September 30, 2002
An Unfortunate Acronym

About four years ago, I was working for a software company, writing programs to control pharmaceutical manufacturing. One of the database tables contained 'analysis standards'. I don't recall exactly what they were, but I do recall that the name of the table was abbreviated to ANAL_STDS. Apparently our database administrator was unfamiliar with the use of 'STDs' to refer to sexually transmitted diseases. He belonged to a mildly bizarre cult that I assumed was quite small and only later realized was the now-famous Falun Gong.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:15 PM
September 29, 2002
Seen On The New York Thruway . . .

. . . a guy in an old Oldsmobile tailgating a tractor trailer. There was no one in either lane for half a mile in front or back, but this guy drove six or eight feet behind the truck's rear bumper for miles. They were going the speed limit (65 MPH). At first I thought he was being towed. It appears that some drivers are like baby elephants, which don't seem to feel comfortable travelling anywhere unless they can firmly grasp the tail of the elephant in front with their trunks.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 08:44 PM
Another Silly Quiz

What Obscure Animal are you?

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 08:39 PM
Twisted Leer

I rather resent having to waste time on this crap, but since I rashly promised a response on Friday, here goes. David Yaseen of 'Level Gaze' has replied (9/26, 9:52 AM) to my reply to his 'open letter' on the Shropshire Challenge. Herewith his latest words, interleaved with my latest replies:

Hey everybody! It finally happened! Dr. Weevil has responded to my open letter! He says it was "serious" and "relatively coherent!" I'm legit now, baby!

If you want a quick response to an 'open letter', you might want to try notifying the supposed recipient, particularly if you pretend to be writing to someone who has no reason to know you exist. And "relatively coherent" is not much of a compliment, since it means only that it is more coherent than Pseudo-Hesiod's lame reply. As for "serious", I gave Yaseen too much credit: as his language here shows, and as we will see below in more detail, his reply to my reply shows that he is anything but serious.

I think he missed the point.

Mere assertion, though (again) we will see that 'Level Gaze' is no slouch when it comes to missing points.

In the Shropshire Challenge, he called upon those opposed to the war to go to Iraq as human shields against the US armed forces. If they didn't, they should "shut the hell up about chickenhawks." He did not feel that an equivalent level of commitment to his side was appropriate.

This is exactly backwards. My argument was a reply to months of 'chickenblogger' language from 'Hesiod', Shropshire, and others. All I was doing was turning their argument back on them. Trying to turn it back on me again is dishonest. It is the antiwarbloggers who demand that warbloggers all enlist, but do not seem to feel that an equivalent level of commitment to their side is appropriate. I'm perfectly happy to discuss the pros and cons of war without reference to anyone's military experience or lack thereof.

            I replied that he and the rest of the warbloggers are the ones advocating change, and, if anyone were to "put up," they should. Then I called him a hypocrite. He responds:

This is more than a bit misleading. The status quo is highly unlikely to continue. Everyone knows that a U.S. invasion of Iraq is very likely, and that it will come soon, unless something happens to stop it. Non-invasion may be the status quo, but invasion is the default. That means that I don't have to do anything to bring about an invasion, since it will go ahead with or without me. (Not to mention that I can't do anything but argue, since I'm too old to enlist and, even if I weren't, I wouldn't make it through boot camp and specialized training in time to see action.) But anyone who seriously opposes an invasion of Iraq can and should do something to prevent it while there is still time. 'Level Gaze' has it exactly backwards: I don't have to do anything except argue against objections such as his. He on the other hand needs to do some serious work if he wants to stop the war, and sitting around bitching about it isn't going to suffice.

Got that? It's going to happen anyway, so it magically becomes the "default," which is somehow different from the "status quo." Leaving that to one side, it could make one question the reasoning behind Dr. Weevil's (and the rest of the warbloggers') need to argue in favor of invasion. If it's inevitible, cheering it on won't help. Even the need to "argue against objections such as [mine]" dissolves. It's also nice to know that Dr. Weevil believes that our government cannot be swayed by means short of direct physical intervention. I and others who are against the war are "do[ing] some serious stop the war."

This guy needs to learn to read. Saying that war is "the default" does not imply that it is inevitable (note spelling), just that it is by far the most likely outcome of current trends and conditions. There is nothing magical about it. Status quos don't preserve themselves, and the current status quo (non-invasion of Iraq) is highly unlikely to last more than a few weeks or at most months, unless something unusual happens to dissuade the administration from their plans for war. One more time: the invasion will go forward -- is already going forward -- with or without me. On the other hand, mere words are unlikely to dissuade Bush at this point, so only action can prevent war. Pacifists are being recruited to act as 'human shields' in Iraq. If enough could be found, war could be prevented, but only a few dozen have volunteered so far. (See the Rottweiler's recent post on this: if the address doesn't work, it's dated 9/26 at 9:22 PM.) Why don't the antiwarbloggers sign up? Do they suffer from the same lack of guts they are so quick to attribute to non-veteran 'warbloggers'? It seems a fair question. How hard would it have been to figure out what I meant?

Besides, the last I heard, we're still waiting on United Nations and congressional approval for invasion, which seems to indicate that the question is still up in the air. For all of the administration's bluster, we may yet be deterred. I and a lot of other people throughout the world believe it's possible, otherwise our speaking out against invasion would be equally pointless. He wants an invasion and I don't.

Thinking that Bush is likely to allow himself to be overruled by the U.N., or that Congress will attempt to overrule him is awfully naïve. As for being deterred by world or antiwarblogger opinion, that is possible, but extremely unlikely, not least because arguments against war are going to have to be much better than those we have seen so far to be effective.

But the main point is that those of us against the war, including Phillip Shropshire, aren't obligated to put their lives on the line because of our opinions. Honestly, stopping the war in Iraq isn't worth my life, however many other lives it may wind up costing. If it is your opinion that standing up for what you believe in--or even stating your beliefs--requires putting your life on the line, then it applies to everybody, not just to those with whom you disagree. And them what starts a fight has to go first, as a show of good faith. Shropshire was supposed to put himself in the line of fire, but, sadly, Dr. Weevil is too old to enlist, and shouldn't have to because war is inevitible anyway. That's as far as he got with the argument, and that's why I called him a hypocrite.

Once again, this is backwards. It is not my opinion that "standing up for what you believe in--or even stating your beliefs--requires putting your life on the line": it is the opinion of anyone who uses the term 'chickenblogger'. They think that we, the so-called 'warbloggers', are not entitled to support war on Iraq unless we join the armed forces. Since human shields are desperately needed to prevent war, the same argument applies à fortiori to them: are they willing to lay their lives on the line to prevent war? It seems to me that they have four choices: (a) enlist as a human shield, (b) stop using the term, and apologize for ever having used it, (c) admit that they are contemptible hypocrites, who abuse others for not doing what they are unwilling to do themselves, or (d) try to confuse the issue by pretending not to understand it. It appears that David Yaseen chooses 'd'.

My point can perhaps be sharpened up a bit: if war is a horrible mistake, and will cost tens of thousands of innocent lives, why is averting it not worth the single life of David Yaseen? Apparently he thinks his precious life is worth more than the lives of any number (ten thousand? a hundred thousand?) of Iraqis. Arrogant, gutless, or clueless? You be the judge. (The three are not mutually exclusive.)

Yaseen's next paragraph lazily strings together a dozen hit-and-run answers and pseudo-answers to my various points. I have inserted the red numbers to make reply more convenient:

The rest of the response is taken up with: [1] his belief that invasion will do more good than leaving things as they are (I disagree--what happens when Israel gets into the slog, that'll be good for everybody, right?); [2] his interesting hypothesis that I would have opposed the Normandy invasion (which, I believe, was one of many results of unprovoked aggression, and therefore righteous); [3] about his nephew-who-almost-enlisted-in-the-Marines (whatever); [4] a non-argument to the effect that the armed forces are not only (I had said "mostly") comprised of people from the lower classes and minorities (they are, very disproportionately, especially the infantry); [5] that Iraq poses a threat to us (sure, if Saddam is willing to have his country flattened for him); [6] that Iraq intends harm to its neighbors as can be deduced from its actions toward Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia (the war with Iran we actively encouraged and suppported, the war with Kuwait we pretended to green-light (see April Glaspie), and Saudi Arabia is a non-issue); [7] a confusion of Iraq with Afghanistan (which, although in some ways is better off than it had been under the Taliban, has seen a return of the rule of warlords and looks about ripe for a re-descent into civil war); [8] that "war is necessary" because Hussein is a "psychopathic thug" who has "good reason" to hate the US (hmm...a psychopath with good reason...will he use it? Will we be removing the rest of the thugs of the world? Does Musharraf count?); [9] that I "have a seriously exaggerated idea of the importance of the Blogosphere" because I put him in the same sentence with the Bush administration (I'm addressing you, who agree with the administration. I want you both to do the same thing. Why on earth wouldn't I put you in the same sentence? Cheap (and inaccurate) shot); [10] more arguments that I should be willing to die a traitor because I am against a proposed policy of the administration (let's all go stand in the way of a tank to protest the tax hike!); [11] that none of the chickenhawks have threatened to punish any human shields (they have indeed; they're called Iraqi citizens, and Saddam will be using tens of thousands of them); [12] and how many celebrities will fit on the head of a cruise missle (all of them).

  1. I openly admitted that it is possible that invasion of Iraq will lead to disaster. It is not my 'belief' but my considered judgment that war is less likely to lead to disaster than temporization and hoping for the best. Calling it a 'belief' cheapens it and makes it sound irrational.
  2. Blatant misrepresentation. I specifically said that the same argument he uses to oppose invading Iraq would have compelled him (if he were logically consistent) to oppose the Normandy invasion. After all, if the fact that innocent civilians will be killed in a war is sufficient to show that the war is wrong, then the liberation of France must have been wrong. And he completely ignores what I said about the lives that would (will?) be saved in the future if Iraq is liberated from Saddam Hussein's brutal tyranny, and about the value of freedom, which Americans are supposed to think is worth risking lives for.
  3. He suggested that 'warbloggers' have no loved ones in the armed services, and this is simply false. I gave two counter-examples from my own experience, and he ignores one and says "whatever" about the other. How's that for honest argument? He also slips in a little sneer. In fact, I believe that my nephew signed the paperwork and would be in the Marines right now if he had passed the physical, as he thought he would. As I have said before, the armed forces can afford to be picky, and Bush has not had to go on television to beg people to sign up for an invasion of Iraq. It is the 'human shields' who are begging for recruits, so far with little success.
  4. Mere evasion. The clear implication of his argument was that 'warbloggers' don't serve in the military and don't know anyone who serves and therefore don't care about military casualties. This is utterly false, as my examples showed.
  5. I don't claim to know whether Hussein would use a nuclear weapon if he had one. Maybe, maybe not. I don't want to give him the choice, because I'd just as soon not have to find out which he would choose. Those such as 'Hesiod' who are absolutely certain that Hussein would never use nuclear weapons, either for blackmail or for destruction, are fools. And those such as 'Hesiod' who ignore the fact that Hussein is not a young man and will one day in the not too distant future (if he is not deposed) be succeeded by someone who might turn out to be even less deterrable -- someone like Qusay or Uday -- are worse than fools.
  6. That Saddam Hussein has invaded other countries before, more than once and without provocation, is supposed to be unimportant in judging whether he is likely to commit different forms of aggression in the future. I would think Yaseen would be ashamed to make such a silly statement. Note also how he contrives to blame the invasions of Iran and Kuwait on the U.S., as if poor Hussein had no will of his own.
  7. Yaseen assumed that Afghanistan is now worse off than before American intervention. I offered a strong reason for believing that he is wrong. If he can't refute my argument, he needs to admit that he was wrong, instead of continuing to waffle.
  8. Mere verbal quibbling: the reason Hussein has to hate the U.S. is not the same kind of reason that insane people lack. It would have been clearer if I had written 'motive' rather than 'reason', but I doubt that anyone else misunderstood my point.
  9. 'Warbloggers' argue with Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and Richard Cohen, taking on the big dogs and hoping that someone will notice their flea-like attacks. Why do 'antiwarbloggers' confine themselves to sniping at the 'warbloggers', like microbes on fleas, instead of taking on the arguments of (for instance) Charles Krauthammer and Michael Kelly? (Calling the latter a "WHORE", as Yaseen does, doesn't count.) It looks like they're more interested in increasing their hit counts by arguing with those who may possibly link back to them than actually convincing anyone that war on Iraq is a bad idea. One more sign that Yaseen is not serious.
  10. This is true only if he thinks that I can't argue for war without putting on a uniform first.
  11. Willful misrepresentation: he knows I'm talking about American and other non-Iraqi human shields. I even mentioned that American shields would be more effective than Europeans in deterring war. The fact that Jane Fonda was never seriously threatened with jail time, much less hanging, for her trips to North Vietnam, even when she shot an anti-aircraft gun at an American bomber, shows that human shields have little to fear in the way of prosecution or even persecution. The more recent examples I gave show exactly the same.
  12. Sneering at a sound argument does not make it unsound. Groups of human shields would in fact be far more effective in deterring war if they included celebrities, or active bloggers like Philip Shropshire -- or David Yaseen.

So much for numbered points. To continue:

Note the absence of a response to my argument.

Note the bald-faced lie -- not his first. I answered every argument, paragraph by paragraph, and have now done so again, though his own arguments are quite slapdash -- three more hours of my life I'll never get back.

In the process, he describes my post with nice words like "pretentious," "fifth-rate," "absurd," and "bilge." He tells me I need to "shut the fuck up about chickenhawks" because I'm not willing to go stand in the middle of a war zone. Shut the fuck up or die. A beautiful sentiment from one American to another. And I should apologize. To whom? I think I'll do neither, thank you.

The next paragraph is repeated from my comment on his blog:

Don't put words in my mouth. I never said "shut the fuck up or die", I said "shut the fuck up about 'chickenhawks'" (note the specific limitation), unless you are willing to risk your life to stop the war. I wouldn't have said that much if it weren't for all the hypocrites like Shropshire and 'Hesiod' who demand that I either join the army or shut up about the war. I'm only turning their argument back on them. Three weeks later, Shropshire still hasn't come up with an answer to the challenge, and 'Hesiod' has carefully ignored all my stronger points while pretending he won the argument, much like Yaseen's false claim that I haven't responded to his.

I have already replied to the rude language charge in the second-to-last entry before this one.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Yaseen's reply is that it entirely ignores my last paragraph.

Notice: If I fail to respond to anything David Yaseen says in the future on any subject, that is not to be taken as agreement with him (unlikely), or inability to answer his arguments (fat chance), but mere unwillingness to waste time arguing with such a dishonest and incompetent debater.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 08:31 PM
If Only I Had Thought To Ask . . . .

Note To Self:

When trying to decide whether to rent a 10' or a 15' foot truck to move 140 boxes of books, an air conditioner, a couple of half-dressers, and a few other odds and ends, be sure to ask the right questions. Yes, the 10' truck is faster empty and a little bit cheaper, while the 15' truck is faster full, since it's not as underpowered and you don't have to slow down as much on curves with the cargo not being stacked as high. But the biggest question for one planning to move all these things with no help except a a two-wheel dolly is: which one has a ramp?

Oh well. I survived, and everything's in the apartment, and I suppose the extra work was good for me. Now I just have to unpack it all.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 06:55 PM
September 27, 2002
Just Another Troll With A Website

David Yaseen of Level Gaze is not satisfied with my answers to his 'open letter' to me on the Shropshire Challenge. When I get back from Toledo, I will answer his arguments, such as they are. In the mean time, I will content myself with one observation:

Yaseen complains that I use words like "pretentious", "fifth-rate", "absurd", and "bilge" to refer to his fifth-rate blog and its pretentious, absurd, and bilgey arguments. This is the same David Yaseen who just this week called Michael Kelly a "WHORE" (his caps, not mine: 9/24, 2:42 PM) and penned a thoroughly nasty little piece (9/23, 12:55 PM) suggesting that Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Perle would intentionally allow American schoolchildren to be slaughtered in the Ivory Coast just to "[s]how the pansies on the coasts that shit happens". Looks like just another intellectual bully who dishes out the insults and then whines when anyone aims any criticism at him.

(Perhaps I should clarify the phrase "intellectual bully". I mean someone who is a bully in the field of the intellect, not someone who is both a bully and an intellectual. Not all intellectual bullies qualify as members of the intelligentsia.)

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:47 PM
September 26, 2002
Middle School Humor

Best T-Shirt motto yet -- on a crewcut 7th-grader whose parents seem to have named him after a heavy metal star:

I ride the short bus to school!

He's actually not a bad student.

More substantial posts will have to wait for tomorrow at the earliest. In any case, they will be intermittent this weekend. I'm driving to Toledo again to pick up the rest of my books (woo hoo!), either right after school or not until Saturday morning, depending on the weather report. Isadore is supposed to bring heavy rain even to Rochester.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:02 PM
September 25, 2002
A Mystery Solved!

InstaPundit suggests that the mysterious 'Hesiod' of Counterspin Central is actually Tom Daschle. This seems unlikely, at least to me: my opinion of Daschle's intellect and character is low, but not that low.

'Hesiod' himself (or herself) gives us an important clue (9/24, 06:54:33 AM):

GORE'S SPEECH: Here's the transcript.

It almost looks like I wrote it.

No. I'm not Al Gore. Nor am I one of his advisors or speech writers. I've never met him. I'm not even a Democratic party activist.

I'm just this guy, you know?

That's just a little bit too clever, and lets the cat out of the bag. This post confirms what I have long suspected, that 'Hesiod' is a low-level employee in the basement of the White House or the Pentagon assigned to discredit the anti-war movement by impersonating an unusually rude, stupid, and dishonest opponent of war on Iraq.

What may we plausibly conclude about this loyal Republican munchkin?

  • That he or she has orders not to spend more than 20 minutes on any given post. In this effort, quality is counterproductive.
  • That he or she is paid on a piecework basis, most likely $1.00 for each spelling error, $1.50 for grammatical solecisms, $2.00 for gratuitous insults, $3.00 for stating or implying that specific supporters of war on Iraq are Nazis or animals of some degraded species or other, and $4.00 for non sequiturs, blatantly false accusations of logical error, and similar crimes against the principles of honest debate.
  • That he or she takes home quite a nice paycheck at the end of the day, without having to work too hard.
  • That InstaPundit is in on the plot, since he could hardly be naïve enough to find 'Hesiod' worth linking to as often as he links him.

Of course, WarbloggerWatch and Level Gaze are also false-flag White House operations, similarly designed to support war on Iraq by discrediting the opposition to it. As in one of my favorite novels, I would guess that most, if not all, of the contributors to WarbloggerWatch think that all the rest are sincere opponents of the regime when in fact just about every one is an undercover government agent. The only exceptions -- the only genuine lefties -- are (possibly) Igor Boog and (probably) Roy Edroso. No doubt some in the White House think the 'Philip Shropshire' and 'Dr. Menlo' characters in particular skate a little close to the edge, so that their fakeness would be obvious to any intelligent onlooker. However, comments left on the site suggest that even their over-the-top portrayals of leftie whackjobs are plausible to most other lefties. Unless the supportive comments are also provided by government agents, of course . . . .

(To see the name of the novel to which I refer, just 'select' this paragraph to make the title appear here: G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday. I don't want to 'spoil' it for those who may not have read it yet.)

It is still unclear whether Al Gore is on the White House payroll, or has been replaced by some kind of cybernetic or laboratory-cloned impostor, or has patriotically volunteered to sacrifice his previous reputation for intelligence and decency to help save the Republic from Saddam Hussein's WMDs.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:13 PM
September 24, 2002
This Is Just Too Easy

Apropos of nothing particularly intelligent or interesting, 'Hesiod' writes (08:31:22 PM):

Chickenbloggers can now, as a good friend of mine in college used to say, "suck my crank."

Just how good a friend was he? In what circumstances would he say these words? And what generally happened next? Only 'Hesiod' and his 'friend' know for sure. Not that there's anything wrong with whatever it was they did . . . .

If my joke seems a bit harsh, that is partly because 'Hesiod' continues to crawl deeper into the sewer of invective, partly because I happened to be reading the internet Classics list today when the original, genuine Hesiod was mentioned. I found to my sorrow that I had developed a mild aversion to his very name, and a preference for the Works and Days over the Theogony, when I used to prefer the latter. It's bad enough that "Hesiod Theogeny [sic]" the leftie blogger stinks up the internet, but now he's interfering with my enjoyment of classical literature. Of course, Engelbert Humperdinck the contemporary crooner has had a similar effect on most people's enjoyment of Engelbert Humperdinck the late Romantic composer. It is now impossible to take the latter as seriously as he deserves, though I suppose we would find his name a bit silly even if it had never been appropriated by another.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:52 PM
Polemic III: 'Level Gaze'

The only serious and relatively coherent attempt to answer The Shropshire Challenge so far has been this 'open letter' on David Yaseen's Level Gaze the next day (September 7th). It raises some important issues and so deserves a full, if very belated, analysis:

Reading Instapundit this afternoon, I came across Dr. Weevil's Shropshire Challenge.

The two comments this post attracted confine themselves to sneers at Instapundit.

What follows is an open letter to Dr. Weevil.

Open letters are pretentious even when addressed to a president or a pope by a well-known writer or journalist. What can I say about an open letter to a second-string blogger from a fifth-rate blogger, except that I'm flattered that he considers me so important?

Dr. Weevil;

At least he doesn't begin with a hypocritical "dear".

It seems as though you're the one who needs to "put up or shut up." Those of us who oppose invading Iraq haven't suggested doing anything - we'd like to see the status quo continue. This is your fight. You have to put up first. We don't owe you anything until you do, and we certainly won't "shut up" about chickenhawks.

This is more than a bit misleading. The status quo is highly unlikely to continue. Everyone knows that a U.S. invasion of Iraq is very likely, and that it will come soon, unless something happens to stop it. Non-invasion may be the status quo, but invasion is the default. That means that I don't have to do anything to bring about an invasion, since it will go ahead with or without me. (Not to mention that I can't do anything but argue, since I'm too old to enlist and, even if I weren't, I wouldn't make it through boot camp and specialized training in time to see action.) But anyone who seriously opposes an invasion of Iraq can and should do something to prevent it while there is still time. 'Level Gaze' has it exactly backwards: I don't have to do anything except argue against objections such as his. He on the other hand needs to do some serious work if he wants to stop the war, and sitting around bitching about it isn't going to suffice.

You're the ones (you and the rest of the warbloggers) championing a course of action that will cause death and destruction to others, as well as serious jeopardy to American soldiers (who, incidentally, are mostly drawn from the ranks of the poor and minorities, those who are least able to determine the course of their lives), and none to yourself or to those whom you love. If you so truly believe in the justice of your cause, then it's worth the cost and you should be willing to pay your share. Sign up for service and join the infantry. Not eligible for service? Send your son, your brother, your nephew, your best friend, your dog. If you aren't willing to put up, why should we right-thinking folk take you seriously?

Where to begin? Most warbloggers sincerely believe that invading Iraq is likely to save far more lives than it costs. That's why we're in favor of this particular war: it's not a good thing, but the least of the available evils. We recognize that nothing in life is certain and that the situation is complex. It is not hard to imagine ways in which war on Iraq could lead to disaster, though it is rather more difficult to imagine plausible ways in which allowing Saddam Hussein to develop his arsenal of gases, germs, and (soon) nuclear bombs unmolested would not lead to even more spectacular disaster in the long run.

Warbloggers also think freeing 18,000,000 Iraqis from totalitarian oppression is nothing to sneer at. Should the Normandy invasion have been canceled on the grounds that the accompanying bombs and naval bombardments would undoubtedly -- did undoubtedly -- kill innocent French civilians? Was freedom for France worth the lives lost? Apparently 'Level Gaze' doesn't think so, or at least so his argument would force him to say.

Why this bald assumption that no 'warbloggers' have any loved ones in the armed forces? I've mentioned my friend Diane, who certainly counts as a loved one. I try to keep this blog relatively impersonal, and very much object to having to write what I am about to write. But since he brings it up, I don't have any sons, daughters, nieces, or dogs. I do have six nephews. (I like to tell people that the Weevil family follows ancient Greek methods of family planning, but only as a joke.) There are armies in the world that would take the 16-year-old, the 13-year-old, and maybe even the 10-year-old, but the U.S. armed forces will not -- not this year, anyway. Of the older three, one has in fact tried to join the Marines in the last year. I only heard about it after he had been turned down, but I certainly had no objection. Why should I? If he had asked me, I would have told him, quite truly, that I thought it was a good idea. It's just too bad that the Marines can afford to be picky enough not to take this particular nephew. (None of your business why they didn't.) Maybe I should be urging him to try the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, but I'll leave that to his parents. He's never asked me for advice on employment, and I'm not so spectacularly successful myself.

The idea that the armed forces consist only of otherwise-unemployable lower-class losers and members of racial minorities is patronizing crap. My older brother is a successful engineer who spends his weekends on his boat (not the first one he's owned) and is certainly a solid member of the educated upper middle class. It is his youngest son who tried to join the Marines. (His second son is working on becoming a policeman, but needs more college credits. They're picky, too.) I think it is only the more liberal members of the upper middle class, New York Times editors and Ivy League professors and the like, who don't know anyone in the armed forces and can't imagine encouraging their children to join.

We're not the ones trying to convince the world that the inevitible deaths of innocent women and children, en route to removing Saddam Hussein from power, are necessary. We're not the ones who are providing inaccurate and/or incomplete justifications for doing so, to wit: that Iraq poses a threat to us (no proof so far); that Iraq supports terrorism (ditto); that Iraq intends harm to its neighbors (one more time); and that the Middle East would be better off after he's gone (not even the seeds of an inkling, see Afghanistan).

Note the complete lack of interest in the possibility (I consider it a probability) that even more innocent women and children will die if the war does not proceed. An honest man will try to count or at least estimate the costs of inaction as well as the costs of action. Inaction is not inherently virtuous if it allows people to die who could have been saved by action.

Now let us count the absurd assumptions:

Does Iraq pose a threat to us? What proof short of a nuclear explosion or epidemic clearly traceable to Iraqi laboratories would suffice? 'Level Gaze' does not say. It almost looks as if he is afraid to specify anything, for fear that such proof would surface. By being vague, he can keep 'moving the goalposts' whenever the Bush administration offers more.

Does Iraq support terrorism? Of course, for instance with substantial checks, handed over proudly to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers in full view of the press. What more evidence do we need? Does it not count as terrorism if it's aimed at Israelis? Many of those killed have been American citizens. Do they not count as Americans if they're Jewish and choose to live in Israel? It is absurd to say that there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein supports terrorism. And that's omitting Abu Nidal (is it just a coincidence that he chose to live in Bagdhad instead of the Bahamas or Monaco?), the Saddamite Kurds who terrorize the rest of Kurdistan, the likely connection to Mohammed Atta, just to name a few.

Does Iraq intend harm to its neighbors? They've only invaded three of them so far: Iran, Kuwait, and a brief and soon-repelled incursion into Saudi Arabia from Kuwait during the Gulf War. I don't believe their borders with Turkey, Syria, and Jordan have been entirely peaceful, either.

Would the Middle East be better off with Saddam Hussein gone? The reference to Afghanistan clearly implies that it is obvious that our intervention there has only made things worse. Though a popular line of argument, this is demonstrably false. Are things still quite bad by American standards? Obviously. Are they just as bad as they were before? Obviously not. I won't list all the little clues -- children openly flying kites, dervishes whirling free, movie theaters reopening, women learning to read, and dozens more -- since these could all be dismissed as anecdotal evidence. I will only mention one fact. Newspapers report that between 1,200,000 and 1,500,000 Afghan refugees have returned home since the fall of the Taliban, despite the uncleared mines, damaged infrastructure, chaotic politics, and the fact that the U.N. relief agencies have been urging them to stay put, since they don't feel that they can handle them. Such a massive flow of refugees tells us all we need to know. Just as the flight of the Vietnamese boat people in their hundreds of thousands refuted all the rosy predictions about communist rule in South Vietnam, so does the return of the Afghans to Afghanistan refute any glib statements about how things are getting worse there.

(Of course, it would be different if Pakistan had decided to expel the refugees, or if famine or disease had made Pakistan a much worse place to live than before. There have been no reports of anything like that, so it appears that the refugees are being 'pulled' by Afghanistan rather than 'pushed' by Pakistan. It is not that Pakistani refugee camps have has gotten worse, but that Afghanistan has either gotten better or looks as if it will very soon get better -- most likely some of each. At least the Afghans think so, and they ought to know.)

All in all, 'Level Gaze' seems to be quite skilled at averting his gaze from the evidence.

The administration is pushing this war with all of its might. It has access to reams and reams of intelligence costing billions of dollars. As yet, it has not seen fit to offer the world any substantiated rationale for an Iraq invasion. You don't have access to any of the government's putative secret "evidence" of the "threat" posed by Iraq. Absent proof, or even a consistent message from your leaders, you pound the drums of war. For what? Why? Because you like the sound?

Now I'm an irrational lover of drum sounds. (Personally, I prefer the sound of a steel guitar.) And the evidence offered so far has convinced most people who have been paying attention that war is necessary. The argument is very simple. We know Saddam Hussein is a vicious psychopathic thug. There is good reason to think that he is trying to acquire nuclear weapons and may be close to doing so. He has already tried to kill Bush Sr. and has good reason to hate the U.S. Q.E.D.

We ask the administration (and you) to reconsider, to wait for proof to be provided of the threat(s), and, when it's provided, to solicit assistance from other nations to help us clean up the inevitible mess that will follow an invasion.

Wow! The administration and me, lumped together almost like equals (though with me in parentheses). 'Level Gaze' has a seriously exaggerated idea of the importance of the Blogosphere. Again, what proof short of a mushroom cloud would suffice to convince him?

As for the mess that would follow, he shows no inkling of any recognition that war would allow us to clean up other and more serious messes: not only would the nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons factories be shut down, but Saddam's torture chambers would be opened up and surviving prisoners released.

            You tell us to take a hike and stand in the path of our own army. Not only would we be slaughtered, but we would die as traitors. Obviously, that would be a stupid move, and you think yourselves pretty damned clever to paint us into that corner. And still you'd have risked nothing yourselves. Nice try.

He would only be slaughtered if (a) his attempt failed to avert war (more on this below), and (b) the U.S. armed forces failed in their usual attempt to avoid killing innocent bystanders. (A college T-shirt and loud American-accented shouting when the shooting starts would probably help.) As for treason, he would be saving (or attempting to save) his own country, which he claims to love, from making what he considers to be a horrible and savage mistake, if not a massive crime. That sounds rather patriotic to me, if he is sincere in thinking war such a thoroughly bad idea. If many of his fellow Americans would disagree and consider him a traitor, surely sacrificing his reputation for what is right is a choice any honorable man must take?

It's not as if Bush or Rumsfeld or Ashcroft has threatened to punish 'human shields' in any way. Ramsey Clark and Louis Farrakhan and Jesse Jackson have all gone to Iraq and back without being stopped or inconvenienced in any way, without even a threat of invocation of the Logan Act. What's to stop Philip Shropshire or David Yaseen from doing the same?

Of course, reading bilge like this does indeed make me feel "pretty damned clever", at least by comparison.

You, sir, are a hypocrite.

Good day.

I think the last two words prove once more that David Yaseen is a hypocrite. (And shouldn't that be 'Good night'? The timestamp on his post is 11:53 PM.)

So much for the ill-named 'Level Gaze'. To reiterate my main point, the difference between myself and Philip Shropshire (or 'Hesiod' or David Yaseen) is twofold:

1. As I have said before, I cannot join the armed forces, while he can join the human shields.

2. Perhaps more important, my joining the armed forces would have no effect whatsoever in making war more likely. It will go ahead with or without me, and would not be waged any more effectively if I could somehow (in an alternate universe) wangle a place in it. If I were fluent in Iraqi Arabic, or skilled in operating some crucial weapons system, the situation would be different. On the other hand, Philip Shropshire could have a significant effect in preventing war. It is perfectly clear that if 100,000 human shields went to Iraq and distributed themselves around anything that could possibly be on the list of bombing targets, the war would in all probability be canceled or seriously delayed.

Some people make more effective shields than others. Even 5,000 or 10,000 might well be enough, if they were predominantly Americans. Bush would get more bad press (and worse) if American bombs killed 10 Americans than if they killed 20 Frenchmen or 30 Belgians. (Women and children would also be more effective, but their use would also be shamefully immoral. I hope they are not being recruited as human shields.) Distinguished hostages would count for much more: Bush would hardly dare risk killing such eminent and distinguished persons as Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, or Ted Rall, just to give some random examples -- not to mention Louis, Jesse, and Ramsey. One dead celebrity might be explained as an unfortunate accident, but more than one would look very bad. (Perhaps I should say that by 'distinguished' and 'eminent' I do not mean to imply any real claim to these epithets, just conventional estimations such as Pulitzer prizes, distinguished chairs at major universities, book contracts with substantial royalties, and such.) A blogging hostage human shield would also be worth much more than some big silent doofus, particularly if he blogged first-person reports from the scene. Think of what Orwell could have done in Catalonia with a laptop and an internet connection! That would need Saddam's permission, of course, which might be a little dicey. But an anti-war blogger with guts could do some very interesting and useful work in preventing war or reporting on it, as the case may be. I estimate that each active and well-known blogger (like Philip Shropshire) or established celebrity (like Chomsky or Farrakhan) would make war something like 1% less likely, though each ordinary 'warm body' human shield would make war only about .01% less likely. Will enough of them enlist to stop the war? Probably not: the supply of people brave enough to risk their lives and stupid enough to risk them to keep Saddam Hussein in power is quite limited.

Of course, the problem is that the number of human shields needed to deter war is not entirely clear. Miscalculation could lead to death, maiming, or at best the humiliation of being rescued (and possibly arrested) by American and allied soldiers. So going would take some guts, and going first would take more, since no one would know whether enough would follow to make the plan work. Does Philip Shropshire or 'Hesiod' or David Yaseen have the guts to go? So far, all signs point to no. If they do not, they need to (a) shut the fuck up about 'chickenhawks', and (b) apologize for ever using the term. 'Hesiod' might also want to apologize for ever using the term 'Goebbels-esque' to refer to any contemporary blogger -- except, I suppose, Mark Konrad, who would no doubt take it as a compliment. Of course, I don't expect any of them to do so, but that is because they have already given considerable evidence of their moral character.

Finally, please note that I am not claiming that any of the chickenshitbloggers are less brave than myself, just asking them to stop saying that I am less brave than they, since their own actions -- or rather lack of action -- show that that is a lie. I have never claimed to be particularly brave. I wouldn't be sneering at 'Hesiod', Philip Shropshire, and the other WBWers if they weren't so fond of sneering at others. It is their insufferable pretension to moral superiority that rankles.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 07:00 PM
September 23, 2002
Classical Names

For better or worse, further polemics will not appear until tomorrow at the earliest -- too many quizzes to grade tonight. There are important issues at stake, and I want to get them just right.

In the mean time, I have a little something to say about a comment Andrea Harris made about 'Hesiod' on DailyPundit:

Should I start using the pseudonym Homer Odyssey? I wanna get in on this fake-Greek-name thing. It's so rad.

That reminded me of something I'd almost forgotten. In 1985, two of my coworkers at a computer firm in northern Virginia decided that we all needed fake classical names and started assigning them to everyone in the office. The only ones I remember now are their own, which they came up with first, and which were the only really witty ones: Cliticus and Testicules (4 syllables: 'tess-TICK-yu-leez'). Perhaps I should add that I had no role in starting or encouraging their little game, though the two knew I had studied classics in school and that may have helped give them the idea.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:42 PM
September 22, 2002
Polemic II: 'Hesiod'

The man or woman or boy or girl who calls him(?)self 'Hesiod' has tried to answer the Shropshire Challenge, but he hasn't tried hard enough. Since he continues to imply that supporters of war on Iraq are no better than Nazis, I'm not going to give him a link, but the date was 9/8, the time 07:08:20 PM, and he calls his site 'Counterspin Central'.

Let's look at what he says:

MINI ME: Dr. Weevil (or as I like to call him, "Dr. '[E]vil"), challenged those opposed to a war with Iraq to either shut up about "chickenhawks," or donate their services as "human sheilds" for Saddam Hussein.

So if I'm 'Dr. Evil', who's the "MINI-ME" in the title? Apparently 'Hesiod' is too busy piling up insults to make them even minimally (minimeally?) coherent.

Bad spelling may seem a venial sin, but: (a) It's really rude to put other people's words in quotation marks and then spell them wrong: I most certainly did not write "human sheilds". (b) Sloppy spelling on the scale seen here is usually a sign of sloppy thought or arrogance or both. If the author doesn't care enough about his own words to run them through a spell-checker before posting, why should anyone else take them seriously?

The premise of this challenge is that, some of those who are opposed to the war in Iraq have been suggesting that "chickenwaks" (or chickenbloggers in Dr. '[E]vil's case) should be in the first wave attacking Baghdad.

What's the difference between a "chickenhawk" (I suppose that's what he was aiming for) and a "chickenblogger", and why am I the latter rather than the former? 'Hesiod' doesn't say: again too busy piling up the personal insults to worry about whether they even make sense.

Frankly, since I'm a hard-headed realist who's in favor of the war on terror, but who doesn't see the cold-blooded rationale for attacking Saddam, I'd be sitting on the sidelines watching these fools needlessly slaughter one another.

If he wants to insult the intelligence of Bush, his cabinet, his generals, and others planning the war on Iraq, that's one thing, but why does he call the common soldiers who would fight the war "fools"? It's not as if they have any choice about going to war or not. I seem to detect more than a hint of contempt for the U.S. military, as well as the Iraqi draftees.

Chickenhawks should ask themselves this question, however: "Are they willing to see their son or daughter die as a combat casualty in Iraq?"

If they are not willing to put their own son, or daughter at risk, they have no business putting anyone else's at risk. It;'s that simple. Would Dubyah, for example, be willing to see Jenna with her legs blown off?

I will have more to say about this in my next post, since 'Level Gaze' is even more explicit in his assumption that 'warbloggers' have no loved ones in the armed forces. The assumption is in many cases, including my own, utterly false.

Those who are opposed to an attack on Iraq, are not, as Dr. '[E]vil dishonestly implies, in favor of his remaining in power, or of his regime.

If you claim to be in favor of some goal, but refuse to do anything to achieve that goal, or to support others attempting to achieve it, are you really in favor, or are you just talking through your hat? 'Hesiod' doesn't seem to have any other suggestions for overthrowing Hussein, and no other country is capable of removing him, so he is in fact in favor of Hussein remaining in power.

None of us would fight on Saddam's side [or be human sheilds] if an attack is launched. That's just plain old [and '[E]vil will love this] Goebbels-esque demagoguery.

Why should I love being compared to a Nazi? I suppose being compared to a Nazi by an asshole like Hesiod is a sort of honor in a perverse way, but it's one I'd just as soon forgo. And how is it demagoguery to suggest that those who vehemently oppose war on Iraq might want to do something to prevent it?

There will again be more on this topic in my next post. In brief, a sufficient number of human shields could in fact prevent the war, but those who claim to oppose the war are unwilling to enlist as human shields, though ready enough to sneer at supporters who fail to enlist as soldiers. That is the hypocrisy at which my original post was aimed.

It's not a morally equivalent argument to make. He knows that.

I know nothing of the sort. I think the position is exactly morally equivalent: if you oppose the war but refuse to put your life on the line to stop it, you're just as 'chicken' as those who support it and decline to enlist. More so, actually, since the U.S. armed forces have specific age limits and experience requirements, while the human shield movement does not. Even if I were young enough to join, I would be highly unlikely to make it through boot camp and training before the fighting is over. But Philip Shropshire and 'Hesiod' could be human shields by the end of the week, if they chose to do so.

            But his job is to accuse those who have legitimate concerns about an Iraq invasion of being in league with Saddam, or soft-headed liberal pantywaists.

My "job"? Does 'Hesiod' think I'm a paid propagandist for the Bush regime? That I take my marching orders from Commander Reynolds and write what I'm told? I guess I won't be getting my usual check this week, since I've been slacking off on the job and not writing much at all.

In fact, I have no objection to people who have "legitimate concerns" and even strong doubts about an Iraq invasion, and link to at least six or eight such people: to name just a few off the top of my head, James Bowman, RiShawn Biddle, Charles Oliver of Shoutin' Across the Pacific, and Unqualified Offerings are all at best highly dubious about invading Iraq. The difference between them and 'Hesiod' (and the boys at WarbloggerWatch) is that they do not compare supporters of war to Nazis, or call them 'chickenhawks', but argue like adults.

Frankly, the onus is on the PRO-INVASION folks to show why an invasion is the ONLY way to solve the problem. So far, they have failed miserably to do so.

They are morally bankrupt unless they do.

In fact, they have explained things slowly and carefully, over and over. Their arguments may not convince 'Hesiod', as they have not (or not entirely) convinced those listed above, but he doesn't seem to have a particularly open mind on the question, as we shall see in a moment.

Skipping a bit . . . .

Let me directly address the "best of the available alternatives" argument. I don't think an invasion IS the "best of the avilable alternatives." And, quite honestly, I don't think those who favor an invasion have done a very good job arguing that it is. P robably because it's easier, they tend to fall back on scare-tactics, or implausible assumptions.

None have come up with any evidence or reasoning [that I have seen], which shows that Deterrence and containment of Saddam will not work, if we develop a coherent, consistent policy.

They still presume, for some reason, that Saddam is suicidally nuts. [He may be nuts, but he's hardly suicidal.]

Poor 'Hesiod' seems to be claiming that he knows whether Saddam is suicidally insane or not. Is 'Hesiod' a trained psychiatrist? If so, has he examined the patient personally? Does he have sufficient command of Iraqi Arabic to be able to do so competently? Does he have CIA connections or other sources of knowledge not available to the general public? How the Hell could 'Hesiod' possibly know whether Saddam Hussein is sane or insane? And why does he think that's a simple question to answer for anyone? I thought only nasty right-wingers believed in simplistic black-or-white right-or-wrong answers. Anyone who claims to have copied an entire Koran with his own blood, as Saddam does, is hardly likely to be entirely sane. His authorship of trashy romance novels is another disquieting sign: it's not as if he needs the money. And anyone who has murdered as many men, women, and children as Saddam Hussein must certainly be at least mildly disturbed.

If there's even a 3% or 5% chance that Saddam wants nuclear weapons for offensive rather than defensive purposes, so he can immediately drop them on Tel Aviv or smuggle them into New York rather than keeping them at home for protection, that would in itself justify a great deal of risk and even bloodshed to prevent him from acquiring them in the first place.

I won't go into the myriad reasons why he is extremely unlikely to give nuclear material or weapons to rogue actors like Al Qaeda [even if he IS in cahoots with them in other ways]. Any cooperation between Saddam and Al Qaeda is a marriage of convenience. It's not a very strong bond.

Again, how does 'Hesiod' know it's unlikely? Does he have special psychological insight? A marriage of convenience can be quite strong and sometimes lasting, as long as it remains advantageous to both sides. Hitler and Stalin for a while, Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo for quite a bit longer: these had little in common ideologically, but stuck together against their shared enemies long enough to do enormous damage. Iran has been playing footsie with Iraq lately, despite a history of enmity and rivers of blood: they both fear Bush, and that's enough.

Suffice it to say, however, that Saddam is probably on Al Qaeda's top five hit list. He'd have to be, again, suicidally insane to give them nuclear weapons capablilty, unless he exercised a great deal of control over the operation.

But that would, of course, defeat the stealthy-purpose of giving them the material in the first place.

More ridiculous assertions: Saddam on Al Qaeda's hit list? Sounds like bullshit to me, and no evidence, or even argument, is offered. Once again, how does 'Hesiod' know how sane Saddam is? And has he considered -- as some bloggers have -- that Saddam is not a young man, and will therefore, if he stays in power, some day in the not too distant future leave his soon-to-be-acquired nuclear weapons to such unknown quantities as Qusay or Uday? Perhaps not entirely unknown: both are reputed to have strong psychopathic tendencies. That may just be vicious rumor -- I'm not a psychiatrist and haven't examined them -- but it is certainly possible or even probable, given their upbringing.

But that would, of course, defeat the stealthy-purpose of giving them the material in the first place.

Unless of course the purpose was to cause maximum damage to the U.S. and its hated Bushes while preserving Iraqi deniability.

There's a bit more, but why bother? To sum up, 'Hesiod' doesn't support war on Iraq, proposes no other method for removing Saddam from power, but claims he doesn't support leaving him in power. In fact, he does just that. I'm surprised that Glenn Reynolds and others continue to take 'Hesiod' seriously.

Personal Postscripts:

1. Since 'Hesiod' continues to call me "Goebbels-esque" and refuses to withdraw his accusations of chickenbloggery, I will point out that he doesn't know how to spell his own name. He signs his e-mails 'Hesiod Theogeny', but the real Hesiod's work is the Theogony, with a hard G and an O in the second-to-last syllable, like 'cosmogony', not Theogeny with an E and therefore a soft G, despite the examples of 'ontogeny' and 'phylogeny'. I think that makes him a pretentious ass as well as a vicious and dishonest polemicist. (Iain Murray pointed out the spelling error in the last comment on this post. I had thought of doing so myself, but kept putting it off, since it seemed rude and needlessly cruel. Call me a Nazi, and I take the gloves off.)

A Google search on 'Hesiod' + 'Theogeny' draws 224 hits, but that proves only that our Pseudo-Hesiod is not the only ignorant or incompetent person in the world. There are 266 hits for "Xeno's Paradox", which is also wrong: the man's name was "Zeno", and the misspelling "Xeno" is most likely inspired by subconscious thoughts of Xena the Warrior Princess. There are over 1000 hits for 'Hesoid', as if it were a chemical compound, which is equally wrong: the name is three syllables, and usually pronounced HEE-zee-uhd. How do I know? I've read it, in Greek, and taught it nine or ten times in English translation to over 1000 students in all. I've also given a lecture at five different universities that is partly about Hesiod, though mostly on the Prometheus Bound.

2. 'Hesiod' still thinks calling me 'Dr. [E]vil' is funny. PejmanPundit and I have both tried to explain it to him, but he will not listen. I feel like Butt-Head trying to explain puns to Beavis (this is quoted from memory, since it doesn't seem to be available on the web):

They are watching a video of some woman dragging an agricultural implement across a field:

Butt-Head: What's that hoe doing in the video?
Beavis: She's dragging something.

Butt-Head tries to explain how confusing 'hoe' and 'ho' is funny, using the example of 'choking a chicken' both literally and metaphorically. Then Beavis tries his hand (as it were):

Beavis: I've got one. Masturbation!
Butt-Head: That doesn't work.
Beavis: Sure it does! I do it all the time.

Poor 'Hesiod' can't seem to figure out that if my pseudonym is modeled on 'Dr. Evil', turning it back into the original is not very witty. I've already explained this before, pointing out that calling 'Daddy Warblogs' (Steven Chapman) 'Daddy Warbucks' would have been stupid and unwitty, but 'Hesiod' is as unwilling to listen on this matter as on so many others.

By the way, my pseudonym more or less chose itself. I have been using 'curculio' (Latin for 'weevil') as my e-mail address for many years. I also have a doctorate. It was only after I had been wearing my hair as in the ID-card picture above for several months that I realized that if I'm a doctor, and a weevil, and have some physical resemblance to Dr. Evil, and my students like to think that I'm evil (I expect them to work hard at learning Latin), that makes me . . . Dr. Weevil. As a lit critter would say, the name was overdetermined.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:58 PM
Polemic I: The Shropshire Challenge Continued

Still no reply from Philip Shropshire after sixteen days and repeated promises to answer my challenge, most recently (as far as I can tell) when he wrote this in the comments on WarbloggerWatch (main post dated 9/11, 8:41 AM, comment dated 9/15, 1:14 PM):

And there will be a response to that challenge. I'm leaning strongly towards "Yes" with some more lucrative financial considerations and conditions thrown in...I would be risking my life of course and my life is valuable at least to me, so hey....

He wants more money! How very . . . Republican and (dare I say?) mercenary of him. And it's now been another whole week with no yes or no, no definition of how much money would be enough, and no explanation of his decision or lack thereof. Cynical minds might think that he's hoping the war will begin and end before he's done dithering -- or pretending to dither.

In the mean time, 'Hesiod' and a few others have attempted to argue Shropshire's case for him. I will take up their arguments in turn. The argument may seem a bit stale, but Iraq is still looking for human shields.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:55 PM
I'm Back

Sorry for the lack of posts yesterday. It took me all morning to unload my rented truck, and another 24 hours to recover and catch up on my blog-reading. After almost a week in various motels and another week in an apartment with nothing but a futon, a computer, a small table to put it on, and a folding chair from Office Depot, I now have some actual furniture, and will soon have all my books, for the first time in 13 months.

I will be renting another truck next weekend to go back for the rest of the books. I like the idea of moving myself without any help at all, and am getting a little old to do 200 boxes of books and papers, a dozen bookshelves (10 different sizes), three 4-drawer file cabinets, and various other things in one weekend, even into a first-floor apartment.

The arm chair of Jabba the Hutt was the most difficult piece to move: it's over five feet wide, with 18-inch-wide arms, and took a good half hour to squeeze through the back door of my building, as I had to push it part way, walk around the building to pull it a bit further, then walk back and push the more. But it was worth it: I bought it because it was the most comfortable of several hundred in the store, for sitting, slouching, or lying crosswise. (I tried them all.)

Now I have to unpack and arrange everything. But first, some blogging. My next few posts will be mostly polemical, but labeled as such, if anyone wishes to skip over the nastiness.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 06:16 PM
September 19, 2002
Patience . . . .

I now have telephone service and can post efficiently from home. However, I have to drive to Toledo and back tomorrow (7 hours each way) to pick up a couple of tons of books and stuff, so posting will not resume until Saturday. However, it should be back to normal quantity, or even more so, soon after that. As for quality, only time will tell.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:25 PM
September 14, 2002
Hmmmm . . . ?

After less than a week in Rochester, my favorite thing about the city is the ad in the Yellow Pages for Henrietta Discount Liquor:

In Wegman's Plaza | Between Toys R Us and Kids R Us

Is this just an unfortunate coincidence of location and landmarks, or a sly advertising angle? Perhaps I'm cynical, but I lean towards the latter. It's a subtler equivalent of:

Kids getting you down with their constant whining for the latest crappy toys? We can help you dull the pain.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:05 AM
September 13, 2002

Posting will continue to be sparse. I'm back in Baltimore to pick up my computer, but will have less than 12 hours in town, so my follow-up to the Shropshire Challenge will have to wait even longer -- particularly because I won't have telephone service until the 19th or a cable modem until the 25th. Very frustrating.

There's lots more I would like to have blogged while it was still fresh, for example the recent flurry of shock and dismay in the Blogosphere at German companies using 'Zyklon' as a brand name. Some seemed to assume that the word could only be a spectacularly offensive allusion to the Nazis' Judeocidal gas, 'Zyklon B'. Of course, to English-speakers, 'Zyklon' looks like a made-up brand name -- like 'Prozac' or 'Zantac' or 'Mr. Pibb'. However, it is just the German word for 'cyclone' or 'hurricane'. Should Germans never mention cyclones or hurricanes again except in meteorological contexts? That seems a little strict.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:57 PM
September 11, 2002
Worth Waiting For?

Blogging will continue to be sparse, at best, until the weekend. I drove to Rochester on Sunday, was interviewed for a job on Monday, and started work on Tuesday. I am now living in a motel and trying to catch up with the new job: teaching Latin in a public middle school, where there are twice as many students as books, they are not allowed to take the books home, and I missed the first four days of the school year, since I hadn't been hired yet. I really should be back at my motel preparing for tomorrow's classes.

Unfortunately, I was not able to bring my computer along on this trip, the public library has a one-hour limit on internet access, and my hour is almost up. (The computers at work are old and nearly useless: for instance, they display Pseudo-Hesiod's page in utterly illegible and unresizable 4-point type. Old Macs running Netscape, if you're wondering.)

Detailed analysis of the multifarious errors and misrepresentations (to put it as politely as possible) that have been offered by 'Hesiod' and 'Level Gaze' in their pathetic attempts to answer my 'Shropshire Challenge' will unfortunately have to wait until Friday or Saturday. It will take rather more than an hour to write up, but it will be worth the wait. I just wanted to make it clear now that my silence until then is not to be taken as implying in any way that I feel abashed or refuted by anything either of them have written.

Of course, a great deal of what they have written refutes itself, for instance (to take one tiny example) Level Gaze's suggestion that I should send my sons, brothers, nephews, and other loved ones to fight if I cannot. He assumes, falsely, that I have no loved ones in the armed forces. (If you're reading this and have been called up for active duty, give 'em Hell, Diane F. I wonder if any of the antiwarbloggers has a friend who has served in the Army National Guard, the active-duty Navy, and the Air Force Reserve. Diane loves boot camp, and switching services meant she could go three times.) Level Gaze also has a very peculiar idea of how recruitment works. It's been many years since anyone who did not work on a draft board could go and enlist another person against his will. Anyone old enough to join the armed forces is old enough to make his (or her) own decision. If 'Level Gaze' had urged me to urge my relatives and loved ones to join up, that would have been logical. Telling me to go ahead and enlist them was just stupid, and there is plenty more stupid where that came from to criticize.

While I've been busy working at my day job, Philip Shropshire has been posting up a storm over at WarbloggerWatch, while studiously avoiding any explanation of why he is not willing to lay his life on the line to help prevent a war that he professes to believe would be disastrous to a large portion of the human race. What's his excuse?

But enough for now: I have to get off this machine.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 06:41 PM
September 08, 2002

I have to go out of town again, so no more updates until late tomorrow at the earliest. Feel free to stop by and read the comments while I'm gone.

At least this time I'm not going to Pittsburgh, like my last trip two weeks ago. I had a horrible fear that I would be asked to practice-teach a class of sophomores and that one of them would be named 'Phil Shropshire'. At 6'5" and 280 pounds, he may sound a little big for a high school boy, but perhaps he's been held back once or twice.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:38 AM
The Silence Of The Sheep

Still no word from Philip Shropshire on whether he plans to (a) go to Iraq as a human shield at our expense, (b) apologize for ever calling anyone who supports war on Iraq a 'chickenhawk', or (c) try to come up with a sound argument to prove that neither (a) nor (b) is necessary. If he tries the last, he's going to have to do better than Mark Konrad, who thinks I can just go join the Army at 49. The fact that I'm perfectly capable of driving a truck is irrelevant: they have an age-limit for new recruits of 35 or thereabouts. (Of course, if Mark were at all intelligent, he probably wouldn't be a Nazi. That's not an ad hominem, by the way. It's perfectly fair to conclude that someone who volunteers for the bomb squad is not a coward, that those who choose to work in emergency rooms and slaughterhouses are not squeamish, and that those who choose to work in libraries do not crave constant thrills. Choice of profession is significant, and choosing to be a professional Nazi agitator today is a sure sign of stupidity and what the theologians call crass ignorance.)

Apparently Shropshire is still pretending not to have heard of The Shropshire Challenge. Since he's a regular participant on WarbloggerWatch, which lists thirteen sites as 'The Watched', and since six of those thirteen (myself, The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, Tim Blair, Instapundit, PejmanPundit, and VodkaPundit) have already mentioned the challenge, some of them more than once, it's a little hard to believe that he hasn't gotten the word. (The word is of course "Go!".) So how about pledging some money, InstaPundit? (Just kidding. Getting two Instalanches in one day helped bring me a record number of visitors on Friday and Saturday: 3,111 and 1,855, up from the usual high 600s on weekdays and low 400s on weekends. And thanks to the many others who linked to the challenge. The nicest thing I can think of to say is that you all deserve to be counted among 'the watched', too.)

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:30 AM
An Imperial Apophthegm

In his Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Suetonius tells us a great deal about the lives (including the sex-lives) of all the emperors from Julius to Domitian. Here is a bit of what he says about the last:

He used to say that the condition of emperors was most wretched, since, whenever a conspiracy had been discovered, no one believed in it unless they [= the emperors] had been killed.

If you want to practice your Latin, here is the original text -- far more concise, as usual with Latin:

Condicionem principum miserrimam aiebat, quibus de coniuratione comperta non crederetur nisi occisis.

In the end, Domitian gave everyone reason to believe him, though not before discovering numerous other conspiracies that he survived. That he thoroughly deserved assassination is an argument for another day.

Some of those complaining that we don't yet have proof that Saddam Hussein is dangerous might want to ponder the implications of this story.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:41 AM
Two Pedantic Quibbles

Two comments on Eugene Volokh's new website Shards: Poems from the War:

1. The first poem quoted is Auden's "September 1, 1939". The last line of the second-to-last stanza is famous:

We must love one another or die.

What should be equally famous is the corrected version:

We must love one another and die.

Just as true in its own way. Various websites attribute this to second thoughts on Auden's part, but I first saw it as a bon mot of the German music professor in Randall Jarrell's Pictures from an Institution (1954). Did Auden get the idea from Jarrell, or was the professor (whose name escapes me) supposed to be quoting Auden's second thoughts or coming up with the same emendation independently?

2. Volokh offers a couple of epigrams of his own composition. Here is the longer of the two:

In my youth, the world was quiet,
No-one called me off to war.
Who can blame me? Should it shame me?
Just got lucky, nothing more.
Write a poem now, stay at home now,
I am safely thirty-four.

I think the questions in line 3 are supposed to be rhetorical, but the answer to the first one is 'Philip Shropshire' -- also 'Hesiod' and 'Atrios' and 'Eric Alterman'. Unless of course they have all been shamed into silence by my previous post, which seems unlikely.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:01 AM
September 06, 2002
The Shropshire Challenge

Philip Shropshire of WarbloggerWatch (no link for him) thinks that no one can support the war on Iraq unless he is willing to join the army right now and fight himself. He even names me as one of those morally obligated to join up:

If you believe that this is a just war and you're young and able, then enlist Dr. Weevil, Pejman, Mike the Dog, and/or Godless.

(Since I don't want to give Shropshire a link, I've quoted his slur from this interesting new site.)

Unfortunately, I myself am not young and able enough for the U.S. armed forces: I know for a fact that they do not accept asthmatic 49-year-old recruits for service in any capacity.

On the other hand, whatever his physical age, Philip Shropshire can very easily put his life on the line for the anti-war cause, if he has the guts to do so. Just last Thursday, I heard someone on the radio recruiting 'human shields' to go to Iraq. (I think it must have been NPR, since the rest of the show was all about what a goddess of political wisdom Cynthia McKinney is.) The recruiter said there was a preference for older hostages human shields, but it was clear that there is no specific age-limit, and 'older' was not defined. I suspect he meant 'over 18': even the most idiotic idiotarians have some sense that sending children into a war zone is immoral. Just three days ago, InstaPundit provided a link to an organization recruiting 'non-violent activists' to go to Iraq to help prevent war.

So, I offer the Shropshire challenge: It's time to put up or shut up. Either go to Iraq or shut the Hell up about 'chickenhawks'. As I've said before (point 2 of this post), I will be glad to contribute to the cost of the trip. A one-way ticket would suffice. If Shropshire survives the war that is already beginning, I'm sure the U.S. Air Force will fly him back to the western hemisphere for free, probably in time for Christmas. Whether that would be in leg-irons and blindfolds to Guantanamo Bay or in a window seat to an air force base in Delaware depends on what he does when he gets to Iraq. That is not entirely easy to predict, since his loathing and contempt for the United States and his professed pacifism will pull him in two different directions. If loathing wins out, he can sign up with the Iraqi armed forces, filling in for one of the many deserters, perhaps aiming an anti-aircraft gun at U.S. and British aircraft, like a latter-day Jane Fonda, but without the looks. (On the other hand, his 6'5", 280-pound physique would also allow him to display his abundant guts, as it were, in hand-to-hand combat.) If pacifism or cowardice wins out, he can just stand around waving a white flag in front of a germ-warfare 'baby milk' factory with the other human shields. I don't much care which he does, but he needs to put up or shut up.

Here's the second part of my proposal: I think 'warbloggers' should fund Phil's flight. According to Travelocity, a one-way flexible-date ticket from Pittsburgh to Amman on Turkish Airlines runs $665, "not including applicable charges". Adding the applicable charges, cab fare to the Pittsburgh airport, and bus fare from Jordan to Iraq, the total cost should still be well under $1000 per person. I say "per person", because I think we should also send 'Hesiod', 'Atrios', most of the other WarbloggerWatchers, and anyone else who thinks 'chickenhawks' is an appropriate term to refer to supporters of war on Iraq. There are a lot more of us than of them, so a lot of small contributions will do the trick. I offer $20. Please put your pledges in the comments section, and I will keep a running total here:

The Shropshire Challenge Fund:


plus a set of free luggage, more than one pair of free underwear, a wireless security camera (I'm sure that will impress the Iraqi secret police), two bullets (at least one with a name on it), a Culture Club CD, and the following monetary pledges for other candidates (in alphabetical order):

$1,000 for Eric Alterman,
$50 for 'Atrios',
$50 for 'Eric A. Blair',
$2,059 for Noam Chomsky (he can fly first class),
$200 for Ramsey Clark,
$20 for Phil Donahue,
$50 for 'Hesiod',
$200 for Jesse Jackson,
$10 for Norm Jenson,
$10 for Jak King,
$140 for Mark Konrad,
$60 for Jason Lubyk,
$1,000 for Norman Mailer,
$320 for Michael Moore,
$10 for Grady Olivier,
and $1,000 each for the editorial board of The Nation.

(Either 'Cousin Larry' is prosperous enough to pledge multiple $1,000 contributions or he's us -- not that we're likely to have to call his bluff.)

-- And that's not even counting Randy Reynolds' offer to pay for Shropshire's whole ticket. Can I keep the change? Or should we offer to pay his first month's hotel bill in Baghdad? What with all the armor being shipped to the Gulf, it looks like a month will be more than enough.

No need to send me the money now. Your pledge will need to be fulfilled only if Philip and his allies in the struggle for peace and justice actually go to Iraq. Somehow I consider that unlikely.

Update: (7:30 PM)

The indented paragraph after the big red number is new. I should also have included Eric Alterman among those who go around calling other people 'chickenhawks'. And Stefan Sharkansky reminds us (comment 15) that human shields are also needed in Israel -- not the weenies who stood guard over Arafat last spring, but people with the guts to help protect Israeli pizza parlors and dance-halls from Arafat and his homicidal cronies. Though I'd forgotten it, that post probably helped give me the idea for this one.

Update: (September 7th, 12:30 AM)

Normally blog entries don't change once posted, but this is just to say that the larger-print indented portion of this one will continue to change as more offers come in.

So far, the only objection in the comments is from Mark Konrad, an actual neoNazi. I didn't put him up to it, any more than the Bush administration asked Jimmy Carter to denounce their Iraq plans in the Washington Post. It would have been worth paying Carter a great deal to further discredit the anti-war movement, but I'm sure he was glad to do it for free.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 01:13 PM
September 05, 2002
Good Advice

A friend (call him "Fr. D.") sent me this, from It's an excerpt of a forthcoming book on Best-Case Scenarios by John Tierney, and the article includes good advice on secular life as well:

How to Receive
A Divine Visitation

1) Do not look directly into your Visitor's eyes. Some deities consider this "not done," and a few respond quite badly.

2) Ascertain that it really is God. Discreetly ask questions that only a deity could answer, but do not be rudely confrontational (e.g., "Okay, Mr. Omniscient, tell me what number I'm thinking of").

Be leery of indirect manifestations. Many bleeding statues and crying Madonnas have been traced to leaky roofs. Before concluding that the sound emanating from the basement is the "Voice in the Whirlwind," check your furnace.

3) Wait patiently for the deity to reveal the purpose of the visit. Do not ask for money, personal favors or tricks--mowing your lawn with a sweep of the hand, levitating the toaster oven and so on. This is God, not a Bewitched rerun.

4) Be accommodating but not slavish. Politely but firmly decline if asked to sacrifice your oldest son. If you're a woman and the deity appears in the form of a swan, close the door and dial 911.

5) Take notes! You will be writing a book. And you don't want it to say, "Then God promised to send a rain of fire and frogs and something else--hubcaps, maybe--over a great sinful city. Either L.A. or Bombay. Or Adelaide. I forget which, but He was really, really mad."

6) Ask for a memento. Ask God if He or She would mind leaving a little "souvenir" of the occasion, like a healing spring or roses that bloom in winter.

After the Visitation, decide if you want to start a religion, and make a list of the pros (e.g., large adoring crowds) and cons (e.g., large angry crowds).

Don't announce the news yourself. The Visitation will be more credible if others reveal it first, like Mrs. McCarthy down the street, whose dog drank out of your birdbath and spoke in tongues.

With the advance from your publisher, acquire the surrounding land for future parking and concessions.

If you like this, go to Forbes and read the rest, including "How to Proceed When You Discover Which Car's Alarm Keeps Going Off in the Middle of the Night" and "How to Cope with a Broken ATM That Will Not Stop Dispensing Cash". Please note: I do not know Mr. Tierney, in fact had never heard of him, and receive no kickbacks for quoting him.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 07:15 PM
Never Mind

My out-of-town trip has been canceled, and I will be posting daily until further notice. Is anybody there? Hello? Where has everyone gone?

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 08:59 AM

I have to go out of town again, and posting will be light or nonexistent for at least a day or two, possibly longer.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:14 AM
September 04, 2002
Even Older Than 'Take My Wife, Please'

The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler offers a joke headline for the historical revisionists at the Independent:

Archduke Franz Ferdinand Alive and Well! WWI Fought By Mistake!

In his comments section, John Cunningham claims that the joke had been anticipated:

I recall reading somewhere that the headline "Archduke and Archduchess found alive! Entire war a cruel Error!!" actually ran in a Prague comic paper or magazine in 1920...

The joke, if it's a joke, goes back a lot further than that. Euripides wrote a tragedy, the Helen, in which Helen of Troy is entirely innocent of starting the Trojan War. The real Helen is stranded in Egypt the whole time, while the Greeks and Trojans fight over a very life-like phantom. I believe Richard Strauss' opera Die Ägyptische Helena reworks the myth. Euripides was writing during the Peloponnesian War, while Strauss' opera has something to do with World War I. Please consult Sasha Castel for the details: I have yet to see or hear it, though I'm told there will be an unstaged production in New York a month from now.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:56 AM
September 03, 2002
Not Exactly A Double Standard, But . . .

VodkaPundit wonders how a six-year-old could get an American flag tattoo. I think it depends on the state. A few years ago in Alabama, a 17-year-old woman went to the mall either to get her ears pierced or to get a tattoo, I forget which. (It hardly matters, since the laws are very likely the same.) They told her she needed her mother's written permission, since she was under 18. On the other hand, she had her 1-year-old daughter with her, and they told her they could tattoo the baby (or pierce her ears) right on the spot, since the mother was there to give her permission.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:43 PM
September 02, 2002
"It It Were Done When 'Tis Done, Then 'Twere Well It Were Done Quickly"

I want to connect some interesting recent developments in the Blogosphere. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find links for most of these, but they are all well-known. (Let me know in the comments and I'll add the links.)

Consider these four facts:

  1. Various bloggers have expressed extreme impatience at the pace of the Iraq campaign, wondering what's holding up an all-out invasion, and even (Bill Quick) threatening to vote Democratic in November if Saddam Hussein is still alive and his armed forces intact.
  2. Two or three bloggers have quoted a news story about a Russian legislator who predicts that Iraq will be invaded on September 11th, as a very practical commemoration of the first anniversary. The U.S. commemorated the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor by launching the battleship New Jersey: this would be even more appropriate.
  3. At least one blogger has pointed out that Bush is scheduled to address the U.N. on September 12th, which would be a good time for a speech of explanation and justification of an action just begun.
  4. Quite independently of all that, various bloggers have predicted, despairingly, that September 11th will feature a loathsome 24-hour multi-media wallow in 'feelings', cheap psychodrama, and fraudulent commemorative art on a scale surpassing even the death of Princess Diana: "How did you feel when you saw the towers collapse? Are you angry that some Frenchman claims it was an American missile that blew a hole in the Pentagon? Will it make you feel better to hear a song about September 11th, sung by Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and Lee Greenwood?" (Answers: "How the Hell do you think I felt? Ditto. And nooooo, anything but that!")

I haven't seen anyone connect this last fact to the other three. It seems to be one more reason to accelerate the campaign, if that is militarily feasible. If Iraq is invaded on or slightly before September 11th, we will be spared all or most of the emotional wallow that the networks have planned for us, and can instead turn to straight news coverage on CNN and other networks, Pentagon press conferences, and talking heads discussing military events and short-term forecasts. In short, more Donald Rumsfeld, less Connie Chung and Lee Greenwood. One more reason to get the show on the road?

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:02 AM
September 01, 2002
Getting Your Pop Culture Reference Right

Emily "Hawk Girl" Jones thinks the choice between Gray Davis and Bill Simon for governor of California is like the choice between Beavis and Butt-Head. I agree, as long as we make Davis Beavis (hey, their names rhyme!) and Simon Butt-Head. The names are a bit misleading: fans of the show know that Beavis is way stupider than Butt-Head, and has serious pyromaniacal tendencies as well.

If I thought Simon was just as bad as Davis, I would compare them to Kang and Kodos. If I thought Simon was just as bad as Davis, and if I were registered to vote in California, I'd vote for Simon anyway, just to get a different kind of bad for a change.

By the way, am I the only one out here waiting impatiently for the complete Beavis & Butt-Head to come out on DVD, including the music review inserts, which were shamefully omitted from the VHS selections?

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 03:34 PM