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Saturday, December 29, 2001

If you thought fundamentalism was bad, try dealing with a clergyman who says religious people should stop believing. Really, that is what his very odd commentary boils down to: religious belief (not once does he mention the term "Christianity," even though it is Christian, and specifically Anglican Christian, traditions he is focusing on) is "supernaturalism," a clinging to "hereditary" "macro-religiousness." "This is crazy" he cries. Not as crazy as a "clergyman" who thinks religion should be shaped to be "more in tune with the times." What set him off? Dons are, horror of horrors, making sure their kids go to chorale services, and fantasy novels are popular again.

Template woes update: this template looks fine in all browsers, including Opera, Mozilla, and even Netscape 4.7 -- the Windows versions anyway. Mac users etc. will just have to let me know if anything is amiss.

Update: edited to fix the link to the story. Fumblefingers...

Update of Update: the great guys over at Samizdata alerted me to a silly mistake in my email link above, so I fixed it. That's why I need my forty winks per nite...

Aaarrgghh. Template problems again. For some reason the one I was using got all wacky last night. Oh well, this one is easier to read. I'll test it in all my browsers to make sure.

News: Orlando International Airport is going to test some sort of x-ray machine that can see underneath your clothes. (As heard on NBC news just a few minutes ago. Fly naked indeed.

Doesn't President Musharraf of Pakistan sound just like Apu on "The Simpsons"?

Second blogger to link to little ole me is Dawson.com. Life is good.

Ach. I am starting to make too many mistakes. Methinks I'll be off to bed now, after updating my links.

My Predictions for 2002:

The Segway will be the "hot" gadget to purchase. By the end of the year, all those households who have purchased "Ginger" will have left it for the preceding five months parked in the spare room next to the equally unused Nordic Trak they bought last year.

Osama bin Laden will never "officially" be found dead or alive in 2002, and Elvis-like "sightings" of the erstwhile Master of Terror will continue throughout the year. Like many of the the Elvis sightings, they will generally be in ludicrously inappropriate venues, such as working behind the counter at Safeway, living in a cabin in the Montana hills, dancing naked at a male stripper club.

I will once again write the bulk of my college papers at 3 am the day before they are due.


Oh joy! The Iain Murray has put a link to my humble blog on his site. Cockles of my heart = warmed.

Charles Johnson has an article on his site on profiling that clearly expresses what I was fumbling around with yesterday. (See below, under yesterday's stuff.) As concerns Israel and the fact that they profile openly and without apology, I think that we would do well to imitate the Israeli attitude towards life. They are a small country surrounded by their enemies, so they couldn't afford to dick around as we here in the US did with magnanimous gestures and lick-arse attempts to impress people who despised us with how "caring" we were. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida, which has a large Jewish population. I have heard a lot of complaints, from Gentiles and even from other Jews at how rude the Israelis could be, how harsh, abrupt, impatient -- How like New Yorkers...

American culture has had to stagger around under the burden of being Everybody's Friend for as long as I can remember (and I am an Olde Hagge, right?), because we had come to believe that being disliked was the worst thing that could ever happen. (Moira Breen has a takedown of this attitude on her site from a few days ago.) Well, surprise surprise, it wasn't; but some of our clueless academics and "journalists" and so-called diplomats are still trying to put forth the idea that the proper response to Islamist hatred of America and the West is to drop another friend (Israel) because sticking by them makes us "look bad," or something, in the eyes of Arab nations that hate us either officially or unofficially, and will anyway no matter what we do.

Oh, hey. According to the Saudis, the Jews are taking over the world. This seems to displease Arabs no end, but as for me, I guess it finally means I'll be able to get a good bowl of matzoh ball soup and a bagel that isn't from a plastic bag from Publix anywhere. (I have complained somewhere in this blog before about the lack of a decent Jewish deli here in O-Town.) (Link also from Little Green Footballs.)

Speaking of dysfunctional morons, Mr. Robert Kick-Me-I'm-Western Fisk takes the credit for explaining to Mr. Bin (under about fifty tons of pulverized rock, I hope) Laden that he really should be at war against the entire American populace, since we are our government, and so on. Then he and Osama Do It, right there in the cave. Really! (By the way, Ken Layne briefly deboned -- no pun intended -- Fist Fisk and then Tim Blair finished him off.)

Friday, December 28, 2001

Here is the website where you can order "The Fabulous Fifties" cd collection. Come on. You know you're tired of Alice in Chains and stuff like that -- you want some crooners and you want them now!

A person by the name of Ted Rall continues to fancy himself a journalist. God regrets the error. (I was led thither by Instapundit.)

Victor Davis Hanson on Nationalreview.com takes down Europeans, in general. Take that, cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

Am I hallucinating, or did I just see a commercial announcing that Henry Rollins will be on Pax TV? (I'm watching/listening to Diagnosis: Murder. Don't ask.)

***

Well, I can't tell from the website (which takes advantage of Tuvalu's .tv extension). Now they are playing a long infomercial of a CD collection called "The Fabulous Fifties" -- all pre-Rock Era hits like "Mr. Sandman," & featuring singers like Johnny Mathis, Patti Page, Perry Como... There was a time when I would have punctured my own eardrum rather than listen to stuff like "Memories Are Made of This" by Dean Martin. Now I wish I had enough money in my bank account to order the whole collection.

Thanks to Instapundit.com, I came across this beaut of an article by Molly Ivins. Apparently there is still hope... that we could "lose" in Afghanistan! There is so much that is wacky about Ms. Ivins' polemic that I am having trouble picking my favorite bits. For instance, she's got some bee in her bonnet about this Dostum guy. Well, I guess if I got all my info from R.A.W.A., I would too. Now, I am sure that he is as corrupt and venal etc., as they say he is -- after all, he's a man, right? (Rim shot.) All right, seriously. Gosh, he does seem to be one evil dude -- maybe not evil in the new, post-Sept-11th scale of evil. (Has he flown any planes into any buildings to kill office workers? No? Then he is only a five, maybe, on the Evil Meter, whereas Bin Laden is still a ten.) But you know what? Luke Skywalker and the Jedi Knights weren't available to help us in Afghanistan. All we had were those side-changing, mind-changing, unreliable dudes in the Northern Alliance. (In the universe that liberals like Molly Ivins inhabits, once you join one group, or pick one life-governing philosophy, you are not allowed to change -- ever.)

She roves far and wide for weird metaphors... or maybe she just finished lunch: "Dostum, on his record, is the cilantro of generals - he has a tendency to take over everything around him." They sure have some strange plants down in Texas -- here in Florida, cilantro just stays in the pot or on the taco and never tries to take over anything. I can see the headline now: "Mutant Condiment Attacks Famed Liberal Columnist!"

She finds the thought of Dostum "threat[ening] to boycott the new government" because of dissatisfaction with cabinet appointments to be a sign that Irony Is Not Dead. Why? It's ironic that he is threatening a boycott, as opposed to, say, an armed insurrection, which from what she has just finished babbling about is more his speed -- in other words, that he is acting as a conventional Western politician would (having hissy fits because his croneys didn't get cabinet seats), rather than the wild-eyed brigand he is supposed to be?

But then she gets bored with Dostum, probably because she has milked him all she can. Besides, why bother with Afghan pipsqueaks when we have the Palestinians to invoke!
If you drive people off their land - say the Palestinians - and leave them to rot in refugee camps for three generations, you are going to get terrorism. If you further aggravate old wounds by sending settlers into Palestinian territory and ruthlessly occupy same, you will get more terrorism.

This patronizing left-wing coddling has killed more people than the cholera.

(Furthermore, Molly Ivins apparently lives in a world where there was one piece of land once called Palestine, which was taken over in its entirety by Jews. No mention of the fact that most of what was "Palestine" was renamed Jordan, and is ruled by a descendant of Mohammed, and that Israel comprises a rather small portion of the former Palestine.)

She bizarrely claims that no one knows what "moral relativism" means. Maybe Ms. Ivins doesn't -- I, on the other hand, am quite clear on the definition of same: "culture of Taliban = Republican Party of the U.S." is one example; "a country where women must go about covered head to toe in burlap sacks or be beaten up is no worse than a country where women voluntarily don skimpy bathing suits" is another. This is probably not clear enough for Ms. Ivins. "Moral relativism" means that there are no standards of "good" or "bad" in any aspect of life; all things, attitudes, viewpoints, cultural habits, oreo-eating methods, whatever, are equal -- kind of like the way we are all equal when we're dead.

Well, I am done with Molly Ivins. Once, I don't know why, I thought she was kind of funny, the way she seemed to take the air out of stuffed shirts and the silly Texas legislature and whatever was going on ten years ago when I last read anything she wrote. It seems as if she took the air out of so many things that the lack of oxygen caused her to suffer brain damage.

Peace out y'all.

This week's Spectator has a number of wonderful articles, not the least of which is Mark Steyn's sarcastic take on the causes of Anti-Semitism in Europe, but the one that should be read is this one, on South Africa. It seems that the country is going into the crapper, and no one dares criticize the current government (the ANC) for fear of being called racist. And Concerned White Liberals are only too willing to go along with this ridiculous and horrible situation, because they fear the "racist" tag more than death itself. So the president of the country can claim that "HIV doesn't cause AIDs," because he read it on the internet somewhere (I got that from another article on Thabo Mbeki, the link for which I can't find), and refuses to distribute anti-retroviral drugs to pregnant women, and drug companies get criticized for refusing to distribute their drugs for free because "all they care about is profit." And that isn't even the worst thing happening in South Africa today.

The result of all this is that Africans are still being treated as somehow subhuman, this time by the very people who are supposedly so concerned about preventing racism.

Thursday, December 27, 2001

Ooh, look:

If I were a Dead Russian Composer, I would be Igor Stravinsky.

Known as a true son of the new 20th Century, my music started out melodic and folky but slowly got more dissonant and bizzare as I aged. I am a traveler and a neat freak, and very much hated those rotten eggs thrown at me after the premiere of "The Rite of Spring."

Who would you be? Dead Russian Composer Personality Test



(Link from the blog of Amy Welborn.)

I had some thoughts on racial profiling as concerns hunting down and spotting terrorists, but I can't seem to form a coherent thought on the subject. All I can say is I think we need to stop worrying about cries of "racism!" from certain quarters. It should be obvious that the profile of the terrorists in question involves more than a natural tan. However, most of these people did not exactly have tattoos saying "I am a religious fanatic" on their foreheads. We have to start somewhere. It has been repeated to nauseating effect that the terrorists who hijacked the planes were of the same ethnic and religious background, and that, except (so far as is known) for one nutso from California and a couple of Australian whackjobs, Al-Qaeda consisted of persons from the same ethnic and religious background. I do not know why anyone is even bothering to play around with this matter. What's going to happen -- is Jesse Jackson going to get upset? Yeah, I know no one wants to hear from him anymore, but my television has an "off" button.

Everyone should read this article on what might have led to September 11 (link courtesy of Instapundit). I was not surprised to find out that it was not exactly difficult for an "ex" terrorist to get into the country. "Forgive and forget" is a real nice motto when it concerns lovers' spats, but I think we need to be a little more hard-headed when it comes to "former" members of groups that actually blow stuff up, kill people, etc. We kept Boy George out of the US for years because he had a drug habit we disapproved of, but a little "youthful indiscretion" involving explosives was just okay by us. Then.

I was going to post something about that freak Stephanie Salter over at, what, the San Francisco chronicle? But the bloggers I have in the column to the left took care of her: read Mr. James Lileks' takedown, and what Tim Blair has to say, and then go to Joanne Jacobs' site (you have to scroll down, or use "ctrl-F" in your browser - enter "Salter" without the quotes). I keep reading things that left-wingnuts like Salter are writing, and all I can think is that September 11 was such a harsh beating with the reality stick for some of them that they suffered permanent brain damage.

Oh, and Salter's column has all the earmarks (I love that word, by the way -- it makes me think of a pair of cat ears) of a clumsy atheist-wannabe (doesn't dare go all the way and declare there really isn't a god, is content to merely sneer at religious people) trying to "use their own beliefs against them." I am not any kind of religious person, but this kind of smug, self-stroking, snotnosed attitude is having the same effect those oh-so-ironic "the Truth" commercials have on me. (I've never smoked in my life, but every time I see that irritating imitation-suspense-movie-promo or the annoying musical commercial -- the one that uses "Accentuate the Positive" -- I feel like going to the gas station and buying a pack of the stinkiest, most carcinogenic brand I can find, and smoking them all.)


Moira Breen over at Inappropriate.com cuts the "moral equivalency of cultures" argument into tiny little pieces. This is everything I wanted to say in the Multicultural Humanities course I took last semester.

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Then again -- they do have games like Unexploded Cow. The explanation of this game (only six dollars!!):
Europe. Summer. 1997.

You and your friends have discovered two problems with a common solution: Mad Cows in England and Unexploded Bombs in France.

You've decided to bring these two powderkegs together just to see what happens. And you wouldn't say "no" to a little money on the side.

So round up your herd, march them through France, and set them loose behind the Cordon Rouge. If you're lucky you'll come home rich before Greenpeace gets hold of you.

Either way, there's something magical about blowing up cows

Hmmm....

Well! What a nice Christmas present - a hacker. May he (or she - don't wanna stereotype) rest in pieces.

I was going to post all sorts of clever post-Christmas thoughts, but I can't remember them now. Grr.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. I went to a friend's house and ingested much good food, and spent about two hours playing an extremely boring yet oddly compelling board game called Zombies!!! (exclamation points are part of the title). My friend is somewhat of a gaming sadist -- at least he didn't make us play something from Cheap Ass Games. I must now restrain myself from going out and purchasing my own Zombies!!! game. I do not want that game, no I do not. Not.

Sunday, December 23, 2001

Yay, the template's working today. I was able to update the links and add a counter. I promise not to visit the page hundreds of time from work.

Another former pacifist revealed: now even Bono of U2 supports the war against terrorism. (This is buried towards the bottom of the article, itself mainly about George Harrison.) Now if only he would get some sense and stop blathering on about how "poverty is the cause" of terrorism.

[rant on]

It's a common mistake (I know this is not a stunningly new revelation) to think that all the disgruntled people of the world need is a big infusion of cash and resources and all their quarrels with the world will vanish. Here's a quote from Bono from the band's website:
"We are sitting here asking ourselves, how can people loathe us so? But they see greed. They don't see that the United States had intervened in Kosovo on behalf of Muslim people. They don't see that. They see trade barriers, not a level playing field, a sort of bullish attitude to the environment, and to the world's resources. That's what they feel when they see us. My prayer is that, after the desire for justice, comes the desire to sort out our own house, because it needs some sorting."

He isn't thinking very clearly if he thinks that the terrorists, who caused tons of asbestos dust among other things to be spewed all over Manhattan, and in any case have no compunction about playing with all sorts of deadly chemicals and bacteria and nuclear material, give a hoot about the environment. As for accusations of greed, I hope that I don't sink so low in self-estimation that I start to care what murderers or their many fans (such as the people who danced in the streets in Arab countries in glee after 9/11 "who hate us so") think about how much stuff I own.

Then again, he undercuts his own argument with this statement to the Sun:
"Bin Laden is a spoiled, middle class brat. He's just a rich kid, as often were members of the Provisional IRA. They were political science students. We grew up in their environs and got to despise them, these people who see ideas as more valuable than human life."

There, actually, is the real cause of terrorism -- as Fredrik Norman has already posted about today, the cause of terrorism is more likely the notion that "idea[s] are more valuable than human life."

I have no doubts that Bono is a sincere guy and really wants to help the world become a better place, but indulging anyone who says they have the right to disregard the laws of civilization because they are poor is the wrong way to go about it. I know that compared to a peasant in Afghanistan I'm rich, but Bin Laden is (or was) richer than I'll ever be. And I work hard for my money; I will not have what I do with it questioned by some loser in a foreign country with a grudge against life. In any case, using lack of money as an excuse to whine, assign blame, and excuse oneself from one's own responsibilities is what my mother used to call "poor mouthing." She grew up during the depression in a small town in the hills of Tennessee, and she had no patience with arguments of that sort. And the solicitous attitude shown towards "the poor" by rich celebrities and spokespersons is nothing but another example of what Florence Nightingale called "poor-peopling" -- using the plight of the poor to make oneself look magnanimous. If Bono weren't feeling so guilty about his wealth, which one might say (though I wouldn't) is undeserved, then he (and other rich, sincere, guilt-ridden Westerners) might be able to see the world's problems a little more clearly. But at least his support of the efforts in Afghanistan are a step in the right direction.

[rant off]

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