Beliefnet
City of Brass

wombat_wideweb__470x2760.jpgGiven that our President is a pretty sharp fellow, it’s not surprising that he’s also realized that the “War on Terror” branding needs to be retired:

What’s being sought is a more precise phrase that can recast the U.S. government’s counterterrorism fight in ideological as well as military terms. Obama publicly signaled the new approach this week. When asked about the “war on terror” phrase by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Obama said, “Well you know, I think it is very important for us to recognize that we have a battle or a war against some terrorist organizations … Words matter in this situation because one of the ways we’re going to win this struggle is through the battle of hearts and minds.”

Critics have long decried the use of the phrase “war on terror” on the grounds that terrorism is a tactic, not an identifiable enemy. Years ago, State and Defense Department officials tried to move away from the phrase “war on terror,” proposing instead to call it a “Struggle Against Violent Extremism,” or SAVE.

The problem with “War on Terror” is that “terror” is more a self-inflicted wound than an external threat. It also has no value in combating the perception (warranted or not) of a war against Islam, a misconception that the Republican Party in particular has been deliberately cultivating. The SAVE formulation is nit much better, since “struggle” is an understatement and “violent extremism” could equally well apply to Somali pirates or Columbian drug lords (though it should be noted that piracy offers a very useful and compelling model for fighting terrorism).

I will reiterate my own suggestion of WOMBAT – War On Muharib; Brave Against Terror as an alternate branding that utilizes an Islamic context for it’s message (which is especially important given that terrorism affects muslims in the muslim world far more than the West, and in a sense the front lines for the war are the hearts and minds of the people in the muslim world.)

Granted, there is an element of whimsy in the suggestion, but I think that conveys our American good nature along with our strength.

Today Amazon.com has officially announced the second-generation Kindle ebook-reader, and it looks amazing.kindle3.jpg

The original version was pretty clunky-looking, which didn’t stop Amazon from selling (by some estimates) over half a million of them. The selling point was really how easy it made it to buy books from the Kindle Store – $10 per title, even for bestsellers and new releases, and these could be downloaded instantaneously, via the free wireless network. Given that I routinely spend $5 on a latte at Starbucks, this is actually a pretty reasonable price (especially considering that the dead-tree versions cost three times as much, and are far less portable).

The most important feature of any e-book reader is the screen, and the Kindle’s “e-ink” technology does the job well, with great visibility even outdoors in bright sunlight. However, the extra features are also impressive, including an mp3 player, built in annotations and dictionary lookup, Microsoft Office document (read-only) support, and even text-to-speech of any book in your library. You can even subscribe to popular blogs (including everything on Beliefnet), which I think has implications for the political sphere as well.

amazon_kindle_2_leak.jpgThe price is pretty steep, of course – $359. If you bought one book a week (and assume $20 savings for each) then it will take about 5 months to break even. Of course, that assumes you were spending $30 on books every week to begin with, which certainly isn’t the case with me. I do, however, spend about $30 a month on Starbucks, so there’s some room there to optimize.

If you’re into books, take a look at Kindle. The buzz is that it will change how people read books as profoundly as the iPod changed how people listen to music. Whether thats a good thing or a disaster for human civilization depends on your point of view, of course 🙂

UPDATE – Here’s the official press release, and coverage from Engadget and ZDNet.

Pastor Joel Osteen gives an amazing sermon about pork and shellfish. He made changes to his own diet, not just for health reasons, but also to honor God:

It’s a compelling and educational lecture about why pigs and shellfish are truly unclean. I find it a remarkable lecture and an inspiring one.

At Talk Islam, I have (another) healthy debate with Abu Noor about the Iraq War, pragmatic liberal intervention, and imperialism.

We end up debating the merits of interventionism a lot over at TI, don’t we?