Listen, My Children...

Every Little Helps

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Crunch!


Michael Moore stepped on by an elephant just made my day :)

Better than the Movie?


You've seen the movie, now buy the book?

Proof that French People Shouldn't Watch Movies


Well, they shouldn't -- if they see The Passion as being anti-semitic and Life Is Beautiful as a movie that thinks the Holocaust was one big joke.

More on the Passion


Dean Esmay (aka George Bailey) gives his take. He seems to have it all straight, as far as review & intent are concerned.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

My Body is a Temple -- would you like fries with that?


More and more church groups are realizing that it doesn't make sense to tell people to respect their bodies, the temple of the Lord, by not smoking/ not sleeping around/ etc., over a meal of fried chicken and doughnuts.

The Chronicle reports:
"You'll see a group of people who have obviously been to church," [Pastor] Ed Young said. "And you'll see them order all this fat-laden food and then they'll say, 'Let's pray together. God, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies.'

"The deal is they should have prayed before they ordered, 'God, help me order stuff that will glorify you.' "
Right on. I know several healthy-eating church-going smokers who see their smoking as no worse than their minister's spare tire. While it's true it's no worse, it's also no better, and comparison to the other person is no excuse for not changing behavior -- as both groups need to realize.

On the other hand, I'll point out to the Reverend Hawkins who complained about the 25% who "drink six or more cups of coffee a day" that six or more cups of coffee a day can be seen as a way of taking care of your body!

Friday, February 27, 2004

Skin Deep


R. Alex Whitlock sent me over to match.com (I'll be getting emails from them for life), where I took some very enlightening tests to determine my preferred physical type.

I already knew Bob wasn't my usual "type," but I was surprised to find out -- although I now realize that it's the case -- that I go for significantly older men. Ones with a hint or a full head of gray, at that. Like Patrick Stewart, Harrison Ford, and the grad student who asked me out several times last year. It said that's because they look more mature and reliable and less wild and boyish; won't argue with that!

For a lark, I took the woman-seeking-woman test; I'm much pickier there. I want them the Sanskrit ideal -- youngish (but "womanly, not girlish"), large on top, tiny in the middle, small on bottom, and often with interesting ("Mediterranean") noses and dark wavy hair.

My absolute ideal of perfection in both categories can be seen here, if you age him about eight years.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Catching Up


The problem with delaying (out of laziness, not animosity) putting someone back on the blogroll is that you forget to see what's up. Trivial Pursuits, now apparently run by "Milton" (sure, why not?) and Botman, appears to be engaged. I missed that -- so, congratulations, heartily!

Dreams


I want to be this man. Or this one; I'm not picky.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Passion


I'm not going to go see it -- I can't watch gory-violent movies (blood-free Pirates of the Caribbean, yes; ridiculously unrealistic yet still gory Legend of Sleepy Hollow or Jurassic Park or The Thing, no). However, here is a good article on the subject.

A Rolling Bear...


...gathers no algae?

Monday, February 23, 2004

Pedophiliacs of the World, Unite!


Here's a fun article (and by "fun" I mean "frightening"): Don't be biased against me because I want to get my jollies with little girls!

Do people seriously think that we're not going to get more and more of this? The Journal of Homosexuality (unfortunately, no public links to their articles, AFAIK) has been publishing pro-pedophilia (or, rather, "adult-child sex" or "intergenerational relationships") articles for quite some time, reaching their height in summer 1990; now that they've pretty much got it made for their same-age-loving readership, will anything keep them and those like them for demanding tolerance and acceptance for another genetically-predisposed (and therefore divinely-given) proclivity?

Sunday, February 22, 2004

A Lament


I bemoan the sorry state of modern academia!

I am currently reading what passes for a worthwhile academic book. The main thrust? Western society is bad and restrictive and limiting because it values Shakespeare more highly and sees it as of more lasting worth than "slam" poetry, and scholars of oral poetry are biased because they'll choose epics like the Odyssey and the Mahabharata over pithy proverbs and geneaologies. What's more, the reason modern North American oral poetry is worthwhile is that it expresses anger at whites, males, and conservatives.

Well, at least that's for a class about poetry; one language professor refers to every mistake as something "stupid enough for a Republican to say."

One of these days, I'll start writing letters to the Daily Texan taking a fun perspective; I'll berate them for their ethnocentricity in using English, for their upper-class superiority in using (well, intending to use) MLA grammar, for their archaism and restrictiveness in relying on antiquated notions of "truth" and "fact," for their sexism in spelling things "woMAN" and "perSON" and so forth, for their religious bias in using a Christ-centered dating system rather than a Jewish or Muslim or other calendar... man, that will be entertaining.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Lesson of the Day


Don't try to have rational conversations with PETA supporters. It's just not possible.

A case in point:
A PETA-supporter and I had been discussing dowry-deaths. We had a speaker whose main point was that female infanticide can be blamed entirely on British tax policy and has nothing at all to do with dowry, and that adult dowry-cases in the courts are generally faked by a woman who just wants an easy way out of her marriage. (The Daily Texan, bizarrely, reported that she said the opposite; the reporters left early, and their "quotes" near the end of the article were most definitely not from any part of the talk, although they could have been taken from any conventional article on dowry deaths.)

My acquaintance seemed singularly unmoved by the stories of people murdering their girl babies (and also having sex-selective abortions, which rural Indians see as more expensive and morally identical) in the hopes of having sons sooner. I was distressed by this hard-heartedness and apparent inconsistency with her animal-rights beliefs, and pointed this out. Somehow the conversation went to hypotheticals, with a farmer with his baby girl and goat being threatened by a crocodile. I argued that it would be better to throw the goat to the crocodile so that the farmer and daughter could make a getaway, rather than throwing the girl to the crocodile to save the farmer and goat. I expected a response along the lines of, "all life should be protected; neither decision is better than the other; human life is not superior to other animal life." The response I got shocked me: it would be better to throw the girl, she said, because humans are a blight on nature, girls just help increase the birth rate, and goats are at least useful. Well, then! There you have it: it's not just that all animal life, including human, is morally equivalent -- no, human life is worth less.

On a similar note, Bob told me a story about his Buddhist vegetarian college roommate. The roommate was like the constant protesters at zoos in India (where meat-eating animals are fed meat) and fervently believed that animals could and should be taught to eat vegetarian food. One example he kept bringing up was that of a tiger who had been switched to vegetarian food and happily ate only that. He pointed it out every time Bob would eat meat, it seemed. Then, one day, they were both watching TV and saw that this tiger had died of severe malnutrition. The roommate never mentioned the subject again.

That's one thing I like about Bob -- we both get such glee from seeing silly people have their silly ideas proven wrong.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Anti-Catholic Cars?


One problem they had when I was in Germany (1997-1998) was overactive breathalyzers. They would fail you if you had any alcohol on your breath at all. Had some problems with people on their way home from church. Imagine that hooked up to your ignition! "You took communion? Nope, you need a designated driver!"

UPDATE: On a more serious note:
1) Breathalyzers already installed by law in criminals' cars don't work. Disable it, or get the one non-drinker in the crowd (or your kid -- why not?) to blow into it. Anyone already trying to drive drunk won't care about breaking the law further!
2) A commenter at R. Alex Whitlock's said that your car keeps a log of failures. NOT a pleasant idea. Go check that post.

Home-Grown Scandal?


Word on the street is, our prettier-than-a-GQ-cover governor, Rick Perry, was found by his wife in flagrante delicto with the son of a Texas congressman. Just got in, so haven't heard anything else since 9am!

UPDATE: Dang, I'm never first on anything. BurntOrangeReport is all over this.

AND: as usual, it's not worth it to follow most of his links or read most of his comments. About as reasoned and calm as linking to LGF. And, most people say it's the Secretary of State.

UPDATE II: Some comments are worth reading, though, especially several on this post, which go into reasons why 1) it isn't too rational a story (who would have told, if it's the Secretary? Not him, not Perry, not the wife; I heard the story above, in which case the young guy could have spilled the beans while, I dunno, out drinking with pals) and 2) angry others can well be believed to have made the whole thing up (a la Kerry).

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Stupid Voters?


Instapundit looks at extremely biased reporting and says, "This is unusually transparent partisanship, even by the not-very-demanding standards of Big Media in an election year. The good news is that it is transparent."

I'm not so sure. Just because it's transparent to the Professor doesn't mean it will be transparent to Joe Schmoe. The average voter appears to be very easily convinced and to have little, if any desire to question the truth of everything they hear, from politicians, newspapers, and just about anyone else.

Case in point: they just showed a clip of John Kerry blaming Enron on Bush and his willingness to tolerate corporate greed. This statement was followed by cheers and applause. Not a single person there, apparently, was able to realize that the Enron affair was going on for years, long before Bush took office as President or as Governor, and it didn't get exposed until after the current presidency started.

What with such fools abounding, and so many people saying their primary source of political news is Saturday Night Live, it makes me long for some sort of political-literacy test (and common-sense test) before elections!

Monday, February 16, 2004

Chaos in Australia


There is rioting going on in Sydney in a segment of the population that obviously has a lot of problems:
Millions of dollars have been poured into the area by charities and the state government, but to little avail. Crime is a way of life for young people, who grow up expecting to go to prison.
People are angry that their part of society is so oppressed (and, from what I hear, it's nothing but the truth to say that Aboriginal people are discriminated against), but money's not helping, obviously. (Also from what I hear, behavioral problems and lifestyle problems among them have also skyrocketed since the implementation of this welfare state.)

It all seems so bizarre to me. Bizarre, on the one hand, that people will discriminate against thoroughly qualified people (and see fit to rape their women and confiscate any material possessions they've accumulated, because "people like that can't come by money honestly, so it's obviously stolen anyhow", and so forth) simply because of their race or what their caste heritage is. Bizarre, on the other hand, that there are riots -- in Sydney, in Bombay, or in Cincinnatti.

Watching the Al Capone special on the History Channel awes me, to think that there was such terror and chaos just a few decades ago. And that there is such terror in so many parts of the most developed and "enlightened" world. I know it's all over the rest of the world -- I've seen it, friends have seen it -- but it's still so insane. Why will people (because of race, caste, creed, or football team affiliation) think that setting cars on fire, bashing in store windows, and beating up pedestrians is a good thing to do?

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Equal Rights for All Races!


Hey, hey, someone's finally created a race-based scholarship for whites only!

Jew Haiku


Hey! Get back indoors!
Whatever you were doing
could put an eye out.

Testing the warm milk
on her wrist, she beams; nice, but
her son is forty.

Lovely nose ring;
excuse me while I put my
head in the oven.

Yom Kippur-- Forgive
me, Lord, for the Mercedes
and all that lobster.

Coroner's report --
"The deceased, wearing no hat,
caught his death of cold."

The same kimono
the top geishas are wearing:
got it at Loehmann's.

Sorry I'm not home
to take your call. At the tone
please state your bad news.

The sparrow brings home
too many worms for her young.
"Force yourself," she chirps.

Is one Nobel Prize
so much to ask from a child
after all I've done?

Today, mild shvitzing.
Tomorrow, so hot you'll plotz.
Five-day forecast: feh


(From Haikus for Jews by David Bader.)

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Happy Valentine's Day!


(Or not.)

The Benefits of Staying Up Until 2am


You get to see something you'll never see in Boston: walk out on your porch and see all your neighbors gazing in awe as the world is blanketed in floating communion-wafer-sized snowflakes.

Friday, February 13, 2004

The Definition of "Race"


Canada is mad at Conan O'Brien because he's "racist." Because, apparently, homosexuals are a separate race, as are people who speak French.

Hey, you AA people: time to add two new boxes to "check your race" lists!

Terrorist Recruiting in London?


Right after Peter Jennings made the first network mention of the Kerry allegations (so far as I know), CBS had a distressing story: people associated with the aesthetically gorgeous mosque right across the street from my flat in London have made a catchy pop-music video encouraging people to join terrorist groups.

You know, sometimes I'm very glad I no longer live there.

Changes


Have made two changes; several more to come, whenever I've got nothing else to do. (Bob's off to medical school next year, either in Lubbock (ick!) or College Station, if he gets off A&M's waitlist -- cross your fingers! -- so I'll have lots more free time then.)

1: Amber Alert. For my own benefit; won't hurt anyone else, either.
2: Never realized I had a few dead links on the side. Need to add a few more, but fixing the ones I've got should be done first. (Sounds like I'm discussing gun control laws.)

Well, Then!


Who am I? A master of seduction, you wield your power and overcome potential adversaries through means more subtle and intellectual than most. While you will constantly been seen as deceptive and perhaps%2
You're Cleopatra!


Which Historical Ruler Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla (link from Owen Courreges.) I'd rather have been Boadicea or Solomon or Bush, but ... Cleopatra's interesting.

The Wimpy South


Austin's very silly. They're breaking into programming constantly, simply to say, "well, there was some snow and sleet early this morning, but it's all gone now, and there are no traffic hazards, and there is nothing on the roads, and you don't need to worry -- so, let's show some pictures of a storm a long time ago when there were problems!" I understand panic when there is ice on the roads, but panic because there ISN'T?

Snow!


It's snowing!

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Lesson of the Day


Lesson of the Day: if you say something's reprehensible, and the people doing it are black, you're a racist.

There is one line in the article that just jumped out at me:
The woman, who first told the police she had been raped, has been charged with making fictitious reports to law enforcement, prostitution and criminal theft by extortion.
I hear from so many feminists that it is anti-woman to ask for some evidence besides he-said-she-said when making a rape charge. "No woman would ever go through the trauma [of making an anonymous claim!] if she weren't telling the truth," they say. Well, here's one example; I could pull a dozen more out of a hat. This one, perhaps, from my own alma mater:
Margaret Pierce, a friend of Zedginidze's, sent a letter to Harvard: "I was immediately and continuously appalled by the indifference shown by University officials to the fact that this person might actually be innocent of the charges against him," she wrote. "I hate to say it because I'm a feminist, but it's a classic case of political correctness, it's a backlash."
(Apparently, when it happens to their friends, Harvard feminists will realize that their political correctness hard-and-fast rules are hogwash.)

So very hard to do?


Umm?

Push Polling


Would you be less likely to read Instapundit if you knew he blends puppies?

Would you be less likely to vote for Bush if you knew he eats starving Palestinian children for breakfast?

Would you be less likely to vote for Kerry if you knew he sleeps around?

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

A Pound of Pulp and Paste


Stories like this are why I love library sales and the like. Harvard's libraries are so full up with fabulous treasures that they have regular sales, including one (my favorite) at which books are sold at the rate of $5 per grocery bag. Not the Half-Price-Books method of "buy a box of books and hope there's something good inside!" either: you assemble your own grocery bags. That's how I got my pristine copies of Churchill's histories and a heavily annotated 1933 Fraktur imprint of Mein Kampf, among hundreds of others. UT, unfortunately or fortunately, is not as pressed for space as Harvard, nor does it have such a superabundance of the books I want.

Anyone know of upcoming library sales or massive used book scavenger hunts in Houston, Austin, or San Antonio?

In similar news, tomorrow I hope to start work as a volunteer conservator in the rare books library on campus.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

├╝berorientalizmus?


America's failing in intelligence? A dearth of overorientalists.

Maybe that's why STRATFOR, NSA, CIA, and the State Department are among the groups that recruit Sanskrit students.

They both recognize the problem and exemplify it -- their desire for knowers of oriental languages is admirable, but wouldn't living languages be slightly more useful?

The Measure of a Sheepskin


CNN is reporting that high school diplomas are "losing meaning," a statement that should surprise no one. It says, "in the eyes of many of those in hiring and higher education, the diploma is little more than a certificate of school attendance, the report contends."

Let's tally up what we have here:

-Some people are complaining that high school diplomas mean nothing, since everyone who goes to school a minimum of time and does a minimum of work (if that) gets one.

-On the other hand, school districts where not everyone gets a diploma are criticised, even if those are districts where those who do graduate are uniformly well qualified; districts with high graduation rates are praised, and anyone who points out that their graduating students are often functionally illiterate are generally shouted down.

See a problem here?

For high school diplomas to have meaning, schools would have to give them out only to students who have earned them. If the school is selective, or with a bizarrely small sample size (Round Top High School, out Highway 290, for example, with, I believe, a recent graduating class of thirteen), then it might make sense for all students to qualify for graduation; in an exceptional and non-selective school, all students might graduate, but they'd need to demonstrate that all their students were of an acceptable standard to be granted a diploma. If, by some stroke of fortune, every student across the country managed to measure up, then high school diplomas would mean nothing -- but only in the way that birth certificates mean nothing if you try to present an employer with one as proof that you are alive (on the other hand, if birth certificates were given out to imaginary beings and couches and other un-born things...). Their meaninglessness is not, in that case, a bad thing.

(I might say this of the Harvard "Honors" system, as well as of my high school calculus class. If you have exacting and (I realize now that I am at a public university -- and have talked with fellow grads now studying around the world) exceptionally grueling standards, standards far beyond other universities (or far beyond what is required for national AP tests), and every or nearly every student measures up, it is not "inflation" to recognize each student, give each one honors, give each one a 5 on the AP, and graduate each one. It is only "inflation" if the standards are lowered to incorporate more students.)

Of course, all suggestions are ridiculous and impossible, given the nature of our public school system. If you have twelve sixth-graders who can neither read nor count to twenty (whether your fault or another's), and you refuse to pass them on to the next grade, your classroom will be over capacity the next year (because, obviously, it is much worse to have as many students as Japanese classes have than to lower standards and make the concept of "education" worthless). People who lack either the inclination or the mental capability to pass a grade are still required by law to stay in school until sixteen, so you have to keep passing them on in order to free up your classroom for the next batch. There's really not much you can do there.

This is not a problem that can be solved by action in one area (e.g. stricter testing) without action in many others (character education, discipline, teacher salary, hiring practices, certification practices, parent involvement, teacher unions, "progressive" education practices, head start, liability fears...). However, it might be a start to increase public awareness of the state of our schools and the relative worth of a sheepskin, especially among those who themselves graduated decades ago and may not realize how much has changed -- and who often have the time and money to do something about it. Every little helps.

The magical world of Ebay


I've recently been introduced to Ebay, and am now flat broke. It's truly addictive!

You also come across unusual things. This fellow, for instance, sells T-shirts and a 1791 copy of the Constitution.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Female Fathers


Day By Day is jumping on the insane paternity law bandwagon.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

With Friends Like These


He worked for the KGB. He carries out legal purges of oligarchs -- well, at least the Jewish ones. A major campaign argument against his opponent was that the opponent is Jewish. Later, his opponents just plain disappear. And this is our ally?

Then again, I suppose you take what you can get. The more I read about other countries, though, the more I lean towards isolationism. We're far, far better than nearly all the other countries in the world on a vast majority of fronts; if that weren't the case, there wouldn't be such a clamor to get in!

Friday, February 06, 2004

Get Rich Quick!


Would that I could make $13,000 every thirty minutes just by asking for it.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

A performance not to be misssed


Go watch this -- trust me, it's not to be missed!

A Solution to Affirmative Action


...or at least a step in the right direction.

We frequently complain and hear complaints about how AA makes no distinction as to financial situation. A wealthy black person would be advantaged over a poor white person, because (obviously) that specific black person is suffering from historical oppression and that specific white person is (obviously) still reaping the benefits of being the oppressor.

One common suggestion made is that we move from AA to a more honest system, in which allowances are made for those who truly are hampered by nothing more than accident of birth and no special treatment given to people simple because they look like the hampered ones but who live in luxury. This raises shrill screams of "racism" from unexamined souls across the board. So, what to do?

India has, apparently, found a middle way. Reservations, their version of Affirmative Action, do have quotas for "Backward" groups, but the exclude the top economic portion of such groups, known as the "creamy layer", "socially advanced persons and sections" who clearly are not suffering from their accident of birth enough to give them primacy over the starving masses.

Of course, reservations have worked as well in India as AA has here. I will allow that the system, or something like it, was very much needed to begin with, just as socialism was necessary at one point in Independent India's history (if you've got millions starving, a temporary government food program works better than just providing them with sound economic advice, because, with food, they'll live to be able to implement that advice). However, hordes were clamoring to get themselves registered as members of "backwards" castes/classes (imagine using that terminology here instead of "minority"!!!) because of all the benefits; obviously, there is not much stigma to being officially "backwards," or at least not enough to outweigh the benefits (I'm not talking about being beaten to death for letting your shadow touch a Brahmin; that's illegal and should be. I'm talking about, just same as here, preferential treatment in getting into medical schools and parliamentary seats). Additionally, as dozens have told me from their own experience, reservations, just as Affirmative Action, have broadened caste divides, have mandated government sorting by caste while at the same time declaring caste-based treatement illegal, have instilled in children a knowledge of caste and caste differences even when parents tried to bring them up without it (and that's something different from here, where color is immediately seen), have inflamed tensions in formerly integrated villages, parts of town, and even slums, and so forth. At one point, over 90% of the slots at Tamil Nadu (a state in South India) medical schools were held for members of specific groups ("scheduled" or "backwards" groups). Of course, that worked well for me, as Bob's brahmin parents came to America from there as a result, but I hardly think that's a good enough argument for their continuation!

So: AA, but with a clear income cut-off line, above which you get yourself filed in with the white candidates?

Pistol Envy


While we're trading handgun pictures, here is mine.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

He's Back from the Dead!


O frabjous day, callooh, callay! Just like Spoons (well, and the cat), he couldn't stay away! Trivial Pursuits is back!

(Now, if only the Iranian Girl would come back as well!)

Monday, February 02, 2004

State of the Union


I'd just like to say: we're not at war. This is war.

(Although sometimes I wish there were something like that today -- just so that there were something I could do, as pretty much the only thing I'm trained for is to knit socks. But, goshdarnit, WWI is over!)

Why I love America



Only in America (and probably England), so far as I know, will you get darling old men in silk tophats out at dawn on a winter morning to go observe a small animal's behavior!

12 ways to ruin a Superbowl Party


"6: Wear nothing but a helmet and a jock strap."

Sunday, February 01, 2004

New England beats the South at Football, again


Switching back and forth between the Superbowl and "Notting Hill" is not the best way to watch TV. It's a bit disconcerting. Still liked the nail-biter, though.

My thoughts:
-Pats rule!
-Janet Jackson (I missed the show; heard about it on CNN) ... well, that family's got PROBLEMS! And MTV is just crude... I'll take IndiaMTV any day.
-...FOUR HOURS???
-My vote: Pepsi illegal downloads. Then the donkey. Nothing beats Pepsi's BobDole ad that wasn't about Viagra, though.

And, the more interesting news: Bob's gotten in to Texas Tech med school. We'll see whether or not he goes!

Texas Tech


Hey! Bob got into Texas Tech for med school! What's more, he might decide to stay in Austin instead and do stuff with his life now, rather than twenty years of schooling down the line!