Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Sunday, March 17, 2002 Permanent link to this day

Sadly, it's the real thing: a wide ranging discussion of American policy towards countries hosting radical Islamic groups, starting with the hands-off treatment given to Gum Arabic. That Sudanese company has a near monopoly on a main ingredient in soft drinks and has been rumored to have financial ties to bin Laden. It's also one of the few companies with a exemption to the trade ban with Sudan.

Knowledge is in the mind of the beholder

The Pure Thought Manifesto: on the virtues of thinking for one's self and discovering one's own facts.

Pure thought is not tainted by the thoughts of others or by petty "information," which the conservatives deem "knowledge." Intelligence is not the spouting of other people's facts and ideas. Thinking is not agreeing or disagreeing.

It means nothing to me that you memorize the rules of algebra and calculus. Make up your own mathematics while sitting, stoned in your bedroom. That is pure genius.

No connection at all, I'm sure

A Turkish paper has reported that the companies involved in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline will incur lower insurance costs because of the increased security provided by the U.S. military presence in Georgia. Not that I'm implying that was a consideration or anything like that. [via xymphora]

Harappan mystery

The riddle of the stones: on the mystery of the Happaran language, which is apparently related to the Dravidian family. While we've learned much about the early Asian civilization from archaelogical work the language remains a puzzle.

Billed as one of the last great mysteries of the historical world, it has been regarded by some scholars as the most intriguing linguistic riddle since the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt were deciphered in the 19th century. For others - cryptographers and cranks alike - it poses a challenge to rank alongside the Nazis' Enigma code. The writing of the Harappan, or Indus valley, civilisation remains almost as baffling today as when first encountered in 1872 by a British amateur archeologist, Sir Alexander Cunningham, in what is today Pakistan. Despite relentless research and numerous claims of decipherment, no single interpretation has found approval and the signs have still to yield a universally accepted sentence.


Whoever should crack the code, say experts, will be assured of fame and fortune: lucrative book deals, lecture tours and celebratory documentaries on television. But, be forewarned. This is not an undertaking for the faint-hearted. Dozens of great minds have tried and failed. Dozens who have claimed to have decrypted the markings have been dismissed as either self-deluding eccentrics or charlatans.

See also:

Ramping up in the Philippines

Our military in the Philippines seems about to start joining the front line combat there.

Early yesterday two Pave Hawks flew a hazardous mission in darkness to rescue three wounded Philippine army soldiers after a guerrilla ambush in which a fourth man was killed. It was the Americans' closest brush with combat yet.

The American forces are now planning to send 12-man special units into action against the insurgents alongside companies of the Philippine army, each about 120 men strong. Senior Philippine army officers expect official recommendations to that effect this week.

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley