the old, long abandoned blog; I don't come here much anymore
THE NEW BLOG
Saturday, August 31, 2002
Cats are people too.
Well, maybe not quite, but there's evidence that we might be closer than we thought.
But perhaps the most unexpected genome sweepstakes so far is the probe of the house cat. The impetus for the work is an underappreciated genetic similarity between people and cats. ... scientists have found that when it comes to the arrangement of genes on our chromosomes, we’re closer to cats than to any other animal group studied so far except primates.
This is cute. I had to pass it along.
One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the rascally behavior that was going on.
Friday, August 30, 2002
A few of today's search requests
see 9 years old kids nude pic for free (sick bastard)
I've been trying to decide whether to comment on a program I saw on OETA (Oklahoma Educational Television Association) earlier this week. It was an hour of interviews with Israelis and Palestinians, supposedly to give us an insight into the minds of the two peoples. It was so heavily biased in favor of the Palestinians I nearly turned it off after the first fifteen minutes but I forced myself to watch the entire hour, partly in the hope that they might finally get around to telling both sides of the story. They never did. All of the Palestinians interviewed were intelligent, well-spoken, fairly reasonable people, while all of the Jews interviewed were either Palestinian sympathizers or rabid anti-Palestinian bigots.
I usually avoid mentioning the Jewish-Palestinian conflict because it seems like you have to be either 100% pro-Israel or 100% pro-Palestine and admitting the other side might actually have a point is not allowed. You must believe either a) the Palestinians are poor innocent victims of Israeli aggression and in such a desperate situation that anything they do is excusable, or at least understandable, or b) you must believe that the Jewish people, because of all they have sufferred in the past, are now and forevermore the perpetual victims and therefore can do no wrong and must never be criticised and anyone who doesn't agree is an anti-semite. We are not allowed to think that the leaders on both sides and those who support them are all a bunch of selfish, stubborn, anal retentive, "mine! mine! mine!...me! me! me!" childish brats who, more than anything just need to GROW UP.
In fact, there are few things that I would like more than to get Ariel Sharon and Yassar Arafat together on international TV and say exactly those words to them - You and your supporters are all a bunch of selfish, stubborn, anal retentive, "mine! mine! mine!...me! me! me!" childish brats who, more than anything just need to GROW UP! - and then I would bitch slap the two of them in front of a billion people. (Of course I would be wearing a burqa or some other of those ridiculous face covers since I do want to go on living after this) Then after I had got done with the slapping and everyone else who was so inclined had had a turn, I would have the two of them locked together in a small cell wearing nothing but boxer shorts (that's right, Yassar baby, no head rag) and I would have a big, burly, redneck type American go in with a leather strap and administer an old fashioned Southern form of discipline known as a whuppin' once about every three hours until they both agreed to play nice.
(Fantasies are good for one's mental health)
Thursday, August 29, 2002
Well Deserved Award
Greenpeace has been awarded the Bullshit Trophy.
Johannesburg - African and Asian farmers, and hawkers from across South Africa handed over a "Bullshit Trophy" (yes, that is the trophy's real name) to Greenpeace, the Third World Network and BioWatch for their contribution to the "preservation of poverty" in developing countries.
The Mindless Bureaucrat has announced that he is taking a long long break from blogging. His last day, Wednesday, the 28th, is well worth reading. He has left us with interesting war predictions and some reflections on blogging. Makes me really hope he's not gone too long.
I just spotted this: A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside. Not much yet but, judging by the title, it looks promising and I like the quote from the movie "Clueless." Makes a good point even if every other word is "like."
Alternative to NEA's Anti-Americanism
Fordham (not associated with the university) collected essays from 23 authors addressing the September 11 attack on the U.S. Rather than engaging in sentimentality or political correctness, this teacher's (and parent's — what parent isn't a teacher, too?) helper aims to begin to answer some real-life questions about "one of the defining events of our age, of our nation's history and of [children's] lives": "What happened? Why did it happen? How should we think about it? What are we doing about it? What should we do about it? How can we keep it from happening again?"
I hope teachers will use these suggestions instead of those from the NEA but I don't have a lot of hope. The NEA is a powerful monster. I'm going to make a daring suggestion and ask everyone to spread it around - quick! The NEA nonsense was funded by Johnson & Johnson. Boycott them! More important contact your local schools and insist that they ignore the NEA guidelines.
There is a good discussion of this in the comments at Little Green Footballs.
Just Shut Up and Do It Already
A.C. Douglas has posted an excellent screed on the alleged intention to invade Iraq, although I think he's being a little too kind to our esteemed leaders when he says "they can't really be stupid." Go read it.
Looking at my sitemeter stats this morning I found this page. Someone is translating my blog. That's cool. I wish I could do the same for some other pages but apparently there is software you have to buy. One of my very minor pet peeves is clicking on a blog link with an interesting title, in English and finding that the page is actually written in Farsi. What's up with that, huh? I think it's great that there are Farsi blogs but what's the purpose of having the title in English?
Neighbor to the North
Here's a nice blog from the Kansas Prairie.
Wednesday, August 28, 2002
If music were food and drink...
Dvorak would be home made wheat bread, still warm from the oven.
Bach would be very fine tea, subtley flavored, delicately stimulating, not too sweet.
Beethoven would be a hearty meal with roast beef for the main course and a light dessert.
Haydn would be fresh strawberries with whipped topping.
Vivaldi would be a crisp green salad.
Mozart would be chocolate, not just a single kind of chocolate but all the finest chocolates: a light fluffy chocolate mousse, a warm comforting cup of creamy hot chocolate, a dish of rocky road ice cream, dark semi-sweet chocolate with its bitter edge, a rich devil's food cake, a box of the world's most expensive chocolate candies, sweet as the tenderest love, a sensual experience exquisite beyond words.
I just found Conservatives Suck in Blogger's Most Recently Updated List. Some titles you just have to click on. I haven't read much but he must be pretty controversial. Look at his Hot or Not graph. Everyone either loves it or hates it.
Lileks Does it Again
Who's more miserable - the Far Right or the Far Left? James Lileks answers the question in his usual entertaining fashion.
First spotted at the Redwood Dragon.
It's been a while since I last looked in on Mostly Music. (so many blogs, so little time) I was a little disturbed to find this:
One of the pleasures of getting out of the US for a while was being able to avoid thinking about the idiots who run this country taking us into a war against Iraq. How many more days or weeks until American bombs start being dropped on innocent civilians?
A while back I was all hot to go get Saddam and wishing they would quit waiting around and pandering to the Saudis and the Europeans and just go DO IT already! But more recently I've been less sure. It's not that I definitely think we shouldn't go to war with Iraq; it's just that I'm no longer as sure that we should. I'm certainly not a military strategist but I can't help but wonder if some kind of covert operation wouldn't be more effective. We know that as soon as the bombs start dropping that slimy bastard is going to hide. Even if we bomb Iraq until there's nothing left but a huge smoking hole in the ground what guarantee is there that we will get Saddam Hussein?
However, back to the quoted paragraph - it seriously disturbs and angers me to read stuff like that. Yes innocent civilians do get killed in war, but Americans do not deliberately drop bombs on "innocent civilians." I am extremely sick of hearing that particular whine. Last September almost 3000 innocent civilians were killed in New York and Washington DC without warning, and this was after a decade of peace and diplomacy. We should have gone to war after the first World Trade Center bombing, but we took the "high road" and handled things in the "civilized way." Isn't it nice how well they responded to our "doing the right thing"?
One thing I do agree with is that there are idiots in Washington. They are idiots for pussy-footing around, delaying, pandering to so-called "allies" who really aren't, and generally playing politics-as-usual. What happened to the moral clarity we experienced last fall? We've always known it couldn't last forever but we need to maintain a sense of purpose for a while longer. That doesn't mean everyone has to agree but, to be useful, objections need to go beyond the usual worn out cliches and "solutions" that don't apply to the present situation.
Now that I have vented and raked Tom over the coals for that one little paragraph, I have to say that Mostly Music is a very worthwhile site. It's actually unusual to see anything there about politics. In particular, there are a couple of interesting posts on language, one of my favorite topics in spite of the fact that I am, for all practical purposes, mono-lingual.
Tuesday, August 27, 2002
More Good News About Caffeine
The research team, all members of the school's department of chemical biology, studied a special strain of hairless mice that had been exposed to ultraviolet B light twice weekly for 20 weeks. This put the mice at risk for tumor formation and skin cancer. After stopping the exposures, the researchers applied caffeine and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), two components of green tea, topically to the skin. Both caffeine and EGCG significantly inhibited cancer formation in the mice.
Whoa! Wait a minute! Hold the phone! You mean I have to put it on my skin? On the outside? Okay, that's not bad. At least it's not gross but I'd still prefer to just drink it.
And now for something different...
Weird stuff from Hot Buttered Death:
Also from Hot Buttered Death, something that's not weird, just sad...very sad.
Tunnelling to Oklahoma
Communism-crazed leaders in Red China have reportedly embarked on a bizarre new plan to invade America -- by digging a tunnel right through the center of the Earth!
Gregory then quips:
Bartlesville? Will they turn right around and head back?
Hey! Is that supposed to be funny? Have you ever been to Bartlesville?
Monday Questions, a Day Late
I didn't see these until this morning but they're good questions and I want to answer them.
1. What do you do to make things better when you feel sad and/or lonely?Sometimes I write about it - I think that helps the most - but usually I just sit around and feel sorry for myself for an hour or two and if I'm alone let go and have a good cry. Just giving in to it for a little while helps me get over it more quickly than if I suppress it
2. Are you a "touchy-feely" person? That is, do you like to touch people you don't know that well? And on the flipside of that, do you like being touched by someone you aren't close with?This will probably sound strange. I sort of wish I was but touching, or being touched by, anyone other than family usually makes me uncomfortable.
3. Do you like to have "me" time, time to yourself to be alone and relax? Or do you prefer to just do your own thing with someone else in the room? When was the last "me" time you got and what did you do? Yes, I'm very big on "me" time. Fortunately I have time to myself fairly often. It's the best time for listening to music because you can do so uninterrupted. Most people don't understand that need. People who would consider it rude to unnecessarily interrupt someone who is reading or watching TV think nothing of interrupting you when you're listening to music because they don't understand that you're really listening. They think it's just there for background noise.
4. Generally speaking, how do you feel about the concept of marriage? Are you the marrying type? Do you think the act of getting married means something today or is it simply just "a piece of paper?" Well, I've been married for 25 years so I hope I'm the marrying type.
5. That said, as many as 25 states have passed legislation regulating who they believe should be the "marrying type." What are your thoughts on the banning of same-sex marriages? I sort of have mixed feelings on this one, but basically what it comes down to is that no matter what my feelings I have no right to tell anyone else what to do with their life or what types of contracts they can and can't enter into.
6. If there was one law you had the ability to create or change, what would it be? I'm not sure if this is intended as a general question or related to marriage, but in general I think the purpose of laws should be to protect our rights not restrict them. I would repeal all "nanny" laws that are intended merely to control behavior that does not harm anyone and any laws that are intended to protect corporations from customers, employees or legitimate competition.
7. What would you like someone visiting your Blog for the first time to know about you? Now is your chance! Hmmmm.....That's the only one I'm really not sure how to answer. Just the basics, I guess - female, 44, married, two sons, American and politically don't fit neatly into any category.
Poetry Without Words
Click here for some lovely thoughts on Bach and metaphor, plus a good explanation of the musical term, "fugue."
Monday, August 26, 2002
It's hard to figure out how much public expression of emotion is acceptable. On the one hand, we're always reading that we shouldn't bottle up our emotions, and that we should try to understand the feelings of others - especially if those others happen to be "victims" or members of "oppressed cultures." But on the other hand, when we decide to write about our emotions we feel we have to apologize for "whining" because if we don't someone else will certainly berate us for whining.
What is "whining?" First of all it's an annoying sound, but in writing, what determines the difference between whining and a genuine expression of emotion - a reaching out for understanding. Is "whine" just a label we apply to anything we don't want to hear or read? What is there about some complaints that evokes sympathy while others merely annoy? It varies from one person to the next of course but we each seem to have our own personal whine threshold - a fuzzy line that divides the whiners from those we consider deserving of our sympathy.
I love my life. Like everyone else I wish I had more money, and there are a few details I might change, but overall I wouldn't switch places with anyone. But no one is totally free from the blues, and when they visit me and I want to unload I have to compare the feeling to the reason for it and usually decide that from anyone else's point of view my reasons would be less than petty. So I remain silent. Lynn is not as unleashed as she would like to be.
This past year has been a year for the blues. I'm more than 1500 miles from New York but if you could take everyone's feelings and graph them for comparison you might look at my line on the chart and think I had been there on September 11th. But I never felt like I could really let it all out. The New Yorkers I knew online were all holding up so well, at least publicly, so what right did I have way out here to whine and cry? The people I know off the Internet outwardly didn't seem terribly upset and I kept thinking 'how can they be so calm about it?' but when I think about how I was controlling my own feelings I realized that I probably looked the same to everyone else - like nothing was wrong.
I've been "over it" for months now, as much as it's possible to ever be over it but I've changed. Some things bother me more now than they used to. I can't laugh at idiots anymore. They scare me now. And sometimes they make me angry. I think maybe I've lost some objectivity. I still believe that "everyone has a right to their opinion" but damn I read some opinions and think "damn! I just wish these people would shut the hell up."
There's something that I've been trying to work my way around to and half-way trying to chicken out of. I don't even know how to start. If you've been reading this page for a while you know I love classical music. I still love it but even that has changed. There used to be times when I was so into music that I would walk around for days in a state of euphoria. Even when I wasn't actually listening to music it would be in my head and the world would be in the background; I would go through my usual routine almost like I was on autopilot. This wasn't all the time of course. It was fairly rare in fact - just a few days maybe two or three times a year - but it hasn't happened for a long time now. I think I've lost it. I haven't tried because it's not something I could ever make happen by trying. It just happened sometimes. I'm afraid it might never happen again. It's tempting to blame it on September 11th. That's the obivious thing, but other things have happened too. Music loving friends I used to share with have drifted away. Strangely, the joy has always been just as hard to share as the bad feelings. I needed the right person and that person is no longer there.
Well, I suppose I've "whined" enough. I like to end on a positive note when possible. I really don't spend a lot of time thinking about these things. Tomorrow morning I'll get up, make a cup of tea and stick a CD in the stereo and gaze out the window at the tree tops and smile in contentment. What more could anyone reasonably ask for?
I just found What's Brewing* in Blogger's Most Recently Updated list. I'll be looking in on this one once in a while.
Coincidentally, Jennifer has written a nice essay related to the very thing that I signed in to comment on: writing.
I have most of the fears mentioned, mainly fear that my writing isn't good enough but I still like to write. In fact, I prefer writing over talking as a means of communication. There is no backspace key or delete button when you're talking to someone face to face.
To expand on those comments - I not only prefer writing, it actually feels more natural to me than talking. I sort of go through some of the same process in face to face conversation: I think of something to say and then automatically edit it in my head before I speak. That's a problem because conversation doesn't slow down for editing and more often than not the moment passes before I can get out what I want to say.
There are two different kinds of writing that we do online. There's what I think of as conversational writing - the kind of writing we do on message boards and in chat rooms and sometimes email. I'm not sure what to label the other kind of writing but it's what you do when you just want to write and don't necessarily expect an answer and may not even know who you are writing for. I think blogging is sometimes a mix of these two but mainly the latter. With both kinds I do some editing. If it's conversational I just check for spelling and basic grammar errors, but when I'm doing "serious" writing I spend an unreasonable amount of time on it - rewording some sentences several times, rewriting whole paragraphs, agonizing over the placement of every comma. Funny thing is, even this heavy editing seems perfectly natural. I have an idea in my mind of what I want the finished piece to be like - the ideas I want to get across and the mood I want to convey - and I manipulate the words to acheive that outcome.
When I finally decide that what I'm working on is finished I'm often surprised at how much time has passed. I am also rarely satisfied with the finished product. I was raked over the coals by a couple of other bloggers when I expressed writing angst a while back. It's all hard to explain and I feel like I'm writing myself into a corner right now. It's hard to explain how you can enjoy doing something and feel that it's natural even though you agonize over it and worry every time you do it that it just isn't good enough. That's one of the things I agonize over - the ideas that are difficult to put into words. Some people seem to do it so easily.
Anyway, going back to Jennifer. She wrote about writing letters - the old-fashioned paper and ink kind.
We're more careful with what we say in letters. Whether because they're somewhat more tangible than an email, or whether for the simple reason that stationary is sometimes expensive or has less inherent space in which to write our thoughts. Or perhaps because we know that it might be saved and reread later. If I receive both letters and emails from the same person, I frequently see this difference -- that in an email we're not always careful about how we phrase, how much we ramble, but in a letter we distill and craft. We compose. There's an art to letter writing, and an extra dimension of personality glimmering through the sweep of the handwriting or the choice of stationary or color of ink, in which other forms of communication often fall short.
I don't know about all of that, but I imagine it differs from person to person. In writing letters there is an added dimension to worry about: handwriting. I am so out of practice and my handwriting was never good. I can start out being very careful to make it legible, but after about half a page my hand starts cramping up and the writing gets worse and worse. My letters (the few I write) are rarely more than a single page. I have an aunt who is well into her 70s and still writes letters several pages long on notebook paper and it's all perfectly legible.
I think more of the real me comes out in my emails than in letters because I can type them and watch the words appear on the screen in front of me without thinking about the physical process. I've noticed though that most people don't write "letter" emails. Most people just use email to forward stuff along with a short note, just a line or two at most. I have to plead guilty of that myself. At a family gathering last year I nagged several relatives who have email to actually write something once in a while but I rarely send them "letter" emails. It's strange how I can always think of things to write for strangers but not the people I know.
*Has anyone else noticed that there are a lot of caffeine related blog titles?
The Real Jamie Lee Curtis Stands Up
Movie actress Jamie Lee Curtis is now officially my favorite female celebrity. Well, at least for now. I tend to be fickle where stars are concerned but it will be really hard to top this in my book.
Thanks to Silflay Hraka.
Music for my Other Half
For almost as long as I have known my husband he has from time to time burst into song, always singing these same lines:
How can life be so cold?
He had never mentioned what it was or where he had heard it so I always assumed that it was just some old traditional song of unknown origin. However, recently one of our sons started asking about it and with a little prompting my husband was able to recall that he had heard it sung by a band with the words "creek" and "symphony" in their name. Within a few minutes I managed to locate this site (hmmm....I wonder if Fred knows these guys) and this CD. (the last track is THE song)
Well....it's a little weird hearing this recording of it after all these years. It was one of those things that just IS. It's just slightly disappointing. Those first lines are the best part and the band is too noisy, overwhelming the singers in some parts so that it's hard to understand the words. It's a simple catchy little tune though, easy to understand how it could get stuck in your head for more than 20 years. Now pardon me while I go listen to something to purge my brain, something a little less catchy like, maybe....Beethoven.
Sunday, August 25, 2002
PhotoDude makes a good point about plans to "soften" coverage on the September 11th anniversary.
Either way, as a student of history, I'm somewhat offended by any attempt to alter the portrayal of it on such an anniversary, especially by redaction of the parts that made it history. There's no doubt September 11, 2002, will be a difficult day for millions, and in particular, for those who lost a loved one. But I don't believe it will be made any less difficult by attempting to "soften" the facts of that hard Tuesday. It is indeed tough to go back to that dark day and relive it in any sense. It's difficult to have the hard facts of what happened replayed for you again, with the knowledge of all that's passed since that day.
While I do not think that the images should be shown over and over again as they were on the day the attacks happened, I do think they should be shown at times that will enable those who want to see them again to watch - Once on the morning news, once again on the evening news and perhaps once later in prime time - with sufficient warning so that those who choose not to watch can turn off the TV for a few minutes. There is, after all, an off button. The choice of whether or not to see images of September 11 should be left up to the individual, not made for everyone by media nannies.
More Proof that Online Quizzes are Bogus
Via A Letter From the Olde Country. He's a friggin' genius too.
Read about it at Eeksy-Peeksy.
Saturday, August 24, 2002
Yikes! That's two posts in a row displaying an obsession with rankings and hit counts. Now I feel I should do some "quality" blogging to balance it out but I don't have a lot of time for it. I'm just grabbing a few minutes on the computer here and there. The grandson is over this weekend and it is both an obligation and a pleasure to make sure he is the center of attention while he is here.
It's a dark cloudy day. That's a good thing in Oklahoma in August. We had a brief but fairly violent thunderstorm last night. The thermometer on the back porch was blown off the nail it was hanging on. It's the type that has a large round dial and a big hand pointing to the temp. It now permanently reads 62F. It's tempting to hang it back up and leave it there. I like that temperature.
(Update: I had to change the title of this one. Sometimes it's hard to come up with a clever title. When that happens it's best not to try)
I just discovered BlogStreet. I don't completely understand how it works. Somehow I'm in the same neighborhood as people like Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan and the Drudge Report (I wonder if they know that they are in the same neighborhood as such an illustrious person as myself) but what I really like about this system is that I'm ranked 927 out of 9717. Being 927th may not seem like much to get excited about; it's a long way from #1, but I would be overjoyed just to be in the top 50%.
I am so jealous!
How come I can't get a link from Lileks, or any of the other high traffic blogs? Because I don't write brilliantly worded new-orifice-ripping attacks on idiotarians the way The Rottweiller does; that's why. Congratulations, Mr. Misha.
I did notice something at the Bleat (same page, Wednesday; permalink doesn't work) that gives me a tiny flicker of hope though. This line about Roger Eno: ...he writes spare, weightless piano pieces that sound like Cage’s 4’33” getting pissed off, ... Sorry I have to confess that I don't know who Roger Eno is, but I'm used to getting blank looks from everyone when I mention John Cage or 4'33" so James and I obviously have this one thing in common: we both get 4'33" jokes. I just know any day now he's going to notice me.
I think this is my most perverted referral so far:
I just noticed, from looking at my Sitemeter stats, that I have a permanent link at The Dax Files, and as soon as saw the page I realized I had run across it before, probably mentioned it months ago. I have several more things to add next time I get around to updating my template.
Friday, August 23, 2002
More Musical Favorites
Gregory at A Dog's Life has listed some of his musical favorites and I notice that we share a few. He listed Mozart's Symphony No. 38 as his favorite of Mozart's symphonies. If I could pick just one that would probably be it. He also listed Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 which was in my list. Several others there that I love - Bach's Double Violin Concerto, anything by Mozart, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, actually 3 and 5 are my favorties but I love all of them.
Of course we could go on doing this forever. After I finished my list I stared thinking of other things I should have included. I wanted to include Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, a very special piece for me. Favorite dance, Dvorak's Slavonic Dance No 7 in C minor, preferrably the four hand piano version. My favorite for unaccompanied voice, Rachmaninov's Vespers. English Horn - I haven't heard anything specifically featuring the English Horn as soloist but there is an exquisitely beautiful moment in the second movement of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. Ah, well....now that I'm getting down to moments the possiblities are endless. I guess that's enough for now. Thanks for the morning lift, Gregory.
Not Funny Anymore
I came across this line at the Soapbox:
things are not funny anymore. Let's laugh our asses off before they turn off the lights
I know exactly what he's talking about it. September 11 damaged my ability to laugh at certain things. Stupid people used to be funny. You could make jokes about how ridiculous they are. Now stupid people are scary. But we can't stop laughing even when we feel more like screaming. Ridicule might be the best weapon we have against stupid people. Keep on laughing at them. Don't ever let anyone take stupid people seriously.
Thursday, August 22, 2002
Time for a Pleasantly Frivolous Interlude
Please pardon me if I get a little weird in the next two or three weeks. There are times when I get too intense and every little thing seems so damned important. I generally tend toward seriousness anyway. You'll rarely catch me telling someone, "Don't be so serious." More often I'm wishing people would take some things more seriously. But too much seriousness annoys most people, and besides, one needs to relax once in a while.
I have been trying to write my September 11th post. I decided over a month ago that I would need to start writing it ahead of time. I couldn't just sit down at my computer that morning and write it in half an hour. It's going well. I'm getting into this intense state of mind, possessed by an idea, that comes on me rarely and results in what I feel is some of my best writing. It's usually a rush but this time, because of the subject, in order to finish I have to go to a place in my mind where I don't want to go. As the day gets closer and closer I'm afraid I won't be able to finish it.
I don't want to risk losing the mood, but I need a break. So, just because it's a simple pleasant thing to do, here is a musical "favorites" list. (It should be understood that the word "favorites" is used very loosely, meaning "the first thing that comes to mind")
Favorites by form
Symphony: Dvorak's Symphony No. 9, "From the New World"
Piano: Mozart's Piano Sonta No. 11 (Anyone starting to see a pattern here?)
Odds and Ends
Favorite piece that other people love to hate: Pachelbel's Canon in D Major
This might prove to be entertaining: Drudge Watch
I wonder what this person was looking for. This page was the top hit for: Poet and Peasant Can you see the Peasants Living together in
From the Skeptics Dictionary
The post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this) fallacy is based upon the mistaken notion that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event was a cause of the second event. Post hoc reasoning is the basis for many superstitions and erroneous beliefs.
Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one's beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one's beliefs.
Communal reinforcement is the process by which a claim becomes a strong belief through repeated assertion by members of a community. The process is independent of whether the claim has been properly researched or is supported by empirical data significant enough to warrant belief by reasonable people.
Could it be that this is happening in the blogoshpere? [me - ACD - GNW - PhotoDude] I'm normally skeptical of excessive skepticism. I feel that much skepticism comes from a fear of appearing ignorant. It's almost a knee-jerk reaction - you automatically disbelieve everything because you don't want to be on the wrong side if turns out not to be true. Or sometimes the simple fear of disappointment makes some of us afraid to believe.
After a few more entries in the little debate about the influence of the blogoshpere over the Georgia congressional primary, I'm tempted to believe that the political bloggers do have good reason to pat themselves on the back but an inner voice keeps nagging at me, saying: "That's what you want to believe so it can't be true."
Maybe I'm too obsessed with my hit counter but I really hate when Sitemeter is screwed up. This morning when I signed in it said that I'd had 56 visits since midnight. WOO-HOO! 56 visits! I usually only have about 10 to 15 first thing in the morning. Apparently my shameless self-promotion in N.Z. Bear's comments had paid off. But when I checked the actual referrals I saw that all those visits were from yesterday. Aw shucks!
Wednesday, August 21, 2002
More on the Power of the Blogs
PhotoDude has lots of news and comments on the Georgia election and the possible influence of bloggers, plus more in the comments at ACD. I think I'm being swayed a bit here. Believing what I want to believe?
(Scroll down to read my earlier post on this topic.)
I am tempted to get this book, The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson, but, on the other hand, stories which are just a backdrop for the author's political views are often annoying - especially if I happen to disagree with the author's political views. This book, an alternative history, does sound interesting though.
I finished reading Jupiter by Ben Bova a few days ago. It's very political but also a fascinating story about the discovery of gargantuan creatures living in Jupiter's ocean, and in this case I happen to agree with the political position of the novel, basically an attack on religious hegemony.
I'm now reading Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon. It's a fantasy in the traditional mold, a genre that doesn't always appeal to me but this one is starting out unusually good. It's fairly thick so I expect to be enjoying it for quite a while.
What's in a Blog Name?
For some reason I expected a blog with a name like The Second Truth From the Left to have more substance. I don't mean to be critical. The design is very nice and it's not badly written. The title just led me to expect something else.
The Power of the Blogosphere?
Writing about Denise Majette's victory over Cynthia McKinney in Georgia's Democratic congressional primary, Howard Owens at Global News Watch says:
I chalk this up as a victory for the blogosphere. Bloggers shined a spot light on McKinney, then on her opponent and put helped raise this election to national prominence. Undoubtedly, this helped give Majette the national exposure she needed for fund raising, which enabled her to mount a serious campaign. Without money, Majette, running against a popular incumbent, would have found it hard to get her message out.
A. C. Douglas responds:
Get a grip!, son. Other bloggers read blogs, not the general public, and in this case the "other bloggers" were largely of the same political persuasion who had all been savaging McKinney from the git-go (a certifiable twit who richly deserved savaging) without any prompting from others in the blogosphere, and would have supported, and if Georgians, have voted for Majette in any case.
I have left comments in both places stating my opinion that this is nothing more than wishful thinking. Oh yeah, I would love to think that I, personally, could have influence (Link to me, please; I just need a few thousand more readers and then I'll be able to take over the world) and I think it might be a pretty good thing if the "blogoshpere" had significant influence on politics since the average blogger seems to be more insightful than the average couch potato, but I haven't seen any evidence that anyone other than bloggers actually read blogs.
I think that it might be possible that blogs could have real influence at some point in the near future but if that happens it will be a very short lived situation because as soon as everyone realizes the power that bloggers have everyone who doesn't already have a blog will rush to set up their own, balancing out any influence bloggers might have. The major news sources will rush in also to set themselves up as "reliable" news sources in this new medium, the majority will believe in them (I know I can trust CNN; why read amateur blogs?) and everything will go back to the way it's always been.
The Legendary Berkshire Record Outlet
On increasingly rare occasions I look in on the Amazon.com discussion boards where I used to go daily. Yesterday I found a discussion about Berkshire Record Outlet, always a popular topic for discussion, with some people relating horror stories while others defend and sing the praises of Berkshire. I am always one of the latter.
I have had nothing but good experiences with BRO and as I mentioned before I used to have to deal with customers myself, so you might consider me biased but I am always inclined to believe that the bad experiences are the customer's fault, though sometimes innocently. Berkshire clearly states their order policy both on the their website and at the front of their paper catalog and yet a large number of customers either ignore the policy or expect them to make exceptions. There are several things that you should keep in mind when ordering from Berkshire:
1.BRO is a relatively small operation with few employees. They don't even have their own online ordering system. They use a service which forwards the orders to them. You can't expect them to operate exactly like Amazon, CDnow and the other big stores or to be as fast. Some orders I have received in as little as two weeks; some as much as eight weeks. Three to four weeks is about normal.
2.Read their order policy. It clearly states that once an order is placed it cannot be changed. Yes, this means you too. You are not special so don't act like a spoiled child if you change your mind about an item you've ordered or find something else you just have to add. The policy applies to everyone. It's just the way their operation works.
3.BRO is an outlet store. While some items, such as the Brilliant Classics sets, are kept in stock over the long term, there are limited quantities of most items and in most cases more customers who want an item than there are copies available. They can afford to piss you off because if you don't buy it somebody else will.
No, I don't work for Berkshire. I actually don't care if you buy from them or not. In fact if you choose not to there will be less competition for the rare items. But personally, I love Berkshire Record Outlet. They have CDs that you can't get anywhere else and many of them for as little as $1.99 each. I once got a rare recording of Rachmaninoff performing his own Piano Concerto No. 2 and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for that price! With a selection like that how could anyone possibly give a damn about customer service? Berkshire can do anything to me they want to. They can send someone to my house to beat me with a stick every time I place an order and I would still order from them, and if necessary grovel at their feet and beg them to please let me order. They're worth it, but the fact is, I have never had any reason to complain.
Rather than interpreting 9-11 as if it were a Clausewitzian act of war, Bush instinctively saw it for what it was: the acting out of demented fantasy. When confronted with the enigma of 9-11 he was able to avoid the temptation of trying to interpret it in terms of our own familiar categories and traditions. Instead of looking for an utterly mythical root cause for 9-11, or seeing it as a purposeful political act on the Clausewitzian model, he grasped its essential nature in one powerful metaphor, offering, in a sense, a kind of counter-fantasy to the American people, one that allowed them to grasp the horror of 9-11 without being misled by false analogies and misplaced metaphors....
You can read all of this long and thought provoking essay by Lee Harris here.
Via A. C. Douglas.
Tuesday, August 20, 2002
This is exciting. An experimental synthetic fuel called Syntroleum will be produced at a pilot plant to be built at the Port of Catoosa, near Tulsa. The Department of Defense wants to use Syntroleum in military diesel and turbine engines.
A Wolf Who Sends Flowers - Lefty but, at first glance, not too far to the Left. Nice design.
Bluegreen Print - South African Lefty.
Seb's Open Research - Ultra geeky.
The Radical: An Expose on European Intolerance - European intolerance? Say it isn't so!
Rhizome.org - Art news.
Most of those found via Sassafrass which is also a recent find.
Meaning of Life (and all that crap)
When I start talking (or writing) like this people usually accuse me of whining. I hope everyone will be kinder than that to Rich. If I could I'd give him a big, warm, sisterly hug but I doubt that would help much.
I suppose that where family is concerned I'm one of the lucky ones. Twenty-five years, two kids. I am by no means over the hill yet. It's possible that I might have as many years ahead of me as I have behind me. But, with my "baby" now 18 and in his last year of high school, I'm in the regrets stage of family life. Whatever chances I had to be a "great mom" are behind me now. I try not to think about it too much. I try to stay focused on those years ahead. However, that seems to be Rich's problem - focusing on the years ahead and not liking where life's road seems to be headed.
This might seem strange coming from a woman but I'm kind of down on women in general. What some women do to nice guys is a horrible shame. We women don't need men the way we used to. That's good but it's bad when we forget that men still need us. They need for us to be loving, loyal, trustworthy, strong, and perhaps most of all, tolerant.
I have a story I've been thinking of telling that's sort of related to this topic. I'm not sure if I should but I probably will sooner or later. Not now though.
Hang in there, Rich. I hope the family thing works out for you but if it doesn't, remember that there are all kinds of ways to make life worthwhile. Volunteer. Somebody out there needs you.
We just want to be liked
The United States is the only major nation I know of that doesn't want to be loved, doesn't want to be feared, really doesn't even care about being respected. More than anything else, we seem to want to be liked. It'll probably surprise anyone who is on the outside looking in, but whenever we hear that some country or another doesn't like us, well, it kind of hurts our feelings, and always surprises us.
Well, I don't know about that last part. It hasn't really surprised me for a long time. It does hurt our feelings though, and what hurts the most is that we know the dislike is usually based on knowledge of us that is either incomplete or totally wrong. As Scott says later in the article:
Nearly every awful thing people in the rest of the world associate with America can be laid directly on the doorstep of big business and marketing. They've built deadly-dangerous polluting plants, knowingly employed slave labor, even overthrown whole governments a few times, all in the name of making a buck.
Well, I can't entirely agree with that, but big business is a big part of the image other countries have of America along with the TV shows we export to every country that will have them. I'm tempted to quote more but I'll just ask you click on the link instead. It's too good not to read the whole thing.
Monday, August 19, 2002
A Weed by Any Other Name
Mike Congrove of Flyover Country wants to "fix" Oklahoma, starting with a name change.
I propose that Oklahoma undergo a complete rebranding. First, change the name of the state. Oklahoma has too negative a connotation. Oklahoma City is a mouthful with a similar connotation. Change the name, redesign the flag, and hold a state-wide contest for a search for a new name.
I'm not a native Okie; I've only lived here for seven years but I've grown rather attached to the name. I like the way it rolls off the tongue. The only thing better would be one of those Native American derived names that are not pronounced quite like they are spelled. That would give us endless opportunities to laugh at the rest of the country. (I just love it when one of the local TV stations gets a new meteorologist from out of state.) Changing the flag might not be such a bad idea. A state flag should be simple enough that any school child can draw it, since they are usually required to do so at least once.
While I don't agree that the state needs a name change I would be more than willing to change the name of the city of Tulsa. Tulsa is actually a rather nice small city with a couple of museums, an orchestra, opera and ballet but when people hear that name they automatically think trailer parks and Garth Brooks. (Yeah, yeah; Tulsa has those too. Shut up.)
Fortunately I do not live in Tulsa I live way out in the woods some distance away. It takes me almost 30 minutes to drive to the nearest Wal-mart. And that is what I like about living here. Socially, I don't fit in at all. That's fine with me but it might be one thing about Oklahoma that does need to be fixed. By the time I had been here a month or two I thought I was going to scream if I heard one more person say "My great grandaddy was in the land run" or some variation, "Both my great granddads were in the land run. or the ever popular, "I had a great granddad in both land runs." (there were two?) I've never felt so much like an alien. After a while I stopped paying attention and finally decided that I like being an alien.
The really bad part though is that politicians play to this inbred bunch. I don't think I've ever seen a local political ad in which the candidate didn't brag about how many generations of his family have lived in Oklahoma. (5 seems to be the magic number) Furthermore, every idiotic, right-wing extremist idea you can possibly think of is probably supported by the majority of Oklahomans if it didn't actually originate here. The congressman in my district, Brad Carson, is a Democrat, which is very unusual in Oklahoma but understandable once you realize that it's often hard to tell he's not a Republican.
I don't want to sound like I'm totally down on Oklahoma. This is a lovely state with a lot of potential, but we need a few more people from outside to provide diversity, and when they do move here they should be welcomed, not met with constant reminders that they are outsiders and always will be. We need for the dissenters who are already here to let their voices be heard. I know that's hard to do and perhaps I should try harder to take my own advice. The truth is I like my nice, pleasant, laid-back lifestyle and the privacy I have living out here in the boonies.
One more thing. While we're "fixing" Oklahoma could we please get an NFL team here? I figure we could build the stadium on the southwest side of Tulsa. That would keep the traffic from Oklahoma City out of Tulsa. I'm not sure what we could use for a mascot. It seems like the good ones are all taken. Maybe someone should buy the Redskins and move them to Oklahoma. Most folks around here wouldn't get all whiney and bent out of shape and claim that the mascot is insulting to Native Americans. It would fit right in with Oklahoma's history.
Speaking of "Blogs of Note"...
Here is one that is highly worthy of that honor: Badgett's Coffee Journal. Caffeinated beverages seem to be a popular blog topic. I already have two in my blogroll but this one is really is "all about coffee," though tea (my stimulant of choice) has been mentioned once recently. Overall, very nicely written and interesting.
Successes and Failures
Have you ever been all puffed up about one or two small, insignificant successes and started thinking you could do just about anything, but when you try something a little more complicated you get slapped in the face with reality? Probably not since you were about 6 years old, right?
For a long time I have had a burning desire for a three column layout. Blogger has none and I don't like any of the very few three column templates at BlogSkins - except for the one with graphics, and I'm a little scared of BlogSkins anyway. So I've been playing around with my test blog to see what I could come up with, starting with this same template, and I have come up with nothing. I'm a firm believer in the old adage, "If at first you don't succeed try, try again," but nothing I do seems to make any difference at all. If I did something that turned out to be an obvious horrible mistake, at least I might learn something from that but I haven't even been able to screw it up. I guess maybe these templates are protected from idiots like me screwing around with them too much. (Probably a good idea)
By the way, unrelated to this topic but exactly what does it take to be a "Blog of Note"? I may not be one of the best - I know I'm not great but I'm definitely as good or better than some of those who have made it.
I've read lots of opinions on what should be done with the remains of the highjackers found at the WTC, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania crash site - for example this Top Ten List. Very amusing but don't you think all of this talk of desecration of bodies is more than a little ghoulish? Aren't we better than them? Obviously the only thing to do would be to give them a decent Christian burial.
Okay, wait! Stop! Think about that for just a minute before you rip me to shreds for being an idiotarian leftist weenie. A decent Christian burial.
Somehow I just can't feel sorry about the horrible fate of some of the Taliban soldiers at the hands of our so-called allies, but this article just goes to show that those people will need strict supervision for a a very long time - at least a couple of generations. We "evil Americans" will be criticized no matter what we do but there are worse things than "imperialism" to be guilty of.
Via Ye Olde Phart.
Sunday, August 18, 2002
We're right, they're wrong. Grow up already!
That, as always, is my message to cultural relativists. It's a lazy Sunday afternoon and I'm feeling too mellow for a proper rant so I'll just post a few quotes from a review of The Culture Cult, a book by Roger Sandall:
Roger Sandall’s brilliant, impassioned and sardonic The Culture Cult explains among other things how the phrase “in our culture” has come to be used to defend behaviour that would otherwise be seen as quite abhorrent. Until recently Sandall was a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Sydney. His career coincided with the high tide of an intellectual fashion which held three dogmas to be unquestionable. In his words:
Multiculturalist thinking tends to exaggerate the place of art in past communities. Writers enchanted by Aztec art, architecture and poetry often ignore the unspeakable despotism of this warrior and priest-ridden society and their continual wars, waged in pursuit of the 20,000 prisoners needed annually for purposes of human sacrifice. For their neighbours, the arrival of the conquistadors was liberating.
The image of a lost world of wise, peace-loving artists in harmony with the natural world is the invention of Western intellectuals disgruntled with the civilization that makes their lives so easy. In reality, many primitive societies were not only homicidal but also impressively eco-cidal. The Maoris, for example, managed, despite their relatively small numbers, to wipe out about 30 per cent of the indigenous species, including all twelve kinds of Moa, within a century of their arrival in an edenic New Zealand.
A cornerstone of the excessive valuation put on cultural difference is the conviction that the arrival of Europeans invariably signalled disaster for native peoples. It is this belief that has clamped inverted commas on the phrase “European civilization” and buried its achievements under sneers. ...Romantic primitivists forget that many – perhaps most – tribal societies from prehistoric times have been slave-owning. In a number of cases it took Europeans to make this moral outrage visible, so that it could be challenged. Slavery in India was little documented until the British identified 10,000,000 slaves in a census of 1841 and outlawed slave owning in 1862.
Romantic primitivism and what Sandall calls Designer Tribalism are irritating and wrong, but do they actually matter? They do if they result in bien pensants helping exotic autocrats to get away with murder. ...These fantasies matter, also, if they promote the idea that the benefits of civilization – low infant mortality, long life-expectancy, adequate nourishment, effective treatments for illnesses, accountable government and individual rights – came from nowhere. They matter most of all when they translate into real-world policy.
Read it all.
Friday, August 16, 2002
No increase in the ability of mankind to communicate has ever resulted in a loss of liberty. Every single invention has resulted in real gains in both personal and national freedom.
I had a feeling when I read these opening lines that I was about to read a wonderful essay. That feeling was 100% correct. Read it all at AMCGLTD.
They Have Bleeding Hearts in Australia Too
An Australian court has sentenced a gang rapist to 55 years in prison. Shockingly, there are people who think this sentence is too long.
A record 55-year sentence handed down to a gang rapist in an Australia court has left the legal profession and community groups divided over the merits of such severe sentencing.
Excuse me! "Minor crimes?" Can someone out there arrange for Mr. North to be gang raped? Perhaps that might change his outlook, though I wouldn't bet on it. Fifty-five years seems fairly lenient to me. Of course, if prison crowding is a problem they could consider castration as a reasonable alternative.
It's all about the MUSIC, stupid!
It's been a long time since I have listened to Elvis. The last time I heard a song by Elvis was several years ago when one morning I turned on the classical station and to my horror the first thing I heard was Elvis. The station had, completely without warning, changed its format from classical to "soft oldies." They had given absolutely no warning - no "We are sorry to have to announce that this will be our last day on the air" - just classical one day and oldies the next. Bastards! Understand, I wasn't horrified at hearing Elvis; I was horrified at the unexpected loss of the area's only classical radio station, but that's a rant I'll save for another time.
I used to love Elvis's slower songs. I never cared much for stuff like Blue Suede Shoes and Jailhouse Rock. Right now my aging brain is having trouble coming up with names of old favorites. I can recall only two at the moment. One was In the Ghetto, the lyrics are almost too melodramatic to be taken seriously but it was the way Elvis sang it that tugged at the heart-strings. The other song I'm remembering was a well known Simon and Garfunkel song but I actually heard Elvis's version first - Bridge Over Troubled Water. With apologies to Paul and Art - also old favorites of mine - nobody ever sang it like Elvis did.
So now the truth is out. I like Elvis. However, I don't make pilgrimages to Graceland; I don't collect Elvis memorabilia; I don't get off on repeating Elvis legends; and I didn't see Elvis at 7-11 last week. Elvis worshippers make me sad and angry, for three reasons. First of all they make it embarrassing to admit liking Elvis. Second, they obscure the real reason for loving Elvis - the music! Third, however messed up he might have been in his later years, Elvis, for much of his life, was very religious. To worship him almost as if he were a god himself dishonors his memory. Never mind my religious views or lack thereof. Elvis would not have approved.
Thursday, August 15, 2002
More at Dustbury
I only found Dustbury a few days ago but today while browsing through his archives I discovered that he had linked to me way back in May when I was still a very new blogger, not sure what I wanted to do with this and wondering if I had any readers.
I greatly enjoyed reading Chaz Meets the Classics. I think he summed up very well what it takes to "get into" classical music.
I suspect that the real breakthrough was not so much musical as emotional: my willingness to throw myself into the music as prelude to a commitment was the key to opening up my heart.
Yep, that's it. Whatever the motivation, you have to throw yourself into it. Casual listening will get you nowhere.
I'm going to be spending a LOT of time at this blog, which I just found via my Sitemeter referral log. There are a lot of great links that I haven't seen anywhere else.
Another Reason to Boycott McDonald's (as if I needed one)
Thanks to A. C. Douglas for pointing to the mud-slinging match at PejmanPundit. (read the comments) You know - I enjoy ACD's page; it's always well-written and thoughtful, and we both share a love of good music - but sometimes I'm proud to be a "redneck moron." (I'm not quite ready to admit to the "right wing" part of that)
A McDonald's in Saudi Arabia is bragging on McDonald's website that they employ only Muslims and serve only Muslims. Discrimination is discrimination no matter who is doing the discriminating against whom. How long do you think a McDonald's in the U.S. could get away with bragging that they serve only Christians? Besides, I thought McDonald's was part of the "evil Western culture." They would be doing them a favor if they took away their franchise.
Update:McDonald's has updated their website to remove the statement about the Saudi Arabian McDonald's serving only Muslims.
No no no! Two is enough!
A black kitten - about 4 or 5 months old, I think - showed up on our back porch last night acting like it belonged here and begging to get in. Spot must be getting mellow in her old age. She didn't try to claw through the glass in an effort to get out and rip the invader to shreds. (For those of you who missed this, Spot is a cat) We don't know whether the newcomer is male or female because it hisses and backs away when we try to touch it. But it doesn't matter it's not staying.
It's still out there this morning, sitting in one of our lawn chairs. He...er, it seems to have made itself at home. My son and I were talking last night and decided that we will have to give it a Star Trek name. I had several cats that I gave musical names and they all died so musical names are bad luck. And then there was Isis...no particular reason for that name; we just couldn't think of anything better and Isis sounded like a typical cat name. She died when she was only 4 years old. But the two cats who have Star Trek names - Spot and Kes - are doing fine so Star Trek names are good luck.
But we were just talking; the little guy....or girl....is not staying. I hope it's male because I think Worf would be a good name. I haven't thought of any female names yet. It's probably female. All the cats we end up with are female. But I swear this one's not staying. Hmmm....what was the name of that Bajoran with the bad attitude?
Wednesday, August 14, 2002
Why am I not surprised?
I just finished reading the interview with Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA. I have never waded through such a huge pile of bullshit in my entire life! He apparently thought he was being reassuring - don't believe the rumors kids; we still want to give the customers what they want - but behind every line I see the same thing: CONTROL FREAK...CONTROL FREAK...CONTROL FREAK.
I don't advocate piracy. What I object to is the recording industry treating customers like criminals. Whatever happened to being innocent until proven guilty? If someone is guilty of piracy, prove it in a court of law. Don't automatically treat all of us as if we are already guilty before we even buy.
I am adding the Banned Books Project weblog to my list.
Never enough Bach
It's a Bach kind of morning. It rained all day yesterday and today it's beautifully damp and gloomy, not even 70F, unheard of for Oklahoma in August, but I'm not sure if the weather has anything to do with it or not. Bach just feels especially right this morning.
Whenever I get a craving for a particular composer, unless it happens to be Mozart or Dvorak, I run into the problem of not having enough - too few CDs to hold an all day marathon. I probably do have enough Bach to get through most of the day but the problem is that I have a specific craving for Bach harpsichord music. I've already listened to the Goldberg Variations once this morning but if the sun doesn't come out later I might just have to listen to it again this afternoon.
So many blogs, so little time...
I think I'm going to start drinking Dr. Pepper again
Dr. Pepper used to be my drink until Vanilla Coke came along and stole my soul, but Ye Olde Phart (gotta love that name!) has given me a reason to go back drinking Dr. Pepper. Anything fundies hate I have to support. Funny...I hadn't even noticed what it said on the can; I'm more concerned with what's inside it. Are these people anal or what!
Tuesday, August 13, 2002
Can't Top This
I think I first saw Bill Thompson's entertaining piece of creative writing at the WarLiberal last week but I can't find it there now. I was thinking about responding to it but today at Spleenville I found a link to this line by line response. I have nothing left to say except....Bravo, Mr. Misha!
It's been a while....
The Irony of "Free Speech"
David Yaseen writes:
With a shred of neither shame nor irony, corporate and moneyed interests buy the actions of politicians and the opinions of the masses. Lobbying and campaign contributions are seen by most as a necessary evil at worst. They're just "protecting their interests." The Supreme Court has equated the money used to buy politicians to speech, and protected it under the First Amendment. But some schmoe, writing his opinion for free on a web page somewhere, because he truly believes in it, lives in fear that his professional and personal lives will be trashed if the wrong people find out.
I've never seen it stated better. Real freedom of speech belongs to those who have the money to buy it or to defend it in court. It would be nice to think that the Internet had changed that - that anyone, no matter who we are, can set up a webpage and say anything we want to but the reality is that a lot people have to watch what they say or else live in fear that their lives will be ruined if the wrong person reads their opinions.
More On Anonymity
After reading Steven Den Beste's lengthy screed against the use of psuedonyms and against Demosthenes in particular, I'm coming around to the idea that maybe Brendan O'Neill was right about at least one thing he said in his critical post that led to such an uproar about a month ago: "Be brief."
I counted the number of times I had to click the scroll bar to get to the bottom of Den Beste's rant - twelve, not counting the links at the bottom. Good heavens! That's more than many of us write in an entire week, and it's all about such a trivial point. Okay, let's assume that he actually has a point, though not necessarily one with which I agree. If it bothers Steven when people don't use their real names he has every right to express that opinion publicly, but twelve screens worth? What did he say that couldn't have been said in a paragraph or two? I read the whole thing and didn't get anything out of it that couldn't be summed up in a single sentence: Demosthenes is a cowardly scumbag. (NOT my opinion, BTW)
The Two Questions
First of all, I didn’t just log on for the first time yesterday. I get almost as many of this kind of email as I do spam. The tricks are easy to recognize. Obviously the endangered fetus in the first question will turn out to be someone who changed the world in some positive way. Even the wording of this question is an obvious trap – “Would you recommend….?” – expressly designed to insure that there can be only one reasonable answer. In multiple choice questions like the second one, the answer is always the one that looks wrong. However, for a moment I will ignore the fact that these are trick questions and try to answer them as if they were serious.
In the abortion question there is some very important information missing. Have any prenatal tests been done to determine whether the baby is likely to be born with defects? More importantly, is the mother even considering an abortion? Then there is the wording of the question. I would never “recommend” that a woman have an abortion. If I was in the postion to advise I would give the mother-to-be as much information as possible and tell her that she must make the decision herself.
The second question is also seriously lacking in information, and the information given is the wrong kind. Where do each of these candidates stand on the issues? Do their voting records match what they’re telling the media? And by the way, how do we know the third guy hasn’t had any affairs? Maybe he’s just sneaky enough to avoid getting caught.
The rest of the email - after a lot of blank space and an admonition to think about the questions before scrolling down – reads as follows:
Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt
Oh, by the way, the answer to the abortion question.
There is a lesson to be learned from these questions but it’s not the one their author intended. As usual Snopes nails it:
We'll tackle the second half first. It has some good points, namely that by selectively choosing which facts to report, you can make just about anyone look good or bad. It also (perhaps unintentionally) provides an example demonstrating that facts offered out of context can be more misleading than no facts at all: Hitler's diet was primarily vegetarian throughout the latter part of his life; however, he didn't adopt a vegetarian diet for moral reasons, but because he suffered from gastric problems.
Still, some of the semantic trickery used here makes this a rather poor example. Hitler had affairs with several women (some of whom died under mysterious circumstances), but they weren't technically "extramarital" affairs because he wasn't married....
The Beethoven example is egregiously misleading. Beethoven was born well over two hundred years ago, in an era when the infant mortality was quite high by modern standards, and even infants who survived were often afflicted with serious health problems. Children didn't die or experience physical problems so frequently back then simply because they were all born to mothers who were themselves in poor health, as is implied here. Offering an 18th century example in a 20th century setting is a very poor way of making a serious point.
Also, Beethoven was not born to a woman who "had 8 kids already." Although his mother, Maria Magdalena Laym (nee Kewerich) gave birth a total of eight times during her lifetime, Ludwig was only her third child....
The first question almost appears to be directed specifically at me doesn’t it? Oh my! What if the world had been deprived of Beethoven because his mother decided to abort him? Well, it’s true I can’t imagine a world without Beethoven but if he had not been born we would never have known what we were missing. If we’re going to play this game why not ask how many potential Beethoven’s are there who are being deprived of a musical education because the school board prefers to pour money into sports programs? Or what if the child who is “destined” to cure cancer or AIDS never realizes his potential because he is being home schooled by fundamentalist parents who believe stem cell research is evil?
I do not believe that the people who circulate emails like this one are being intentionally dishonest. Probably even the person who wrote it had good intentions. However, when you believe that the facts support your point of view, that is the time when you should be most conscientious in checking those facts. If you don't your opponents will and you will end up looking either dishonest or ignorant.
Monday, August 12, 2002
The Color Blue
There's a very interesting post about color at Regions of Mind:
The favorite color for most Americans and Europeans is blue. Yet, to the ancient Greeks, blue was a shade to be disdained as ugly and barbaric. When blue began to be associated with the Virgin Mary in the Middle Ages, some members of the church hierarchy put up a fierce rearguard action to block the incorporation of the hue into church iconography. They failed.
There's more. Very interesting. A lot of people seem to take it for granted that the meanings we assign to colors have some actual basis in psycology and that the colors we like tell something about our personalities, but since the meanings of colors have changed can there be any real connection between color preference and personality?
I don't have a strong preference for a single color over all the others but I wouldn't pick blue as my favorite. I'm very fond of yellow but it depends on what other color is placed next to it. Yellow and blue go together much better than yellow and green. (Even though I'm a Packers fan I have to admit that Green Bay uniforms are the ugliest in the NFL) I also like red, pink, purple, some shades of green and yes, even blue.
Writing What We Know
Bruce Baugh has some thoughts on writing about war in Iraq.
My problem in commenting on the prospects of war is a simple one: I can't go there. My experience does not equip me to assess the costs and benefits and consequences of this or that strategy. There are some aspects of war where I can work out some reasonably solid guesses, but too much depends on things I don't know, and too much of that depends on things that are secret....
We all have our agendas and blind spots. Nor will reading a lot of reference books and papers help a lot in precisely the trickiest situations, the parts where the conflict and the tools available for it are both evolving very rapidly. Nor will reasoning in the absence of such crucial evidence succeed...If the facts are wrong or even just incomplete, reason will not miraculously generate a way to fill the gaps; it'll just start off from bad premises, and therefore end up being right only by accident.
All of that is true and I do have that in mind before I post my two cents worth on sensitive topics, but everyone's knowledge is limited to some degree and even the most knowledgeable experts can sometimes be horribly, tragically wrong. I've heard it said that opinions are like armpits; everybody has a couple and they all stink. Maybe so but I feel that everyone has an equal right to stink up the place. Most people just read editorials to confirm their own opinions anyway. Read something you agree with and you think "that guy knows what he's talking about;" read something you strongly disagree with and you think "that guy's an idiot." Chances are neither one of then knows what he's talking about, no matter how prestigious the publication.
Behind the Scenes
Are you sure this is the same language?
Also from Scott: comments about baseball, cricket and British English.
My Inner Flower
hmmm..... not exactly how I see myself but how can one be displeased with a rose?
Via Mad Musings
Another Okie Blog!
I've just added Dustbury to my list. Finding all these Oklahoma bloggers is exciting. All this time I thought I was the only person in Oklahoma who even owns a computer. (just kidding) This has given me an idea. I'm thinking about starting another blog featuring Oklahoma news and links.
The Armed Liberal has a response to attacks on anonymity. I have mixed feelings about this. When I was first thinking about starting this blog I had planned to use a pseudonym but I was uncomfortable with that choice. At the same time I was uncomfortable with using my real name. Unable to decide, I compromised and use first name only. I might eventually add my last name, but I still feel a little reluctant to do so.
I'm not sure why it matters anyway. How can I be 100% certain that Steven Den Beste is actually a real name? I could look it up in a telephone directory but just because I find the name listed with a "real world" address and telephone number doesn't necessarily mean it's the same person.
Sunday, August 11, 2002
Please let me know if this is really ugly or hard on the eyes. The sidebar color is FFCC99. I was going to use FFCC66 but I was afraid it was too bright.
Saturday, August 10, 2002
Two Questions to Ponder
QUESTION 1: A woman is pregnant and already has 8 children, 3 are blind, 2 are deaf, and she has syphilis. Would you recommend that she have an abortion?
QUESTION 2:It is time to elect a new world leader, and your vote counts. Here
I received these questions via email. I will wait until Tuesday before posting my answers/comments, in order to give interested bloggers a chance to post their answers.
More Telephone Rules
Acidman has posted his own list of Phone Rules. They're even tougher than mine.
Come to think of it, I want to add one more to my list. Consider this my rule #9: I really hate to talk on the phone so unless you absolutely have to talk to me right this minute EMAIL instead. If you don't have email....well, GEEZ! Join the 21st century already!