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Sunday, February 20, 2005

I don't know if this is necessary, but I'm just adding a post to make sure this blog stays put.

Saturday, February 02, 2002

Update:

there is a way to connect to the letters for the day, but it's way at the bottom of the collected letters. Scroll up to the first letter to read the one I meant.

Celibacy causes pedophilia?

I have to disagree with this person who wrote in to Andrew Sullivan's Letters page (you'll have to scroll to February 2nd's letters -- his site doesn't seem to have a way to link to individual ones) who basically says that celibacy is wrong because men are physically unable to control their sexuality, and that pedophilia is a natural result of this:

This is more a matter of simple biology than any deep theology. The male sex drive is not something that all men can simply will away.


and

Eventually- as we should expect- a percentage of priests lose this inner battle and innocent children pay the price.


Say what? What about all those priests who are successful celibates? And I would think that, even among those who aren't, wouldn't most of them simply have affairs with grown human beings instead of preying on little children?

Perhaps what the letter writer wanted to say (I'm giving him or her the benefit of the doubt) was that for men who already have unnatural sexual problems such as an attraction to little children, the priesthood and celibacy is the wrong method for controlling their "urges." I think that, since pedophilia is a form of obsessive behavior (how many pedophiles claim they "can't help themselves"?), that the self-control required to lead a celibate life (which is NOT beyond the control of a normal man) is quite beyond pedophiles.

But from the way this person wrote their letter, one would think that ALL men are like that, and only by making sure every man gets regular grown-up sex are children safe from molestation. Also, I smell a whiff of "gays like to recruit children" here.




There's hope: More Than Zero is back up.


Destroy all hackers!

No, really; I am sick of these little dweebs. They need to be found and taken out to the woodshed and beaten like redheaded stepchildren 'till buttermilk comes out their noses.

Why am I so pissed? Well: I tried to get my email today only to find that my entire site is down, so I go to get my web-based email and got a message from Momma Bear telling me Sgt. Stryker's website has been hacked. Since he and I are both on Cornerhost, mystery solved! So it looks like I'll be posting to Blogger (because I need to post, it's like a drug), for a while. I had better not have to reinstall any of my Movable Type pages, I'm glad I hadn't started on the massive photo-scanning project I was going to embark on to make my site bee-yew-tiful, grumble, grumble.

Friday, February 01, 2002

"He Loves America"

The defense for John "Taliboy" Walker Lndh whatever-the-hell-his-name-is are basically admitting that they have no defense.

As concerns the new site:

Well, this wasn't so bad, by the time I figured out where to put everything. I'm exhausted and starting to babble though, so I'd better go to bed. I'll be importing everyone's comments over to this site, so the dates on them will be wrong. I'll try to remember to double-post for a few days, more or less.

I'll also be adding to the links list, and tweaking the counter, etc.

I have no idea what that XML thing is that came with this template, it won't work in my version of IE. I should probably get rid of it.

In other news, I've finally decided to read the Pullman books, after reading so many different opinions. His fantasy world is certainly darker than Rowlings; so far I'm more reminded of Neil Gaiman than C.S. Lewis, who Mr. Pullman is supposed to be some sort of counterpart/rival to. So far I've liked what I've read, though I only just started The Golden Compass the beginning is promising.

And oh yes, my sinuses have been killing me today. :(

Okay, people, it is DONE. It is READY. (More or less -- there are a few glitches I have to fix, such as moving everyone's comments):

The Olde Hagge has moved the Olde Blogge to:

www.spleenville.com/blog/


Link: here.

I'll still be posting double for a few days, until I can't stand it anymore to give everyone time to change their links.

Thursday, January 31, 2002

Instapundit had a link to this article, from the Idler, on the press conference with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, who seemed to be a hit with everyone in the room -- except, for some reason, the New York Times reporter, who according to the Idler was rude and obnoxious, refusing to applaud or wear his name tag or introduce himself to any of his colleagues from foreign newspapers, and compared having to submit his questions in writing to the methods of the former Soviet Union. Whatever, little boy.


Cool -- Neil Gaiman has a blog.


Literary vs. Fiction update:

Alert Reader Jeff Goldstein over at Protein Wisdom tried to post this as a comment, but my comment thingie wouldn't work for him:

"Interesting post. As someone who's taught a number of fiction writing
courses (and has published both "literary" and "genre" fiction, so
called),
I'm always interested in hearing the opinions of those who are new to
the
experience of such classes.

I'd offer this observation: the categories of genre fiction and
"literary"
fiction draw somewhat useful (but by and large arbitrary) distinctions.
That
is, there are genre writers whose work is of a quality one might
describe as
literary (Phil Dick), while there are so-called literary writers whose
work is
absolutely tedious (I won't name names).

Of course the catch is, once someone writes really good genre fiction,
s/he is
said to have "transcended" the category; same for the "literary"
fiction
writer, who can get "banished" to the genre category if, in one of his
or her
stories, a car explodes, or a fairy shows up to light a cigar for a
beggar
with the power of second sight..."


I have lots more scrumptious thoughts on Literary Vs. Fiction, Sci-Fi in general, and so forth, which I will get to as soon as I move the site. My email address is working now, so I assume that the internet is getting acquainted with my domain name. See ya real soon.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

According to this article, the Muslim woman here in Florida who wants to force the state to let her get a driver's license with herself masked up like a ninja, Sultaana Freeman, is a "former evangelical preacher." Well, there's a hint as to why she's so full of b.s. (Sorry to all those sincere evangelical preachers out there who haven't changed to a cooler religion.) If this woman was not such an ignoramus on her own (current) religion, she'd know that her request is ridiculous. Even in Saudi Arabia they are starting to have women get ID cards that reveal their entire faces.

Here's another telling quote: "The Freemans said they only want recognition that their interpretation of Islam requires women to cover their faces." Their interpretation of Islam? Who died and made Mr. and Mrs. Freeman experts? Oh, great, just give more material on how rock-stupid Americans are to Islamicist mouthpieces like Al-Jazeera and the Arab News. "Even when they convert, they can't get Islam right!"

[I posted part of the above as a comment on Charles Johnson's take on this.]

In other news, I still have to figure out this new domain thing (why can't I get my email to work?), and fiddle with Movable Type, so the new site is still not up yet. I gave myself until Friday. Stay tuned.

Snail mail woes: I got my new Ikea catalogue in the mail. The pages all came unglued from their binding, so now I have a bunch of loose pages. They should have stress-tested their mail-order catalogues like they claim to do to their furniture.

Anyway, I stopped at Staples with the idea of getting some of those clip thingies to keep the catalogue pages from getting all over the place, when I saw that they were selling a Lexmark laser printer for US$199.00. Well... I had been toying with the idea of getting the new cheap HP 1000, which was only US$50.00 more, but the Lexmark was smaller, cuter, and had 4 MB of RAM whereas the HP had only 1. So I took it home, and had the devil of a time getting it to work. I thought my USB port was dead. I thought the USB cable I bought was crappy. I thought the printer was bad and I'd have to take it back and keep using my ancient Canon Bubble-Jet that uses those color cartridges that you can't change the individual ink chambers in (so when it runs out of cyan, which it always does before anything else, you get printouts in red and yellow). Then I figured it out: I had to change the port the printer looked for from the LPT1 to the USB port. Duh.



Alert bloggers Damian Penny, Kathy Kinslet, and Anthony Adragna have already taken down this guy, so all I have to say to Mr. John Pilger of the Daily Mirror is:

Bow your head!

Muahahaha....

I was going to post a screed on this hypocritical article on the Arab News website, but then I decided life was too short. Instead, I'll treat you to some random thoughts on Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction.

I'm taking a Creative Writing course at college. I was expecting silliness, but the course is required for my minor. It turns out not to be silly but actually quite practical, though there are a few lessons that I don't plan to apply to my own writing methods. Anyway, the course is not without its insights; I have discovered a few things already.

For one thing, I have discovered why I prefer genre fiction (mystery, sci-fi, etc.) rather than "literary" fiction. Genre fiction, the teacher told us, is based upon plot, while literary fiction is based upon character. So that's why I don't like "literary" writing, I thought to myself. For, while I prefer what I read to have interesting characters as opposed to cardboard clichés, works that delve too deeply into the character's "soul" bores me. Some people can read this kind of stuff, that burrows into every aspect of some protagonist, examining and fondling every aspect of his or her personality, but that has nothing much else going on (in other words, no "plot"), but it makes me feel as if I'm trapped in a stuffy room with a neurotic relative.

There's also a certain characteristic literary fiction has that I don't like, and I can only express it by saying that it's a certain lack of dignity. Remember that Franzen guy that was so upset that Oprah picked his oh-so-highbrow novel for her book club? If you ask me, all literary fiction approaches Oprah territory, in that it is inherently confessional, and since the characters are so closely scrutinized, one tends to feel (well, I do, anyway) that you've been told more than you want to about someone. It's an accomplishment of sorts to write this stuff (I say, cavalierly dismissing gobs of acclaimed writers with a stroke of the keys), but it gives off an air of voluntary hair-shirt: "You must read this. It's good for you!"

I have tried. I picked up a novel, Shame, by the South African writer J.M. Coetzee, a star of the literary world. It had all the indications of a Very Important Work: it was short; it had a plain cover in only three colors -- white with a wide band of orange, I think, and black for the printing -- with the title in small type all by itself in the middle of the front cover. It was about the adventures -- well, not exactly -- the life and times -- well, just a segment of it -- never mind, it was about this sourpuss, hapless professor guy, who kind of sort of hates his job at a lousy South African technical college, who has one of those crappy sex lives that ends up with him getting it on with a student, which gets him fired from the job he sort of hates but is too weak or disgusted with life to quit, so he goes to spend some time with his lesbian daughter on a farm, and then their life together really starts to suck (the daughter gets raped and he gets his hair set on fire, but it's not really as exciting as it sounds); and he ends up helping a veterinarian lady that he kind of sort of likes/wants to have an affair with (he's the sort of guy for whom the barrier between the two states is quite tattered) put unwanted dogs asleep.

The friend whose book this was is a big fan of Coetzee and this type of writing, and says he gets all sorts of insights from this author's works, and from the works of similar authors. This makes my friend feel uplifted and renewed, I think. I, on the other had, could acknowledge that the characters in Shame were well done and I had no doubt that they were human in every aspect, and the writing was quite excellent of its type; but I felt drained and deflated after finishing the book. I do not feel that way after reading, for example, Lord of the Rings, despite the fact that that work's ending is also somewhat downbeat.

I readily admit I read for entertainment, and also to escape -- not a horrible life, when my life is going badly I find it difficult to concentrate on reading anything, but to escape into a different world. Perhaps also I don't find human beings to be all that interesting, not to read about in fiction anyway. I figure I can leave my apartment and find all sorts of actual human beings to get to know.

That being said, there is nothing more painful to read than a genre novel with cardboard characters. But too much character exposition throws the plot off and ruins the pace of the work in question. It should be used like seasoning, sparingly, so that a sudden revelation about a character should seem like a surprise, or a gift. Reading a lot of literary fiction these days is like eating a bowl of salt.


Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Big scandal here in (where else?) Florida: President Bush's Niece Arrested on Drug Charge. She's Governor Jeb's daughter. I just saw a news report on the local channel; they had a shot of him at a press conference and the Jebster looked pretty pissed. ("Distraught and emotional" the newscaster stated diplomatically.) The news show also interviewed a couple of women who got addicted to Xanax (the drug Miss Bush was trying to get her hands on) and got arrested, and we are assured that "it could happen to anybody." Well, yeah, anybody who was hooked on the stuff and tried to fraudulently get some.


Bjørn Stærk alerts us today to some person by the name of Hylland Eriksen. Mr. Eriksen apparently just returned to the solar system from Arcturus IV, so has no idea why there might have been a good reason for the US to invade Afghanistan a few months back. Mr. Stærk sets him straight in a few succinct sentences at the end of this post (but read it all).

Speaking of writing, I came across my oldest diary. It's one of those little blank lined Chinese books they used to sell everywhere; I bought mine in Amsterdam. (I wish I could find another like it.) I started writing in it in 1981 when I was eighteen. It's embarassing to see what I thought was worthy of writing down at that age, especially in the light of the output of barely-twenty-something bloggers like Bjørn Stærk and Fredrik Norman. But it's interesting to see what bothered me back then, and to compare that with certain things that are going on today. Here's a passage dated September 14, 1982:

Why I Never Watch Fame


[N]o one says the weather is fine without starting an intense debate over whether one should pass judgements (sic) on the weather without taking into account the different moods and perceptions of one's peers and their conflicts and how a glib assumption that the weather is fine could send someone near depression into a bad time, and so on.


For one thing, I had forgotten that they made Fame into a television series, and I must have seen this at someone else's house because I would have set my own television on fire rather than watch that show. Anyway, reading this passage made me realize that even back then at the beginning of the Big, Bad Eighties, non-judgmentalism and "diversity" irritated me.

Speaking of the Eighties, Simple Minds is back, belatedly setting up a rather snazzy website. You have to register to get most of the info on it, but it's free. (How un-Scottish of Mr. Kerr, my anti-PC demon says evilly.) They've finally put out something that doesn't have a lot of windy noodling on it (as was the case with most of their Nineties output), and it's a CD of covers. At least they are odd covers, and all pretty good, except for the rather misbegotten version of Echo and the Bunnymen's "Bring on the Dancing Horses." But I didn't like the original version of the song either; it was on my least favorite Bunnymen album, the one that was, of course, that group's biggest seller. Much of the Eighties consisted of bands I loved finally making it big with albums I hated. Well, the Joshua Tree finally grew on me, after I hadn't had to listen to "With Or Without You" every five minutes on the radio. But I rarely put Once Upon a Time on the turntable.


Quote of the day: "I heard that there was this ninja who was eating at a diner. And when some dude dropped a spoon the ninja killed the whole town." This web site is an example of why Andrew Sullivan loves the web.


Ryan Boren posts some sane and sensible observations on Saudi Arabia, the Guantanamo prisoners, the Pakistani families upset at how the Taliban treated their offspring (who had gone to join up with the "jihad"), the stupidity of the anti-globalist protestors, and he also has some neat pictures of corals eating their dinner. (Yes, corals are animals, and they have mouths.)

I just discovered this: Tom Tomorrow has a blog. Sometimes his viewpoints are knee-jerk liberal, and I have been infuriated by a couple of his post-Sept-11 cartoons, but he's often spot-on in his observations. He's definitely no Ted Rall.

[Edited to change a "bbut" to a "but." I'm getting over a stomach flu (which followed my recent Female Troubles), as well as having to go to class and work extra hours, on very little sleep the night before. Poor little me. ;P]



Naked statue controversy update:

Concerning the fuss that John Ashcroft reportedly made about the half-naked statue in the Justice Department building, I read on Protein Wisdom that according to the New York Post, John Ashcroft had nothing to do with ordering the $8000 drapes to cover them up. So I guess he's off the hook -- if this is true. (If it isn't, then I maintain that this is not a good time to act like a parody of a fussy fundamentalist.)

Apparently it was an aide, acting on god-knows-what impulse or complaint (maybe she heard her boss muttering about it: "why do they always have to photograph me underneath the giant boob? I hate press photographers..." Or maybe she was tired of fielding complaints from the Womyn Against Exploitation of the Female Body Collective), who ordered the drapes, the price of which must even make Martha Stewart blink. Excuse me for being concerned over where my tax money goes: I know that it's a big statue, but Target sells perfectly nice, opaque, cotton duck panels in a variety of colors for about $29.95 each. I'm sure about ten of those would do the trick, and at a considerable reduction of cost. If you have to be an uptight prude, you might as well be a skinflint too.


Site update:

Heads up everyone! The Olde Hagge is moving to Spleenville. Don't change your bookmarks yet -- I'm still working on the move, but I hope to be all moved over by Friday, Feb 1st, at the latest. In order to give people time to change their bookmarks, I'll double-post on Blogger for a few days. That's the plan!

Monday, January 28, 2002

Coming soon: www.spleenville.com.


"Every American has a target painted on his chest". I heard on the news tonight that this WSJ reporter had been kidnapped by some group of Islamofascists. Incredibly, the reporter fell for a hoax, and did what every kid is warned by his mother not to do: he went someplace with a couple of strangers.

Mr. Den Beste points out a few things I think a lot of us -- not just reporters -- would do well to remember.

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