30.7.04

Where's my red pen?



This is a job for Grammar Cop!

Because it's not only about beauty

MISS AMERICA HAS NO TALENT (SHOW): " There she goes — the Miss America pageant talent show. ABC is axing the talent contest from its Sept. 18 broadcast of the Miss America pageant."

On the other hand, how prescient!

I saw a rerun of The West Wing a day or so ago. They're gearing up for the election and the heads of the news departments of the three networks tell the Chief of Communications (or whatever his title is) that they're only covering one hour a night. When I first saw the episode, I thought "how stupid". Now I'm thinking "how prescient".

So what am I doing instead? Watching John Stewart skewer the whole crapfest. The last exciting convention was '76, when it actually meant something.

As Senator Phogbound (in Li'l Abner) says, "Bring back the good old days!"

Links galore

  • Concerned that you're not as "with it" as you should be? Try the Acronym Finder or the The Slang Dictionary. You can also re-learn how to communicate with the High-Tech Dictionary Emoticons and theSmileys, emoticons and SMS text messaging lingo dictionary. Good luck!
  • Ever wondered What Kind of Elitist You Are?. Here's a surprise: I'm a Books and Literature Snob ("You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every book ever published. You are a fountain of endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and never fail to impress at a party. What people love: You can answer almost any question people ask, and have thus been nicknamed Jeeves. What people hate: You constantly correct their grammar and insult their paperbacks.")
  • And speaking of words: WordCount is an elegant and interactive ranking of the 86,800 most frequently used words in English, and is best used with disregard to the ideas espoused on its “about" page:
    Observing closely ranked words tells us a great deal about our culture. For instance, “God” is one word from “began”, two words from “start”, and six words from “war”. Another sequence is “america ensure oil opportunity”. Conspiracists unite! As ever, the more one explores, the more is revealed.
  • (the above two links courtesy of Cup of Chica)
  • THE VICTORIAN INTERNET: "What would the Victorians have made of the interweb? " (via Maud)
  • Where are you on the political spectrum? The Political Compass will tell you. (And for those of you that think you know me, I'm left and libertarian.)
  • I Am Bored. I took their reading test. Turns out that I'm reading slower than I used to. Age catches up with all of us, I guess

29.7.04

Can you spot the mistakes?

"Apparently term limits apply to 'The West Wing.' :

Richard Schiff, who plays White House communications director Toby Ziegler on the NBC political drama, says he doesn't expect the show to last much longer...

'The plans are that it's going to go a full term, eight years. Thank God, constitutionally we can't go more than that,' said Schiff, who was nominated for a best supporting actor Emmy in 2002...

Presidents can serve two four-year terms -- a total of eight years."
First of all, this is a tv show we're discussing. Martin Sheen is not really the President.

Second, according to Amendment XXII, Section 1 of the Constitution: No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. Which means that someone could serve as president for ten years (for example, Gerald Ford, had he been elected in 1976, could have run again in 1980).

If you're going to inform the public, get your facts straight and don't confuse television with reality.

(link from tvtattle)

At least someone is trying to do something

Bill Cosby's creating quite the furor these days. In several speeches he's taken the black community to task for the lack of ambition and education and behavior of the younger generation: Bill Cosby Was (Mostly) Right ("Over the years, comedic icon Bill Cosby has taken on some humorous characters —Fat Albert and Dr. Cliff Huxtable come to mind—and shaped American culture for the better. But in his latest role, Cosby the prophet is excoriating young black culture, urging African Americans to take responsibility for their lives and to stop blaming the "white man."").

While some in the community are blasting him for his comments, others are defending him for speaking out: "There are problems that handicap poor minority children that we must keep fighting, but the most important now may well be "attitude." So I come back to Bill Cosby. I believe that his call to action came out of a deep heartfelt despair about what he sees happening to inner city youngsters. He has tried so hard himself to fight their problems with too little evidence of success. Getting angry at him won't solve their problems. I wish I knew what would help. But I do know that refusing to look realistically at the situation and not requiring students to earn their diplomas will not help." (Getting angry at Bill Cosby won't solve the problems).

Usually I think that entertainers should do just that - entertain - and not use their celebrity to express political or social views (anyone remember Meryl Streep and the alar fiasco?) But in this case, I'm 100% behind Mr. Cosby. Even if Boondocks isn't.

28.7.04

Something to think about

Bloggers Anonymous. One of Terry Teachout's correspondents writes about the lack of connection we can sometimes feel in this Internet age. This correspondent says (in part):
Technology is an absolute good, you say. Maybe. It seems an irreversible good, meaning that if you aren't on the internet, then the community changes without you. I'm without cell-phone or notebook or palm, but the people around me are less open to chatting with strangers because they have them, so I may as well get them….
I've been pondering this for a few years now. As we push students to do more and more work on laptops (lessening the contact they have with teachers in favor of typing into a small screen), insist that multi-tasking is a good thing, make ourselves available all the time via cell phones and e-mail, aren't we losing something? The ability to communicate one-on-one, the ability to shut off and not be reachable by everyone all the time... all facets of life that are no longer acceptable. And then there's the problem of simply accepting that this is the way it is, without questioning the lasting value or effects. It's a struggle for me to balance all this... a struggle I'm not sure I'm winning.

What is it with Florida?

Touchscreen Vote Records Lost in Florida
A computer crash erased detailed records from Miami-Dade County's first widespread use of touchscreen voting machines, raising again the specter of elections troubles in Florida, where the new technology was supposed to put an end to such problems.

The crashes occurred in May and November of 2003, erasing information from the September 2002 gubernatorial primaries and other elections, elections officials said Tuesday.
First the GOP preregisters immigrants, now this?

27.7.04

Notable Quotes

This seems a propos, given the current cultural wars and the DNC in Boston:
"Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one's first feeling, "Thank God, even they aren't quite so bad as that," or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second, then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything -- God and our friends and ourselves included -- as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred."
From Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

Can I get an amen?!

USATODAY.com - Low-scale desktop software pushed again as Windows alternative SOMERS, N.Y. — The idea is straightforward: Instead of giving employees computers packed with features they rarely use, companies could save tons of cash by distributing simple machines tied to powerful central servers.
MS has notoriously buggy, insecure products. They're also known as bloatware because they come with features no one uses and/or wants. If you've been using computers for a while (I started with a Commodore PET), you know that there's better stuff out there. Don't be a slave to Redmond, check out these alternatives:
  • Open Office (instead of Office) Free
  • Firefox (instead of Internet Explorer) Free
  • Eudora (instead of Outlook) Free
  • WordPerfect (instead of Office) $
  • your local library will have links to far better encyclopedias than Encarta

He's got my vote!

ESPN.com: Page 2 - John Kerry: "7. When you get into office, would you consider passing an executive order that would prevent Pedro from signing with the Yankees?

I'd consider an executive order that abolishes the Yankees. We'll have to set up some very strict regulations with respect to Yankee behavior. I think the Red Sox may take care of it. I think there may be an A-Rod backlash this year. I think there may be a reverse curse here." (link via Annika's Journal and The American Mind)

Does Tom Ridge know about this?

Atomic Culture: "When the Protect and Survive leaflet was released in 1980 its contents shocked many people and added to the general air of nuclear paranoia that peaked in the mid 80s. The fact that the government were actually preparing leaflets for distribution in the event of nuclear war made it obvious that they saw it as a real possibility. This inevitably influenced British culture of the time, including films, music and comedy." (link via ColbyCosh)
No mention of duck tape or storing water and MREs, but the cultural effect is amazing. So, where's the artistic response to our government's "Preparing Makes Sense. Get Ready Now."?

Oh you ARE kidding me, right?

Claims to Fame: "A cook who shot to fame after scoring 630 points in a TOEFL exam, "

As Complete Review/the Literary Salon says, "this is enough to make you "legendary" ? This is enough to get you a book deal ?" I know people that score far better, and those that have perfect SAT scores. Should they get book deals based on that alone?

I guess this puts paid to my theory that no one cares about your score once you start working in the "real world".

26.7.04

Florida's at it again!

Why hasn't this story gotten more play? Given the role Florida played in the last election, and rumors that all eyes would be on the state in this one, I'm surprised that this hasn't been picked up. Yes, people are all-consumed with l'affaire Berger and the upcoming DNC, but still... (thanks to M. for the lead)

One 23 July, the Miami Herald reported GOP gets scolded on recruitment (registration required, so go to http://www.bugmenot.com for an id and password)
Just before the new citizens left the June 29 event, an immigration official directing the swearing-in urged the them to stop by a voter registration table -- a not uncommon sight at naturalization ceremonies.

But this table was unusual: Those handing out forms were Republican volunteers -- and the party affiliation box had been checked off ahead of time to make all of the new voters members of the GOP.
It didn't take me long to find that this is actually part of the GOP strategy, as per the NFRW Political Briefing:
As new immigrants enter the United States to become citizens, it is necessary to raise their awareness about the importance of registering to vote and of the strengths of the Republican Party. You can be a part of this process. You can involve our nation’s newest citizens and at the same time, help the Republican Party grow. There are several ways to approach this, and several different avenues through which to serve.
The briefing goes on to mention several ways, including this one, used in California:
...the Los Angeles women. They brought a life-sized cardboard cutout of George Bush that stood next to the table. As new citizens came out, the ladies offered to take their picture with the presidential cutout. In addition to the pictures and the registration forms, they were given a “goodie bag” filled with an assortment of things from Republican balloons and literature to candy and pencils. Another key to successfully connecting is to know the audience; any demographic information on the new citizens could help you tailor your presentation.
If a political party wants to provide recently naturalized citizens with information about the political process, including what the parties stand for, that's great. More of us born here in the States should vote (look at how many people actually vote - it's pathetic) and encouraging our newest to do so is a good thing. But to pre-register people is just wrong. It's playing on their presumed ignorance of the law and their rights and their ability to choose how they want to vote. Shame on Florida's GOP.

23.7.04

Link Roundup

  • An online punctuation game tests knowledge of the rules set out in Lynne Truss' Eats, Shoots & Leaves. (Via The Morning News and Maud Newton: Blog)
  • kchuckradio.com (requires Real Player)
  • Topix.net a great way to get news from all over
  • Oxymorons.info: "An Oxymoron is a combination of contradictory or incongruous words, such as 'Cruel Kindness' or 'Jumbo Shrimp' (Jumbo means 'large' while Shrimp means 'small'). It is a literary figure of speech in which opposite or contradictory words, terms, phrases or ideas are combined to create a rhetorical effect by paradoxical means"
  • S C R I B B L E R (a great new way to waste time)

    Enjoy!

22.7.04

THIS is disturbing...

DallasNews.com: Uncle Sam Can Wait:
"When the phone rang one morning, the caller ID announced: U.S. Govt. I couldn't imagine who it might be.

It was Uncle Sam. He wanted my son.

It was the new Marine Corps recruiter for my 17-year-old's high school in Mesquite. Rather than admit my son was a slug-a-bed, I told the 'gunny' my son wasn't home. When he said he'd call back, I told him not to bother, my son planned to go to college and wasn't the least interested in military service.

I picked up the phone 30 minutes later to find the recruiter had called back and my son had answered. I lost my temper and told the recruiter to leave the boy alone.

My son was nearly as angry at my rudeness as I was at the nerve of the recruiter. An e-mail exchange with the John Horn High principal and some research on the Internet told me what was going on: A provision in the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act requires school districts to provide military recruiters with the names, addresses and phone numbers of students 17 and older."
I think that a 17-year-old boy is capable of making up his own mind about serving. And we all know that children don't always have the same ideas/values as their parents and that often they choose another path. So who's to say that this child wouldn't have rather entered the military? Or that he's not able to politely and firmly say no on his own behalf?

However, that NCLB included this provision is appalling. Simply jaw-breakingly appalling. There are opt-out options, but the provision just never should have been enacted. Don't 18-year-olds have to register with the SSS? That should be enough for Uncle Sam.

An Irishman, a Estonian and a German answer a poll

"Europeans: Who Are the Sexiest? Rudest? Funniest?: By David Moller
Our exclusive survey of nearly 4,000 people in 19 countries has some surprising answers

The European family just got a whole lot bigger, with the accession of ten new states to the EU in May. But in every family some get along better with each other than others. So we thought it was a good time to ask Europeans what they actually felt about each other."
Does this mean we have to throw away all our former stereotypes? I mean, whoda thunk that the Germans were least liked? or that the Italians make good cooks and good lovers?

We're doomed!

Just when you thought that reality tv couldn't get any stupider, along comes Amish in the City.
Amish in the City gives five young adults the chance to explore the big city and discover what life is like outside their Amish communities.

In the first two episodes of the UPN reality series, they hit the beach for sun and fun, visit a mall and cultivate sometimes uneasy relationships with six non-Amish sharing their temporary Hollywood Hills home.

First, it's UPN, which just figures. Second, while I'd like to know more about what it's like to be Amish, this is not how I'd like to learn.

21.7.04

Essential Reading

Jessa Crispin blogged: "Boy, they sure do know how to solve the interest in reading crisis! Just put out another list of books everyone should have read by now! But this one is supposed to be somehow better because it has Stephen King on it. It's the 'essential read,' not the 'big read,' and only includes living writers. Keep up."

Hmm... I guess I need to really play catch-up here. I've only read nine, with another five or so on what my friends and I call Mt. Bookpile.

Can I say this here?

Are We Censoring Hollywood? responds to yet another celebrity being fired for speaking his or her mind. In this instance, it's Linda Ronstadt, booed and fired for promoting Fahrenheit 9/11 during a performance.

What the article gets right is that this is not censorship. It's the market not buying the product:
First, only the government can "censor". All other aspects of speaking your mind are simply put...at the will of the people.

Certainly Linda Ronstadt has the right to praise Michael Moore, invite people to see his movie and otherwise support his views. But, with that right comes the responsibility to accept the freedom of speech and the will of her audience.

Her audience paid to be entertained, not to attend a political rally. They, too, have the right of free speech - including the right to disagree and boo her when she crossed the line from entertainment to politics. The hotel who was paying her also has the right to fire her. She was hired by the Aladdin to entertain. Once she crossed the line from entertainment to politics, she subjected herself to being fired.


A colleague of mine is insensed at the caving in of ClearChannel over the Howard Stern problem. He feels that CC is giving in to FCC censorship (the FCC being a GOP lapdog) and that there's a simple solution to the whole thing. If you don't like Howard Stern's act, don't listen. While I agree with that, I also think that ClearChannel has the right to say, "we don't support this type of broadcast, so we're not going to air it." In this case, he's right simply because The Howard Stern Show has been doing the same (now boring) thing for years. Yanking it now is yielding to political pressure.

In the case of Ms. Ronstadt, or Whoopie, Madonna and other "censored" artists, their employers didn't pay for what they got nor did the audience have the opportunity to turn off. Both sides need to take responsibility, blame and credit, for their actions.

Look For the Union Label

OpinionJournal - Leisure & Arts: "While parties rely on voluntary donations to fund their activities, labor unions benefit from laws, regulations and court precedents that help to transfer billions of dollars each year from workers to accounts controlled by labor's politically active (and left-wing) leadership. Since the passage of the Wagner Act in 1934, unions have had the power to charge workers dues and fees in exchange for representing them in the workplace. Yet 'workplace' appears to be an expansive term. Since the 1960s--and especially since the mid-1990s, when John Sweeney took over at the AFL-CIO--unions have diverted more and more money to politics and policy.

Union officials claim that they are merely representing the interests of their members. But which members? Each year millions of Republican workers are forced to watch as part of their earnings go to candidates they would never vote for at the ballot box. While fewer than half of America's union members are Democrats, more than 90% of union political action supports Democrats."
I've never been in a union, but I can sympathize with the anger and frustration many of these workers must feel. It's one thing to go to the opera or other cultural institution and see your company's name as a supporter. It's another to know that your company supports a candidate or policy that you, yourself, do not support. When I worked for a very small firm based in NY and NJ, I was appalled to find that some of the profits (such as they were) were going to support NJ GOP candidates. While I have no problem with my boss using what was, essentially, his money to do so, for him to do so using the company name was wrong.

It's much the same with United Way. Some companies support it to the extent of making donations in the name of the employee, and others pressure employees into giving. If the policy is to meet/match donations to charity (for example, your college's Annual Fund or the March of Dimes), then there's an equality to the system. But to pre-determine where your money goes? That's a bad policy and one that should be challenged and questioned by all.

20.7.04

From the "get a life" department...

ABCNEWS.com : Democrats: Schwarzenegger Comment Sexist

LOS ANGELES July 19, 2004 — Democrats aren't amused by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's use of the mocking term "girlie men" to describe some lawmakers, although a spokesman for the governor said no apology would be forthcoming.
This was Arnold, borrowing a tag line from a SNL skit. I stopped watching SNL when the original cast left, and even I know that line. Yet the Dems got their knickers in a twist. HELLO! I guess this means that he can no longer say "Hasta la vista, baby" (insulting to Hispanics) or "I'll be back" (echoes of McArthur and the Philippines and thus insulting to the Japanese). Could we get more stupid? (my apologies to those that are intellectually challenged)

19.7.04

Whew!

I guess advertising the fact that you're a luddite is too tempting for the technogods. The good news is that Luddite Librarian is back!

A perfect moment

Over the weekend, I went to see Before Sunset. This is the sequel to Before Sunrise, and unlike most sequels it really works.

It got me thinking about the nature of love. Can one meet someone and know - absolutely know - that this is "the one" that completes you? What happens if you don't follow through on that? Is it possible that there are either second chances or second possibilities? I'd like to think so.

What made the two films work for me was that it was love, not lust, that was being portrayed. Sex was almost incidental; the attraction of two people for each other, the meeting of minds and ideas and values... how rare that is in the media today. How much more exciting and erotic to imagine what happens, rather than having that graphically spelled out by the writer/director/actors.

One of my favorite love scenes is in Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. Lord Peter and Harriet go punting on the Isis and pull off onto a bank for a rest. Peter falls asleep and Harriet sits there, entranced by the whorls of his ear. That's it. The ear. You can feel her mind working and her heart being filled with her feelings for this man.

That's what you get from these two films. Go see them.

Wired News: Bloggers Suffer Burnout

Wired News: Bloggers Suffer Burnout: "Blogging for some is an obvious labor of love, and having a forum that belongs to them and enables them to write whatever they want, and have it seen by throngs of readers, is a very attractive proposition. This is especially true because blogging is a timeless endeavor and one that allows authors to vent about whatever's on their minds." (via Eclectic Librarian
Being new to the world of blogging, fatigue hasn't set in yet. Nor do I suspect that millions are reading what I put up (I'd settle for tens!). There are blogs that are "destination reads" (see the blogroll on the left) and I have to admit that I feel disappointed when they don't post on a regular basis. Some blogs, though, have fallen by the wayside as they get updated seemingly hundreds of times a day. How do these people find the time to have a life? And how can they possibly really ponder the nature of their posts?

Weather or not...

Telegraph | Opinion | You pour thing, if you don't see the point of spelling correctly: "
You pour thing, if you don't see the point of spelling correctly
By Lynne Truss
(Filed: 08/07/2004)

More miserable news about language, then. More reason to pop off to the nearest wall and bang our heads against it. According to the publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary, half the people using it these days are stumped by the difference between 'reign' and 'rein', and 'pouring' and 'poring'"
I've heard rumors about teachers promoting the use of Spell Check and Grammatik over teaching spelling and grammar to students. I've also seen many creative spellings and mistakes from students who rely on those electronic tools and don't proof read prior to handing in their work. There's also an increase in people writing in "texty" (there's even a bad YA book, TTYL, in that so-called language).

Just below, there's a post celebrating the evolution of the language. While evolution is to be celebrated, this isn't evolution. It's devolution and devaluation.

Evolution of the language

I'd been calling Farenheit 9-11 "historical fiction" but I rather like "flockumentaries". This, of course, leads to the natural follow-up: what do you call books like Ann Coulter's Treason or Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars who Lie Them? "Flocktion"?

OpinionJournal - Taste: "The documentary form is serving a political purpose at the moment. (You might even say that a point of view is driving it.) And why not? The form, at least as it is practiced here, is perfect for the task. It favors emotion over logic, helped along by shrewd editing, manipulative music, clever graphics and gonzo stunts. For their creators, such documentaries allow for 'reporting' without the messy business of fact-checking or the checks and balances of beat journalism. For the audience, they serve as, well, echo chambers.

Of course, the documentary form doesn't always function this way. At its best--e.g., Frederick Wiseman's films on high schools and hospitals, the weird constellations of 'Crumb' and 'Capturing the Friedmans,' the Vietnam-centered 'Hearts and Minds'--it is propelled by a sense of discovery. Neither filmmaker nor viewer knows what he is getting into until he really starts busying himself with it.

Movies like 'Outfoxed,' 'Control Room' and 'Fahrenheit 911' work differently. They begin by knowing their thesis--and their audience--and operate backward. In the process, artists keen to point up the propagandistic efforts of others show themselves all too willing to take part in such efforts themselves.

Yet to call these films propaganda is also to misunderstand them. They don't seek to convince the unconvinced or herd the untamed. They aim directly at the sheep. Little wonder that the main means of distributing 'Outfoxed' is through house parties organized by MoveOn.org, the group whose Bush-bashing is at least as bald-faced as anything on Fox. Call them flockumentaries, movies people attend en masse, to nestle together in easy confirmation of their most cherished beliefs--to learn, really, what they already know."

One state, two state, red state, blue state

I'd love to find articles comparing the "red" and "blue" states from the 1996 election, when the colors were reversed. I think that after 2000, however, we're stuck with the colors we have.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, Anne E. Kornblut, the Boston Globe’s senior political correspondent, put together a neat little are-you-red-or-blue culture quiz for Slate. Go here to take it. (via ArtsJournal: About Last Night)

My friends/parents thoughts to the contrary, I'm a blue. Possibly with a faint purple tinge, but blue.

16.7.04

Notable Quotes

Mightily Oats: "It's not as simple as that. It's not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of grey."
Granny Weatherwax: "Nope."
Mightily Oats: "Pardon?"
Granny Weatherwax: "There's no greys, only white that's got grubby."

Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum

More on Moore

spiked-politics | Article | The Moore effect: "
How did the irreverent prankster Michael Moore ever become a prominent media figure - much less the left's new hope for ousting US president George W Bush from power?"


If Moore and Al Franken, et al. are who the Democratic party are relying on to rally the faithful, the DNC's in deeper trouble than previously suspected.

What happened to developing a policy? To discussing issues and a vision for America's future?

Mix 'n' match

A fresh definition of inheritance comes into vogue | csmonitor.com

Leaving an ethical will sounds interesting. Here's one for today (clipped from the SpareOom listserv -- and you gotta love a dad who footnotes his stuff!) [Bloggers note: I usually don't like long posts, but this was exceptional and I had nowhere else to store it]:

This was written by a retired attorney, to his sons, May 19, 2004.
------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Tom, Kevin, Kirby and Ted,

As your father, I believe I owe it to you to share some thoughts on the present world situation. We have over the years discussed a lot of important things, like going to college, jobs and so forth. But this really takes precedence over any of those discussions. I hope this might give you a longer term perspective that fewer and fewer of my generation are left to speak to. To be sure you understand that this is not politically flavored, I will tell you that since Franklin D. Roosevelt, who led us through pre and WWII (1933 - 1945) up to and including our present President, I have without exception, supported our presidents on all matters of international conflict. This would include just naming a few in addition to President Roosevelt - WWII: President Truman - Korean War 1950; President Kennedy - Bay of Pigs (1961); President Kennedy - Vietnam (1961); [footnote 1] eight presidents (5 Republican &4 Democrat) during the cold war (1945 - 1991); President Clinton's strikes on Bosnia (1995) and on Iraq (1998). [footnote 2] So besure you read this as completely non-political or otherwise you will miss the point.

Our country is now facing the most serious threat to its existence, as we know it, that we have faced in your lifetime and mine (which includes WWII). The deadly seriousness is greatly compounded by the fact that there are very few of us who think we can possibly lose this war and even fewer who realize what losing really means.

First, let's examine a few basics:

1. When did the threat to us start? Many will say September 11th, 2001. The answer as far as the United States is concerned is 1979, 22 years prior to September 2001, with the following attacks on us: Iran Embassy Hostages, 1979; Beirut, Lebanon Embassy 1983; Beirut, Lebanon Marine Barracks 1983; Lockerbie, Scotland Pan-Am flight to New York 1988; First New York World Trade Center attack 1993; Dhahran, Saudi Arabia Khobar Towers Military complex 1996; Nairobi, Kenya US Embassy 1998; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania US Embassy 1998; Aden, Yemen USS Cole 2000;New York World Trade Center 2001; Pentagon 2001. (Note that during the period from
1981 to 2001 there were 7,581 terrorist attacks worldwide). [footnote 3]

2. Why were we attacked? Envy of our position, our success, and our freedoms. The attacks happened during the administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2. We cannot fault either the Republicans or Democrats as there were no provocations by any of the presidents or their immediate predecessors, Presidents Ford or Carter.

4. Who were the attackers? In each case, the attacks on the US were carried out by Muslims.

5. What is the Muslim population of the World {footnote 8}? 25%

6. Isn't the Muslim Religion peaceful? Hopefully, but that is really not material. There is no doubt that the predominately Christian population of Germany was peaceful, but under the dictatorial leadership of Hitler (who was also Christian), that made no difference. You either went along with the administration or you were eliminated. There were 5 to 6 million Christians killed by the Nazis for political reasons (including 7,000 Polish priests). (http://www.nazis.testimony.co.uk/7-a.htm). Thus, almost the same number of Christians were killed by the Nazis, as the 6 million holocaust Jews who were killed by them, and we seldom heard of anything other than the Jewish atrocities. Although Hitler kept the world focused on the Jews, he had no hesitancy about killing anyone who got in his way of exterminating the Jews or of taking over the world - German, Christian or any others. Same with the Muslim terrorists. They focus the world on the US, but kill all in the way - their own people or the Spanish, French or anyone else.. [foootnote 5] The point here is that just like the peaceful Germans were of no protection to anyone from the Nazis, no matter how many peaceful Muslims there may be, they are no protection for us from the terrorist Muslim leaders and what they are fanatically bent on doing - by their own pronouncements - killing all of us infidels. I don't blame the peaceful Muslims. What would you do if the choice was shut up or die?

7. So with whom are we at war? There is no way we can honestly respond that it is anyone other than the Muslim terrorists. Trying to be politically correct and avoid verbalizing this conclusion can well be fatal. There is no way to win if you don't clearly recognize and articulate who you are fighting.

So with that background, now to the two major questions:
1. Can we lose this war?
2. What does losing really mean?

If we are to win, we must clearly answer these two pivotal questions.

We can definitely lose this war, and as anomalous as it may sound, the major reason we can lose is that so many of us simply do not fathom the answer to the second question - What does losing mean? It would appear that a great many of us think that losing the war means hanging our heads, bringing the troops home and going on about our business, like post Vietnam. This is as far from the truth as one can get. What losing really means is:

We would no longer be the premier country in the world. The attacks will not subside, but rather will steadily increase. Remember, they want us dead, not just quiet. If they had just wanted us quiet, they would not have produced an increasing series of attacks against us over the past 18 years. The plan was clearly to terrorist attack us until we were neutered and submissive to them.

We would of course have no future support from other nations for fear of reprisals and for the reason that they would see we are impotent and cannot help them.

They will pick off the other non-Muslim nations, one at a time. It will be increasingly easier for them. They already hold Spain hostage. It doesn't matter whether it was right or wrong for Spain to withdraw its troops from Iraq. Spain did it because the Muslim terrorists bombed their train and told them to withdraw the troops. Anything else they want Spain to do, will be done. Spain is finished.

The next will probably be France. Our one hope on France is that they might see the light and realize that if we don't win, they are finished too, in that they can't resist the Muslim terrorists without us. However, it may already be too late for France. France is already 20% Muslim and fading fast. See the attached article on the French condition by Tom Segel. [footnote 6]

If we lose the war, our production, income, exports and way of life will all vanish as we know it. After losing, who would trade or deal with us if they were threatened by the Muslims. If we can't stop the Muslims, how could anyone else? The Muslims fully know what is riding on this war and therefore are completely committed to winning at any cost. We better know it too and be likewise committed to winning at any cost.

Why do I go on at such lengths about the results of losing? Simple. Until we recognize the costs of losing, we cannot unite and really put 100% of our thoughts and efforts into winning. And it is going to take that 100% effort to win.

So, how can we lose the war? Again, the answer is simple. We can lose the war by imploding. That is, defeating ourselves by refusing to recognize the enemy and their purpose and really digging in and lending full support to the war effort. If we are united, there is no way that we can lose. If we continue to be divided, there is no way that we can win.

Let me give you a few examples of how we simply don't comprehend the life and death seriousness of this situation.

- President Bush selects Norman Mineta as Secretary of Transportation. Although all of the terrorist attacks were committed by Muslim men between 17 and 40 years of age, Secretary Mineta refuses to allow profiling. Does that sound like we are taking this thing seriously? This is war. For the duration we are going to have to give up some of the civil rights we have become accustomed to. We had better be prepared to lose some of our civil rights temporarily or we will most certainly lose all of them permanently. And don't worry that it is a slippery slope. We gave up plenty of civil rights during WWII and immediately restored them after the victory and in fact added many more since then. Do I blame President Bush or President Clinton before him? No, I blame us for blithely assuming we can maintain all of our Political Correctness and all of our civil rights during this conflict and have a clean, lawful, honorable war. None of those words apply to war. Get them out of your head.

- Some have gone so far in their criticism of the war and/or the Administration that it almost seems they would literally like to see us lose. I hasten to add that this isn't because they are disloyal. It is because they just don't recognize what losing means. Nevertheless, that conduct gives the impression to the enemy that we are divided and weakening, it concerns our friends, and it does great damage to our cause.

- Of more recent vintage, the uproar fueled by the politicians and media regarding the treatment of some prisoners of war perhaps exemplifies best what I am saying. We have recently had an issue involving the treatment of a few Muslim prisoners of war by a small group of our military police. These are the type prisoners who just a few months ago were throwing their own people off buildings, cutting off their hands, cutting out their tongues and otherwise murdering their own people just for disagreeing with Saddam Hussein. And just a few years ago these same type prisoners chemically killed 400,000 of their own people for the same reason. They are also the same type enemy fighters who recently were burning Americans and dragging their charred corpses through the streets of Iraq. And still more recently the same type enemy that was and is providing videos to all news sources internationally, of the beheading of an American prisoner they held. Compare this with some of our press and politicians who for several days have thought and talked about nothing else but the "humiliating" of some Muslim prisoners - not burning them, not dragging their charred corpses through the streets, not beheading them, but "humiliating" them. Can this be for real? The politicians and pundits have even talked of impeachment of the Secretary of Defense. If this doesn't show the complete lack of comprehension and understanding of the seriousness of the enemy we are fighting, the life and death struggle we are in and the disastrous results of losing this war, nothing can. To bring our country to a virtual political standstill over this prisoner issue makes us look like Nero playing his fiddle as Rome burned - totally oblivious to what is going on in the real world. Neither we, nor any other country, can survive this internal strife. Again I say, this does not mean that some of our politicians or media people are disloyal. It simply means that they absolutely oblivious to the magnitude of the situation we are in and into which the Muslim terrorists have been pushing us for many years. Remember, the Muslim terrorists stated goal is to kill all infidels. That translates into all non-Muslims - not just in the United States, but throughout the world. We are the last bastion of defense.

- We have been criticized for many years as being 'arrogant'. That charge is valid in at least one respect. We are arrogant in that we believe that we are so good, powerful and smart, that we can win the hearts and minds of all those who attack us, and that with both hands tied behind our back, we can defeat anything bad in the world. We can't. If we don't recognize this, our nation as we know it will not survive, and no other free country in the World will survive if we are defeated. And finally, name any Muslim countries throughout the world that allow freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of the Press, equal rights for anyone - let alone everyone, equal status or any status for women, or that have been productive in one single way that contributes to the good of the World.

This has been a long way of saying that we must be united on this war or we will be equated in the history books to the self-inflicted fall of the Roman Empire. If, that is, the Muslim leaders will allow history books to be written or read.

If we don't win this war right now, keep a close eye on how the Muslims take over France in the next 5 years or less. They will continue to increase the Muslim population of France and continue to encroach little by little on the established French traditions. The French will be fighting among themselves over what should or should not be done, which will continue to weaken them and keep them from any united resolve. Doesn't that sound eerily familiar?

Democracies don't have their freedoms taken away from them by some external military force. Instead, they give their freedoms away, politically correct piece by politically correct piece. And they are giving those freedoms away to those who have shown, worldwide, that they abhor freedom and will not apply it to you or even to themselves, once they are in power. They have universally shown that when they have taken over, they then start brutally killing each other over who will be the few who control the masses. Will we ever stop hearing from the politically correct, about the "peaceful Muslims"?

I close on a hopeful note, by repeating what I said above. If we are united, there is no way that we can lose. I believe that after the election, the factions in our country will begin to focus on the critical situation we are in and will unite to save our country. It is your future we are talking about. Do whatever you can to preserve it.



Footnotes:

[1] By the way on Vietnam, the emotions are still so high that it is really not possible to discuss it. However, I think President Kennedy was correct. He felt there was a communist threat from China, Russia and North Vietnam to take over that whole area. Also remember that we were in a 'cold war' with Russia. I frankly think Kennedy's plan worked and kept that total communist control out, but try telling that to anyone now. It just isn't politically correct to say so. Historians will answer this after cool headed research, when the people closest to it are all gone.

[2] As you know, I am a strong President Bush supporter and will vote for him. However, if Senator Kerry is elected, I will fully support him on all matters of international conflict, just as I have supported all presidents in the past.

[3] Source for statistics in Par. 1 is http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001454.html

[4] The Institute of Islamic Information and Education. http://www.iiie.net/Intl/PopStats.html

[5] Note the attached article by Tom Segel referred to in footnote 6 the terrorist Muslim have already begun the havoc in France. (Comment - The article was not attached to the E-mail I received)

[6] I checked Segel's article with two sources - Hoax Busters and Urban Myths. It does not come up as a Hoax on either. I also then E-mailed Mr. Segel and he confirme d the article was his.

[7] "I don't think the Army or any branch of service runs any type of war any more. It's done by senators and congressmen. There are too many civilians involved." Returning Iraq veteran, Sgt. 1st Class Greg Klees as quoted in the Cedar Rapids, IA Gazette on May 13th, 2004.

[8] There are 64 Muslim countries. This does not count countries like Spain that are controlled by the Muslim terrorists or France which is 20% Muslim.

Love,Dad

15.7.04

Links galore

Every so often I think I'll post an annotated list of interesting links that I've discovered.

  • All eyes on Blinkx I haven't had the opportunity to check Blinkx out, but it might be a better way to search than Google. Unfortunately it's not compatible with Firefox, my browser of choice.
  • Looking for a good way to waste some time? musicplasma. Very similar to Kartoo, another interesting time-waster.



How are you getting your news?

Wired News: New Media's Age of Anxiety: "More readers than ever are getting their news on the Net, while newspaper readership continues to hemorrhage and TV news outlets struggle. While a little more than 50 percent of Americans admit to reading a newspaper each week, a growing number -- 15 percent and rising -- are turning to the Internet."


Adam L. Penenberg is writing a series about news in this Internet age, and how publishers are responding. Since I edit the website for Knowledge Quest, this sort of thing interests me. I've not joined the read-the-newspaper-on-line movement, because I find that my eyes start to wander and I just can't focus. I'm also a big believer in the efficacy of print -- not veracity, because there's an inherent bias in all "news", but the font, clarity of type, ease of use, etc. make it my newsdelivery source of choice.

One neat tool I've found that helps with finding news on the web is Columbia Newsblaster, a summary of what's new (NB: it doesn't get updated every day).

Even more disturbing to me, however, is that many people -- particularly those under 40 -- seem to be getting their news from places like "The Daily Show". I like John Stewart and enjoy the show, but I don't think he's providing me with news.

This sums up why I just can't get excited about Kerry/Edwards.

Day By Day

I'm sorry, but "we don't like what Bush is doing so let's vote him out" is not enough for me.

14.7.04

He had me until the end

(link from ColbyCosh.com)

A lot of people I know think that Farenheit 9/11 is speaking truth to power and that anything Michael Moore does is brilliant and should be seen by the widest possible audience. I've had problems with the veracity in his films (which are not, Oscar award to the contrary, documentaries but more historical fiction) and won't waste my money seeing what he produces.

This is another view of Moore's work: Pete's Diary - 7 Jul 2004. The kicker (for me) is the last line. No further comment needed.

A good idea but for the wrong reasons

Unbrand America

I was taught that the more a company had to advertise, the less reliable the product. My parents also instilled in me a dislike for wearing "named" clothes. Today, of course, both ideas are heretical.

Reading Brave New World, set in a year determined not by the birth of a religious figure but by the birth of Henry Ford, takes corporatism to the ultimate degree. I'm not one of those fanatics that thinks that the creeping corporate presence is a bad thing globally; I am one of those that bewails the loss of country culture.

What do I mean by that? I'm not (for example) anti-Starbucks. But I am anti three Starbucks within five blocks of work. I am anti Starbucks in Paris. I'd prefer to get my coffee or latte or whatever at a local place, soaking in local culture with my foam and biscotti. I try to shop at independent bookstores. And I think it's a shame that the EU has done away with the franc, the punt, the mark, the lira, etc.

Why I Hate Personal Weblogs

Why I Hate Personal Weblogs: "Chapter 2 - Why do they do it?
There are, I'm sure, as many reasons to keep weblogs as there are weblogs authors, however, some common threads surely exist between them. What could motivate someone to keep a public journal of their innermost thoughts? What possible reasons would someone have? Are some legitimately insightful or original, of course! Are most? No, probably not. So why? Well, I think most can be classified into one (or many) of several basic categories."


This is something with which I've been wrestling, ever since I decided to create a blog. What sort of blog should it be? While I disagree with some of the tone of this essay, the list of types of bloggers resonated:

  • The Reverse Voyeur
  • The Exhibitionist
  • The Self-Important Moron
  • The Obsessive-Delusional Ranter
  • The Town Crier
  • The Tragically Geek
  • The Ego Stroker
  • The Crossover Poster
  • The Aspiring Writer
  • The Pedant (a subclassification of Self Important Moron)

I'll leave it up to any readers to decide which type of blogger I am.

For what it's worth, my goal is to get used to blogging so that I can start one for my school library. Beyond that, it's a way to share thoughts and comments and nonsense with friends. Those that know me know I run a clipping service (both e- and print). Perhaps this can take the place of some of those mailings.

For better or worse

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "Toying With Marriage
Just about everybody is skirting a genuine debate.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

If all goes as expected, the Senate today will vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment. But because it is a procedural vote, we won't be getting what the American people are really entitled to here: an honest, open debate."


I'm tired of both sides of the political fence using extreme measures to ram things through because they don't like what's going on. The flag burning ammendment. The California recall. This so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

Yes, marriage needs to be defended. But not from gays. From those stupid enough to get married capriciously (J. Lo, Britney, all 20-somethings with "starter marriages") and from those that refuse to stick through a rough patch. Marriage is difficult and people do make mistakes. But to divorce because you're bored or because your partner burned the toast once too often?

Let's tighten divorce laws before we prevent "them" from marrying. Anyone willing to make a committment to taking care of another emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically, etc. deserves the opportunity, be they black, white, gay, straight or Martian.

On a brighter note, I got this in an e-mail from a friend who knows someone at the DNC:
Hi folks -- while I think the proposed amendment is one the dumber things the Republicans have decided to do, it hasn't surprised anybody. That being said, the amendment should ultimately lose when the Senate votes on it this week. While there are Democrats and Republicans that support the amendment, at this point there are not 51 votes in the Senate to pass it. However, I should note one thing: the next vote on the amendment is a procedural one called "cloture." A cloture motion is one that needs 60 votes to pass and if successful allows the amendment to come up for general debate and an up or down vote. If "cloture" is invoked then the Senate will next take a vote on the amendment itself. 51 votes are needed to pass the amendment. The politics behind this effort are not that complicated -- the Rs want to embarrass the Ds before the D convention -- "see the Democrats are beholden to the homosexual agenda blah blah and we are the party of family values" However, on the R side of aisle there are "federalists" that believe the Constitution should be left alone and not expanded and will vote AGAINST the amendment. So when you do the math on the votes for final passage, the Rs do not have enough on their own side to win.

13.7.04

It figures!

Just as I get interested in a blog, it disappears. You'll have to go to Google's cache to see how wonderful Luddite Librarian was.

How can you choose?

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Cinderella named 'top fairytale'

Now, really. A "top fairytale"? Sadly, the entire list isn't revealed, nor are the voting criteria. In my storytelling class, we've read many different fairytales/folktales. Different versions, different countries, picture books, novelizations, updates, fractured renderings -- and I'll bet that my students couldn't tell you which their favorite was.

Then there's the Disney factor. How many people voted based on their memory of what Disney put on the screen, rather than having read one?

Finally, and this is a pedantic quibble, the article refers to the Perrault version of Cinderella as the one most known. I'd argue that the Brothers Grimm version is equally well known.

Ouch!

ArtsJournal: About Last Night: "Once I left Smalltown for the big city, I started to make friends whose interests resembled mine more closely, and in time learned to suppress the self-consciousness of my childhood. Yet it can still be inflamed by a certain kind of kidding, some of which has lately been occasioned by the blogosphere-wide spread of the Teachout Cultural Concurrence Index. You'd be surprised -- or not -- by how many bloggers have posted comments about the TCCI that basically boil down to 'Dude, this thing's soooo highbrow!' Such talk rarely fails to trigger the same squirmy sensation I experience whenever a well-meaning stranger asks what I'm reading. Even now, there's a part of me that wishes I knew all about baseball instead of ballet."


I can identify with this. When I was younger, my friends found it odd that my favorite activity was reading their books, and that I had little tolerance (or ability) for playing Barbie. As I've aged, my "oddity" has become more ingrained (although I prefer to think of it less as oddness and more as semi-endearing eccentricity). Quite probably those around me aren't so tolerant.

Is this TMI? Well, probably. But this blog is a work-in-progress and the "tone" hasn't quite been set.

For the record, my TCCI score is 83%. Not that it means anything.

12.7.04

Sigh

One of my daily e-mails is from Opinion Journal, a free service from the Wall Street Journal. There's enough gold in the posts for me not to mind all the dross.

For example: Today, Orson Scott Card writes about High Bias in the media. Now, yesterday, in the New York Times Magazine, there was an article about How to make a guerilla documentary, tearing down Fox News.

So, what to think? Well, it all depends on which side of the political spectrum you are. Liberals will read the latter and say "oh, yes, I need to see this" (right after they see "Farenheit 9/11"). Conservatives will read the former and nod knowingly.

Me? Stuck in the middle wishing that I didn't have to read both to get a "fair and balanced" (phrase used ironically) view of what's going on.

What's next?

I've played with the sidebar and updated some links. Now it's raining and I'm still feeling a great sense of ennui. Tonight I'm having dinner with a friend and that just better give me the "oomph" I need to get cracking on work tomorrow.

Starting Out

Here goes...

I've been uninspired to actually work, so I decided to start a blog. For one thing, my friends won't have their mailboxes clogged. For another, it's a good time waster.

Daily posts aren't promised but check back regularly. You never know!