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Monday: July 31, 2006

Dirty Sushi Joke?

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:35 PM GMT-0500

In Yasujiro Ozu’s Early Summer (1951), the salaryman asks his female subordinate if she wants to go out for sushi. When she says that tuna is her favorite, he asks “How about an open clam?”. Her reaction is noncommittal, but she gets very upset when he continues with “And a nice long rice roll?”.

Tuesday: July 18, 2006

Juan Cole Gets It Right?

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:58 PM GMT-0500

He does, in a way — a very small way –, but only inadvertently. One small portion of his very long post about events in Lebanon has been widely quoted: “there may be an element of ethnic cleansing in Israeli tactics”. Cole’s first two commenters — or at least the first two whose comments he approved — quote it, and both TigerHawk and Protein Wisdom single it out for bold-faced derision.

In all the discussion at these and other sites, no one seems to have mentioned that Israel has practiced ethnic cleansing in the recent past. Just a few months ago, they removed every single living Jew from the Gaza strip, many of them at gunpoint, along with some of the dead ones. The fact that the Palestinians of Gaza then went to a lot of trouble to repollute their ethnically pristine protostate by kidnapping an Israeli soldier and hauling him back across the border does not affect my point.

Of course, I don’t expect Juan Cole to denounce that kind of ethnic cleansing, or even to recognize it for what it is. As others have noted, Israelis who suggest expelling Muslims from Gaza, the West Bank, or even Israel proper are (quite rightly) considered extremists, Fascists, no better than beasts, but everyone assumes without argument that Muslims may quite properly expect territories to be rendered Judenrein before they are handed over. Perhaps one day we will see Palestinians protesting the imputation that they cannot be trusted not to kill any Jews left behind, and desecrate their graves, when the Israeli army withdraws from any particular place, but I’m not holding my breath.

Sunday: July 16, 2006


Filed under: — site admin @ 9:13 PM GMT-0500

Just as some of the minor poetasters of the 17th century would be utterly forgotten today if they had not been fortunate enough to be mocked in Pope’s Dunciad, some of the bands of the late 20th century, including many that were and are admired by critics or the general public or both, will only be remembered in a century or two because they were fortunate enough to be mocked by Beavis and Butt-Head.

Things That Warm My Cold, Cold Heart

Filed under: — site admin @ 3:43 PM GMT-0500
  1. Reading Juan Cole’s warm recommendation of magic mushrooms. That would explain a lot. All his commenters — or at least all those whose comments he approved — agree with him.
  2. Misreading two lines in a Chicagoboyz post, a review of a book on the fall of the Roman Empire. They give the table of contents, which includes these lines:
          1. Romans 3
          2. Barbarians 46
    I couldn’t help reading that as a football score — Romans 3, Barbarians 46 — which is not a bad summary of the worst part of the fifth century.
  3. Finding Opera Quae Fuperfunt as a title in the ABE Books data base.
  4. While still half-asleep at 6:40 am yesterday, I thought of a good title for a novel about a decadent esthete with an NRA membership: Molon La-Bàs.

Sunday: July 9, 2006

Quotation of the Day

Filed under: — site admin @ 1:39 PM GMT-0500

Elderly Nova Scotian Mrs. Fiedke explains why she refuses to fly out of Barcelona:

“I’m a strict believer, in fact, a Witness, but I never trust the airlines from those countries where the pilots believe in the afterlife. You are safer when they don’t. I’ve been told the Scandinavian airlines are fairly reliable in that respect.”

(Muriel Spark, The Driver’s Seat, end of Chapter IV)

Update: (7/16/06, 10:20pm)

Maybe Mrs. Fiedke is right. At least so says the BBC’s 10 Things We Didn’t Know column (þ A Sweet, Familiar Dissonance):

8. Devout Orthodox Jews are three times as likely to jaywalk as other people, according to an Israeli survey reported in the New Scientist. The researchers say it’s possibly because religious people have less fear of death.

Saturday: July 8, 2006

Ignorance Unashamed

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:04 PM GMT-0500

Thomas Nadelhoffer (one of Brian Leiter’s interchangeable gnoams) writes:

If America were actually struggling to help spread democracy and political freedom throughout the world–rather than trying to set up puppet regimes that better serve corporate interests–many of the very people who get dismissed as anti-American would be on board so long as we were going about it in a peaceful manner. But as Chomsky himself points out, it is worth asking whether we would be in Iraq right now if their chief exports were “lettuce and pickles” rather than crude oil. The answer to anyone who happens to prefer honesty to make-believe is obviously “no” (think North Korea), but to merely pose the question is to be dismissed tout court as anti-American.

Perhaps the answer would be less obvious if the asker did not restrict his comparative study to two countries. Republican presidents have invaded more countries than just Iraq in the last few decades, and have failed to invade more countries that deserved it than just North Korea. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Nadelhoffer – or to Chomsky, for that matter – that Reagan invaded liberated Grenada, whose principal exports* are “bananas, cocoa, nutmeg, fruit and vegetables, clothing, mace”. (The last refers to the spice, not the crowd-control chemical.) Of these, the only ones for which Grenada controls much of the market are nutmeg and mace, two products of the same tree. I would hate to have to make my Christmas eggnogs and Walter Mondale memorial quiches without nutmeg, but it is far less important to the U.S. economy than “lettuce and pickles”. The fact that Reagan invaded liberated Grenada anyway should offer a clue to the clueless, but it probably won’t.

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*Yeah, that’s from the CIA Factbook, and, to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, “they would say that, wouldn’t they?” Got any evidence that it’s incorrect in any way?

Monday: July 3, 2006

Quotation of the Millennium

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:01 PM GMT-0500

From a comment by ‘nnivea’ on Protein Wisdom:

The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn’t need its brain anymore so it eats it! (It’s rather like getting tenure.)

(Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained, 177)