June 5th, 2009



A sure recipe for mental whiplash: having two pleasure books in one's bag, one on Islamic jurisprudence, the other a HP Lovecraft collection. On the walk to campus this morning I grabbed one expecting it to be the Islamic jurisprudence book and found myself reading a bit about a fictional mad arab wandering into a forbidden city in Arabia. Oof. On that I can blame entering an elevator and pressing the button for the same floor I was on for five minutes wondering why it was ignoring me and hoping I would not be trapped in a broken elevator for hours.

Hegel reading group: hegel is often incomprehensible, and when he is not he is often absolutely infuriating, and on the rare occasions he is not, he's kind of clever in what seems to me to be a bad epistemology. I admire cleverness, but I'm not sure that it's worth reading him - I might have to give up my current only reliable social outlet (that is, this group) if the later bits of this book don't get better. I've tried reading it in German, but the incomprehensibility are not a result of translation. James suggested that Hegel's style of thought would probably better be expressed in terms of equations or some other symbol set than normal spoken languages - that may be true.

Dear CMU, it is terminally stupid to think that the best time to fix Wean's quirky elevators is when the department that primarily occupies the building is moving to a new building. I know that there are freight elevators, but people will also be schlepping a lot of stuff by foot. There will be one functioning normal elevator starting shortly before the first moves happen.

While I'm at it, it is irritating that while my phone can hold plenty of pictures that are 50-80k apiece, it cannot handle over 50 messages in my inbox, and stops recieving TXTs when that happens. Sentimental fool that I am, I keep old messages to remind me of better times - trimming the last few messages out of the phone to make room for more is an irritating chore, especially when there really is plenty of room for more. It feels almost like we're back in the DOS days and TXTs have to live in the town of conventional memory when the vast countryside of extended memory is visible around us (to further jumble the analogy, let's splurge on a nice imaginary utility and dream about installing QEMM onto our phone).

Personal meanderingsCollapse )

Today I shall probably have crêpes for lunch, and will tour our new machine room in the Gates Center.
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Buscar Prajna Islamica

It turns out I will miss a lecture on using a Wiimote to simulate conducting a symphony orchestra, which is a pity because it's a really great idea. An actual conducting game where one would be responsible to conduct an orchestra would be amazing (and maybe a bit too abstract for most people)!

It would also be amazing but possibly a bad idea if on AIM we routinely gave everyone we know nicknames descriptive of their personality and they could see them. I usually use boring aliases for people on IM because I don't tend to use it that much, but it'd be cute for there to really be a 「SpazzyFrenchDude」 or 「Stinkmop」 or 「BladderTooSmall」 and kind of horrible for that to be shared. Maybe it'd be like those 「honestybox」 type applications on various social networking sites.

Islam: Is ijtahid-aiming-towards-contributing-to-fiqh in modern times defined so that the relevant Ulemah needed to produce a judgement are those that are among a particular school of jurisprudence, among a country, or among a sect of Islam itself? Achieving scholarly consensus in modern times including mujtahid of all of Sunni Islam seems impossible on its face given the different rules of interpretation (as well as the geographic distances involved). Is it further a problem when combining 「earlier rulings are considered closed and true matters because of a consensus at the time」 and 「this ruling was made in the N dynasty, but a different ruling on the same issues was made in the Y dynasty」 - how are these things which have become marked as True by the system of jurisprudence reconciled? Size and/or disconnection of a community are interesting challenges, and the belief that one can reach Truth through discussion and consensus should at least invoke discomfort when disconnected communities reach different Truths. This is probably true in secular law - if we imagine that the Union and the Confederacy had split without war (I am not advocating this having happened!), a lawsuit-in-progress (assume bench trial) between a Yank and a Dixie in the old unified system might end up splitting in half and retrieving two different decisions by a newly split judiciary.


Share and Sharia Alike

Was the failure of Christianity to develop anything like Halakah or Sharia an enabler for the birth of liberalism in europe? Could we simplify this to christianity as a social movement, with rare exceptions (e.g. Aquinas), neglecting philosophy, leading to its eventual weakening in western society? Were the foundations of modern secular law made possible by there never having been a substantial Christian Legal theory? Were there pressures to develop anything akin to this when Christians, living under Islamic multiculturalism, were left to organise their internal affairs while rubbing shoulders with those organised under a beth din or sharia courts?

I admire Obama for being willing to sum up, in Cairo, most of the relevant issues between the various Islamic cultures and the various Western cultures. Israel, particularly with its current presidentCollapse )

I would probably kill without guilt if anyone did anything like this to my cats, quite possibly to pets in general. This might have to be filed into the category of "understandable acts that the legal system should probably not protect" - I am uncertain if it should be described as reasonable. On a personal level, I treat my cats as kin and would defend or avenge them using that same framework. I am uncertain how a good legal system *should* handle either direct and horrific abuse as described in that article or defense of them - should deadly force be acceptable to protect one's pets or animals in general? I suspect revenge is and should remain extralegal - even as people may feel commanded to recognise it in their personal morality, the tension between that personal mandate and the legal punishment (even if mitigated by a lesser penalty) is useful in keeping endless chains of blood feud from forming. Recognising the usefulness of such tensions seems like something a legal framer should consider, as well as secular notions of more than just Fard-Haram - I like the notion of having a more nuanced spectrum, perhaps something like the Islamic spectrum of Required-Virtuous-Neutral-Repugnant-Forbidden and with a commitment to "paving the path" and granting greater weight in situations of legal conflict for things that are seen as virtuous.

I have been wrestling with a terrible headache all day.