Sunday, July 29, 2007


Can we make useful and reliable predications about future events? First yes we can make predictions, we do it all the time for ourselves. So called experts make predictions too, should we listen to them? More importantly should we act on them? Useful predictions are one thing, what is useful? Reliable is another thing. How reliable can our predictions be? What about the Black Swans? Those unpredictable events that change everything. Is the world understandable by humans to a degree that would allow us to make reliable and useful predictions? Or is the world (universe) too complicated for us to understand to a level that would allow us to make useful and reliable predictions? I predict I will drive to work tomorrow and spend the day aggregating and correlating useless information that I will use to make predictions. Will any of them be useful or reliable?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Philosophy References

Take a look at Dave McKay's philosophy website! A great source of philosophy references and he has started a forum section.

Locke on Human Understanding

The acts of the mind, wherein it exerts its power over simple ideas, are chiefly these three:

1. Combining several simple ideas into one compound one, and thus all complex ideas are made.

2. The second is bringing two ideas, whether simple or complex, together, and setting them by one another so as to take a view of them at once, without uniting them into one, by which it gets all its ideas of relations.

3. The third is separating them from all other ideas that accompany them in their real existence: this is called abstraction, and thus all its general ideas are made.

John Locke,
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690)

Losing My Jihadism

By Mansour al-NogaidanSunday,
July 22, 2007;

BURAIDAH, Saudi Arabia Islam needs a Reformation. It needs someone with the courage of Martin Luther. This is the belief I've arrived at after a long and painful spiritual journey. It's not a popular conviction -- it has attracted angry criticism, including death threats, from many sides. But it was reinforced by Sept. 11, 2001, and in the years since, I've only become more convinced that it is critical to Islam's future.
Muslims are too rigid in our adherence to old, literal interpretations of the Koran. It's time for many verses -- especially those having to do with relations between Islam and other religions -- to be reinterpreted in favor of a more modern Islam. It's time to accept that God loves the faithful of all religions. It's time for Muslims to question our leaders and their strict teachings, to reach our own understanding of the prophet's words and to call for a bold renewal of our faith as a faith of goodwill, of peace and of light.
I didn't always think this way. Once, I was one of the extremists who clung to literal interpretations of Islam and tried to force them on others. I was a jihadist.
I grew up in Saudi Arabia. When I was 16, I found myself assailed by doubts about the existence of God. I prayed to God to give me the strength to overcome them. I made a deal with Him: I would give up everything, devote myself to Him and live the way the prophet Muhammad and his companions had lived 1,400 years ago if He would rid me of my doubts.
I joined a hard-line Salafi group. I abandoned modern life and lived in a mud hut, apart from my family. Viewing modern education as corrupt and immoral, I joined a circle of scholars who taught the Islamic sciences in the classical way, just as they had been taught 1,200 years ago. My involvement with this group led me to violence, and landed me in prison. In 1991, I took part in firebombing video stores in Riyadh and a women's center in my home town of Buraidah, seeing them as symbols of sin in a society that was marching rapidly toward modernization.
Yet all the while, my doubts remained. Was the Koran really the word of God? Had it really been revealed to Muhammad, or did he create it himself? But I never shared these doubts with anyone, because doubting Islam or the prophet is not tolerated in the Muslim society of my country.
By the time I turned 26, much of the turmoil in me had abated, and I made my peace with God. At the same time, my eyes were opened to the hypocrisy of so many who held themselves out as Muslim role models. I saw Islamic judges ignoring the marks of torture borne by my prison comrades. I learned of Islamic teachers who molested their students. I heard devout Muslims who never missed the five daily prayers lying with ease to people who did not share their extremist beliefs.
In 1999, when I was working as an imam at a Riyadh mosque, I happened upon two books that had a profound influence on me. One, written by a Palestinian scholar, was about the struggle between those who deal pragmatically with the Koran and those who take it and the hadith literally. The other was a book by a Moroccan philosopher about the formation of the Arab Muslim way of thinking.
The books inspired me to write an article for a Saudi newspaper arguing that Muslims have the right to question and criticize our religious leaders and not to take everything they tell us for granted. We owe it to ourselves, I wrote, to think pragmatically if our religion is to survive and thrive.
That article landed me in the center of a storm. Some men in my mosque refused to greet me. Others would no longer pray behind me. Under this pressure, I left the mosque.
I moved to the southern city of Abha, where I took a job as a writer and editor with a newly established newspaper. I went back to leading prayers at the paper's small mosque and to writing about my evolving philosophy. After I wrote articles stressing our right as Muslims to question our Saudi clerics and their interpretations and to come up with our own, officials from the kingdom's powerful religious establishment complained, and I was banned from writing.
The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, gave new life to what I had been saying. I went back to criticizing the rote manner in which we Muslims are fed our religion. I criticized al-Qaeda's school of thought, which considers everyone who isn't a Salafi Muslim the enemy. I pointed to examples from Islamic history that stressed the need to get along with other religions. I tried to give a new interpretation to the verses that call for enmity between Muslims and Christians and Jews. I wrote that they do not apply to us today and that Islam calls for friendship among all faiths.
I lost a lot of friends after that. My old companions from the jihad felt obliged to declare themselves either with me or against me. Some preferred to cut their links to me silently, but others fought me publicly, issuing statements filled with curses and lies. Once again, the paper came under great pressure to ban my writing. And I became a favorite target on the Internet, where my writings were lambasted and labeled blasphemous.
Eventually I was fired. But by then, I had started to develop a different relationship with God. I felt that He was moving me toward another kind of belief, where all that matters is that we pray to God from the heart. I continued to pray, but I started to avoid the verses that contain violence or enmity and only used the ones that speak of God's mercy and grace and greatness. I remembered an incident in the Koran when the prophet told a Bedouin who did not know how to pray to let go of the verses and get closer to God by repeating, "God is good, God is great." Don't sweat the details, the prophet said.
I felt at peace, and no longer doubted His existence.
In December 2002, in a Web site interview, I criticized al-Qaeda and declared that some of the Friday sermons were loathsome because of their attacks against non-Muslims. Within days, a fatwa was posted online, calling me an infidel and saying that I should be killed. Once again, I felt despair at the ways of the Muslim world. Two years later, I told al-Arabiya television that I thought God loves all faithful people of different religions. That earned me a fatwa from the mufti of Saudi Arabia declaring my infidelity.
But one evening not long after that, I heard a radio broadcast of the verse of light. Even though I had memorized the Koran at 15, I felt as though I was hearing this verse for the first time. God is light, it says, the universe is illuminated by His light. I felt the verse was speaking directly to me, sending me a message. This God of light, I thought, how could He be against any human? The God of light would not be happy to see people suffer, even if they had sinned and made mistakes along the way.
I had found my Islam. And I believe that others can find it, too. But first we need a Reformation similar to the Protestant Reformation that Martin Luther led against the Roman Catholic Church.
In the late 14th century, Islam had its own sort of Martin Luther. Ibn Taymiyya was an Islamic scholar from a hard-line Salafi sect who went through a spiritual crisis and came to believe that in time, God would close the gates of hell and grant all humans, regardless of their religion, entry to his everlasting paradise. Unlike Luther, however, Ibn Taymiyya never openly declared this revolutionary belief; he shared it only with a small, trusted circle of students.
Nevertheless, I find myself inspired by Luther's courageous uprising. I see what Islam needs -- a strong, charismatic personality who will lead us toward reform, and scholars who can convince Islamic communities of the need for a bold new interpretation of Islamic texts, to reconcile us with the wider world.

Mansour al-Nogaidan writes
for the Bahraini newspaper Al-Waqt.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Kuwait Post

A source fo news about Kuwait. Click title or go here

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Great Ocean

Isaac Newton said this about his state of knowledge;

I do not know what I appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me.

I feel the same, spending so much of my time gathering data and information that sometimes results in knowledge. But wisdom, that comes very slowly. What is in the great undiscovered ocean before me? What questions do I need to ask? How will the answers change my life? If I continue this way will my time have been well spent?

Elegant Universe

"When science is widely seen as an integral part of what makes us human, our own connection to the cosmos will be significantly stregthened; truly, science is the thread that weaves us all into the fabric of reality."

Brian Greene
The Elegant Universe

The Path to a Better Future

The path to a better future for all of humankind is down the road lead by science. Science has had the most positive impact on humans in the long run. We need more people who understand and practice science to lead us into the future. Ofcouse we need some checks and balances on our scientist and that is the role of the philosopher. The philosopher will provide the boundaries for the scientist. The new intellectuals will be responsible for humans evolving to the next better phase in our existance. These intellectuals are the scientists and the philosophers. Be one or both but help move us forward into the future.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Highway of Death

The Highway of Death refers to a road between Kuwait and Basra on which the retreating Iraqi army was attacked by American aircraft during the Gulf War, on the night of February 26 - February 27, 1991.

Western news reports refer to the road as Highway 80, and it runs from Kuwait City to the border towns of Abdali (Kuwait) and Safwan (Iraq), and then on to Basra. The road was repaired during the late 1990s, and was used in the initial stages of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by U.S. and British forces.

Any highway in Kuwait can be called the highway of death! Kuwait is full of rude very unsafe drivers.

Rich History of Kuwait

For a nation that has only come to the modern world’s attention since the discovery of petroleum, Kuwait has had a rich and diverse history. Archeologists have discovered chipped flint tools from 10,000 years ago, indicating that Stone Age people ranged through the area. A site in Sabbiya on the north shore of Kuwait Bay has yielded evidence of the oldest proper settlement in the region, dating to 4500 BC. Pottery fragments, knives, and beads found there indicate that the site was used by Ubaid settlers, the same people who populated ancient Mesopotamia. This means that the earliest settlers of Kuwait were cousins of the Sumerians, who developed the first recorded human civilization.
Two millennia later, the Dilmun Empire dominated the Arabian Gulf region from its capital in Bahrain. This maritime trading civilization flourished between 2300 and 1100 BC, and had settlements in Failaka, the island 20 kilometers from the southern promontory of Kuwait Bay. Archeologists have uncovered a complete Dilmun town there, including dwellings, public buildings, granaries, and a temple dedicated to the god Inzak. These are some of the best structural remains on earth from the Bronze Age.
Later the Greeks, the greatest seafarers of their time, plied the waters of the Gulf. Strabo, Pliny the Elder, and Dionysios all referred to island settlements there. The historian Arrian, in particular, mentioned an island discovered by one of Alexander the Great’s admirals on his way to India. He called the island “Ikaros” after a Greek island, and the Greeks established a significant trading post and temple on it.
In 1958, archeologists began to uncover a wealth of historical treasure and information, proving that Failaka was the Hellenistic Ikaros. Excavations have unearthed evidence of an extensive settlement that thrived between the 3rd and 1st Centuries BC There are ruins of dwellings, pavement, fortifications, and temples dedicated to Artemis and Apollo constructed of oolitic limestone from the Arabian mainland. Diggers also discovered hoards of silver Greek coins, terra cotta figurines and molds, busts in the classical tradition, and decorative reliefs.
Of particular interest was an inscribed stele in front of one of the temples. The inscription consisted of directives and messages to the inhabitants of Ikaros. Though it was linguistically difficult and partially destroyed, the reconstructed text has provided valuable information about the history, economy, politics, religion, and jurisprudence of Hellenistic colonial settlements.
While the Greeks were using the Gulf as a highway from Mesopotamia to India, Arab nomads were wandering the Arabian Peninsula and migrating eastward during the hot seasons. As Arab civilization began to thrive, commerce between Yemen in the south and Baghdad and Damascus in the north began to center on the Gulf. What is now Kuwait City, situated strategically at the tip of the Gulf and having one of its two natural harbors, began to play a key role in this trade of frankincense, myrrh, dates, pearls, gems, spices, and fabrics. As the centuries passed, goods from as far as India, China, and Africa were shipped via the port. When Islam swept the Arabian peninsula and beyond, Kuwait also became important as an east-west caravan stop on pilgrimages to Mecca.
Greek column on Failaka
visit for the rest of this story and more interesting things about Kuwait.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sure Saddam, take Kuwait

YouTube video; "Sure Saddam, take Kuwait" Part 4 of Web of Deceit. Visit YouTube and search for "Sure Saddam, take Kuwait"


Causal determinism is, roughly speaking, the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature.

Determinism: The world is governed by determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law.

The roots of the notion of determinism surely lie in a very common philosophical idea: the idea that everything can, in principle, be explained, or that everything that is, has a sufficient reason for being and being as it is, and not otherwise.

In other words I am here due to causal determinism and not by free will as I had preveously thought. So this is where I am supose to be at this point in my life. Can't wait to see what comes next!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Common Sense

The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.

Thomas Paine
Common Sense, 1776


You are known for by the books you read. And the blogs you read.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Kuwait without oil

Have you ever wondered what Kuwait would be like today if they never found oil? I have...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Soul & Body

I am reading a book by Betrand Russell called Religion and Science. Very good survey of some interesting topics including a chapter on the Soul and Body which I read today. Science and religion have been contending for the minds of humans for a long time now. I know that science will eventually win. It is part of our evolution into something better than we are now.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Al-Qaida or Divide Iraq into 3 regions?

Think Tanks in Washington DC are proposing that Iraq be split into three regions, one each for the Kurds, Sunni's and Shia. Al-Qaida's Ayman al-Zawari is calling on the Iraqi Sunni popoulation to step up the jihad and establish a caliphate of Islamic rule acrsoss the region. They want a Islamic State of Iraq headed by Al-Qaida. Mean while 157,000 US troops try to keep the peace long enough for the Iraqi government to gain control. What to do, what to do?

Friday, July 06, 2007

First Kuwaiti USA Projects

List of projects First Kuwaiti Trade & Construction did for the US Army, according to their website.

Another blogger on First Kuwaiti General

See this blog entry for more on how First Kuwaiti General is using slave labor in Iraq.

$592 Million to bad Kuwaiti Contracting Company

Construction Woes Add to Fears at Embassy in Iraq
By Glenn KesslerWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, July 5, 2007; A01
U.S. diplomats in Iraq, increasingly fearful over their personal safety after recent mortar attacks inside the Green Zone, are pointing to new delays and mistakes in the U.S. Embassy construction project in Baghdad as signs that their vulnerability could grow in the months ahead.

The main builder of the sprawling, 21-building embassy is First Kuwaiti General Trade and Contracting Co., a Middle Eastern firm that is already under Justice Department scrutiny over alleged labor abuses. First Kuwaiti also erected the guard base, prompting some State Department officials in Washington and Baghdad to worry that the problems exposed in the camp suggest trouble lurking ahead for the rest of the embassy complex.

So seems we need to take a close look at the First Kuwaiti General Trades and Contracting Co. Seems they are doing substandard work in Iraq. How many buildings in Kuwait are ready to go up in flames. I have seen several black clouds of smoke coming from buidings in Kuwait in the last couple of weeks, coinicence? Or another company getting rich on the backs of the poor worker.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

President Defends War on July 4th

Bush Compares Iraq To Revolutionary War

By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 5, 2007; Page A02
MARTINSBURG, W.Va., July 4 -- President Bush warned Wednesday that the Iraq war "will require more patience, more courage and more sacrifice," as he appealed to a war-weary public for time and sought to link today's conflict to the storied battles that gave birth to the nation.
In an Independence Day address before members of the National Guard and their families, the president again painted a dire portrait of the consequences of pulling out of Iraq, asserting as he has before that "terrorists and extremists" would try to strike inside the United States.
My thoughts: we need to move back and protect the Iraq boarders and let them figure it out internally.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

City Landmarks

So Seattle has the Space Needle, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, San Franciso has the Golden Gate bridge, and Kuwait City has these needles with blue balls.

Defiant hardcore remain as hundreds surrender at Pakistani mosque -

Defiant hardcore remain as hundreds surrender at Pakistani mosque -

Are We Alone?

Astronomers have found more than 200 planets beyond our solar system. The nearest one known lies 10.5 light-years away and orbits the star Epsilon Eridani. I really hope we are not alone. Living in Kuwait I feel alone sometime. I hope their is intelligent life outside our solar system and that we get the chance to interact with them.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Independence Day

Kuwait achieved independence from the United Kingdom on June 19, 1961. The United States gained independence from the UK on July 4, 1776. This week will see lots of fireworks in the United States as we celebrate with parades, barbecues, and picnics. It is a time for families to come together and remember what it took to gain our liberty. June 19 passed without any fanfare here as far as I could tell.
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