Sunday, July 16, 2006

1001 Ahistorical Posts

In honor of this, my 1001st post and the beginning of my first official hiatus, here is a review of some of my most notable work here. I posted a few of these in response to this survey, but this is more comprehensive and categorized.

Significant StatementsRegular FeaturesHumorAs for the hiatus (which has nothing to do with my parents discovering this site; sheer coincidence) I will continue to post quotations, maybe an odd quiz or meme or picture, irregularly until I decide I have the time and energy to come back to this, my least professional outlet. I'll still be around -- I'm not giving up blogging or commenting, just trying to focus my energies. Any future posts worthy of note will be collected elsewhere, though the indexes on the sidebar will continue to be updated as appropriate.

Doing Something Right? Thanks...

There are bloggers out there who like this blog enough to link here, though most of them never link to specific posts nor leave comments.... I'm grateful, but a bit mystified. The order is (roughly) the same order in which I noticed the linkage.

David at Life After Breakfast is a veteran teacher of what my school called "Language Arts" (that probably dates me very specifically) with a progressive Quaker perspective and healthy attitude.

Brandon at Julius Speaks is the proprietor of the Radical Progressive Carnival and, like me, an incorrigable poster of song lyrics.

Jefe at (formerly here) is a witty and warm-hearted sort, Christian and hip. Something like that, anyway.

Jeremy Boggs at Clioweb (also Revise and Dissent) is one of those people redefining the cutting edge of technology in history pedagogy. Nice guy, too.

Jon Swift does great satires. Every day. I'm lucky if I'm funny once in a while....

Paktorowicz and Levery at 91st Place have a strong interest in Jewish history and anti-semitism. Not a fast-paced blog, but substantial.

Jonathan Wilson, aka the Elfin Ethicist, is one of the more interesting historical/theological bloggers out there. Very smart fellow, with a great eye for material.

Finally, as a thank-you to all those other folks who's blogging has informed, inspired, entertained or productively infuriated me, a gratuitous but obscure repetition of my blogroll.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Lost Words

Pre-feature advertising: History Carnival's up! And now, on with the show....

Via Mutantfrog and Ralph Luker, I found the Compendium of Lost Words, OED entries which have fallen out of use. Here are my nominations for "words we need now more than ever (except the last one)." I have replaced the original sample sentences with ones more relevant to modern life, to give a sense of just how useful these words might be.
  • A through E
  • agonarch n 1656 -1656
    judge of a contest or activity
    I've often wondered how I could get a job as a Reality TV agonarch.
  • aquabib n 1731-1883
    Since I gave up coffee, I've become a boring aquabib, but my seltzer budget has skyrocketed.
  • caprizant adj 1730 -1736
    of the pulse, uneven or irregular
    Syncopation in music is much more fun than caprizant EKGs.
  • circuland n 1821 -1821
    that which is to be circulated
    Most of what we call "memes" -- internet quizzes and the like -- we really should call "circulands" because they're not just free-floating ideas but are deliberately spread by "tagging."
  • F through M
  • hymnicide n 1862 -1862
    killing of hymns through alterations
    Modern churches seem to have no alternative to hymnicide, as newer liturgical music is often even worse than modifications to older stuff.
  • jobler n 1662 -1662
    one who does small jobs
    One of the problems of academia is over-production of PhDs, leading to a proliferation of joblers.
  • modernicide n 1774 -1774
    killing or killer of modern people
    Many anti-intellectual movements -- Khmer Rouge, jihadists, etc. -- engage in modernicide as policy.
  • N through R
  • odynometer n 1889 -1893
    instrument for measuring pain
    Without an odynometer, doctors must rely on patients' subjective reporting.
  • phlyarologist n 1867 -1867
    one who talks nonsense
    So many bloggers are phlyarologists that I fear for the future of humanity.
  • pudify v 1656 -1656
    to cause to be ashamed
    Though he had a respectable professional identity, he knew the revelation of his "sex-life/weight-loss" blog would pudify him.
  • S through Z
  • quibbleism n 1836 -1836
    practice of quibbling
    Among bloggers, many heated debates devolve into quibbleism, particularly linguistic.
  • schismarch n 1657 -1657
    founder of a schism
    There are no mediocre schismarchs, I think: either they are wildly successful and their followers venerate them for generations, or they are short-lived, pitiable failures.
  • speustic adj 1656 -1658
    made or baked in haste
    Much of my cooking is speustic, and modern prefabricated food and cooking ingredients make it easier than ever.
  • stagma n 1681 -1820
    any distilled liquor
    Though we are a long way past legal Temperance, and beer and wine are common accompaniments to food, there is still a stigma to stagma, particularly unmixed.
  • tortiloquy n 1656 -1656
    crooked speech
    The trick to political speechwriting is to clothe tortiloquy in hallowed images and insulate promises with conditions.
  • uglyography n 1804 -1834
    bad handwriting; poor spelling
    My policy is to take off points for uglyography only when it thoroughly obscures the meaning of the text.
  • vampirarchy n 1823 -1823
    set of rulers comparable to vampires
    I think vampirarchy is a much better description for our current administration than kleptocracy, because it is something inherent in their nature, rather than a character flaw, which is draining us dry.
  • venialia n 1654 -1654
    minor sins or offences
    We have replaced the traditional venalia -- dishonesty, cupidity, lechery -- with modern flaws such as "failure to diet," "impolitic expression" and "slow responder to electronic communications."
  • weequashing n 1888 -1902
    spearing of fish or eels by torchlight from canoes
    I suspect that weequashing is today more common among Pacific Island cultures than it is among Atlantic coastal communities.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Ahistoricality Alert Index

Every so often I run across some terribly abused historical analogy or argument. It offends me. This, of course, is nothing compared to the Carnival of Bad History, but it's my small contribution.

2008 May 2: Hilary Clinton compares globalization to Holocaust
2006 May 11: Right-wing commentators drastically underestimate Gandhi and channel Father Coughlin
2006 March 20: Secretary of Defense claims unwarranted virtue for US throughout history, calls for continued unwarranted virtue (follow-up)
2006 January 25: The cost of wars, compared, without any reference to context.
2005 December 4: Right-wing blogger ignores centuries of assymetrical warfare to make cheap political attack
2005 December 2: Not my catch, technically, but it does illustrate a common fallacy.
2005 September 12: An interesting discussion of "rules of war" under Lincoln.
2005 May 5: What is "America" and how did it do all that stuff?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It takes a worried man....

Bush is largely blameless for all these troubles.... so says David Broder about our deteriorating relationships with Canada, Mexico, Russia, Iran, the WTO, and most of East Asia. What a load of ... narrow vision. The current problem with Canada is pointless nitpicking (will our security really be improved along 3000 miles of mostly open border by more paperwork?); the problem with Mexico is Republican (and I'm pretty sure the President has some influence there) anti-immigrant hysteria; the problem with Russia is most of our foreign policy; the problem with Iran is one area where I think the administration is more or less doing the right thing as long as they aren't actually planning an invasion; the WTO is the result of hypocrisy and spinelessness in Congress; and the North Korean issue should have been dealt with before the Iraq invasion started.

Broder does make an exception for Iraq, which is pretty clearly the Administration's albatross. Impeachment, anyone?

Wonder how you compare to the fascists of yesteryear? I think this test needs a little updating, but I'd be happier if it needed a lot more.... Anyway, I got an unsuprising dead-center "liberal airhead" score, 2.53. [via]

Penny Richards found some great signage.

Sarcasm can get you fired, at least if you're a Singaporean blogger/journalist.

Two-Thirds Loser... Matey

First, the Carnival of Satire is up, and I think, given how little satire was submitted this week, he's right to give it a break next week. Ringxiety was good, though, and Chainik Hocker's riff on a headline is fantastic.

Speaking of losers.... [via] The last question in the quiz is whether, if you get a loser result, you will actually share it. What I want to know is whether that increases or decreases your loser-quotient....

I am 66% loser. What about you? Click here to find out!

But if I'm such a loser, how can I be:
You scored as Captain Jack Sparrow. You are definitely quirky and often mistaken for mad but if anyone is truly paying attention they can see there is method to your madness. You try really hard to be bad but in the end you tend to do the right thing.

Captain Jack Sparrow
Captain James T. Hook
Mary Read
Dread Pirate Roberts
Black Beard
Will Turner
Long John Silvers
Captain Barbosa
Morgan Adams

What kind of Pirate are you?
created with
Interesting result. Apparently my interest in Depp continues....

Non Sequitur: Caleb's moving haiku are quite good.

Argument for a draft?

This is a post I've kind of put off. There's been a lot of discussion (Orcinus, Cunning Realist, etc., etc.) about the problems being caused by weak recruiting and retention pressure: soldiers serving who would normally be discharged, or who normally wouldn't be allowed to join in the first place and whose military training and access could well be a threat to our own security in the years to come.

Many on "my side" of the political spectrum would argue that this is evidence in favor of immediate withdrawal; it's certainly evidence that our reach has exceeded our grasp at the moment, that the "planning" for the war and postwar was inadequate. Some have even suggested a draft in order to "share the burden" though my own impression and most statistics seem to suggest that the military is pretty representative (not perfectly, but that's what happens in real life and in a military that barely tolerates women and excludes homosexuals) of the population as a whole; anyway, the reality is that those advocating a new draft mostly want to scare people into backing away from the policies and politicians which have got us here.

But I've started thinking, given that what we're (supposedly) trying to accomplish is both worthwhile and an obligation which we have incurred, and given the fact that we might well have other obligations -- moral, political, etc. -- to follow through on while finish up what we set out to do in Afghanistan and Iraq, that a draft might be appropriate. As things stand now, it would not be a "total war" style draft in which a generation marches to war, but it would be a selective one. Not the "lets pick the professionals we need out of the economy" selective draft that some have discussed, but an truly random segement of the eligible population, with reasonable deferments. That would bring enough people to the table to allow the military to weed out its "weak link" soldiers and recruits and get the job done.

This is not just about "putting our best foot forward": it's about having national policy and national priorities that make sense within the context of what we're willing to do to accomplish them. It's also about self-protection: gang members, extremists, unstable personalities are bad enough without military training.

Here's the thing: if we're not willing to seriously consider a new draft, then I don't think we have any choice but to muddle on the way we've been doing or radically rethink our moral and tactical position.

We need, to be honest, a strategy, which is sorely lacking.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bugs and Lust....

I'd been looking for some good reason to post these pictures, some "hook" to make them relevant. Finally, Natalie Bennett found a candidate for worst poem ever written in English, an elegy to a rotting -- yet oddly desirable -- corpse.

To add insult to elegy, The Little Professor alerts us to the 2006 Bulwer-Lytton Contest winners, those awful first lines for novels you're mostly glad were never written. As always, I pick my favorites from the runners up:
  • "It was a day, like any other day, in that Linus got up, faced the sunrise, used his inhaler, applied that special cream between his toes, wrote a quick note and put it in a bottle, and wished he'd been stranded on the island with something other than 40 cases each of inhalers, decorative bottles, and special toe cream." -- Chris Harget, Campbell, CA
  • "Christmas Eve fell upon the piazza, and the pealing, the tintinnabulous pealing, (perhaps not a pealing but an incessant tinkling, albeit an appealing incessant tinkling) of the street performers reached my ears, masking the shot, which would have rung out had not the tintinnabulations raised such an incessant tinkling that the sound died as dead as the musician who fell like Christmas Eve at my feet - his bell having been rung." -- Ben Ross, Lexington, NC
  • "Sex with Rachel after she turned fifty was like driving the last-place team on the last day of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, the point no longer the ride but the finish, the difficulty not the speed but keeping all the parts moving in the right direction, not to mention all that irritating barking." -- Dan Winters, Los Altos Hills, CA
Finally, I note the nearly 200th Carnival of Vanities, very ably hosted (and I'm not just saying that because he liked my post!), though the cavalcade of business posts at the front suggests to me that there's a bit of spamming going on in the CoV and it's likely to get worse.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Historical and Psychological Facts

Historical facts, Marc Bloch said, are psychological facts, and it's very true that a great deal of what we study in history is actually about attitude and personality, even when it seems like it's about something else: social and political and intellectual (even economic) history are about the life of the mind and the heart. That said, some of the worst history ever written was deliberate attempts to apply psychological insights of the present to past historical figures or societies -- the aptly named "psychohistory" movement was short-lived and we learned a lot of valuable lessons from it, in spite of itself. We're more careful now.

So it is with cautious consideration that I pass on this interesting bit of psychohistory, John Dean channeling James Dave Barber and Richard Neustadt (via, who also points to this)
Bush has never understood what presidential scholar Richard Neustadt discovered many years ago: In a democracy, the only real power the presidency commands is the power to persuade. Presidents have their bully pulpit, and the full attention of the news media, 24/7. In addition, they are given the benefit of the doubt when they go to the American people to ask for their support. But as effective as this power can be, it can be equally devastating when it languishes unused - or when a president pretends not to need to use it, as Bush has done.

Apparently, Bush does not realize that to lead he must continually renew his approval with the public. He is not, as he thinks, the decider. The public is the decider.

Bush is following the classic mistaken pattern of active/negative presidents ["who actively pursued the job but had negative feelings about it"]: As Barber explained, they issue order after order, without public support, until they eventually dissipate the real powers they have -- until "nothing [is] left but the shell of the office." Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon all followed this pattern.

Active/negative presidents are risk-takers. (Consider the colossal risk Bush took with the Iraq invasion). And once they have taken a position, they lock on to failed courses of action and insist on rigidly holding steady, even when new facts indicate that flexibility is required.
Dean goes on to argue that the Administration has an "October Surprise" planned to redeem the mid-term elections for Republicans, which isn't terribly original (of them, or of him) but his thoughts on the matter are interesting.

What Religion is YOUR Superhero or Supervillain?

Via the usually philosophical Brandon, I found this index of the religious affiliations/beliefs of a wide swath of comic book heroes, supporting characters and villains. So, I've added, to this quiz [via], their religious affiliations.

Your results:
You are Superman
Superman (Methodist)
Spider-Man (Protestant)
Iron Man (Secular/Agnostic)

Robin (Christian)

Hulk (lapsed Catholic)
Green Lantern (various)

Supergirl (Methodist)

Catwoman (Catholic)

Batman (lapsed Episcopalian/Catholic)
The Flash (nominal Christian)

Wonder Woman (Greco-Roman Classical)
You are mild-mannered, good, strong, Methodist, and you love to help others.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

Adding this result to my quiz and meme index, I note that I took this before and came out almost the same. Does it mean anything that I'm a bit more Superman than I was six months ago?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Good Reading...

Start, if you're one of us "can't put it down" readers, with Chris Bray's meditation on literature-induced insomnia. Also suffering from insomnia, Sepoy meditates on torture in media as well as in reality.

Then, because he says it so well, I'll just quote Ralph Luker
Recent years' enthusiasm for the Founding Fathers has neglected John Witherspoon. Roger Kimball, "The Forgotten Founder," Opinion Journal, 3 July; Jonathan Rowe, "John Witherspoon," Positive Liberty, 3 July; and Brandon Watson, "Musing on Witherspoon," Siris, 7 July, is a conversation that needs to happen.
Just remember to read all three pieces, because there's some very interesting correcting and revising going on in the process. Luker also notes the Asian History Carnival, which has much better stuff in it than my own contribution....

Bill mostly quotes other folks, but I'm going to quote him: "The Chicago Manual of Style. You either know it and hate it, or you've never had to deal with it." So true. He has some suggestions, though.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Post-Posting the Post

At first, it looks like grade inflation gone completely berserk.
"You have to understand our circumstances. We cannot perform well on the exam because of the problems in Baghdad. And you have to help," the letter began, said its recipient, A.M. Taleb, dean of the College of Sciences at Baghdad University. "If you do not, you and your family will be killed."
Read on, though, and it's really about the inexcusable atrocity being committed by anti-modern forces in Iraq: the decapitation -- figurative and literal -- of Iraqi learning, technology, professionalism, and hope
It's finals time in Iraq. Black-clad gunmen have stormed a dormitory to snatch students from their rooms. Professors fear failing and angering their pupils. Administrators curtailed graduation ceremonies to avoid convening large groups of people into an obvious bombing target. Perhaps nowhere else does the prospect of two months' summer vacation -- for those who can afford it, a chance to flee the country -- bring such unbridled relief.
I can't think of any examples of something like this going on that didn't take at least a generation to recover.

Michael Kinsley makes good points about the morality of stem cell research, but ultimately misses the point
Proponents of stem cell research like to emphasize that it doesn't cost the life of a single embryo. The embryos killed to extract their stem cells were doomed already. But this argument gives too much ground, and misses the point. If embryos are human beings, it's not okay to kill them for their stem cells just because you were going to kill them, or knowingly let them die, anyway. The better point -- the killer point, if you'll pardon the expression -- is that if embryos are human beings, the routine practices of fertility clinics are far worse -- both in numbers and in criminal intent -- than stem cell research. And yet, no one objects, or objects very loudly. President Bush actually praised the work of fertility clinics in his first speech announcing restrictions on stem cells.
The natural conclusion, which Kinsley misses because he's trying to be nice, is that stem cell research is the "wedge issue" which will ultimately result in regulation of all embryonic handling and the death of biological science. "No one objects, or objects very loudly" to fertility treatments because they don't want to scare off millions of potential supporters until they have a stronger legal and rhetorical case and it's too late to reframe the question.

In other fertility news, China is persecuting an activist for exposing abuses committed in the name of China's One-Child Policy. Again, there's a sort of double-edged sword there: most of what he describes is actually pretty much what's required by the policy itself, so he's not really critiquing local officials as much as he is the existence of a population control regime. Which, of course, is why the central government is coming down on him like the proverbial ton of bricks.

Mexican Election Blogging

Like most Americans, I haven't spent a lot of time on the Mexican election (though I've paid more attention than I did to the recent Canadian elections, for what it's worth), but there's been some interesting commentary in the wake of the close result. Oscar Chamberlain's discussion of the third party raises interesting questions, particularly in the light of recent overtures to "unity government" building. The most detailed critique of the vote counting agency is solid stuff, but sometimes a graphic really is worth a thousand words.

Update: Avedon Carol (from whom I got most of the above links) has a great roundup of recent commentary.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Behavioral Economics and Politics

This Harvard Magazine overview of the field of behavioral economics is interesting in itself, but even more so when you realize the extent to which these findings are being manipulated and managed by political and corporate overlords to shape the population in the image of their perfect consumer/constituent.

This Tomorrow's Professor posting describes some of the "first impression" analysis that we do as experts, the subtle ways in which we can be manipulated, and the importance of training our incredibly agile minds.

As important as first impressions are, though, real debate -- not canned pseudo-presidential press appearances or forensic exercises or blogwars -- by the people who are affected by policy is incredibly effective at cutting through "conventional wisdom" and reaching solutions that actually work with the community because they come from the community. It's not perfect, but it's a damn sight more democratic and wise than what we've got now.

I used to have a button -- from my F/SF Con days -- that said "Can you tell the difference between fallacious logic and cunning linguistics?"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

New Sadducees

The Torah portion this week is one of the true dividing lines in modern Judaism: Liberal Jews like myself interpret this portion historically and metaphorically; Orthodox Jews sit somewhere in the middle; Torah literalists, eschatologists and other "ultra" types want to recreate the Temple and the taboos of pre-Rabbinic practice
Parshas Chukkas begins with the laws of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer. Any Jew who has had contact with a corpse, even indirect contact such as walking in a cemetery or being under the same roof as a corpse, becomes ritually impure (“tamei”). The only way to remove his tum’ah is through sprinkling him with the Parah Adumah ashes.

Nowadays, with the absence of the Red Heifer ashes, we are all regarded as ritually impure, since in the course of day-to-day life avoiding all contact with a corpse is not feasible. (Consider that entering a hospital creates a likely situation of “being under one roof with a corpse,” and even walking outside leaves open the possibility of “walking over an [unknown] grave”.)

Rambam (peirush ha-Mishnayos; Parah 3:3) asks: Seeing as obtaining Parah Adumah ashes requires the services of an “ish tahor” — one who is already pure — how will it be possible to re-establish the mitzvah of Parah Adumah in the future (when Moshiach comes)? It seems, he answers, that we will have to seclude two small infants from society, and ensure they never leave the premises of a ritually-pure home built especially for them until they reach the age that they are able to supervise the making of a new set of Parah Adumah ashes. This is an acceptable way of obtaining the ashes.

He concludes as follows:
For there is no [practical] difference between one who was never tamei to a corpse, and one who was tamei his whole life and was purified [through the Parah Adumah process], except that one who has become purified [after being tamei] is on a higher level of purity than one who was never tamei to begin with, since [the Torah] calls him ‘tahor,’ [but still, both are acceptable to create the new ashes].
In a nutshell, Rambam observes that the Torah ascribes greater purity to one who was tamei and rendered pure through the Parah Adumah ashes [in that the Torah calls him “tahor” — pure], than it does to one who is inherently tahor, never having been in contact with a corpse. An insightful observation — but why? How is it possible that one who was once tamei is on a higher level of purity than one who was never tamei to begin with?
The answer to that is a Jewish version -- yeah, that came from Judaism, too -- of the Prodigal Son principle.

With the establishment of the State of Israel, this was probably inevitable. The return from Diaspora in the Persian/Roman age produced a great diversity of responses to the loss of the First Temple and creation of the Second: Sadducees were the Temple Priests, Torah literalists and political collaborators to protect their position (and remind me very much of the ulta-orthodox position in Israel today); Pharisees and Scribes were the Diasporic teachers, creators of the Synagogue tradition and the Oral Law preserved in Talmud and Mishnah (they also absorbed the messianic tradition from Persia), adaptors and ethical thinkers whose legacy is carried on in both the moderate Orthodox and Liberal traditions; Essenes and other eschatologists were Torah literalists with a messianic bent (kind of remind me of Christian Zionists, actually) who rejected the corrupted politics of the Sadducees; Zealots, the first Zionists, who rejected political collaboration in favor of an independent Jewish nation but who had no particular religious affiliation; assimilationists, of course, have existed in every age, and in every age the literalists have failed to distinguish between modernizers and rejectors of the tradition.

Ultimately, the loss of the Second Temple -- due in no small part to political infighting -- led to the ascendancy of the Rabbinic tradition. Now, perhaps ironically, there are probably as many "rebuild the temple" literalists living in the US as there are in Israel (note the first link above), and, aside from another (God forbid) catastrophic event, I don't see what will prevent these factions from becoming entrenched positions.

Satire and all

The Carnival of Satire has some great stuff. I'm particularly fond of the Strange Statue Gallery (fair warning: Being art, there's nudity, and being modern and satirical, there's crudity).

These "laptops with secret information lost" stories are really funny when they happen to someone else, we find out about them in time, and nobody actually gets hurt....

Skeptical Soda is the theme of the latest Skeptics Circle, another -- if there were an award for most creative hosting, Skeptics Circle would have a lock -- incredibly creative presentation of really good material.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

More things to think about

Carnival of Feminists seems to have mostly recovered from the comic critique fixation and moved on in some nice directions.

Prisons just got Constitutional protection from inmate lawsuits, which Eric Muller's guest blogger says is even worse, human rights-wise, than any of their other recent decisions. I'm inclined to agree.

I love Brian Ulrich, with his plague on both houses analysis of the Israel-Palestine problem.

Osama bin Laden likes George W. Bush.... I didn't say it, the CIA did. And the CIA is done looking for him, which suggests that the feeling's mutual.

Why are we barking up new trees, when we're still cleaning up after Reagan and Bush I, and we can't even convince North Korea to stop testing duds.

And Orac needs links if he's gonna make the big time. Links from bigger bloggers than me, that is....

Liberals and other Patriotic Sorts

The Carnival of the Liberals is a solid roundup of stuff, though the topics are quite predictable. If you haven't been following the political blogs at all lately, it's a good catch-up edition. If you have, there's usually at least one new blog or thought there....

British Police Bloggers haven't yet, it seems, run into the humorless chain of command problems of US police bloggers.

Speaking of Justice, I still haven't figured out what to say about China's "Bus of Death", mobile execution facility. Speechlessness seem appropriate, somehow.

Conversely, I have too many things to say about Tim Burke's thoughts on politics and liberty to know where to start. A bit at a time, perhaps.

Jonathan Wilson has produced a short guide to tendentious history which, in spite of the easiness of the target, is a wonderful piece.

Finally, contrasting adaptations: Orac tackles racialist nonsense and Ozarque compares bad news to the ever-present tick.

See also: Laughing at Neo-nazis, an incredible rainbow, Beer Spearing, Living with HIV/AIDS Blog Carnival, Lazy Cluelessness, and Legal antics.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Forever in peace may it wave....

American Flag
Flag myths and July 4th myths aside, it's a celebration of worthy ideas and ideals. That we fall short of them at times does not change fact that I'd rather be alive here and now than any other time or place in history I can think of.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Old Favorites and New Candidates

Kid's Comedy Carnival is short but funny stuff this week.

And the First Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans is surprisingly rich for a first edition. It runs the gamut from RPGs to fanfic to movie criticism and literary canon disputation. It looks like it'll be a monthly.

Oh, and it turns out that White House and conservative outrage over the banking monitor publicity is artificial. Yeah, they're using national security to score rhetorical points again. (and again, this time with a threat of vigilantism). Language and Politics is relevant... so's mathematics.

via Orac, I found the Advertising Slogan Generator:
Get In My Ahistoricality.

History Carnival, and other thoughts

Manan Ahmed, aka Sepoy, has put a wealth of material together in a surprisingly coherent -- and ocassionally brilliant -- History Carnival.

Pop Quiz: A magazine contacts you because they want to take a picture of your child, then puts it on the cover of a story about how to avoid having children like yours. How do you feel? [via] Update.

I knew something about the Japanese PM's visit to Graceland was bugging me -- I thought it was sort of kitschy, the kind of thing you do after you've left office -- but Todd Crowell points out that no Japanese PM has ever addressed Congress, which is what most heads of state do when they visit....

I have very complicated feelings and thoughts about Israel's history and current repetoire of national defense. I find myself unable to join the chorus of "Israel's going too far" (e.g.) this time. Brian Ulrich comes a lot closer to my own reactions. We knew that it was going to be rocky when Hamas won the election, but the "power will make them more responsible" dream is dead. Think of an analogy: how would the US respond if a group affiliated with the ruling party of a country -- unrepudiated, integrated into power, well-equipped and popular -- carried out guerrilla (to be nice) or terror attacks? Let's see, last time that happened... oh, yeah.

Saturday, July 01, 2006