Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A few months ago, Randall Monroe, the author of xkcd, embedded the geographic coordinates of a playground in North Cambridge in a comic, with a date that worked out as 2:38 PM last Sunday. Ths strip ended with the cautionary note that wishing for something doesn't mean you'll get it.

On the day, signs in the park had been done over with references to the strip, and geeks from far and wide took the place over, engaged in tape-measure contests and similar strip-related tomfoolery. (I never actually met the rumored Australians, though some Canadians in for the day had war stories of hassles at the airport.) At the appointed hour, Randall appeared, surveyed the crowd (which was, I'd guess, in the low hundreds), and declared that since he'd gotten what he'd wished for, the strip clearly needed revision. Large pieces of posterboard appeared for people to write suggestions. These were, of course, mobbed instantly. Among the various things that got scrawled on them by whoever shoved their way to the front, including NSFW graffiti purportedly from "your friends" at another webcomic, was this:

I don't know what "xkcd" is. I live across the street.
Tom Friedman's argument for invading Iraq was that it would give us an opportunity to create a society on Arab ground that would embody our values, which would be such a shining beacon of success that it would sell those values to all the other Arabs. So, how are we doing? Great!
In 1959 the Iraqi government amended the Personal Status Law. Article 118 came into being as part of our constitution.

It gave the women of Iraq the most progressive of all Arab and Islamic women's rights legislation until this very day. No discrimination in salaries, no discrimination in uniforms, the separated Mums get to keep the home until the children are of age, and so many other items that made the female community of Iraq one of the most progressive female communities within the Arab, Islamic and regional states – from that time … until we got "liberated".

Now we have article 41.

In brief, it says go to your cleric and he will deal with whatever issues you have. ...

Girls used to be free to drive their cars in safety all over the city to all appropriate hours. Now it has suddenly become shameful for them to do so.


Why have we lost our rights?

For what have we been pushed back into the dark ages?

In this field, at least, we have taken a formerly cosmopolitan society, and moved it right back towards the kind of theocracy that makes women "stay home to raise their babies" --- just like one of the Republicans' spiritual lights, Tim LaHaye, wants to see right here at home.

Bush says we're succeeding in Iraq. By his lights at least. Perhaps he's not wrong.