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Ward-- of the state!

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.05.05

Churchill responds in a way that is not entirely crazy.

Bad puns do not justify violence, people. Remember that.

UPDATE: Tim Burke has a nice bit on Churchill as a mediocre scholar.


 

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Movie Notes

Posted by Ogged
on 02.04.05

1. I'm going to drag my ass to a movie tonight, so if you have a strong opinion about whether it should be Million Dollar Baby or Sideways, I'd appreciate it (those are the only two options).

2. The very cute, but cheap Liz Penn (aka Slate's Surfergirl, Dana Stevens) has a nice roundup of recent art(y) films, for those of you so inclined, living in places where such films might play.

3. Who knew they were making Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction? And that Bill Murray is in it?

UPDATE: Sideways was sold out, so I saw Million Dollar Baby. Most of it, anyway. I left before it ended. It was fine--not great, not terrible, but too depressing. If you're considering seeing it: it's really fucking depressing.


 

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John Holbo: my hero

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.04.05

Read the whole thing, as they say. It's about Reynolds and Churchill and all that, and it's superb.


 

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MSM

Posted by Ogged
on 02.04.05

Well, waddya know, Unfogged gets a link in the Wall Street Journal today (subscription only, naturally). The best of it is, it's a link to a one-year-old post by Bob about what else is on TV during the Superbowl, but the Journal doesn't seem to have noticed the date. Love it.

UPDATE: I emailed them, and they removed the link. Without writing me back or acknowledging the change. Classy.


 

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A Cold, Dark Morning, Maybe

Posted by Ogged
on 02.04.05

Sometimes I think baa might be right, and that things aren't as bad as they seem in America. But, more often, I side with the Bitch, and the worst of it is, like she says, that I feel totally helpless. That election really broke me, and I'm not even close to regaining a capacity for hope.


 

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Schmeling

Posted by Ogged
on 02.04.05
I only know Max Schmeling, the great German boxer who died today, because he was one of the boxers in a video game that I played as a kid. So I just want to say, what a great photo.

 

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Trying To Keep Up

Posted by Ogged
on 02.04.05

I'm not nearly cool enough to recommend new, hip bands like Arcade Fire, but I can tell you that I've been listening to some songs from The Be Good Tanyas Chinatown that are very good.


 

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Yogurt

Posted by Ogged
on 02.04.05

I don't know if y'all ever care about these public service posts, but here's another: after I got my wisdom teeth pulled, I was on antibiotics for a while, and they completely screwed up my stomach: burning feeling, nasty taste in my mouth, etc. It didn't get better even after I stopped taking them, so I've been a grumpy little blogger for the past few weeks. I mentioned this to the ex, who said, "Yogurt." Apparently, the live cultures in yogurt help restore the stomach's proper pH. (For the lactose intolerant, soy yogurt is fine, as long as it has active cultures--specifically, acidophilus, which you can also get as a pill). After a couple of yogurt eating days, I'm not quite cured, but feeling much better. She says a week ought to do it.


 

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Churchill again

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.03.05

Forgive me, dear readers. I'm running a fever and I've been under a lot of stress, so perhaps I've taken leave of my senses. But this Glenn Reynolds post has left me dazed and confused. It's about our favorite bad-hair dept. chair, Ward Churchill, and the question of whether Churchill's views are in some way representative of the academy, the left, the leftist academy, Dream Academy, whatever.

First, a note on something funny: Ward Churchill might not be Indian. See here:

Ward Churchill has been masquerading as an Indian for years behind his dark glasses and beaded headband. He waves around an honorary membership card that at one time was issued to anyone by the Keetoowah Tribe of Oklahoma. Former President Bill Clinton and many others received these cards, but these cards do not qualify the holder a member of any tribe. He has deceitfully and treacherously fooled innocent and nave Indian community members in Denver, Colorado, as well as many other people worldwide. Churchill does not represent, nor does he speak on behalf of the American Indian Movement.

And more, from Indian Country:

According to Jodi Rave, a well-known Native journalist and member of the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Three Affiliated Tribes, Churchill was enrolled as an ''associate member'' of the Keetoowah by a former chairman who was later impeached. The one other known member of the same program, since discontinued, was President Bill Clinton. Rave said that she made this discovery as a student in a journalism class at the University of Colorado. She was also in a class taught by Churchill. When her article came out, she said, he dropped her grade from an A to a C minus.

This would be utterly hilarious. No idea if it's true, but it really gives a kick in the groin to the sort of identity politics "I-say-this-as-an-X" nonsense that used to be taken with a straight face in certain quarters. But on to the main issue.

Instapundit quotes another bit of the Indian Country article, which says that

Far from suffering for his views, Churchill appears to have been sought out by many in the universities as a representative of American Indian thinking. But to many Native intellectuals, he is traveling under false pretenses, both in his ideology and his personal identity.

Reynolds concludes:

Henry Farrell is rather wide of the mark (as usual) when he suggests that I'm being dishonest in noting that Churchill's beliefs are representative of a depressingly wide swath of academia. There's clearly a swath that prefers a fake Indian spouting extreme European leftism when it can get one, so much so that the spouter is actively sought out because of those views. That's no surprise, of course, to anyone who has been paying attention to academia, which Henry apparently has not.

And later, after considering Tom Paulin's invitation to speak at Columbia:

Honestly, the problem seems hard to deny -- unless, that is, you're in denial. Hostility toward America, and the West generally, is far too common in the academy, and members of the academy not only aren't doing much about it, too many of them are trying to pretend it doesn't exist now that people are pointing it out.

An obvious point first: to the extent that Churchill is a sought-out speaker, he's brought in to speak on Indian issues, as he was at Hamilton College. Whether or not he has anything to say about them isn't really relevant, since the original Glennuendo is that Churchill's views on 9-11 were representative of some big mass of evil leftist professors. And these two topics are completely orthogonal-- whether Churchill's views on Indian issues are typical and whether his views on 9-11, etc., are typical are completely different questions. So Reynolds' argument seems to miss the mark completely, if I've understood it right. (There's an obvious analogy to Chomsky here, since many people take his views on linguistics to be representative of the profession, while taking his political rants to be tiresome and annoying. But if I dare mention the Garden Noam, I'm sure to face the music in a big way...)

Moving on. The general weirdness of the Reynolds post is that he's now given a small number of examples purporting to show the existence of some general phenomenon. Maybe he simply moves in a different part of the academy than I do, but I simply don't see evidence for a lot of America-hating, West-hating, terrorist-excusing going on in these hallowed halls. Look, I know there are idiots-- Paulin sounds like a nut, and he's sounded like a nut for years. Churchill, who, as I noted below, is not really in danger of breaking the prestige-o-meter, also strikes me as a doofus, the kind of academic my colleagues and I ridicule at parties.

Could I be convinced that the Academy is a nest of fifth columnists? Sure-- but such a claim will require more than these sorts of cherry-picked examples. It's actually an illustration of a more insidious problem, viz., the academy is full of idiots.

Sorry to rant so. Blame the circumstance. I'm just having a moment, is all.


 

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Major Ritual Impurity

Posted by Ogged
on 02.03.05

Now that Sistani (the Iranian-born Sistani, Drudge ominously notes), looks like he's going to become the leader of Iraq, it's a good time to remember that his website is unique among heads of state.

The Grand Ayatollah takes your questions:

Question: Is anal intercourse permissible.?
Answer: Permission is bound to wife's agreement, but it is strongly undesirable.

Who's prudish now, infidels?

Question: Is oral sex permissible between husband and wife?
Answer: It's allowed provided no liquid coming out swallowed.

Forget peace. Islam is the religion of straight-up answers. And friendly to women, too.

But I think this is my favorite.

Question: If a dog falls into a well and was brought out alive, will the well be pure for ablution?
Answer: It is allowed.

Some days it's a good day to eat breakfast, some days it's a good day to be a Shiite.


 

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Links

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.03.05

I miss the big apple-- but here's a taste: Overheard in New York.

And of course you've probably seen this: Query Letters.


 

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Ward Churchill rant

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.03.05

Sweet hair, yo. Note too that he doesn't have a PhD, and that his BA and MA seem to be from Sangaman State University. This isn't the Wykeham Professor of Logic and Metaphysics, you know. (I originally used my favorite Famous Chair, the White's Professor of Moral Philosophy, but that sounded all colonizing...)

You all know this already. I'm just cranky after reading the Winds of Change comments...


 

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Kids Today

Posted by Ogged
on 02.03.05

Two quickies:

First, what I really love about this post is that it comes right after a discussion of the relevance of religious texts when divorced from questions of God's existence. And I'm shocked at our own Ben W-lfs-n's contribution in the comments.

Second, though Sue mocks, throat singing is way cool, and you should all see Genghis Blues.


 

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Four years of college and all I got was this lousy jihad

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.03.05

Try this odd but fascinating discussion of some alleged claims of Robert Conquest's by Henry Farrell and Armed Liberal. The fulcrum of disagreement seems to be whether or not the 'anti-Western' viewpoint of the University has something to do with making people into terrorists. Farrell:

First, [Conquest] draws a link between "the abstractions of fashionable academics" and the propensity of the students accepting those abstractions to then become terrorists. Then, in the very next sentence, he asserts a direct connection between the fact that some of the 9/11 terrorists attended Western universities, and the fact that they absorbed an anti-Western mindset. In the absence of any evidence of a connection between what the 9/11 terrorists were taught in Western universities, and what they then did, this is a slur, clear and simple.

It won't surprise many to know that I'm on Farrell's side, in my own crude way. If attending western universities can make a certain kind of person a terrorist, it's not because of the 'anti-Western' bent of the English department (a phenomenon that's seriously overstated and, when it does exist, is widely ridiculed by students and colleagues alike). From my own limited experience, I'd guess it has as much to do with the beer as anything: the University is one of the most decadent places in the West, and this can be shocking and repulsive to a certain kind of person. They don't hate us because they read Of Grammatology; they hate us because of the coeds. After all, remember what licentiousness did to Sayyid Qutb:

In 1964, Qutb, having suffered torture and ten years of incarceration in Nasser's prisons, published his best known work, Milestones, (Ma'alim fi'l Tariq: alternate translation of the title is Signposts) a work that has inspired some of the most extreme expressions of Islamic revivalism, such as Islamic Jihad and Takfir wa-l Hijra. One of the central concepts of the book, jahiliyya ("pagan ignorance and rebellion against God"), was molded at least in part by Qutb's unpleasant sojourn in the United States from 1948 until 1950, an experience in cross-cultural living that did not go well. Qutb was an employee at the time in the Egyptian Ministry of Education. He had been sent to the U.S. to study American educational institutions. Qutb was deeply offended by the racism he observed (and experienced first-hand) and was scandalized by the openness between the sexes in American society. (see his comments on women) Even a Sunday night "sock hop" to which he had been invited, put on by a youth group in a church in Colorado, was too much for this lifelong bachelor.

Anyway, the comments in Armed Liberal's post are funny.


 

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Watchful! Suspicious!

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.02.05

I was a big Cabaret Voltaire fan back in the day, so I was amused to discover that the voice sample intro from "Don't Argue" comes from this US military training film about how to conduct oneself with the German population.

Nothing brings back the late 80s-- or my high school experience-- like a staticy voice saying

Don't try to change their point of view.

You will not be friendly.

You will be aloof.

And Ogged wonders why I never have sex.


 

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Atlas yawned

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.02.05

Apparently it's Ayn Rand's birthday. Party favors available here, here, here, here. I don't have much to say about Rand; I find her interesting only because I find the cultlike adoration utterly baffling. The prose is wooden, the characters are as subtly drawn as Dick Tracy's chin, and the philosophical insights are few and far between.

I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for The Fountainhead, though, because it was recommended to me by a woman who attended Princeton. Reading the novel helped convinced me that even people from the ivy league could be complete imbeciles-- for example, by failing to realize their privileges were given instead of earned. I've been grateful to Howard Roark ever since.

I read once that a certain kind of adolescent is drawn to Rand because of the comfort of hearing, during a confusing, alienating, and difficult time of life, that lives of greatness must struggle against crushing mediocrity. Shorter: your misery marks your superiority. This still sounds right. Thoughts?


 

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Old Timey Wingnuts

Posted by Ogged
on 02.02.05
There exists a group called Citizens Against Nude Juicebars and Pornography. Really. And one of its founders gives eloquent voice to the conservative impulse.
"There's a line between right and wrong," Pulse says. "And it seems like anymore nowadays that line has got all jumbled up."
And, unintentionally perhaps, speaks the truth.
"I feel that God wants something to be done here," Pulse said. "I feel God is using us."
For the comic relief of millions, she did not add.

 

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Research

Posted by Ogged
on 02.02.05
He described himself as an idiot. He said he was looking for someone like himself, with breasts. I wrote him back saying that I was an idiot with breasts.

And every word of it true.


 

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What's My Motivation?

Posted by Ogged
on 02.02.05

I have to admit, that even with all the evidence that characters like Dick Cheney are just selfish evil bastards, I keep trying to figure out what they must be thinking, and whether I would have done things differently if I were in their place. In the Chenian mind of my imaginings, the world is full of threatening, evil actors, always and only trying to gain power and advantage over me and my country. Even where I, Dick Cheney, personally want to indulge in a bit of sentimentality or optimism, my responsibilities as a member of government force me to suppress those feelings, and focus on securing the country.

See, the problem I have is that this isn't really wrong. And if you were in some sense responsible for the lives of hundreds of millions of people, you'd be a lot more likely to err on the side of "security" than "liberty," because 1) the presumption in our culture is that we safeguard lives first and 2) lost lives are a tangible and frightening consequence, whereas liberty is harder to grasp, and one can always rationalize that it will be restored when circumstances change.

(Also: It's entirely possible that an effort to ensure security could make us, in fact, less safe. And that's what I think has happened. But I'm trying to understand the non-crazy/evil motivation behind that effort.)

Often, when we act "on principle" (in this case, liberty), we're enacting a wish: that the world will arrange itself to align with that principle. Or, to put it the way we actually deliberate: that the world won't be the way we want, unless we act to make it that way. And that, for all the sympathy I really do have for the Cheneys of the world, is what makes their vision seem so dark: there's no hope in it: where "liberals" seem to want a porous, open world of human interaction--and are willing to take risks to bring it into being--I get the feeling that Dick Cheney's perfect America (or, at least, the only sort of perfection he thinks is worth pursuing), is a fortress. I can admit that we need people who think that way, but I hope that we don't all do it.


 

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Not Jaded Yet

Posted by Ogged
on 02.02.05

I should be more jaded about this interweb thing, but I think it's supercool that two guys who live in Japan are discussing their impressions of traffic there, and that I mentioned Charles D'Ambrosio and Lucy Mangan, and D'Ambrosio himself and Mangan's father dropped into the comments. Magic.


 

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Hotlanta nights

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.01.05

If you're in need of something bad to read, this post over at making light has a novel for you: Atlanta Nights. The post details just why such awful fiction exists, but, seriously, just go for the badness:

"I don't know how I'll be able to drive it with my arm in a cast," Bruce Lucent shoots back. "It's lucky I wasn't killed outright like so many people are when they have horrid automobile wrecks."
"Fortunately, fast and efficient Emergency Medical Services, based on a program founded by Lyndon Baines Johnson the 36th President of the United States helped y'all survive an otherwise, deadly crash," Isadore chuckled. He nodded his head toward the towering apartment building, in the very shadow of Peachtree Avenue, where Bruce lived his luxurious life. So young, yet so wealthy, based on his skills as an expert software developer.

That, my friends, is a novel with promise.

UPDATE: the whole thing available here. C'mon-- I know you want to.


 

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I Can Always Hang Up

Posted by Ogged
on 02.01.05
The implications of this are pretty clear: I'll give up driving and talking when they keep old folks from driving.
"If you put a 20-year-old driver behind the wheel with a cell phone, their reaction times are the same as a 70-year-old driver who is not using a cell phone," said University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer.

 

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Gay Nazis

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.01.05

Via Martini Republic, I found a link to a collection of gay Nazi dolls. Well, some of them are gay, at any rate. Take a look-- they sure look hunky to me, if you catch my drift. This has, not surprisingly, caused some problems with the collector's social life:

i really like my action figures, but i face a lot of prejudice from people -- i bring gay guys home from bars and then they see my doll collection and they don't like me any more.

and on the other end, my fellow doll collectors don't like me because i am gay.

I so hope this is not for real. But if it is real, I'll definitely buy him a drink at the GAY BAR! GAY BAR! GAY BAR!

This post in no way expresses an endorsement of Nazism, anti-semitism, or Fascism. It may, however, be taken as an endorsement of Facism and, especially, of gay men choosing to dress in military uniforms simply because it's hot.


 

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Next

Posted by Ogged
on 02.01.05

Damn stuff to do, but in the meanwhile, this Juan Cole piece in Salon (bit frightening that an editor at Salon can make someone sound less anti-Bush) is a very good overview of the political situation in post-election Iraq.


 

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Very Fast Dreaming

Posted by Ogged
on 01.31.05

I think I'm very late with this, but I don't get out much, and last night I walked by a poster for caffeinated Budweiser. (More recent news story with details). I'm so confused. I'll just turn this over to anyone who's mixed uppers and downers to tell us how this is supposed to make you feel, and if it's worth paying to feel that way.


 

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Comments

Posted by Ogged
on 01.31.05

Kevin Drum takes conservatives to task for not having comments on their blogs.

What makes this all the more mock-worthy is the longtime aversion of conservative bloggers to comment hosting, which is the only genuine self-correction mechanism in the blogosphere. Yes, my comment section might be full of trolls and their vitriol, but anyone who has a factual disagreement with what I write has a forum to point it out in the same place as the post itself.
But take a look at the Ecosystem. As I write this, the top ten conservative blogs are Instapundit, Powerline, LGF, Malkin, Captain's Quarters, Sullivan, Hewitt, Volokh, Wizbang, and The Corner. Of those, only three have comments, and the LGF folks do everything in their power to keep anyone outside their own sycophantic fan base from contributing.

The quite true nugget is that comments allow dissent in the same place as the post. So I want to say, with Kevin, that blogs should have comments. But comment boards on the big sites are unreadable. I used to read most of Kevin's comments, and even a lot of Atrios's, but now, I rarely dip into either. I'm sure that if Insty had comments, lefties and righties would race to embarrass themselves. Even the Volokh posts that have comments are a joke. I'll even say, in defense of Malkin, who has to be one of the most loathesome public characters around today, that it makes perfect sense for her to close comments if folks are just going to call her a slanty-eyed whore.

And, there's a danger to having comments insofar as the presumption is that the blogger will read all of them, and respond in some way to challenges. It would be mighty embarrassing if Kevin posted a factual claim that was definitively refuted in his comments, but he claimed never to have seen it. But, if there are enough comments, it's hard to keep up. Even on this relatively tiny site, there are days when I have trouble reading all the comments and still getting anything else done. On sites that get hundreds of comments in each post, reading them could be a full-time activity.

So, much as I'd like to agree with Kevin that the lack of comments on the big-righties is evidence of their failings, there are just too many good reasons not to have them. But Kevin's right that if you don't have comments, it's probably best to keep quiet about how "self-correcting" blogdom is.


 

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Voting

Posted by Ogged
on 01.31.05

I know The Right is watching, so let me get on the record here. It's heartwarming to see Iraqis voting, and, at the very least, their joy demonstrates the real power of the idea of democracy. But there's that niggling issue of the state having to have a monopoly on force, and being able to guarantee the safety of its citizens. Absent those conditions, it's not clear that we can say we have a state in Iraq, let alone a democratic one. Here's hoping...

UPDATE: Long before anyone else, Kotsko had a great post about this.


 

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Nature

Posted by Ogged
on 01.30.05

Hope things look up for Labs, and props on the brilliant double-posting innovation. In other news, I'm going to scream. The ex says nobody packs shit out, and that it sounds gross. Dig a hole, as some of you already said. Burn, or pack out toilet paper. Substitute a smooth rock, leaves, or a barkless piece of wood. The original point stands.

Holy Shit: The definitive blog guide to shitting in nature, courtesy of Phred in the comments. Don't miss it.


 

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