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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
THE NATION magazine published this week this asinine attack on Wesley Clark. There are plenty of things to debate about Clark, but Taibbi's piece largely consisted of his usual sort of reasoning, which runs along the lines of "Clark is a general. Therefore he's been in the military all his adult life. Therefore he supports killing babies and ravaging other nations. I shall prove this by mocking his supporters."
I paraphrase, but see for yourself.
Alex Frantz has gone back and looked at a considerable amount of Taibbi's past work, and it jibes with everything I've previously read by Taibbi. Frantz's look at Taibbi's apologetics for the fascist Milosovic and eager support for the Serbian regime are particularly worthwhile.
YOU CAN FOOL ALL OF THE PEOPLE. An awful lot of things people believe Abraham Lincold said, he never said. For instance:
Quoted by Senator Trent Lott on Meet the Press, March 22, 1998
"I'm a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, the people can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."
As it says here, "fine sentiments." Except that there is no record of Lincoln ever saying that. This sort of thing has apparently, unsurprisingly, happened a great deal. All sorts of fine things other people, or no recorded person, have said, have been attributed to Lincoln. According to the State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, that inclues:
"You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."
That letter quoted by "George Marshall" in Saving Private Ryan? Well, it was sent, but it was written by assistant presidential secretary John Hay, and, incidentally, Mrs. Bixby was a Confederate sympathizer who lied in claiming that she lost five sons; she only lost two; trivially, she also ran a whorehouse. A bit less than a Spielbergian vision, though in fairness, if one is making up a fictional incident (based upon the real incident of the Sullivan brothers), it doesn't stretch it to not have the fictional George Marshall aware of the true details of a letter that at least did actually exist that was actually sent under Lincoln's name.
Read The Rest Scale: as much or little as you are interested. The Illinois site is worth at least a quick glance by anyone interested in Lincoln.
The Chinese government released today three jailed "cyber dissidents." Among the three was a young college student nicknamed "Stainless Steel Mouse," whose arrest a year ago had brought international condemnation, a Hong Kong human rights group said.
No one has picked up on the obvious origin of the name, Harry Harrison's "Stainless Steel Rat," Slippery Jim Griz.
Dinh, you'll recall, was until recently the hardline head of John Ashcroft's "Office of Legal Policy," and one of the authors of and defenders of the PATRIOT Act.
In the interview, Dinh said he believed the president had the unquestioned authority to detain persons during wartime, even those captured on "untraditional battlefields," including on American soil. He also said the president should be given flexibility in selecting the forum and circumstances — such as a military tribunal or an administrative hearing — in which the person designated an enemy combatant can confront the charges against him.
The trouble with the Padilla case, Dinh said, is that the government hasn't established any framework for permitting Padilla to respond, and that it seems to think it has no legal duty to do so.
"The president is owed significant deference as to when and how and what kind of process the person designated an enemy combatant is entitled to," Dinh said. "But I do not think the Supreme Court would defer to the president when there is nothing to defer to. There must be an actual process or discernible set of procedures to determine how they will be treated."
I believe that most of the over-reaching errors of the PATRIOT Act and its cousins will ultimately be corrected. America has a history of making such errors, but ultimately, more than not, after exhausting all other possibilities, as Winston Churchill once said, doing the right thing.
Sometimes all too late, to be sure. (Whoops, sorry about those coups in Iran and Guatemala in '54'! Sorry about Vietnam! Sorry!)
UP THE RIVER. Once again, Huck Finn under fire. Detailed account of one woman's campaign in Seattle to ban this evil, evil, book. Books that examine and condemn racism are bad! We must instead pretend it never existed!
Meanwhile: not the best way to teach Catcher In The Rye. Hard to say who is dimmer here: kid or teacher?
ZWIGOFF My agent sent me the script with a note saying: "You're going to love this, but it will never get made, so don't get your hopes up." So of course I got my hopes up. And we took it to a few studios who promptly turned it down. After a couple months of that, I got a call from Bob Weinstein saying that his brother and he had just seen "Ghost World" and wanted to make a film with me. They read it right away and said they wanted to make the film. And they never wavered from that. There were many times when I would look around me on the set and think: I can't believe they're letting me make this.
UDOVITCH It's not that offensive.
ZWIGOFF There's a lot of profanity. But I thought the profanity was written very poetically. Like David Mamet writing "Glengarry Glen Ross." That was what appealed to me, not just that there was a lot of profanity. Anybody can do that. To put it in a way that's rhythmically and grammatically interesting is hard to do.
ZWIGOFF Yeah, I did. In fact, one of the focus groups that we had thought that we had tacked on a Hollywood ending, when Santa doesn't die at the end.
UDOVITCH A focus group demanded less redemption?
ZWIGOFF Yes. It was a focus group in New York, though.
Arwen was on her horse, with Frodo, dying, in the saddle in front of her. It was a white horse. The Nazgul chased her, and chased her, and chased her. They chased her across plains, and past trees, and up and down hills. They went through the woods, but she still outran them. Her horse was fast. She knew she had to hurry, or her little friend Frodo would be dead.
Finally, she arrived at a stream. Her horse crossed it, clippity-clop, splash, clippity-clop, splash, splash. She could feel the breath of the Nazgul upon her neck, and it reminded her of Aragorn, but in a bad way.
THE PANDA JOKE. A surprise pre-Christmas best-seller in Britain is a book on punctuation entitled Eats, Shoots & Leaves, subtitled The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.
It apparently campaigns for better punctuation. I'm for this, though I'm opposed to people who have the mistaken notion that there are some sort of Absolute Rules For All Time, Handed Down By God, for proper use of English. Good English is whatever best communicates; that often comes from a firm grasp of the history of usage, but a truly firm grasp informs one of the meandering history of what has been considered "proper" at one time or another.
Can't say what I'd think of this book without seeing it, but having stated my irritation at people who insist that the rules they know are Absolute and Always Have Been, I'll note that I'm generally far more annoyed at what I consider to be bad punctuation and grammar in daily life.
One thing I'll have to look into is how, in Britain, the serial comma debate (I'm firmly in favor of the serial comma) became called, apparently, "the Oxford comma debate."
And lest anyone feel the need to point it out: yep, I certainly commit my share of typos, solecisms, poor wordings, sloppy writing, and downright errors here, at times. I beg for your tolerance. I'm particularly prone to forgetting to put in the necessary second comma to close a clause, and to forgetting to close a parentheses.
The panda joke? Haven't you heard it before?
The title derives from one of the book's numerous jokes: A panda goes into a bar, orders a sandwich, fires a gun and heads for the door. A shaken barman asks why. 'Look it up,' says the panda, throwing him a badly punctuated wildlife manual. The barman turns to the relevant page: 'Panda: Bear-like mammal native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.'
His writings, in linguistics (a discipline which he effectively invented) and on the hypocrisy and warmongering of America (and its principal ally) are among the few essential documents of our times. They are also not designed for the intellectually faint-hearted. As the most unforgiving critic of the Washington-run world order, Chomsky is often caricatured as supplying more reality, and more guilt, than many of us care to handle. His books have the manner and certainty of gospels, and they work by accretion, stockpiling the remorseless fact of distant atrocity done in each of our names. They seem to demand not so much readers as disciples....
The transgressive thrill of Chomsky's world view....
A sentence that means more than intended:
To anyone who has even dipped into his books, the idea of pinning him down or catching him out, or even directing his attention in the course of a truncated hour seems vaguely absurd.
Here's an open-minded question from the interviewer, Tim Adams:
Given 50 years of self-delusion in the land of the free, 50 years in which, in Chomsky's terms, it has wilfully supported and committed war crimes across the globe (from Korea to Angola to Indonesia), I wonder if he can countenance any possibility of redemption?
Fortunately there's nothing hagiographic about this profile. It's tough, incisive, and doesn't let Chomsky off any hook.
Nah, just kidding. The whole thing is impressively eye-rolling-worthy.
There are plenty of folks on the left who say it's Wrong to address any flaws of Chomsky or Michael Moore or, in essence, anyone on the left, when Bush and company have all the power and are who criticism must be focused upon to Achieve Correct Goodness.
I believe that while that's an argument that has a small point, it's an error. An intellectually damaging error, ultimately.
I think they'd be entirely correct if all one did was criticize Chomsky, et al. But while one might make a fine case for arguing more against Bush, et al, than Chomsky -- and I wouldn't take any issue with that, save to note that it's -- thank $DIETY -- no one person's job to Balance All Arguments -- I've always bought the idea that truth is derived from a dialectic of competing ideas.
So I continue to believe that it's crucial for any and all errors of critical thinking to be argued against and pointed out, that they always must be stomped on, as the best way to limit their advance into the public discourse, psyche, and acceptance, whatever their source, and whatever their point of view.
Because bad ideas are -- wait for it -- erroneous. Working with erroneous ideas doesn't, you know, get us anywhere good.
If we give bad ideas and bad arguments a pass simply because they're uttered by someone on Our Side, we'll wind up intellectually incoherent and ultimately incapable of rational sorting out of what's actually sensible and correct from what we're merely Pretending Is Sensible And Correct because it would Hurt One Of Us To Say Otherwise.
That's a path to being, ultimately, brain-dead.
So, as ever, I'll continue to be cranky about anything from corporate corruption in the Bush Administration and Republican Party to questionable foreign policy assumptions by Democrats, to crazy and offensive assertions wherever I see them, as I feel so moved.
If I criticize Chomsky, it doesn't mean I'm going the slightest bit easy on George Bush and his masters. Anyone who thinks otherwise can bite me.
And if I criticize distorted Republican claims and idiotically false attacks on Democrats or the left, it doesn't mean I'm going easy on the actual idiots of the left. Anyone who thinks otherwise can bite me.
As usual, various folks on whatever "side" won't like it. I'll live with that. (Crankily, at times.)
They have discovered that a drug on the market for tuberculosis helps phobics to overcome their worst fears within a week. They believe it could be the anti-phobia pill which scientists have been searching for.
Early results from trials have been greeted with some excitement. The medication, D-cycloserine, works alongside traditional talking therapy and speeds up the process through which sufferers can learn how to beat their irrational panic.
The chemical causes changes to the amygdala, the part of the brain involved in learning and memory. It involves a protein that appears to kick-start a chain of neuro chemical events that enable people to relearn what makes them scared.
This is actually very cool if it turns out to be true (we'll see).
Incidentally, I often suffer from ergasiophobia, but only very slightly from athazagoraphobia. Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 if you don't have Hellenologophobia.
BACK TO THE UK. The Observer is reporting that the Guantanamo prisoners holding British citizenship will be sent back to Britain under an agreement being finalized between the US and UK governments. This follows a similar deal with Australia and the releasing of twenty other inmates.
Read The Rest depending on your level of interest. I don't imagine this will lead to the cessation of referring to the prison as a "concentration camp" or "death camp."
(Boring Necessary Boilerplate: I'm all for close examination of Guantanamo, and have nothing against questioning aspects of its practices or criticizing them where called for; it's the above labels that are over-the-top for me.)
FAREWELL AND HELLO. Julie Burchill goes from the Grauniad to the Times of London (note: never the "London Times," which doesn't exist). The topic of her swan song? Jews and people who hate them.
As you might have heard, I'm leaving the Guardian next year for the Times, having finally been convinced that my evil populist philistinism has no place in a publication read by so many all-round, top-drawer plaster saints. (Well, that and the massive wad they've waved at me.) Once there, I will compose as many love letters to the likes of Mr Murdoch and Pres Bush as my black little heart desires, leaving those who have always objected to my presence on such a fine liberal newspaper as this to read only writers they agree with, with no chance of spoiled digestion as the muesli goes down the wrong way if I so much as murmur about bringing back hanging. (Public.)
Not only do I admire the Guardian, I also find it fun to read, which in a way is more of a compliment. But if there is one issue that has made me feel less loyal to my newspaper over the past year, it has been what I, as a non-Jew, perceive to be a quite striking bias against the state of Israel. Which, for all its faults, is the only country in that barren region that you or I, or any feminist, atheist, homosexual or trade unionist, could bear to live under.
I find this hard to accept because, crucially, I don't swallow the modern liberal line that anti-Zionism is entirely different from anti-semitism; the first good, the other bad. Judeophobia - as the brilliant collection of essays A New Antisemitism? Debating Judeophobia In 21st-Century Britain (axt.org.uk), published this year, points out - is a shape-shifting virus, as opposed to the straightforward stereotypical prejudice applied to other groups (Irish stupid, Japanese cruel, Germans humourless, etc). Jews historically have been blamed for everything we might disapprove of: they can be rabid revolutionaries, responsible for the might of the late Soviet empire, and the greediest of fat cats, enslaving the planet to the demands of international high finance. They are insular, cliquey and clannish, yet they worm their way into the highest positions of power in their adopted countries, changing their names and marrying Gentile women. They collectively possess a huge, slippery wealth that knows no boundaries - yet Israel is said to be an impoverished, lame-duck state, bleeding the west dry.
If you take into account the theory that Jews are responsible for everything nasty in the history of the world, and also the recent EU survey that found 60% of Europeans believe Israel is the biggest threat to peace in the world today (hmm, I must have missed all those rabbis telling their flocks to go out with bombs strapped to their bodies and blow up the nearest mosque), it's a short jump to reckoning that it was obviously a bloody good thing that the Nazis got rid of six million of the buggers. Perhaps this is why sales of Mein Kampf are so buoyant, from the Middle Eastern bazaars unto the Edgware Road, and why The Protocols of The Elders of Zion could be found for sale at the recent Anti-racism Congress in Durban.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5. What's the most popular response from many going to be?
MORE CBGB. Here and here are parts of founder Hilly Kristal's personal history:
The beginning of what we now think of as CBGB came early on. I was on a ladder in front of the club fixing the awning in place, when I looked down to notice three scruffy dudes in torn jeans and T shirts looking up at me inquisitively
"WHAT'S GOIN' ON?" or something of that nature, was the question they asked.
They were Tom Verlaine, Richard Hell, and Richard Lloyd, three of the four members of the rock group "Television." A few days later, Terry Ork, Television's manager came around to try and get the band a gig at CBGB.
He was a pudgy little dynamo with a pension [sic; he clearly means "penchant" -- gf] for non-stop talking; energy and enthusiasm up to here. He believed Television was going to be the hottest new sound since John Cage first played his "clothes line."
Since at that time we weren't open on Sunday, I decided to give Television a try out, about three and a half weeks hence, on a Sunday.
The admission was one dollar. ----It was not an impressive debut (at least not in my opinion). There were only a few paid customers and not too many more friends. They not only didn't pay admission but didn't have any money for drinks.
I thought the band was terrible; screechy, ear-splitting guitars and a jumble of sounds that "I just didn't get." I said, " NEVER AGAIN!!!" After much cajoling and haranguing, however, Terry Ork persuaded me to let them play again with another "hot' new rock group from Forest Hills, Queens. They were called "The Ramones." Terry said that the Ramones had a big following and the combination of the two bands will make a great show. I thought, "What the hell, what do we have to lose!!?....Ha!"
Well the anticipated night came, and there were not many more people than before.
As for the Ramones, they were even worse than Television. At that first gig at CBGB, they were the most untogether group I'd ever heard.
They kept starting and stopping-equipment breaking down- and yelling at each other. They were a mess.
Little did I suspect that both Television and the Ramones would eventually get it together and become two of the most important punk bands of the 70's.
It taught me to be more forgiving in judging new bands, and to listen a little more closely.
And, indeed, in 1975 Blondie sounded terrible. Incredibly loud, out of tune, often off-beat, yelling punk rock; nothing whatever like the disco-y melodic sound they later became famous for.
Of course, all the bands at CBGB sounded differently in that incredibly small, narrow, venue, a former flophouse, where the floor was always strewn with broken beer bottles and puddles of vomit.
The Palace Bar (CBGB) was the largest. Over 165 feet long and 25 feet wide, just a big old bar with beer signs lighting the overhead. The "Palace" stank from dirty old men, vomit, and urine. When I took over the place I had to fumigate as we reinforced the old bar so you couldn't see the warp
That first night, their performances were so well received that we agreed to have "The Patti Smith Group" four nights a week, two sets a night, till further notice. Well, they stayed seven weeks!! Clive Davis and staff came down several times and eventually signed the band right out of CBGB's. The performances were truly a wonderful experience for the staff and myself. The band was great, Patti was great; every show was special. Their audiences, because of her notoriety, were composed of writers, artists, musicians, and other celebrities (all fans). It was a most unusual crowd ranging from punks to professors. The audience reflected "HER". Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsburg, and Allen Lanier from the "Blue Oyster Cult"(the 3 A's) were here repeatedly as well as Lou Reed, John Cale and many others. It must have been inspiring for Patti and the band and again I must say, it sure was exciting for all of us.
Patti Smith remains the rock artist I feel most personally affected by. That Lenny Kaye had been active in sf fandom and so we had several personal friends in common, leading us to meet at a couple of small parties, didn't harm that.
Reading Kristal's potted history, I'm struck by the fact that I've been misremembering for years (a not uncommon experience). For decades I'd displaced musical memories of 1975-6 onto 1977. How silly of me. I was sixteen years old. How unpredictable I'd be influenced by music I discovered then, eh?
(For the record, I was also highly influenced by the Beatles, Sixties rock, jazz of all sorts, classical music, folk music of various breeds, blues, and even, eventually, Big Band of the Forties, among other flavors; like most everything else, my taste in music is very eclectic.)
WHEN I WAS GOING TO CBGB in 1975-7, seeing groups such as Television, Patti Smith Group, Blondie, Talking Heads, and The Ramones, I never dreamt the city would, in the 21st Century, name a street after Joey Ramone.
Read The Rest if you want to beat on the brat with a baseball bat. (Special Amygdala no-prize to the first person who posts what "CBGB" stands for.)
I WISH FRIENDS OF MINE WOULD QUITdying. KIM Campbell, a cancer survivor for many years now, was cremated on Tuesday, November 25. A huge force in British sf fandom, more responsible than anyone else for the success of the bid for the most recent British World Science Fiction Convention bid, KIM was one of the strongest personalities I've known.
LETTER FROM BAGHDAD by George Packer in the newNew Yorker is rather extraordinary, even in context of that magazine's tradition of extremely long in-depth examinations of a subject. Not that it's a John McPhee style examination that turns a seemingly dull topic into one of startling fascination.
It's a very long George Packer piece that's worth reading every bit of, as it brings us close-up detail of many people's lives in Baghad, looking back at the failed planning for the occupation and bringing us up to the present. It's a must-read. Some particularly wise words:
“Iraq needs to be liberated—liberated from big plans,” Salamé said. “Every time people mentioned it in the last few years, it was to connect it to big ideas—the war against W.M.D.s, solving the Arab-Israeli conflict, the war against terrorism, a model of democracy. That’s why all these mistakes are made. They’re made because Iraq is always, in someone’s mind, the first step to something else.”
In our last conversation in Washington, Drew Erdmann said that it made no sense to claim any certainty about how Iraq will emerge from this ordeal. “I’m very cautious about dealing with anyone talking about Iraq who’s absolutely sure one way or the other,” he said.
DOES HEMINGWAY HAVE RECIPES?Ideofact presents unusual turkey recipes from the notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald. No, really.
1. Turkey Cocktail: To one large turkey add one gallon of vermouth and a demijohn of angostura bitters. Shake.
3. Turkey and Water: Take one turkey and one pan of water. Heat the latter to the boiling point and then put in the refrigerator. When it has jelled, drown the turkey in it. Eat. In preparing this recipe, it is best to have a few ham sandwiches around in case things go wrong.
6. Stolen Turkey: Walk quickly from the market, and, if accosted, remark with a laugh that it had just flown into your arms and you hadn't noticed it. Then drop the turkey with the white of one egg -- well, anyhow, beat it.
MORE BAD SANTA. I knew this film was directed by Terry Zwigoff, director of the very wonderful Ghost World and of Crumb. I hadn't known it had a re-write from Joel and Ethan Coen, who together are one of my absolutely favorite set of film-makers, and who are also executive producers here. My interest in seeing this film continues to grow.
Bad Santa," for good or ill, has been demographically engineered for the smallest interest group in America: those who hate Christmas.
As for the rest of you: Hello, that's why they have multiplexes. It's called, like, make another choice.
The joy of "Bad Santa" is that its Santa is really bad, continually bad, totally bad, but also humanly bad.
At the same time, it's not at all sentimental about its bad hero. He's not a cute, "outrageous" curmudgeon, like an Archie Bunker. He's banally bad, vile and scuzzy; he has hooch-halitosis and stains under his armpits. His signature chant isn't "Ho, ho, ho," it's "Me, me, me." He's so bad, he might give bad a bad name. He's white-trashy, drunken, abusive, profane, sexually pathological, tied so tight in his own knot of self-hatred he's hardly recognizable as human -- that is, unless you look in the mirror. I can't quote a single one of his lines because I just checked The Washington Post's dash drawer, and we're a little short today. Plenty of semicolons and umlauts and accents in there for the foreign correspondents, but not nearly enough dashes for me to quote a line like: "Kid, why don't you get the -- -- out of here before I -- -- kick your -- -- ," and that's where I run out of dashes.
The movie is -- how can I say this? -- funny as hell. It's like an old Mad magazine "Scenes We'd Like to See" put together by someone on crystal meth, with a vicious streak, an existentialist streak and no mercy anywhere in his soul and only the tiniest flinch at the end, which is probably, sigh, the best way to end. Bad Santa, at his baddest, just doesn't give (oh, look, some extra dashes!) a -- -- about anything. Put that in your chimney and smoke it, it seems to be saying to the world.
"WITLESS" is what the usually thoughtful Chris Bertram calls people who name Lord Of The Rings as their favorite work of fiction. Crooked Timber readers leap in to largely dance a dance of agreement in their comments. Tolkien is just for children, you know, and isn't literature.
This is the sort of silliness that breeds an equally damaging counter-reaction by some genre aficionados that if good stuff isn't literature, "literature" must be bad. It's not a terribly beneficial interaction or perceptive analysis on either side.
Still not as common as Civil War re-enactors (there are an estimated 45,000 of those), a growing number of combat buffs are spending their weekends recreating classic battles of World War II — complete with convoys of heavy artillery that were present at the real thing. Membership in the biggest vehicle-collectors' group, the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, based in Independence, Mo., has doubled since 1991, to 10,000. And Americans are not the only ones taking part: the Invicta Military Vehicle Preservation Society in Britain has 1,200 members, while the Japan Classic Jeep Association, founded in 1983, is now 120 people strong.
These days, you can even buy a tank online, through sites like www.tanksforsale .co.uk, based in Britain. (Among the current offerings: a GAZ-69, Soviet-era jeep-like vehicle and a Vzor 77 Dana tank.) The artillery is frequently Soviet or Eastern European, but Allied and German hardware sometime turns up. (Because they are scarcer, German trucks and tanks generally fetch far more than their Allied counterparts.) An Abbott self-propelled gun tank advertised on www.awickedgift.co.uk had "one careful owner," the British Army.
Fans of military vehicles say a boom in patriotism is, in part, behind the increasing popularity of halftracks and T16 Bren gun carriers for home use. Kay Hinga, manager of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, points out that while prices for some combat vehicles are high — a Porsche-designed, German Tiger 2 tank is worth more than $1 million — many are pretty cheap, at least compared with the prices of vintage cars. They are also far less costly to get ready for the road. You can pick up a fully restored American Sherman M-4 tank for about $90,000; one in need of restoration goes for about $60,000. An added bonus: "They're easy to work on, and they don't need a high-gloss finish," Ms. Hinga said.
I'd make car-detailing jokes if I knew the faintest thing about the subject. Here's something I can get behind, though:
The best part about re-enacting, he said: "We get to do all this neat stuff without worrying about getting killed."
THE PERIODIC TABLE OF BLOGGERS. I'm in the "politics" section (colored yellow), on the left side with Atrios, Calpundit, Josh Marshall, Daily Kos, and Matthew Yglesias.
Interestingly, Atrios and Daily Kos have never blogrolled me, Calpundit dropped me at some point, and Marshall has always had only a handful of blogs rolled, anyway.
I've tended to assume that the reason for my not being listed by these gentlemen, and dropped or not listed by a number of other prominent lefty blogs (Charles Dodgson, Crooked Timber, TalkLeft, Body and Soul, for example), is that I'm considered insufficiently pure in my leftyness, but, of course, it's entirely possible that it's because I'm boring, or blog too much about Buffy, Tolkien, science fiction, comics, and other triviality, or, of course, there need be no affirmative reason whatever.
It's always interesting how people's perspectives vary, however.
ONLY ONE MEASLY THANKSGIVING? The Confederacy of the Iroquis Nations had nine, as described in their Constitution:
103. It shall be the duty of the appointed managers of the Thanksgiving festivals to do all that is needed for carrying out the duties of the occasions.
The recognized festivals of Thanksgiving shall be the Midwinter Thanksgiving, the Maple or Sugar-making Thanksgiving, the Raspberry Thanksgiving, the Strawberry Thanksgiving, the Cornplanting Thanksgiving, the Corn Hoeing Thanksgiving, the Little Festival of Green Corn, the Great Festival of Ripe Corn and the complete Thanksgiving for the Harvest.
Each nation's festivals shall be held in their Long Houses.
I'd read references to this document all my life, but never before actually read it. It's long, and it's fascinating, partially because from a modern American perspective, it's so bloody weird in many ways. We're always told about how it influenced the Founding Fathers. Perhaps so. But not with stuff like this:
We place at the top of the Tree of the Long Leaves an Eagle who is able to see afar. If he sees in the distance any evil approaching or any danger threatening he will at once warn the people of the Confederacy.
4. You, Adodarhoh, and your thirteen cousin Lords, shall faithfully keep the space about the Council Fire clean and you shall allow neither dust nor dirt to accumulate. I lay a Long Wing before you as a broom. As a weapon against a crawling creature I lay a staff with you so that you may thrust it away from the Council Fire. If you fail to cast it out then call the rest of the United Lords to your aid.
63. Should a great calamity threaten the generations rising and living of the Five United Nations, then he who is able to climb to the top of the Tree of the Great Long Leaves may do so. When, then, he reaches the top of the tree he shall look about in all directions, and, should he see that evil things indeed are approaching, then he shall call to the people of the Five United Nations assembled beneath the Tree of the Great Long Leaves and say: "A calamity threatens your happiness."
Then shall the Lords convene in council and discuss the impending evil. When all the truths relating to the trouble shall be fully known and found to be truths, then shall the people seek out a Tree of Ka-hon-ka-ah-go-nah, [ a great swamp Elm ], and when they shall find it they shall assemble their heads together and lodge for a time between its roots. Then, their labors being finished, they may hope for happiness for many days after.
One fascinating aspect is the role of women:
19. A bunch of a certain number of shell (wampum) strings each two spans in length shall be given to each of the female families in which the Lordship titles are vested. The right of bestowing the title shall be hereditary in the family of the females legally possessing the bunch of shell strings and the strings shall be the token that the females of the family have the proprietary right to the Lordship title for all time to come, subject to certain restrictions hereinafter mentioned.
20. If any Confederate Lord neglects or refuses to attend the Confederate Council, the other Lords of the Nation of which he is a member shall require their War Chief to request the female sponsors of the Lord so guilty of defection to demand his attendance of the Council. If he refuses, the women holding the title shall immediately select another candidate for the title.
21. If at any time it shall be manifest that a Confederate Lord has not in mind the welfare of the people or disobeys the rules of this Great Law, the men or women of the Confederacy, or both jointly, shall come to the Council and upbraid the erring Lord through his War Chief. If the complaint of the people through the War Chief is not heeded the first time it shall be uttered again and then if no attention is given a third complaint and warning shall be given. If the Lord is contumacious the matter shall go to the council of War Chiefs. The War Chiefs shall then divest the erring Lord of his title by order of the women in whom the titleship is vested. When the Lord is deposed the women shall notify the Confederate Lords through their War Chief, and the Confederate Lords shall sanction the act. The women will then select another of their sons as a candidate and the Lords shall elect him. Then shall the chosen one be installed by the Installation Ceremony.
When a Lord is to be deposed, his War Chief shall address him as follows:
"So you, __________, disregard and set at naught the warnings of your women relatives. So you fling the warnings over your shoulder to cast them behind you. "Behold the brightness of the Sun and in the brightness of the Sun's light I depose you of your title and remove the sacred emblem of your Lordship title. I remove from your brow the deer's antlers, which was the emblem of your position and token of your nobility. I now depose you and return the antlers to the women whose heritage they are."
The War Chief shall now address the women of the deposed Lord and say:
"Mothers, as I have now deposed your Lord, I now return to you the emblem and the title of Lordship, therefore repossess them."
They were very big on the deer antlers. They come up countless times.
Another female duty:
41. If a War Chief acts contrary to instructions or against the provisions of the Laws of the Great Peace, doing so in the capacity of his office, he shall be deposed by his women relatives and by his men relatives. Either the women or the men alone or jointly may act in such a case. The women title holders shall then choose another candidate.
46. The lineal descent of the people of the Five Nations shall run in the female line. Women shall be considered the progenitors of the Nation. They shall own the land and the soil. Men and women shall follow the status of the mother.
Food also comes up a lot:
31. When a Lordship title is to be conferred, the candidate Lord shall furnish the cooked venison, the corn bread and the corn soup, together with other necessary things and the labor for the Conferring of Titles Festival.
Here's a very interesting provision:
37. Should any man of the Nation assist with special ability or show great interest in the affairs of the Nation, if he proves himself wise, honest and worthy of confidence, the Confederate Lords may elect him to a seat with them and he may sit in the Confederate Council. He shall be proclaimed a 'Pine Tree sprung up for the Nation' and shall be installed as such at the next assembly for the installation of Lords. Should he ever do anything contrary to the rules of the Great Peace, he may not be deposed from office -- no one shall cut him down -- but thereafter everyone shall be deaf to his voice and his advice. Should he resign his seat and title no one shall prevent him. A Pine Tree chief has no authority to name a successor nor is his title hereditary.
I assume that this is the kind of mechanism that allowed Kirok to become a tribal leader in the classic Star Trek episode, "The Paradise Syndrome." :-)
Many provisions are highly specific, mandating specific statements, speeches, and acts:
43. If a message borne by a runner is the warning of an invasion he shall whoop, "Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah," twice and repeat at short intervals; then again at a longer interval.
If a human being is found dead, the finder shall not touch the body but return home immediately shouting at short intervals, "Koo-weh!"
As one would anyway, to be sure.
The Lords of the Confederacy shall eat together from one bowl the feast of cooked beaver's tail. While they are eating they are to use no sharp utensils for if they should they might accidentally cut one another and bloodshed would follow. All measures must be taken to prevent the spilling of blood in any way.
And why America hasn't preserved the custom of cooked beaver tail, I just don't know.
Here's something Congress might want to adopt:
Should it happen that the Lords refuse to heed the third warning, then two courses are open: either the men may decide in their council to depose the Lord or Lords or to club them to death with war clubs.
Should the men in their council adopt the second course, the War Chief shall order his men to enter the council, to take positions beside the Lords, sitting bewteen them wherever possible. When this is accomplished the War Chief holding in his outstretched hand a bunch of black wampum strings shall say to the erring Lords:
"So now, Lords of the Five United Nations, harken to these last words from your men. You have not heeded the warnings of the women relatives, you have not heeded the warnings of the General Council of women and you have not heeded the warnings of the men of the nations, all urging you to return to the right course of action. Since you are determined to resist and to withhold justice from your people there is only one course for us to adopt."
At this point the War Chief shall let drop the bunch of black wampum and the men shall spring to their feet and club the erring Lords to death. Any erring Lord may submit before the War Chief lets fall the black wampum. Then his execution is withheld.
I got your cloture right here, Senator.
Lots of other stuff is addressed: Laws of Adoption, of Emigration, Rights of Foreign Nations, Powers of War, and on and on. There's an official War Song. Religous ceremonies of each nation are protected. There's an Installation Song. The words for the official speech at a funeral, with many variants depending upon who died.
All in all, quite a window into the culture of the day and place.
Of course, of almost equally great importance in American history is this charter.
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5, if you're interested.
IT'S ALWAYS A PRESIDENTIAL BROTHER. Bill's went to jail. With Reagan, it was his kids. Carter had Billy. Nixon had Donald. And George has Neil.
According to legal documents disclosed on Tuesday, Sharon Bush's lawyers questioned Mr. Bush closely about the deals, especially a contract with the Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation that would pay him $2 million in stock over five years. The corporation is backed by Jiang Mianheng, son of former President Jiang Zemin of China.
"You have absolutely no educational background in semiconductors do you?" Mr. Brown asked in the March 4 deposition, a transcript of which was seen by Reuters.
"That's correct," Mr. Bush, 48, responded.
Mr. Brown questioned Mr. Bush about numerous other business ventures that paid him well to be a consultant and fund-raiser, and, in at least one case, for little work.
Mr. Bush said he was co-chairman of the Crest Investment Corporation, but worked only an average of three to four hours a week. For that, he received $15,000 every three months.
I imagine a few unsuspecting families will wander into it, despite the "R" rating, and I picture terrified kids running screaming down the aisles. What I can't picture is, who will attend this movie? Anybody? Movies like this are a test of taste. If you understand why "Kill Bill" is a good movie and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is not, and "Bad Santa" is a good movie and "The Cat in the Hat" is not, then you have freed yourself from the belief that a movie's quality is determined by its subject matter. You instinctively understand that a movie is not about what it is about, but about how it is about it. You qualify for "Bad Santa."
When Imam Mahdi al-Jumeili of the small Hudheifa mosque in Baghdad's Shurti neighborhood met three American officers to resolve a dispute over soldiers entering the grounds of his mosque, his first question to them was "are any of you Jews"? When he was satisfied that none were, he allowed the meeting to proceed. Prior to the arrival of the Americans, he made his prejudices about them clear: "We are sure they came here to steal the country and protect Israel," he said, adding that "Judaism and Masonism are at war with Islam".
These views are common in Iraq, where references to "al-Yahud", or "the Jews", are made everywhere and they demonstrate the degree to which the outside world is misunderstood and feared by Iraqis whose views were shaped by years of authoritarianism, control and fear, with little access to information not dictated by Ba'athist or religious sources.
And the prejudices appear to still flourish. For a journalist, not a day goes by without mention of Jews and Israel. Even taxi drivers talk about the Jews when they grumble about the occupation. "We are Muslims!" one declared proudly during an evening ride to a hotel, "and Jews come to our land?" When asked who he was referring to, he said, "They are all Jews. The Americans are all Jews and mercenaries. We know their religion." When asked if he wanted a Sunni or Shi'ite leader in Iraq, this driver said. "We are all Muslims, it makes no difference. Only the Jews want to separate Sunnis and Shi'ites, they are non-believers."
Another taxi driver explained that "America and the Jews are one. We know this from their interests, their relationships and America's defense of the Jews. They don't give rights to Arabs, only Jews. America and Jews are the same because they have the same goals and the same faith." A third taxi driver explained that the Jordanian embassy was bombed because Jordan was organizing the migration of Jews into Iraq.
In the market of Abu Ghraib, a town west of Baghdad, when asked about the Americans, one angry man replied: "Saddam was better. At least he was a Muslim. Isn't that better than Jews?" When pressed on the issue, he explained that "the Americans are Jews, their work is Jewish. Nobody accepts them". The prayer leader of Abu Ghraib's local mosque agreed. "They are all Jews and Christians, these occupiers," he said.
Read The Rest Scale: 6 out of 5. Scary stuff, and this ain't half of it.
BEING X. I confess. I've spent $4 on friviolity. I am scum. I'm broke, and I'm taking your money, and I rented X-2, which I couldn't afford to see in the theater, because I was broke then, too. (I then worked hard at a full time job for seven months, where I was "Employee of the month," as well as, of course, temp work before that, but never mind.)
I've been, being me, belatedly reading reviews. Here's a thought:
What's un-neat is how Singer and screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris overload the film with new Xers. Pyro (Aaron Stanford) is viably flashy, but do we need the steel guy, the screamer, the girl who passes through walls and the kid with the forked tongue? By expanding the X-Men franchise, Singer dilutes the film at hand.
Snicker. God forbid the writer ever discovers that there are a couple of hundred of X-characters, and that he's dissing some of the originals. That would be "un-neat."
Who needs Colossus, Banshee, Artie, or Kitty Pryde? They "dilute" the concept by, er, being primary characters. Why did Tolkien "dilute" his work with Merry and Pippin, anyway? Wot a maroon.
CUTENESS ON STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE tonight. Captain Archer and T'Pol are sent back to the US in 2004. In an utterly unpredictable move, LA. They look to steal a car. Several have alarms. One is booted. The next has a dog. "Have you ever piloted a vehicle from this era?" Indignantly: "I can pilot a starship." Shades of Kirk and Spock in "A Piece Of The Action." "Are they aware they're almost out of fossil fuel?" "They've been aware for thirty years. But it wasn't until 2061 that they--" Interruption.
Useful anti-smoking technique: put a phaser to someone's head.
WE ARE NOW ALL OLD, FAT, AND BALD. A slight exaggeration, but provoked by seeing (on DVD, no less) an old acquaintance, for the first time in years, whom I won't mention (Chris Claremont), and after several similar experiences in the past month. Christ, why don't people take everyone over 35 out back to the shed and shoot us in the head so we'll all have a nice picture at our funerals? (Yes, there are prominent exceptions, as there are to every rule.)
Oh, wait, we're distinguished. Which means we don't get laid as much.
Er, speaking only for someone else.
Wait, why am I posting this? Doesn't the New York Times have something worthy?
Oh, dear, I'm being agist. That's even worse than being unemployed and broke, somewhere. On top of never having to deal with prejudice against ancient folks. Apologies for lookism. It has nothing whatever to do with going on job interviews. I pinky swear. Self-concious and projecting? Moi? Incon-ceivable!
EU ANTI-SEMITISM REPORT "BURIED"says the German sociologist who co-led the study.
A German sociologist who led an unprecedented, comprehensive research study on the causes of anti-Semitism in Europe, has charged that an "overly-politically correct" European Union, which commissioned the research, "buried" the report for fear that it could spark civil war.
"I think that the European Union buried the research out of fear of civil war, and from excessive political correctness," Professor Werner Bergman, one of the co-leaders of the study, told Haaretz.
Bergman's partner in conducting the study, Professor Wolfgang Benz, termed the EUMC's grounds for rejecting the study "absolutely ridiculous. From our standpoint it verges on slander."
A deputy board member not named by the paper confirmed that the directors of the EUMC had regarded the study as biased, adding that they had judged the focus on Muslim and pro-Palestinian perpetrators to be inflammatory.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a leader of the Greens party in the European Parliament Tuesday strongly denounced the EUMC for shelving the report.
"The completely mad thing is that they didn't want to continue bcause they were afraid to offend a certain Muslim opinion in Europe," he told Israel Radio. "This is a completely crazy and wrong approach."
Cohn-Bendit, a leader of the French student left in the late 1960s, is currently on a visit to Israel. He said the decision to shelve the study was a "big, big, error" and that his party would question the move in the European Parliament at the first opportunity.
"There is a danger of anti-Semitism in Europe, there is a danger of racism in Europe - both - and we must confront this reality, and we can't now postpone the debate on this," Cohn-Bendit said.
No need for commentary, save: good for Daniel Cohn-Bendit!
You can now, temporarily at least, e-mail me at scifi110558 -- at -- aol -- dot -- com. If you do snailmail something, letting me know the amount ASAP by e-mail would be most helpful. Remember: money orders better, due to check-cashing place taking out only 5% versus 10% for personal checks, but personal checks gladly accepted! Our operators are standing by.
For a bit of perspective, it's grand that so many bloggers have posted on my behalf. As a result, I've had over 2,700 hits on Monday. And six whole e-mails saying they're sending small donations. And one saying he's sending $100; woo-hoo. Match? Did I hear "match"? (Interesting ratio: 500 hits for every 1 donation.) Late news: a $200 pledge! Bringing the total pledged to about $350 of the ~$800 I'm trying to raise. Keep it coming?
I'll be posting a donated PayPal button sometime later today, Tuesday. I don't know if that will help, as the swamp of linked visitors will have subsided by then, but c'est la vie.
Meanwhile, I'll continue, as I always try to when I can make time, to attempt to do some adequate blogging as an attempt to give you something for your consideration.
Hey, lefty friends! I've had far more posts and donations from right-wingers and libertarians! You don't want to let the side down! You can't let Those Guys prove they're more generous! Show us your bleeding heart! For the children!
I'm open to fund-raising suggestions. For a $25 pledge, I'll blog something on the topic of your choice?
(Bloggers welcome to post a new post about this post. Or wait until I post the new PayPal link later today.)
UPDATE to the update: there's going to be a delay on getting the PayPal button up. Soonest looks like not before tomorrow, Wednesday. At worst, I should be able to work out something with someone in a few days. Meanwhile, if anyone else would like to volunteer an unused, verified, Paypal account, in which I have access to the password so as to track funds, please e-mail me. Thanks.
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE. More good press for Bush.
Royal officials are now in touch with the Queen's insurers and Prime Minister Tony Blair to find out who will pick up the massive repair bill. Palace staff said they had never seen the Queen so angry as when she saw how her perfectly-mantained lawns had been churned up after being turned into helipads with three giant H landing markings for the Bush visit.
The rotors of the President's Marine Force One helicopter and two support Black Hawks damaged trees and shrubs that had survived since Queen Victoria's reign.
And Bush's army of clod-hopping security service men trampled more precious and exotic plants.
The Queen's own flock of flamingoes, which security staff insisted should be moved in case they flew into the helicopter rotors, are thought to be so traumatised after being taken to a "place of safety" that they might never return home.
The historic fabric of the Palace was also damaged as high-tech links were fitted for the US leader and his entourage during his three-day stay with the Queen.
The Palace's head gardener, Mark Lane, was reported to be in tears when he saw the scale of the damage.
"The Queen has every right to feel insulted at the way she has been treated by Bush," said a Palace insider.
And so on and so forth. This one seems a tad less tragic, though:
The mass of gadgetry meant the Royals couldn't get a decent TV picture during the visit.
I actually think Michael Gerson--, er, Bush's speech at Banqueting House was excellent and important. A shame that the visit was otherwise so cloddish that few who might possibly open to noticing that will, in fact, notice that.
One important bit:
We must shake off decades of failed policy in the Middle East. Your nation and mine, in the past, have been willing to make a bargain, to tolerate oppression for the sake of stability. Longstanding ties often led us to overlook the faults of local elites. Yet this bargain did not bring stability or make us safe. It merely bought time, while problems festered and ideologies of violence took hold.
As recent history has shown, we cannot turn a blind eye to oppression just because the oppression is not in our own backyard. No longer should we think tyranny is benign because it is temporarily convenient. Tyranny is never benign to its victims, and our great democracies should oppose tyranny wherever it is found.
But the unit's recommendation was evidently ignored. American officers fear that because the villagers may have been continuously exposed to the gamma radiation for as long as a month before they were taken away by American troops on Oct.8, the risks of sickness among the missing villagers could be high.
BOEING WELFARE QUEEN FIRED. I first wrote about this here. Now comes this cheering news of Boeing running scared.
The Boeing Company dismissed its chief financial officer and another executive yesterday for what it called ethical misconduct in the hiring of the executive, a former Pentagon official who was involved in contract negotiations with the company.
The chief financial officer, Michael Sears, was fired for discussing a potential job with Darleen Druyun, an Air Force acquisitions official, while she was representing the Pentagon in talks with the company over a multibillion-dollar contract to supply aerial refueling tankers.
An internal inquiry found that Mr. Sears, once considered a candidate for Boeing's top job, and Ms. Druyun, who was also fired, tried to cover up their discussions, the company said.
A BILLION HERE, A BILLION THERE, JESUS BLOODY CHRIST, 125 BILLION? Who cares, it's Medicare? It bores everyone!
The Medicare legislation that passed the House near dawn on Saturday and is moving toward a final vote in the Senate would steer at least $125 billion over the next decade in extra assistance to the health care industry and U.S. businesses, in addition to its widely heralded goal of helping older Americans pay for prescription drugs.
The largest chunk of that assistance, according to congressional budget estimates, would be $86 billion worth of payments and tax benefits for employers, giving them a new subsidy for the health benefits that many already provide to retirees.
Wouldn't it just be cheaper to institute a negative income tax, a guaranteed minimum income, and hand out sufficient cash for prescribed drugs to individuals? Simpler, at least? Just wondering. This story says the entire cost will be $400 billion, though other stories give figures in the trillions. Trillions.
Click here to see a transcript of Triumph's recent online chat with you web nerds.
Few today are likely to remember Triumph's early television appearances on the "Steve Allen Show," where network censors forced him to say, "for me to go to the bathroom on." Triumph overcame this and was an emerging star until his controversial 1968 appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," from which he was barred after his unfortunate ass-raping of Topo Gigio.
Under the banner of "homeland security," the military and intelligence communities are implementing far-reaching changes that blur the lines between terrorism and other kinds of crises and will break down long-established barriers to military action and surveillance within the U.S.
Eberhart's Colorado-based command is charged with enhancing homeland security in two ways: by improving the military's capability to defend the country's borders, coasts and airspace — unquestionably within the military's long-established mission — and by providing "military assistance to civil authorities" when authorized by the secretary of Defense or the president.
Eberhart says his Northern Command operates scrupulously within the bounds of the law. "We believe the [Posse Comitatus] Act, as amended, provides the authority we need to do our job, and no modification is needed at this time," he told the House Armed Services Committee in March.
Of course, what he knows is that amendments approved by Congress in 1996 for that earlier civilian war, the war on drugs, have already expanded the military's domestic powers so that Washington can act unilaterally in dispatching the military without waiting for a state's request for help. Long before 9/11, Congress authorized the military to assist local law enforcement officials in domestic "drug interdiction" and during terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, the president, after proclaiming a state of emergency, can authorize additional actions.
Indeed, the military is presently operating under just such an emergency declaration.
Given the absence of terrorist attacks inside the United States since 9/11, it may seem surprising that Northern Command is already working under the far-reaching authority that goes with "extraordinary operations." But it is.
"We are not going to be out there spying on people," Eberhart told PBS' NewsHour in September. But, he said, "We get information from people who do." Some of that information increasingly comes not from the FBI or those charged with civilian law enforcement but from a Pentagon organization established last year, the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA). The seemingly innocuous CIFA was originally given the mission of protecting the Defense Department and its personnel, as well as "critical infrastructure," against espionage conducted by terrorists and foreign intelligence services.
But in August, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld expanded CIFA's mission, charging it with maintaining "a domestic law enforcement database that includes information related to potential terrorist threats directed against the Department of Defense." The group's Assessments and Technology Directorate, which shares offices with the Justice Department's Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, has already identified 200 foreign terrorist suspects in the U.S., according to a Defense Department report to Congress.
This year, the Pentagon inspector general authorized assigning military special agents to 56 FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force operations at FBI field offices. These military agents will pursue leads in local communities of potential threats to the military. Eberhart also plans to have his own cadre of agents working with local law enforcement. Next year, he plans to transform Joint Task Force Six, a drug interdiction unit of 160 military personnel at Ft. Bliss, Texas, into Joint Interagency Task Force North. The new task force will be given nationwide responsibility for working with law enforcement agencies.
CIFA, moreover, has been given a domestic "data mining" mission: figuring out a way to process massive sets of public records, intercepted communications, credit card accounts, etc., to find "actionable intelligence."
There was some head-scratching among academics and scholars of military minutia and even some Internet chatter about something Arnold Schwarzenegger said in his inaugural address: " … to an immigrant like me, who, as a boy, saw Soviet tanks rolling through the streets of Austria … "
At the state Republican convention in September, Schwarzenegger had put it this way: "Growing up, I saw Communism with my own eyes. When I was a boy, the Soviets occupied Austria, I saw their tanks in the streets."
This was perplexing because Schwarzenegger's home province of Styria was in the British zone of Austrian occupation, from 1945, before Schwarzenegger was born, until the Allied occupation ended in 1955, when Schwarzenegger was about 8 years old.
Schwarzenegger's hometown of Thal, as a suburb of Graz, was at the heart of the British zone.
Well, yeah, but who can forget when Ronald Reagan parachuted in, and he and boy-Ahnold fought the Soviets until they retreated all the way out of the British zone?
Read The Rest if you vant maw deetail. (Via Matt Welch.)
A cheeky, chatty robot has bagged a job as university receptionist. From next week, the long-lashed lovely will meet and greet guests of King's College London.
Inkha - short for 'interactive neurotic King's head assembly' - will dole out directions and events information. Like receptionists across the globe, she will also comment on the weather and fashion faux pas.
Inkha should keep everyone on their toes too: if she doesn't like your clothes, she will ask whether you got dressed in the dark. And if she gets weary, she asks for a cup of tea, says her co-creator and independent animatronics consultant Matthew Walker.
Inkha's CV is short. Her previous job - chatting with visitors to an interactive science road show - lasted for just seven days. But she will be working at King's College indefinitely, says Walker. "We just hope her motors don't blow," he says.
SPEAKING OF GOEBBELS, here are his predictions for the year 2000. It makes for quite fascinating reading: how much he got wrong, of course, and the few canny bits he got right. (I hope no one is loon enough to confuse my saying "fascinating" or that he got a few bits right with some sort of endorsement of Herr Goebbels.)
No one can predict the distant future, but there are some facts and possibilities that are clear over the coming fifty years. For example, none of the three enemy statesmen who developed this brilliant plan will still be alive, England will have at most 20 million inhabitants, our children's children will have had children, and that the events of this war will have sunk into myth. One can also predict with a high degree of certainty that Europe will be a united continent in the year 2000. One will fly from Berlin to Paris for breakfast in fifteen minutes, and our most modern weapons will be seen as antiques, and much more. Germany, however, will still be under military occupation according to the plans of the Yalta Conference, and the English and Americans will be training its people in democracy. How empty the brains of these three charlatans must be—at least in the case of two of them!
The third, Stalin, follows much more far-reaching goals than his two comrades. He certainly does not plan to announce them publicly, but he and his 200 million slaves will fight bitterly and toughly for them. He sees the world differently than do those plutocratic brains. He sees a future in which the entire world is subjected to the dictatorship of the Moscow Internationale, which means the Kremlin. His dream may seem fantastic and absurd, but if we Germans do not stop him, it will undoubtedly become reality. That will happen as follows: If the German people lay down their weapons, the Soviets, according to the agreement between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, would occupy all of East and Southeast Europe along with the greater part of the Reich. An iron curtain would fall over this enormous territory controlled by the Soviet Union, behind which nations would be slaughtered. The Jewish press in London and New York would probably still be applauding. All that would be left is human raw material, a stupid, fermenting mass of millions of desperate proletarianized working animals who would only know what the Kremlin wanted them to know about the rest of the world. Without leadership, they would fall helplessly into the hands of the Soviet blood dictatorship. The remainder of Europe would fall into chaotic political and social confusion that would prepare the way for the Bolshevization that will follow. Life and existence in these nations would become hell, which was after all the point of the exercise.
Aside from domestic problems of economic, social and political nature, England would suffer a declining population that would leave it even less able to defend its interests in Europe and the rest of the world than it is today. In 1948, Roosevelt's campaign for reelection would fail, just as Wilson's did after the First World War, and a Republican isolationist would become president of the USA. His first official act would likely be to withdraw American troops from the European witch's kettle. The entire population of the USA would doubtless approve. Since there would be no other military power on the continent, in the best case 60 British divisions would face 600 Soviet divisions. Bolshevism certainly would not have been idle during the period. A Labor government, perhaps even a radical half-Bolshevist one, would be in power in England. Under the pressure of public opinion whipped up by the Jewish press and a people weary of war, it would soon announce its lack of interest in Europe. How fast such things can happen is clear from the example of Poland today.
The so-called Third World War would likely be short, and our continent would be at the feet of the mechanized robots from the steppes. That would be an unfortunate situation for Bolshevism. It would without doubt leap over to England and set the land of classic democracy ablaze. The iron curtain would fall once more over this vast tragedy of nations. Over the next five years, hundreds of millions of slaves would build tanks, fighters and bombers; then the general assault on the USA would begin. The Western Hemisphere, which despite lying accusations we have never threatened, would then be in the gravest danger. One day those in the USA will curse the day in which a long-forgotten American president released a communiqué at a conference at Yalta, which will long since have sunk into legend.
The democracies are not up to dealing with the Bolshevist system, since they use entirely different methods. They are as helpless against it as were the bourgeois parties in Germany over against the communists before we took power. In contrast to the USA, the Soviet system needs to take no regard for public opinion or its people's living standard. It therefore has no need to fear American economic competition, not to mention its military. Even were the war to end as Roosevelt and Churchill imagine, the plutocratic countries would be defenseless before the competition from the Soviet Union on the world market, unless they decided to greatly reduce wages and living standards. But if they were to do that, they would not be able to resist Bolshevist agitation. However things turn out, Stalin would always be the winner and Roosevelt and Churchill the losers.
Scanning through a bunch of his stuff on this page, one has to grudgingly admit that he was damned skillful at the propaganda thing.
Read The Rest Scale: for this piece, 2.5 out of 5. It's educational to get an overall familiarity with his techniques as displayed over various pieces. Innoculatory, one might say. Here is one that sounds nothing like our friend (see below) Miklis:
One could not understand this war if one did not always keep in mind the fact that International Jewry stands behind all the unnatural forces that our united enemies use to attempt to deceive the world and keep humanity in the dark. It is so to speak the mortar that holds the enemy coalition firmly together, despite its differences of class, ideology and interests.
Congress approved a bill on Friday that expands the reach of the Patriot Act, reduces oversight of the FBI and intelligence agencies and, according to critics, shifts the balance of power away from the legislature and the courts.
A provision of an intelligence spending bill will expand the power of the FBI to subpoena business documents and transactions from a broader range of businesses -- everything from libraries to travel agencies to eBay -- without first seeking approval from a judge.
Under the Patriot Act, the FBI can acquire bank records and Internet or phone logs simply by issuing itself a so-called national security letter saying the records are relevant to an investigation into terrorism. The FBI doesn't need to show probable cause or consult a judge. What's more, the target institution is issued a gag order and kept from revealing the subpoena's existence to anyone, including the subject of the investigation.
The new provision in the spending bill redefines the meaning of "financial institution" and "financial transaction." The wider definition explicitly includes insurance companies, real estate agents, the U.S. Postal Service, travel agencies, casinos, pawn shops, ISPs, car dealers and any other business whose "cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax or regulatory matters."
There's a lot of stuff I think over-paranoid, to put it mildly, or hysterical. Objecting to this, and some of the ways provisions of the PATRIOT Act are being applied to non-terrorists, is not something I put in that category. Oh, and of course:
The FBI says it can't say how many times it has issued itself NSLs because of national security.
MIKIS THEODORAKIS. I happened to run across this prominent Greek composer's web page more or less accidentally, after wanting to check details on what he recently said. (He's the composer of Zorba the Greek, among other credits.)
But, first, some quotes from stories he's inspired. Dar Al Hayat:
The entire world has been condemning Ariel Sharon's government and its Nazi practices against Palestinians, also considering Israel as the greatest threat to world peace (along with the U.S.).
What happened is that two synagogues in Turkey were attacked by terrorists, once again proving that terrorism is one, whether it is perpetrated by Al Qaeda or by Sharon's government, as one nurtures the other, and every act of terrorism justifies counter-terrorism.
Personally, I hold Sharon, the Likud and all those who sympathize or defend their policy responsible for the rise of anti-Semitism worldwide, for the terrorist attacks, be they against Palestinian civilians in Gaza or people praying at a synagogue in Istanbul.
If there really is a new wave of anti-Semitism in Europe or anywhere else, it is no doubt a result of Sharon's government; we all heard the great Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis say recently that Israel was the basis of all evil, and this was not the first time that he made such a comment; already last April, he had told a Greek newspaper that Jews imitated Nazis' barbarism, and followed in the footsteps of Nazi practices more everyday, and were carrying out their last dream against Palestinians. The composer speaks for the entire Greek people, according to several public opinion polls that were conducted there.
I believe that Barbara Amiel has already said too much, and so has Thomas Friedman, whom I have known to be a moderate liberal, but is now playing smart by making up excuses for Israel, and not finding anyone to help him talk about Saudi Arabia except for an "expert" of his kind called Steven Cohen. Friedman wrote an article for the New York Times, in which he suggested that a deal be struck between Saudi Arabia and Israel, so that the latter would "buy time" for Saudi Arabia which would use it to operate political and economic reforms, while the Kingdom would help Israel fight the escalating wave of anti-Semitism.
What I have to say to Friedman is this: Not in a thousand years. Saudi Arabia does not need Israel, and will not make any deal with it before a Palestinian state is created with Jerusalem as its capital. He might know Sharon, but I know the Saudis, including the seniors of five thousand princes Friedman had talked about. I know that they will not strike any deal with Israel, and if they do, I promise Friedman to stop writing about politics.
Great stuff, eh? And there's more where that came from.
But here is an official statement of the Greek Government, from the Ministry website:
The Greek government does not share the statements made by music composer Mikis Theodorakis that the “Jews are the root of evil”, reiterated Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas. He added that the world famous music composer has played an active role in liberation movements.
The government spokesman stated that in the past Mr. Theodorakis had stood by the Jewish community and had written the music for Maunthausen.
Responding to a question on the comment made by an Israeli government minister according to which, Theodorakis is compared with Goebells of Nazi Germany, the government spokesman underlined that Mikis Theodorakis has nothing in common with Goebbels.
I hope you've all got that straight, now that this has been cleared up. Jews not the source of all evil. Miklis played an active role in liberation movements. Underlined: nothing in common with Goebbels, whose name we can't spell.
Aside from that "Jews the root of all evil" thing.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas complained that Ambassador Thomas Miller meddled in domestic affairs with his comments on Mikis Theodorakis, the left-wing political activist who wrote "Zorba the Greek."
"In our opinion, it is not part of [foreign ambassadors´] jobs to take a stance and criticize remarks by Greek citizens, particularly when they do not concern the country they represent," Mr. Protopapas told reporters last week.
Well, sure, given that the Greek government took such a strong stand. After a nuclear blast like their Theodorakis statement, why need anyone else say anything at all?
Of course, it is the job of Greek spokesmen to criticize citizens and officials of other governments when they say such powerfully offensive and dreadful stuff as:
Mr. Miller, in an earlier television interview, said he was disappointed by Mr. Theodorakis' anti-Semitic comments at a Nov. 4 reception attended by Greek officials to celebrate the publication of his autobiography.
"It is regrettable and sad that a man of such stature makes such remarks," Mr. Miller said.
WOW! Strong stuff, eh? I'll bet you feel faint after such shocking language. Pray sit down immediately. Have a drink. Try to forget you ever heard such foul language. I apologize for putting you through such an upsetting experience.
Theodoakis's words, after all, were trivial, and as we'll soon see, what he's said many times.
At the book party, Mr. Theodorakis — flanked by Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Education Minister Petro Efthymiou — compared Greeks and Jews, calling them "two peoples without kin [who] had fanaticism and self-knowledge and managed to prevail." He added, of Jews, "Today, we can say these little people are the root of evil."
Well, who could argue with that? Everyone knows that. What's to object to? Here is the headline the Seattle Times covers the AP story with:
Criticism of Israeli policies brings cry of anti-Semitism
Which finally brings us to Theodorakis's own web page and Clarification, following the introduction from the chair of his Foundation:
Introduction to make things clear:
While presenting his new book “Pou Na Vro Tin Psychi Mou” (Where will I find my soul?), Mikis Theodorakis also spoke, off the record, about the "problem of Israel".
Classic, that. "The Jewish Problem." There's nothing as good as the oldies. And remember! Nothing in common with Goebbels.
The fact that the main Greek dailies didn't even mention his comments shows already how small the importance of his statement was.
Yes, to be sure. It says nothing about "the main Greek dailies" and not uncommon popular Greek opinion, of course.
Nevertheless, when it was taken out of context and made known, the result has been an unbelievable polemic: Pages and pages of electronic mail and inscriptions in the guest book arrive here and in Athens.
After a week of polemics, we reopen the guestbook to show to what abyss of insanity and infamy perverse minds can dive, be they Israelis, Jews, Neonazis, fascistes or Anti-Semites.
Whoever. These loons are all the same: insane and infamously perverse, these Neonazis, fascists, Jews, and Israelis. One and the same.
Of course there is also "pro and contra" expressed sincerely and honestly, otherwise one could just desperate.
We wouldn't want that.
We counter them with the declaration of Mikis Theodorakis himself. This is our contribution to a discussion that, decidedly, doesn't honour those who started it.
Hey, something I agree with!
Guy Wagner Webmaster - Chairman of the International Theodorakis Foundation FILIKI
My opinion of the Israeli people, as on all things, has always been known and I am frankly at a loss as to why such a great commotion was made this time, as if it was heard for the first time. Maybe some people judged this to be the right time to launch an attack on me.
That must be it.
I was always on the side of the weak, of those struggling for the Justice of People. And among them were the Israeli People. I sang their suffering as well as I could. I was always in favor of the peaceful coexistence of peoples. And I showed this in practice, when, among other things, I undertook a mediatory role between Alon and Arafat in the incidents of 1972.
But, precisely for these reasons, I am totally opposed to Sharon’s policy and I have stressed this repeatedly, just as I have repeatedly condemned the role of prominent American Jewish politicians, intellectuals and theorists in the shaping of today’s aggressive Bush “policy.”
Yeah, everyone knows about them and who is to blame for the Evil Bush Policy. What's the fuss about? Damn the Jew Weinberger and the Jew Powell and the Jew Rice and the Jew Cheney. Damn all those insidious lesser Jews who manipulate them with their media control and money.
Only through a conscious effort can anyone confuse the Israeli People, for whom I have shown my respect and wonder in practice and these negative phenomena which are what truly blacken the image of Israel and play a genuine "anti-Semitic" role. It is these which are on the side of Evil, the root of Evil, as I stated recently.
It's their fault! Wait, what was the comment I made that started this, my opinion that "has always been known"? Who is "the root of all evil"? Jews are "the root of all evil"? Oh, right. So now we've "clarified" that.
Personally, I am happy because I know that there are many Israelis all over the world and within Israel who agree with me and are striving for the true Justice of their People and can coexist with the Justice of other People as well, who are struggling for Peace in their region and the whole world. I am happy that we have been together in these joint struggles for decades now. And I know that they know me well through these struggles and they are not waiting for the mud of some in order to get to know me.
But perhaps this is the aim of those who suddenly "discovered" my ideas and slander me as an alleged "anti-Semite."
Isn't it good he clarified all this for us?
By the way, here is what he said about the Iraq war:
This moment I see, as does everyone who lives and breathes, the biblical destruction of Baghdad.
Amid the flames that engulf the martyr city, I see the image of the USA as a civilized country being annihilated within me.
I see Bush standing shoulder to shoulder with Genghis Khan, Attila and Hitler.
I view Americans responsible as detestable, ruthless, cowardly murderers of entire peoples.
From this moment on and forever after I will view as my enemy anyone who has anything to do with these barbarians for any reason.
The hatred of simple people from the entire world must rise like a great wave to drown them in shame.