The Templars

Last weekend I finished The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades (talk about a long title). For those of you who were there when I bought this book know that I’ve been reading it for about 8 months, in the process have read probably another 3 or 4 books. In any case, the book was very well written and carried itself as an interesting chronology of the crusades. When I had purchaced the book I was hoping for a history of the Templars themselves but the book was largly a a history of the various groups (Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc) that were involved in the crusades and how the dynamics and wars between them all played out. Had the book been titled, “The Crusades, Sprinked With The Templars” I might not have bought it, but I can now say I’m much more versed in the history and reasons behind the crusades against the Holy Land. Ultra-quick summary: the Templars began as a warrior-monk society created by the Vatican to protect travelers on their way to Jerusalem and evolved over time into a large, multi-national corporation that funded kings and barrons, that served as warriors in crusades, and in the end were destroyed by the King of France.

CBS Censors Ads

This is really atrocious, who is CBS to limit free speech? I can understand that CBS is a private company owned by Viacom, so they can do what they please, but advertising and television is just as much a form of speech as print and word of mouth. It’s not an economic reason either, MoveOn has the money to pay for a Super Bowl spot. From MoveOn.org:

During this year’s Super Bowl, you’ll see ads sponsored by beer companies, tobacco companies, and the Bush White House. But you won’t see the winning ad in MoveOn.org Voter Fund’s Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest. CBS refuses to air it.

To check out the ad and ask CBS to air ads like this one, go to: http://www.moveon.org/cbs/ad/

Islamic/Muslim Law

It’s amazingly interesting to me to see how the governments of Afganistan and Iraq are panning out. As Americans, we tend to believe that Islamic law is prohibitive, works against human rights, etc, etc and it would “obviously” be in the best interest of nations we’re taking over (ahem, I mean, liberating) to instill a law perhaps like our own. So then why is it, so often, that people rally in support of Muslim law and having their legal system rooted in the Quran? One good example I saw of this was this article on Al Jazeera, where one group of women wants to have the Islam matrimonal tradition and another wanted to keep an Iraqi family law that prohibited polyagamy. The more and more one read in the news and otherwise makes it clear that our Americain/British legal system is not appropriate or adaptable for Middle Eastern cultures.

Confuse the Middle, But Feed the Base

I love Paul Krugman. My first exposure to his writing was in an upper division macroeconomics class in school where I read his book “Peddling Propserity” which railed against supply side economics amongst other things. Now days, on top of continuing to publish economic books, he’s a op-ed author for the New York Times and writes this great article entitled “Going for Broke” regarding the reports of what President Bush’s State of The Union will contain.

NYT Article on Blogs

I ran across this article on the New York Times (which, amusingly enough, I found while going reading through my feed reader) about blogging as a cultural phenomena (specifically in teens). The best quote from the article:

Blogging is a replication of real life: each pool of blogs is its own ecosystem, with only occasional links to other worlds. As I surfed from site to site, it became apparent that as much as journals can break stereotypes, some patterns are crushingly predictable: the cheerleaders post screen grabs of the Fox TV show ”The O.C.”; kids who identify with ”ghetto” culture use hip-hop slang; the geeks gush over Japanese anime. And while there are exceptions, many journal writers exhibit a surprising lack of curiosity about the journals of true strangers. They’re too busy writing posts to browse.

Update: Reeves also has a very interesting post about this article.

SF By (Late) Night

Did you know it’s impossible to walk around the Transamerica building at 3:30AM? They close the “Transamerica Redwood Park” with big iron gates which prohibited me from making a lovely square around the building. Of course, I woudn’t be trying to stroll the streets of the City at 3AM had it not been for the fool (whoever he was) who took my jacket out of the bar I was at, probably mistaking it for his own and inconvinencing me to have to call AAA and a lock smith to open my car door and have a key made. Luckly, I had my wallet on my person, so keys were all that was lost. Oh, and chapstick.

Cell Phone Usage

I’ve had my current cell phone (Samsung SPH-A500) for about a year now. I finally found how to get to the phone life time minute counter by the very un-intutive key combination ##786. The timer is at 202 hours and 36 minutes, meaning in the last year I’ve spent roughly 8.5 days or 2% of the year on my cell phone. Ouch.

On the Autobiography of Akio Morita

I finished Made in Japan, the autobiography of Akio Morita and the story of Sony a few weeks ago and never posted about it. I’m really trying to get out of the habit of reading corporate autobiographies, but this one popped out at me at a used book store in Julian (don’t remember its name). It’s a very interesting book since Akio Morita was in his early 20s during the end of WWII working in a physics research lab, thus the first quarter of the book follows a nifty and personal historical perspective on the fall out of the atomic bombs as well as the reconstruction of Japan. Sony’s beginnings were quite humble it seems, starting work in a fallen out building trying to make televisions. The other 3/4ths of the book are less interesting than the first quarter, as Morita goes on about how great his life is and the general obligitory things one must write in their autobiography. The other few gems in the book are largely based around how to motivate and excite people in an engineering firm, how to be innovative in a technolgy industry (a very refreshing “can-do” attitude) and the status and evolution of global trade in the 70s and 80s (something, it seems, that we take quite for granted these days).