"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours." -Sir Charles Napier
BigEarth of New Mexico sez, The warmest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great national moment, reserve their neutrality.
Bill Whittle's mom sez, If you can’t say anything of deep and meaningful scientific or political import that is not supported by fact, reason, historical precedent and in-depth step-by-step logical analysis then don’t say anything at all!
:: Thursday, September 26 ::
I get so tired of politicians incessantly accusing each other of politics or playing politics or politicizing an issue, using the same language, saying the same old thing. Let's examine it, shall we?
This hackneyed slinging of the word "politics" back and forth is as stupid as if corporations accused each other of competition.
Would they be doing their job if they weren't being political? Both sides lose an opportunity to inform their constituents by sticking with the same limited vocabulary. Call exploitation exploitation, but with explanation. Prove your point.
Christopher Hitchens words it perfectly when rebuking the epithet "Bush's Poodle," used to describe Tony Blair. "This glib expression has become a substitute for thought, among people who were never conspicuous for originality in the first place."
There is a trite joke that keeps getting passed around about how "poli-" means many and "-tics" are blood-sucking creatures. While everyone knows this is a joke, (half a joke, really, most politicians really are parasites) they still get it in their heads that "poly" is still part of the word. The word's root is in "polyt", meaning citizen, it has nothing to do with "many" of anything. Would you think the author of this joke has a political agenda?
:: michael Thursday, September 26, 2002 [+] ::
:: Sunday, September 22 ::
Headlines have been reporting German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin’s comparison of Bush to Hitler. Let’s examine it, shall we?
Amid suggestions that her quote was distorted or taken out of context, it seems she told a small group of labor union members that Bush was planning the Iraq attack to divert attention from domestic problems. "That's a popular method. Even Hitler did that.'' Or, she said, "Bush wants to distract attention from his domestic political problems. That's a favorite method. Hitler did that too."
If the method Daeubler-Gmelin refers to is “popular” or “favorite” then she would have been smart to name an ungenocidal head of state who did what she claims Bush is doing. Invoking our last President’s name would have been a very clever choice.
No matter who she could have named, however, she would have been wrong. America is planning to do what Israel did in 1981 when then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin ordered the Israeli air strike on the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. In the recent words of another former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, “We now know that had the democracies taken pre-emptive action to bring down Hitler’s regime in the 1930’s, the worst horrors in history could have been avoided.”
Her defense could be that she was only comparing a single tactic, not saying that Bush was apt to overrun the entire Middle East with the tanks of America’s 43rd Reich and kill all the Muslims. Perhaps her overconfidence rode the wave of former German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping, who said that Bush wanted to overthrow Saddam to please "a powerful - perhaps overly powerful - Jewish lobby.''
Imagine, Bush pandering to the Jews by acting like Hitler. Al-Jazeera could not have said it better.
I do not believe that anyone, particularly a high-ranking German, would make a Hitler-comparison remark without knowing exactly what he or she was saying. It boils down to two possible things: she is that ignorant of German history, which disqualifies her from her Justice Ministry job, or she is lying about our President, which disqualifies her from her Justice Ministry job.
Ah, the memories of former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala saying, “The nation’s best and brightest did not go to Vietnam” (or as her clarified version read, “best and brightest’s”), and former Army Undersecretary Sara Lister denouncing the Marines as “extremists” and “a little dangerous.” These people know exactly what they are saying.
America, America uber alles!
:: michael Sunday, September 22, 2002 [+] ::
I am so relieved by the news that former cavalry officer James Hewitt is not Prince Harry's father that I can write again after an eleven day absence.
:: michael Sunday, September 22, 2002 [+] ::
:: Wednesday, September 11 ::
GLOBAL APARTHEID, INDEED
President Mbeki of South Africa spoke at the recent Earth Summit in his country about this “world in which a rich minority enjoys unprecedented levels of consumption, comfort and prosperity. While a poor majority enjoys daily hardship, suffering and de-humanization."
I’m sorry, is the 30 billion dollars in annual foreign aid from the United States not enough? Maybe we shouldn't have cut aid to the Taliban for the year 2001, down from the usual $100 million to 65. In order to give more, he must realize we will have to take more advantage of the freedoms we have to be more productive and successful and generate more money to give. French President Jacques Chirac has proposed a world tax for the same purpose. How about taxing America annually for, say, 30 billion?
Oh, did I use the f-word? Without freedom, his people cannot be productive, but with it, President Mbeki and his ilk lose some of their power. There is little choice in the matter. Mbeki’s victims of this global apartheid are in unstable countries where corrupt leaders seize control of our donations and distribute them in ways to keep their loyal subjects fed and their opponents starving, where the state controls religion, and where foreign investment is unattractive.
The invoking of Apartheid recalls Nelson Mandela, who “may be the world’s most respected statesman” according to Newsweek. To clarify, this is the same Nelson Mandela, Nobel laureate, who thinks the man convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 should be moved to a prison in a Muslim country. (It seems the Lockerbie bomber is always last pick for hoops among his Scottish fellow inmates.)
Mandela also declares that America is a threat to World Peace. News Flash, Mr. Mandela, we don’t have world peace. We wouldn’t be giving Nobel Peace Prizes otherwise now, would we?
Mandela has sited the recent remarks of Scott Ritter, who has blown my mind with his current benign assessment of Iraq’s war capabilities. Ritter has completely contradicted his past claims on Iraq. (Either he is being blackmailed, or he’s been dating David Brock.)
If one thing is perfectly clear in all this, it is that twenty-seven years as a political prisoner does not qualify a man to be a world statesman any more than six years in the Hanoi Hilton qualifies one to be President of the Untied States.
:: michael Wednesday, September 11, 2002 [+] ::
:: Wednesday, September 4 ::
DO OVER! – SOMEBODY FELT OFFENDED
In Wilmington, North Carolina, where I grew up, a fourth grade teacher, Stephanie Bell, has been punished and humbled by the school’s principal, Dr. Susan Hahn, for an unusual word in a vocabulary lesson. The class was looking for a synonym for “stingy” and the word “niggardly” was the search result. A homework assignment required using the word in a sentence. Unsurprisingly, one parent was offended and the school’s administration has failed to defend the teacher. The parent, Akwana Walker, is demanding the teacher be fired.
Ms. Bell was forced to write letters of apology to all parents, and I have confirmed that there is a reprimand in her file. It has been an awful experience for her, but the vast majority of the parents seem to be on her side.
I remember the word well, from fifth or sixth grade, when we were looking up words on our own to see what the dictionary did and did not list. Well, being rebellious kids we looked up the n-word and lo, there was a similar sounding word of different meaning. It was in that year the word “faggot” also started getting spoken by my age group. We used a sticks-and-stones defense with the dictionary definition as a “bundle of sticks.” The word re-entered my life in 1992, after moving to England, when I observed how many Londoners loved fags. Preferred brands: Benson and Hedges, Silk Cut, and Marlborough.
The Wilmington Star-News website has a forum open to the public to post opinions on the matter, and it is a hot topic with some clever submissions. Go there and find Mr.B’s “A Modest Proposal” at http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/news_message?Category=&ThemeID=27&GroupID=57&InReplyTo=502
In an amazing irony, the online forum’s moderator censored my submission to the debate about vocabulary. Guess what word was replaced by asterisks.
I am aware that children can be cruel and could choose to misuse this word just as they could when the archaic word "***" appears in a hymnbook or in an older translation of the Ten Commandments. In those cases, the blame rests on the child who, knowing better, chooses to do wrong and then deserves disciplinary action.
This is how Ms. Bell should have written that apology. Read the uncensored and uncut version below:
Dear Fourth Grade Parents,
I am instructed by the principal of Williams Elementary to apologize to you for a vocabulary lesson that included the adverb "niggardly," a fourteenth-century Middle English word of Scandinavian origin defined as stingy or miserly.
However, "apology," a late Middle English word of Ancient Greek origin is defined as an expression of regret for an injury. Under this definition, you will get no such action from me since nothing offensive happened and no one is deserving.
Plato’s Dialogue, Apology, though, is a defense of Socrates. It explains without expressing regret. In this context, you are welcome to an explanation but I am sure the only one of you who truly needs one would not understand it anyway.
I am aware that children can be cruel and could choose to misuse this word just as they could when the archaic word "ass" appears in a hymnbook or in an older translation of the Ten Commandments. In those cases, the blame rests on the child who, knowing better, chooses to do wrong and then deserves disciplinary action.
The only “sorry” that I feel is for little students whose parents set bad examples with ignorance and emotional overreactions, and whose schools are run by principals who fail to recognize the importance of proficiency in the English language.
Ms. Fourth Grade Teacher
:: michael Wednesday, September 04, 2002 [+] ::
:: Tuesday, September 3 ::
I was going to write about the Earth Summit, "global apartheid", and the opinions of Nelson Mandela, but I am too distracted after having learned that Lance Bass is not going into space. I'll try again tomorrow.
:: michael Tuesday, September 03, 2002 [+] ::
:: Sunday, September 1 ::
ABOUT THAT HISTORY POLL
At the end of 1991 I was reading a list of recent quotes in a Newsweek or something similar, where a North Carolina high school student had been asked what he thought of when he thought about the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. He answered, “Tiananmen Square.”
To this day I don’t know what that student really meant. The magazine simply quoted him, but magazines are prone to prefer stupid quotes for greater entertainment value. Let’s examine it, shall we?
Surely that high school student didn’t think Pearl Harbor was a pro-democracy student rally, or confuse a military installation with a civilian activity, or think that Japan attacked because it hated our free society… Oh.
The Chinese government hates the idea of free society because it would get in the way of its power, and murdered the innocent who wanted democracy. Japan wanted to dominate the Pacific Rim, and murdered over 2400 Americans to get our Navy out of its way. The brutality of the Japanese military at that time is something that should be discussed right along with that of the Nazis, not as an afterthought. (-don’t know about that? Read The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang).
If those were the reasons, it was a good answer.
Now a rapidly famous poll in Britain is putting the death of Princess Diana as the most significant event in British history, even over both world wars and when the sun did set on the British Empire.
A British poll on world history put September 11 at the top. Let’s examine it, shall we?
Eleven months ago there was much talk comparing September 11 to Pearl Harbor. But I am betting if that poll were taken in the US, many Americans would put September 11 at the top of world history but not Pearl Harbor. Both were surprise attacks, but one was a direct hit on our society, the most profound expression of hatred toward a culture I can think of in the past fifty years.
But while it is in the top five, it should never be number one even on the American history list. The passing of the Bill of Rights should be. Without that, our society would not have been here to be a target.
The British should be ashamed of themselves, and could begin fighting historical ignorance by boycotting their hysterical news media. In America, we have a lot of stupid people (that North Carolina high school student not among them), but we can thank God that the death of JFK, Jr. will never be near the top of that list.