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Sunday: February 25, 2007

Not Such A Dumb Question?

Filed under: — site admin @ 2:36 PM GMT-0500

John Podhoretz in The Corner:

When I was part of the founding team of The Weekly Standard, at least three times a week I’d have the following conversation with someone:

Someone: What’s the name of your magazine?

Me: The Weekly Standard.

Someone: That’s interesting! How often does it come out?

My favorite scholarly journal, Classical Quarterly, has been coming out twice a year for decades, without apparently feeling any obligation to change the name. Then again, I suppose a new journal like The Weekly Standard has some obligation to match up the title with the frequency of publication, at least for the first few issues.

Better Late Snark Than No Snark At All

Filed under: — site admin @ 12:44 AM GMT-0500

It’s been a week, but I can’t resist commenting on Patrick Belton’s post on Oxblog last Sunday:

Several days ago I did a segment for the kind people at Worldview on cleavages and fractures within Hamas at the moment, and possible ramifications for the unity government.

Interesting choice of words: “cleavages and fractures”. I would have thought that Hamas loves fractures far more than cleavages. In fact, their willingness to fracture even their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters is the principal cause of the extreme scarcity of cleavage in Hamas-ruled areas — except when Hamasites are on-line with the shades closed and the door locked, of course.

Wednesday: February 21, 2007

Even Trolls Have Their Uses

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:38 PM GMT-0500

Sometimes a troll will say something so stupid that it inspires thoughts that would not otherwise have been thought.

A law professor in Colorado has called Instapundit a “fascist” and suggested that he be fired for wondering “why the Bush administration wasn’t acting covertly to kill radical mullahs and atomic scientists, rather than preparing a major attack on Iran. (Silly me, I thought this was advocating a less warlike approach).” Part of Instapundit’s argument is that the ban on assassinations is not a law passed by Congress but an executive order, which means any president can rescind or amend it.

One of the trollier trolls on Protein Wisdom objects: “It’s not illegal if the President overturns the order. Isn’t that illegal now then?” Well, yeah, it is illegal now. I imagine Instapundit assumed that his readers were smart enough to realize that he thinks that the president should first cancel or revise the executive order, and only then start assassinating insane mullahs and the nuclear scientists who work for them.

So much was obvious, but it gave me an idea: Bush should ostentatiously rescind the presidential order while pointedly declining to say whether he intends to make use of the new (lack of) rules. That would concentrate a few minds, and not only in Iran. Kim Jong Il might start seriously thinking about doing a Kadhafi on his nuclear inventory, rather than risk dying much earlier than actuarial tables calculate. Bashar Assad might spend more time trying to make his Syrian subjects less miserable and less time making the Lebanese as miserable as possible. Cuban generals furtively planning for life after the Castros might start thinking a little more about topping up their Swiss bank accounts and contacting realtors on the Riviera and a little less about which colleagues they would have to kill to keep power over a country that no sane person would want to be responsible for in the first place. Examples could easily be multiplied. After a few months, when none of the plausible targets has died suddenly or of mysterious causes, they would start relaxing their guard. That would be the time for Bush to use his reclaimed powers, preferably all on the same day in several countries on more than one continent.

Tuesday: February 20, 2007

Close Enough For Government Work?

Filed under: — site admin @ 2:38 PM GMT-0500

I would have thought the National Weather Service computers would be programmed to correct errors as simple and obvious as this one:

Sunday: February 18, 2007

Aphorism Of The Day

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:59 PM GMT-0500

La lectura matutina de Homero, con la serenidad, el sosiego, la honda sensación de bienestar moral y físico, de salud perfecta, que nos infunde, es el mejor viático para soportar las vulgaridades del díia.

The reading of Homer every morning, with the serenity, the tranquillity, the deep sensation of moral and physical well-being which it instills in us, is the best provision to endure the vulgarities of the day.

(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Notas, 210)

Friday: February 16, 2007

Aphorism Of The Day

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:43 PM GMT-0500

El extremismo político no proviene de una convicción doctrinaria; es tan sólo la fórmula verbal de un prurito emocional.

Political extremism does not arise from doctrinal conviction; it is nothing more than the verbal expression of an emotional itch.

(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Notas, 360)

Thursday: February 15, 2007

Aphorism Of The Day

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:19 AM GMT-0500

Escribir sin creer en sí es imposible

To write without believing in oneself is impossible.

(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Notas, 372)

Wednesday: February 14, 2007

Turnabout Is Fair Play

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:33 PM GMT-0500

Phi Beta Cons and others have noted that the College Republicans of San Francisco State University are in trouble for stepping on makeshift paper flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, because these flags contain the name of Allah.

Surely the next stop is obvious? Muslim countries and organizations are not the only ones that put religious symbols on their flags. The College Republicans need to set up their own counter-demonstration, with some of these non-Muslim religious flags. I suggest starting with these six:

If that’s not enough Christian symbolism, add these three:

Here’s one from outside Europe:

Of course, some flags have so many overlapping (criss-crossing?) crosses, both orthogonal and diagonal, that it’s easy to miss the big red one in the middle:

Then there are non-Christian religious symbols. I’m not sure about these two:

But I’m pretty sure that all of these symbols are religious:

If the administration of San Francisco State University were challenged in this way, they would be faced with a trilemma. They could either

  1. expel anyone who steps on a flag of any country that contains a religious symbol, which would allow the College Republicans to pen in students they dislike with circles of flags indefinitely,
  2. acknowledge that stepping on Hamas and Hezbollah flags is protected by the First Amendment, or
  3. demonstrate that they are contemptible hypocrites and/or cowards.

I suspect they would go for ‘c’. Choice ‘a’ would have the curious side-effect that students would be allowed to trample Cuban or Venezuelan flags, but not Dominican flags. Could any respectable leftist permit such a terrible double standard?

Tuesday: February 13, 2007

I’m Back . . .

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:33 PM GMT-0500

. . . again, as the last few posts have hinted. I hope to post at least a little something every day from now on. Teaching four classes instead of five this semester should help. Whether I still have any readers after my long silence remains to be seen.

Cheerful Thought

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:31 PM GMT-0500

Vivir es transigir y transigir es envilecerse.

To live is to compromise, and to compromise is to debase oneself.

Native speakers will know better whether the second verb should be translated as ‘submit’ or ‘settle’ rather than ‘compromise’. All three work for me.

(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Notas, 85)

Monday: February 12, 2007

Can The Mayor Of Boston Count?

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:52 PM GMT-0500

Here’s a slightly-shortened version of something I found on Overlawyered:

. . . when Joseph M. MacDonald, a 26-year-old resident of South Boston, applied for a job with the Boston public works department, city officials never checked his criminal record because of the new “second-chance” policy. So they never found out about his long rap sheet (three drug convictions, seven drivers’ license suspensions) until Feb. 3, when police say MacDonald, riding his city snowplow, ran down a 64-year-old woman as she crossed a street, then fled the scene.

So a hard lesson has now been learned, right? You must be kidding. Although the city has admitted that it slipped up in not checking MacDonald’s driving status, Mayor Menino and one of his human resources deputies continue to defend the broader policy on ignoring criminal records (“The mayor believes firmly in giving people a second chance,” said a spokeswoman after the incident.)

Three drug convictions and seven drivers’ license suspensions? Apparently the mayor doesn’t know the difference between giving someone a second chance and giving him an eleventh chance.

I Hope This Is A Hat . . . .

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:25 PM GMT-0500

. . . . because otherwise it’s the worst toupee ever made:

This is a cropped still from Turtles Can Fly, and the man is an Iranian Kurdish doctor visiting Iraq in early 2003 to try to find an armless boy who can allegedly foretell the future. Not a bad movie, if you can get past the hat.

Sunday: February 11, 2007


Filed under: — site admin @ 11:08 PM GMT-0500

I’ve never been much of a food-blogger or reader of food-blogs, but Scott Burgess of The Daily Ablution deserves a Ph.D. in Gumbology for this post. He provides several photos of ingredient-shopping before getting down to his detailed and fully-illustrated account of actually cooking the stuff.

Good/Bad Puns

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:02 PM GMT-0500

Two businesses I’ve driven by in Raleigh:

  • A Chinese restaurant named Hard Wok Buffet.
  • An auto repair shop named Otto’s Autos.


Filed under: — site admin @ 10:48 PM GMT-0500

Within five years, Muslim groups will be demanding that Mexico rename four towns and the Cuernavaca airport, all of which have ‘Matamoros’ as part or all of their names. The word means ‘Moor killer’ or ‘slayer of Muslims’. I don’t know whether Matamoras, Pennsylvania is supposed to mean ‘killer of female Moors’ or just indicates that the founders of the town couldn’t spell, but either way it is likely to be challenged as well.

A Win-Win-Win Situation?

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:40 PM GMT-0500

Viking Pundit quotes an Afghan mullah:

Music is not banned in Islam but to get enjoyment from music is banned.

The West has long suffered from an overabundance of certain unlovely genres of music: twelve-tone, bitonal, microtonal, minimalist, electronic, some other kinds whose very names escape me — ask a Professor of Music Theory at your local university. Perhaps we can ship all our Stockhausen and Cage and Boulez CDs to the Muslim world. Pop music is generally popular only if some segment of the population derives enjoyment from it, but there are still a few artists on the non-classical side who can be counted on to repel just about everyone: Yoko Ono, of course, perhaps Cecil Taylor. I’m sure others will have better suggestions. I dimly recall from my brief stint working in a record store in 1975-76 a jazz group called the Revolutionary Trio that featured a violinist who played lots of double-stopped tritones.

What about the third ‘Win’ in my title?

Random Jottings and other sites have reported that the Society of Ethnomusicology has issued a statement opposing the use of music to torture prisoners. Would playing beautiful music to a follower of the Afghan mullah quoted above constitute torture? Would a Muslim who enjoyed listening to music be endangering his immortal soul? Should we therefore threaten recalcitrant prisoners with Schubert impromptus and Strauss waltzes and Haydn quartets, or would that be too beastly even for the vile Bush regime? Would playing Palestrina and Gregorian Chant and Bach cantatas be even viler, since the music is explicitly Christian? What if the prisoner begins to hum along? Would that damn his soul to Muslim Hell?

If the Afghan mullah is correct, Stockhausen would not be torture, but Bach would be. Cultural sensitivity turns out to be a lot more complicated than I thought it would be.

Is Spanish Necessary?

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:08 PM GMT-0500

In a tirade on the uselessness of Spanish for high school and middle school students, John Derbyshire writes:

No offense to anyone, but Spain was always a bit of an outlier of Western Civ. Name a Spanish mathematician; hum a tune from a Spanish opera; etc., etc.

I don’t know that I could, but many opera lovers could certainly hum one tune from a Spanish opera. In the Act II finale of Don Giovanni, Mozart has the band play a tune from the previous year’s big hit, and the Don himself says ‘Ah! Una Cosa Rara.’ The composer, Vicente Martín y Soler, died 201 years ago today. I would dearly love to see a live or DVD performance of one of his operas. Una Cosa Rara and La Capricciosa Corretta sound wonderful to my untutored ears, but I’ve never found it easy to follow a comic plot by ear. Of course Derbyshire could object that the Spaniard Martín y Soler only won fame by leaving Spain and setting Italian and Russian librettos. (He died in St. Petersburg.)

Later in his post, Derbyshire recommends Latin and misquotes Catullus as writing Da me basia mille, deinde centum. That should be Da mi, where mi is the shortened form of dative mihi. Whether we take me as accusative or ablative, Da me basia mille is gibberish.