War and Peace


War is here. Though it really arrived on September 11th. Peace is not an option when you're under attack. So much to think about of late -- I'm still sorting it out. I hope to post some reflections about all this soon at my journal.

One thing I've been thinking about of late is the meaning of Islam both as a word and as a religion. A friend of mine who was raised Muslim tells me that the word Islam does not mean "peace", it means "submission". If that's true, it certainly puts the religion in a different light. A recent article by historian Paul Johnson (I need to find the link) argued that this current conflict is merely part of a centuries-long struggle between Christendom and the Islamic world. I've never liked Johnson's Christian bias but some of his arguments made sense historically. I'm not sure where that leaves the Hindus, Buddhists, animists, and other religions, though. And Islamic culture was much more advanced than Christian Europe for many centuries -- they preserved and extended the knowledge of the ancient Greeks through the European "dark ages" (though I suspect that in some ways those ages were not quite as dark as some argue, since the Middle Ages in Europe saw the invention of things like watermills, windmills, horse-drawn plows, crop rotation, eye glasses, and other practical advancements). Since I'm a non-believer, I guess it's hard for me to see this conflict through the lenses of religion.

Here's an interesting article by Michael Bliss on "the end of Canadian nationalism". I suppose coming from a border state (Maine) and having a number of relatives in Canada (they emigrated there from Holland -- my Quebec relations are long-lost), I'm more attuned to events and attitudes north of the border than most all Americans. Bliss argues that "Since 1776, the essential Canadian question has always been what kind of Americans we would become." Perhaps it's simple geography which raises this question: the main axis of the Americas is north-south (not east-west as in Eurasia), so the long stripe of Canadian population just north of the U.S.-Canadian border is quite probably unsustainable in the long run. Climatological and cultural commonalities are much greater between (let's say) Vancouver and Seattle, Calgary and Denver, Winnipeg and Minneapolis, Toronto and Cleveland, Portland and Halifax than they are between the regions of Canada. And that's not even to delve into the ever-vexatious Quebec question.

Good news on the Debian front: Mozilla works again. But now KDM is broken. Life is always interesting when you run unstable distributions.

No big Jabber news this morning, though I still have a number of JEPs to process.

The Yankees are in the playoffs. Here's hoping they win it all -- New York City certainly deserves some positive news. Though a parade through the canyon of heroes just won't be the same again for a long time.

Peter Saint-Andre > Journal