to play like Jimi. Ron himself acknowledges that no-one can really play like Hendrix, so he had to develop his own style. But as this live cover demonstrates, he can come pretty damn close. He's getting a lot of dislikes on YouTube for something that isn't his fault, so if you feel like raising the level of justice in the world, give him some props.
Here's the original, on Hendrix' "Axis: Bold As Love" album. The triangle actually adds a lot.
Caroline Glick's "Caution: Storm Approaching" looks at the economic convulsions that underpin the Arab world's current political convulsions. Her conclusion is that those convulsions are about the get worse before they get better. It doesn't help that the same hate-spawning, dysfunctional political systems are big contributors to the Arabs' lack of economic progress as well. Nor does it help that key economies around the world cannot pretend away problems forever, but appear to be trying. The reckoning always comes, and the fallout from each side is about to affect the other.
Of course, replacing current governance in Arab/Islamic countries with an even more hate-filled and more dysfunctional system of Islamic theocracy - all that does is double down on human disaster and misery. It remains to be seen which way things tip. Revolution =/= progress; they are linked but ultimately separate variables.
On which topic, Brett Stephens had a useful reminder the other day, about courage...
"The Face of Pakistan's Courage" is about Shehrbano Taseer, the daughter of Punjab's governor. He's the man who was assassinated for suggesting the repeal of Pakistan's infamous blasphemy laws, whose legal and socio-cultural framework effectively sanctions torture and death for non-Muslims on a whim. I wish that was an exaggeration, but the evidence suggests otherwise: Asia Bibi currently sits on death row in Pakistan for nothing more than being a Christian, courtesy of the whim of a spiteful local villager. She isn't the first. She won't be the last.
Shehrbano Taseer is staying in Pakistan, and will continue fighting for her father's vision of the country. As Stephens correctly notes:
"Nearly a decade after 9/11, the West's exhaustion with the war on terror - at least in its more grandly conceived, nation-building and culture-shifting versions - can be traced to episodes like the Taseer killing and the underlying, politically incorrect question they prompt: What is it with these people? It's not an entirely unfair question.... [At the same time, people like Ms. Taseer, and the protesters in Syria] are exercising the virtue of courage as Aristotle would have understood it. And they are a rebuke to cultural pessimists in the West who often feel vindicated by the perfidies of the Muslim world but could stand, on occasion, to be humbled by examples of its courage."
The nature of Islam ensures that we'll be asking "What is it with these people?" for some time. The cultural disconnect is profound, and no, everyone does not want to be like us. Glick's realism - the genuine kind, not the school of foreign policy thought that calls itself realist because we wouldn't notice otherwise - is a necessary component. The very first thing is to look at what we see, and then not lie to ourselves. To date, it seems we've done little except lie to ourselves. That has to end.
While we keep that in mind, we must remember that Shehrbano Taseer is also real. As are the people Michael Totten talks to and writes about, here and elsewhere. There is a human element in all of this, and it's important to see it. That, too, is part of looking at reality and not lying to ourselves. People like Ms. Taseer matter in both a moral and political sense, and are worth our support.
Even if our realism doesn't think they're going to win in the near term, and urges us to prepare accordingly.
If anyone is curious what's going on with that, you can get the whole run-down at Defense Industry Daily - just read "Desert Leopards: Germany Selling Heavy Armor to the Saudis?".
As a bonus, DJ Elliott offers "The Missing Links: A Realistic Appraisal of the Iraqi Military."
The Torah is the Old Testament. The Talmud is a long, multi-volume series of rabbinic commentaries and applications of the Torah, as well as general discussions of philosophy, ethics, etc. Think of it as THE Jewish blog, with lots of manual links and comments spaced over a couple thousand years, plus unnoted commentary and arguments by all who study it. "The Essence of Judaism: On Teaching Judaism to Seventh Graders" is an entertaining explanation of how this process goes. Pirkei Avot (loosely, "The Wisdom of the Fathers") is the most frequently read and translated Talmud volume, since it deals only with general morals, ethics, and philosophy, and spends little to no time on halacha (Jewish law). That reach gives it an arguable place among the Great Books of civilization.
As a surprising demonstration of that reach, it turns out that the Talmud (I strongly suspect it's mostly Pirkei Avot) enjoys near-universal distribution in South Korea, of all places:
"Almost every house in South Korea has a translated Talmud. But unlike Israel, even Korean mothers study it and read from it to their young children. Yes, in a country of almost 49 million people, many of whom believe in Buddhism and Christianity, there are more people who read the Talmud - or at least have a copy of it at home - than in the Jewish state."
Turns out there's a reason for this...
"We were very curious about the Jews' outstanding academic achievements," explains South Korean Ambassador to Israel Young Sam Ma, who was a guest on Channel 1's "Culture Today" show.... We tried to understand the secret of the Jewish people. How do they - more than other nations - manage to reach such impressive achievements?... Jews read the Talmud from an early age, and we believe it helps them develop great abilities. This understanding led us to the conclusion that we should also teach children Talmud.... Young says he himself has been reading the Talmud since a very early age."
Beyondf the "In Search of Excellence" motif, Korea's own Confucian values also find strong echoes in the Talmud and Pirkei Avot - a phenomenon that has been noticed here when Jewish and Asian families have children who date. Promise of academic excellence + cultural affinity + curiosity of a foreign import... well, say no more.
Though I might venture to say a little bit more. "The Essence of Judaism: On Teaching Judaism to Seventh Graders" explains the essence of the part that goes beyond the book:
"In the following week, I begin with the semi-solemn warning that "now we are going to do something really difficult," and I recite the story of the physicist I.L. Rabi, who, when asked to explain his success as a physicist, attributed it to his mother, who each day when Rabi came home from school asked him not what he learned that day, but "did you ask a good question today?" 2 The assignment, then, was to ask three good questions about Judaism but not simple question of fact..."
You can read the Talmud, but without that kind of questioning engagement, it will lose the ingredients that made their way so strongly into Western culture, as they merged with the intrinsic ethics of science to form a larger whole.
Mind you, the Koreans are doing a pretty good job, beyond even the consumer items we've all become so familiar with. Not a lot of people realize this yet, but they're close to doing things in the defense arena that mirror Hyundai's auto success: designing and delivering capable, well thought out, reasonably priced alternatives. I expect we'll be hearing more about this in the years to come, as their land, air, and even naval products start gaining export traction.
Meanwhile, I've been noticing increased Israeli defense cooperation with South Korea for a few years now. Long-range Green Pine radars will become the anchor of South Korea's ballistic missile warning/defense system, they're buying Elbit's Skylark-II UAVs, an Israeli radar looks set to equip their locally-designed fighters and possibly their F-16s, etc. On the flip side, Israel looks set to buy Korea's supersonic T-50 Golden Eagles to replace its Skyhawk trainers, and probably serve a secondary fighters for the IAF.
I never thought there was more to it than mutual need, and a somewhat similar problem set. But, as usual, it seems there's more. And now you know the rrrrest of the story.
"In a September 2007 video, al-Qaeda's third-highest leader, Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi, published a strategy, largely based on al-Qaeda errors in Iraq, showing how the West can fight and win its "war of ideas." Why would he do this? That is unclear. Al-Libi may have believed that the United States lags so far behind the global jihadist movement that al-Qaeda has little to fear.6 In any event, his six-part strategy for the West focuses almost exclusively on countering al-Qaeda's narrative:
- Amplify cases of ex-jihadis who have renounced armed action;
- Fabricate stories about jihadi mistakes and exaggerate actual mistakes;
- Prompt Muslim clerics to issue fatwas that incriminate the jihadi movement;
- Support Islamic movements that disavow terrorist violence, particularly those with a democratic approach;
- Aggressively neutralize or discredit the jihadi movement's guiding thinkers; and
- Spin minor disagreements among jihadi leaders into major doctrinal or methodological disputes.
This actually strikes me as a pretty good list. As to why a jihadist cleric would issue this, it seems pretty simple to me. I've seen more than a few "beware of the following dirty tricks from the other side, so you're prepared" pieces among political partisans. Why not among theocrats, for whom religion is politics and vice-versa?
Apparently, the design for the Independent League baseball Amarillo Sox' mascot didn't turn out quite the way they had hoped.
"Is this the way to Amarillo?
Every night I've been hugging my pillow
Dreaming dreams of Amarillo
And sweet Marie who waits for me."
Now we know why. Read the team owner's comment at the end - it gets even better.