October 31, 2002
Classical Halloweens

I haven't worn a Halloween costume since grade school, except when I was in graduate school. About ten years ago, I wore a couple of classical-themed costumes to departmental parties.

Since I was taking a course on Hesiod the first semester, my first thought was a Geryon costume. However, it would have taken three people to wear it, and finding two more would have been difficult. Geryon was one of the many monsters killed by Heracles. He is described as having three heads, six arms, and six legs, which is difficult to imagine except as 'Siamese triplets'. His dog Orthros had two heads, but apparently only one body. Anyway, a Geryon suit would be easy enough to make. Take three plain T-shirts or sweatshirts, split them down the sides and sew them together side by side, then paint GE, RY, and ON in big letters on the fronts. The three people wearing the suit would have had to enter all doorways sideways, find a whole empty couch whenever they wanted to sit down, and so on. In short, more interesting in theory than it could possibly be in practice.

My second thought was to dump Hesiod for Homer and go as a Lotus-Eater. I knew a Korean grocery store in Arlington that sold genuine lotus root in plastic bags. I figured I could put some sliced lotus on a platter, dress up as an aging hippie, and go around the room saying "Hey, man, you want some lotus? It's good shit, man." Unfortunately, I didn't think of this until a few days before Halloween, and didn't have time to make the four and a half hour round trip to Arlington to pick up the lotus. If you're wondering, lotus is a kind of Egyptian water lily whose root looks rather like a very thick pale carrot with holes in it. What with the holes, the slices look like large vegetal buttons. I never bought any because I couldn't figure out even such basic things as whether I was supposed to cook it or not. In Greek, lotus also means clover and a North African fruit of some sort whose scientific name is 'jujube'. Again, I don't know what it has to do with the kind of jujubes sold in movie theaters, and I'm too lazy to look it up. Details about Orthros and Geryon may also be a bit shaky: it's been a long day. Homer's lotus, though fictional, probably owes more to the jujube than the clover or the water lily. In designing a costume, I also thought of putting jujubes and clover on the platter, but only as a pedantic addition to the Egyptian lotus.

Since I couldn't get the lotus, I ended up returning to Hesiod for inspiration and going as a Hundred-Hander, either Briareos or one of his two brothers. They provided the heavy artillery in the great battle in which Zeus and his brothers defeated their father and his fellow Titans to take power over the world: they could each throw 100 large rocks simultaneously. My costume only had 22 hands, but that was enough. (I didn't even consider aiming for the 50 heads of the Hesiodic monster.) I bought eleven pairs of disposable work gloves for 89 cents each, I think it was, stuffed all but two of them with newspaper for thickness and pipe cleaners in the fingers for stiffness, then pinned them on all over my chest, back, and neck. I wore the other two gloves on my hands. In the end, I had three hands coming out of each sleeve of my sweater, and it was impossible to tell which of the three was real. The costume was a big hit: I wish I had a picture. Someone did take pictures, so I hope to track one down some day and scan it.

There were other Hesiodic costumes that night, but the only one I remember is Night, pregnant with the universe. A classmate dressed all in black, with a pillow under her belt, and plenty of black eyeshadow and lipstick. (She was Greek and already had black hair.) Actually, she said she couldn't find black lipstick, so she used eyeshadow for that, too, and was afraid to lick her lips for fear of poisoning.

The next year I was an even bigger hit as a cardboard herm. Perhaps I will blog that someday. If you don't know what a herm is, you may not want to know.

I don't know which year it was, but one of my classmates once wore a very simple Halloween costume: a fake black eye and a sweatshirt with a large P on it. She was of course a 'black-eyed P'. One of the cleverer professors couldn't figure it out because he assumed that in a classics department the letter must be a capital Rho: he just stood there saying "Black eye, rho, black eye, rho, . . . I don't get it."

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:44 PM
October 30, 2002
Setting A New Record

Previous InstaPundit links have brought 800 or so hits each, though I did get over 2000 once, when he linked me two days in a row. His latest link brought roughly 5000 hits, for a new record of 5,847, up from the usual 740 on Monday. (It's hard to say for sure, since there's a fairly steady drizzle of hits from the link in his blogroll, and a couple of other bloggers also linked to me that day.) I assume the difference has to do with the mention of fellatio in my post and his link. I would say "Sex sells" except that I'm not selling anything here, or making any money, for that matter.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:08 PM
October 29, 2002
Blowback From 'Hesiod'

Poor 'Hesiod' whines (10/29, 11:15:59 AM) that I "didn't bother" linking to him in yesterday's post. It would have been less bother to link than to put in the dates and times, but I have a policy of not linking to lying weasels. Of course, he doesn't bother to answer any of my objections to his argument.

Now he writes:

The act of Fellatio, between two consenting adults, can be quite fun.

That's certainly good to know. After a brief (and welcome) excursus explaining that his marital relations are none of our business, he continues:

If anything, it symbolizes a total and complete submission to another individual [or, more abstractly, an idea or cause].

Apparently poor Hesiod thinks of fellatio only as a way for the suckee to dominate the sucker (to put it crudely). That he still thinks it "quite fun" is disturbing, to say the least. The idea that some might like to give or receive fellatio (or cunnilingus) in a spirit of sharing or tenderness or love, or because they find that particular form of stimulation particularly stimulating, doesn't seem to have occurred to him. With 'Hesiod', it's all about domination and submission. If he ever hears about the "69" position, he will probably blow (if you'll excuse the pun) a mental gasket: how can A be dominating a submissive B while simultaneously submitting to a dominant A? It's like an M.C. Escher staircase, which goes down (sorry) in both directions!

Among many other hilariously stoopid things, he also writes:

Weevil, strangely, prefers that I compare him to Ari Fleischer or Karl Rove.

That's not at all what I said, or what I meant, of course. (It never is with 'Hesiod'.) And how strange is it to prefer being a Rove or a Fleischer to being a Riefenstahl? Surely only 'Hesiod' would choose the latter. He continues:

If you prefer, Weevy. Does that mean you admit to being a two-bit lying political hack, devoid of scruples, and with an abiding contempt for the American people?

Well, no. If that's what I thought of myself, I would have asked to be compared to 'Hesiod', who fits the bill in every detail. (Does this guy have any sense of irony whatsoever? He recently threatened to send his wife out to beat up anyone who called him "lame": isn't that threat kind of, well, lame?)

By the way, 'Hesiod' has finally learned to edit his spelling. His archives seem to be hosed, but one of his posts last week was only up for three days before he fixed the first word of the title: for 'THW' it now reads 'THE'. Rather like what Mary McCarthy said of Lillian Hellmann, every word 'Hesiod' writes is botched, even 'amd' and 'thw'.

Some of my commenters ask why I do not treat 'Hesiod' as a common troll and ignore him. As long as he has a place in the permalinks of respectable webloggers such as Ted Barlow and (perhaps not quite so respectable) Eric Alterman and Max Sawicky, I will keep pointing out his innumerable faults of logic, language, and common decency. They can keep linking to him, but others can also draw their own conclusions from the company they choose to keep.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:54 PM
Just Asking . . . .

I wonder when the disgruntled Democrats who claim that Al Gore won the last election because he won the popular vote will notice that the Giants won the World Series. I mean the runs are what count, aren't they? All the other statistics are just statistics, but you win by outscoring the other team with runs. And the Giants outscored the Angels 44-41, a much larger margin than Gore's victory in the popular vote. They won the home run contest, too, 14-7.

I will now return this weblog to its previous status as a sports-free zone.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 06:33 PM
October 28, 2002
Compare And Contrast

The typical 'warblogger' according to 'Hesiod':

'Hesiod' according to some 'warbloggers':

For more on chickenhawks, go here and here. For more on Mike the headless chicken, go here (the official site) and here. Thanks to Lynn Unleashed of Poet and Peasant for the first half of this comparison and the links thereto. (It's her last post on 10/23, if the link doesn't work.)

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:20 PM
Hypocrisy Alert

I know it's in poor taste to mock the feeble-minded, but sometimes it's just irresistible. Compare these two statements of the blogger known as 'Hesiod' on the subject of the Chechen terrorist hostage crisis in Moscow:

Before the Russians stormed the theater (10/24, 6:55 PM):

This will not end pretty. They will almost certainly all die. Why?

The Russian Gvt. will never negotiate an end to the Chechen war. They will try to storm the theatre, and probably wind up getting everyone killed.

After the Russians stormed the theater (10/27, 11:39 PM):

It is plain to me that those who favor the war of civilizations have sold their souls. Period.

When they praise a scumbag, like Putin, and say the operation in Moscow went well, despite 117 DEAD hostages [almost all of whom were directly killed by the GOVERNMENT, not the hostage takers!], they have forfeited any moral authority to lecture opponents of the Iraq war.

So 'Hesiod' thought all the hostages would die, but the fact that one-eighth of them died shows that the rescue attempt was an utter failure. He can't even remember what he said three days before.

No one is calling the result a simple happy ending or an unalloyed triumph for the Russian special forces. Rather it is like one of those operations to separate Siamese twins, where we know the weaker twin will almost certainly die, and even the stronger twin will need dozens of operations: grim and unutterably sad, but probably the best that can reasonably be hoped for.

Of course 'Hesiod' offers no hint of how they could have done better. Is there a gas strong enough to incapacitate terrorists so quickly and thoroughly that none of them have time to set off their bombs, though some have their fingers on the triggers? I wouldn't have thought so, but apparently there is. Could such a gas be so gentle in its effects on the human body that no one in the room would die, even as all were instantaneously incapacitated? Only in science fiction, I imagine. Again, what were the Russians to do?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Why not ignore 'Hesiod'? Because he always insists on the last word, and his last word is always a lie. Among many other lies, his most recent comment on me (10/20, 9:54 AM) included a comparison to Leni Riefenstahl (spelled wrong, of course), since I am (he says) "cheerleading for Bush". Even if that were entirely true, a comparison to Karl Rove or Ari Fleischer would surely be more appropriate. Why Riefenstahl? I'm not German, not a woman, not nearly 100 years old, and have no connection to the film industry. The only 'connection' is that 'Hesiod' likes to think of his enemies as Nazis. It's just one of the nasty little habits of his filthy little mind.

Speaking of which, 'Hesiod' likes to accuse his enemies of "fellating" his other enemies. Isn't that awfully prudish? What does 'Hesiod' have against fellatio? I would say that he sounds a lot like John Ashcroft, except that John Ashcroft is too polite (or too prudish) to tell us what he thinks of fellatio and other non-Euclidean sexual acts. (Nothing good, I would guess, but the point is that I have to guess.) And isn't Hesiod's choice of insults also blatantly misogynistic or homophobic, as the case may be (depending on the gender of the person he is attacking)? There is an obvious double standard involved if he thinks that receiving fellatio is wonderful, or even unexceptionable, while giving it is contemptible. The ancient Greeks tended to think exactly that, but most moderns prefer a single standard. Some, like the Pope, disapprove of fellatio from both sides, as it were, while most enlightened westerners find it morally unobjectionable from both sides, even if they don't care to practice it themselves. What's Hesiod's problem?

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:08 PM
October 27, 2002
Inappropriate Reactions

A couple of weeks ago Jerry Falwell called Islam a violent religion and some Muslims objected to his words by going on murderous rampages and putting a fatwa on Falwell. As Opinion Journal's Best of the Web put it, "Don't call me violent or I'll have to kill someone". That reminded me of something I've been intending to blog ever since.

Six or eight years ago, I was teaching Latin at a university in Tuscaloosa that shall remain nameless. One day I was explaining how agent-nouns work. Just about any English verb can be turned into an agent-noun by adding '-er', as in 'worker', 'laborer', 'singer', and so on, with a few words also having feminine equivalents. Similarly, Latin verbs form their agent-nouns with endings in -tor or -ssor for the masculine, -trix or -strix for the feminine. So a male ruler would a regnator, a female ruler a regnatrix, a male 'sitter-besider' or counsellor an assessor and a female an assestrix. I told my students that the only English pair of agent-nouns I know that follow the Latin rules of formation is 'aviator' and 'aviatrix', the latter (so far as I have observed) only applied to Amelia Ehrhardt. The other pairs have gone through French or something (don't ask me, I'm a Latin teacher), so we get 'actor' and 'actress', 'waiter' and 'waitress', and so on.

Anyway, one of my students said "What about 'dominatrix'?" My reply was twofold: (1) There doesn't seem to be any masculine equivalent in English: 'dominator' may be an English word, but it doesn't mean a man who dresses up in leather and whips people for money. (2) Besides, where would a Tuscaloosan have heard of a dominatrix? Perhaps I was naïve, but I had assumed that one would have had to go at least to Birmingham to find one, more likely all the way to Atlanta or New Orleans, and that my students would be unfamiliar with the profession. It turned out that most of them knew all about dominatrices from watching Geraldo, who had just done a show on them.

Later in the same class, a male student (we'll call him 'Jay', since that's not his actual first name) told a female student that he thought she would make an excellent dominatrix. She was quite naturally severely offended, and said something like 'Jaaaay, that's terrible!' . . . but she also slapped him. That was a mistake. He of course said "See what I mean?" I don't know whether he had planned that part from the start.

Update: (10/29, 6:55 AM) Edited for spelling and further recollected detail. Oops. Thanks, Quana!

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 08:03 PM
More On Plutarch

In my post on Parmeno's Pig, I forgot to mention that Plutarch's Convivial Questions also include chapters headed "Whether the hen or the egg came first" (2.3) and -- shades of Allan Bloom -- "That one should guard especially against the pleasures derived from degenerate music, and how to do so" (7.3). The work is a series of dialogues, so no clear answer is given to either question. Too bad there's no translation on-line -- not that the other chapters are as interesting as the three I have mentioned this weekend.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 06:31 PM
A Latinist In Power

Call me parochial, but I'm particularly pleased that Dana Gioia, new head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, has translated one of Seneca's best tragedies, the Hercules Furens. The first few lines can be read here, though you have to buy the book to get the whole play, and the translations of the other plays in the volume are not all of the same standard.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 06:25 PM
A Times Editorial Gets Me Off The Fence

Sasha "la Blogatrice" reports that the New York Times has endorsed a Republican in the upcoming election: George Pataki for governor. (I can't check for myself because the Times rejected my last attempt to register. I object to answering impertinent questions, so I tried lying to them, but they didn't believe me when I told them I was an under-18 college dropout making a six-figure income and living in area code 90210. I suppose I should have tried something more plausible. I wonder what kind of algorithm they use to screen such answers.)

Anyway, the Times endorsement settles the issue for me: I'm voting for Golisano for governor. That's not entirely a joke: I am actually leaning towards Golisano, and not only in hopes of shoving the Democrats down to the third ballot slot in the next election.

I also wonder what the Times endorsement will do to black turnout in New York. Though I was never tempted to vote for him, I had thought that Carl McCall was a pretty decent guy, at least by the standards of professional politicians, and solidly Democratic in a non-extreme way. He's certainly paid his dues. What does he have to do to get any respect from the Democratic party and the New York Times?

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 06:25 AM
Country Matters

Last Sunday, Al Barger of Blogcritics wrote an appreciation of Grandpa Jones that convinced me there's a major hole in my CD collection. He ended his piece by quoting the lyrics of Jones' early 1950's song "I'm No Communist". That's not the only old country song guaranteed to shock or offend a contemporary college professor. Ernest Tubb did "America, Love It or Leave It" in 1970, and the Louvin Brothers had several pertinent titles. "Don't Let Them Take the Bible Out of Our Schoolrooms" (1962) seems to be available only on the 8-disc Bear Family Oeuvres Complètes, but When I Stop Dreaming: The Best of the Louvin Brothers, which is indeed the best introduction to the Louvins, includes both "Broadminded" and "The Great Atomic Power" (both 1952). The first begins:

That word broad-minded is spelled S-I-N:
It says in my Bible they shall not enter in.

The second argues that all-out nuclear war would be no big deal compared to the wrath of God. This is orthodox Christian theology, but the kind even most Christians don't want to hear these days. The Louvins' album Satan Is Real features one of my all-time favorite album covers, though I've never understood why an album with that title would depict Satan in such an obviously fake manner.

Other things I have learned in the last ten years:

  1. When I first heard Hank Williams' duets with Miss Audrey, I realized that Yoko Ono ("She ruined the Plastic Ono Band!") was not the worst thing ever to happen to a foolish husband's career.
  2. As far as I'm concerned, the only good Hank Williams is the dead Hank Williams. Note that I did not write "a dead Hank Williams": I don't mean to imply that when Hank Jr. and Hank III die they'll become good. And I do wish them long and happy lives and even successful careers, as long as I don't have to listen to their stuff.
  3. Rockers were not the first to make a habit of destroying their instruments on stage: Ira Louvin (d. 1965) was smashing mandolins on-stage long before. Fortunately, he was a skilled mandolin repairman, at least when he was sober.
Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:25 AM
October 26, 2002
Midterm Horror Stories

A shocking confession from Language Hat is hidden away in Baraita's comments section (scroll down to 'Greatly Exaggerated' if the link doesn't work):

Midterms are one of the (many) things that drove me out of academics. My first year teaching, I lost all the midterms before I could grade them (which, needless to say, I had been desperately procrastinating on). Not only that, I made up all the grades... and nobody noticed. I'm not sure which fact is scarier.

This reminds me of something that happened to a friend a few years ago, when he was an adjunct lecturer teaching Philosophy 101 at a catholic university in a not-very-safe neighborhood. One day he was robbed while waiting for the bus home. The bad news was that the robbers got an old but still useful briefcase and two philosophy books he had just picked up at the university bookstore. The good news was that they also took 200 midterms he hadn't even started to grade. The really bad news came a bit later. He was still at the bus-stop when a little boy brought him his briefcase, contents intact, saying that two guys had told him to give it to him and to say that if they ever saw him around there again they would kill him. The last was presumably just to let him know that they were motivated by contempt for his possessions rather than any sort of kindness or regret.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:36 PM
Two Footnotes on Wellstone

I don't have anything much to say about Paul Wellstone that hasn't already been said better by others, but here are two brief comments:

  1. I think it was A. E. Housman who once wrote that "truth emerges more easily from error than from confusion". (He may have been quoting someone else when he wrote it.) That is one reason to like a man as forthright about his opinions as Wellstone was, even if one finds those opinions mostly deplorable.
  2. It is a little unfair -- but only a little -- to say (as some have) that Wellstone was the only senator who voted his conscience on Iraq. It is true that he was the only Democrat in a close race for reelection this year who voted NO, but it is certainly possible that one or two or three of those who were not up for reelection this year would have voted NO even if they had been. And I certainly hope that at least one or two senators from either party would have voted YES even if it had looked likely to endanger their chances of reelection. Asking which ones in each party would have voted their consciences if they had been forced to choose between conscience and career would make an interesting, though depressing, parlor game.
Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:55 PM
Parmeno's Pig

The ancient legend of Parmeno's Pig may be loosely paraphrased as follows:

Parmeno was a comic actor famous for his mimicry. His best 'turn' was known as 'Parmeno's Pig': he would pretend to be holding a piglet under his cloak and then make squeals and grunts realistic enough to keep a theater audience laughing for half an hour or more.

One day a country boy came to town to challenge Parmeno's supremacy. He came on stage with his cloak bunched up as if there were a piglet inside and went through his own repertoire of porcine grunts and squeals. The audience's reaction: "Very good, but not as good as Parmeno." The country boy opened his cloak and showed that he was holding a real piglet, but the audience still preferred Parmeno.

The story is found in Plutarch's Convivial Questions or Table-Talk (5.1, not on-line), and Aesop's Fables (592, on-line here).

Henry James' short story "The Real Thing" (text here) is built on exactly the same paradox. As I recall the plot (it's been a few years), a painter who specializes in formal portraits of generic military couples finds that a real military couple is all wrong for the parts, and he must dress up common laborers and servants to achieve the proper military effect.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:41 PM
October 24, 2002
Hmmmm . . . . Not

Some thought it was significant that the Beltway Killers had at one point killed 9 of the 11 people they had shot. Get it? 9-11! I haven't seen any comment on the fact that they liked to kill people in places named 'Montgomery', selecting Montgomery County, Maryland, for the most victims, Montgomery, Alabama for the first and furthest. What do I conclude from this? Little or nothing. I suppose I should check the more extreme left- and right-wing bulletin boards, but I don't have the stomach for it. They may be on to the mysterious Montgomery connection. Perhaps the arrested men are fall guys and this was all done in revenge for Gen. Montgomery's defeat of Rommel's Afrika Korps?

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:25 PM
The Minimum Wage: A Victim's Testimony

It is a commonplace of free-market economics that victims of the minimum wage are anonymous and invisible, and that this gives an unfair advantage to supporters of such laws. They can point to the smiling faces of minimum wage employees (and those immediately above them on the pay scale) giving profuse thanks to their benefactors in Congress whenever they get a legally-mandated pay raise without having had to work harder or improve their skills to get it. Meanwhile, the tens or hundreds of thousands of unemployed who were not hired because of the increased minimum wage have no voice, and are unknown even to themselves, still more so to economists.

Though essentially true, this generalization seems to have some exceptions. I believe I have been unemployed as a direct result of the minimum wage, and my experience may be of some interest. It was in late 1977 and early 1978, though I still have vivid memories. I had dropped out of graduate school the previous May, with nothing but a thesis between me and a degree that would do me no good in the workforce and that I was therefore in no hurry to complete. Wanting to get as far away as possible from the university at which I had studied, I grabbed the first affordable apartment I could find, sight unseen: it was being vacated by a college friend 800 miles away. This was a mistake. I was living in a smallish town with no car and few friends, and the economy seemed to be in a deep recession. Perhaps it was only my personal situation that made it seem that way, but during the Carter administration, it usually did seem that way.

After six months of complete unemployment, I finally found a minimum-wage job through a newspaper ad: helping to deliver pianos and organs for a music store at $2.70 an hour. Adjusted for inflation, that would be around $7.00 an hour today.

The job was the low point of my life so far. Though skinny and totally unathletic, I had paid my way through college moving furniture for Mayflower. With proper equipment and training, it doesn't take that much brute strength, just endurance. Of course, moving nothing but pianos and organs is quite a different matter, and I only lasted a week. It didn't help that my employer routinely sent three men to do a four-man job, for instance moving an upright piano down a flight of stairs into a basement. Not to mention that a foot of snow fell my second day on the job and kept the sidewalks treacherous all week. You definitely don't want to slip and fall while carrying a piano. Did I mention that I had no health insurance? Nor was the company particularly pleasant. The crew chief, who also drove the truck, repeatedly boasted that he had once had his name in the newspaper when he was arrested for dealing cocaine along with the son of someone semi-famous. The day we moved the upright into the basement, he 'got something in his eye' and left the other two of us holding the piano half-way down the stairs while he took his sweet time in the bathroom washing out his eye. When we were not out on deliveries, we spent our time sanding used pianos for hours to prepare them for refinishing and resale. This was in some ways even worse. As I said, the low point of my life so far.

So what is the point of my story? That I would have been far better off in every way if I had been able to find a job using my brain instead of my muscles, with prospects of advancement, maybe with health insurance and other fringe benefits, even if that job had paid $2.50 or $2.25 or even $2.00 an hour. I wasn't paying a lot in rent, and could in fact have broken even on $2.00 an hour. Of course, such jobs, being illegal, were not available.

When I did by chance find a better job after one week (thank God!) of moving pianos, I almost didn't get it, again because of the minimum wage. I was hired to drive a truck for a company that measured air pollution. The Carter administration was good for that particular industry. My brief interview went well, and the boss offered me $2.50 an hour. I was afraid of getting in legal trouble, so I told him (with trepidation) that the minimum wage was $2.70. He thought long and hard before finally offering me $3.00. The job lasted four and a half years and led to a ten-year career in computers, as I moved from driver the first day to data processor the following week to programmer a few months later to (after 2 years) head programmer, supervising one other programmer and 4 data processors, with appropriate pay raises along the way. And it almost didn't happen: I'm not sure the boss have advertised the job if he had know it would cost more than $2.50.

At the time I blamed Ted Kennedy and people like him for my difficulty finding a decent job. Twenty-five years later, I see no good reason to reassign the blame, though he has had plenty of allies over the years, not all of them Democrats. He's still sitting in the Senate, still clueless about what it's like to actually work for a living, still doing his best to screw up the economy. I figure my net worth -- whether it's positive or negative is none of your business -- is at least a thousand or two dollars less than it would be if it weren't for economic illiterates like Senator Kennedy.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:56 PM
Embarrassing Slogans

Virginia Postrel (no visible links) has been posting about lame city slogans for Dallas-Fort Worth and other metropolitan areas. So far no mention of what the Austin Lounge Lizards say in a love song entitled "Dallas, Texas":

I'm goin' back to Dallas, Texas,
To see if anything could be worse than losing you.

This is from their best album, The Highway Cafe of the Damned (1988).

Some city and state slogans include embarrassing double entendres. I don't know whether it's true, but I was once told that the garbage trucks in Athol, Massachusetts were (perhaps still are) emblazoned "Help Keep Your Athol Clean". The commonwealth of Virginia's long-running "Virginia Is For Lovers" campaign inspired their northern neighbor to come up with "Maryland Is For Crabs". Not a bad slogan for those who love bluish crustaceans, but "crabs" is also a slang term for crab lice, aka pubic lice, which are spread through sexual contact. Maybe I have a dirty mind, but when 'crabs' are mentioned in a context which also implies 'lovers', I can't help but think of the venereal kind.

To get back to Texas cities, I was once (1981?) part of a multi-state E.P.A.-financed team measuring air pollution in the Houston area. We found plenty: in fact our SO2 meters kept pegging out at 1000 ppm. Or maybe it was the NO2 meters. All I remember now is the sight of the plotter pen banging up against the top edge of the paper grid. One of the three companies in the consortium that had won the E.P.A. contract was headquartered in Austin. In the week and a half I spent in Houston, every single one of their employees separately took me aside at some point and said: "You know, not all of Texas is like Houston. You really should visit Austin some time."

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:21 PM
October 22, 2002

Posting has been sporadic for the last week or so partly because it was the end of the marking period, partly because I've been suffering through my second more-than-a-week-long cold of the semester. Middle school is not a good place to avoid infection. Now that grades are in, I should be posting a bit more regularly.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:09 PM
Protective Coloration?

As long as I can remember, the color scheme at Sgt. Stryker has been a military (i.e. ugly) shade of green. I'm not talking about the month or two when it turned into Beers Across America, just the early and late Sgt. Stryker periods.

Some time in the last couple of days it turned a slightly orangey shade of tan. Isn't that the same shade as desert camo? If so, is the Sarge giving us a hint of something or other? Imminent deployment? Something else? Hmmmm . . . .

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:36 PM
How Vast Is The Web?

Google reports seventeen hits for the phrase "put the 'goober' in gubernatorial". I guess now it will be eighteen.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:29 PM
October 20, 2002
A Safe Prediction?

I predict that by the Ides of March at the latest, the percentage of adult Iraqi males living outside of no-fly zones who wear thick moustaches will have fallen from more than 90 to less than three. I further predict that most of that three percent will be in jails or prison camps. Anyone care to argue with me?

Whether Iraqi men will line up at the barbershops like Afghans and ask for the clean-shaven Bush look is not so easy to predict. Perhaps some will opt for full beards, or goatees, or Fu Manchus, or muttonchops, though all of those take more time than a simple shave. Perhaps some will just severely prune their moustaches for the Wayne Newton look. But I'm guessing that the thick bushy moustache will be out of style in Iraq for at least a couple of generations.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:18 PM
October 17, 2002
Trollope On Book Reviews

There is the review intended to sell a book -- which comes out immediately after the appearance of the book, or sometimes before it; the review which gives reputation, but does not affect the sale, and which comes a little later; the review which snuffs a book out quietly; the review which is to raise or lower the author a single peg, or two pegs, as the case may be; the review which is suddenly to make an author, and the review which is to crush him. . . . Of all reviews, the crushing review is the most popular, as being the most readable. When the rumour goes abroad that some notable man has been actually crushed -- been positively driven over by an entire Juggernaut's car of criticism till his literary body be a mere amorphous mass -- then a real success has been achieved, . . .

The Way We Live Now (1874-75), Chapter XI

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:21 PM
Hesiod And His 'Theogeny'

The man who calls himself 'Hesiod Theogeny' has attempted to defend his misspelling of his own chosen surname. I won't give him a link, but the date is today (October 17th) and the time 11:30 AM. Here is the pertinent portion of the post:

POST POSTSCRIPT: Incidentally, some wrongwingers have been making hay [they believe] by pointing out that the last name I use as a pseudonym "Theogeny" is actually supposed to be "Theogony." This is derived from the transliteration of Hesiod's classic work. They are correct, of course, that this is the generally accepted transliteration.

Since a transliteration is a letter-by-letter transposition from one alphabet into another, the generally accepted transliteration is 'Theogonía' with the accent or 'Theogonia' without. 'Theogony' is the generally accepted translation -- not the same thing at all.

Similarly, the name of Homer's greatest work would be transliterated 'Ilias', but translated 'Iliad'. (Only ignorant undergraduates spell it 'Illiad' with a double L. One of my teachers in graduate school used to put one question on all her mythology exams: 'Spell Iliad'. There was always one student in every class who spelled it Illiad even with the correct spelling right in the question. Was he or she too suspicious to realize that it was not a trick question, or just stupid?)

"Theogeny," however is a less common version that is even used, on occasion, by classical scholars. It's not widely accepted, by any means. In fact, here's an arcticle in which a reviewing scholar actually takes an author to task for using that spelling.

The 'arcticle' that 'Hesiod' quotes is a book review in which a classical scholar politely but firmly criticizes an English professor for not knowing how to spell 'Theogony' ("author and editors alike are to be reproached for such blunders"). The spelling 'Theogeny' is only used by competent classical scholars when quoting incompetent nonclassicists. It is simply wrong. How do I know? I've read the Theogony in Greek and taught it (in translation) to hundreds of undergraduates at two different universities. I've also given a lecture that was partly on Hesiod (though mostly on Prometheus Bound) at five different universities in the U.S. and U.K. At one of these, the first question afterwards was asked by the world's leading authority on Hesiod, a man who has written at least four books on him. I wonder if Pseudo-Hesiod can name him.

In any event, "Theogony" is probably the more appropriate transliteration. But, it's too late to change now. Have you ever made a mistake that you noticed right after you commit[t]ed it, but figured, it's no big deal? Hell, I make all sorts of typing errors on my blog entries, only to have to go back and try to clean them up later. I know I still miss some of them.

In fact 'Theogony' or (more pedantically) 'Theogonia' are the only correct ways to spell the title of the original Hesiod's work in English: the ending may differ, but the O in the third syllable is certain.

It is certainly true that 'Hesiod' makes "all sorts of typing errors" in his blog entries, but I've never seen any evidence that he goes back and fixes them -- or any of his more serious mistakes, either.

Given how much my use of "Theogeny" irritates some chickenbloggers, I've elected to keep using it. Especially since, other than Chickenbloggers, and the occasional Classical scholar, who gives a rat's ass?

For "irritates" read "amuses in a sick sort of way". It is the contemptible use of words like 'chickenblogger' that irritates us and makes us think of 'Hesiod' as a weaselblogger, a ratblogger, a louseblogger, or a cockroachblogger. And who gives a rat's ass? Anyone who cares about English usage, a class that does not seem to include poor ignorant 'Hesiod'.

Plus, I've now been identified by Tapped as "Hesiod Theogeny," so I'm stuck!

Wow! What an honor! I suppose I would be impressed if I had ever had any desire be linked by Tapped myself.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:02 PM
I Was (Almost) A Fraudulent Voter

Megan McArdle (Live . . . from the WTC) has an interesting post on the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) campaign to bring college students to Minnesota for a same-day registration campaign. I tend to agree with her that this is a clear attempt to encourage voter fraud while preserving deniability. This is partly my general cynicism, partly because it reminded me of a personal experience I'd almost forgotten:

Twenty years ago last month (or perhaps the month before), I was walking down a sidewalk in the St. Louis suburbs -- University City or thereabouts -- when a campaign worker stopped me and urged me to vote for the Democratic candidate in the upcoming midterm election. I told him I was moving to Maryland before the election, and wouldn't be eligible to vote in Missouri. I said it partly because it was true, partly because I thought it would cut the discussion short more effectively than if I told him I was planning to vote a straight Republican ticket. (I figured leaving town was unarguable, while political opinions were not.) His reply flabbergasted me: "No problem! Just ask for an absentee ballot before you leave town. If you register to vote as soon as you get to Maryland, you can vote twice!" I told him firmly "No thanks, I'm really not interested in committing voter fraud", and he seemed quite offended, though probably not half so offended as I was. At least it got him to go away without further argument. I thought of calling the police or his boss at Democratic headquarters, but was too busy packing, or too lazy, or just thought it wouldn't do much good, since it would have been my word against his -- most likely a combination of the three.

By the way, I could see voting absentee in Missouri if I had been moving too late to register in time to vote in Maryland, e.g. if I had been moving on Halloween. It still wouldn't have been legal, but I could have consoled myself with the thought that I was at least going to be able to vote once instead of not at all, even if I wouldn't have been voting in the right state. But that was not what he was suggesting.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 07:57 PM
October 16, 2002
Credit Where Credit Is Due?

MedPundit links to this BBC story about a Spaniard who has invented a device to translate baby cries and "tell harassed parents if their child is hungry, sleepy or tired". MedPundit (last entry on the 15th if the link doesn't work) lists the story in the category "Dubious Inventions".

Neither source mentions that an entire Simpsons episode was built around precisely the same invention. The title is "Brother, can you spare two dimes?" (third season), and the inventor is Homer's half-brother Herb, who had been living under a bridge.

I won't ask whether the machine works, but if it sells well, could someone from the show ask for royalties? Since Herb is a fictional character, who would be able to claim royalties? The writers, the producers, the Fox network as a whole? Whichever (if any) of them had the foresight to patent the idea? Only the last, probably, though I wouldn't know. The episode actually gives a patent number (214661767): I wonder if it is genuine. I also wonder whether anyone else has ever made money from 'borrowing' a fictional character's invention.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 07:00 PM
For Flu Season

For VodkaPundit and anyone else suffering from the flu, here's my recipe for Hot Buttered Rum, which I got from the now-defunct Little Campus Inn in Annapolis:

Boil a cup or so of apple cider (not the hard kind) or apple juice. Be careful not to let it boil over: for some reason it can go from not even bubbling to splattered all over the stove in under a minute.

Put the hot cider in a large mug with a slug of rum, a pat of butter, three whole cloves, and a cinnamon stick. The last can be used to stir it, as well as adding flavor. Indian groceries are good places to find whole cloves and cinnamon sticks at reasonable prices. Powdered spices will do in a pinch.

Very tasty and warming, this is also pleasant when you've been shoveling snow. Mt. Gay Eclipse, with a map of Barbados on the bottle, is a good choice for the rum.

I append a cautionary anecdote:

I once made this for a friend with a cold, who liked it a lot. (This is the same friend who's been to boot camp three times, once each for Army National Guard, active duty Navy, and Air Force reserves.) A smallish woman, she immediately went out and bought the ingredients and started making her own. Two days later, she complained that it was "knocking her on her ass", putting her to sleep hours before her normal bedtime and making her late for work in the morning. It turned out that she had inadvertently bought 151 proof rum, so the drinks were roughly twice as strong as she thought they were. I hadn't known that you could actually buy the strong stuff in stores. In fact, I somehow thought that 151 proof rum was only available through wholesalers to restaurants with flaming bananas on their dessert menus. This was a college town (Charlottesville), so I suppose it's also popular with frat boys testing their manhood by drinking the stuff straight.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 06:08 PM
October 14, 2002
Philip Shropshire's Big But

After mulling it over for thirty-eight days, Philip Shropshire has finally answered the Shropshire Challenge with a resounding "Yes, But". (I won't give him a link, but it was posted on the moribund WarbloggerWatch site at 1:59 this morning.) Although it would be possible to get to Iraq in less than a week for less than $1,000, he will only go if we give him $23,000 and six weeks to get there. He wants half the money up front, the rest in the hands of a neutral third party. He wants to keep all the money even if he doesn't manage to get into Iraq, either because the war has already started or because he is stopped at the border. (In that case, he wants three more weeks to get to Israel or Venezuela instead. Both are dangerous places, but neither is even in the 'top 10' of most dangerous places in the world at the moment.) Either of his release conditions is quite likely to occur. In six weeks the campaign against Iraq is likely to be in full swing. Even if it is not, it would be easy enough to arrange not to be allowed in at the border. Here is a plausible scenario:

"Either you let me bring in this laptop, this big box of Arabic translations of The Book of Mormon, this autographed copy of Saddam's Bomb-Maker, and this anatomically-correct blow-up plastic doll dressed in traditional Iraqi garb, or I'm going to turn around and go right back home! Really, I will! I have principles! I'll turn right around and leave! I'm leaving now! What? You want to discuss this? What's to discuss? I was just leaving to go back to Jordan! Leave me alone! I was just leaving!"

Just as Grady Olivier claims to have accepted the challenge, but only with a condition he knew would not be fulfilled,* Shropshire wants moral credit for showing his courage without actually having to do so. It is interesting that he does not give any reason why it should take six weeks to get to Iraq: nothing about finding a babysitter for his children (assuming he has any), or giving his employer (assuming he has one) sufficient notice of resignation to avoid a suit for breach of contract, or getting his passport, visa, and immunizations in order (don't forget the anthrax shots!). It is perfectly obvious that he has no intention of going, and figures that there's an excellent chance the war will have started before the six weeks expire.

Of course I am not seriously complaining about Shropshire's unwillingness to go to Baghdad. I would only go there myself if I had to, which is to say if I were drafted, and that is extremely unlikely at my age, even if the war on Islamicist terror heats up considerably. If Shropshire did go and get himself killed, I would feel bad about my part in urging him on -- though not as bad as I would feel if just about any other fellow American were to be killed in Iraq. What I do object to is that Shropshire continues to slander 'warbloggers' as cowards, partly in words, partly with a not-very-funny T-shirt picture at the top of his post. Again, I do not claim to be more courageous than Shropshire: I just think that he, like everyone else who uses the terms 'chickenhawk' and 'chickenblogger', is a filthy hypocrite to urge others into danger while shirking it himself, and a fool if he thinks his hypocrisy is not obvious. All I asked in my original challenge is that he cut out his pose of moral superiority, and stop slandering his opponents. I guess that was too much to expect of people like Shropshire, the rest of the boys at WarbloggerWatch, 'Hesiod', and a few others whose names escape me at the moment.

There's not much reason to examine the rest of Shropshire's pathetic post, though two points are worth mentioning:

  1. He claims to believe that the Bush administration may attack Israel with nuclear weapons. (This is if Iraq attacks Israel with biological weapons. The idea is that evil Bush cares less about the people of Israel than about preserving the Iraqi oil fields from destruction by the Israeli counterattack that would inevitably follow.) He seems to attribute this argument, in whole or in part, to Noam Chomsky, whom he also claims as his hero. Perhaps he only believes this at 1:59 AM, and perhaps not even then unless he's been drinking.
  2. He is confident that attacking Iraq is not good for Israel, but does not explain why the Israelis disagree, and why he thinks they should defer to the judgment of some guy whose life is not at stake, and never will be unless al-Qaeda comes to Pittsburgh.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

*Olivier will only go to Baghdad if James Lileks meets him there. Why Lileks and not any other 'warblogger'? Because Lileks has columns to write, a book to finish, a mortgage to pay, and (not least) a two-year-old to care for. If Olivier had said "any warblogger", there was a chance that one of the younger ones, less encumbered by family ties and long-term employment, would have taken him up on his offer. That is why he added the condition, and that is why his offer is fraudulent.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:13 PM
Factorial Factoring

Sasha Volokh has some interesting mathematical riddles on the Volokh Experience. I think I can answer the first one: why does 29! (29 factorial, or 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 . . . x 29) end with 6 zeroes? Because every time you multiply a number by 2 and by 5 you add another zero. (I don't have to prove that, do I?) There are 14 even numbers in 29!, some of which are multiples of higher powers of 2, so there is no shortage of 2s among the smallest factors of the humongous (31-digit) total. But there are exactly six 5s in 29!: one each in 5, 10, 15, and 20, and two in 25. So what's my prize? (I'll think about the related puzzles when I'm feeling less sluggish.)

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 05:11 PM
Psychological Warfare: A Suggestion

Someone in the Pentagon may well have thought of this already, but I'll mention it just in case I'm wrong.

Saddam Hussein likes to build monumental statues of himself. Here are two examples from a quick Google image search:

I don't know if these are different statues, or two views of the same one, but even if they are the latter, I'm sure there are plenty more.

It seems to me that a good first move in the upcoming Iraq campaign would be to send some cruise missiles to destroy these statues, or (even better) knock off their heads while leaving the bodies intact.

(Since we are not at war with the people of Iraq, it would be a very bad idea to destroy the monuments to the Iran-Iraq war, e.g. the Iraqi equivalent of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But statues of Hussein are surely fair game: it's not as if any of them have much esthetic value.)

I would guess that at least some of the statues are non-equestrian, i.e. standing pedestrian Husseins. If so, they would make good targets for a subtler attack. Would it be possible to send a drone or cruise missile containing an appropriate quantity of brown or yellow paint, to be splattered over the seat of the statue's pants (if brown) or the crotch area generally, both front and back (if yellow)? I imagine American technology could handle that relatively simple task.

The only down side I can see to such a move -- though it is not to be underestimated -- is that such damage might cause innocent Iraqi civilians to be tortured or murdered. After decades of living under Saddam Hussein, Iraqis are quite skilled at keeping a straight face in all circumstances, but I imagine some of them -- particularly the children -- might find a sudden image of Hussein crapping (or pissing) in his pants too much for even their well-developed talents for dissimulation. An ill-timed smirk or giggle could be fatal. Of course that is itself one good reason to overthrow Hussein.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:23 AM
October 13, 2002
The Meltdown Continues

I think it's time 'Hesiod' started allowing comments on his site. Otherwise he risks looking like a particular type of person we all know. Which person do I mean? The one who's always up for a party at anyone else's house. He stays 'til dawn, drinks the last and second-to-last beers, and finishes off the chips and dip and then complains until someone goes out and buys more. He leaves rings on all the endtables, crumbs in the seams of the couch, and CDs and cigarette butts all over the floor. But he never invites anyone to his own place, and never takes anyone out for a drink either, at least not when he's the one paying the bill.

Consider Pseudo-Hesiod's latest post, in which he describes the commenters on this post of mine:

How much you want to bet these losers all weigh about 97 lbs. and wouldn't have the testicles to insult David Spade to his face.

Some of "these losers" insult 'Hesiod', but how are they supposed to insult him to his face rather than remotely? He keeps his true identity well-hidden -- far better-hidden than mine is -- and does not allow comments on his site. And all or most of those who insult him give what appear to be valid e-mail or web-site addresses. (Not that I've checked them all.) The only clear troll on this thread is 'dave', who sides with 'Hesiod' and attacks the rest of us from his own anonymous hiding-place under a bridge. 'Hesiod' himself seems to be inviting his detractors to a fistfight, but he takes great care not to name a time or place, or any hint as to how they are to recognize him when they arrive.

Hint to 'dave': You will get more respect if you go to the trouble of inventing a more memorable name or pseudonym and do not put any F-words or other insults in your fake e-mail address. Otherwise people may think you are the kind of 97-pound weakling 'Hesiod' is talking about.

Hint to 'Hesiod': The point about your bad spelling is that it's hard for anyone else to take your writings seriously when you don't care enough to run them through a spell-checker before posting. Bad spelling generally indicates gross ignorance, hasty composition, or contempt for one's readers, and the last seems likeliest here, though the first two can't be ruled out.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:50 PM
October 11, 2002

Expect no more posts until some time Sunday. I'm off to Toronto to see the Canadian Opera Company's last performances of Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades and Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. I suppose I should join Blogcritics and write up reviews of both. Maybe if I have the energy when I get back.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:09 PM
Waiting For Lefty

Larry Miller has graciously apologized for saying that the Buzzcocks had been booed at a concert for dissing Bush. It turns out that the story is essentially true, but that the band involved was Blink-182. (I gather that Miller is as unfamiliar with the music of both as I am.) The correction to the correction has now been mentioned on Ted Barlow and many other sites. I wonder how long it will take for 'Hesiod' to get around to apologizing for calling Miller "a lying sack of pig shit" and suggesting that he will soon be "out of a job" at the Weekly Standard.

Bush fans who enjoy schadenfreude may want to stop by Counterspin Central. Poor 'Hesiod' is in semi-freakout, semi-meltdown mode, lashing out at the Democrats and their leadership as "stupid", "chickenshits", "idiot[s]", and lots more here and here. He's right, of course, in his epithets, even if his reasoning is backwards. And his spelling continues to deteriorate.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:07 PM
October 10, 2002
Curious Literary Coincidences

1. Though it has only recently been turned into a verb, we all know that 'Fisk' must be a very old name, unless Robert Fisk was cloned in a government laboratory and designated with a significant acronym. (Suggestions for possible expansions of F.I.S.K. may be left in the comment section.) But I didn't know that even "fisker" goes back at least to the 19th century. A Fisker is a character in Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now (1875). Here is what the Oxford Reader's Companion to Trollope has to say about him:

Fisker, Hamilton K., dapper American entrepreneur.

So far, so good. The rest will be less pleasing to modern fiskers:

He makes Augustus Melmotte head of a questionable American railway scheme, thus involving enormous English financial speculation. Untroubled by scruples, he supplies confidence and dash to the enterprise. When it crashes, he marries Marie Melmotte and takes her back to San Francisco with him.

Greedy investors, financial crashes, huge monetary losses, and San Francisco: sounds like an internet venture to me. Now I need to find time to actually sit down and read the novel, which many seem to think is Trollope's best and most Juvenalian (the latter definitely a plus for me).

2. It will probably please all the wrong people to know this, but 'Ann Coulter' is the name of a woman mentioned in Chapter II of Silas Marner who ignores good advice on the proper herbs to wear in pregnancy and gives birth to an idiot child.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:50 PM
October 08, 2002
Choosing Words With Care

I'm none too impressed by Howell Raines' reign at the New York Times myself, but when InstaPundit uses the phrase "editorial creep" that seems a little too personal.

Note to humorless readers: This is a joke, a cheap play on words. I'm kidding. Or was it a subconscious slur on InstaPundit's part? Hmmmm . . . .

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:05 PM
Site Slogan

Since everyone else is trying the program that randomly generates an advertising slogan, I may as well give my results:

"Dr. Weevil is like a normal answering machine, but it makes hilariously rude noises."

Not bad. I got this from the ever-more-elegant Spleenville (love the new color scheme). I tried the name of an old friend (female) whose moral standards are (how to put it?) rather old-fashioned, and this was the result:

"[Name emphatically deleted] is like a normal blow-up doll, but it can be used by several people at once."

Not true at all. Neither is this (of a Catholic priest):

"Fr. [name deleted] is like a normal riot shield, but it doesn't take no for an answer."

One more mildly amusing result:

"Dr. Menlo is a stapler that emits a constant high-frequency whine!"

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 08:53 PM
Quotation Of The Day

From "The Match-Maker", in Chronicles of Clovis, by 'Saki' (H. H. Munro):

Clovis relapsed for a few golden moments into tender intimacies with a succession of rapidly disappearing oysters.

"I think oysters are more beautiful than any religion", he resumed presently. "They not only forgive our unkindness to them; they justify it, they incite us to go on being perfectly horrid to them. Once they arrive at the supper-table they seem to enter thoroughly into the spirit of the thing. There's nothing in Christianity or Buddhism that quite matches the sympathetic unselfishness of an oyster."

Maybe not the deepest quotation or the most appropriate to this site, but I like it.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 08:05 PM
Delphic Advice

Now that my books are out of storage, though mostly still in boxes, I can do a little more 'quote of the day' and 'interesting historical fact of the day' stuff. (Threat or promise? You be the judge.) Here's the first:

Everyone knows that the Temple of Apollo at Delphi was inscribed with two maxims, "Nothing too much" and "Know yourself". There was actually a third, quoted far less often since it does not lend itself to philosophical generalization. Plutarch gives all three in his dialogue The Dinner of the Seven Sages. The sage Periander has just asked Chersias to explain the significance of the frogs carved around the base of a palm tree at the temple. I would like to know the answer to that question, too, but we never find out, since Chersias replies (section 164B):

"But I will not say until I have asked these people here what significance they give to the precepts 'Avoid extremes' and 'Know yourself', and, in particular, that one which has kept many from marrying, and many from trusting, and some even from speaking, which is: 'Give a pledge, and recklessness attends.'"

'Recklessness' could also be translated 'blind delusion' or 'infatuation'. It should perhaps be capitalized, since there seems to be a hint that she (Áta is a goddess) is an invisible witness to the foolish contract. In modern terms, it's roughly equivalent to 'never sign a binding contract' -- much broader than just 'never cosign a loan', though that is also implied. It's interesting that the third maxim seems to have been more often taken as a guide in everyday life than the first two. The dialogue ends soon after, so we never do find out much about the meaning of any of the three.

For the three of my readers (if I'm not being overoptimistic) who want to see the Greek, here is a transliteration, with underlined E and O for eta and omega:

  1. Medèn ágan ('Nothing too much')
  2. Gnôthi sautón ('Know yourself')
  3. Eggúa pára d' áta ('Give a pledge, and recklessness attends' )
Posted by Dr. Weevil at 07:49 PM
Banned In Siwackyland

Sorry, I mean Sawickyland -- I always get those two mixed up.

Max Sawicky says I'm not allowed to comment on his weblog anymore (comment 22 on this post), thus giving new meaning to his slogan "MaxSpeak, You Listen!" Apparently he doesn't like being shown up as a liar. His flying monkeys are still hiding behind vague pseudonyms and nonexistent e-mail and web addresses to insult anyone who criticizes him.

To put it as shortly as possible: Sawicky said that "warbloggers lie about Bonior and McDermott" and at the same time "hail" Oliver North "as an American hero", and that this supposed double standard proves our hypocrisy. He has refused to give any examples of lies told about Bonior and McDermott, which makes the first half a little difficult to argue against -- and very difficult to believe until he does. He has amended the second half to "right-wing warbloggers" instead of warbloggers in general, but that doesn't help his case. He provided 24 URLs to buttress his claim, not one of which provided any evidence at all of anything resembling hailing, adulation, or even strong admiration. Some were bare links, some were second-hand quotations of the opinions of non-bloggers, one was from a left-wing blog, and it's clear that Sawicky didn't bother to read them before posting them. I suppose he thought no one would have the patience to actually look at them. No one has come up with any 'warblogger' that has said "Oliver North is my hero", or "when I grow up, I want to be just like Col. North", or "we need more Ollie Norths in this country", or anything of remotely comparable warmth, not even "Ollie North has done more good than harm to the U.S. and the world".

Now Sawicky and his allies are reduced to other tactics (all in the comments to his last post, linked above, and the one before):

  1. Changing the subject: G.O. (no e-mail, no web-page) says: What about Michael Ledeen and Richard Perle? What about 'em? If Sawicky wanted to talk about them, he should have mentioned them in the first place.
  2. Redefining the question: Kelly DeRango (no e-mail, no web-page) offers clear evidence that Orrin Hatch, Jesse Helms, and some guy named Majors who runs something called the Leadership Forum have in fact hailed North as hero. As I said before I was banned, that would be pretty devastating if Hatch, Helms, or Majors were bloggers. They aren't, and they aren't particularly admired by any bloggers I know, so mentioning them is just another attempt to evade the issue.
  3. False dichotomy: If 'warbloggers' don't treat North as a pariah, that's just as bad as treating him as a hero. There's a lot of territory between pariah and hero, and in fact most warbloggers do treat him as something of a pariah: they may not shout 'Unclean! Unclean!' when his name is mentioned, but they avoid mentioning him themselves. Apparently that isn't enough: we have to bring up North's name from time to time just to trash it like good left-wingers.
  4. False generalization: De Rango again: A Republican who lived through the 1980's must have admired North at the time, just as anyone who lived through that decade must like 'A Flock of Seagulls'. Huh? I still haven't gotten a straight answer as to whether that's a song or a group, but so far from liking it (them?), I've never heard of it, and never knowlingly heard it. I was 27 in 1980, but had long since given up listening to any contemporary pop/rock and most of the stuff that had been popular when I was in college. (Sorry if this remark offends anyone, but I grew out of it.) I found that a combination of a lot of classical, some jazz and blues, and a lot of country music fulfilled all my musical needs, as it still does. (By country I do not mean the crap they play on CMT or the radio, but the good kind of country, bluegrass, and honky-tonk: Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Del McCoury, lots more. If you want to know what I mean and live in D.C., listen to the Eddie Stubbs show on WAMU on Saturday afternoons. I think they do webcasts, though my computer can't quite handle the bandwidth requirements, so I haven't checked lately.) It was perfectly possible to make it through the 1980s without ever hearing A Flock of Seagulls, and it was perfectly possible for a Republican to make it through the 1980s without ever admiring Oliver North. Of course, many (perhaps most) warbloggers were on the left back then, and many are still firmly on the left in domestic policy, as anyone knows who bothers to read them, so the argument doesn't even apply to them.
  5. False logic: This is a variation of the preceding. The Right in general hailed North as a hero in the 1980's. (Many did, many didn't.) 'Warbloggers' who support war on Iraq are all on the right. (Some are, most aren't, or aren't very.) Therefore, we must be fans of North. Given the large number of 'warbloggers' who are 'right-wing' (at least by Sawicky's definition) and the volume of their writings, it would have been easy enough to prove if it were true. It is not.

No doubt it was "rude, unedifying, and unamusing" for me to insist that Sawicky not keep repeating things that are untrue. I suppose the boy who pointed out that the Emperor had no clothes was also rude, and the Emperor at least found him very unamusing. Too bad. Max Sawicky is an intellectual fraud. I have added his words to the testimonials in the right-hand column.

(Andrea Harris has blogged a bit more on this subject here.)

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 07:42 PM
October 07, 2002
What One Warblogger Really Thinks About Oliver North

The Senatorial elections of 1994 were generally good for the Republicans, who won just about all of the close races except in Virginia (Oliver North vs. Chuck Robb) and Massachusetts (Ted Kennedy vs. Mitt Romney). I told my friends at the time that there was a silver lining for Republicans. Two more seats would have been nice, but the fact that Kennedy won and North lost meant that the most embarrassing Senator would continue to be a Democrat.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 01:06 PM
October 06, 2002
Max Sawicky Has A Little List

Max Sawicky has finally stooped to do a tiny bit of the research he should have done before he wrote his piece, and provided evidence he claims will back up his assertion that warbloggers "hail" Oliver North "as an American hero". His whole reply is worth a good fisking:

AXIS OF WEEVIL. You never know what will set people off. Perhaps it's just the awesomely burgeoning power of MaxSpeak. Maybe it's the collapse of the N.Y. Yankees, or the heartbreak of psoriasis. One never knows. I was on a rant about the utterly fallacious descriptions in bloggerdom of what Reps. David Bonior and James McDermott said in Iraq. I compared it with the benign view of a person like Ollie North, whose response to America's terrorist enemies in at least one case was very different.

Actually, one good way to set people off is to tell lies about them. Another is to refuse to apologize or even to admit it when you are caught out. Still a third is to make other people do your homework for you.

The Weevil One demands I supply quotations from warbloggers to justify my assertion that North is hailed as a hero by warbloggers. I have already acknowledged that the term 'warbloggers' was more general than I wanted to be. Right-wing bloggers would have been more apt. I still think W is being too literalist. My point was the general reception of persons who had some encounter with the nation's enemies. There is little doubt that Ollie was hailed as a hero by the Right after his testimony in the Iran-Contra affair. This of course was before the advent of the Internet as a mass medium. He later obtained the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator from Virginia and nearly defeated Chuck Robb. This was well before the proliferation of blogs. His celebrity seems undimmed, although he is not nearly the news item he used to be. For one thing, he doesn't look as good as Ann Coulter in a leopard mini-skirt.

The part about how he should have said "right-wing warbloggers" instead of "warbloggers" in general is mere misdirection: no one thought he was alleging that 'Hesiod' or 'Atrios' or 'Dr. Menlo' is a North fan. "His celebrity seems undimmed, although he is not nearly the news item he used to be" looks an awful lot like an obvious contradiction in terms: surely the less often in the news, the less of a celebrity? The whole argument is faulty: North is on the right, was hailed as a hero by many on the right, 'warbloggers' are all on the right (ooops, not really), therefore they must be fans. Too bad the evidence does not in fact support the argument. And too bad Sawicky isn't honest enough to admit it.

Perhaps the Weevil-doers believe there is a disconnect between the Right and right-wing bloggers. I very much doubt this. I have collected a few links by bloggers with positive references to Ollie North. None use the word 'hero,' and none go overboard with praise. But I think it's hard to see North as a pariah among right-wing bloggers, although he certainly deserves to be. Here's a little list:

In fact there is a very deep and wide disconnect between the part of the Right that hails North as a hero and the parts of the far Right, moderate Right, solid Middle, moderate Left, and non-moonbat Libertarians that have weblogs and are routinely dismissed as 'warbloggers' because they support war on Islamicist terror and (in most cases) war on Iraq. The list Sawicky provide does not include hot-links, in some cases links only to the front page, and includes no specific anchor links (the #80628105 part at the end) for the many Blogspot entries. I guess that would have been too much work. I have done lazy Max's work for him and supplied all that information. I had never heard of most of the blogs quoted, and none treat North as "an American hero". Here are the results (casual readers may wish to skip down the next unnumbered paragraph):

  1. Junk Yard Blog (4/17/02):
    "Ollie North suggested last night on Fox that Saddam was really behind the renewed violence in the West Bank. No surprise there, . . . ." JYB quotes something North said as unsurprising: not much of a recommendation.
  2. I Can Blog! (3/17/02):
    "Ollie North reminds us that West Point celebrated its bicentennial yesterday." Mere factual reference, proving only that he reads North and approves of celebrating military anniversaries.
  3. Kevin Holtsberry (4/10/02):
    "Ollie North live and in person
    Just got back from a lunch where Ollie North spoke. Say what you will about the man but he is charming, funny, and intelligent speaker.
    He told a hillarious story about being searched at an airport before anyone realized who he was. It involved him with his shoes and belt off, his bag emptied on the table, and state troopers frisking him! An, in hindsight, ill-timed joke about an underwear bomb le[d] to most of the trouble." Positive, but not exactly hero-worship.
  4. Hose Monster Blog (7/30/02):
    "When celebrities came to our campus to pitch their particular causes or give speeches on various subject material or whatever, our paper usually managed to steal about an hour away for an interview and pictures. During my four years of college, I had the change to hang and listen to Jerry Springer, Patricia Ireland, Oliver North, Wyclef Jean and Tori Amos, among others (I don't remember all of them). Good times. On the whole, they seemed to be pretty cool people. I especially enjoyed talking with Patricia Ireland and Oliver North." Quite positive in a non-partisan way: I imagine neither Patricia Ireland nor Oliver North would be particularly pleased to be paired with the other.
  5. JamesReubenHaney.com (7/13/02):
    "OLIVER NORTH TELLS AMERICANS to "Go to Israel, you cowards." Quoted with approval by a blogger in (I think) Ireland I'd never heard of.
  6. Kevin Kelley-Media and Policy Review (google only). Since Sawicky provides no workable link, and doesn't say what search string led him to this "google only" page, I'm going to assume that this is the same as #8 until proven otherwise. False reference?
  7. Real Clear Politics (10/6/02):
    This is nothing but a long list of editorials by various people in various journals. Several of them are by Oliver North. Since when is including someone in an index a sign of hero-worship? Bare link: not pertinent.
  8. Kevin Kelley-Media and Policy Review (8/23/02):
    Kelley is quoting an e-mailed rant from a friend named Mike Craychee, apparently not a blogger:
    "Oliver North had a great piece the other day on Hannity and Colmes where he laid out the reasons for Europe’s resistance. He claims that when we attack Iraq and get to the chemical and biological weapons plants we’re going to find that European companies have been selling Saddam the means and technology to manufacture his weapons. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the teeth?"
    Kelley's only comment (on this and much more) is "Nice work Mike!" Second-hand, and therefore non-pertinent.
  9. The Internet Monk:
    A link to North's page at the Washington Time in a long list of other links. Bare link: non-pertinent.
  10. Cato the Youngest (9/3/02):
    'Cato' quotes a North article at length, and then says "North is right" and comments a bit more. Positive, and I've certainly heard of 'Cato' and may well have linked to him now and then, though he's not on my blogroll (not yet, anyway). This is the best evidence offered so far, and still falls far short of hero-worship.
  11. Reductio ad Absurdum / Kevin Whited's Reason Forum v4.0 (9/28/01):
    "On rare occasions, Oliver North is spot on; this is one of them." Quite a back-handed compliment: obviously Whited is not much of a fan in general.
  12. Libertarian Samizdata (1/24/02):
    "And, once again, it looks like the US military that is taking the battle to the enemy in the shape of the formidable Colonel Oliver North who has rather brusquely told the United Nations exactly where they can stick their 'Global Tax'" Positive, and from a well-known site, but as Aristotle said "one swallow does not make spring". And calling someone "formidable" is a long way from hero-worship.
  13. Neo-Libertarian News Portal (7/11/02):
    This is quoted from a friend who is an Army ranger, and apparently not a blogger. It is number 10 in a list of 13 items in a rant on "What Civilians Can Do For The Military":
    "Don't try to discuss politics with a military member or a veteran. We are Americans and we all bleed the same regardless of our party affiliation. Our Chain of Command, to include our Commander in Chief...the President... (for those who didn't know) is all that we acknowledge. We have no inside track on what happens inside those big important buildings where all those "representatives" meet. All we know is that when those civilian representatives screw up the situation, they call upon the military to go straighten it out. The military member might direct you to Oliver North. (I can see him kicking your butt already.)" Second-hand, and therefore non-pertinent. North is not treated as a good or intelligent man, but just someone who could kick your butt. I imagine he could kick most of our butts.
  14. Dean Esmay (7/24/02):
    "If I could makeup my own candidate he’d be part Ross Perot, part Jessie Ventura, part Pat Buchanan and part Oliver North." This is from a comment on Dean's World by someone named Skylar Colfax (perhaps not his real name). Dean did not write it, and it is therefore invalid as evidence.
  15. Power Line (9/1/02):
    "Two pieces of commentary in today's Washington Times, one by Cal Thomas and the other by Oliver North, discuss the fact of, and reasons for, European opposition to taking on Saddam Hussein. The Europeans seem to be relying on the doubts of certain American luminaries, while those luminaries rely on lack of support by the Europeans. I am married to a European and most of the Europeans I know are charming and cultured people. Yet the Europeans as a group have been wrong about almost every major issue (the Cold War, Hitler, socialism, religious freedom, etc.) for as long as anyone can remember." Uses a North article to back up his own statements. No sign of hero-worship.
  16. Regnum Crucis (8/23/02):
    "Oliver North sounds off on the NEA's 9/11 guidelines
    In case you've forgotten, he's described Abu Nidal/Sabri al-Banna (the Libyan-employed bin Laden of 1980s) to Congress as the most evil and depraved human being he's ever known. Given Abu Nidal's record of activities, I'm not really surprised, but Ollie seems to have a personal beef with the guy that comes from the fact that the Abu Nidal Organization, at the request of their Libyan master Qaddafi (whom Chomsky seems to think is just misunderstood; scroll down), tried to kill his family." Merely factual, unless quoting North is sufficient to refute one's argument. And this seems to much more a Christian blog than a warblog. (Regnum Crucis is Latin for "Reign of the Cross" or "Kingdom of the Cross".)
  17. Antioch Road (5/12/02):
    Links to North's Mother's Day column in the Washington Times: "Oliver North, on Mother's Day, celebrates those women who have chosen life for their children, rather than abortion." I see a lot of heroine-worship by North and the blogger, but no sign of hero-worship by the blogger. In any case, this is another Christian blogger I'd never heard of. (I don't mean that as criticism, here or elsewhere: I'm just pointing out that there are tens of thousands of blogs out there, and Sawicky can't seem to find more than a very few prominent ones that even mention North, or any prominent or obscure ones that treat him as a hero.)
  18. The Ville (9/14/02):
    ". . . in his column, Oliver North has revealed the details of Euro-business complicity in re-arming Saddam with nuclear and chemical weapons." Nothing particularly positive here, unless you call quoting your source shameless.
  19. Sasha "la Blogatrice" (3/29/02):
    "I must admit that I'm not normally a fan of Oliver North, but his column this morning on the cluelessness of our European allies is an eye-opener." Like #11, she gives with one hand and takes back with the other.
  20. The Ben File (Ben Domenech) (9/20/02):
    "Two weeks is all the time one campaign needs for a piece of news to change the flavor of a campaign, and I believe that a two week ad blitz or grassroots assault sometimes makes up the entire difference in the margin of victory. Every political scientist worth his stripes will tell you that Oliver North lost the 1994 election to Sen. Chuck Robb in the last two weeks of the campaign. The same is true of the Paul Coverdell/Michael Coles, Jim Bunning/Scotty Baesler, and Harry Reid/John Ensign Senate races in 1998, as well as the Mel Carnahan/John Ashcroft race in 2000."
    Mere factual reporting: Is North so vile that Domenech can't even mention his Senate race in a list of races decided in the last two weeks?
  21. Insignificant Thoughts (9/29/02):
    Vincent M. Ferrari quotes an article by Tammy Bruce in Frontpage, an article in which Bruce quotes North. Second-hand: Bruce is not a blogger, and Ferrari shows no sign of hero-worship directed at North, unless you count quoting someone who quotes North as such.
  22. Joyful Christian (4/19/02):
    "Oliver North treats us to the words of a true American hero." As with #17, we have North and a blogger indulging in hero-worship of a third party, in this case a heroic veteran, but no sign of North as an object of same. Not pertinent, and not (I'm guessing from the name) a 'warblog' but a Christian blog.
  23. The Daily Brew (6/5/02):
    As someone has already noted in Sawicky's comment section, this is a left-wing site. It recommends Media Whores Online as "the best site on the web". Here is what it says about North: "Oliver North noted in his autobiography, that every time he tried to do something about terrorism links in the Middle East, he was told to stop because it might embarrass the Saudis." An obvious case of using one right-winger as a stick to beat others -- not undeservedly in this case. Second-hand, not on the right, not pertinent. Sawicky should have looked at it before he posted it.
  24. Tao of Pauly (7/21/02):
    "Cowards is an article written by Oliver North for the Freedom Alliance. Ollie writes about Israel and how Americans are cowards for not visiting and spending their money there. I agree. It's what I call the pussification of America." He then gives a rather eloquent excerpt. Maybe I should start reading North. Just kidding! A strong recommendation, though far from hero-worship, from another very obscure blogger.

The first thing to notice about this list is the total absence of anything that comes particularly close to adulation or hero-worship. The second thing to notice is who is not on the list: InstaPundit, DailyPundit, PejmanPundit, VodkaPundit, Asparagirl, Megan McArdle, USS Clueless (Steven Den Beste), Spleenville, Andrew Sullivan, James Lileks, Sgt. Stryker, 'N.Z. Bear', Little Green Footballs, the Volokhs, Yourish, Blair, Layne, Welch, Chapman, . . . I could go on, and probably should go on, so no one will fell left out, but it's obvious that all the more prominent 'warbloggers' are conspicuous by their absence from Max's little list. The only 'Myelin Top 100' blog that makes the list is Libertarian Samizdata (71), which is a group blog. The only other 'Myelin Top 500' blogs on the list are JunkyardBlog (187), Kevin Holtsberry (246), Ben Domenech (326), and 'Cato the Youngest' (432). And none of these shows much evidence of anything that an honest man would call hero-worship.

To put it another way, at the moment I have permanent links to 163 bloggers on my blogroll, most of whom could be called 'warbloggers'. ('Les 120 Journaux de Blogdom' is way over 120 now, but I like the name.) If we subtract the very few like MicroContentNews that generally avoid politics, there are roughly 160 'warbloggers'. Of these, only four (2.5%) are on Sawicky's list, and one of those, as we have seen, is a ringer (Dean Esmay). The others (JunkyardBlog, Libertarian Samizdata, and Sasha "la Blogatrice") are hardly unqualified admirers. So I for one not only do not hail North as a hero, but don't even link to anyone who does.

A. E. Housman somewhere says that "authorities must be weighed, not counted". I have a solid brick of lead -- the silence of the major warbloggers -- on my side of the scale, and Sawicky can't understand why his pile of feathers does not weigh more. Look, there are 24 of them, against only one lead brick! (Or 23 of them, if you leave out the one he counted twice.)

Weevil also refers to my assertions about lies told in re: Bonior/McDermott, challenging me to name names. I see no need to personalize and inflame the issue. Any sensible person can read my argument about the Bonior/McDermott remarks and with little trouble find statements by right-wing bloggers that fit my description. Anyone who claims there are no such remarks has not looked hard, or is just telling a new lie.

The second sentence is an obvious lie: Sawicky personalizes and inflames just about every issue he touches, as in the comparison of NRO articles to "a succession of turds floating downstream", which I quoted in my original post. And I'm still waiting to hear just what lies were said by which warbloggers about Bonior and McDermott. Even a link to someone else's argument would do, though I hope Sawicky would spend the 10 seconds necessary to make it a hot link instead of just printing it on the page.

Weevil threatens to conclude that I "just make shit up" if I don't come through with the goods. I have tried to steel myself to face this ominous possibility. It will cause me pain, since I like his bugs.

He doesn't care whether people know that he makes things up? I am not surprised. All in all, dealing with Max Sawicky is a bit like dealing with Michael Bellesiles: even when he offers evidence, it's not actually evidence, just stuff that looks like evidence until you examine it. Of course, Bellesiles at least offered his fraudulent evidence up front, and didn't have to be asked to produce it for us.

Of course, we all refuse to link to M*rk K*nr*d the neo-Nazi, but Sawicky's suggestion that Oliver North is so beyond the pale, such a "pariah" (his word) that we are forbidden to link to him when he says something true and important sounds a little bit like a blacklist. I wonder who else is on Max's little list of those who may not be quoted or referred to. And I wonder how many on the left have proven themselves equally unworthy but continue to be treated with honor and respect.

Sawicky's statement that warbloggers "hail" Oliver North "as an American hero" started out as an error. Since he refuses to withdraw it, and utterly fails to come up with evidence supporting it, it is now a lie. Some minor 'warbloggers' and Christian bloggers quote North with respect and even approval. Major 'warbloggers' ignore him. No one Sawicky has been able to come up with treats him as a hero. In the future, we would all be well-advised not to believe anything Max Sawicky says on any subject, even when he offers evidence purporting to back it up, unless we have time to check that evidence for ourselves.

I wish I had known that someone named 'Joey' (no e-mail or web-page) was also checking Sawicky's references, since it would have saved me a lot of work. His results are now posted in Sawicky's comment section, and he comes to many of the same conclusions as I have -- and as anyone who examines the evidence with an open mind would. Even before 'Joey' posted his comment (#4) at 1:09 PM, Sawicky was trying to shut down discussion by saying in comment #3 (12:58 PM) that "this topic has been sufficiently ventilated". Trying to put a stop to an argument before anyone has finished examining your evidence is just not right.

One final note: Besides checking his references, Max Sawicky should probably avoid trying to make jokes. He seems to think that "Axis of Weevil" is an original bon mot of his own, when it's been a standing joke at Possumblog and elsewhere for many months. The Axis of Weevil is the Possumblogger's list of bloggers who either live or have lived in Alabama. I know it's confusing that the Axis of Weevil is run by a possum and I am a mere member with no special privileges, but it's so. (Since possum is Latin for "I can", I always thought it would make a good slogan for an Alabama Latin Club, and that T-shirts with possum pictures and 'POSSUM' slogans on them would be a lot of fun. But I couldn't get anyone else to go along.)

Three months ago, I had a vivid illustration of the limits of Sawicky's sense of humor. I wrote a little squib about the fact that in modern Polish, the word that means "Latin" also refers to obscene slang used by hoodlums. (Of course, we Latinists prefer to call them 'hoodla'.) I facetiously demanded an apology for this slur from the entire Polish nation, including Sawicky, on behalf of Latin teachers and all Latin-speakers who have ever lived. Max responded (comment #3) with what looks like a totally unironic apology.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 03:38 PM
October 05, 2002
Confessions Of A Malicious Crossover Voter

Silflay Hraka and others have noted the lawsuit in which five of Cynthia McKinney's supporters allege that she was defeated by 'malicious crossover voting' and demand a recount or a revote (I'm not sure which). Their claim is of course nonsense. It is obvious that the vast majority of Republicans who crossed over to vote for Majette did so because they preferred Majette as their representative and knew that -- barring sudden death, severe illness, or incarceration -- whoever won the Democratic primary would be their representative. I can even imagine that a truly malicious Republican might have wished to keep McKinney in Congress to embarrass the Democrats for two more years.

There is such a thing as malicious crossover voting. I have done it myself. When I lived in Alabama in 1992, I asked for a Democratic primary ballot and voted for Jerry Brown. Alabama voted quite late in the primary season, and it was obvious by then that Buchanan and Brown had no chance of beating the front-runners, Bush and Clinton. (All the rest had already fallen by the wayside.) I voted for Brown just to make Clinton's primary victory that tiny bit less impressive, which I thought would have a minuscule but still useful effect in making him less likely to be elected once he was nominated. If I had been a Democrat, I would have asked for a Republican ballot and voted for Buchanan for the same reason. If I had been a Perot voter, I would have had to decide whether I despised Bush or Clinton more, since Alabamans are allowed to vote in either primary, but not both. Rightly or wrongly, I thought that decreasing Clinton's margin of victory would be more effective than increasing Bush's. (I wonder what a statistician or political scientist would say about that?)

Perhaps crossover voting in primaries should be eliminated. It would make an interesting debate topic, with (I imagine) plenty of angles to explore. The argument of McKinney's supporters, that it should be eliminated retroactively, seems (to this non-lawyer) morally and constitutionally absurd. Then again, I thought the argument that Torricelli should be allowed to call in a tag-team substitute candidate just because he was losing was absurd.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:53 PM
Never Mind

I didn't go to Baltimore after all, since I'm feeling rather sick. But not too sick to blog! I'll post at least a little something of substance tonight before I go to bed.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:45 PM
October 04, 2002

I will again be off-line for a while, this time until Sunday afternoon. I have one more load of stuff to move to Rochester, this time from Baltimore. Fortunately, it's a car-load, not a truck-load.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:39 PM
October 03, 2002
The Sawicky Challenge

Max Sawicky of MaxSpeak alleges a double standard among 'warbloggers':

A couple of Congressmen go to Iraq and urge a variety of measures short of war to discipline the Iraqi dictator. Terrorists kidnap a CIA station chief and other Americans in 1984, and Ollie North responds by providing arms to the sponsors of the deed. Warblogger responses: about the Members of Congress, go ape-shit; for Ollie, hail him as an American hero.

I have a rather obvious question. When was the last time a warblogger 'hailed' Oliver North "as an American hero"? I would like a link or two or preferably three. And even three or more would not suffice to make Sawicky's case, since I easily found links illustrating warbloggers' lack of adulation for North. Try this one, for instance, in which Cointelprotool quotes without comment William Saletan of Slate essentially calling North a liar, or this one, in which Happy Fun Pundit criticizes North because he was still whining about Bill Clinton and Joycelyn Elders last January. Most warbloggers go for months at a time without even mentioning North, and references to him are at least as likely to be critical as not. Some of us have never mentioned him at all. (Before now, I mean.) Does Max Sawicky think it is fair or honest to depict us generally as big fans?

If Sawicky can't provide some links to actual warbloggers expressing admiration or (better) adulation for Oliver North, I'm going to have to conclude that he just makes shit up. Of course, evidence from relatively well-known warbloggers will be far more convincing than quoting someone the rest of us have never heard of. (As a rule of thumb, I think it would be fair to define warbloggers as 'well-known' if they make the 'Top 500' linked-to list in the Myelin Blogging Ecosystem.)

By the way, this is the same Max Sawicky who accuses "right-wing bloggers" (no names given) of "lying through their teeth" about Bonior and McDermott in Iraq and writes that Peter Beinart in NRO "simplifies an imaginary left argument in order to debunk it". It seems to me that Sawicky is in no position to cast stones, still less to make sneering remarks like "reading NRO is like watching a succession of turds floating downstream". Note that all of my Sawicky quotations are from the last day and a half. If he's too busy to do the research necessary to get things right, perhaps he should refrain from posting some of the things he posts.

Update: (10/5, 11:30 PM)

Sawicky has now promised to try to back up his statement, and someone named Eric M. (no e-mail or web-page given) has attempted to do so in his comments section. The evidence offered so far is remarkably thin, and comes mixed with random sneers and attempts to change the subject.

Update: (10/6, 3:42 PM)

Sawicky has finally attempted to back up his statement, and to shut off discussion before it even starts. My reply to his latest is here.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:11 PM
October 02, 2002
A Union Man's Lament

When I consider the following facts, it amazes me that the percentage of American workers who belong to labor unions continues to drop:

  • I work part-time as a middle school teacher: 3 classes per day, which is 3/5ths of a full-time position. With all the grading, class preparation, and supervision of after-school detentions, it's still close to a 40-hour week, at least until summer arrives. If I stay in public school teaching next year, I will also have to take 18 credit hours of education courses to win certification, and those will take a lot of time.
  • Part-time workers in New York public schools are allowed to choose whether to join the teachers' union or not. At least so they told me at orientation.
  • I have never done or said anything to suggest that I might want to join the union.
  • I owe the union nothing, since my own salary was negotiated separately. Latin is a 'critical needs' area, with a severe shortage of teachers, so they asked me what I wanted to make and gave me what I asked. I probably should have asked for more, since they agreed without any argument and many of my 7th and 8th-graders are lazy and a few are quite nasty. (The 6th-graders are a lot of fun.) It's not surprising that they agreed immediately, since it was already the fourth day of school and I'm pretty sure I was their only candidate for two (actually 1.6) positions.
  • My first full paycheck (for two weeks work) lists a deduction of $30.42 for union dues. Over the course of a year, that will add up to a lot of money.

Now I have to decide whether to make a stink, and possibly some enemies, by quitting what I never asked to join. Being (a) cheap, (b) irritated by their presumption, and (c) not too fond of unions in general, I think I will.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:03 PM
October 01, 2002
Another Mildly Crude Joke

It was only 10+ years after graduation that I learned that my alma mater, Norfolk Catholic High School, was a joke up and down the east coast, even among those who didn't know that it actually existed (it's now just plain Catholic High School and has moved to Virginia Beach):

Q: What's the football cheer at the catholic high school in Norfolk, Virginia?

A: We don't drink, we don't smoke, Nor-folk, Nor-folk, Nor-folk!

Note to non-native speakers/readers of English: the L in Norfolk is silent.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 08:53 PM
Dumb Question #2

Is Bush going along with the campaign to restart U.N. inspections of Iraqi weapons sites just long enough to get a list of excluded sites? Saddam Hussein insists that we cannot inspect any of his numerous palaces, and he seems to want to define 'palace' to include any place he doesn't want us to inspect. Any place Hussein is absolutely determined not to allow us to see sounds like an excellent candidate for bombing on the first day of the all-out campaign. I trust our negotiators are asking for the precise locations of all the 'palaces' on the exclusion list so they can make a check-off list.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 04:58 PM
Dumb Question #1

I haven't seen anyone mention this angle, which seems important:

What effect, if any, is the West Coast longshoremen's strike having on preparations for war with Iraq? Are there bunches of M-1 tanks and other heavy equipment parked on the piers waiting to be loaded that should already have been loaded and shipped out to the Gulf? Or does the military have a logistical system that is separate from the shut-down civilian system, or at least separate enough not to be slowed down by a strike? Just wondering.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 04:50 PM