Monday, October 14, 2002
More on the Harpsichord

Have we exhausted this topic yet? Last week there were brief discussions here and at A.C. Douglas' blog and I had more to add but got distracted over the weekend. ACD wrote:

Unlike a piano, the strings of a harpsichord are plucked from beneath by a device called a plectrum (made of either quill or hard leather in the period instrument), rather than struck from above by a felt-covered hammer as in the piano.

The strings of the harpsichord can be plucked in one way, and one way only, no matter what the harpsichordist does with his fingers at the keyboard (that's not entirely true, but true enough for the purpose of this article). A string is either plucked or not plucked, a kind of binary affair, and the sound produced is the same always: very precise attack, and short decay due to low string tension and relatively rigid sounding board.

One of things that fascinates me about the harpsichord sound - and I'm just going by what my ears tell me; I don't know what I'm talking about the way ACD does - is the variations in tone quality. I'm not sure if that's the right way to describe what I'm talking about. On the piano there's a kind of uniformity between the higher and lower notes but on my favorite harpsichord recordings there's a noticeable difference between the higher notes, which are light and tinkly, sometimes almost piano-like, and the lower notes, which are very full and resonant. Overall these variations make the harpsichord a much richer sounding instrument than the piano.

Besides Ton Koopman's recording of the Goldberg Variations, which I have raved about repeatedly, another of my favorite recordings is a disc of sonatas by Marcello. The harpsichord on this recording has the most remarkable tone! It is very clear and distinct, the most guitar-like sound of any harpsichord I have heard, but of course much more than a guitar. The harpsichordist is Hans Ludwig Hirsch and the instrument is described as Harpsichord with two keyboards by William Dowd, Paris, 1978, built after a model by Nicholas and Francois Blanchet 1730.

Another intersting harpsichord recording is by harpsichordist Martin Souter, performing Handel, Thomas Arne, Johann Christian Bach, Thomas Chilcot and some very early Mozart, on a restored harpsichord that belonged to King George III. The sound of this instrument is a little more metallic than the one described above and slightly less pleasant to my ears but still one of the better ones that I have heard.

I should also add that my music collection is very small compared to those of most serious classical fans. I can describe what I like but I don't have much basis for comparison.


Bruce Baugh has moved back to Blogger. Good-bye Writer of Fortune, hello An Image of Truth. For sentimental reasons I'm leaving Writer of Fortune in my list for at least a little while. There were some very good posts there.

Palestinian Spam

I received a very long, very strange email, titled Barenboim; August 28, Part 6-Plus, from an individual using the name "Jiwon," address thorny@netsgo.com
The address seems vaguely familar but I do not know who it is. A blogger, perhaps? The email was 85K and while I was scanning through it I received two more equally long emails from the same person. I blocked the address mainly because Yahoo has a limited size mailbox and too many of these large emails will fill up my mailbox in no time.

I only saved the first of the three. I haven't taken the time to read through all of it. It seems to be a series of messages with the most recent first. I will just post a few "interesting" excerpts.

Dear my Mail Recipients,
Could you please see P.S.2 first? After sending this mail to AP, I wanted to stay away from the computer for a while. Then, something was waiting for me again. My relationship with the New York Times started couple of years ago. So, if you want to know the reason of two Barenboim-articles, which were written after this message, please contact the JSO jso@inter.net.il, or Bashkirova+Mehta’s Agency enquiries@transartuk.com . They will explain all the details about WHO destroyed/saved Barenboim’s life and HOW, and WHY even the NYT wanted to join my Barenboim-mailing. Thanks...

October 2, 2002, 5:19 AM EDT Jewish musician Barenboim and Palestinian scholar Said pursue Middle East harmony... to publish a new book, “Parallels and Paradoxes,” about the power of culture to transcend political differences… Days after the Ramallah visit, ultra-Orthodox Jews..Barenboim's wife, pianist Elena Bashkirova, pelted the group with her salad.

Basically, it was Yediot Aharonot, Israel Insider and Haaretz, which started spreading this trashy journalism. (Argentinean Clarin also did it and they immediately received my warning. Its Jerusalem reporter would have to pay me, anyway.)...

1. Haaretz did it “again”, even after I sent my last warning to the Jerusalem Post. This professional music critic reminds me of American female professor, who was an epitome of competitive mind. She believed that she could own me as her naive toy if she could manipulate my jealousy/temper. Her strategy was so dirty, so childish. But it worked with most males. I don’t know why.
2. Israel Insider also treated my Barenboim-message a nut case. This intelligent newspaper even didn’t fix their problem about the wrong information, Barenboim’s Wagner, which I pointed out last summer.
3. If Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’s board is the one, who conducted all the happenings, I will bring this chairman, Yeheskell Beinisch, into the legal case. I will. No matter what their reason is, they would have to be responsible for their trashy journalism.
They would have to pay me.

It has been YEARS.
1. What a hopeless job Barenboim was doing when I first flew to Chicago? How my involvement was able to save his dying life?

2. How Barenboim was attacked by Bashkirova’s Berlin friends and forced to leave his Berlin job? How I solved IT?

3. Please ask Israel Insider. When the Berlin Philharmonic played Wagner in Barenboim’s Israel Festival? Its members have only established Bimbo’s Jerusalem Festival in 1998. They wanted to make this bitch a Berlin-Queen and put Barenboim under their power. Then on June, 1999, they threw shit on Barenboim after “understanding” my Barenboim-Furtwaengler message. Then, they invited all their friends to Jerusalem Festival 2000. They did it to ridicule my bimbo-message. They did it to make this trashy Jerusalem event into a twin brother of Barenboim’s Divan Workshop. They did it to make this bitch a Jewish Queen. It was an event of the century, according to the professional music critic.

4. Gidon Kremer also joined them to take care of his second Wife-or-Ex, and ALL his friends joined this bitch. They did it with their heart, because the more dying music Barenboim proved, the more brilliant professional success they were able to achieve. Who are THEY?

5. Even Barenboim’s own employees joined them, because I made it clear that there is no hope in Barenboim’s Furtwaengler dream with their dull music.

It has been YEARS.
It has been YEARS that I warned, warned and warned the BPO members and JSO’s board that they should NOT destroy Barenboim’s Middle East Peace Project. (Berlin Phil. and Jerusalem Sym..)
Now, Barenboim finally received a death threat from Inside Israeli.
Without those trashy human beings, whether Jewish or not, Barenboim could have proved his naive patriotism without causing any trouble, even in Ramallah.

It has been YEARS.
It has been YEARS that I sent my Barenboim-messages to all the possible places, which Bashkirova-Family treated inferior enough to “fake” their music business.
They believed that they could succeed in their bimbo-project there.
There, this bitch has boasted her loud mouth as a Berlin-Queen.
Where are those places? From Argentine, Spain, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Canada... and to America.
Recently, I had to ask my mail-receivers AGAIN, including Spain’s ABC, to share my Barenboim message with everyone in their country.
But still,

Elena Kremer was born to destroy Barenboim’s everything, from professional career, starting from Paris, to even his private life as a Jewish father. While reading Barenboim-article by Jewish writer, I was even surprised at that Barenboim’s legal decision "shortly" after du Pre’s funeral to take care of his Jewish kids disappointed Jewish Folks. I promise you. Without this bitch, Barenboim’s painful life with dying du Pre during their late years could have been quite a different story.

Whoever I am, I am the one who was saving or protecting Barenboim in all the cases. Then, I never want to share my money with those useless little Barenboims. Barenboim already made it clear that they are not Israeli. Israeli patriot’s two sons, who have never proved their Jewish identity as proud Israeli? Furthermore, their Russian prostitute mother wants to take care of ALL the Jewish young talents, except her own kids? Go to the hell. Du Pre’s conversion to Judaism was mainly due to her willingness to raise her kid(s) under Barenboim’s Jewish tradition.

It goes on and and on like that. I can hardly wait to read the comments on this one so please don't hold back.


I'm not sure what the problem is with Haloscan. The comments link was missing; now it's back again. I have been thinking about trying a different commenting system. I don't see any way to ban trolls with Haloscan. Most of them though, seem to have one problem or another.

Whatever will be will be

I have decided that I need to try not to worry so much. I have been afraid that we will do nothing about Iraq and, contrary to the lame accusations of the anti-defense crowd, I have been dreading a war with large numbers of casualties. (see my post in Sgt. Stryker's comments) It is impossible to stop worrying completely but keeping certain things in mind will help.

When we were preparing to invade Afghanistan there was much hand-wringing over how difficult it was going to be - the American military was too soft; the Afghanis were brutal fighters whom even the Soviet Union couldn't defeat; and of course there was the "brutal Afghan winter." It's true that Iraq will be different. The pundits who are predicting high numbers of casualties could be right, but they could also be wrong.

I was one of those people who thought Bush was an idiot. In some ways I still do think he's an idiot. He's also an embarrassment to the country every time he opens his mouth. The president of Afghanistan speaks better English, for crying out loud! But last fall President Bush surpised us and did the all the right things. I'm impatient; I want to see some action - if not war then something. When we get impatient we should remember these words from Bush's September 20, 2001 speech: Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. There are things going on that none of us are aware of.

Arguing with the anti-defense bunch is about as useful as arguing with a doorknob but, one more time, I want to try to make a couple of points. First of all, it's not all about us. Like it or not the U.S. has a responsiblity, as the most powerful nation on Earth, to defend freedom around the world. We also have a responsiblity to clean up the mess we made.

Another reason that we should remove Saddam from power is that he supports terrorism. Whether or not there is a direct link with al Queada is irrelevant. There is a lot of talk about Weapons of Mass Destruction and I sense a tendency to think in military terms. We think of missles that can cross the ocean and destroy American cities and seeing that Saddam does not have any such weapons some people would say he's not a threat. Instead we should think in terms of car bombs and suitcase bombs. Think of a terrorist releasing poison gas in the NY subway system, or dumping smallpox in city water supplies. Think of the approximately 200 tourists in Bali who died in a bomb blast while they were out having fun and think of that happening in New York, Atlantic City, San Francisco, Las Vegas or any other American city. Think of it happening lots of times.

And finally, here you go... are you ready for it? OOOIIIIILLLL! Yes oil is a consideration. So what? What do you think powers the cultivators and harvesters used by American farmers to grow food that is shipped around the world? And so what if Bush and his cronies get richer? Most of the thousands of jobs in the U.S. wouldn't exist if someone hadn't seen a possibility of getting rich. If oil was the main consideration we wouldn't still be sitting around debating what to do about Iraq. We would have invaded and taken over a long time ago. But oil is something we have to keep in mind and for damn good reasons.

I read something at ACD this morning that literally made me laugh out loud:

I've received several eMails inquiring why I'm talking about Bach when our War On Terrorism is still ongoing, and our shooting war against Iraq is imminent.

So...because "war against Iraq is imminent" we should just stop talking about everything else? Unbelieveable! To find some other bloggers who also have other things to write about look in my "Different Keystrokes" category. C'mon...take a mental health break once in a while. As for myself, I want to try to get back to talking about Bach and harpsichords later, and I have some Mozart in mind too. I'm not saying I'm giving up on "warblogging;" I'm just saying that while we're waiting we might as well breathe a little.

No Bystanders Allowed

Another excellent essay by Steven den Beste:

There are many who believe that the kind of peace and freedom that we enjoy is the natural state of the human race, the default to which all will return if only they could somehow convince us all to disband our armies and stop fighting. But the natural state for humans is barbarism, cruelty, violence and death; our peace and prosperity is an artificial bubble which must actively be maintained and defended at all times. If we cease to be vigilant it will vanish. My ideological opponents think that armies cause wars, and that war can be prevented by getting rid of armies. But you don't need an army to fight a war; no army attacked Bali last night.

Read it all.

Our Guys and Gals in Uniform

This morning I found GI Party via Light of Reason. While we are fighting about whether or not we should fight let's go look and see what the men and women who will actually be doing the fighting have to say. I especially like this.

Sunday, October 13, 2002
Words Are Not Enough

I don't know what to say about the terrorist attack in Bali. Yes, I will call it what it is. No denial here. I am angered by how little attention this has gotten in the American media. As usual on the weekends, the TV has been on all day starting at 11:00am yesterday. If it weren't for the Internet I would not even be aware that this had happened. Well, we can't interrupt those all-important football games now can we?

At last count more than 180 people killed and 300 injured, out of a population that is only a fraction of ours. Surely this is as big to them as September 11 was to us. And what of the ecomomy of Bali? The tourists are leaving. What will Bali do without its tourists? Surely we could take a break from football to show a little concern and sympathy. We - all of us who value freedom - are in this together.

Saturday, October 12, 2002
What's wrong with these quotes?

Read all of these quotes, note the consistency, then be sure to read the sources at the end.

Via Tonecluster.

Friday, October 11, 2002
Iron Fisk

With apologies to all the other great fiskers out there this superlative fisking inspires me to declare Riyahd Delenda of Cato the Youngest, the Master Fisker! Bravo and more bravos!

But I'm too young to have Alzheimer's!

Sometimes I worry about myself. Not to brag, but some people used to say I was a "walking dictionary" and my family are still always asking me how to spell words but in the last few years I've had a more difficult time with spelling than I used to. A few minutes ago, posting in the comments at Amber Bach, I typed the word fantasize. The end of it - the -size part - looked wrong and after trying a few variations that all looked wrong I reached for the dictionary that I keep by the computer (Sometimes I use an online dictionary. This time I was in the mood for paper.) and I immediately turned to the ph section. I had just typed fantasize with an f, knowing that part was correct, and I turned to ph to look it up to see how the last part of the word was spelled! How much more time do I have, Doc?

A Patriotic Left

Micheal Kazin writes:

I love my country. I love its passionate and endlessly inventive culture, its remarkably diverse landscape, its agonizing and wonderful history. I particularly cherish its civic ideals-social equality, individual liberty, a populist democracy-and the unending struggle to put their laudable, if often contradictory, claims into practice. I realize that patriotism, like any powerful ideology, is a "construction" with multiple uses, some of which I abhor. But I persist in drawing stimulation and pride from my American identity.

Regrettably, this is not a popular sentiment on the contemporary left. Antiwar activists view patriotism as a smokescreen for U.S. hegemony, while radical academics mock the notion of "American exceptionalism" as a relic of the cold war, a triumphal myth we should quickly outgrow. All the rallying around the flag after September 11 increased the disdain many leftists feel for the sentiment that lies behind it....

In the wake of September 11, the stakes have been raised for the American left. Even if the "war against terrorism" doesn't continue to overshadow all other issues, it will inevitably force activists of every stripe to make clear how they would achieve security for individual citizens and for the nation. How can one seriously engage in this conversation about protecting America if America holds no privileged place in one's heart? Most ordinary citizens understandably distrust a left that condemns military intervention abroad or a crackdown at home but expresses only a pro forma concern for the actual and potential victims of terrorism. Without empathy for one's neighbors, politics becomes a cold, censorious enterprise indeed.

Read it all. Via Andrew Hagen.


If you haven't visited Polynym yet go check it out. It's a very unique blog featuring translated poetry and occasional quotes. The title at the top of the page changes at least weekly. When I first linked it it was "Truth and Aspirin;" now it's "mute cavalcade." I like the most recent poem, Cetacean. Unfortunately there are no permalinks.

"Fighting Good Science"

Take a look at Fiends of the Earth, a satire site linked by Bizarre Science , a greenie debunking blog found via the Rottweiller.

Thursday, October 10, 2002
The Link Changes Everything

Lileks on blogging:

The link changes everything. When someone derides or exalts a piece, the link lets you examine the thing itself without interference. TV can’t do that. Radio can’t do that. Newspapers and magazines don’t have the space. My time on the internet resembles eight hours at a coffeeshop stocked with every periodical in the world - if someone says “I read something stupid” or “there was this wonderful piece in the Atlantic” then conversation stops while you read the piece and make up your own mind.

Yes! He gets it! Now if only somebody could explain it to those sites that try to prohibit linking.

Via Instapundit.

Support for War Against Saddam

I don't watch Oprah or any other daytime TV show but I'm sorry I missed this. My respect for Oprah just went up several notches.

The Visual Brain

Michael at Two Blowhards on visual people:

I find visual people to be in many ways like performers -- talented, rarely gifted with much in the way of intellect, and full of meaningless chatter, which is, however, interrupted now and then by brilliantly helpful, offhand observations and statements. Like performers, they seem to have no idea when they're being idiotic and when they're being insightful. Listening to them is a peculiar experience...

It seems to me that it would be a common experience. Aren't most people "visual"? A test that someone gave me on a diskette told me that I'm exactly 50% visual/50% verbal. (hmmm....maybe that's why I have trouble communicating with some people) Of course I don't put a lot of faith in tests like that. It also said a lot of flattering B.S. about me that made me think the real purpose of the test was to give the person taking it an ego boost.


A. C. Douglas has a very academic essay on Gould's two recordings of Bach's Goldberg Variations. I have to admit that I have never understood all the fuss over these recordings, but then I can't analyze a piece phrase by phrase either. I just listen.

Actually, I have considered that perhaps I should give Gould another chance. My first and only exposure to it was on the radio when I was still very new to classical music and I didn't really dislike it; the turn off for me was that the announcers were so over the top in their praise and I just thought it was nice but it didn't especially move me. So, being inexperienced at the time, I thought that if this was Bach's best maybe Bach just wasn't for me. Later, a knowledgeable friend whose opinions I respect had less than flattering things to say about Gould's recordings of the Goldbergs, so when I finally did get back around to Bach I sort of blamed Gould for delaying my "discovery" of Bach.

I am extremely fond of Ton Koopman's recording of the Goldbergs on the harpsichord and generally prefer to hear Bach's keyboard works on the harpsichord. I read a lot of praise for Murray Perahia's recording so I bought that one. It took a while for me to get used to hearing the Goldbergs on the piano but eventually I learned to like it. I don't know if this is a good thing or bad but sometimes I use Perahia's recording to put my grandson to sleep when he's staying here - it never fails.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002
More of My Best Stuff

Do you ever re-read stuff you wrote months ago? Anyone who's been reading this page for a while knows about my writing angst - my feelings that nothing I write is quite good enough. But reading my old stuff, I don't feel that anymore. Sometimes I read something I wrote and think "hey, that's pretty good," but then I'll sort of feel guilty about thinking it's good because we're supposed to be modest.

Anyway, I've been meaning to browse through my archives and find some more of my "good stuff" to post in my "Selected Rants and Musings" over in the left hand column and I finally got around to that tonight. There are five new links. Check them out.

Let me off the treadmill

I've heard many people declare that they never discuss religion or politics. In the case of religion I'm inclined to think that this is a wise policy. Am I going to make it my policy? No way. Right now I feel like I should but I know that sooner or later someone would bring it up and I would have to put my 2 cents worth in, or I would start getting ideas, musing on random, fleeting thoughts and I would simply have to write about it whether it was a good idea or not.

Dissent is the lifeblood of the blogosphere. Argument is more interesting, stimulating and even more enjoyable than a conversation in which everyone is in perfect agreement. So far in the current religion debate there has been very little disagreement, only misunderstanding. My "opponents" in the argument have repeatedly tried to "inform" me of facts that I had already stated.

I have been reading Sean's blog for a while and just recently discovered Justin's. Both are obviously intelligent and thoughtful. So why can't I communicate with them? I strongly believe that everyone has a right to their opinion and I do not feel compelled to convince everyone that I'm right and they are wrong. My policy has always been to state my opinion and move on. But I would like for people to at least understand what I'm actually saying.

And now, still frustrated, I will move on.


Unfortunately I can't read this blog but I love the graphic at the top.

A Wealth of Blogs

I have been finding a lot of great blogs lately. I found Lilac Rose in my referral log today. Lovely name, nice design and she's a smart Southern woman. This is another keeper.

I have several more that need to add to my list. I may not mention each one individually so if you're a regular just check my list once in a while.

Good News

Not all of the university students from California are idiotarians. Take Ben Shapiro for example. Be sure to read his bio also.

Via The Sky Blog.

From the Most Recently Updated List

Wow! Another Okie Blogger! I didn't even know there were this many computers in Oklahoma. (JUST KIDDING!) This guy looks pretty geeky for Oklahoma. (Remember, "geeky" is a good thing) On top right now: Toward a Synthesis of the Newtonian and Darwinian Worldviews.

More on Religion

Sean Hackbarth has a response to my post yesterday.

Converting non-believers does not constitute forcing faith upon another nor should it. Faith requires the person to accept beliefs taught to them and incorporate them into their hearts. Islam means "surrender," and that same idea can be taken to Christian conversion....

Christians are called by Jesus to preach the good news (Gospel) to all of Humanity. What Lynn finds annoying, many Christians consider to be their calling.

I probably didn't make it clear enough that I wasn't talking about all religions or even all Christians. There's a fuzzy line somewhere between faith and fantacism. If someone preaches on TV that's fine; I can change the channel. If they come knock on my door, depending on the mood I'm in, they might meet with some rudeness. If a person wants to hand out pamplets on a street corner that's fine too, but if they step out in front of me they shouldn't be surprised if I shove them out of the way. More than just certain tactics, I object to the whole attitude that evangelism is a "calling." As Sean's response illustrates, there will never be any agreement on this point.

First, I must mention that the phrase "separation of church and state" is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution.

I'm not sure why Sean found it necessary to mention this since I said the same thing myself. This seems to be a standard argument of anyone who does not support separation of church and state.

To say that people of faith should not practice what they preach with regards to government is like saying a goldfish should just leap out of its fishbowl and start breathing air. It's a denial of their very nature.

People are not fish. People are capable of controlling some aspects of "human nature." The nature Sean is defending is the urge to force others to live the same kind of lifestyle they would choose for themselves. Again there is a fuzzy line. Christians have just as much right to be involved in government as anyone else but there is a highly vocal minority that uses dishonest arguments and misleading rhetoric to sway people to their side in an all out effort to deny people the right to legally do things which they have always done and which hurt nobody.

I argue that basing laws purely on human reason is also basing them on religious belief. Look at how strongly Dawkins attacks religion and defend rationality. That passion is almost religious. And to claim that human reason is the sole source of wisdom is as irrational a faith as Christianity.

I feel that this kind of argument is intellectually lazy. Claiming that the secular position is just another kind of religion is another standard tactic. The difference between rationality or reason and religious belief is that human reason can be questioned, is constantly being questioned. Dissent is not only welcomed but is an essential part of the process. It's true that many people are passionate in defending their secular beliefs and I might agree that some on the far Left are religious in the way they reject all dissenting opinions, but this is generally not the way secular reasoning works.

Obviously laws must always be, to a certain extent, based on morality, but I believe that true morality comes from the higher side of human nature. There is no denying that there's a dark side to human nature. One of the aspects of that dark side is the desire to deny others the right to make their own choices, whether through force, through legislation or through social pressure. The higher side of human nature is that part of us that wants everyone to be free, safe, well-fed and happy.

Again, I want to make it clear that I realize that not all religions are the same. As is often the case with any group, a few can give the whole a bad reputation. The few always speak the loudest and the majority rarely speaks at all.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002
Bank of Antarctica

Until a few minutes ago I had no idea that Antarctica has its own currency.

More images of currency from around the world.

Autumn in Oklahoma

Charles G. Hill reflects on the season. I think Charles is quite some distance from where I am but the weather here was much the same. Not much rain though, just a few sprinkles in the afternoon. The day was pleasantly gloomy and cool, about 60 F/15 C.

Some days seem to call for a particular kind of music and even a particular kind of tea. Today it was solo cello and Twinnings Lapsang Souchong. The tea has a pleasantly smoky aroma, like a campfire or leaves burning. I only drink it when the weather is cool. In the spring and summer it just seems wrong somehow.

I wish the perfect autumn weather could last forever but it seems to fly past faster than any other season. Too soon the weather will turn really cold. The first few winters we lived in Oklahoma were dry and not terribly cold but the last two or three years we've had snow and ice storms. I am not looking forward to winter.

Anti-Semitism in Academia

A personal observation. Read it at Tightly Wound. (a promising new blog that I just added to my list)

More News of the Easily Offended

From the "GET A FREAKIN' SENSE OF HUMOR ALREADY!" department: A women's group is protesting this billboard. Yes it's sexist. So what? The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee you the right to never be offended. Grow up!

Via EveTushnet.com


(Also via the Rottweiller)
Arthur Silber has posted an essay by Richard Dawkins which might almost be called an Atheist Manifesto, although Dawkins prefers the term "rationalism."

"The word atheism sounds negative; let me call it rationalism. It is a rational view of the world where you stand up proudly, in your humanity, you look life straight in the face, you look the universe straight in the face, you do your level best to understand it, to understand why you exist, what the universe is about, you recognise that when you die that's it, and therefore life is very, very precious and you devote your life to making the world a better place, to leading a good life so when you die you can say to yourself I have led a good life. Now, that seems to me to be a worthwhile goal to put in place of the medieval superstition which is religion. Belief in God doesn't have to be a bad thing, but I think it's a very demeaning thing to the human mind to believe in a falsehood, especially as the truth about the universe is so immensely exciting.

Well, maybe some people prefer comfort over excitement. Religion is personally important to a great many people and I do not think the world would be a better place if we were able to wipe out religion. Those who now use religion as a tool of oppression would still commit the same acts of evil that their kind have been committing for thousands of years. I have three major problems with the practice of religion and I believe that it is these particular attitudes that need to be eliminated, not religion itself.

At the top of my list is the moral imperative in some religions - Christianity included - to convert non-believers. Can faith that is forced on a person be true faith, or is it mere compliance? Here in the West believers can no longer torture and burn non-believers so they instead spend huge amounts of money to pursue and annoy anyone who does not share their beliefs, and as missionaries they prey on the most vulnerable people, providing food and other humanitarian aid as a lure. We all like to share our beliefs and given the opportunity will try to convince other people that we are right. I expect religious people to do the same, but not to the point where it becomes a crusade. The attitude that everyone must be converted is simply wrong and leads to acts of evil and violations of individual rights.

The second problem with religion is closely tied to the first - government based on religion or the attempt to use religion to influence legislation. Too many religious people think that separation of church and state should only work one way - that the government must keep out of religion but that the church has no similar obligation to stay out of government. Some of these people will surely speak up and explain how the Constitution supports their point of view. First of all, it doesn't, but I'm not talking about the Constitution at all. I'm talking about a wise principle that is an important part of the foundation of all free nations. To pass laws based on religious beliefs, even if such passage does happen to be Constitutional, chips away at our freedom.

Finally, the third major problem I have with religion is that religious people demand that their beliefs not be questioned. The evil of blasphemy laws in some countries is obvious, but even relatively reasonable believers living in a free country strongly object to their beliefs being criticized, and strangely, except for a very few, even non-believers tend to play along. Religious beliefs are sacred and must not be criticized. Interestingly, I notice the same thing amoung certain political groups. Attack their beliefs and they start crying out about "oppression." If your belief is strong enough it should be able to stand up to a little dissent.

Of course, the big problem is that these attitudes are deeply ingrained in many religions. As far as many believers are concerned, to wipe out these attitudes you might as well wipe out the religion itself. This is sad. Religion, if it's important to you, should not be dependent on externals. Let it comfort and uplift, regardless of how the rest of the world might feel about it.

Emperor George I

(Via the Rottweiller)
I think it might be time to call the guys in the white coats to come and take Rep McDermott somewhere nice and safe.

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott broadened his attack on George W. Bush's war plans yesterday, saying the president is threatening military action in Iraq as part of a plot to crown himself emperor of America.

Aside from the obvious lunacy of the accusation that Bush is plot[ting] to crown himself emperor, judging by the President's speech last night - not to mention the fact that he is actually asking for congressional authority - it doesn't look like he is in much of a hurry to go to war. (emphasis mine)

Clearly, to actually work, any new inspections, sanctions or enforcement mechanisms will have to be very different. America wants the U.N. to be an effective organization that helps keep the peace. And that is why we are urging the Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough, immediate requirements. Among those requirements: the Iraqi regime must reveal and destroy, under U.N. supervision, all existing weapons of mass destruction. To ensure that we learn the truth, the regime must allow witnesses to its illegal activities to be interviewed outside the country -- and these witnesses must be free to bring their families with them so they all beyond the reach of Saddam Hussein's terror and murder. And inspectors must have access to any site, at any time, without pre-clearance, without delay, without exceptions.

The time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end. Saddam Hussein must disarm himself -- or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

Many nations are joining us in insisting that Saddam Hussein's regime be held accountable. They are committed to defending the international security that protects the lives of both our citizens and theirs. And that's why America is challenging all nations to take the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council seriously.

And these resolutions are clear. In addition to declaring and destroying all of its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must end its support for terrorism. It must cease the persecution of its civilian population. It must stop all illicit trade outside the Oil For Food program. It must release or account for all Gulf War personnel, including an American pilot, whose fate is still unknown.

By taking these steps, and by only taking these steps, the Iraqi regime has an opportunity to avoid conflict. Taking these steps would also change the nature of the Iraqi regime itself. America hopes the regime will make that choice. Unfortunately, at least so far, we have little reason to expect it. And that's why two administrations -- mine and President Clinton's -- have stated that regime change in Iraq is the only certain means of removing a great danger to our nation.

I hope this will not require military action, but it may. And military conflict could be difficult. An Iraqi regime faced with its own demise may attempt cruel and desperate measures. If Saddam Hussein orders such measures, his generals would be well advised to refuse those orders. If they do not refuse, they must understand that all war criminals will be pursued and punished. If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully; we will act with the full power of the United States military; we will act with allies at our side, and we will prevail.

I'm sure some of his comments were included in the speech merely for the purpose of cozying up to the U.N. but why cozy up to the U.N. if we're hell bent on "going it alone" in an invasion of Iraq? If what Bush is doing is "war-mongering" it sure is the slowest damned war-mongering I've ever seen or heard of.

Monday, October 07, 2002
Arts Site

I have added Dust in the Light to my blogroll. A very nice weblog and a lot more. Be sure to click on the links on the left side of the screen.

Possibly the Greatest Rant of All Time

I linked to this several months ago but I have attracted a few more readers since then and this timeless rant - Censorship in the Age of Multiculturalism - is worth sharing again and again.

You can find many more great speeches, quotes, poetry and art here.


Well, I did it. I now have comments. I'm still not sure it's what I want to do but I'll at least give it a trial run. Right now there is a weird problem with the location of the link. It's in a different place on every other post and things like that really irritate the crap out of me but other than that it seems to be working.

Update:Pardon me while I play around and totally screw up my template. It looks like I fixed that minor problem with the comments link. Fixing that had nothing to do with the text now being jammed up against the sides of the table. I was trying to fix something else. What does this look like to everyone else?

A Very Good Reason

It's not all about us. It's not all about oil. What kind of people are we that we can continue to argue while this is happening?

Von der Osten-Sacken: "When I first came to Iraq, I very quickly realized that I could not compare the situation there to other Middle Eastern countries I had been in, like Syria, Jordan or Egypt. This country was hell. We were the only Europeans in a city called Amara in the Shi'ite area of southern Iraq near Basra, and we arrived just a few weeks after the uprising had been crushed. There was a belt of tanks around the city. The majority of buildings were burned out. There was no food in the market. There was also a terrible degree of malnourishment there.

"People in Iraq won't talk freely, because they are terrified that their friends are working for one of Saddam's nine horrible security services. Because of this atmosphere, it took us three or four months to learn some details about the uprising. The Iraqis made people lie down in the streets and then buried them alive under asphalt. They killed everyone who looked a little religious, because this was a Shi'ite area. It was forbidden to take the corpses from the street. All in all, 60,000 or 70,000 people were killed in this area in 1991.

"When I was in southern Iraq in '91, we had a lot of conversations with a very nice, very sophisticated doctor. One day, he was watching television and the Iraqi army was being praised for having won the second part of the Gulf War [after the initial U.S. attack aimed at driving Iraq out of Kuwait]. The doctor just said, `Well, it is a strange victory if daily children are dying of hunger.' That was enough. Someone heard him. He was taken, tortured for three weeks and brought back a broken person. Letting one sentence slip is cause enough for a person to vanish into an Iraqi prison or even to be killed."


Arts & Letters Daily is dead.

However, while there is death there is also birth.

Sunday, October 06, 2002
Catching Up

Thinking of all the catching up I would have to do on Monday, I started writing this on Saturday whenever I could sneak a few minutes at the computer, then ended up deleting and re-writing more than half of it.

Thank you
First of all, thanks to D. C. Thornton for the link. I had never come across this very nice blog before. Thanks also to Andrea who sent over a hundred visitors my way a couple of days last week.

Reading and Writing
Blogging is not journalism. Most bloggers are unapologetically biased. Bias is human nature therefore it is not a bad thing as long as our biases are out in the open. Most of us also take cheap shots on occasion (but then so do professional journalists) and when we do we always receive cheap shots in return. Perhaps I was taking a cheap shot when I said that Reading & Writing is “less about reading & writing than about conspiracy theories and trashing the Bush administration “ based on having read only a few days posts. I would like to respond to Joseph's comments in detail but I want to try to avoid writing a book so I'll just respond to a few points:

she seems to think that being a leftist in America is somehow a sort of fashion statement. Well, I never thought of it in those terms but now that you mention it being a leftist does look an awful lot like nothing more than a fashion statement.

Perhaps that is true of her own brand of superficial conservatism I wasn’t aware that my political beliefs were a brand of conservatism. I guess Joseph hasn’t been reading my blog any longer than I’ve been reading his, probably not as long, so I’ll cut him some slack on this one.

dissent has a long & honorable tradition in America & I reserve the right to dissent. So do I. I see we agree on at least one thing. I just hope we agree that all sides have the right to dissent.

Ms. Sislo also presumes to give advice to the left, Well yes, in fact I do, but more on this one later. This topic has suddenly become my big project for the week.

A favorite piece of graffiti from the Blue Moon Tavern men's room, circa 1976: "Happiness is a dozen Texans headed south with an Okie under each arm." A very amusing mental picture. I know this was intended to get me riled but you see I was born in Texas, spent the last third of my growing up years in Arkansas and have lived in several other states during my adult life. I’ve only been in Oklahoma for about 7 years. What I like about Oklahoma is my own little piece of it, the wildlife, the solitude, and the scenery in the surrounding area. Other than that I have no special fondness for this state or the majority of the people who live here. You can’t insult Oklahoma any worse than I already have. Have a nice day.

Left, Right and Elsewhere.
My post last week calling for common sense lefties has attracted far more attention than I ever expected, mostly thanks to a link by Instapundit. The post was written rather quickly compared to most of my longer posts. Some of the bloggers who responded (some via email) are Justin Katz, Dave Roberts, David Nieporent, Hesiod Theogeny, Steve Verdon, C. D. Harris, Charles Austin, and A Small Victory. My apologies if I left anyone out.

There is so much to say that I hardly know where to begin. I'm thinking of writing a series about the different issues: welfare, guns, science and politics, the environment, etc. For now I think I will stick with the hot topic: Iraq. I have taken the side of the "pro-war" bloggers but it is by no means a simple or comfortable position. A number of people have said that war should be a last resort. I agree; in fact I think that goes without saying. But it seems to me that for the people who have been saying it, the time for that last resort is always at some point in the future, never to be reached.

We've all been shouting back and forth about this issue for weeks so I'm not sure what else I can say at this point that would make any difference. It's not that I think war is necessary; what I believe is necessary is regime change and war is the only way I see to accomplish that. I suppose we could ask Saddam nicely to please go into permanent exile and take his entire family, especially his sons, with him. Think that would work?

Earlier today I had a number of points I wanted to make, several arguments that I thought would be convincing but you know what? I'm tired. I'm tired and impatient and a little scared. More than anything I want someone to do something besides talk. There was a time when I was hoping for some kind of covert operation that we wouldn't even know about until it was over. But I'm not a military strategist and I don't know all that's involved. No blogger knows everything that's involved. No matter what your opinion is, it's based on incomplete information. I am uncomfortable trusting President Bush because in spite of his sensible actions in the early weeks after September 11 I still believe that he really isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. However, I choose to trust Bush. It's really the only choice we have.

I know that sounds lame and maybe later I'll sort out my thoughts and post something more sensible, but right now like I said, I'm tired.

Sgt. Stryker Writes Sci-Fi
And as every fan knows there's a lot of truth in sci-fi.

Saturday, October 05, 2002
A Kid in Israel

You must check out this new blog. I hope he sticks with it and updates regularly.

Left vs. Right

I have been linked by Instapundit again. I'm a little confused. I'm not sure what he meant when he said that I "reinvent[ed] anti-idiotarianism." Normally by this time on a Saturday morning I will have had no more than 10 to 15 visits. When I checked Sitemeter a few minutes ago I had 206 already! I have received several emails regarding my Common Sense Lefties post. Gosh...I should try to get pissed off more often. None of my more well considered posts ever got this much attention. It will be probably be Monday or Tuesday before I have time to post a real response.

More on Comments Boxes

I have received several emails on this subject. I'm trying to rush through blogging this morning so I won't take time to quote each one. Most of the people who emailed like comments but are supportive of the choice to not have them. A couple of emails from non-bloggers show me the best reason for having comments: the chance to get to know readers who do not have their own blog. Of course, my email link is prominently displayed and I have said many times that I welcome email but for some reason most people seem reluctant to use email.

I might add a commenting system on a trial basis, though I'm still reluctant. I don't want to turn this into a message board. My idea of what a blog comments box should be is not what I see on most blogs. I don't want to have message board style flame wars on my blog. I'd rather have something more like a guestbook - just short comments, feedback.

Thanks to everyone who responded.

Friday, October 04, 2002
Life Interferes With Blogging

I have challenges to respond to and ideas wanting to get out, but it's the weekend and the blogging forecast is light to non-existent. Monday might be interesting.

Fisking a Feminist Academic

Big Arm Woman of Tightly Wound interprets the course description for a Women's Writing course. (Oct. 1) You know, I think I want to take one of these feminist courses, just for fun. I'd like to see how long it would take for me to get myself kicked out.

No Comments

I have been asked by a number of people recently why I don't have a comments box. I really can't think of a good answer other than I just don't want a comments box, but the more people who ask me about it the more I feel like I should have one - like it's a social obligation. However, I'm not the only one without a comments box. I know that there are more than 10 blogs in my list that do not have comments boxes, including the leader of the pack, a fine example to us all, InstaPundit. Of course, he has a very good excuse. With all the traffic he gets could you imagine what his comments box would be like if he had one?

Anyway, I have a question for other bloggers, especially if you don't have a comments box, how do you feel about comments? If you don't have one why not? For everyone, whether you have comments or not, do you think everyone should have comments. Is it anti-social or rude to not have comments? I'm hoping everyone will post their answer on their blog (blogbursts always increase everyone's traffic) but if you'd rather not feel free to email me.

One more question - this does not mean I'm going to change my mind - what do you think of the various commenting systems out there?

Thursday, October 03, 2002
Relax for a Spell

Title shamelessly stolen from this fascinating article found via the Coffee Ring, a nice team blog that I found yesterday. (Ever notice that there are an awful lot of blogs with caffeine related titles?)

Misspelled words bother me a lot, especially if I'm the one who misspelled them. The Internet has not helped my spelling. I have a bad habit of mixing up British and American spellings. There's no consistency in my screw-ups. Some words just look better spelled the British way. For example, I almost always type behaviour instead of behavior. The American spelling just looks wrong for some reason. However I have never typed colour for color. I've always thought centre was a rather cute way to spell center and grey is much more elegant than gray but those aren't really a problem.

The article linked above mentions that fantasy used to be spelled phantasy. Too bad they changed that one. I've always liked ph for some reason. There is at least one thing we Americans have improved on: using ed instead of t, although, "crying over spilt milk" has a nicer ring to it than "crying over spilled milk." (did I spell "spilt" right?)

Is everybody moving but me?

Captain Yip's Secret Journal is the new home of the former Mindless Bureaucrat. Very nice. I'm ashamed to have to admit that the Mindless Bureaucrat is one of those blogs I have been neglecting lately. (So many blogs, so little time) If you are guilty of this same sin of omission do check out the last few entries, especially September 19. I'll leave the old blog in my links list for another week or so.

The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller has a great looking new Moveable Type site. And isn't that just about the coolest URL you've ever seen? Nice doggie.

For the Love of Words

I love words and the beautiful ways they can be put together. The words we use most often are merely ordinary, utilitarian. But some words are treasures which need special handling. I am afraid to use some words. What if I use a word incorrectly because I only think I understand the meaning, and thus reveal myself to be an uneducated fool? On the other hand, what if I use a word correctly that has been commonly misused and no one understands what I meant? Too often I can't find the right words at all, and when that happens praise and criticism are all the same because what is being praised or criticized isn't quite what I wanted to say anyway.

Then there is the problem of grammar. I know when a sentence sounds good but I can't always tell when a sentence is correct. Sometimes incorrect sentences sound good and correct sentences sound bad. If a split infinitive is wrong then why is it that "to boldly go" stirs the soul but "to go boldly" falls flat. It can't be only because we are so used to hearing it. The writer must also have thought it sounded better long before it became one of the most repeated phrases in pop culture.

The most beautiful use of words is in philosophy. When I find a discussion of philosphy on the Web I feel like an ignorant savage who has unexpectedly come upon a magnificent palace with the door ajar. She peeks inside, staring in open-mouthed wonder at the treasures inside - marble floors covered with beautifully patterned oriental rugs, fine art works on paneled walls, exquisitely carved wood furniture, crystal chandeliers. There is nothing in the world that she wants more at that moment than to go in and look around, to walk barefoot across the smooth marble floors and the soft wool carpets, and perhaps to run a hand over the silk cushions. But she dares not enter because she knows that she doesn't belong, and if someone were to come along and offer, condescendingly, to show her around, that would almost be worse.

Oh, but all this angst over words is silly, is it not? Perhaps you cannot understand unless you are the savage on the outside looking in. If you are one of the other savages chances are you will merely shrug and walk on past. If you are inside the palace you won't understand what it's like to be on the outside looking in. Again, you probably think I'm being silly. Maybe I am, but aren't most of our passions silly if we look at them too closely?

Words - beautiful treasures, elusive to some of us, but once in a while something unusual happens and I feel like I have set one foot inside the door of the palace.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002
Serene Pause

The early part of autumn is the best time to be in Oklahoma. This is the summer of our dreams. Perfect days to spend outdoors. It's no longer miserably hot but not yet sweater weather, except on some evenings. The trees are still green. Yellow wildflowers line the roadside. Fluffy white clouds, scarce during the dry late summer, are now generously scattered about a brilliant blue sky, waiting for the setting sun to paint them in shades of gold and rose.
This is a bittersweet time of year. The days quickly grow shorter and soon the temperatures and the leaves will fall and we will reflect on another year now behind us, like many others that flew by much too fast.

Everybody's a Moron

Scott tells us:
Top 5 Reasons Conservatives are Morons
Top 5 Reasons Liberals are Morons
Top 5 Reasons the Media are Morons
Top 5 Reasons Europeans are Morons
Top 5 Reasons Arabs are Morons
Top 5 Reasons Israelis are Morons

Read all the reasons.


My SiteMeter counter just topped 10,000 a few minutes ago. Visitor number 10,000 was an unknown referral from the conocoinc.com domain. Number 10,001 from the same domain, was referred by Amish Tech Support. Thanks to everyone who has linked to me and to all of my visitors, especially those of you who came back after the first time. Stick around; I'll break out the bubbly.

Wanted: Common Sense Lefties

I got an amusing Google referral this morning: bloggers of the left unite. I decided to see what else came up on the same search and found this page. If you scroll almost all the way down you'll see this teaser:

Bloggers of the left, unite!
James Crabtree
September 30 2002

The right dominates the latest web medium, allowing it to vent spleen and not be challenged. By James Crabtree

Why have Americans started to vilify the Guardian? Why does the actor John Malkovich want to kill the Independent foreign correspondent Robert Fisk? And why is the Princeton economics professor Paul Krugman writing with a new-found attention to detail? Answer: Fisk, Krugman and the Guardian are all victims of the latest web-publishing phenomenon: blogging.

If you click on the "read article" link it takes you to a page where you are invited to subscribe. (What? Me, pay for an online subscription? These people are funny.) That's okay; that one little paragraph is more than enough for me to go off on, especially since I've been thinking about some of this stuff for quite a while anyway.

allowing it to vent spleen and not be challenged
Don't you just love that line? The right is not being challenged. What are all those lefty bloggers doing then? Exchanging recipes?
Why have Americans started to vilify the Guardian? Please! Have you read The Guardian?
Fisk, Krugman and the Guardian are all victims of the latest web-publishing phenomenon: blogging. Ah, here we go...they are all victims. Must have that word "victim" in there somewhere. And that evil blogging phenomenon. Damn freedom of speech!

Before September 11 I had always identified myself as being "a little left of center." There were some issues on which I agreed with the Right but I was always embarrassed to admit it. Sure the Left always had it's lunatic fringe but the Right was scary. They were mean-spirited, evil, corporation loving, religious fundamentalists. I didn't want to risk being associated with them in any way.

Now everything is different. I don't think I've actually shifted to the Right. It's just that since September 11 the Right has done a much better job of shutting up their lunatic fringe, while the common sense Left has gone into hiding and let their lunatics take over. So the Left is worried about the Right dominating the blogosphere. This sounds to me like more of the same kind of whining they always do every time someone expresses a different opinion. The right-wingers are trying to shut us up; our civil liberties are being violated; freedom of speech is dead...boo hoo hoo... All while sitting at their PC posting on their own personal website where anyone in the world might read their blatherings.

I come across lefty blogs all the time. I've even linked a few of them. The "problem" is not that the blogoshpere is dominated by the "Right", it's that the blogosphere is dominated by common sense. Let a blogger from the far right start preaching their own brand of lunacy - (Sept. 11 happened because God is angry...Creationism is just as valid as evolution etc.) - and that person is just as likely to get a severe fisking as any of the loonies on the far left.

If the lefties want some respect they need to work on their credibility. There are a number of areas where a strong common sense Left could do the country a lot of good. Let's look at a few issues.

War in Iraq If you're against the war, fine. That's a valid and honorable postion. I'm against war too and I would love for someone to come up with an alternative that would insure the long term security of the U.S. and the rest of the free world. But all the peace protesters can do is protest. If you want people to listen to you come up with some real arguments against the war, not fallacies that anyone can see through, and some real alternatives, not the same old options that have failed in the past nor the non-option of just going home and waiting for the next attack.

Civil Liberties This is something to be concerned about. Common sense liberals would be useful here. Stop whining about those "poor mistreated Taliban prisoners;" stop whining that your freedom of speech is being violated every time someone disagrees with you and do something useful. Demand that airport security stop frisking 80 year old great-grandmothers with walkers, and start frisking people who fit the profile of someone who might actually try to hijack an airplane. Stay on top of that whole Homeland Security thing. Show some concern for the rights of all Americans, not just minorities. And how about those American citizens being held captive in Saudi Arabia. You should be all over that, as well as the case of the Nigerian woman who is facing death by stoning for the "sin" of having a child. If you look around you can easily find a lot of real human rights violations.

The Environment Another area where common sense liberals are seriously needed, but just make sure that it really is the environment you are fighting for, not just attention. Stop obsessing over genetically modified crops and every other use of technology and just keep a close eye on environmental policy. Make sure the Republicans don't chip away at all the progress that has been made in the past couple of decades.

War on Drugs It's time to end this ineffective, money wasting "war" against Americans. But be careful. A common sense, unemotional approach is needed.

Separation of Church and State Common sense liberals are so needed in this area. Stop making a big fuss every time a follower of a minority religion is offended and work harder to keep the Church out of the government. Make a bigger fuss over things like the "faith based initiative," school vouchers, the teaching of creationism and the restriction of scientific research based on the moral squeamishness of Christianity's lunatic fringe.

For the sake of convenience, I use labels as much as anyone else but I really don't like them. Most labels eventually come to stand for the most extreme members of the named group. "Libertarian" seems to be an exception right now. When I first heard of the term it was applied only to a small extremist party who believe in no government. Now days the libertarian label is quite respectable. The only problem I have with it is that it is nearly always associated with the Right. The way I see it, a libertarian can be anyone, Left or Right, who believes in keeping the government out of private lives as much as possible. Maybe you believe abortion is wrong but you don't want to take that right away from people who disagree with you. Or maybe you believe that minorities need special consideration when it comes to jobs and education but you don't want to force all schools and businesses to comply with a Federally mandated set of arbitrary guidelines.

That is the kind of thinking that dominates the blogshpere - not the Right, not the Left, but common sense thinking of people with many diverse opinions who believe that everyone has the right to an opinion and to live their lives in whatever manner they choose, without interference of either the government or special interest groups.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002
A Kinder Christianity

I caught the tail end of this story on the local news. This would almost be enough to make me start going to church again if Rev. Pearson's church was about 40 miles closer to my house.

Here's more and more. (I haven't had time read these last two links. I first heard about this on TV less than an hour ago.)

Update:Thanks to Laurence Simon for the link. As usual he has something appropriate to say.

Update #2:Changed title. It seems that no matter what I do I can't get people to send me hate mail so I might as well be nice. Actually, that's not the only reason I changed it. I've been thinking about this whole issue and I'll probably write something more on it later.

Music Blog
The Aural Edge. Probably very little, if any, of my kind of music but it's new and looks like they're getting off to a good start so I thought I'd give them a little plug.

Freakin' Idiots!

I'm probably the last blogger to see this ridiculous piece of sh*t but I have to rant about it anyway.

They can't really expect to change anyone's mind with this nonsense. If they were really serious they would be coming up with logical, unemotional arguments. I don't think any of the people who keep shouting, "No blood for oil," give a damn about any of the blood that will be spilled (or the blood that has already been spilled). They just want attention and think that the best way to get it is to be anti-something. Doesn't matter what it is as long as it gets attention. Since war is what's on everyone's mind right now being "anti-war" is what will get them the most attention. Global warming is passe; PETA have gone too far and made laughing-stocks of themselves; but this war....hey, what a goldmine! Not only do they get to be "real war protesters" just like kids back in the 60's, they can still trash SUV's while they're at it.

Via Reading & Writing. I clicked on it in the Recently Updated list a few days ago because of the title but it's less about "reading & writing" than about conspiracy theories and trashing the Bush administration.

"the world's longest and most awful car wreck..."

...is my favorite line from this excellent screed found at The Greatest Jeneration. Go read it.

Another Good Reason

Out of the anti-defense* crowd's standardized list of reasons we should forget the War on Terrorism and just stick our heads back in the sand, one we often hear (usually after several others have been refuted) is that the U.S. "created" Saddam Hussein. Interestingly Steven Chapman cites that same fact as the number one reason why we should oust Saddam. It is our responsiblity to clean up the mess we made.

I don't know about it being the number one reason, but it's certainly a very good reason.

Via Spleenville.

*Notice that I have started using the term anti-defense in place of anti-war. No civilized person actually wants war so we are all anti-war. Some of us though, realize that sometimes there is no other solution.


Robert Cringely has an interesting idea for forcing Congress to repeal the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Here is the plan. Everyone who hates the DMCA has to illegally copy a movie or a song, and then tell both the Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office exactly what they did. We need 10 million or so confessed and unrepentant intellectual property pirates. That's too much illegal behavior to ignore... but too many individual criminals to be prosecuted. Then, having pirated our movie or song, we also need to turn ourselves in to the authorities, clogging every hoosegow in America, facing our potential $10,000 fine, each of us demanding the jury trial we are guaranteed under the Constitution.

Hmmmm.... Jail... no stereo, no Internet access, lousy food, really depressing decor. Nuh uh. I'm too old to be a hero but you kids have my support. Secret moral support, that is. Go for it. (Maybe you could convince a bunch of the peace activists to switch causes)

Via Thak's Cool Links.

Monday, September 30, 2002
New Jersey's Poet Scumbag

I've read a lot of comments about the controversy over New Jersey's Poet Laureate, Amiri Baraka. I suppose this is important in New Jersey. There are more people in the northeast who care about high culture and intellectual stuff like poetry.

Most people in the "heartland" have no idea that their state even has a Poet Laureate. I was quite surprised a few years ago when I accidentally come across a reference to the Poet Laureate of Arkansas. I mean, come on - Arkansas? The land of poultry farms and trailer parks. What on Earth is Arkansas doing with a poet laureate? I guarantee that most people in Arkansas couldn't tell you. Frankly, I have no idea whether my state, Oklahoma, has a poet laureate or not. I suppose we have, but even though I'm more interested in that sort of thing than most people in my neck o' the woods, I have never heard of the Poet Laureate of Oklahoma.

If New Jersey can't get rid of Baraka maybe they could solve the problem by doing the same thing the rest of the states do with their poets laureate - just forget he exists.

Glad I'm not the only one

I disagree with Karen De Coster much of the time (maybe most of the time) but once in a while I see something on her site that makes me want to shout "Bravo!" Here's one, and here's another on the same subject. I wrote something about this a few weeks ago but I'm too lazy to look it up right now.

For some reason, when a man says it it's harder to take.

Let's Roll

I very rarely watch 60 Minutes but I got lucky last night, getting the opportunity to watch it on a night when they presented a must see program. I hope the show got good ratings. Can anyone who watched that still deny that Iraq is a major sponsor of terrorism? Don't answer that; I already know. There is no limit to the mental contortions some people will perform to avoid seeing what they don't want to see.

There was also a segment on American citizens who are not allowed to leave Saudi Arabia. The U.S Government has done absolutely nothing to rescue these American women and children. In fact, the State Department has cooperated with the Saudis in preventing them from leaving. Where is the public outrage over this? We should have invaded Saudi Arabia first, but failing that we should be done with Iraq by now and getting ready to invade Saudi Arabia.


Thanks to William Slawski of Bragadocchio for the wonderful compliment.

Earlier he posted a link to a very good article about some people wanting to divide up the Internet by country. The alleged reason for this is fears of America controlling the Internet. I worry about the U.S Government's efforts to control the Internet too so I'm in agreement with the rest of the world there. But I suspect that the real reasons some countries want to slice off their own little section of the Internet is not fear of American control but a fear of not being able to control it themselves. Can't have those evil Americans corrupting the whole world with immoral ideas such as freedom and justice.

If other countries are really afraid of America controlling the Internet, the simple answer is to get their own people connected as quickly as possible and encourge them to set up their own websites. Let the ideas flow freely between individuals in every part of the world. No one can control the Internet except the users. Governments can try but "the Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it."

The article includes a couple of quotes from a document which I feel is right up there with the American Declaration of Indepence - The Declaration of the Indepence of Cyberspace. The Declaration has been made; the Revolution is under way.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Just added to my list:
amber Bach
The Sky Blog
Where is Raed?

No More "Islands of Peace"

I originally conceived my "Islands of Peace" category as a place of honor for blogs featuring beautiful writing about almost anything other than war and news. Sadly, the blog that was my model for this category no longer fits it. It seems strange to have a whole category for just one blog so both Fragments and Eeksy-Peeksy (both of them still fine blogs) have been moved to the main list. I was rather fond of that category and I will continue to be on the lookout for that kind of blog.

I'm considering adding a category for "Idiotarians." I should have no trouble filling that one.

I think this one's a keeper

The Sky Blog - I like the pair of Kennedy quotes.(Sept. 28, 6:10am; permalink doesn't work) The Kennedy's just aren't what they used to be.

Saturday, September 28, 2002
Give me reasons, not analogies

From the NitPicker: (Permalink not working. See "My Love to Molly")

Say I'm a guy in an apartment in a bad neighborhood. I have the feeling that the guy down the hall wants to do me harm. He might have a gun in there or a pit bull or a baseball bat. I think he might even be related to the guy who mugged me last week. Might even have put him up to it. What do I do?

If you answered, "Kill the guy," then you are on the side of Dubya and his buddies in this war. If you answered, "Get someone to check him out," then you are on the side of those who see the role of the UN and inspectors in this issue. The law, in the case of the two people in an apartment, would agree with the latter answer.

This analogy is extremely simplistic. We have a much bigger problem than just "a guy down the hall with a gun or a baseball bat." But the worst thing about this argument is not that it’s too simplistic; it is that it’s a moral argument instead of a practical argument. It is the same as virtually every other so-called reason I've seen coming from the anti-defense camp. It is merely a cheap attempt to send anyone who is in favor of taking action against Saddam on a guilt trip. There is no way this tactic is going to sway anyone to your way of thinking, if in fact that is what you are trying to do and not simply stroking your own ego with fantasies of moral superiority.

Supposing there are some people who are genuinely bloodthirsty and only want revenge; it's not likely that anything you say will make them feel guilty and change their minds. The majority of us, however, do have much more on our minds than just revenge. We have already weighed all the moral implications, which are much more complex than you make them out to be, and we still believe that necessity outweighs other considerations.

War is immoral. Any war. There is no such thing as a just war. Okay, I’ll concede that point. I’ll agree with anything else you might have to say about the morality of the situation. The truth is that I honestly do not want our country to go to war. I do not want for American soldiers to have to face death in the streets of Bagdad. I do not want for Iraqi civilians to be hurt. Let’s get past that point, shall we? Let’s also get past the repeated demands for a “smoking gun.” Exactly what kind of evidence would be acceptable to the anti-defense people? If you had the CIA and British Intelligence documents in your own hands chances are you would still claim that it was not enough evidence. The gun exists. We all know that.

Now let’s start the debate. Dissent is a good thing. I want an alternative to war. What can you suggest other than just doing nothing and hoping the problem will go away, or trying the same things that have not worked in the past?

Friday, September 27, 2002
I feel better now

I just sent the following "nastygram" to ABC News via the contact form on their site. I want to send the same via snail mail to slightly increase the chances that someone might actually read it but it's going to take some more digging to find their snail mail address.


On the morning of September 11, 2001, when I heard that something was going on at the World Trade Center I turned on the TV and somehow ended up on ABC. Probably it just happened to be on that channel already. I never used to watch the news regularly, but after those three days when I hardly turned the TV off at all I started turning on ABC News every evening.

In those first days after September 11th I think you did perform a valuable service, not so much as a source of information but in bringing the nation together in front of their TV sets. We needed that feeling of togetherness. However, in the year since then I have become increasingly aware of how irrelevant TV news really is. Your reports are not only biased they are blatantly misleading and often outright dishonest. I watch your program not to be informed but to find out what the more gullible segment of the population is being fed.

I was finally prompted to write to you because of your lead story last night which you began with the statement that President Bush had “suddenly” produced evidence of a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Your use of the word “suddenly” was entirely innappropriate. The connection has been known about for months at least. The presentation of new evidence supporting what everyone already knows can in no way be considered “sudden.”

This is typical of your reporting on the War on Terrorism and world news in general. By carefully choosing which events to report, which details of those events to include and by careful wording to get the desired emotional response you are attempting to soothe the nation back into dangerous pre-September 11 complacency and to promote your anti-defense adgenda.

This of course is not your only adgenda. As example take the story of the woman who was caught on parking lot security cameras spanking her child. Yes, spanking not beating. This woman probably wouldn’t win any Parent of the Year award but you took a minor incident, something that happens in parking lots every day, and tried turn it into the Monster of the Week story. Then when the real story started coming out you suddenly dropped it.

Your half hour news show actually contains no more than 5 to 10 minutes of anything that remotely resembles real news. The rest is just invented scandals and fluff. There is plenty of real news that you could be reporting instead. What about the case of the Nigerian woman who has been sentenced to death by stoning for having a child out of wedlock. You should be all over that story, but no, that one doesn’t quite fit your preconceived story-line. Your “news” programs have all the honesty and maturity of an action-adventure cartoon, with “good guys” and “bad guys” who always act according to character. In your story-line America is always bad, Third-world cultures are always good; conservatives are always bad, liberals are always good; parents are always bad; teachers are always good. Anything that doesn’t support these notions simply isn’t reported.

More and more people now days are getting their news from independent sites on the Internet. The time is coming soon when you will have to either reform or just give up reporting the news altogether. You will fight it. The major media will try everything in their power to shut down or discredit independent news sources, but it won’t work. Once people have experienced true freedom of expression, and freedom of choice, it won’t be easy to take it away from them.

Imaginative Title

You've gotta wonder about a guy who would think up a blog title like this one.

Could be Useful to Keep in Mind

I'm sure many bloggers will recognize these.


This Google search is a little scary.

Thursday, September 26, 2002
I'll bet it sounds like crap

This harpsichord is built entirely from Lego blocks. I think Legos are cool and I would love to see this. There is an MP3 but I don't want to take the time to download it right now. Maybe sometime tomorrow when I'm not actually doing anything on the computer. The phone lines in my area are so old they could have been installed by Alexander G. Bell himself. I started to download it but the little box said that it would take 7 minutes, which for me means something close to half an hour.

Anyway, sorry for rambling on. The materials that a harpsichord is constructed from affect how it sounds. People with more experience than I have can tell you the manufacturer of an instrument just by listening to it. The Lego block harpsichord is merely a stunt of course. The idea is not to make an instrument that sounds good but to make a playable instrument from Lego blocks. Still...I take stuff like this very seriously. :-)

Via Thaks Cool Links.

Politics, Law and Autism

I also found this blog today. I remember linking to another autism blog a few months ago. I need to try to find it in my archives later and help these two get together if they don't already know each other.

Gun Rights

Found earlier today, the Nitpicker. He has some very reasonable thoughts on guns.

More on Israel

There hasn't been much interest in my earlier post. I guess I'm not surprised. The conflict has been going on so long it has become a rather tiresome subject. I did receive two more responses.

Acidman has posted a thoughtful response. Yeah. Civilized people are always more restrained, but what I mainly had in mind is all the times, not just recently but as far back as I can remember, every time Israel launches a military operation our leaders in Washington start getting all nervous and telling them to ease up.

The other response was via email from Mike of Views from the Outside. He made some good points and gave me stuff to think about. I'm reluctant to quote email directly without the author's express permission, so instead I'll link to this recent post which says much the same thing as the email.

As I said this started me thinking and led me to at least a partial answer to my question. I've always had a problem with retaliation for retaliation's sake. One retaliation leads to another and another and another, endlessly. Israel needs to have specific military goals and a strategy for accomplishing those goals. This is what I think their friends in Washington need to be telling them instead of just telling them not to retaliate.

In the Line of Fire

Thanks to Andrea for finding this Bagdad blog - according to Andrea "apparently" in Bagdad. On the Net you never can tell for sure. Looks interesting anyway.

Relevant Google Referrals For a Change!

At least a third of my hits so far today have been from Google searches on the words tumbling woman statue or tumbling woman sculpture - something I actually did write about. It always makes me feel good to think that people might actually have found what they were looking for.

One more interesting search: Andrea Harris trumpet. Well, you can certainly find Andrea in my blogroll, but I have no idea whether or not she plays the trumpet. I don't remember her mentioning it.

Response to Israel Question

I don't know if this is going to work. Blogger is acting very strange this morning.

So far I have received only one response, via email, to my last post yesterday. It came from JB whose old blog is now blank. I found a blog listed as JB's Latest Incarnation on Acidman's blogroll but it's blank also.

The email is one of those kind that I feel does not even merit any response but I did say below that I would link to any response and since there's nothing to link to I guess I should at least acknowledge the email. First of all JB sent a long list of U.N. resolutions against Israel followed by a long list of U.N. resolutions vetoed by the United States. And the point is? So the whole world hates Jews. I take pride in the fact that the U.S. is on the right side even if it means standing against the whole world. But that doesn't answer my question which was: Why does everyone, even those who support Israel, advise Israel against defending itself?

The rest of JB's email was even more irrelevant to this topic so I feel no obligation to respond to it. I'll only say two things - 1) Anyone who throws around the word "truth" too much should automatically be distrusted. 2) The Constitution is, and was intended to be, a living document, not a stone tablet to be worshipped without question or debate.

This has gotten off to a bad start but I'm still hoping for some interesting inter-blog debate on my orginal question. (scroll down to the entry titled "Something I Don't Understand")

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Something I Don't Understand

I'm not being facetious. Well, maybe I am a little bit, but I really don't understand. I only started really paying attention to the news last year - about the same time a lot of other people suddenly started paying attention to the news. Since we got connected to the Internet about 5 or 6 years ago I've been getting more news but still mostly just headlines. Before that, if it wasn't big enough to interrupt prime time programming I was oblivious. I just wanted to say that because what I'm about to say might sound incredibly ignorant.

What I don't understand is why it is supposedly necessary for Israel to "show restraint." Because it will piss off the Arabs? So what? They hate Israel anyway. I think it's pretty clear to everyone except a few idiotarian 1960's throwbacks that diplomacy, restraint and attempts at peaceful settlement only makes Islamists think we are weak and encourages even greater violence, while a show of strength, far from enraging them, sends them packing.

So why shouldn't Israel fight their enemies aggressively? If Israel, with U.S. backing, were to show strength instead of restraint perhaps they would gain a little respect from their neighbors. The Arabs will always hate Israel but they might be a little better behaved if they also feared Israel.

I eagerly await enlightenment. Just give me heads-up and I will link to any responses to this post.

War Leadership

You must read this essay at Isntapundit, found via AC Douglas. I'm not posting a quote because there's too much in it to reduce to one or two paragraphs.

I have been impatient regarding the "War on Terrorism" but I keep reminding myself of what President Bush said last fall about this being a war like no other, and that we would not be aware of everything that was going on. On the other hand, I do expect to see some action. How can we possibly win by sitting around for months talking about war?

Even from a political standpoint this seems senseless. A majority of Americans are in favor of invading Iraq. Add to those, the many people who are not too strongly opposed and therefore likely to be supportive once the war begins, and politically it's a can't lose situation for Bush. As for support from our "allies," nothing builds support like success and once Saddam is gone a lot of his neighbors, who don't dare support us now, will be thankful.

Blog Browsing

A few half-hearted plugs.

Man Without Qualities - Political blog. I just found this one a few minutes ago and haven't spent enough time reading it to form much of an opinion yet. Serious and well-written.

Offbeat News - Nothing but links. Sports, soft news. Little politics.

Thak's Cool Links - Very short posts, lots of links, many of them unusual.

Morning Update - Opposite of the last two: all commentary, no links.

Different Strings - Just found this one today and darn it I can't remember where I first saw it so I can't give credit. Again, I haven't been reading it long enough to form much of an opinion, but in particular I noticed this post about a satire website being forced to shut down because it offended some people.

Hidden Thoughts and Interests - I sort of owe this lady from Finland a link. I've been reading this blog occasionally for quite a while now. I didn't link sooner because we are politically incompatible but most of the time her writing is not specifically political and she does write very well. Her blog deserves a lot more attention.