Print Story Imagine there's no Islam
Religion & Philosophy
By georgeha (Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 10:02:24 AM EST) Linux Zealot (all tags)
aka A World Without Islam

Plus Committing Heresy, freerealms sucks, windows switchover, four long hard days, new lab, second win!, Iron Coffins, The Silver Chair, The Yom Kippur War and less.

Poll: What to do with old textbooks?

Macs used to rub me the wrong way, it started back in OS 7 days, when I was great at DOS. A PC fails to boot up, you could narrow it down to the line in the config.sys or autoexec.bat. A Mac, you get a bomb icon, and no info. I didn't like being that isolated from the hardware.

Nowadays, with OSX, they run UNIX, or something very much like that, so they're more tolerable. They're also common in in work problems that I should become more familiar with them.

With that background, I replaced my ten year old PC running an old version of Lunix with something more modern, it only has 256 megs of RAM and I'm finding more and more webpages crash the browser, like dailykos. I suppose I could go to redstate or freerepublic for a polits fix, but while I have fond memories of surfing the web in the 90's, I don't want to relive that.

I wanted some sort of UNIX or Lunix, and getting a cheap barebones PC and finding a distro with all the drivers I need is a little time intensive, I should just get something that works, for the rest of us. Gah, 1990's me is cringing. Anyhow, I got a five year old eMac for under $200 from Tigerdirect.

Youtube is okay, if blocky, the sound is good at least. I'm still struggling with MacFuse and fues-ext2, I may just power up the Hedgehog and move everything over.

I also got more RAM, because nine year old is getting into FreeRealms, and a half gig on XP doesn't cut it for that. Maybe with 2 gigs I'll actually be able to exit the program, instead of pulling the power cord. It's a serious pig.

Windows switchover, and no, not a software thing

I took out and put away the ac's for the winter, we store them in the attic. After that, I was able to put in the storm windows, many of our windows have replaceable storms/screens. I also fixed some insulation, and was even able to empty a few boxes of books and magazines, does anyone want some PC magazines from the mid 90's?

We still have about six boxes of old textbooks in the attic. I'd like to empty those boxes, but what to do with them? Sure, they're thirty years old, but the math and principles are still good. I can't imagine designing an airplane in my spare time, or solving diffy q for fun though. Maybe I can sell them to a survivalist. Vote in my poll!

four long hard days

Nine year old wants me to go on her four day field study in January, she really, really wants me to. There are usually more parents wanting to go than are accepted, OTOH I suspect fewer dads than moms apply, so I might have a chance. I'd have to pass a background check of course, but I've never been caught doing anything, save for some underage drinking back in Pennsylvania, which was just a summons I think. It would be a grueling four days, and I'm not sure our oldest can get herself up and out of bed by herself. I need to think of honest reasons I want to spend 20+ hours on a bus, 14 hour days, bad coffee, probably no alcohol with dinner or after, shepherding fourth graders around with no margin for error. I lose a kid, I'll never hear the end of it. On the positive side, I'd get to go to Ellis Island, the Tenement Museum, and the Satanic Mills of Lowell. It would be sort of like a business trip, without the meager expense account and drinks at dinner. We shall see.

Anyhow, I stayed up late last night putting down thoughts in coherent order, and trying real hard to raise my handwriting from execrable to barely legible.

Second win!

Unexpectedly, the swim team won against the big Catholic girls school, 53-43, though it was against their JV Team. 2-4.

A busy night and weekend. Tonight we're heading East to drop off our oldest at a Girl Scout corn maze, tomorrow we're heading West to Grand Island to see my sister's new place. Busy, busy. I visited Walmart this morning to buy new wiper blades, I need time to put those one.

Media Reviews

In books, first up is Fuller's
A World Without Islam, where the author talks about what the world would be like without Islam. It's a little nebulous, of course. He did make the point that in the Crusades, it wasn't the Latin Christian Church against Islam, it was the Latin Christian Church against Islam, Judaism and the Orthodox Church, culminating in sacking Constantinople. Without Islam, the Latin Christians still probably would have invaded the Middle East, and massacred Jews, the Orthodox and whoever else resisted.

Later the author examines Russia, Europe, China and India with regards to Islam. Russia is unique in that they're somewhat of a western nation, and they've had Muslim citizens for centuries, sometimes held in high regard, sometimes not. China has two sets of Muslim citizens, some from 1300 years ago that have assimilated very well, they even look Chinese. The Ugyurs in far western China, well, the War on Terror gave China an excuse to crack down hard on them. India, the author thinks the partition was a big mistake.

Finally, the author talks about what to do about Islam (if you're in the west, very little).

I liked the first historical part, suggesting the midEast would still have significant issues with the West even if Islam did not exist. The second part was about "what to due", which boiled down to "nothing", hope the midEast terrorists get co-opted into more representative governments. Bleak.

The second book was a good one, Werner's Iron Coffins about his time serving on U-boats in WWII. It was tense as his boat tried to survive anti-sub attacks, and tense as they stalked the convoys looking for some good shots that gave them a way to escape. You empathize with him, even though you realize he was defending an evil regime, though on the relativist morality scale, the Kriegsmarine was the best of the Wehrmacht. It was good that Donitz's star didn't ascend until it was too late to make much of a difference, Elektroboats in 1942 would have been very scary.

The third was another Narnia book, The Silver Chair, in which Eustance Stubb (last seen in the Dawn Treader) and a fellow schoolgirl flee their abusive schoolmates and end up in Narnia, where Caspian's son has gone missing for a decade. They head off, meet a Marshwiggle named Puddleglum, and see what they can do.

Finally, at the Public Market I picked up Allen's The Yom Kippur War with an odd and distasteful stamp on the front, a Nazi eagle and swastika, with the word Gestapo on it, and a name. WTF? Why is this sick neo-Nazi stamping his books and reading about Israel?

It was a good, quick read.

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Imagine there's no Islam | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)
Pesky things... by belldandi (2.00 / 0) #1 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 10:10:16 AM EST
I know what you mean, they should at least factor in a margin of error and assume that one would get lost... 

What? by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 10:19:08 AM EST
What pesky things?

[ Parent ]
Fourth Graders by FlightTest (2.00 / 0) #13 Sat Oct 23, 2010 at 07:07:02 PM EST
I assume.

[ Parent ]
In a world without Islam by lm (2.00 / 0) #2 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 10:15:20 AM EST
It could be that the Eastern Roman Empire would not have been weakened and have had the strength to take Rome back from the Franks.

OTOH, it is also possible that without the pressure of Arab tribes united under Islam, the Persians would have grown in strength and the foil to eastern and western Christian empires would have been either Pagan or Zoroastrian.

On the other, other hand, perhaps the various Arab tribes would have united without Islam and history would have played out more or less the same.

. . .

The field study sounds like quite the experience.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
WIPO: burn them on a nice, hot fire by lm (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 10:16:39 AM EST

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
(Comment Deleted) by aggressive cyclist (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 11:00:30 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by aggressive cyclist

I don't think that's as clear as you're making it by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #10 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 04:40:00 PM EST
Justinian wasn't able to retake the west, just parts of it. The underlying causes of that had to do with the economic weakness of the eastern state and the lack of a feeling of community or loyalty among those in the west.

Neither of those goes away in a world without Islam.

I do think that in a world without Islam, you don't get the post-1080 collapse of the Byzantines, because the Turks don't run over the Persians and squish the Byzantines. But I'm unconvinced that allows the Byzantines to go reconquering the west, which had already drifted culturally and politically out of their orbit before the Arab explosion.

(I'm not even sure they hold on to Egypt, to be honest - Imperial declarations on questions of religious doctrine had alienated the Coptic Church, which is one of the primary reasons the Copts welcomed the Arabs when they came.)
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by aggressive cyclist (2.00 / 0) #11 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 07:06:32 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by aggressive cyclist

[ Parent ]
The Byzantines by lm (2.00 / 0) #12 Sat Oct 23, 2010 at 10:24:49 AM EST
The eleventh and twelfth centuries were a time of growth and expansion for the Byzantines, driven by the economics of  renewed world trade.

It was the sixth to eighth centuries where Byzantium had a near collapse. It is true that the collapse started with wars against non-Muslim nations (Slavs, Avars, Persians), it was the Arab conquest  beginning in the seventh century that really set back the Byzantines.

There were problemsin the eleventh century, but the Byzantines controlled most of Bulgaria, southern Italy, Boetia, etc. Granted,  in the late eleventh century, they lost the Anatolian plateau to the Seljuks. But the real problems started with the thirteenth century which began with the Latin sack of Constantiople in 1204. Much of the Byzantine sphere of influence (city states in Greece, Italy, Serbia, Bulgaria) began to assert independence and organize into city-states, and there was newed military pressure from the Tatars and the Turks.

So, I'm hypothesizing that an eastern Roman empire, albeit weakened by an attempt to recapture the western provinces, that had not experienced the so-called "Arab conquest"  would have been able to recover and keep control of the western provinces and, perhaps, expand upon them.

And the "Copts welcomed the Arabs" meme is generally overstated for a number reasons. Firstly, imperial declarations on religious matters went many ways. There were "monophysite" emperors just as there where "Orthodox" emperors. While there was imperial involvement, religious quarrels between east and further east were far more the province of bishops and monks than emperors or the average citizen. Secondly, that imperial imposition explanation doesn't do justice to the complexity of the relations between Constantinople and the eastern provinces that, at the time, were engaged in almost constant warfare and, during periods of peace, were not well patrolled by imperial forces. And, as you mention was a large consideration in the west, there were linguistic and cultural problems.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
the impression i got from the alexiad by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #14 Sun Oct 24, 2010 at 03:34:59 PM EST
was of an empire recovering from a great disaster constantly on guard against the next one. that may have overly influenced my view of the 11th century.

i think there's a chance that the Romans could have held on to Egypt, but also a chance that they might not have; given that they weren't being patrolled well in times of non-war, they were really only bound to the empire by (a) the imperial forces in wartime and (b) a feeling of cultural cohesion ... which might well have been undermined by continuing conflict over religion.

Then again, it's possible that the (relatively) uniform culture of Byzantium might never have developed absent the invasion, which would have made it less a question of orthodox anatolia vs. non-orthodox syria & egypt, and more a question of intermingling between orthodox and unorthodox throughout.

Still: it's hard for me to imagine the trends (economic and social) which caused the disintegration of the west weakening, which makes it hard for me to imagine a post-Persian-war Byzantine renaissance that could have retaken the west.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
I think your last paragraph is most interesting by lm (2.00 / 0) #15 Sun Oct 24, 2010 at 05:03:00 PM EST
Southern Italy was the easiest for Constantinople to keep in its sphere precisely because of the economic and social ties.

But it is also unclear how much of central and northern Italy had social and economic ties to the various Germanic tribes that invaded. If the eastern Roman empire had not been further weakened by the Arab conquest and if the pope of Rome had put his weight behind an eastern Roman re-conquest, then I'm not certain that the "west" would significant social and economic differences with the "east."

Gaul certainly would have been a different story. With the Arian form of Christianity being so popular and the lack of longstanding economic ties (although I should consult my sources before claiming that Gaul didn't have many economic ties to the "east"), it isn't clear that Byzantium could have retaken France and Spain. But it is quite possible that the Roman Empire may have allied with the Arians against the Pagan eastern empires.

The same question, of sorts, applies to the Eastern provinces. It's one thing for an Islamic empire to arise that gives some amount of autonomy to eastern forms of Christianity that are "people of The Book" and another thing for Pagan eastern empires to have control over Christian heterodox regions. I suspect that the same forces that gave rise to The Crusades against Islam would have been even more gung-ho against Pagan regimes and that the various Christian states would have far more common ground against Pagans than against Muslims.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Religion, bleah by riceowlguy (4.00 / 0) #6 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 11:09:34 AM EST
Given what is going on in Uganda right now it's hard not to agree with Mao that religion is poison.  However, without religion, I'm sure we would come up with some other reason to hate people "over there".

Of course by jayhawk88 (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 11:19:28 AM EST
See the South Park atheism/Wii episode. "Your science is false, our's is the true science!"

[ Parent ]
Yeah by duxup (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 01:16:37 PM EST
We're pretty good at finding reasons to be pissed at each other, or in some cases folk find it handy to try to whip that stuff up for their own personal benefit.

[ Parent ]
a world without islam by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 04:34:31 PM EST
interesting thought experiment.

in the non-islam world, we have:

So what happens at roughly the time of the crusades is hard to predict, because it depends on:
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
Imagine there's no Islam | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)